Firesides/28 November 2010 - Sweden/10

Response to questions about "not all truth is useful"


1: BoM translation2: Polygamy and Polyandry3: Polygamy forced?4: Book of Abraham5: "Lying for Lord"6: Mark Hofmann7: Blood atonement8: First Vision9: Sanitized history10: "Not all truth is useful"11: Angelic affidavits12: Blacks and priesthood13: Temple concerns14: Evidence of Vikings15: Adam-God16: Kinderhook

The attendees of The "Swedish Rescue" fireside ask the following question:

*Elder Packer says there, it is not good for the members to know all the truth.
  • He used to say things, like last conference, as well, that changed afterwards.
  • He said as a watchman on the tower he might stop things that could hurt.

  • Question: What is meant by "watchman on the tower" with respect to Church history?
    Answer: It is about providing information to people in a way that that does not damage their faith.
  • Ok, so now to church history and there being a watchman on the tower. Let me take up both of those. In terms of church history, when people tell any kind of an account of history, it’s always selective. If I ask you a question, tell me about your years in high school, the story you tell me may be different from the story I get from your high school boyfriend or another student in your class. They’ll each tell a different story. And so, church history, as I said before, is written and rewritten by each subsequent generation according to the things they think are most important at the time. Watchmen on the tower. This is something, as you mentioned, President Packer talks about a lot. I think his concern is that providing information to people in a way that’s going to destroy their faith carries with it a responsibility. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

    —Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside.
    • Question: Why has Church history been selective? Is it true that it is not "good for members to know all the truth?"
      Answer: Our history was written in "apologetic style" which was for the purpose of defending faith. That is now changing and our history will be told as "completely and fully as technology can allow."

    this has changed a little bit in the course of the Church’s history. For a long time we were a persecuted minority in America and our hope was to present our best face to the world. And our history was often written in what is called apologetic style. We were defending the faith. And in doing that we were being selective. We were saying the best things about the Church. It was a very natural thing, I think, for us to do in those years. But in many ways, we’ve come of age as a church. In America today, there are Mormon Studies programs being founded at some of our finest universities and the study of Mormon history and the Mormon way of life is something that actually thousands of people now are very interested in. The first volume of the Joseph Smith papers has sold 65,000 copies. That’s when the first volume of the papers of Thomas Jefferson may have sold 2500 copies. So there’s great interest in the church. And we are at the time, I think, when our history could be told as completely and fully as technology can allow us to tell it. What I want you to know is I think there is some hint of this, there’s some feeling that somehow the leaders of the church have manipulated the church['s] history for some benefit. And I want you to know that is not true. Nor is it true today. There’s never been an attempt to suppress the history of the church or to tell the church’s history in some untrue way to put it into an untrue light to gain some advantage, to gain converts, to gain popularity or acceptance. I think every generation has done its best within the circumstances of its own time. And that’s what we’re trying to do now.

    —Elder Jensen's response to this question at the Sweden fireside.
    • Question: Have talks, such as the one referenced that was given by President Packer, been edited after they were given?
      Answer: Yes, each speaker is allowed to make modifications to their talk before it goes into final print.

    |link=Mormonism and history/Boyd K. Packer's talk: "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect" |subject=Boyd K. Packer's talk: "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect" |summary=A common criticism of Elder Packer's remarks is represented by the following quote from D. Michael Quinn: "Elder Packer demands that Mormon historians demonstrate and affirm that "the hand of the Lord [has been] in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now." This does not accurately reflect Elder Packer's remarks, however, since Elder Packer was not speaking to "Mormon historians"—he was, rather, speaking to members of CES, the Church Educational System. Elder Packer makes his intended audience clear: "You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men will be teaching the history of the Church this school year. This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now." CES consists of Church employees who have been hired by the Church to teach its doctrine and promote faith in its young people. It is well within the Church's purview to insist that the perspective on Church history taught in its religion classes will be supportive of, and not destructive of, faith. The CES's study of history is not merely an academic exercise, but also has a spiritual goal.