Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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66 I Dialogue Mormonism had a book that was openly antagonistic to much of science.90 The long-standing concern of past Church presidents was quickly realized: the book was hailed by many as an authoritative Church statement that immediately locked Mormonism into direct confrontation with science, and sparked a wave of religious fundamentalism that shows little sign of abatement. Others, mindful of the embarrassment which other Christian churches had suffered on issues of science, and fearful of the consequences for their own Church if the new stance was widely adopted, openly expressed their consternation. The President of the Church, David O. McKay, was a giant of tolerance; the differences in philosophy (within the Church framework) between the book's author and himself could hardly have been more disparate. But a President's actions are essentially authoritative; one tends to act cautiously in such a position, and a public settling of issues was apparently not acceptable to him. Though there is no formal record available of the deliberations involved, the ensuing reactions indicate a low-key, indirect, and peace-making response, at least as far as public utterances are concerned. Apostle Smith vigorously presented his basic thesis to the Seminary and Institute teachers of the Church, assembled in their periodic summer training session at Brigham Young University, on June 28, 1954.91 Exactly nine days later, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., second counselor in the First Presidency and a veteran of over twenty years' service in the Presidency, delivered (by invitation) his speech "When are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?" His message was clear and hard-hitting; it has no peer in Mormon literature. Emphasizing that only the President of the Church may declare doctrine, give interpretation of scripture, ". . . or change in any way the existing doctrines of the Church. . . ," he proceeded to an examination of the scriptural affirmation that whatever the holders of the priesthood speak "when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture. . . ."92 He readily acknowledged that the scripture applied with special force upon the general authorities, but that: . . . They must act and teach subject to the over-all power and authority of the President of the Church . . . Sometimes in the past they have spoken "out of turn," so to speak. . . . There have been rare occasions when even the President of the Church in his preaching and teaching has not been "moved upon by the Holy Ghost." You will recall the Prophet Joseph declared that a prophet is not always a prophet.... . . . even the President of the Church, himself, may not always be "moved upon by the Holy Ghost," when he addresses the people. This has happened about matters of doctrine (usually of a highly speculative character) where subsequent Presidents of the Church and the peoples themselves have felt that in declaring the doctrine, the announcer was not "moved upon by the Holy Ghost." How shall the Church know. . . ? The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, . . . and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest. . . ,93 President Clark continued to hammer this concept home, referring to accounts in the New Testament of doctrinal differences among the apostles, relating the concept to our own day, reiterating continually that . . . even the President of the Church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost, for a prophet is not always a prophet ... in our own Church, leaders have differed in view from the first. . . . not always may the words of a prophet be taken as a prophecy or revelation.... In his final paragraphs, he moved from the position of trying to define what is scripture to identifying what is not scripture, emphasizing that when any one other than the President of the Church attempts to proclaim any new doctrine,