Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

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Just This Guy
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Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:32 am

A discussion on a nother thread got me thinking and I figured I woudl start a new thread instead of clutting that one with side topic stuff.

To start with:
Mormorrisey wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:06 am
Just This Guy wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:02 am
Palerider wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:40 am
But none of the members take the time to actually read those scriptures carefully to see what really happened. [.....]

Mormon leadership are either very stupid (which I doubt) or extremely deceptive on the understanding of O.T. plural marriage.
I think it is more that Mormons have always been very poor about reading scriptures in context. Mormons read them with blinders on. They will take a scripture and read just that. They do not examine what is before of after it. That takes too much time away from the rest of their study. This also has the effect to help prevent any cognitive dissonance. If they knew the context, they may have to rethink their message.

To be fair, this sort of scriptural tunnel vision is not unique to Mormonism. I see it all the time in other Christian sects.

I would say that it is more likely that they are not stupid and they are not intentionally misrepresenting anything, they are just lazy.
I agree, and I also agree with Gina Colvin that it's also a product of poor theology. Given that the church only has a lay leadership, and that even it's full time clergy had jobs before, none of them ever went to to theological seminary - they have never performed real scriptural exegesis (other than looking for Mormony events in the Bible) or even looked at theology, philosophy or deep doctrinal musings. And it has produced very lazy theology in its members.
This brings up an interesting point. What caused what? Did the selective scripture reading cause the lazy theology or did lazy theology cause the selective scripture reading as a way to maintain the theology? Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

I am kind of leaning towards the lazy theology is what requires the selective reading, and no, it's not a correlation thing. It goes all the way back to JSj.

in the early 1830's when he was working on the JST, he edited 1 Corinthians 15:40 to include reference to his made up Telestial kingdom. When read on it's own, it supports his three kings of glory doctrine, but when read in context, the changes make no sense and stand out like a sore thumb. You have to read that selectively for the change to work. So the poor theology results in having to selectively read scriptures to maintain it.

What say you? Chicken or the egg?
Last edited by Just This Guy on Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Mormorrisey » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:42 am

I think I'm too much of a lazy theological Mormon to even respond to this! :lol:

But it's a good question - and I would suspect what you do, that the lazy theology comes first, and then the selective reading to support the lazy theology. As a historian I never want to read modern context into history texts, which the Bible is, so it always irritated me to hear about Old Testament people as if they were modern Mormons.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by jfro18 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:44 am

The church is so tightly correlated that believing members don't think they're lazy but just following what they're told.

My wife is now a sunday school teacher, so she bought a Deseret Book study guide to help her with the scriptures each week. So she probably is thinking "I'm doing so much background work to prepare to teach these kids about the Bible" when in reality she's just regurgitating whatever info the correlation department allows into the analysis.

So in that case I wouldn't call her lazy at all, but just obedient to what church leaders tell her the scriptures mean as members are expected to be. The idea of going to a non-LDS source for deeper context to scriptures would never even occur to her.

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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Rob4Hope » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:23 am

I think the problem is more perspective and approach base. In Science, you start with the data. From that, you conjecture and derive working conclusions that you apply the data to and its either supported or not. In Religion, you start with the conclusions, and you cherry pick the doctrine, perhaps constraining it, to support the conclusions you already have. I see this all the time out there.

With regards to the BoM, you have people saying that they know the BoM is true, therefore JSj was a prophet. And since JSj was a prophet, he must have been commanded to practice plural marriage, or send OPR out to kill Boggs, or use slander to silence his enemies. I mean, after all, WE ALREADY KNOW HE WAS A PROPHET!....so there has to be a logical and valid reason why he did these other things. (a good example of constraining the data in whatever way is necessary to support the conclusion.)

Because of this approach, it forces selective scripture reading. It also forces lazy theology as well, and the two are not mutually exclusive. But at the core, they have a religious paradigm at the base. You START with the conclusion, and then you constrain the data to support it.

