Should we apply the 11th article of faith internally?

There are many interesting things about the 11th article of faith, not the least of which is that it is the only one that fails to begin “We believe…”. Instead, we get “We claim…” which is a pretty interesting difference. Unlike the others, which lay out the axia of Mormon faith, the 11th article defends a right, the right to believe as we choose. We are even gracious enough to allow those outside of our faith to believe what they choose (misguided though it may be ;) )

In the bloggernacle, I became acquainted with the term heterodoxy. Guessing from usage, it appears to mean believing anything that you believe is sufficiently unorthodox to have a blog-post regarding it. Apparently, heterodoxy includes beliefs ranging from “believing that not every word out of the mouth of the Brethren is inspired” to “there is a weird form of reincarnation at work here”. Obviously, the term is meant to express a wide range of belief, but I think we probably need a little more discipline regarding how it works.

First of all, we need to establish what orthodoxy is. Some people propose that it is the gospel according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith. I am not sure that we can really say that as both men have a rather idiosyncratic approach. A better approach might be to use the Articles of Faith as our definition of orthodoxy. They are scripture after all. However, some might find this too restrictive as many characteristic doctrinal ideas (like those found in D&C 76) are not found in the Articles of Faith, whereas other more controversial ideas (like the literal restoration of the ten tribes) are. That said, I think that, with their canonized status, the Articles of Faith are the closest we come to a statement of things that we have to believe in order to be Mormon.

This, as stated earlier, leaves us with a lot of wiggle room doctrinally, and this is why we have brought up the term heterodox. If the Articles of Faith are our rigid definition of orthodoxy, then there are a lot of currently orthodox ideas that would be deemed heterodox. As a result, we might suggest an expansion of our definition to include the entirety of the standard works. However, the multitude of Christian denominations and Mormon offshoots indicates that there is insufficient clarity regarding the doctrines found in these works to clearly state what they do and do not allow us to believe. Furthermore, a retreat to the interpretations of Apostles and Prophets only elucidates patterns of interpretation, without unambiguously defining what belief should consist of. As a result, even our best attempts at defining orthodox leaves us with a rather heterodox outlook.

Seemingly Mormons can believe almost anything. But can they really? Often in our discussions accusations are made on the sly regarding the testimonies or activity of our fellow disputants. We derive ideas regarding the relative spirituality of each other based on our stated beliefs all the time. Is this just? Should we do it?

I am not sure. In the 11th article of faith, we state that “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” This is great as an ideal. Today, I heard Elder Uchtdorf say that we must respect the beliefs of others outside the church, even as we introduce them to the good in what we believe. But should we apply this internally, to ourselves?

Are all believing approaches to Mormonism equally valid? Do we need to correct those who approach Mormonism differently than we do? Or should we be grateful that there are people willing to do their home-teaching, no matter what they believe about Book of Mormon historicity or our relationship to God?


  1. Sometimes in my Mormon life, I have felt perfectly acceptable to other Mormons in whatever “unorthodox” things I believed. Other times I’ve been shunned or gotten disciplined. I’m not sure what the difference is. But maybe it is whether or not the really believed the 11th article of faith. I should make an 11th article of faith T-shirt and start wearing it to Church. Because I”m subtle.

    Actually I think the difference has been when people felt their Mormonism was threatened. And Joseph was protective of it too, so I don’t know what to say about it. Maybe it’s believe what you will, but please don’t threaten me.

  2. The phrase is “our own conscience” rather than “our own consciences.” This may suggest a sort of collective conscience we follow the dictates of, rather than each individual member going it alone.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I lean towards an affirmative to your last sentence. I think we tend to focus more on orthopraxy as opposed to orthodoxy. This is a reflection of our pragmatic nature, which is what happens when you trek across the country and make the desert blossom as a rose. If some guy is willing to home teach, he can privately believe all sorts of nonsense and it would be ok by me.

    (The problem is when he gets up on a soapbox and starts preaching his nonsense.)

  4. “If some guy is willing to home teach, he can privately believe all sorts of nonsense and it would be ok by me.

