To shoot down or not to shoot down

Don - March 20, 2005

I have a question that I have struggled with at times since my mission. All of us have gone to Sunday School or Priesthood or Relief Society and heard something we know is not true, or is not correct doctrine. This most often comes through comments or responses to questions asked by the teacher. Sometimes it comes directly from the teacher and on rare occasions it comes from a member of the bishopric who, ironically enough, is trying to clarify a point of doctrine!
My question is how are we, as humble members of the church, to gently correct these situations? Is there a right or wrong way? Does it depend on the situation and if so, how do we know which situation is which and know which reaction is the best to use? Is there a way to do so without offending anyone or should we just not worry about that because it is inevitable?
An example: Today in Sunday School the teacher was wrapping up her lesson on Emma Smith and section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants when she made the comment that she had recently learned that Joseph and Emma had their calling and election made sure. This came as a great surprise to me considering all the controversy and early church leader quotes (which may or may not have actually been spoken) I have heard dealing with this very topic. She quickly ended with her testimony and we closed and I felt I should have said something but wasn’t sure what or how without sounding proud and make her look like a fool.
How do we make sure correct doctrine and truth are taught without creating more damage by speaking up?

1 Comment »

  1. …I know this is beside the point of you question, but Joseph and Emma did recieve the Fullness of the Priesthood.

    As to your question: I find it helpful to quallify dissenting remarks with phrases such as, “great indaviduals (including apostles) have disagreed on this topic, but…” or “there is actually a fair amount of dversity in oppinion on this topic. Currently, the most common perspective is…”
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 03.21.05 – 1:23 am | #

    It depends on the topic. I’ve shot things down before, but most often I let them go. Or I add one of Stapley’s clarifying phrases that what the teacher has said is not on official position or the unanimous opinion of the apostles.
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.21.05 – 10:18 am | #

    I think it is always our responsibility to clarify doctrine, false rumors, and speculations. It is important to do it in a kind non-offensive way. And make sure you know your sources and that you are correct.

    Sometimes I do let things pass because it’s no big deal anyway. And heaven forbid, sometimes I’ve even said things that weren’t correct and been corrected. Don’t be offended when we are wrong either.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 03.21.05 – 2:02 pm | #

    J. Stapley,
    I like that. I’ll have to use it. How about things you know are just plain wrong and there isn’t any controversy…they just got it wrong? Any ideas for that?
    Don,
    I thought you were NEVER wrong!! Well, that changes EVERYthing…
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 – 12:18 am | #

    Ah…the patently false doctrine. Maybe you could go for a, “Slow down there Tex!”.

    But seriously, maybe a, “Interestingly, while similar ideas have floated around from time to time, the church has been pretty unequivical in stating that…”

    I have actually come to enjoy running interference to a couple characters in some of the wards I have been in…or maybe they were running interference to me?
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 – 1:18 am | #

    Bret,

    In the specific case you describe not interrupting sounds like the right solution to me. The teacher slipped in the tidbit during a closing comment and wrapped things up. I can assure you that most people were vegging (or is it veg-ing?) anyway so no souls were put in jeopardy. In those cases I usually approach the teacher afterwards and say something like “I have read something on this subject. why have you come to the conclusion that…”
    Geoff Johnston | Email | Homepage | 03.22.05 – 12:24 pm | #

    This is a great topic. What happens if the questionable statement is about politics rather than religion? For example, in Relief Society shortly after the 1992 election, I remember our president getting up and “bearing her testimony” that she was so glad that Bill Clinton came in third in Utah (after Bush I and Ross Perot). She then essentially stated that Republicans were more spiritually grounded than Democrats.

    I’ve also experienced similar discomfort listening to the political discussions surrounding gay marriage. Our bishop actually encouraged us from the pulpit to participate in an anti-gay marriage rally at the Capitol directly after church that Sunday.

    Officially, I think the Church states that it is politically-neutral, but when the Church takes a stand on gay marriage or the ERA or the like, if you don’t agree with this political stand, you’re seen as less committed.

    Anyway, I guess I’m wondering if any of you have had similar experiences (i.e, people expressing political opinions, etc. in Church), and if you have a handy, tactful response.
    Tess | Email | Homepage | 03.25.05 – 12:19 pm | #

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    Comment by Comment Restore — November 28, 2005 @ 1:19 am

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