Correlation Matters

Bill McKeever and I discuss the recent LDS Church News article on using “proper” sources and other related issues on LDS Church “correlation”.

Link to MP3

This entry was posted in Podcasts. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Correlation Matters

  1. setfree says:

    Very good, guys.

    At the conclusion, I asked myself: as a Mormon, why did I give everything a free pass? And there is only one answer to that. Because that gave ME a free pass.

    Should a Mormon consider that their leaders have led them astray, suddenly all the issues fall on them personally. There’s no conglomerate standing between me and God, messing up or going right as they please. It’s between me and Him.

    And it’s not enough to admit “maybe I’m wrong”. If the leaders are wrong, then I AM WRONG, and I HAVE BEEN ALL THIS TIME.

    Tough stuff.

    Better to just give the head guys the free pass

  2. falcon says:

    The bottom line for a Mormon is “the church is true”. I prayed, I got a feeling, the feeling was a spiritual message from God, “the church is true”. All questioning stops short of any doubt of this one proposition. The other thing that we have to remember is that “the church is true” premise is enforced with fear and intimidation, subtle and not so subtle. That’s how people are kept in line. What does the Mormon think will happen to them if they push the questioning envelope too far?
    The idea expressed by the BYU professor that a Mormon can believe any thing they want, they just can’t “teach” it. Look at what happened to Grant Palmer for writing his book on Mormon origins. Some how he got disfellowshipped and Richard Bushman skated.
    Anyway, in my time posting on Mormon Coffee I’ve learned that there is a particular brand of Mormon thinking. A person can quote the Bible, Mormon teachings, writings, and/or historical events and it doesn’t count if a Mormon doesn’t want it to count. Andy Watson tells an interesting story of the elderly Mormon guy who came to his house as a recruit to help the missionaries and Andy laid out some information to the guy, he denies eternal progression, Andy points to all of his LDS source materials as proof, the old guy waves it off and in a snit storms out of Andy’s house not even bothering to close the door.
    No amount of LDS documentation would impress this guy. In his mind, the church is true!

  3. falcon says:

    I got to thinking about what it would be like to work in a department whose job it is to “correlate” Mormon teachings. You’d have to have a set of principles to guide you in your work. The guidelines/principles would have to include something that would allow you to discard certain teachings of the former prophets and GAs.
    I watch the Mormon posters here twist themselves into pretzels in an attempt to “correlate” or make sense of Mormonism and it can’t be done without sacrificing personal integrity. Brigham Young is a treasure trove of off-the-wall pronouncements and declarations. So there would have to be a Brigham Young rule for sure. Or maybe a rule that deals with certain portions of time, like a limitation on when something no longer counts.
    There could be the “progression” rule. That would be a rule that would cover new and improved revelation from the Mormon god. It would cover the teachings on polygamy which would allow those who don’t practice it today an opportunity to reach the highest level of the Celestial kingdom which would negate what Joseph Smith taught which would cover questioning this whole prophetic revelation deal. Of course blacks in the priesthood and the changes in the temple ceremonies could be covered under this blanket progression rule.
    From the discussion, it seems that there are Mormons who have enough confidence just to ignore what they want to ignore and interpret and shape Mormonism to their own comfort level. Joseph Smith created a monster by telling his followers that they too could receive “revelation”. This was an attractive feature for the recruits of course but it created all sorts of problems for the LDS structure when people did/do this. Divine revelation is the foundation of the sect. As we see this can be quite whimsical. When folks actual start taking this seriously and push the concept it creates chaos within the group. Thus the need for correlation I guess.

  4. Bill & Aaron,

    I am wondering if the article you are discussing did not misuse or misunderstand the use of the word “correlate” and “correlated”. Going by the definition of the word found here – – all does not seem well. It seems that (possibly) the word “collate” or “collated” would be the proper word here. Maybe, I am the one that is wrong here, but it seems that “correlate” means how things are respective to on another. “Collate” means to gather or compile (redact?) sources in some type of order.

    Did anyone else notice this? Again, it may just be me.

