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Good Thinking | 

Episode 3

Workshopping the Three Lenses

51 min

How can we confidently determine what is and what is not reliable doctrine so we can decide what to believe? This is what Scott and Casey discussed in our last episode, where they introduced what they called the three doctrinal lenses or criteria by which we can assess the doctrinal reliability of a truth claim. In this episode of Church History Matters they practice putting these three lenses to work by actually using them to measure and evaluate various theological truth claims to determine the level of confidence we have in them. So welcome to Scott and Casey’s doctrinal workshop.

Good Thinking |

  • Show Notes
  • Transcript

Key Takeaways

In this episode Scott and Casey run several doctrinal statements through the three lenses they propose for evaluating doctrine from the previous episodes. To review, those lenses are as follows:

    1. Is it taught in scripture repeatedly?
    2. Is it taught by prophets of God repeatedly?
    3. Is it confirmed by the Spirit?

Doctrinal confidence in the following doctrinal statements is explored:

    • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is essential for salvation.
    • God the Father is married.
    • Jesus was married because he had to obey all the ordinances “to fulfill all righteousness.”
    • God will forgive us as we truly repent of our sins.
    • We should not eat pork.
    • We should take the sacrament with our right hand.
    • The Savior’s infinite atonement saves and redeems people on all the worlds that God has created.
    • There is no possibility of progression between kingdoms of glory; you can’t progress from telestial to terrestrial or from terrestrial to celestial.
    • Evolution as an explanation for the origin of man is definitely false.

Statements run the gamut in terms of confidence based on the model.

Related Resources

Scott Woodward:
How can we confidently determine what is and what is not reliable doctrine so we can decide what to believe? This is what Casey and I discussed in our last episode, where we introduced what we called the three doctrinal lenses or criteria by which we can assess the doctrinal reliability of a truth claim. In today’s episode of Church History Matters we’re going to practice putting these three lenses to work by actually using them to measure and evaluate various theological truth claims to determine the level of confidence we have in them. So welcome to Scott and Casey’s doctrinal workshop. I’m Scott Woodward, and my co-host is Casey Griffiths, and today we dive into our third episode of this series dealing with truth seeking and good thinking. Now, let’s get into it.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Hello again, Scott.

Scott Woodward:
Hey, Casey. How are we doing?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Good. I’m doing good. And I’m looking forward to a little intellectual—is it best to say combat, or are we going on a safari, or what’s the best metaphor to use for what we’re going to do over the next few minutes?

Scott Woodward:
Pickleball.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
We’re playing pickleball. Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. This is just a little back and forth.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Doctrinal pickleball.

Scott Woodward:
A little doctrinal pickleball.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Oh, yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
All right. All right. So doctrinal pickleball.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. We’re just going to play a little bit here. We’re just going to play a little fun game called—How Confident Are You In That Doctrine? I think is the name of our game today.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Got it. Got it.

Scott Woodward:
But before we do that, you should review what we talked about in our last episode.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. So our last episode was about doctrinal confidence.

Scott Woodward:
Mm-hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And I’m going to summarize really quickly because I want to get to the doctrinal pickleball here, but we brought up three lenses to run something through. So, first question, is it taught in the scriptures repeatedly? It doesn’t say in the scriptures that Satan controls the waters.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It does say in the scriptures that you’re supposed to be baptized by water.

Scott Woodward:
Mm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Repeatedly, several times, in several different contexts. It teaches that again and again. So, one of those we’d have low doctrinal confidence in, Satan controls the waters. One of those, you’re supposed to be baptized by immersion in water, we’d have high doctrinal confidence in because it’s in the scriptures a lot.

Scott Woodward:
Repeatedly, yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Repeatedly. Second one, is it taught by prophets repeatedly? So is it taught by the leadership of the church, most importantly, the First Presidency and the Twelve, repeatedly? We also used another word here: unitedly. So one of the things we brought up is the documents like the Family Proclamation, The Living Christ.

Scott Woodward:
The Restoration Proclamation.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You can even say things like, in 2015, when same-sex marriage was legalized by the U. S. Supreme Court, First Presidency and Twelve sent out a letter that they all signed. I never hear that quoted when we’re trying to define our position on some of those issues. We ought to use stuff like that, because when all 15 of them sign off on something, it is a big deal, and it raises our level of doctrinal confidence.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Now, also, one of the things we cited was something like the Family Proclamation is coming up on being 30 years old, but it’s still quoted a lot in General Conference, so when it’s quoted by the leadership of the Church, especially the First Presidency and Twelve, it kind of gives it that stamp over and over: we’re still using this. This is still important.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This is still a big deal.

Scott Woodward:
Still relevant. Still here.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. Is it taught by prophets repeatedly?

