I got email from a young former Mormon who has been trying to puzzle his way through some of the craziness that comes out of Utah, and he sent me this strange document by Elder Boyd K. Packer, which is apparently representative of a lot of Mormon scholarship. I think he wants to know if I think it is as bat-rogerin’ insane as he does.
Yes. Yes it is.
Basically, it’s the Mormon version of the Courtier’s Reply. It goes on and on about how the only way to write a true history of the Mormon church is to fully accept all of its superstitions. It’s blatant and explicit.
Do you believe that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ personally appeared to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., in the year 1820?
Do you have personal witness that the Father and the Son appeared in
all their glory and stood above that young man and instructed him according to the testimony that he gave to the world in his published history?
Do you know that the Prophet Joseph Smith’s testimony is true because
you have received a spiritual witness of its truth?
Do you believe that the church that was restored through him is, in the
Lord’s words, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole
earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (D&C 1:30)? Do you know
by the Holy Ghost that this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints restored by heavenly messengers in this modern era; that the Church
constitutes the kingdom of God on earth, not just an institution fabricated
by human agency?
Do you believe that the successors to the Prophet Joseph Smith were
and are prophets, seers, and revelators; that revelation from heaven directs
the decisions, policies, and pronouncements that come from the headquarters of the Church? Have you come to the settled conviction, by the
Spirit, that these prophets truly represent the Lord?
Now, you obviously noted that I did not talk about academic qualifications. Facts, understanding, and scholarship can be attained by personal
study and essential course work. The three qualifications I have named
come by the Spirit, to the individual. You can’t receive them by secular
training or study, by academic inquiry or scientific investigation.
I repeat: if there is a deficiency in any of these, then, regardless of what
other training an individual possesses, he cannot comprehend and write or
teach the true history of this church. The things of God are understood
only by one who possesses the Spirit of God.
I don’t believe any of that nonsense. I guess I can’t criticize the Mormon church ever, any more. Isn’t that handy? The only people who can comment on the church are those who have fully accepted all of its fundamental premises.
That Catch-22. It’s the best catch there ever was.