Busting the Mormon Monopoly on Truth

In response to my recent post, “Why I Blog,” I was slapped with this drive-by snarkism:

Jeff, you would not know the truth if it slapped you in the face. You are wrapped up in a belief system and any challenge to that belief system is discarded without serious contemplation. Of course why would you need to? You are in possession of the complete truth. 🙂 You are Typical of those that think they know it all. I have read your blog and you just use the same sarcastic remarks for anyone who disagrees with your thinking. It shows what a little person you really are.

I can only shake my head and wonder at this mentality. The complete truth?? Do any Mormons actually believe that? Has anybody heard such a thing preached? Is it in the scriptures anywhere? Or my blog?

My Website and this blog have provided many relatively serious efforts to contemplate rather than ignore challenges to our faith. Maybe I haven’t regurgitated the kind of bitter diatribes that this anonymous enemy of Mormonism would like to see, but I have frequently pointed out that we do not have a monopoly on truth, that we do not know it all, and that I especially do not know it all.

In fact, one of our articles of faith teaches that we believe that there will be many great things revealed in the future – meaning we are still missing all sorts of important information. And the foundations of our religion point to many books of scripture that we do not yet have – the Book of Lehi, the writings of the brother of Jared, etc. In fact, we only have 1/3 of the scriptures on the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, and there were numerous other ancient writings that we do not have, and numerous truths and insights and facts that will yet be revealed in the Millennium and throughout the eternities. Complete truth? Not a chance.

And as we’ve noted on this blog many times, we have much to learn from the examples, experiences, and writings of those outside our faith. We have something to offer the world, something missing in other faiths, but we can never afford to forget that we have a lot to learn as well.

In a style that I find far too typical among the most vocal anti-Mormons, our passer-by makes sweeping comments allegedly based on familiarity with our faith and with my writings, when that basis is rather lacking. Like the anti-Mormons who tell the world all the strange things that we supposedly teach – including things you just don’t hear in our churches and classes and homes – the attack is based on a twisted stereotype of Mormons and the LDS faith rather than the substance of who we are and what we believe. No sir, I don’t know it all and don’t think we have anything close to a monopoly on truth. If we did, you know the Federal Trade Commission would shut us down in a hurry! (Or we’d be acquired by Google.)

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

135 thoughts on “Busting the Mormon Monopoly on Truth

  1. RFM, for newcomers to LDS topics, refers to critics who are “recovering” from Mormonism. Mormonism is one of those diseases that you can recover from without actually being infected, though the RFM crowd has many genuine recuperators as well. I think the vocal (though often anonymous) anti-Mormon RFMsters are a small minority of former LDS people, many of whom simply sincerely disagree with the Church and are still kind and sometimes even supportive of our faith.

    Some of us have occasionally mistaken RFM with RTFM, a computer and customer service term that refers to people who need to read the fine manual before getting upset at apparent problems. Actually, it fits all of us, for we all need to do a better job reading the fine manuals of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, the best manuals for life.

  2. Having just finished Chapter 5 of Terryl Givens’ People of Paradox (titled “The Glory of God is Intelligence”) on the emphasis in Mormon theology and culture given to knowledge and learning, I’d have to say that our snide passerby is full of hogwash.

    The suggestion that Mormons are incapable of critically examining their faith has all the weight of “My daddy can beat up your daddy.” It’s a cheap way to insult without offering any substance.

    Its other benefit is that it allows the perfect cop-out. If someone else rejects your undeniably reasoned view of Truth, it isn’t because your view of Truth is not as undeniably reasoned as you think. It’s because the other person is too brainwashed to see things from your perspective. You are free and enlightened, and others with a different perspective are mindless sheep who are to be pitied.

    Finally, the argument goes against all the evidence — there’s plenty out there to suggest that Mormons are quite capable of critical introspection of their beliefs, and that they can remain faithful members all the same.

  3. This is one of my favorite posts of yours, Jeff.

    The original commenter’s style fits anti-LDS troll style #1 on my not-yet-complete list:

    1. Outright slamming
    2. Positive remarks, more positive, acting like I’m a fellow believer but having said all that, SLAM/false factoid
    3. Offer praise, then link people to your website where they can read blatantly false anti-LDS information (www.grace-offered-to-cultists.com, or some such thing)
    4. Pretend to be a member of the church, and say, “it’s impossible to disagree with the fact that we believe in FALSE DOCTRINE X, but anyway, that’s beside the point.”
    5. Asking a “big” question that supposedly comes from your brother, a stake president with years of experience, which even HE can’t answer (but everyone at FAIR, and every LDS blogger can)

    Anyway, I love the way you explore the fact that we’re waiting on TONS of information. Reminds me of the invitation to non-members and friends: “Bring what you have with you”…as in, we’re not here to make you drop all your beliefs – we believe you may have been born to contribute.