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So that’s the second lens. Third, is it confirmed by the Spirit? So this is maybe the trickiest of the three, right? Because we talked about how people can be deceived by their own emotions or by the other guy, you know, the bad guy out there. And so—

Scott Woodward:
Who’s the bad guy? Do you mean, like, Satan?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Satan. The Prince of Darkness.

Scott Woodward:
You call him “the bad guy.”

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Beelzebub. The Lord of the Flies. I don’t—He Who Must Not Be Named. I’m sorry. I don’t know why—I’m totally comfortable calling him out for who and what he is.

Scott Woodward:
Just say his name, Ron! Say his name, Ron!

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself. So, bottom line. Latter-day Saints and most Christian—most religious people believe there are forces of good and evil out there. There’s evil forces trying to deceive us.

Scott Woodward:
So President Packer called that “sin-spiration,” right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Sin-spiration.

Scott Woodward:
And you used the example of Hiram Page, I thought it was a great one, with D&C 28. Man who’d been deceived, obviously. Sincere believer, but deceived by Satan.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I think Hiram Page was sincere because the Lord doesn’t tell Joseph to publicly repudiate him. He actually says, Oliver Cowdery, go and talk to him one by one and tell him these things were not of me.

Scott Woodward:
But then we later published D&C 28 publicly, so anyway.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Well, that was water under the bridge by then, so. Okay, so we’ve got these three lenses that we use. And one of the things we emphasized was you need to use them all together in concert. If you lean too hard on one it can lead you down the wrong path. So if something comes up in the scriptures, you should say, well, have the living prophets taught this also? And is it confirmed by the Spirit? If you received a prompting of the Holy Ghost, it would be your obligation to say, does this line up with the scriptures? And does this line up with what the living prophets have taught? And the three are meant to act in concert as kind of—you used this phrase, “checks and balances,” to make sure that we know what’s true. And we need to do the intellectual and spiritual work to find out if the things that we teach and believe fit into each one of these categories.

Scott Woodward:
By study and also by faith.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And this forms what you called a doctrinal heuristic.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It’s not a perfect system, but it is a good, practical system to use to solve these problems. And we want to say, by the way, too, this isn’t a perfect system.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You’re still going to encounter difficulty and complexity, but it is, I think, fairly reliable. And we didn’t make this up. We’re taking this from statements in the scriptures and statements of the prophets, and I would say our own personal confirmations of the Holy Ghost to teach this, so . . .

Scott Woodward:
So you’re saying the three lenses are verified by the three lenses.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
They indubitably are. We’re trying to practice what we preach.

Scott Woodward:
It’s an internally consistent model.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I guess.

Scott Woodward:
I think so.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And by the way, we’re open to your suggestions and your critiques as well. We want to learn. That’s the whole point of this.

Scott Woodward:
Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So in the spirit of learning, one of the things you proposed last time was let’s do, like, a little practice round.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Let’s take some statements and run them through the three lenses and see how they stand up. So, first of all, walk us through your levels of confidence sub-model to the model that we’ve established and, and then let’s—

Scott Woodward:
Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
—let’s do some spiritual pickleball here.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. That’s such a funny named sport. Like, it has nothing to do with pickles. Anyway, but—so I want to say one more thing: that these three lenses, this model of getting at doctrine, was part of what we called the theological method, and I want to emphasize that it’s only a part of it, right? The first step is to distill truth from inspired sources, but it’s not just to satisfy intellectual curiosity, because the second part is then you’ve got to live it, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
We need to live it. Like, Doctrine and Covenants 84 says, when the Lord’s kind of rebuking the church about treating lightly the things that they had received, namely the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants revelations, up to that point, he said, I gave you these things not only to say, but to do according to that which is written. I didn’t give you the scriptures just to satisfy your intellectual curiosity, so you could have stimulating conversations about doctrine. That’s not why I gave you the revelations.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
It’s so that you could then do and then be transformed by the revelations. So I think we’re talking about a really important first step, which is, can we get the doctrine right? Are we confident that we’re right about whatever this theological point is? And then, step two, we just want to emphasize, is to now live it, right? If there’s something actionable about that particular doctrine, as you put it into practice, it’s going to unlock the power of that doctrine in your life in a way that just talking about it never can. So I do—just wanted to put a plug in for actually living the truth. As Jesus says in John 3, those who do truth come unto the light. It’s not just those who talk about it. So there you go. That’s my disclaimer today that this isn’t just a game. We’re not just trying to learn doctrine for doctrine’s sake. This can be life-transforming. So shall we?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Let’s do it, yeah.

Scott Woodward:
So, this game is called, How Confident Are You In That Doctrine? And . . . why are you laughing at me?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I like Spiritual Pickleball better than How Confident Are You In That Doctrine? but . . .

