D&C 19:4-12 is a humdinger of a scriptural passage. In it the Lord confirms what people had surely been suspecting about various doctrines for thousands of years: “He has to be kidding about that doctrine, right?” Apparently the answer to their question in at least one case was “yup”. The specific misleading doctrine that the Lord tells us he had allowed people to buy into until section 19 was given in 1830 is the doctrine that “endless torment” and “eternal damnation” are actually endless and eternal in duration. Rather, the Lord admits, such punishments usually do have an end. God just allowed his people to believe otherwise because having people believe such punishments last forever was a useful form of motivation. In his words:
wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. (verse 7)
Oy! Well that opens a theological can of worms doesn’t it? If God doesn’t mind allowing us all to believe useful false doctrines then which of our other scripturally-based doctrinal chestnuts are we going to have to give up in the future? Who knows. I suggested in an earlier post that believing there is no progression between post-mortal kingdoms might be an example of a useful false doctrine. I suppose that most any incorrect doctrine that motivates people to repent now and not procrastinate could fit into the category of useful false doctrines.
So what do you make of this? In my opinion this passage in section 19 actually does destabilize the certainty we can/should have in some of doctrines taught in scriptures. But the possible upside of such destabilization is that we are driven away from the ever-enticing (but never-saving) practice of scripture worship and driven toward regular revelatory dialogues with God (like our exemplars in the scriptures had). What is your take?