  4. Jeff, regarding the question: “The complete truth?? Do any Mormons actually believe that?” I might have to say yes.

    Your rebuttal points are valid and accurate, but I have indeed heard many a lesson or talk where the term “fullness of the Gospel” is used interchangeably with “full truth” or “complete truth.” It often comes while explaining why others can feel the spirit at their churches– they have “some truth,” but not “the full truth,” like us.

    I am one, like you, to quickly point out our own doctrine that states that we have much more truth coming our way, but I’m afraid that among Mormons, the idea that the restoration endowed us with the “full” or “complete” truth is alive and well.

    Thanks for the post, though, hopefully it will clear things up for some.

  5. Excellent post. I think we should remember that there’s a clear difference between ‘knowing’ all truth and ’embracing’ all truth.

    BTW Jeff… you spelled “hear” as “here” (in case you want to know).

  6. While I agree with Jeff’s post, I also agree with kc. It’s true that we do not have the full truth and that we are often wrong, but is it then true that the doctrine of the Restoration is no more or less correct than any other sectarian doctrine, and that, as far as accuracy goes, it’s nothing special? I know ex-mormons are probably yelling “YES!” but count me as a believer in the Lord’s statement in the D&C that this is His only true and living church. However, I don’t think this means we have a monopoly on truth or that we don’t need to reexamine our belief that we have the “full” truth. Maybe clarification is needed. Any thoughts?

  7. Interesting accusation… the Dec 12, 2007 Mormanity post linked to an article by Terryl Givens where he said the following:

    Today I want to show how my own appreciation for and understanding of the pre-existence has been enriched, and broadened, by a comparative study of the idea and its myriad appearances in the history of philosophy, theology, and literature. What I have come to appreciate is this cardinal insight: If the restoration is not yet complete, then other traditions have much to teach us. Not by way of confirming, corroborating, or verifying the truths we already have. But by way of actually adding to the body of revealed doctrine we call precious and true. The Restoration is neither full nor complete.

  8. Oops… took too long composing my reply and missed some good questions…

    Do LDS believe that all doctrines required for our salvation have been restored/revealed? Yes.

    Do LDS believe this necessary and sufficient set of doctrines can be found, intact, in other churches? No, just like every other denomination, Christian or otherwise (else why would they care to differentiate themselves from the rest?).

    Do LDS believe that we currently have (or invented) all truth in the universe, or that other groups have no truth? Oh, please…

    Do LDS believe that all truth is ultimately compatible with LDS doctrine? Yes (Brigham Young, this time): If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.

  9. Jeff – Good, well written topic.

    Is it possible to ask contributors here (without being critical in any way) –

    What is Truth?

    How is it defined in the Bible?

    Can there be more than one Truth ?

    Also Ryan – you left a quote about the ‘Restoration’ as if it is being discussed in the quote like an ongoing project.

    Sor far in previous comments on this sub-topic that have been directed my way, it is something that was always described in the past tense as in ‘restored’. Restored tends to lend it’s meaning to a completeness.

    If you apply this teminology to an old jalopy (I like this American word), then it would tend to lend an understanding that the jalopy be returned to it’s original showroom condition. There wouldn’t be any more improvements to make.

    Restoration would mean that the jalopy project would be somewhere mid-term and not quite ready for the road.

    Please can someone help me to understand whether your doctrines are ‘restored’ or under ‘restoration’ ?

    Lastly Ryan – I also just noticed your last added comment. Question – As a presumed Christian, why would anyone want to adopt the truth of a hell doctrine, just so that you can claim it (quoted Brigham Young)?

    Interested,

    Teranno4x4

  10. Teranno-

    Good point. I agree that “restoration” does imply a sense of completeness, but the degree to which a restoration is complete depends on our concept of the original. In this case, the original Christ-established church was also “true” in the senses outlined by Ryan, but, like the Modern church, still awaited further revelation from God.

    So it may be more accurate to say that the Restoration returned Christianity to the same level of “incompleteness” as existed in the first-century church.

  11. So does that mean that LDS define themselves as the ‘restored’ church undergoing continual ‘restoration’ ?

  12. Teranno4x4 said:
    So does that mean that LDS define themselves as the ‘restored’ church undergoing continual ‘restoration’ ?

    Try “the restored church undergoing continual *revelation*.” The restoration is complete in the sense that it brought back the doctrines necessary for salvation. Those haven’t changed since. It is incomplete in the sense that, someday (mostly during the Millenium), all things that were ever known in any dispensation to any one will be restored, and many things that were never before revealed will be revealed. So, while it won’t affect our salvation to know more about the pre-existence, Terryl sees evidence that more was known about it in the past than we have now.

