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It's Not the Church's Job to Teach Me Church History

It’s Not the Church’s Job to Teach Me Church History

 “We only have a few minutes to teach about Church history in Sunday school. We can’t deal with everything. We don’t talk about all the issues, but it’s there and it’s not being hidden. Unfortunately we spend more time in video stores, in many cases, than we do reading about our history. But that’s our fault.” – Daniel C. Peterson

Everyone remembers the shouts of opposition made during the sustaining of Church officers in the last general conference, but not everyone knows the reasons given for those objections. The people who gave opposing votes belonged to a group called “Any Opposed?”, and they gathered outside the Conference Center afterwards for a small press conference. Among other concerns, the group’s spokesperson, a middle-aged man from Utah who has been a member all his life, said that after reading some historical essays posted on LDS.org, he realized “that I and all members of the LDS Church have been lied to for decades regarding some pivotal claims of our church and its leadership.”

There are several problems with this statement (like how someone could feel the Church was deceiving him when the issues were brought to his attention by the Church’s own website), but there’s one error that stands above the rest. While it doesn’t usually prompt people to go so far as protesting in general conference, it is a prevalent notion in Mormon culture. The idea is that we can sit back and have all our Church knowledge spoon-fed to us in Sunday school. We think it is the Church’s job to teach us about every historical aspect of Mormonism. This idea is false. It is not the Church’s job to teach us Church history. It is ours.

Am I off my rocker? Hear me out at Provo Mormon Dude. 

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About Austin Wrathall

Austin Wrathall
Austin Wrathall is the writer of the weekly blog Provo Mormon Dude, which examines life in Utah Mormon culture. Austin was born and raised in West Jordan, Utah and is currently attending BYU pursuing a degree in Social Science Teaching. Besides writing, Austin’s favorite pastimes include swimming, playing Angry Birds, and doing anything that involves Star Wars.

6 comments

  1. Alma 7: 10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. [1800 AD]

    Micah Chapter 5
    The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem—In the last days, the remnant of Jacob will triumph gloriously over the Gentiles.
    1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.

    2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. [800 BC]

  2. Not enough time?

    I went to 3 hours of church per week. I went to mutual for several hours a week as a teen. I went to an hour or so of seminiary every weekday from 9-12th grade. I studied 2 hours a day on my mission. I did 2 hours a week in institute. ETC!

    How long does it take to teach someone about the rock in the hat method of translation? 15 minutes at the most?

  3. When the claims of the church are so intertwined with its history it becomes Job #1 … and that it is! That’s primarily all you hear about in the church is its whitewashed history. When I was asked to serve as HP secretary, in the spirit of full disclosure I told my group leader that he should know before offering the calling that I did not believe in the church’s HISTORICAL truth claims (i.e. the telling of events – first vision, book of mormon coming forth, priesthood restorations). The story of the church is ALL about its foundational stories (history), just as the stories of Jesus (History) are foundational to Christianity – What an asinine point of view.

    • The Book of Mormon teaches the Jesus of the 4th and 5th century Creeds, How come ?

      2 Nephi 26:12 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

      3 Nephi 11:17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.

      Mosiah 3:5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

      3 Nephi 19:
      18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.

      Mosiah 5:15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.

      2 Nephi 10:3
      3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.

      2 Nephi 25:29
      And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

      Jesus is God above all, our Lord and God, God from Eternity, the Most High God, Lord God omnipotent and the eternal God according to the Book of Mormon

  4. Well… the church DOES constantly teach church history by giving a narrative of the events of the restoration. Soo… your point is that they shouldn’t. Well, I agree. As someone with a background in history, they just don’t mix very well. Anytime you bring a strong belief to an historical approach (whether that is a religious view or an activist agenda, etc.) it is bad for history. The nuances of historical truth rarely confirm those sorts of generalization-based mindsets.