At Keepapitchinin, Ardis gives us an excellent example of how gospel twinkies are created and spread forth. Throughout her article, lest someone quote from it and restart the fairytale story, she writes in bold: This is not true! Do not teach it!
Her article demonstrates how hearsay often replaces actual doctrine. I recall an incident on my mission in Bolivia, way back in 1979. My companion received a letter from family, quoting a missionary in South Africa. This missionary stated that they had a missionary meeting with then elder Gordon B Hinckley of the Twelve. Someone asked him when the 2nd Coming would be, and elder Hinckley (according to the story, but note: This is not true! Do not teach it!) stated that we do know some things about it. It would be on a Sunday April 6th. Well, the missionary then went on to speculate which future date the 2nd Coming would probably occur on.
Within 2 weeks of us reading this exciting and awesome information, both the Ensign and Church News had an article quoting Elder Hinckley stating, This is not true! Do not teach it!
The 20th century was filled with soooo much speculation and feel-good stories that were not true that since that incident on my mission, I’ve always insisted on CFR. Whether it is Del Parson’s Christ painting miracle stories, 3 Nephite stories, the little birdies, or Cain being Bigfoot, there are always stories that we would love to be true, and often we end up willing to toss away our integrity, while hanging onto a false hope.
There is no power in falsehoods. Just empty hopes and dreams. But the real and true gospel of Christ opens the door for true power. There are plenty of real accounts of miracles as Saints crossed the Plains. There are plenty of real evidences to strengthen our faith in the Book of Mormon. We do not need stories of the 3 Nephites, when there are plenty of real miracles awaiting us.
Even more important, we need to learn the doctrine of Christ. It contains the truths and power we need for exaltation. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted in his awesome General Conference talk, “A Teacher Come from God”:
When crises come in our lives—and they will—the philosophies of men interlaced with a few scriptures and poems just won’t do. Are we really nurturing our youth and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories? President John Taylor once called such teaching “fried froth,” the kind of thing you could eat all day and yet finish feeling totally unsatisfied. 18 During a severe winter several years ago, President Boyd K. Packer noted that a goodly number of deer had died of starvation while their stomachs were full of hay. In an honest effort to assist, agencies had supplied the superficial when the substantial was what had been needed. Regrettably they had fed the deer but they had not nourished them. (Jeffrey R Holland, “A Teacher Come From God”, April 1998 General Conference)
Time for Latter-day Saints to give up the children’s fables and embrace real doctrine. It is time for us to scrutinize every claim, so that the things we teach are respected by Mormon and non-Mormon alike. We need to build a strong foundation for our children, so that when they go out in the world, they are not shocked by the evidences they find out there. We need to inoculate them with the truth, so that the truth does not destroy their testimonies later, when they find they’ve only learned fairy tales.