Scott Woodward:
Pickleball’s the metaphor.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That can be the subtitle.

Scott Woodward:
Okay, okay. Alright. How Confident Are You In That Doctrine? Subtitle: Doctrinal Pickleball. The way it works is this: I’m going to say a statement, and then you, as the listener—and Casey, you and I will dialogue this together—I want you to think in your mind, how confident are you in that doctrine by these three measures: high confidence, semi confidence, or low confidence. Alright?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
Let’s calibrate, okay? We’re going to calibrate with our first statement.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is essential for salvation. So, listener, I want you to think about that. Is that consistently taught in scripture? Is it consistently taught by prophets? And does the Spirit confirm that’s true? And we can play Kahoot! music here, right? This one should be kind of easy.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Alright. Casey, what do you say? Are you high, semi, or low on this one?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This is a real gentle serve, right?

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, this was a softball.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. You’re building my confidence. Totally super high confidence on this one. I can think of a dozen scriptures off the top of my head, probably more.

Scott Woodward:
Mm-hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
The articles of faith.

Scott Woodward:
Mm-hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Statements of modern prophets.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
United statements of modern prophets. And it’s one of those things that, you know, the spirit just sings when you testify and teach of that particular principle.

Scott Woodward:
Bam.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
On that one, all three.

Scott Woodward:
Wow.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
We could cite scripture if you want to, but . . .

Scott Woodward:
No, no, that was good. When it’s really obvious, we won’t. If it’s not obvious, we might need to. So on that one, I think you’re right. You’re right, that one’s easy. We’re just calibrating, okay? We’re just calibrating.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
Okay, let’s do another one. Okay, this one’s harder.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mm-hmm.

Scott Woodward:
The next statement: God the Father is married.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mmm. I feel pretty confident about that one.

Scott Woodward:
Oh, shoot. Okay, I got to push you on your sources then.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
Is this repeatedly taught in scripture, Casey?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mmm, no.

Scott Woodward:
Ha!

Casey Paul Griffiths:
But I will say it’s implied in scripture in a lot of places.

Scott Woodward:
It’s implied in scripture. Where do you want to take us for this implication?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
First place that comes to mind, Genesis 1:26-27. God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God created he him, male and female, created he them. I just notice the pronouns there, and there’s a lot of different opinions on this. Maybe it’s the Godhead we’re talking about here, but male and female.

Scott Woodward:
He’s talking to somebody. Let us make man in our image. And what they do is make them male-female. So that seems to suggest that God is talking to his wife? Is that what you’re saying?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
How does a he create a female in his image? If we’re going to stick with the pronouns that are there—

Scott Woodward:
Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
—that raises some interesting questions that, again, this is something a lot of people kind of wrestle with right now. So, I’m feeling good.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. Any other scriptures that we ought to look at that would state that outright or imply it?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’d also go to the book of Abraham, which doesn’t just talk about God creating, it talks about a council of Gods creating, and I think when you combine that with Genesis 1, it gives you a little bit of leeway to say, yeah, we could have a female individual participating in the creative process here because it’s a council of gods participating in it. Abraham implies that not only did the Father and the Son participate in creation, but that all the great and noble ones, that’s the wording that’s used there, and then in the next chapter, in Abraham 4, the council that carries this out. And to me, I feel pretty comfortable saying, hey, that’s how you square the male and female pronouns that are used in Genesis to say it was this council participating in creation. There were women in the council. One of them is the divine feminine, the Wife of God. Mmm.

Scott Woodward:
I’ve got another verse that I think is pretty strong in its implication. Doctrine and Covenants 132:19. How about this one? 19 and 20.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law and by the new and everlasting covenant, and then it goes on to talk about if they keep those covenants and they’re sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, et cetera, then verse 20 says, shall they be gods? It almost seems to be defining God here as a man and wife married and sealed in the new and everlasting covenant. Don’t you think? Am I stretching that? Or is that pretty solid? That God, by definition here, is a man and wife exalted.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah, that seems pretty solid to me.

Scott Woodward:
Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So lens 1, what would we say? This one’s not a slam dunk.

Scott Woodward:
Not a slam dunk.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
There’s not 900 references to it in the scriptures, but there are scriptures where you can say by inference.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Alright, what about second lens? Is this repeatedly taught by prophets?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This one, I’d say yep.

Scott Woodward:
Where do you want to go? Where does your mind go?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
First place I’m going to go to is the place almost every person would go to. Family Proclamation.

Scott Woodward:
Ah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Family Proclamation.

Scott Woodward:
Does it say it there?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Entire First Presidency and Twelve, paragraph two, all human beings, male and female, are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.