  5. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think they used the term correlate to refer to the correlation of teaching between different parts of the Church. The original concern was that different departments were not consistent with each other in teaching.

  6. Aaron,

    Around 30:35 you ask a question similar to the one I often ask. I think the “how bad would it have to get” is not often ask because instinctively many Mormons know how bad “it” really is. If Adam-God is not as bad as things can get it is close.

    Even if GA’s of yesteryear were merely speaking their opinions, one would still be in the position of calling those opinions wrong (opinions like Adam-God, virgin birth, etc.). What Mormons indirectly tell me is that the opinion of a Mormon apologist, or their own individual opinion, trumps that of a Mormon prophet. So in matters of religion, you (Mormons) are willing to call yourself right and Brigham Young, John Taylor, Joseph Fielding Smith, etc. wrong? I trust the “opinion” of a Mormon heavyweight (does anyone really believe that Young regarded his words as mere “opinion”) over the conviction of a Mormon lightweight.

  7. falcon says:

    I was out early this morning snowshoeing with the dogs up on the woods-covered ridge in back of my farm and I was contemplating all of this. So as the sun rose and the snow covered trees sparkled another thought came streaming through my mind. Maybe what these folks are trying to do is “reconcile” all of these various proclamations and teachings of LDS seers and prophets past and present.
    The fact of the matter is though, Mormon teachings, beliefs, doctrines and history can’t be reconciled. Mormonism is truly what Walter Martin called “a Maze”. When confronted with the massive amount of contradictory material and historical embarrassment, Mormons are faced with a critical decision of what to do (about it). Some just leave concluding it’s all a myth. Others do what’s known as “mind snapping”. They ignore the warning signs and just go along choosing not to see the elephant in the living room.
    I think a real study in not attempting to “correlate” or “reconcile” is the Community of Christ Mormon sect. They just dumped all of the nonChristian aspects that characterizes Utah Mormonism and moved on. They tell their members to not ignore the history of the early LDS church but to face it. I think a good motto for this group, despite the fact that they don’t try to hide or sanitize anything, would be “we’ve moved on”. Might not be a bad way for the Utah bunch to go. There’s just way too much to “reconcile”.

  8. subgenius says:

    She knew its source was valid. She knew it had been approved by the men called to lead the Lord’s work on the earth today and that it was what they wanted her to teach.

    So are we to be taken back by the audacity of church leadership taking a leadership role? Is the question to be ‘how dare a church direct its own doctrine, my church allows the pastor to impose their own personal meaning irrelevant of doctrine.”
    Notice this excerpt above does not say she “felt” but rather she “knew”. Falcon would have people believe that LDS faith is wholly “feeling” based, but tha tis a misinformed position. To assume that an LDS member can not exercise inquiry, exploration, and discernment is ridiculous and is an attempt to reduc us to nothing more than spiritual robots….and that position has already been claimed by the Calvinists with their easy-predeterminationism.
    But hey, on the notion of “correlate”…i take its criticism with a grain of salt here, for i have seen the feeble attempts at a recent correlation of the Ev’s doctrine of Trinity.
    Show of hands; whose church has not discarded or revised any of its teachings or doctrine since its conception? (those of you in Levirate marriages are also included)

    now, if it be conspiracy ye be hungry for, best for ye to start to crawl before ye walks.

    wonder if the picture of Pres. Monson and W. Bush’s “handshake” is in this book?

  9. Mike R says:

    Correlation Matters.This would be rather normal
    behavior as Mormon leaders are very religious men
    with the utmost concern for those they preside
    over and minister to.

    No doubt, prayer, discussion with others in
    authority, and personal revelation all enter
    into their teachings and then publishing that
    teaching so all LDS can benefit from their
    counsel.Since the claim is made that God directs
    this day to day “latter-day” work, as such He will
    not allow false views to be passed on to the rank
    and file.

    This arrangement is’nt unique among Mormons.
    Groups that claim their leader(s) are the
    exclusive prophet for our time have the same
    criteria in their church/organization.