    (The problem is when he gets up on a soapbox and starts preaching his nonsense.) “


  5. Amri,
    I agree it has to do with people feeling like “their Mormonism” is being threatened. Does that mean that they are being heterodox, too?

    I am interested in the common conscience. I agree that something like that might be what the 11th article had in mind. However, can we do a better job of defining it than we do of defining “orthodoxy”?

    I have long thought that orthopraxy is more important than orthodoxy in the church. For instance, if you compare the types of questions in the temple recommend interview, far more have to do with practice than with belief.

  6. There are two discourses of Joseph Smith that this made me think of. The first, I can’t remember where I was reading the primary account (William Law diary?), but Willford Woodruff paraphrased it the year before the manifesto:

    Said he, “If I were ruler or emperor of the world, and I had power over the whole human family, I would make every man, woman and child free in the enjoyment of his or her religion, be that religion whatever it may.” These are my sentiments. All people under heaven by virtue of their agency, whether living under a republican, a monarchical or any other form of government, are entitled to religious freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, they being held accountable to God alone for the use they make of their agency. And while we, as a community, accord this right and privilege to man the world over, we claim the same right ourselves. (CD 1:341)

    This was in defense of our communal doctrine. The other was in relation to our indavidual doctrine. Old Pelatiah Brown was preaching iconoclastic things of John’s Revelation, and was brought before the High Council for trial. Joseph Smith commented that even though he was wrong (though he did stump everyone) he should have not been tried:

    The old man has preached concerning the beast which was full of eyes before and behind and for this he was hauled up for trial. I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled. It dont prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine. (WoJS 183-184)

    I think the closest thing we have to a creed is the Articles of Faith, and perhaps the Temple Recomend Interview Questions.

  7. I think we tend to focus more on orthopraxy as opposed to orthodoxy.

    Indeed. And as JDC hints, because we have no formalized or systematized theology in Mormonism, actual Mormon orthodoxy is probably much broader than most of us imagine. Orthopraxy on the other hand in the church is fairly well defined in the Church.

  8. I think we tend to focus more on orthopraxy as opposed to orthodoxy.

    Agreed, and I am reminded of a friends comment from a while back:

    …near-ostentatious orthopraxy (which I myself don’t have a problem doing as described above) covers a multitude of “evils.”

  9. “we have no formalized or systematized theology in Mormonism”

    New Cool Thang doesn’t count?

  10. well, so long as I have given Geoff a reason to post a link to his website, I consider my job complete ;)

  11. Oh it counts, it counts! And it is an excellent (yea verily and nearly bullet-proof) theology at that. The problem is that no one but me buys into it…

  12. Link? What link?

    Oh… it is such a given that I’ll do it that I didn’t even notice! :-)

  13. “no one but me buys into it…”

    no comment (freaky apostate man).

  14. lol!

  15. “If some guy is willing to home teach, he can privately believe all sorts of nonsense and it would be ok by me.”

    Actually, I want to hop on this comment of Kevin’s. Do we really believe that? What if he believed that Blacks were fence-setters, that one has to be a polygamist in order to achieve the highest order of the celestial kingdom, or is a devoted vegetarian? Are we really willing to let any belief go if the person fulfills their callings?

  16. Amen to #6 J. Stapely.

    Along these lines, because of his sharing of the account of his First Vision, Joseph Smith said he was “persecuted by those who ought to have been [his] friends and to have treated [him] kindly, and if they supposed [him] to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed [him]. (emphasis added)”

    While for most readers I suspect this passage functions as a mere narrative transition, for me it seems to be directive to act in a proper and affectionate manner when I think someone’s wrong about a theological concept, even in the bloggernacle.

  17. I think David O. McKay gave us a wonderful example in how he dealt with Sterling McMurrin. I wish everyone shared his views of intellectual freedom. If there are people out there who haven’t read the new biography yet, you should pick it up.


    Are you saying you want to excommunicate devoted vegetarians?

  18. Ooops. My quote in #16 above is from JS-History 1:28.

  19. Jacob,
    If I did, but also did my home teaching (and was even nice to the loathsome vegetarians), would that matter?