Scott Woodward:
Ah, shoot.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. I’m going to put down my family proclamation and raise you the young women’s theme.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It uses the words heavenly parents. It feels like if we’re making the young women repeat something every Sunday, that we’re going to be careful about the wording in that and the leaders of the church ask the young women to repeat a theme that says we are daughters of heavenly parents.

Scott Woodward:
Okay, so this isn’t like some esoteric doctrine that’s, like, you’re going to find in, like, one little quote in the Journal of Discourses. This is, like, on a lot of people’s wall in their home. Like, they’ve got on their wall hanging up a united statement of the prophet saying that we have heavenly parents, a husband and a wife married, in whose image we are formed and created. We’re their children.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I remember distinctly in general conference hearing references to this. Elder Holland gave a talk on mothers where he taught this several times. I could give you the exact reference there if you gave me a few minutes.

Scott Woodward:
So lots of statements about Heavenly Mother that have been made in the past obviously suggest that she’s the wife of Heavenly Father.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. And I would also add—this isn’t a statement by a prophet, but there is a gospel topics essay on Heavenly Mother that everybody should read. You can go through, and it gives all the places where this was taught.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, it’s a good repository.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. It’s a good repository that’s written cautiously and responsibly to basically say, yeah, this isn’t a new thing. It didn’t show up in the family proclamation in 1995. It was taught by Joseph Smith. Boom.

Scott Woodward:
I feel good about that. What about the third lens, the Spirit? Does the Spirit confirm that God the Father is married? That resonates in my soul when you think about the whole plan of salvation.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Parents with children, helping them learn and grow and become what they are. That is the telos of humanity, to become like our heavenly parents. Like, that feels right. That feels right in my soul. There’s nothing weird about it. It feels like it resonates nicely. I can only speak for myself.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It feels good for me, as I am a man, but I am a big fan of women. I’ve been married to one for 23 years and have three daughters. To be able to say to them, there is a divine feminine. There is someone out there that you’re created in the image of and after and that you can aspire to become like, is one of those precious truths that—about the restoration—that I really, deeply love. It just, it works for me.

Scott Woodward:
Feels right.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. Feels good.

Scott Woodward:
All right. Let’s go to our next question on the marriage topic.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
How about this? Jesus was married because he had to obey all the ordinances “to fulfill all righteousness.” So if Jesus had to be baptized, the logic goes, he would need to be married. So Jesus is married. That’s the statement Are you highly confident, semi confident, or low confident on that one? Listeners, what do you think? Are any scriptures out there, any words of the prophets? Did the Holy Ghost confirm that one?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You already semi quoted it here, but I wouldn’t go to any New Testament scripture. I’d go to 2 Nephi 31. This is verse 5 in 2 Nephi 31: If the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water to fulfill all righteousness, oh, then how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized even by water? And now I would ask you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized by water? Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men, according to the flesh, he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandment. So, Jesus was baptized, not because he needed a remission of sins—he’s sinless—but because he obeys the commandments. And, if Heavenly Father has set marriage as one of the things that we’re asked to do on our path to exaltation, I think you could infer that Jesus was married.

Scott Woodward:
So this is an example of using some argument, some logic, some reason—

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
—but you can’t solidly root it in scripture. Can we say it like that?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Can I find a passage that says he was? Nope. I’m—nope. I can’t.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, it’s interesting. And there have been apostles who have dared to venture into these waters, like Elder Orson Hyde. Here’s one that gets quoted sometimes. He thought there might be a scriptural argument to be made in the wedding feast at Cana in John chapter 2. He said, quote, Now there was actually a marriage at Cana. Right? This is the setting where Jesus is going to turn water into wine. Remember, his mom is in charge of refreshments? Like, she’s the one that comes to him and says, Jesus, we’ve run out of wine, like, do something. You know, can you help? I’m paraphrasing. And so Elder Orson Hyde says, if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, highlighting Isaiah 53:10, before he was crucified. Close quote. Woo! He is doctrinally speculative here.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. And honestly, the way he puts it, if any man can show this and prove that it was not the savior of the world, then I will acknowledge that. I can’t prove. I can’t assail him on that particular point.

Scott Woodward:
It’s like an argument from absence, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
If you can’t find that it wasn’t, then it necessarily was. That’s a little bit weak in terms of logic, but . . .

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’m not assailing Elder Hyde either, here.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
What I would say is, I don’t know anybody else that taught this.

Scott Woodward:
There you go.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I can’t think of any other instance where a leader of the church has taught this particular idea in such a forceful way, for sure. Seems like Orson Hyde’s alone here.

