False Doctrine Ahead (Weekend Poll)

By: wheatmeister
October 12, 2013

Signs like this on the pulpit might be useful at times.

We’ve all seen people preach false doctrine at times, in talks or lessons or elsewhere.  What have you done about it?  What did others do?

What should we do when a member teaches false doctrine? (choose the best answer)

  • Point out the correct doctrine at the time to prevent people from misunderstanding or believing wrong information. (38%, 28 Votes)
  • Talk to the person privately so they are not embarrassed and point out the mistake. (23%, 17 Votes)
  • Depends. If it's folk doctrine that most in the ward believe, don't bother to correct it. (19%, 14 Votes)
  • Tell the bishop so the member can be corrected by one in authority. (10%, 7 Votes)
  • Do nothing; you don't want to offend someone. (10%, 7 Votes)
  • Suggest that the person be removed from teaching in future. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 73

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What examples of false doctrine have you heard at church?

Discuss.

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22 Responses to False Doctrine Ahead (Weekend Poll)

  1. nate on October 12, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    One man’s false doctrine might be another man’s truth. God may reveal some things to one, some things to another. God is indulgent with doctrinal misunderstandings in the scriptures, so why should’nt we be with each other? (Eternal helfire in the Book of Mormon. Let the priesthood authorities deal with teachers who stray from orthodoxy according to their wisdom and authority. But I think it is a shame for lay membership to police doctrine. I dont believe it is their place.

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  2. ji on October 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    I go to church to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and to strengthen my neighbor. If I can add something that will be helpful, I might speak up. Report it to the bishop? No. The scripture tells me what to do when someone else offends me — it is my problem and I need to deal with it myself.

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  3. Jared on October 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I think of doctrine in three ways:

    1. True Doctrine
    2. False Doctrine
    3 Incomplete Doctrine

    Incomplete doctrine can be as troubling as false doctrine. I think incomplete doctrine is taught more often than false doctrine.

    Incomplete doctrine is commonly taught when the teacher focuses on a topic too narrowly and leaves some of his listeners confused, hurt, or even angry.

    My earliest experience with this was when I was about 13 years old. I stopped going to church for many years as a result. I kept hearing teachers and speakers making the point that those born in the covenant were great and noble spirits. I wasn’t born in the covenant and therefore I concluded I was a second class or worse spirit. So why bother with church, I had already failed before I was even born.

    The full doctrine is that when we are sealed it is as those we were born in the covenant.

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  4. katie88 on October 12, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    In our last ward, a member of the bishopric told the youth at a Standards Night that they should only have sexual relations with their husband or wife to conceive a child. The bishop held another meeting and corrected the misinformation.

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  5. Mormon Heretic on October 12, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Katie, I am shocked to hear that. I did a post about an LDS California couple with outdated sexual beliefs (see http://www.wheatandtares.org/10212/mormon-misconceptions-about-sex/) but I thought they were an anomaly. Was this bishopric member really old? Was this also in California?

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  6. Ziff on October 12, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    I think nate makes a great point. The borders around what constitutes Church doctrine are *so* fuzzy that it seems like it would be really hard to reach a consensus about when something taught is so far outside the norm that everyone (or even most people) would agree that it’s false.

    I wonder if what’s most often taught that might strike us as false is just outdated doctrine. Since the Church never repudiates past teachings–it merely stops teaching them and pretends they never existed–it can be easy for people to not keep up with the changes and end up teaching something that’s “no longer emphasized.” Isn’t this essentially what happened to Randy Bott, for example?

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  7. dba.brotherp on October 13, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    “I wonder if what’s most often taught that might strike us as false is just outdated doctrine. Since the Church never repudiates past teachings–it merely stops teaching them and pretends they never existed–it can be easy for people to not keep up with the changes and end up teaching something that’s ‘no longer emphasized.’ ”

    I think that statement says it all. Can you imagine driving and not knowing what the speed limit is because it is not posted? Then getting pulled over and getting a ticket because the speed you were going was last years speed limit? (think of the never ending evolution of the term “modesty”)

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  8. fbisti on October 13, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    wheatmeister: Fascinating issue and well-written post. But, you failed to include “None of the above” as an answer to your poll. Your “do nothing…” option includes a reason I disagree with. I would do nothing because it is the only workable action listed. Consider: 1. the highly ambiguous and varied nature of what is termed “doctrine” (both officially and culturally); and, 2. the highly sensitive social environment of a ward.

    When I used to attend Gospel Doctrine and High Priest classes, I would sometimes attempt to “correct” the prevailing opinion–sometimes strongly, sometimes gently–and became a pariah. With regard to many issues of doctrine (and Church history), the rank and file most certainly “can’t handle the truth.” And, taking each individual aside to privately educate them would be far too time-consuming, let alone likely to be viewed as “who died and made you the arbiter of accuracy?”

