This Won’t Get Past Correlation!

John Nilsson Bible, christ, God, Jesus, Mormon, parables, race, racism, religion, scripture, spirituality 28 Comments

Here is a quote from a dusty, forgotten, once-official Church manual. Who said this and why wouldn’t this get past the brethren and sistren at Correlation?:

Inequality of inheritance and opportunity among the children of men leads many people to question the Creator’s impartiality and justice, and, therefore, his very existence…Suffice it to say here that differences among men are not due to His partiality and favoritism.  He is doing all in His power for all men.  Men too are responsible for themselves and for one another.  This is man’s world as well as God’s.  The Lord’s influence among men is always for good, towards building a brotherhood of man.  Anything which tends to destroy the brotherhood of man is not inspired of God…Jesus, in his parable of the Good Samaritan, broke through racial bigotry and prejudice to teach the brotherhood of man on a spiritual plane.

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Comments 28

  1. My wife recently found this quote:

    “I feel like I am left to conclude that God may be at the helm of this ship, but He leaves a lot to the crew and has a high tolerance for the crew dorking things up without correction.”

  2. It speaks to men only, which kind of dates it. It seems like the statement “This is man’s world as well as God’s” gives us a lot more power than would normally be presented. It presents God and Jesus as more passive energies than active personages controlling everything.

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    Neal,

    Nice. Was that co-written by Engels too?

    Michael,

    That quote of your wife’s is compatible with the quote above. I bet it didn’t come from a current church manual!

    Valoel,

    Yes, there is dated gender-specific language in the quote that would be edited out today. I agree that it is a more human-centered quote than many are comfortable with.

    What about God always working for good? Where is the scriptural citation backing that one up? What about the word inequality? What about the mention of race?

  4. #2 – where is that quote from?

    There are lots of problems with this quote:

    “leads many people to question the Creator’s impartiality and justice, and, therefore, his very existence”

    The church generally doesn’t go around bringing up perfectly good arguments for not believing in God.

    “He is doing all in His power for all men.”

    Many would say that he doesn’t seem to be very effective in this for a supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful being.

    “This is man’s world as well as God’s.”

    Ouch. Let’s not go there.

    “broke through racial bigotry and prejudice to teach the brotherhood of man”

    Was this quote pre-1978?

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    Bill,

    Great analysis.

    Perhaps the author didn’t believe in an all-powerful being? hmmm….

    The quote is definitely pre-1978. Pre pre pre, as a matter of fact. To avoid correlated manuals, I stick to the early 1960s as the most recent boundary for my selections.

  6. It takes a very non-interventionist view of God which is not the popular view today. It hints at social justice as being one of man’s duties on the earth, which is not the current view of church leaders, as evidenced by this quote from Dallin H. Oaks:

    We should not feel alienated from our church or its leaders when they refrain from using the rhetoric of the social gospel or from allocating Church resources to purposes favored by others. We should remember that the Lord has given his restored Church a unique mission not given to others. We must concentrate our primary efforts on those activities that can only be accomplished with priesthood authority, such as preaching the gospel and redeeming the dead.

    Also, the idea that “the differences among men are not due to His favoritism” seems to go against the way we so often talk in church about be the “elect of God” and how we are blessed for our righteousness, etc. Although I don’t know if that is a concept that is related to correlation.

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    Clay,

    Yes to your first two points and to the great use of the Oaks statement.

    About your last point, God not playing favorites also goes against a straightforward reading of much of LDS scripture, including the Book of Mormon and Old Testament. Using the word favoritism casts this love of God for certain of his children (see the Elder Nelson Ensign article of last year) in a different light, that’s for sure.

    Correlation does not have a set unitary list of concepts to be avoided, but works by cultural consensus of the committee members, who are called by General Authorities to serve on this Church-wide committee. The concept that God doesn’t play favorites is one that the astute on the committee are wise enough to avoid.

    Another interesting reflection is that the trend since Correlation has been to stick to the scriptures, which means that teaching about an impartial God is problematic. There is more scriptural support for a God that plays favorites. So we LDS end up looking more and more like Protestants all the time, hanging on to our sola scriptura no matter where it takes us.

    Belief in an impartial God may have weaker scriptural foundations than a partial God, but it certainly makes more sense and allows for a better relationship with Deity.

