Thoughts on the Updated Handbook

The Church continues to update the Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI). Among the changes are a couple new points that I’ve been thinking about.

First: An added section titled “Seeking Information from Reliable Sources” counsels Latter-day Saints to be wise in their pursuit of truth. “Seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information,” the text says. “Avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor. The guidance of the Holy Ghost, along with careful study, can help members discern between truth and error (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12; 45:57). In matters of doctrine and Church policy, the authoritative sources are the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the General Handbook.”

Second: Regarding “energy healing” and other similar actions, we learn – An updated section on medical and health care notes that “seeking competent medical help, exercising faith, and receiving priesthood blessings work together for healing, according to the will of the Lord.” Latter-day Saints “are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.’ Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.”

In these two sections, I see a parallel thought from the Brethren. Members are looking beyond the mark, seeking answers that are not within the guidance of the Church. As I noted on a Facebook question regarding the former section, I wrote:

“I think it ties in with the new section on energy healing. Members are replacing doctrine and truth with conspiracies and Voodoo. As with spiritualism, which often combines Christianity with magic, we are seeing Latter-day saints drifting away into dangerous waters and seeking to justify their positions as within the scope of the gospel. These aren’t within that scope and they are wrong in seeking after their own gods (DC 1).”

While serving my mission in Bolivia back in 1978-80, I found a few pages from a spiritualist book. These were incantations that would bring health, love, and other events. Many of these required sacred water from the local Catholic chapel, or a cross, as the catalyst for the magic to work. In tying the magic in with Catholic rites, people justified their actions as being within the realm of approved Christianity.

However, we see that the Church works within a pattern given to us by prophets. These are found in scripture, modern prophetic teachings and the CHI.

In regards to conspiracy, we find often in scripture that the people were “stirred up to anger” by conspiracies. Secret combinations and Gadianton robbers were often accepted by the Nephite nation as the norm. Nephi warns us about those who are either stirred to anger, or “lulled” to sleep by the devil.

For energy healings, we find in scripture and the prophets that there is the true priesthood, and there is the false priestcraft. In the Old Testament, it was called sorcery and witchcraft. King Saul supposedly communicated with the deceased prophet Samuel via a seance.

The sons of the priest Sceva were impressed that the apostle Paul could cast out devils in Christ’s name. Yet, when they attempted to do the same, the demon pronounced, “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?”

Finally, Jesus said there would be many who would proclaim “Lord, Lord” and show the many miracles and fine works they did. Yet, because they did not do it in the Lord’s way, the Lord would not recognize them. “I know you not” or also translated, “Ye know me not.”

Still, we see many who insist on chasing shadows. They find power in their conspiracies, fake news, and emotional belief systems. They find power in magic. They will justify themselves and their works, believing them to be good works.

Yet, they forget that Jesus is the Light and Truth. His is the Power through his eternal priesthood, the Holy Priesthood after the Son of God. He is the Source, and shares that power via his appointed representatives, apostles and prophets.

To “stand in holy places and not be moved,” means to closely follow the prophets and their guidance. Discard darkness and embrace the revealed light. The conspiracies and energy healings are not Celestial things. They cannot edify nor bring us closer to Christ. In the short term they may bring a form of hope and happiness, a surety of sorts. However, in the long run, only following the prophets and learning truth and power in and of the priesthood can bring us true power in Jesus Christ.

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery (joelsmonastery.blogspot.com). He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Updated Handbook

  1. As a Librarian, who earns his bread teaching students how to find and evaluate sources, I love that this has been included in the handbook.

  2. When i first saw the abbreviation CHI i did a double take thinking you were referring to taoist teachings.

  3. One of the points of the Gospel that I love is that we teach all truth is self-consistent. Whether it comes from the Holy Ghost, an angel, or simply the advancement of knowledge through application of observation, testing, and logic This has consequences for our everyday life, if we place our “faith” in baseless and/or false assumptions we will be led away from truth. If we allow ourselves to led too far away from truth we will have a difficult time recognizing truth when it is presented to us. Our scriptures teach us that we can be led astray by men who seek to deceive us for their own gain. Reality matters.

  4. “Seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information,” the text says. “Avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor.”

    This is very sound advice. Unfortunately, in today’s world it is exceedingly difficult to find news sources that are not attempting to actively craft the narrative according to a political imperative rather than seeking to “speak truth to power” in equal measure to all sides. Perusing multiple sources (particularly those that tend to disagree with one another) is a must in today’s world. Even sources claiming to be “fact checkers” can no longer be trusted to be free of this bias.

    An unfortunate fact of our online life is this: “Partisan rancor and conspiracy-based narratives sell. Reasoned dialogue, careful sourcing and thorough, bias-resistant reporting does not.”

  5. I love the “truth is self-consistent” thought above. One of the most pernicious developments in our modern discourse is the attempt to use true statements to rebut one another. This can’t ever work, because that’s not how truth works. Instead, it just keeps people at each other’s throats.

  6. This could as easily be applied to information sources among church members. I can think of 3 examples, represented by 3 certain high-profile indivuduals who were eventually excommunicated.

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