Scott Woodward:
Your instincts are very sharp, Casey Griffiths. I think that’s the right kind of flag on this one, right? This isn’t consistently taught. That’s a really strong statement, but it’s not consistently taught.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
In fact, Elder Charles W. Penrose, of the First Presidency, he took a much more conservative approach. He said, “We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The church has no authoritative declaration on the subject.” like, we don’t know. That’s—and I think that’s actually pretty fair to say from scripture. We don’t know.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Logic and reason, the way that you have framed it, Casey, it would make sense. Yeah. He’s married, no problem. If he wasn’t married, I’m not concerned about Jesus’s salvation, right? If we’re trying to make it fit the paradigm of having to go through every ordinance that we go through in the temple today, like, I don’t know what it looked like in his day, but I, for one, am not concerned about Jesus salvation.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
If there’s a different way for him to work that out, like, I think that’s going to be fine. So, if he is, great. If he wasn’t, no problem. But no solid doctrine on that point, I would say, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. I usually add this in my classes. Sometimes what’s not in the scriptures can be instructive, too, and if Jesus was married, He didn’t put anything about it in the scriptures. 

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. 

Casey Paul Griffiths:
His disciples didn’t mention it. It’s not in the scriptural canon. Maybe Jesus was married and he just thought that was none of our business.

Scott Woodward:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they tell us about his mother, his father. They talk about Mary. They talk about Joseph. They talk about his brothers and sisters. They talk about his brother James. No mention of his wife. Does that mean that she wasn’t there? No. Does that mean that she necessarily was? No. We don’t know.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Some people want to say, it was Mary Magdalene, obviously. It’s like, really? Obviously? Why? Because you know that time when he, like, when he’s resurrected and Mary goes to the tomb and she turns around, she thought he was the gardener, she turns around and says, Rabboni, which everybody knows is Greek for master, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Or teacher.

Scott Woodward:
Or teacher, yeah. And she recognizes him. He says, Mary. And then she goes in to embrace him, right, and he says, hold me not. The reason he gives is because I have not yet ascended to the Father. Why is Mary so familiar with him that she wants to go embrace him? So you have to just do a bunch of speculative work like that. It’s like, are we confident that Mary was his wife? I’m not. Did she love him? Yeah. Did a lot of people love him? Yes. Yes. He’s very beloved.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
How many people would want to embrace him after thinking he was dead? I think a lot.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Right? So that’s not an ironclad, slam-dunk doctrinal booyah, right? That’s—anyway. So confidence on this one. Where would you say you’re at, Casey, from all of that?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’d say mid to low on this one.

Scott Woodward:
Mid to low. Interesting.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It’s a cool idea, and I don’t disparage anybody for exploring it.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
But I would also say you’re on a little bit shakier ground here.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Interesting. Okay, let’s do another one. How about this? God will forgive us as we truly repent of our sins.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’m feeling pretty good about that one.

Scott Woodward:
Pretty consistently taught? Scripture, prophets, Spirit-confirmed?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. I mean, I’m wondering, you know, do I need to go and look up forgiveness under Gospel Topics in Gospel Library right here? I’ve got my iPad with me. Let’s see. They are citing one, two, three, four, five scriptures here. six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen scriptural references.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Four general conference talks. Then when I just went under topics, oh my goodness. I’m scrolling through and haven’t reached the bottom yet.

Scott Woodward:
Hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’m going to guess maybe sixty to eighty talks that they put under talking about forgiveness. And then, here’s the real trump card. Five videos on forgiveness produced by the church. Three Tabernacle Choir videos. How many references in church magazines and Teachings of the Presidents of the Church? Chapters on forgiveness in teachings of Joseph Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, Spencer W. Kimball.

Scott Woodward:
Wow.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Stories. Teaching resources. Media. Four hymns that mention forgiveness. So it feels like, yeah, we can confidently say the scriptures and the prophets teach that a lot.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
We go to the third lens. Does—is forgiveness something that’s confirmed by the Spirit? I’ve felt it.

Scott Woodward:
Me, too. So that was a—that was another . . .

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That’s another slam dunk. Yeah. High confidence on that one.

Scott Woodward:
High confidence. Okay. All right. Let’s do another one.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
We should not eat pork. Can you think of any scriptures that say we shouldn’t eat pork, Casey?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yes.

Scott Woodward:
That’s interesting.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yep.

Scott Woodward:
What are we at? Leviticus 11?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. They’re all in the Old Testament.

Scott Woodward:
Mm-hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And the Old Testament doesn’t always get the respect it deserves, I think.

Scott Woodward:
Uh-huh.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
But I would also add a little asterisk before I say this is taught repeatedly in the scriptures.

Scott Woodward:
Asterisk away.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It is repeatedly taught under the Law of Moses, and there are multiple scriptures that basically say the Law of Moses has been fulfilled.