    (in the interest of full disclosure, my wife is a vegetarian and has endured some in church abuse as a result)

  20. I think we should excommunicate vegetarians that firebomb McDonalds, those with a belief that Blacks are Fence-sitters that lynch Blacks as members of the KKK, and those that practice polygamy without direction or authority. It all goes to praxis.

    However, when we hold beliefs that are clearly in conflict with the gospel of Jesus Christ, at some point those ideas are going to have to change in order to receive the fullness of his glory. In addition, our ideas shape us. “As a man thinketh, so is he.”

    I am sure most of us have at least some misconceptions about God that will need ironed out somewhere in the grand scheme of things. The key to everything is our humility. How willing will we be to lay down our unenlightened folk and cultural doctrines or the traditions of men.

  21. I’m sorry, I hit enter before finishing my thought. I also believe that as we become more Christ-like, it becomes harder to think uncharitable thoughts about meat or nonmeat-eaters, blacks or racists, and monagamists or polygamists, perhaps leading to a reevaluation of our beliefs.

  22. “Our own conscience” may be some collective conscience idea. In that case, I would think that it is close to “the mind of christ” that Paul talks about, and that I’ve always understood to mean the Holy Ghost. If so, that would connect it with the idea of revelation–the interesting (and somewhat unique) thing about our religion is the unresolved dynamic between personal revelation and institutional revelation. This dynamic is probably just another way of restating the question you are asking here. Tangentially, Augustine and some other early church fathers first developed the idea of the conscience (notice it does not appear in the scriptures; the closest thing is probably “belief”) , and they defined it as knowledge that God gives the soul to discern between good and evil.

    On the other hand, “our own conscience” could also just refer to individual conscience. Perhaps Joseph was only avoiding an awkward sounding construction that would result from “our own consciences.” But verifying that would require knowledge of 18th century usage and grammer, which I do not have.

    I lean to saying that we should apply it internally. As J. Reuben Clark (I think) and others have pointed out, the creeds themselves are not that doctrinally offensive to LDS theology (for example, though the emphasize God’s oneness, they do not specify that it is corporeal oneness, even id their interpretors do). If this is the case, then it is not the specific theology that makes the creeds “an abomination in his sight,” perhaps it is the fact that they define which beliefs are acceptable and which are not–they place limits on the conscience.

  23. I think we tend to focus more on orthopraxy as opposed to orthodoxy

    I would generally agree with you, but DTrain’s recent experience with his bishop strikes me as an exception.

  24. Re. comment #15: Card-carrying Mormons DO often believe that Blacks were fence sitters in the pre-existence and that polygamy is essential to eternal progression. Neither position has been formally repudiated by the powers that be. We have merely distanced ourselves from them. Should we correct believers of such things? You betcha. And I really hope it comes from voices with more power than mine soon. As a side note, I was talking to a former BYU religion prof a few days ago, who made an interesting observation: “We go out of our way to help a 50-time adulterer, but when it comes to a DOUBTER, we pull out the guns.”
    Though heterodoxy is a reality of Mormonism, it can be a frightening thing to those who assume that all of the right answers are in the manuals.

  25. Thanks for that comment, Margaret.

  26. My answer to your question is yes. I am more and more convinced that while we have truth, we only have a small portion of truth and certainly we cannot decide for God who does and does not come into His kingdom based on our limited understanding of reality.

    Living in the heartland of Mormonism, I see so much hypocrisy and evil perpetrated by recommend holding Mormons who are Sunday saints and so many good people of other faiths, indeed of no announced faith, that I think God has to have more sense than I do. And He can smell a rat when He sees it. It doesn’t make sense that He would exclude a good person in favor of a so-called “active” Mormon who has the character of a gnat.

  27. Karl Zanhem says:

    Like a lot of other ex-Mormons, the 11th Article of Faith is the one that I can still quote verbatim and the one on which I hang a lot of hope for my relationships with friends and family who are still among the faithful. I don’t want to hijack your thread, but I do think that former members present yet another separate category for the application of this particular Article of Faith, at least for some members.

