Author: Charles R. Harrell
Publisher: Greg Kofford Books
Price: $34.95 (Available for Pre Order at $23.07)
In the film The Matrix, Neo found out about something that gnawed at him so much, he began actively searching out more information about it in such a way that resulted in his becoming highly disoriented from life as he knew it, feeling a bit like Alice caught in Wonderland. He eventually comes across Morpheus, who is known to have a pretty significant key to understanding Neo’s questions.
But before going ahead and answering, he gives Neo an option – to take the Red Pill, or to take the Blue Pill.
If you take the Blue Pill, Morpheus says, “The story ends. You wake up in your bed, and you believe whatever you want to.”
It’s a somewhat attractive option. It embraces the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality.
However, the other option still stands: you take the Red Pill, and, Morpheus says, “I show you how deep the Rabbit Hole goes.”
Many members of the Church are used to a completely internally consistent prophetic historical narrative from Adam through Thomas S. Monson, where all prophets knew explicitly of what was to come, and all scriptures speak in the same doctrinal language as our Correlated Church Manuals of today – all the while meaning and knowing the exact same things we mean and know today.
This is the story one can easily come away with if their only substantial interaction with the scriptures are the bullet point interpretations given in Gospel Doctrine Sunday School classes, and the doctrinal references to scriptures given in correlated manuals like Gospel Principles.
There’s something beautiful and attractive about such a worldview – it makes it very easy to see one’s exact place in the Grand Prophetic Narrative. We can easily place ourselves in another scriptural character’s shoes if we know that they knew what we know, and if we feel that those who opposed the prophets in all ages have the same knowledge being preached to them that the Missionaries are going door to door teaching today. It makes it easier to judge both the righteous and unrighteous in black and white terms.
If something in the scriptures seems to contradict the current understanding, it’s easy to cite the 8th Article of Faith, and note that the conflicting concept must not have been “translated correctly” – whatever that means.
In fact, that’s exactly what the Seminary Manual does when it comes to events attributed to King David. Instead of accounting for historical socio-religious context, the explanation given is, “The story in 2 Samuel 21 is either not translated correctly or shows that David truly fell deep into apostasy.”1 – present day values and doctrinal concepts are retrojected into the narrative. Either some scribes wrote the story wrong, or David was disobeying the Restored Gospel. There is no other option presented, or explanation offered.
But that’s the only possible way Inspired Scriptures written by Inspired Prophets can be understood, right?
If the Gospel is Eternal, everyone inspired by God must have known the same things, and no erroneous historical concepts or theological and cultural ideas would have been allowed to creep into the record. There would be no development of doctrinal concepts, no trial and error, and every time a prophet interprets a scripture, he must know and be explaining the Original Intent of the original prophet.
If that’s how you want to understand the historical scriptural narrative, then it may just be that the Blue Pill is for you.
For the rest, Charles Harrell has produced a Red Pill in his book “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology, of which I was able to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy. …
- Old Testament Seminary Manual, http://seminary.lds.org/manuals/old-testament-seminary-student-study-guide/ot-ssg-5-2_sam-21.asp [↩]