There are 6 thoughts on “An Approach to History”.

  1. President Heber J. Grant often stated something to the effect: That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not because the nature of the thing has changed, but our ability to do so has increased.

    I have phrased a similar pattern of thought: That which we persist to study and to learn will become more clear, not because the nature of the matter has changed, but our storehouse of knowledge has increased.

    Thanks for listening.

  2. This has always been my issue with many people who quote any portion of Church history determining to detract from the testimony of a member. I’ve met multiple people over the years who point to a single event as proof that The Church is false. Often they don’t realize the fallacy of pointing to events dictated, and even at times fabricated, by those who oppose the church and therefore analyze everything with bias.

    That being said, there is a lot of things that are true that one could be critical of and easily take offense. I like your tenant of looking at history with charity, because seldom do we like to see an event and then find we ourselves are guilty of the same offense. We should rather, because of this, be able to relate to and have MORE compassion for those who went before. This is partly why the Atonement was made, so that Christ could have compassion on us because He understood us.

    Anyway, I have always appreciated you as a friend and the words of wisdom you’ve always been able and willing to give. Thank you for this article.

  3. Allen,
    Thanks for sharing.

    A few years ago I wrote up a similar list about how to approach historical issues, having some items that are identical to yours! I put it together for my kids, anticipating an onslaught of investigative reports into Mitt Romney’s faith had he won the 2012 election.

    I have used the Hartley quote several times about the past being like a foreign country. It has aged well and plays into the larger question of the seeking context for any historical event rather than falling prey to the logical fallacy of presentism.

    One other quote I use has been attributed to various people, and seems to describe the first part of your journey after reading van Wagoner’s book. It goes like this:

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
    drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    and drinking largely sobers us again.

    The couplet expresses nicely the idea that a small amount of knowledge can give us the false impression that we are experts in a given area, when what is really needed is deep study else we are bound to react in error.


  4. Great thoughts Allen. I appreciate your perspective. It can be sobering sometimes to think about how different things could have been had we made slightly different decisions. When I read comments online by angry disillusioned former members I don’t think “How can they be so blind?!” I think “There, but for the grace of God go I.”

  5. People need to study up on 19th century America in general if they think the members of the Church were a bunch of ne’er do-wells. I think it is also helpful to study the lives of the prophets and apostles in The Bible. Their lives were complicated too.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

Close this window

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This