Scott Woodward:
Mm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So it might not be something that we’re asked to do anymore. There’s a number of provisions under the Law of Moses that were done away or changed or altered when Jesus came to fulfill the law.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. So you would put that one as something that used to be something we used to should do as God’s covenant people, but with the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, no longer required.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mm-hmm.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. What about this one? I have a quote here from George Q. Cannon. He said, “We are told that swine’s flesh is not good and that we should dispense with it.” How about this? Brigham Young: “If the people were willing to receive the true knowledge from heaven in regard to their diet, they would cease eating swine’s flesh. I know this as well as Moses knew it.” So now we’ve got some prophet—we’ve got one apostle, one president of the church. What are you going to do about that, Casey?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You immediately made me think of a talk given by Joseph F. Merrill called “Eat Meat Sparingly,” where he didn’t just talk about pork. He cited section 89 of the Word of Wisdom that we should eat meat sparingly. But I’d also bring up a practical test here too, which is I don’t hear this taught in the church. I think I’ve had one student over the course of my career who came in and said, my family feels really strongly we shouldn’t eat pork. I’ve been teaching for a while now, probably, you know, tens of thousands of students, and it’s never come up. And I don’t remember a sermon on this, a teaching on this in church. I don’t remember a general conference talk. The examples you cited from Brigham Young was . . .

Scott Woodward:
Journal of Discourses 12, page 54 and 55.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So I don’t know what year that was, but . . .

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, I don’t know either.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
He’s been gone for a while. And the George Q. Cannon talk is 1868.

Scott Woodward:
1868. Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That’s a long time ago. So, I mean, for me, a red flag is I haven’t heard this taught ever in the modern church.

Scott Woodward:
It doesn’t pass the consistently-taught test.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, Joseph Smith never taught it. John Taylor through President Nelson, never heard it. That says something.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’d also go out of my way to say the book of Acts contradicts it.

Scott Woodward:
Mmm. Rise, Peter, kill, eat.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Rise, Peter, kill, and eat. I’ve never eaten anything unclean. What I have cleansed call thou not unclean. So that seems like the Savior saying, no, this isn’t an expectation any longer. Even saying you can prove this in the scriptures becomes really muddied when you use the entire scriptural canon.

Scott Woodward:
So now you’re looking across the entire canon of scripture. Because it is undoubtedly in scripture.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
But it’s not consistently taught, especially post Law of Moses times. Is that what I’m hearing you say?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. Alright.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
What’s your doctrinal confidence on that one?

Scott Woodward:
My doctrinal confidence on we should not eat pork is . . . that’s low. Maybe doesn’t exist. Yeah. I think we should be wise how we eat pork. We shouldn’t eat too much, all those things. But my favorite dish at Cafe Rio is definitely the pork barbacoa salad. So delicious. And I would feel totally comfortable eating that with any member of the Twelve or First Presidency.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Alright. Any one you want to throw out?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
One that I throw out sometimes is we should take the sacrament with our right hand. So what do you think?

Scott Woodward:
Okay. Okay. Let’s think about that. Scriptures. Take the sacrament with your right hand.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Let’s see. Jesus gave the sacrament in 3rd Nephi 18 to the Nephites. Can’t think of him saying that there. Thinking of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when he introduces it. I can’t think of him saying it there. Thinking of D&C 20 when it’s brought up in our constitution of the early church. Nothing about it there. I’m pulling a zero when it comes to scripture.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
There are multiple references to Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

Scott Woodward:
Not about the sacrament.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I can’t think of anything about the sacrament.

Scott Woodward:
But, yeah, right hand of God is often associated with righteousness or covenant, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, I’ve heard people talk about the right hand as, like, your covenant hand. Because I was actually taught this as a young man, that you ought to take the sacrament with your right hand because that’s your covenant hand.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’ve heard that. But is it true? I don’t know. If someone was performing a baptism and they raised their left hand rather than their right hand, we would stop them.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So, in practice, that seems to be significant.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Yeah. But what about teachings of prophets?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay, so I do have this:

Scott Woodward:
Oh, shoot.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This is from the Ensign.

Scott Woodward:
Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Official church magazine.

Scott Woodward:
All right.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
March of 1983.

Scott Woodward:
Uh-huh.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Remember how in the Ensign they used to have a, “I have a question.”

Scott Woodward:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You’d write in, you have a question. Church would ask somebody to write back. The question was, “Is it necessary to take the sacrament with one’s right hand?” The answerer wrote back, “The hand used in partaking of the sacrament would logically be the same hand used in making any other sacred oath. For most of us, that would be the right hand. However, sacramental covenants and other eternal covenants as well, can be and are made by those who’ve lost the use of the right hand or who have no hands at all. Because I have a right hand, I offer it in partaking of the sacrament as an oath. That question was answered by an individual named Russell M. Nelson.

Scott Woodward:
Whoa.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Who, at the time, was the general president of the Sunday School.