  10. Ralph says:

    Jesus said that God’s house is a house of order. Hence the correlation of teaching within the LDS church. I know that I can go to a ward in Finland and be taught exactly the same as I am taught here in Australia or in Sandy, Utah. I’ve been to all 3 places, that’s how I know. This means that the doctrine is taught uniformally throughout the world, unlike other churches.

    I went to a Lutheran meeting in Finland and the minister taught about the devil society of America and how it should be thrown down. I was shocked at that teaching from the pulpit. Is that doctrine also taught in America? The Pentacostal meeting I went to taught that the Holy Spirit wore a red, knitted, turtle-neck pull-over (in Australia its just called a jumper). Is this doctrine taught in all the other Christian churches? I guess I could go on but 2 examples are good enough for now.

    As far as the comment about how the ‘rules’ for teaching state not to use any outside references apart from the scriptures and Ensign, while the LDS leaders in conference use non-LDS sources – They have to hand in their talks before the conference to allow the talks to be checked for correctness. This means that the talks are held up to a standard. Whereas a teacher in say Primary (like me) do not have anyone checking what we are going to teach for doctrinal correctness. So the rules for teachers are to use only the manual, scriptures and Ensign articles to make sure they are teaching the doctrine, because these have already been affirmed to the standards. That is the reason that rule is there – to make sure only doctrine is taught.

    To give an example from the past, someone in my stake was using a book about near death experiences in their lessons to teach about the after-life. The Stake Pres came around to each ward after that and told us not to use that book because it had things in it contrary to our doctrine, and he read examples from the book.

  11. liv4jc says:

    Or more than likely, like the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the LDS leadership want to keep the flock from digging too deeply into literature that would expose the false teachings of the organization. Reading the Bible, D&C, PoGP and JoD, and comparing the doctrines would expose the serious contradictions between those sources. Many people have left the church because they found such information while preparing to give a talk. The Internet is especially dangerous as there is an abundance of information on sites like MRM that use LDS sources and history to expose the false teaching of the church. Only the hardcore TBM is incapable of using their God given faculties of reason to see the contradictory teachings of their church as an indication that all is not well in Mormon land. Look at the information they have been exposed to on Mormon Coffee alone and yet their eyes remain closed to the truth.

  12. Ralph says:

    Yes liv4jc,

    If we use your logic on the Traditional Christian churches that you subscribe to, many people leave them because of what they have found out about their chosen denominations beliefs or history and joined another church or left believing altogether. This means that all those Traditional Christian churches are false as well.

    People stopped following Jesus because of what He taught. People didn’t believe in Him because of His background. Doesn’t make His role and His teachings any less true does it?

    There are things in all churches’/religions’ history or ‘doctrine’ that if some people find out they will leave that faith. That is the choice of the person, it has nothing to do whether the religion they left was true or not.

    So I stand by what I said – The reason the for the rule to teachers to use only the scriptures (ie Bible, BoM, D&C PoGP as you mentioned above), teaching manual and Ensign articles is to make sure only the doctrine is taught and not someone’s opinion on what the doctrine is.

  13. falcon says:

    You’re really reaching and I can tell when you’re desperate. Your favorite tactic is to try and turn the argument around and put the Christians on the defensive. How does this prove your point? It’s this same argument you try to “prove” the BoM by trying to find some supposed equivalent problems with the Bible.
    Here’s the bottom line Ralph, Mormon teachings can’t be “correlated”. They are so far-flung and contradictory that even the GAs committee couldn’t do an effective cut and paste job on it. The problem is Mormonisms claim of prophets getting revelation directly from God and the revelations are all over the ball park. I know you’re desperate to believe Mormonism with its multitude of gods and your fervent wish to become one yourself. Its not going to happen Ralph.

  14. Ralph,

    So, would you say that anything approved by the correlation department is “official teaching”? How would you handle those, like the woman Aaron referenced, who feel that the correlation department itself is not “official”? Would it be fair to say that anything put out by your church accurately represents LDS belief(videos, the website, etc.)? Are sermons preached at General Conference considered official and binding? What does one do with sources, like the Journal of Discourses, that predate the correlation department?