    On one hand, my own brother mentioned the 11th Article of Faith the first time he phoned me to ask about my apostasy. This particular brother is about as orthodox and dedicated as anyone I know, currently serving on his stake’s high council. He said that the 11th Article of Faith was a part of his belief system, and that it may be more difficult for him to live it in the case of a family member, but that he was obligated to do so just the same. That kind of respect has meant a lot to me as I have gone through a lot of changes over the past couple of years, especially since he sees it as a part of his faith. It helps me to view my departure from the faith as an amicable separation and remember some of the fond associations and memories I have.

    On the other hand, I have quoted the 11th Article of Faith to a few members who were rather incorrigible in their efforts to save me, and I have actually had a couple of them tell me that it did not apply in my case. Admittedly, these were isolated cases. These friends told me that the 11th Article of Faith only applied to people of other faiths, not those who had made covenants within the true church.

    It seems extreme to say that the 11th Article of Faith contains that big of a hidden loophole and that I am somehow not included in the “all men” to whom it refers. There are, however, similar ideas and even policies at work in official Mormondom that would lend credibility to this type of mentality among the members. BYU, for example, allows members of other faiths to attend, so long as they agree to abide by the university’s honor code. Ex-Mormons, however, are persona non grata unless they find their way back to the fold. I could apply to graduate school at BYU, be perfectly willing to follow all of their rules, and even get my local Unitarian Universalist minister to vouch for my commitment. Another member of my congregation with identical credentials could be accepted. I could not.

  28. Launa Mower says:

    First, my apoligies to those who believe that my comments, as follows, are not applicable to this thread. Also, I don’t like to use the word ‘stupid’, but I can’t think of a more polite term and still make my point.
    1: I claim the belief that Heavenly Father and Jesus will prevent stupid people, Mormons and non-Mormons alike, from entering his Kingdom(s). Postings 24 and 27 address stupid Mormons/Mormon practices. I really liked these, and other posts too.
    2: Stupid Mormon true orthopraxy-ish story: My father-in-law never bought life insurance, as his Patriarchal Blessing promised him that he would live to greet the Saviour at the Second Coming. Father-in-law is now dead, and his kids/estate paid his funeral costs and final illness expenses.
    2.1: I claim the belief ala David O. McKay, that no success in one’s church career can compensate for stupidity in the home.
    3: I acknowledge that the author of this thread or other BCC co-authors/high sheriffs or other defenders will think me stupid.

  29. josh madson says:

    mormon theology has a certain liberalness and heterodoxy from its conception. joseph hoped everyone could be a prophet and seemed to be opposed to orthodoxy. brigham taught that the millenium consists of non-members and members and the council of 50 had non-members. in general, it appears there was a great amount of open mindness and discussion.
    however, in our time many have been excommunicated for certain views or ideas (Adam-God, davidic servant, etc.) there seems to have been a dramatic change in the church at the turn of the century and later with correlation.
    I feel that the church has swung to the orthodox. as armand mauss explained in his book, the church could either be assimilated into its host culture or be destroyed. we chose to assimilate. we dropped certain doctrines, changed endowments, etc. in certain cases such as abandoning polygamy, I am glad. In others such as racism, I am profoundly dissappointed with brigham and early leaders for adopting racist views. in short we embraced orthodox religion to a large extent. I believe that ideally we should be high minded and plain living, but I see us as a people choosing orthodoxy in thought as well. many do not want to question. perhaps from fear of facing our doubts, fear we might be wrong, that we all too often hide behind orthodoxy, perhaps from our indifference and distraction bt the world, or perhaps some other reason. I’m sure everyone here knows that certain questions and ideas are not welcome at church

  30. To my orthoprax-friendly pals:

    I love you really, but…


    As long as I talk the talk, whether I walk the walk or not is secondary. In other words, I may never, ever go home teaching. This isn’t going to get me into trouble. But if I get up in EQ and say HT is a waste of time, that’s why I don’t go, they will haul me down.