Scott Woodward:
Oh, okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So, March 1983, President Nelson. So, boom, did I just prove that you’re supposed to take the sacrament with your right hand.

Scott Woodward:
What you just did was shared one quote that came up in a 1983 Ensign.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah, but it’s President Nelson.

Scott Woodward:
Sunday School President Nelson saying, that’s what he does. And if you have a right hand, then, how did he say it? If you have a right hand, then you should use it. Is that what he’s saying?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. He said, for most of us, that would be the right hand. But sacramental covenants and other eternal covenants can be and are made by those who’ve lost the use of the right hand or who have no hands at all. Because I have a right hand, I offered it in partaking. So that’s not—he’s not being super dogmatic here, I guess you’d say.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Okay. Okay. So, yeah, I don’t think God really cares about which hand I partake with. It’s not consistently taught in scripture. It’s not ever taught in scripture. There’s one quote in 1983 that’s really gentle about it.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I got one more.

Scott Woodward:
Oh, you got another one? Oh, bring it. Okay.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This is the General Handbook from 2020.

Scott Woodward:
All right.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And it’s talking about sacrament services. It just says, “Members partake with their right hand when possible.”

Scott Woodward:
When possible.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So that’s pretty recent. And that is the church Handbook.

Scott Woodward:
Church Handbook.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That represents the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve.

Scott Woodward:
Does it?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
So, if possible, take with your right hand.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Let’s say I just take it with my left hand. Like, is that going to somehow negate the effects of renewing my covenant?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I don’t know.

Scott Woodward:
Like, that’s so interesting, right? Because when you initially asked the question, it’s like, obviously not.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Obviously that’s not a doctrine. But now you’re like . . .

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’m making your life difficult here.

Scott Woodward:
I know. Now I’m like, oh shoot. So it’s in the church handbook of instructions. How come that’s never taught in General Conference? That’s my question. How come that’s never taught in church publications? How come I’ve never heard it in my ward, in stake conference—I’ve never heard it anywhere. It’s kind of tucked away in the church handbook of instructions. If that was important, I feel like we would hear it more. It seems very inconsequential which hand I take the sacrament with, don’t you think?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And I would say this: It’s in the church handbook. To me, that’s a big deal. The church handbook was made available to everybody in 2020, and it’s continually updated by the leadership of the church. At the same time, we could say as a practical matter, I’ve never seen a presiding officer stop a sacrament meeting because somebody took the sacrament with their left hand.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’ve never seen anybody even mildly rebuked for this.

Scott Woodward:
Ever.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I wouldn’t rebuke anybody. I remember after the new handbook came out, that Sunday, our baby was asleep on my right hand when they passed the sacrament. And so the question was, am I going to flip the baby and wake her up?

Scott Woodward:
No. You never flip the baby.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
You never flip the baby.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And my wife looked at me like, ooh, what are you going to do? And I just took it with my left hand, and I don’t feel super guilty or anything about it.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Because it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t possible. You had a baby on your right hand.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
There’s a practical side of things here, too, and I think our third lens, here, which is the spirit, would say we wouldn’t condemn people for using the wrong hand, though I have taken my own children aside and said, hey, when you can, try and use your right hand.

Scott Woodward:
That one’s so interesting to me. How confident are we that you should take the sacrament with the right hand? I still wouldn’t say really high. I’d be like, oh, that’s interesting. Like, I’m willing to—I’ll do whatever, but . . .

Casey Paul Griffiths:
If you made the statement “with your right hand, when possible,” I would say my confidence is fairly high there.

Scott Woodward:
When possible.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I feel pretty good about it.

Scott Woodward:
Okay. Interesting.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Do you want to hear my second one?

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Lay it on us.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay. Okay. So the Savior’s infinite atonement saves and redeems people on all the worlds that God has created. So how doctrinally confident are you in that statement?

Scott Woodward:
I can think of one verse of scripture that might say that. In Doctrine and Covenants 76 verse 22-24. It’s Joseph and Sidney’s statement about this is the testimony last of all which we give of him that he lives. For we saw him even on the right hand of the Father. And then they say, we heard the voice bearing record that this is the only begotten of the Father, that, I’m just quoting from memory here, so tell me if I’m getting this right, that by him and through him and of him the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I’m impressed with your memory.

Scott Woodward:
That might be saying that the people on the other planets also become the children of God in the same way, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the same way that we become the full, inheriting children of God in this world, something like that, right? And then, but then there’s this poem that Joseph wrote, right? There’s a poetic version of section 76 where it seems like he’s clarifying the intent of that, where he says, going with memory again here, so help me if I get this wrong.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I got the poem. Do you want me to read the poem?

