Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mormons: Don't We Want Further Revelation?

I just stumbled accross a survey done by Pew on Religion. They've got their findings nicely presented at their site. As I went through the questions, it was interesting to see how the different churches ranked for different things. It was also interesting to note that the Mormons seem to always be flanked by the Jehova's Witnesses, the Evangelicals, and the Catholics. We always tend to be at one extreme or another.

One question I saw as particularly interesting was number 11. It asked, "Should your church: A) preserve its traditional beliefs and practices; B) Adjust beliefs and practices in light of new circumstances; C) Adopt modern beliefs and practices; or D) other?"

68% of Mormon's went with preservation (A), 23% think we should adjust in light of new circumstances (B), only 3% want to adopt modern practices (C), while 6% went with other (D).

From an LDS view, I completely understand the repudiation (97% of us) of choice C... of course the church shouldn't just adopt "modern" beliefs and practices about everything. But really, only 23% for choice B? It seems to me to be by far the best choice for a church who believes in continuous revelation. Preserve traditional practices? What about polygamy? That was changed due to new circumstances was it not? (See Official Declaration #1) The entire argument Wilford Woodruff makes seems to be one of adjusting our practices in light of new and changed circumstances (laws enacted by congress, what he saw would happen if they didn't). What about adding to the quorums of the Seventy? Making the endowment videos? Changes to the endowment ceremony, and more recently to the initiatory?

If a GA says that we'll never go to the moon, don't we adjust that belief when 1969 rolls around and Neil Armstrong proves otherwise? If BRM says blacks will never have the priesthood, don't we change that belief, and the practice of not ordaining them (or endowing them, sealing them, preaching in Africa, etc.) when new circumstances arise (i.e. Pres. Kimball - See OD #2)?

For me, the having C listed as an option (adopting modern practices) softens B considerably. B seems to be an ideal choice for the latter-day saints. Where does this desire to preserve historical practices come from? Why would we value them over the new? I guess I just don't see the value in or have a desire for the Church to try to preserve traditional beliefs/practices just because they're traditional. If male/female societal rolls are simply tradition, lets have away with them. If they're an intrinsic part of our eternal being, then let's uphold them.

Or are we (68% of us) just terrified of someone misinterpretting us as meaning C, that we move past B and all the way to A, just to make sure?

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