PS. Another example. I was on my mission and the Dead Sea Scrolls started to come out. I remember hearing people cherry pick items from those, and Of course THOSE things supported Mormonism. They were of ancient date, and ANYTHING that supported, even remotely the perspective, was clearly evidence to prove mormonism. Right?

I personally believe the religious paradigm is one of the most dangerous thought distortions that can exist. Look how much suffering and blood it entails!

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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Palerider » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:45 am

jfro18 wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:44 am
The church is so tightly correlated that believing members don't think they're lazy but just following what they're told.

So in that case I wouldn't call her lazy at all, but just obedient to what church leaders tell her the scriptures mean as members are expected to be. The idea of going to a non-LDS source for deeper context to scriptures would never even occur to her.

When I stated that "leadership" was either "very stupid (which I doubt)" or "very deceptive", I was speaking strictly of church general authorities.

I don't really see SPs and Bishops as having authority to direct how scripture should be interpreted by the church in general. SPs and Bishops are generally just "Yes men".

It's guys like Holland and McConkie who claim to be "pretty smart guys" because they have Phd's from Yale or Harvard or as in the case of McConkie, were known as the great "scriptorians" of the church......these guys claim to be the great and inspired authorities on the meaning of scripture. They are NOT lazy. Neither are they stupid.

They are forced to look at the Bible only through the lens of what was written by Joseph as "modern revelation". Even when it flatly contradicts what the Bible is saying. Even when what the Bible says makes perfect sense and it's story is very consistent!!! Especially in the case of Abraham and Sarah.

One cannot use the Biblical scriptures to support Joseph's version of polygamy. It isn't there.

In reality you have to take Joseph's word for it that plural marriage the way he defined it is what God wants. Joseph is standing completely and utterly on his own. But church leadership aren't going to tell you that. They're counting on members to either believe outright what they are saying or to not take the initiative to study it out from an objective point of view.

Holland earned a master's degree in Religious Education at BYU. He received a second master's degrees and later a Ph.D in American Studies at Yale University.

So being a self declared "smart guy" is he being deceptive when he promotes a strictly Joseph oriented exegetic on plural marriage or has he so committed himself to Joseph's prophetship that he is a biased "Yes man"?

Because he may be a "Doh-doh", but he isn't stupid and he isn't lazy......
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Culper Jr. » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:51 am

I read Charles Harrell’s This is My Doctrine a while back and it is insane how many of the “proof the church is true” scriptures mean something entirely different than what Joseph Smith thought. I guess he was so excited/desperate/unsophisticated/arrogant to prove that the rise of the church was foretold of in the Bible he didn’t really study them in their context. Once a “prophet” decreed that’s what these scriptures meant, it is correlated and taught that way until overwhelming evidence shows he was speaking as a man and using it as a catalyst or whatever the current apologetic happens to be.

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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:02 pm

I have read stuff by James E Talmage and Hugh Nibley. These are supposedly some of the greatest researcher's the church has put out and they both fall into the trap of selective scripture reading. I've read the 1 Cor. 15 one in Talmage.

Maybe from a different point of view, you grow up with a culture of scripture tunnel vision, then you are never trained as an adult to read the full context and you stick to old habits?
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by græy » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:08 pm

Culper Jr. wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:51 am
I read Charles Harrell’s This is My Doctrine a while back and it is insane how many of the “proof the church is true” scriptures mean something entirely different than what Joseph Smith thought. I guess he was so excited/desperate/unsophisticated/arrogant to prove that the rise of the church was foretold of in the Bible he didn’t really study them in their context. Once a “prophet” decreed that’s what these scriptures meant, it is correlated and taught that way until overwhelming evidence shows he was speaking as a man and using it as a catalyst or whatever the current apologetic happens to be.
That is a great read. I've been trying to get several other people (mostly TBMs) to read it too, but so far there have been no takers. No one really cares about the things that are said to be most important.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:12 pm

I think it's a pitfall of most religious traditions. The New Testament erroneously proof texts the Hebrew Bible for evidence that Jesus was the messiah. Every modern Christian religion proof texts the New Testament to support their claims. Joseph Smith and his followers did the same and they continue to do so today. It is a powerful and convenient way of legitimizing yourself, so there is a massive built-in bias to promote doing it. Joseph took it up a notch though, he wrote prophesies of himself into ancient scripture.

