In June, 2013 I created my first post for my website called mormonbasics.com. Now, more than 700 articles later, and a name change to gospelstudy.us, I figure I need to let people know that much of my original philosophy behind mormonbasics survives in my writings for gospelstudy.us. What follows is my original article explaining my philosophy and aim, with only a couple of website name changes.
My personal vocabulary is considered by most to be well above average. But in the world of the Latter-day Saint intellectual, those who use the Greek tradition of arguing everything, where nothing is sacred, and any argument with an argument is as valid as the next, my vocabulary is at about a second grade level. These people pride themselves in their mental gymnastics as they leap and swing through logical debates about spiritual things. There is a good example of such an article at The Millennial Star. This article seeks to explain the dangers that lurk in the background of trying to treat the gospel purely as an intellectual exercise.
I hope the author of this excellently written article will forgive my oversimplification of his writing efforts, but that is, after all, what gospelstudy.us is all about – keeping it simple. Reading that article made me do some thinking about what makes this website tick.
- What is the basis for the articles here at gospelstudy.us?
- What is considered authoritative, and what is considered speculative?
- What is the deciding factor as to whether something gets printed or is left on the shelf for someone else to write about?
I think these are some fair questions that deserve some short, but honest answers.
Mormon Basics (now called Gospelstudy.us) – Philosophy
The gospel of Christ is all encompassing. It covers every subject and influences every branch of thinking. Yet the gospel itself is reasonably simple to understand, if you take it one step at a time. Much of the gospel can be understood through simple study, but all the best parts require inspiration by the Holy Ghost so you see past the surface into the deeper parts of the spiritual pool. Christ taught in parables for this very reason. If we read the parables as stories, they are just that, stories. If we put on our spiritual goggles then read the parables, we begin to get all kinds of lessons out of them that those without the Holy Ghost would never see. This both protects the beginner from being judged on principles they cannot understand yet, and serves as a private tutor to those who are spiritually prepared for greater immersion in spiritual things.
The goal of this website is to take even the most comprehensive gospel doctrines, like the Atonement, and help regular people understand both the doctrine itself, and how it applies to them. Understanding the doctrine and the goal of a doctrine is important if we are going to need to live it from day to day, but understanding why it makes a difference in our lives is also very important. We also look at culture and expectations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires things of its members that no other church does. Because of our history, and the beliefs that we have, our culture is different than any other church. We see things a certain way, and approach problems and situations differently because we have a different view on life and the world. These are things discussed in these pages.
Authoritative vs. Speculative
Speculation, guessing about things we don’t really know about, really has no place in this website. All articles should be focused on true and supported doctrine and real-life experiences. Talks by apostles and prophets and leaders of the Church are considered to be authoritative, especially those given in General Conferences.
The Church, like each of us, is maturing in understanding and wisdom as the years progress. There are some views from the past that are no longer held by the leaders of the Church. If that bothers you in some way, I refer you to the New Testament. The leaders of Christ’s original church had problems with the doctrine of taking the gospel to the whole world. It took special revelations and years of practice for the original church to get used to the idea and the practice. It is a fact that the Lord teaches us the basics, but we have to learn the finer points by living the basic doctrine. As we come across things we don’t understand He fills in the gaps and our understanding of the principles and doctrines grow. This life is all about growing, and that means changing.
What Gets Printed?
The purpose of this website is to help members of the Lord’s restored church understand their own religion. It is also here to help introduce those who would like to know more about our religion to what we believe and what we think on certain topics. This is not the place to debate controversial doctrine that is not required for our salvation. This is not the forum for learning about why the Church did or did not do something in the past that someone is offended by. There are plenty of other places you can find those arguments. They have no home here.
You will find here uplifting, testimony-driven articles on parts of our lives that make a difference in how we live the gospel of Christ. There are articles on modern issues facing the Church, articles on Church lessons, Sorrow, spiritual patterns, the need for the Holy Ghost, the basics of the priesthood of God, the Atonement, the Fall of Adam and Eve, Funerals in the Church, what to expect when you go to a Sacrament Meeting, and so forth.
Gospelstudy.us may not be the most sophisticated intellectual property on the block, but that is not why we exist. You will probably notice very quickly that the articles are not heavily laden with scriptural references and outside sources. This is the place to come for doctrine that is (hopefully) clearly explained and understandable. The conference talks and Ensign articles found at the end of many of the articles have plenty of references in them for further study. And if you ever read or listen to a talk listed at the bottom of one of the articles that disagrees with what was said in the article, then please contact us so we can address the issue. Keeping the gospel simple (and accurate) is what we are all about.