    If orthodoxy is so unimportant, why the pseudonym, HP!!

  31. Have a go at this one:

    In a TR interview, say, “well, I TRY to magnify my callings.” 9 times out of 10 your Bishop will just chuckle and nod his head.

    Then say, “well, I TRY to believe in God…Joseph…the Brethren…” That won’t go down so well.

    It’s worth noting that the tests of orthoDOXY in the TR inteview come first. Fail them, and you go no further.

    Truth is, it’s all a bit of both, but mateys…this is a Church that really values orthodoxy.

  32. Amen, brother Ronan.

  33. Brent Hartman says:

    I lost my temple recommend for suggesting that the leaders of the Church are not infallible. I also suggested that the sacrament should be administered as outlined in the scriptures and that the first twelve apostles in this dispensation are true apostles, prophets, seers, and revelators. That was enough.

    Oh, and Adam-God. I thought that since Orson Pratt almost got excommunicated for not believing, then I would be safe in believing. Turns out I was wrong. :)

    Right or wrong, the 11th AoF does not apply within the Church today.

  34. So much of this depends on what the local leaders are willing to tolerate. For example, in the ward I grew up in, Brother Smith (his real name) believed and brought up Adam-God in High Priests on a fairly regular basis. My dad told me that no matter how hard the others in the High Priests Group tried to convince him he was wrong, he remained a True Believer in Adam-God. But he was a good man, and one of the first generation born in the Salt Lake Valley, so whenever he started talking Adam-God, rather than being horrified, people just treated it as another one of his lovable quirks.

  35. Josh Madson says:

    If the current church has embraced orthodoxy as I think it has, then what does that say about us as a church in light of the old temple endowment’s statement on orthodoxy.

    and yes, Brent, Orson Pratt was threatened and almost excommunicated for not believing Adam-God.

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    1. There is an old saying that Mormon Doctrine is a pamphlet, not an encyclopedia. So if there are doctrinal tests, they are fairly limited in number and fundamental in nature. Brother X believes in evolution, and Brother Y is a 6,000-year young earth creationist with no death before the Fall. Sister Smith believes that there is progression between the kingdoms, and Sister Jones does not. Bobbie believes that Jesus was born on 6 April, 1 B.C., and Susie believes that we don’t know the date he was born, but that it was probably between 4 and 7 B.C. We have tons of doctrinal flexibility; there is no catechism of the Mormon Church.

    2. A lot of this is going to depend on the age-old problem of geographic disparity. It’s the luck of the draw who your bishop and SP are. My leaders would have absolutely zero problem with my position that church leaders are not infallible. Others might view the matter differently.

    3. A lot of this is dependent on a sense of discretion. It’s fine to have private heresies (say, not believing in BoM historicity) so long as you keep them private. If you start advocating such a position publicly, that is a different matter.

    4. Whether we’re talking orthodoxy or orthopraxy, people want to know that you’re with them and not against them. If you can convey, whether through words or deeds or, ideally, both, that you love the Church and mean it no harm and wish the best for it and its people, you will be given tremendous leeway. At least, that has been my experience.

  37. …and yes, Brent, Orson Pratt was threatened and almost excommunicated for not believing Adam-God.

    hmm…I think this is a bit of an overstatement. His conflict wasn’t so much about what he believed, but how he expressed his belief.

  38. And Ronan, my friend, while there are some core sets of beliefs that aren’t flexible, they represent a very few doctrines in the entire Mormon corpus. And is it too much to ask that we believe in the restoration?

  39. J., if you don’t talk the talk of the community, it matters very little. For example, if you don’t say “I know” in a testimony, nothing else you say will matter. Our level of belief is secondary (in the community’s eyes) to how we express that belief.

  40. Hm…that hasn’t been my experiance.

  41. This is why I give yes and no questions in the interview. I could explain, but why? It’s only relevant to me.

    I pay my tithing and then some, I do my visiting teaching, I’ve read the BoM millions of times, and I’m a pretty good person. My personal ruminations-my “examined life” are my own personal business and have nothing to do with my worthiness.