I give Harrell's book a big thumbs-up too. It provides astounding clarity on how it all got stitched together.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Just This Guy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:10 am

Once I was out of the church and I started looking at the Bible with the same degree of scrutiny that I did with Mormonism, I came across tones of issues. Contradictions, different overlapping histories, shoehorned prophecies, etc. In many ways, the bible was even more problematic for its history than a lot of the BOM.

Reading the gospels and seeing just how much they do not jive and then reading about the political motivations of the various authors, the idea of the gospels being divine in origins doesn't hold water anymore. More like various authors collected and used various stores they hear to push their particular goal. That is what lead me to the conclusion that the Bible is just as reliable a source of truth as the BOM is, I.e. not at all.

Because the bible contradicts itself so much, really, you have to have some form of selective reading, otherwise any religion based on the Bible will completely fall apart. Just look at the shear number of christian sects all based on the same source materiel. If the Bible were clear, then there would only be one christian church. That's how we get Westburough Baptist on one extreme and Episcopalian on the other. Any theology is going to require some degree of trimming to the bible to make it work.

I think that some people are better about being holistic about their selective reading than others.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by moksha » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:15 am

Years ago I attended a non-LDS Bible study group. We read the New Testament and paused and talked about it and read some more. No skipping around and just getting to points that addressed some LDS peculiarity.

BTW, reading the Bible is best with a plain English translation such as the Message or Good News Bibles. The KJV seems to obscure the meaning with a version of English no longer spoken outside of Mormon prayers.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:21 am

Palerider wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:45 am
Joseph is standing completely and utterly on his own.
C'mon Palerider, what about Warren Jeffs, Ervil LeBaron, Paul Kingston, etc, etc? The church could draw on plenty of other examples God commanding prophets to practice polygamy exactly as Joseph did. And let's not forget that God gave Joseph a clause in the 8th Article of Faith to explain why you can't find it in the Bible. This is obviously one of those plain and precious truth got ripped out of the Bible by evil doctors of religion. It's as plain as the nose on your face.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:23 am

moksha wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:15 am
Years ago I attended a non-LDS Bible study group. We read the New Testament and paused and talked about it and read some more. No skipping around and just getting to points that addressed some LDS peculiarity.

BTW, reading the Bible is best with a plain English translation such as the Message or Good News Bibles. The KJV seems to obscure the meaning with a version of English no longer spoken outside of Mormon prayers.
Heretic! The last couple of lessons I taught the Young Men before I bowed out were built around readings from the NIV. You should have seen the panicked look in the eyes of the adult leaders who were present.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Palerider » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:37 am

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:21 am
Palerider wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:45 am
Joseph is standing completely and utterly on his own.
..... what about Warren Jeffs, Ervil LeBaron, Paul Kingston, etc, etc?
Ha! Yes, I'm sure the church would love to call on these guys as authoritative support for polygamy since they all derive from Joseph. :)

But you're right, Joseph (and I'm betting Joe Senior was in on it) had to negate all of the Bible's ability to speak for itself so they could in turn put forward the idea that the Bible only says what we say it says.

What a wonderful gift to give yourself.

Speaking of bad theology. Joseph, was very ham-handed in the way he went in and re-wrote the Bible to his own satisfaction. I've done comparisons between Biblical texts and his "inspired version" and he actually changed things that didn't need changing at all. They actually are made less insightful and doctrinal because of his tinkering. Even when viewed through the lens of Mormon theology.

When I see someone make stupid, unnecessary changes in Biblical scripture because they are too lazy or impatient to do a proper study......it becomes a testimony to me that we're dealing with a false prophet.

