LDS antipathy toward what we call doctrinal speculation is well-documented.   I’ve denigrated it myself, and used it calm unruly Gospel Doctrine classes.  And yet, I have begun to wonder about it.  How are we to figure out how to fit accepted doctrine into our world-view without speculation?  How do you frame a question and then ask for a revelatory yes-no answer, without speculation?

My current opinion: What presents challenges is not really speculation per se, but ill-disciplined or ill-advised efforts.   Here, I’m trying to catch a rather wide spectrum of issues, such as an unwillingness to swear off the sorts of things we simply don’t know much about, an unhealthy interest in esoterica, a lack of discretion in choosing conversation partners, or failure to consider the diversity of opinion that already exists, even within the canon.

But I don’t really think we can avoid speculation.  I think it’s part of the learning process.


2 Responses to “Speculation”

  1. 1 Laurie Bartholomew
    April 5, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I had a former mission companion who said she was quoting a former LDS prophet when she told me, “If you have never doubted (re that:speculated) you have never known.”

    Not sure which prophet she was referring to, but I agreed with the statement wholeheartedly. It’s certainly how I’ve always approached the art of pondering.

    Any ideas on who that LDS prophet might have been?

  2. April 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

    No, I don’t know who might have said precisely that, although it sounds quite plausible if we’re talking about someone from the late 19th or early 20th century. I’d certainly like to know, however.

    My thoughts are simply that questioning is part of learning, and at some point it will stray beyond whatever lines have been drawn in the proverbial sand. It’s the discipline that we lack, perhaps because of our aversion to systematic theology. And of course, for us to create a systematic theology would require speculation — revelation is not systematic.

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Mormon Archipelago

January 2010
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