This is not true! Do not teach it!

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.

20 thoughts on “This is not true! Do not teach it!

  1. Is it any wonder that, twice a year, the Lord has to get our leaders to reiterate and review the VERY BASICS of the Gospel?

    When we get the basics down pat, perhaps then He will see fit to give us more. But it’s difficult. Not only does, at any given time, half the Church consist of new members, but us older members are passing around personal experiences that grow with the retelling, until they become Mormon Urban Legends.

  2. Awesome post Rame! Problem is what kids hear in their homes and at the pulpit and in the classrooms of their local unit will have the greatest influence on what their testimonies are based on. These stories are based on drama, and that is much more exciting than the basic doctrines. These kids, raised on fairy tales, in turn, as missionaries teach it to new converts, or their own familes, and their local unit, and the cycle starts over again……

  3. Excellent post. I have nothing to add except my raised hand in support of “the fundamental principles of our religion… the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven” and in support of all other things which pertain to our religion, the appendages to the Atonement, said Joseph Smith. I sustain the members who teach true doctrine, from the humble home and visiting teachers to the president of the Church. I guess I will add comments after all. There are many instances when mortals are told to not repeat, not to divulge certain experiences and doctrines, to keep portions of scriptures or visions “sealed”. Some things we can share in testimony meetings, some things from patriarchal blessings or personal experiences we shouldn’t speculate about. Repeating fairy tales or embellishing stories is nothing more than terrestrial gossip. “Celestial” gossip… That would be an oxymoron…

  4. Does this mean I shouldn’t be all prepared or excited about next year being Sunday, April 6th? Seems to me we could be almost there anyway, and we have already been through so many “the world ends xxxx”. I guess I will just wait and see, no reason to get all excited if our leaders aren’t going to. But again, there is still over 7 months until then and much can happen….

  5. It’s a shame the 6th in 2030 is on a Saturday, or we could spread rumours about the end coming on the 200th anniversary of the Church founding.

    I’d take 2025. Course, I’d take 2014 as well, but rumours flourish on “secret” cosmological reasons. Maybe 2031, being 200 years since Christ started His ministry? ;)

  6. It seems to me that another aspect of this type of need for “spiritual fluff” occers when Church leaders constantly attempt to create “spiritual experiences” for members, especially youth. Manufacturing “spiritual highs” can not only lead to the promulgation of such Mormon Hearsay, but can damage youth by teaching them that if they do not continually have “spiritual experiences”, they are not living correctly. It seems to me that this approach discount the “still small voice” that is the real key to growth and spiritual development. Daily interaction with the Lord through prayer and scripture reading and study boilf faith in the quiet recesses of the heart. By “small means does the Lord bring about great things”.

  7. Dymoman,
    The alternative to “if they do not continually have “spiritual experiences”, they are not living correctly.” is not that we are living “incorrectly” or “correctly” but that we are not “living up to our potential” if we are not receiving daily revelation, the ministering of angels, and having doctrines and teachings distill upon our souls like the dews from heaven via the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    And by “living up to our potential” I mean actively striving to not only live a Christ-like life, but to apply that life to the saving of souls – preaching the gospel, raising a righteous posterity through teaching and example and directly serving others.

    I don’t know about you, but I recognize extended of time in my life when I have lived up to that potential and the blessings were exactly those I outlined above which absolutely qualify as extraordinary spiritual experiences and discernment.

    I’m not comfortable with admitting that my current life (and presumable that of most of us) is ideal or even correct, when measured against the potential our Father has in mind for us.

    I also wouldn’t bash myself over the head too much about not getting there, but feel a bit of loss when I reflect on it. Here’s to hoping we, or at least I is no one shares my sentiments, can do a bit better. The sheer amount of time and effort we spend on things that do not bring us direct revelation through the Holy Ghost and/or ministering of angels is a tragedy of lost opportunity in my opinion.

    True, there are far worse things than a simple life of trying to be a decent person to be upset about. But my goal is not to be comfortable on the middle road.

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