    Teranno4x4 said:
    why would anyone want to adopt the truth of a hell doctrine, just so that you can claim it?

    Oh, please… where did he say anything about accepting hellish doctrines as truth? Sheesh.

    if you can find a truth…. Truth is truth, regardless of where it might be hiding. I think it’s safe to say the devil knows the Bible inside out. Does that make it untrue? What if there were a copy locked up in a vault of the underworld somewhere?

    The most effective temptations and heresies alike are the ones that put a subtle spin or twist on… truth. Gotta know it to spin it. The condemned are justly punished exactly because they do know the Truth and the Word, but do not accept, follow, respect, or teach Him…

  13. I read Jeff’s web site until he started Mormanity. In all of this reading I can’t say I remember Jeff ever taken pot shots at non-Mormons. Actually I think he exhibited a great deal of patience with some of our more rabid anti-Mormon friends. There are non-Mormons where I work that I discuss religion with from time-to-time. They don’t mind telling me just how false Mormonism is and how far off the wall the Book of Mormon is. But neither has nor will read the Book of Mormon. I have come to the conclusion that non-Mormons can never concede a single point to us no matter how obvious we are right. Because the minute they do they might have to admit we really do know what we’re talking about. That puts them and not us in the tight spot. Richard G.

  14. I think that Most people think that the LDS think they have the finel say on what is and is not truth because they claim that all other churches are apostate, and that the LDS is the only true church. (paraphase from Joseph smith though i haven’t the reference point). many mormons have infomed me that they have more truth. that seems to say that of all the truth we have avalible They have the most, therefore a monoply. I mean isn’t that the point of having a prophet?

    What is Truth? that all depends on which philosopher you choose to ascribe to. Is it as Plato said and Truth is out side of the cave and unatainable? or is it knowable and in the world around us as Aristotle said.

    as for these statements of not having all truth because this truth has not been reviled. Okay I am sorry but because that truth is not avalible it is irrelivent. it is truth as Kant spoke which could not be known because it is completely Other, therefore unatainible by the tangible world. it might as well not exist.

    on a side note, i am not a mormon nor an Exmo.

  15. Jeff, it seems that drive-by snarkist was wrapped up in his own belief system. So sad. You can almost see the mists of darkness.

    ***

    There are two types of truths being discussed: Spiritual truth and temporal truth.

    First: the truth necessary for salvation–that Jesus IS the Christ (and all the accompanying truths of His ministry and His teachings). By knowing (through the Holy Spirit) the first truth, we shall be set free. LDS hold that many essential truths were lost or distorted during the first centuries after the manifestation of Jesus and that it was necessary for a restoration of those truths (some doctrinal, some related to priesthood authority). Enough spiritual truth was restored so that the church could function in a way to prepare the world for the return of the King.

    Second: “Temporal” truth is all other worldly knowledge–the “facts” that we might like to know, but if we don’t know the answers it won’t impact on our eventual salvation.

    Do Mormons have a lock on all types of both truths? Hardly. Are there aspects of truth found in other religious traditions that would help us understand God and His creation more? Certainly.

    Do we NEED these additional truths for us to comprehend the greatness of the Gospel and to be received into the Kingdom of God. No. But as true disciples of Christ we have been admonished to seek out the truth of all things and it is through our love for God that we would voluntarily seek additional truths, to the limit that we are capable of understanding, so that our own appreciation of the majesty of God may be expanded.

    In every tradition (including LDS), you’ll find people who proclaim “the truth, the truth; we have got the truth. What need we for any additional truth?” As though the bare minimum necessary required for salvation, while yea verily sufficient, is still going to be a weak sign of someone’s proclaimed devotion to the Savior.

    It as though we’ve reached a plateau of truth. We’ve set up a base camp and everything we need is here. However, we are surround by peaks on all sides–the mysteries of Godliness stretching up into the heavens.

    Find what is true, hold fast to that which is good. Break camp and pick a peak–there are many to choose from (but also never forget where your tent is based). -cp

  16. “They have the most, therefore a monopoly.” Monopoly means there’s only one – refers to an exclusive position with sole control of a market. Having the most or being the best in some way doesn’t make you a monopoly. Jay Leno may be the best and have the most humor, but there’s plenty of competition.

  17. I think much of the anger and RFM vitriol to which you refer comes not from Mormons claiming to have ALL truth but claiming that Mormonism is the ideal path for all the follow. This infers that those choosing a different life path are either morally bankrupt, deceived or at best misinformed.