  15. liv4jc says:

    Yes Ralph, some Christians do leave the church because they feel that they have been lied to, etc., but that doesn’t mean they leave the faith. Christianity is not an organization, it is based upon faith in Christ, not in an infallible man or men. Others leave the church because they were never truly in the faith. Christians who study the Bible obtain a deeper understanding and faith, and although they may change denominations based upon different doctrinal views obtained from such reading, that does not mean they are no longer Christians. There is a lot of room in Christianity, as it is not a top-down theocracy. Just like God prevented one organization from controlling the transmission of the Biblical text by distributing it widely, He also prevents one organization from controlling what is taught by allowing many churches to have various slight differences in non-essential doctrines. Where we see the greatest examples of heresy are organizations that supposedly have an infallible person or person’s controlling “official” doctrine, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormons, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If each of you claim to have a source of infallibility at the top levels, who is right? Christians can agree on the basics of the faith, while choosing to agree to disagree on non-essentials. The differences derived from interpretation of the Bible are the fault of man’s perception, not the text. Your “scriptural texts” are full of contradictions in and of themselves and between each other. People often leave your church because upon digging deeper into the texts and church doctrines to seek a deeper faith, they can’t reconcile the discrepencies in an organization that is supposed to be led by men that are infallible. This rarely happens to those who seek a deeper understanding of Christianity. What the seeking Christian will find is that from the earliest days the faithful believed exactly what we believe today. That is indeed faith promoting.

  16. Ralph says:


    Liv4jc’s comment about LDS members learning about the past ‘doctrines’ and history of the LDS church and then leaving it (as well as your previous comments on past blogs) proves the LDS church is false does not hold water. As I said, using that logic then those who find out anomolies in Traditional Christian history or ‘doctrines’ and leaving it because of these proves that Traditional Christianity is false. The number of people joining or leaving does not prove anything – especially with the example I gave of people leaving Jesus because of things that He said, while the Nazarenes did not want to believe in Him because they watched Him grow up from boyhood. So no, I am not reaching, just pointing out a flaw in the argument.


    1, 4, 5) We are taught that the doctrine is found in the scriptures (Bible, BoM, D&C, PoGP), conference Ensigns and teaching manuals. Only current curriculum (ie previous and current year, or if its a rotated series like Sunday School the all 4 years are allowed) are to be kept in the libraries at church. All other church approved books (eg ‘Miracle of Forgiveness’, Jesus The Christ’, ‘A Marvelous Work and Wonder’, etc) are guides to assist in understanding doctrine. Any quotes necessary from these books are given in the manuals. So yes, all the teaching manuals are official doctrine/teaching.

    2) The lady in question has her free agency to think what she wants. That’s between her and God so I don’t care.

    3) Most things put out by the church are accurate, but not all. Even those things the President allows may not be totally accurate. It’s the PR office that makes and distributes all of these under direction of the GAs. So now and then something may slip in that was overlooked – after all we are only human.

    4) GC is official and binding until any new revelation comes along that the Prophet tells us supercedes a past conference. For example the changin of the Quorum of 70s from general church to just church officialdom.

  17. liv4jc says:

    Did I really read what I think I just read? I can’t believe that anyone would want to stake their eternal security on the teachings of an organization that could change at next year’s GC, or by revelation of the prophet, who as we have just read is nothing but human.

  18. grindael says:

    “GC is official and binding… until…”

    So why weren’t all those sermons by Brigham Young on Adam-God binding?????

    It took over a hundred years for a prophet to say it was false doctrine….

    So all those that believed B.Y….. were they damned, as McConkie said????

  19. Ralph,

    Would you not say then that it is unfair if Mormons allege slander, misrepresentation, lies, etc. if non-Mormons say something negative about your religion using your scriptures, magazines, manuals, and Mormon books that are quoted in those manuals?

    Where is the equivalent of the Adam-God doctrine in traditional Christianity?