  42. That hasn’t been your experience, J.? Next time you bear your testimony, try saying “I believe” instead of “I know.” It’s fun!

  43. Wow, it goes to show you (me?) how little you know about people in the bloggernackle. Steve Evans, actually arguing from a more heterodox point of view than someone else… I really have no idea who any of you are… (this comment is not in jest)

  44. Jared, LOL! It’s safe to say that you don’t know me at all.

  45. Rosalynde says:

    Saying “I know” over the pulpit in a testimony meeting is a ritualized gesture of willing, loving self-selection into the group; conspicuously saying something else draws attention to a setting of oneself apart. In other contexts that aren’t so highly ritualized, members will respond very well to other kinds of expressions of faith.

  46. Rosalynde, you’re entirely right (though I submit that “I know” applies to any testimony, over the pulpit or no) — what I was getting at is that no matter what the context, members respond to appropriate expressions of faith. In other words, there are ritualized ways for expressing faith all over the place in our religion, and we’d best comply with all of them.

  47. I’m going to have to agree with Kevin’s 36.2 comment. One thing that has got me going lately, is the Stake Presidency in my parents ward. Right now they are insisting that all males have no facial hair (as well as a slew of other weird things.) None of these things are fundamental, but orthopraxy in this stake is apparently highly prized.

  48. Kevin Barney says:

    I always say “I believe” when I bear my testimony, and it’s never caused me any problems. Only once or twice has anyone even asked me about it. I suspect this may be that I’ve built up enough spiritual goodwill in the ward that people are willing to recognize this as one of that crazy Bro. Barney’s intellectual quirks and give me a pass on it.

  49. Kevin: What do you say to those who actually ask you about it? What is their response?

  50. I hear people say “I believe” instead of “I know” in testimony meetings regularly and I’ve never seen it cause even a ripple in the congregation.

  51. whatever Geoff, you live in Arizona and are therefore a de facto statistical anomaly.

  52. Hehe. It was in SoCal too though (we just moved here).

    We do have a hymn called “I Believe in Christ” you know — lyrics penned by Bruce R. no less.

    BTW – I don’t disagree with your general point in #42, I just don’t think the example you used works very well.

  53. yeah, I know. Darned examples.

  54. Kevin Barney says:

    The one guy I remember who asked me about it was a very conservative guy. He wasn’t belligerent or anything, just curious.

    That was a long time ago, and I don’t recall exactly what I said, but I think it was along the following lines: My testimony is grounded in faith, which to me is a function of belief and trust, not sure knowledge. I would view sure knowledge as excluding the need for faith. We have gotten into the habit as a people of using that language as a matter of rhetoric, which I view as meaning essentially “I believe very strongly,” but ultimately a testimony is still grounded in faith. I have no problem with anyone else saying it that way, but for me personally it’s the semantically incorrect verb to use. I’ve known lots of people who swore over the pulpit that they knew the Church was true, only to lose their faith and leave the Church later. In retrospect, obviously they didn’t really know.

    He seemed satisfied with that.

  55. I never said that orthodoxy was unimportant; I said that orthopraxy seems to be more important. I agree with J that the amount of things that we absolutely must believe is relatively small, but we must believe them (hence my discussion of the AoF as a possible definition of orthodox). That there will be exceptions to this, I am aware. Nonetheless, this seems common to the majority of my LDS experience. So, there’s that.

    The ritual language of testimony bearing is further evidence of the importance of orthopraxy, not solely orthodoxy (a point that I think was already being made, but I felt bore repeating).

    Oh and going back to the gardening equipment named possible troll, I don’t think that you’re stupid, just unclear. I really don’t see the relevancy of your comments. Please feel free to elaborate further, as I am an academic and, therefore, prefer everything spelled out explicitly before I start weighing in with my opinion.

  56. Mark Butler says:

    I think you can lose (forget) spiritual knowledge, and that knowledge is properly distinguished from faith. Faith comes by hearing. Knowledge comes by experience.

    Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

    Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

    For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
    (2 Peter 1:2-8)

  57. OK, kids, I’m not big on orthodoxy in many contexts, but some measure of orthography is VERY important!! There’s such a thing as “praxis,” whence one might derive “orthopraxis” but there’s no such thing as “praxy,” despite the nifty faux parallelism it lends to these discussions.
    (For those committed to the (ultimately futile!) search for logic in the English language, the proximate cause of this inconsistency is that English got “orthodoxy” transmuted through Latin, whereas “praxis” came more directly from Greek and retains its Greek ending).


  58. Kevin Barney says:

    Kristine, I appreciate the lesson on the orthography of orthopraxis. I have to admit that is a form I wasn’t familiar with. I love words and relish this sort of information. So thank you.

    I fear, however, that you may be tilting at windmills on this one. Google searches yield:

    orthopraxy 54,000

    orthopraxis 43,700

    My OED has an article on orthopraxy, not orthopraxis (the orthopraxy article says in a parenthetical “also orthopraxis,” but it does not portray orthopraxis as the preferred form). Its first historical occurrence as listed in the OED dates to 1852. And it explicitly accounts for the form as “from orthodoxy,” not seeing it as a faux parallel but as a genuine (if backwards) one.

    So while I appreciate the correction, I suspect it is already too late and the cat is already out of the bag.

  59. ..OED dates to 1852..and the cat is already out of the bag.

    1852 and the subsequent year were good for letting cats out of the bag.

  60. JDC (#55),

    As my TR example in #31 is meant to show, orthodoxy is absolutely set in stone, whereas this praxy/praxis lark has some leeway. Are you honest in ALL your dealings? ALL of them? EVERY one? Do you MAGNIFY your callings? ALWAYS? Are your family relationsips ABSOLUTELY in harmony with the Gospel at ALL times? Do you keep ALL your temple covenants, including ABSOLUTE consecration?

    I’m afraid I’m less than 100% on these, so if I were to “translate” my rather shifty Christian/Mormon orthopraxy into LDS “orthodoxy” it would come out something like this:

    “I, um, would, er, like to believe in Joseph Smith, kind of, but really, I have a few doubts, and I just don’t know, guv. I like the Brethren, I really do, nice guys all, but really, they are so wrong about this, and that, and those things. Book of Mormon? Probably fiction. Good fiction. Nice fiction. But codswallop. Jehovah is Jesus? Don’t make me laugh…”


    That is an unacceptable Mormon testimony (and I hasten to add, it isn’t mine!); thank heavens our standards of praxis are much lower or we’d be doomed.

    So, I submit again that you are underestimating orthodoxy, or elevating orthopraxy beyond it’s actual value. It’s probably 50/50. If you can accept that, I’ll shut up!

  61. Kevin, thanks for the elaboration! I tilt at windmills a lot.

  62. Ronan, that’s a point worth keeping in mind.

  63. Ronan if you ever decide to bear that testimony in a meeting of some sort, I’d really like to be there.


  64. Kevin Barney says:

    Ronan, you’ve now made it my mission in life to use the word codswallop over the pulpit.

  65. Good point, Ronan. It may be a 50/50 emphasis (I would be okay with that). So, it seems that we only need to know a few things, but we really have to know them, while we have many things to do, but we don’t really have to do them?

  66. I think it’s even as far as the TR goes:

    There are a few things you HAVE to believe (Jesus, JS etc.).
    There are a few things you HAVE to do (tithing. WoW etc.)

    Deal? :)

  67. Deal. Well, now that we have settled that, I wonder what will the Brethren have to do ;)

  68. I say we solve the HIV endemic!

    Man, y’all are good. And so diplomatic.

  69. #68,

    Law of Chastity?

  70. rleonard,
    I think you’re right. Let all those hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients die off! (;) on the off chance you’re kidding)

  71. Jothegrill says:

    They screen donated blood really carefully nowdays at least in developed countries, so getting HIV through blood transfusions is almost unheard of. So Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom (not using illegal drugs) would go a long way toward stopping the spread. Even HIV positive parents are sometimes giving birth to HIV free babies. (Not always, but sometimes.)