Total fake. :oops:
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Palerider » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:47 am

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:23 am
You should have seen the panicked look in the eyes of the adult leaders who were present.
Oh.....deer in headlights I bet. :D
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:54 am

But he was a humble man. Here's a modest little addition he made to Genesis 50:
30 And again, a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins; and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them in the last days;

31 Wherefore the fruit of thy loins shall write, and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to a knowledge of their fathers in the latter days; and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

32 And out of weakness shall he be made strong, in that day when my work shall go forth among all my people, which shall restore them, who are of the house of Israel, in the last days.

33 And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called... (here comes the punchline...) Joseph, (ta da!) and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.
I believe this is the largest addition he made to the Bible, apart from the Book of Moses. Like Moses, Joseph Smith is a pretty big deal for the God of the Old Testament.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Rob4Hope » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:20 am

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:54 am
But he was a humble man. Here's a modest little addition he made to Genesis 50:
30 And again, a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins; and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them in the last days;

31 Wherefore the fruit of thy loins shall write, and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to a knowledge of their fathers in the latter days; and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

32 And out of weakness shall he be made strong, in that day when my work shall go forth among all my people, which shall restore them, who are of the house of Israel, in the last days.

33 And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called... (here comes the punchline...) Joseph, (ta da!) and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.
I believe this is the largest addition he made to the Bible, apart from the Book of Moses. Like Moses, Joseph Smith is a pretty big deal for the God of the Old Testament.
There are references in LDS letters where those involved referred to Joseph as "our God"...yes, that is with a capital 'G'!

Idolatry at its highest level....

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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Reuben » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:06 am

Palerider wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:47 am
Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:23 am
You should have seen the panicked look in the eyes of the adult leaders who were present.
Oh.....deer in headlights I bet. :D
It's also fun to point out that Elder Uchtdorf frequently quotes from and references the NIV. I did this to my very rigid YM first counselor once. "Gasping fish" best describes the result.

I stopped short of citing the 8th Article of Faith and saying it implies that the NIV is more the word of God than the KJV. He probably would have exploded.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by nibbler » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:33 am

It depends on how you define lazy theology.

In the home: I believe many members read the scriptures front to back in their personal studies. We may not be selective about which verses they read but we do tend to be very selective about which book of scripture we read. I hear a challenge/goal to read the entire BoM on the order of at least once a year, often I hear the challenge issued more than once in the same year. I've never heard leaders issue a goal to read any other book of scripture, OT, NT, D&C, PoGP, it's always the BoM. So we're very selective with that.

Here's where I struggle with how we define lazy. I know many members read the scriptures all the way through, even if only once in a lifetime so they can say that they've read it all the way through. I think the issue is that we approach the scriptures the same way apologetics approaches defending the faith. We start with a predetermined conclusion then read the scriptures looking for ways it supports our predetermined conclusions.

It's lazy in a sense. Not in the sense that we're only bothering to read the scriptures that support the church's doctrines but lazy in the sense that the approach is more passive. If we set out to learn anything at all we only end up learning different paths to arrive at the exact same conclusions. What do these scriptures mean vs. how do these scriptures support my beliefs. Church reinforces this because there's a right answer and a wrong answer. Exploration of scripture has to arrive at the correct answers.

At church: We're very selective in our scripture reading. I suppose there's not enough time in class to go over everything, and I certainly don't want to plant the idea that we should. Lord knows I've sat in on way too many lessons where we take turns reading from a conference talk. I don't want to do that with the scriptures too. But our lessons pretty much define proof texting.
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Re: Lazy Theology and Selective Scripture Reading

Post by Just This Guy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:02 am

I would venture to say that scripture reading and scripture study are two separate things in Mormonism. Reading is what most people do with the end goal to get though the book. How often do we get challenges to read the BoM? When that happens, they start at 1 Nephi and keep going until they complete Moroni. This is where people will always complain about how hard it is to get through the Isiah stuff 2nd Nephi. They read it like any other book. They will skim though the boring or difficult parts so they can get to the fun war chapters. Who here hasn't skipped over the begat sections of the old testament?

What is scripture study in the church? That is taking some manual or book or the bible dictionary and working through the citations. They stick to the cited verses and do not venture outside of it. At least within Mormonism, very few people will take a section and pick it apart to understand it.
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