  8. Well, good quote whoever said it. I wish we’d talk more about a non-interventionist God and less about small questionable miracles.

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    I agree Hawk. I think it’s one of the potential untapped strengths of our theology which lets God off the hook for much evil that transpires.

    It also places a lot of responsibility on humans, which some apparently don’t want.

  10. Anything which tends to destroy the brotherhood of man is not inspired of God

    Every Elders Quorum needs a devils advocate- seriously!!

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  12. It is interesting how talk about equality always brings out comments about Marx/socialism thing. D&C 70:14 and 78:6, for example states quite unequivocally that equality is important. The Oaks quote is from a talk that dealt with our strengths becoming our downfall. He talks about materialistic self-reliance and all-consuming patriotism among many. In the paragraph right before the quote he warns about going overboard with our social conscience while still calling it a strength:

    Some persons have a finely developed social conscience. They respond to social injustice and suffering with great concern, commitment, and generosity. This is surely a spiritual strength, something many of us need in greater measure. Yet persons who have this great quality need to be cautious that it not impel them to overstep other ultimate values. My social conscience should not cause me to coerce others to use their time or means to fulfill my objectives. We are not blessed for magnifying our calling with someone else’s time or resources. We are commanded to love our neighbors, not to manipulate them, even for righteous purposes.

    Second, how many times is the idea that God is “no respecter of persons” mentioned in scripture? Verbatim the phrase comes up in Acts and twice in D&C. In the BofM the idea is paraphrased but still quite expressly stated. IMO, the impartiality of God is hedged with the idea that his favorites are those who keep his commandments. The impartiality is in that people are not favorites on the basis of birth (skin color, social status etc), but only of faithfulness. It is the human partiality to what we are consigned to by birth (aka inequality) that God takes exception to. He is a great advocate of “leveling the playing field”.

    I think our personal responsibility is evident in Nephi’s rhetoric about man being able to act for himself and not be acted upon (except for the Judgment). “Man’s world” could mean almost anything, so that would be correlated out for a reason.

    I hope my attempt to format the quote turns out right…

  13. #13 – Funny. I know I’m old compared to most of the young bucks and does here, but I’m not old enough to have said this in the 60’s or earlier. 🙂

    No, not Merle – and I wish that triggered my memory. I’m tired and drawing a big blank.

  14. I’m going to spoil it.

    I was too curious and found that Lowell Bennion was married to Merle Colton. He also authored several church manuals, including What about religion? (1934), Youth and its Religion (1939), The Church of Jesus Christ (1941), and his most famous The Religion of the Latter-day Saints (1939). I could understand a rift between him and correlation, since some didn’t feel he conformed to their religious standard and Lavina Fielding Anderson reported that he was eventually blacklisted from publishing in the Ensign.

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    Ray and others,

    The quote is from Lowell Bennion’s “The Religion of the Latter-day Saints”, an institute manual from 1940.

    Velska,

    “My social conscience should not cause me to coerce others to use their time or means to fulfill my objectives”. This quote from Oaks makes me scratch my head. Is he talking about the USSR, or is he talking about Medicare? What is the distinction between taxation to support a large, technologically advanced military that the superpatriotic (whom Oaks decries, BTW) can feel proud of, and taxation to support causes dear to the hearts of social justice activists? Isn’t taxation of any kind compulsion? Oaks tried to sound above the political fray in this talk, which I have read before in its entirety, but it is a thoroughly conservative philosophy.

  16. Speaking of quotes, did anyone else catch Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk during the stake conference broadcast to the state of Oregon? I was rather surprised when during the midst of his talk he presented, “it has been said that it takes a village to raise a child.” He then compared the wards of the church to a village. No credit was given to Hillary.

  17. Probably because he didn’t want well-meaning LDS conservatives in SLC throwing eggs at his house. Not all of the brethren march in conservative lockstep, but they have to be careful not to offend those in the general membership who think that they do.

  18. Really Steve, is that a fact. Did you take a poll of the brethren and their fear of the general membership? The Church, family, neighborhood, village raising the child does not mean we have to allow a distant federal government to raise our children. Why do liberals think they have a corner on the market of compassion because they know the best thing to do with my money?

  19. John, I think you are flirting with apostasy here. You need to throw away all the old manuals and repent immediately or you will be spewn out.

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