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Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy Found Wanting

For the purposes of this article I refer to Mormon neo-orthodoxy as an attitude

Some neo-orthodox Mormons want it both ways: They want to celebrate small steps of theological change in Mormonism, especially steps taken by BYU professors and a few General Authorities, but then they want to avoid publicly acknowledging that change is even needed, particularly if it requires naming names since doing so would challenge church leadership.


Affinity for evangelical grace

Preferring professors over prophets

Downplaying instead of denouncing


Making excuses for the Church institution

Ignoring the plight of millions


Avoiding the call to radical discipleship

Avoiding the compassionate rage of the apostle Paul

Valuing the Mormon Church over the purity of the gospel

It is understandable that Mormons want to assume the best about their own religion, but for the sake of integrity and honesty (with self and with others), a healthy dose of realism should temper one’s relentless optimism. Neo-orthodox Mormons will sometimes take what they perceive as a canonical teaching—one that has over time been overshadowed by a contradictory institutional teaching or Mormon tradition—and promote it as the doctrine or position of Mormonism. This is effectively misleading and sometimes even deceptive. “What Mormonism teaches” or “what Mormons believe” simply cannot always be equated with what the Mormon canon teaches.

“That’s one of the nice things about the [LDS/Mormon] Church and our doctrines is that because there have been changes over time it has allowed… members to kind of pick and choose which ones suit their personal preferences more than others. And the other thing it does is that it allows the Church to develop, so that over time the Church itself can look back at teachings and ground new teachings that maybe are more attuned to modern sensibilities or to modern scientific findings. They can say that, oh, that’s what really our scriptures do teach and these ideas are supported in the scriptures. Even though that might not be what the current narrative is, they can shape the narrative and still find scriptural justification for it… Nothing is completely cast in concrete.” – BYU associate professor Charles R. Harrell ~35m00s

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