  20. falcon says:

    I believe the topic here is the need for the Mormon church to have a committee that tries and “correlate” the various teachings by its prophets and GAs. To not notice that the Utah based LDS church tries to cover-up its history in lieu of correlating it and has a need to make sense out of nonsense is denial. We had a long discussion here during Christmas season on the Utah LDS teaching(s) on the incarnation of Jesus. This is not some minor event that can be dismissed or various views (of the process) tolerated and accepted.
    How does the Utah church “correlate” teachings by inspired prophets that contradict each other. Simple, they don’t. They just claim continuous/progressive revelation and therefore can treat the new revelation as an update from one of the Mormon gods. It’s a “no harm-no foul” situation for Mormons. Everything and anything can be “correlated” by this technique. Now if this is emotionally satisfying for Mormons, that’s all that counts.
    Comfort with cognitive dissonance is a prime requirement to be a Mormon.

  21. subgenius says:

    What about Ecumenism?
    Lambeth Conferences?
    United Methodist Council of Bishops?
    Presbyterian polity?
    Christian Federalism is not uncommon….but many have strayed from the example given in Acts 15.
    I mean to say that the typical Ev seems to accept their “own” Supressionism or rather Dispensationalism, but how quickly they condemn the LDS church for having “progressive revelation”….does no one see the irony and hypocrisy in such a condemnation?

    This “progressive revelation” is vital to true Christianity, and the LDS church openly accepts it…anyone arguing “everlasting” covenants these days?

    So many of the Ev are unaware of their own organizations, their own religious history….
    just adding more spice in the stew of apostasy.

    as if no one ever heard about John Nelson Darby

  22. liv4jc says:

    Sub said, “as if no one ever heard about John Nelson Darby.”

    As a very well read Christian, the name John Nelson Darby has even slipped past my radar screen. Have you been Wickipedia-ing again? I am familiar apparantly (because I Wiki’d Darby) with some of his like minded fellows like Scofield. You are completely correct that most Ev would not know what ecumenism or dispensationalism meant it if smacked them in the face. An Ev could sit under a dispensationalist (many do) and still be saved as this theology does not lessen Jesus’ saving grace or the nature of salvation to those who have placed their faith in Him for forgiveness of sin. It does not change the nature of God. Most Ev would think it is ok to sign on with Roman Catholics, Mormons, etc. under ecumenical good will, because it makes them feel good to support other “Christians.” Most Ev don’t study their faith past Sunday at church and a bible study somewhere during the week. But this does not matter because like I told Ralph, our faith is not in an organization, and it is not necessary for most Christians to know about the false theology of Rome or Salt Lake because their faith is in Christ. Likewise their faith is not in Scofield, Darby, Macarthur or Piper either. Your faith however rests on what “infallible” men tell you it rests on. You ignore the teachings of the past, which are now called false, and you will sit under the teachings of tomorrow when they call today’s teaching false. But for us, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our hope rests in an unchanging God, not a progressing god with progressing, ever-changing standards.

  23. setfree says:

    Amen, liv. And for those of us who try to keep up with things (like liv4jc and some of the other heavy hitters out here), we are ever willing to see the next translation of the Bible, and the new evidence dug up (cuz there actually is some :P), because it ever confirms and reaffirms the Bible as it is. God is terrific at this business.

  24. falcon says:

    Simple fact that keeps escaping our Mormon posters, your prophets are suppose to be hearing from the Mormon god. You’re stuck with it! There are all kinds of Christian commentators who propose all sorts of points-of-view. Who do they speak for?; themselves, that’s who. What the commentators say and 75 cents will buy you a cup of coffee. So to even begin to equate these commentators with what a Mormon prophet is suppose to be, is a stretch beyond reason.
    Have I ever heard about Darby? Yea, as a matter of fact I have. Just off the top of my head I believe the group was called the Plymouth Brethren. Based on a vision that a young girl had, Darby came up with a pretribulation rapture of the church concept and Schofield put it in his study Bible. The reason I know this is that years ago I used to listen to the “Bible Answer Man” with Dr. Walter Martin. So I think I’m right on this, doing it from memory.
    But a big “so what”? If our Mormon posters are trying to come up with an equivalent here as regards the attempts of the Utah LDS to “correlate” their teachings, it doesn’t apply.

  25. Pingback: General Conference, April 2013 Saturday Morning Review. | Mormonism Investigated UK

Leave a Reply