  72. I haven’t read the entire string of comments, but I would answer you yes, I believe that we need a spectrum of believing approaches to Mormonism. To quote the late Hugh B. Brown, “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.”

  73. I think it goes without saying that we should be tolerant of each other’s points of view. However, there is also a lot we do to try to unify our thinking and to strengthen each other in the faith (whatever that may mean). After all, each week we gather together to “nourish each other in the good word of God” and to bear testimony to each other (presumably about relatively constant (orthodox?) things). Perhaps that is part of the reason we are asked to stick with the basics at church — because it we branch out too much there would be too much variation in discussion, and very little opportunity for bearing and sharing (experiencing together) the power of testimony.

    In short, I don’t think respecting each other’s privilege to worship in their own way completely negates our responsibility to strengthen each other in our faith of the Savior, the Restoration, etc. There’s a balance, and I think there is plenty to support both sides of the fence.

    I was particularly moved by Elder Wood’s talk in Conference, where I felt much of what he said applied here in the ‘nacle.

    Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?

    But then, I hear him talking to us as a people about how we have a special mission to reach out as messengers of peace to the world, which, to me, implies that we should be united at some level, seeing truth in a unifed way to some degree (but also that we should be nice!). Otherwise, how could we go forth and bear testimony to the world if we don’t know what we are supposed to be bearing testimony about and aren’t unified to that end?

    The Lord has constituted us as a people for a special mission. … Wherever we live in the world, we have been molded as a people to be the instruments of the Lord’s peace. In the words of Peter, we have been claimed by God for His own, to proclaim the triumph of Him “who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.” We cannot afford to be caught up in a world prone to give and to take offense. Rather, as the Lord revealed to both Paul and Mormon, we must neither envy nor be puffed up in pride. We are not easily provoked, nor do we behave unseemly. We rejoice not in iniquity but in the truth. Surely this is the pure love of Christ which we represent….
    As true witnesses of Christ in the latter days, let us not fall into the darkness so that, in the words of Peter, we “cannot see afar off,” but let us be fruitful in the testimony of Christ and His restored gospel, in thought, in speech, in deed.23 God lives. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Joseph Smith, the great prophet of the Restoration, was the instrument by which we have been constituted as a people, led even today by a prophet of God, President Gordon B. Hinckley. Let us daily renew in our hearts the pure love of Christ and overcome with our Master the darkness of the world.

    I think his words really can address “both sides” — we can maybe start with those in our midst in the Church and work to foster a spirit of peace, even as we may disagree on things. But we also need to have a sense of what we as a Church should be sharing with the world and be unified in the message we share. I think we need to have a spirit of testimony as a people if we want to share our message with the world.

  74. I actually have a pretty good first hand view of AIDS in Africa having served there in 1993-1995. In 1993 we never ran into people with AIDS. By the time I left in 1995 I was running into people with AIDS on a weekly basis. There are some LDS women I know who caught HIV/AIDS from unfaithful husbands. They were MAD…….

    (LOC will never work so yes I was kidding) The cat is out of the bag on LOC from a global perspective but it will protect individuals/couples who believe in it.

    I am very pessimistic about stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa based on my mission experience.

  75. Total tangent, but this item by the Church for World AIDS day that discusses the Church’s efforts was very inspiring to me.

  76. m&m,
    I am interested in your thoughts. I agree that the church does need to be unified on certain topics, which topics would include, at first glance, those mentioned by Elder Wood. I happily consider all of that to be necessary knowledge for salvation. My question is, in part, does orthodoxy stretch very far beyond those 4 or five things that Elder Wood mentioned? If it does, where should it end? If it doesn’t, what does that mean for the many things we often consider orthodox beliefs that don’t make the list?

  77. If it doesn’t, what does that mean for the many things we often consider orthodox beliefs that don’t make the list?

    What kinds of things do you think are “considered orthodox” but don’t “make the list”? I’m trying to get a feel for what you are thinking about. In the meantime, I’ll mull over your questions a bit. :) I gotta get some sleep.

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