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  9. Roger on October 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    #6. MH, I listened to a BYU branch president (I know that dates me) preach from the pulpit that sex was only for procreation and that after his wife’s hysterectomy, they engaged in complete abstinence.

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  10. MH on October 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Yes Roger, I think you mentioned that on my other post. I am curious about more recent examples (within last 5 years.) I think there are still some old fashioned ideas about sex, and I’m just trying to understand how pervasive it is. I scratch my head when I hear about these attitudes in this century.

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  11. Geoff - A on October 13, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    MH, Our recently released Bishops wife would take young wives aside and tell them it was not acceptable to limit the number of children, if their youngest child was 3 or more. She did this to the wife of a councillor in the Bishopric, and they have not been seen since. This was only 18 months ago. Her daughter is pregnant with 5th and oldest is 5. Bishop is now councillor in Stake Presidency.

    I do believe that most of the false doctrine we hear is actually culture and nothing to do with the Gospel. For years we had conference talks about “obedience the first law of heaven”. Most conservative members still believe this, but there was no mention of it in the conference, Love has been restored as the first law.

    The idea that you have to say “between a man and a woman” whenever you say marriage. Most of Elder Oaks talk, was also culture and not Gospel.

    The biggest hindrance to the Gospel spreading is that this kind of conservative Utah culture is on LDS.org.au were 95% of the population will find it offensive. End of missionary effort.

    Utah conservative culture may be acceptable in Utah but in the

    I joined the church before the internet, the missionaries taught the Gospel and I was not aware I had joined a racist organization for many years – now I would know and would have to think very much harder before I joined.

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  12. MH on October 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Geoff, all I can say is Wow. When we first got married, I lived in Davis County, about a half hour north of Salt Lake City. My bishop’s wife encouraged us to wait at least a year to have kids (and I got married in my 30s). She said that it is important to get to know each other better before starting a family. (We were of a similar mindset.) Even here in conservative Utah county (I’m now about 40 miles south of SLC, and about 20 min from Provo), I’ve never heard anything like sex is only about pro-creation or don’t use birth control. I’ve heard just the opposite–that sex is not only for pro-creation and is a healthy part of marriage. I’ve heard that it is up to the couple to decide prayerfully how many children to have.

    I honestly haven’t heard anything like you’ve mentioned since the early 1980s. I’m wondering why some people live in time warp.

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  13. Hedgehog on October 14, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    MH, I am reminded that in our stake conference only a few years ago (no more than 4 probably less), we had a woman speaker who spoke about how we shouldn’t be restricting family size. It was definitely a talk aimed at encouraging young familes to have more children. I believe she was on the Stake RS presidency at the time (she certainly has been some of the time we’ve been in this stake anyway). It felt weird.

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  14. Jeff Spector on October 14, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I think there is a big difference between incorrect doctrine and false doctrine. Most oft he time, people repeat incorrect doctrine, which is a more innocuous since it is a wrong understanding. False Doctrine to me is a more deliberate attempt at strongly preaching a different interpretation of what is already taught. Sort of like the Denver Stuffer situation.

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  15. IDIAT on October 14, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Up until 2010 or so, I can see how members could perpetuate cultural things regarding moral issues like sex and birth control. However, since the latest handbook 2 came out and is readily available to everyone with an internet connection, I probably wouldn’t tolerate an overt policy falsity being perpetuated. In cases of core doctrine (like something in the Gospel Principles Manual), I would point out that falsity, too. Oh, the beauty of having a smart phone with the full gospel library app. Most other kinds of thinks fall in to the speculative realm, so that I’m comfortable chiming in a “we really don’t know” when someone begins preaching on the fringes. For the record, I have accidently said things out of ignorance, and have been corrected by a Bishop, Stake President, and GA. Each time it was done diplomatically and in public, and I did not take offence.

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  16. Steve on October 14, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Jeff:

    I’ve read the letter sent to Denver Snuffer outlining the rationale for the court. No mention of false doctrine was made.

    Steve

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  17. Jeff Spector on October 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Doesn’t mean there isn’t any…… Or doesn’t Apostasy mean that anymore?

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  18. mh on October 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I think apostasy means “not obeying leaders.”

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  19. Steve on October 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    MH: In Snuffer’s case that is what apostasy meant.

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  20. Roger on October 14, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Apostasy is the renunciation or abandonment of faith.

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  21. hawkgrrrl on October 14, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Jeff: I am intrigued by your idea of the distinction between incorrect and false doctrine, the former being more of an interpretation problem, the latter being a deception (?) although I’m not sure the interpretation problems aren’t an equally serious issue. I wonder if it’s good post fodder. It sounded like there is something worth exploring to that idea.

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  22. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Her, what doctrines are not false.

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