Sunday, July 6, 2008

15 Minutes

I only caught the last 15 minutes of Gospel Doctrine today, but still made it in time for a couple of interesting discussions. For the record, interesting discussions are the exception rather than the rule in my ward. The text seemed to be Alma 13 or thereabouts.

First, the teacher suddenly asked whether we were supposed to "question" our leaders. I don't think this query was well-framed, but the answer was likely to be more interesting than simply "pray" or "read the scriptures". A sister I've never seen before raised her hand first - we are always supposed to question our leaders because they are just people and can easily lead us astray while holding on to their positions. A bishopric member's hand immediately shot up - our leaders are called for a reason and there is a hierarchy in place that should be consulted when somebody privately doesn't agree with a leader (i.e. ask the Stake President, etc.) Somehow this devolved into a discussion of the old chestnut about how "sustaining" our leaders actually means to actively help them. I suppose that's true enough, but this definition seems to be a convenient workaround to avoid discussing the uncomfortable step where we actually get to choose and publicly manifest whether we will assent to their leadership.

Second, the teacher entertained a long discussion of how we have complete free agency even though God already knows how things will turn out. Well, He has foreordained certain people to enact his plan but, in case they don't step up to the plate, He has back-up people in place. But He has complete foreknowledge of this anyway. At any rate, we can all agree that foreordination is a superior concept to predestination, which we definitely don't believe in. It occurs to me that a whole body of convoluted explanations have sprung up to reconcile some version of free will with the foreknowledge of God.

The good thing is that nobody had to bother with terms like "determinism" or "libertarian free will" to leave Gospel Doctrine feeling that all is right with the universe.

1 comment:

Danny said...

"Questioning the leaders" is interpreted differently by different Church leaders. The most insecure jump to conclusions and assume you are a threat, and immediately adopt an adversarial posture. OPen-minded leaders instead use that opportunity to elucidate the point they were making or convert the question into a teaching opportunity.
I prefer the second kind of leader who does not treat every difficult question as a threat to his position and authority.
Which is in a sense,a stupid mindset, becasue really, becasue Church membership being of a voluntary nature, I'd submit that Church leaders at any level really have no real authority over us.