Scott Woodward:
Okay, yeah. Okay, you quote it. Yeah, quote it.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
This is a poem Joseph Smith wrote, probably with W. W. Phelps, appeared in the Times and Seasons volume 4, page 82.

I heard a great voice bearing record from heav’n, He’s the Savior and only begotten of God.
By Him, of Him, and through Him the worlds were all made, even all the career in the heavens so broad,
Those inhabitants, too, from the first to the last, are saved by the very same Savior of ours
And of course are begotten God’s daughters and sons by the very same truths and the very same powers.

Scott Woodward:
So that seems to be Joseph’s commentary on the meaning of verses 22 through 24.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
And he seems to be saying there really clearly that they’re saved by the very same Savior as ours.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Uh-huh.

Scott Woodward:
People on those other worlds, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mm-hmm. I can think of at least two more scriptures, too.

Scott Woodward:
Oh, yeah? Where else?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
So 2 Nephi 9:7. An infinite atonement. Because the statement is Jesus Christ’s infinite atonement saves all of God’s children regardless of what world they live on. Infinite appears in 2 Nephi 9:7. It appears again—

Scott Woodward:
Alma 34.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
—in Alma 34. Amulek teaches that.

Scott Woodward:
But I would push back on the 2 Nephi 9 and Alma 34. Like, that’s not in context of talking about other worlds.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Sure.

Scott Woodward:
That’s talking about the scope of Jesus’s sacrificial death in terms of who’s going to be impacted by it on this world, right? It’s not really even speaking to the question of other worlds. So, I don’t know if that’s really a solid scriptural basis for that particular question.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
See, and I would say it’s pretty hard to get around the word infinite, isn’t it?

Scott Woodward:
I think it just means universally applicable. In context, right? In 2 Nephi 9, Jacob is saying that everybody, because of the fall, is going to die, rot, and crumble. And because of the infinite atonement, all will be brought forth from the dead. So infinite is like this universal coverage, as it were. I think in context, don’t you think?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. I’m just saying, I can’t put any asterisks on the word infinite. I’d say my doctrinal confidence is high when it comes to this particular statement. But what about you? We don’t have to agree.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. We’re highlighting here how this is a heuristic, right? It’s not a perfect model.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Right.

Scott Woodward:
But it’s helpful. It’s a helpful model. So different Latter-day Saints can come down in different places on this.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Because there’s also a conflicting statement by John Taylor where he talked about the Savior being the Savior of this earth and other earths having saviors, which I thought was a little bit odd in light of what Joseph Smith had taught. I tend to side with Joseph on pretty much every doctrinal point ever. I think he’s such a pure source. And so my confidence is high even though it’s not consistently taught through scripture. That’s where the heuristic breaks down a little bit. Like, when Joseph Smith is commenting on something, kind of like in the King Follett Discourse, he says some things in the King Follett Discourse that you can’t find anywhere else, but for some reason I just believe it. I believe that, like, we can become like God and that God was once like us, for instance. Like, that’s a pretty, like, powerful truth. Not taught exactly anywhere in scripture, that God was once like us, at least. And yet that just resonates with my soul. So, yeah, I have high confidence that Christ’s atonement covers all the inhabitants of all the earths that he had anything to do with creating. To me, that sits well. But I would still respect anyone that disagreed with that.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
If we’re modeling this skill, right, we’d have to say John Taylor appears to have said something else.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And that could be a thoughtful, considered opinion.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
It also helps me that, you know, another prophet did teach this. This was Russell M. Nelson, before he’s the prophet.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
But he gave a talk where he said, “His atonement is infinite without an end. And the mercy of the atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people but an infinite number of worlds created by him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension. That seems to line up with Section 76 and Joseph Smith, and I think if I put all those together, I’m pretty high level of confidence in this one.

Scott Woodward:
Your confidence is waxing strong.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Very cool. That was fun. All right, let’s do one more.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay, let’s do it.

Scott Woodward:
You get to choose, here. I’m going to say two statements. You tell us which one we should dig into. How about this one? There is no possibility of progression between kingdoms of glory. You can’t progress from telestial to terrestrial or from terrestrial to celestial.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay.

Scott Woodward:
Or should we do, evolution as an explanation for the origin of man is definitely false. Which one do you want to do?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Let’s do evolution, partially because that progression between the kingdoms of glory is a hand grenade.

Scott Woodward:
And evolution’s not?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Well, evolution’s less of a hand grenade. It’s the progression between kingdoms that people, like, get up in arms. People have really strong feelings about that.

Scott Woodward:
Well, maybe we should do that one then.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I just have never had a satisfying discussion with someone over it, where we came to a conclusion.

Scott Woodward:
Well, I think it’s helpful to look at the evidence. I’m going to do it really quick, then we’ll come back to evolution.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Okay, do it really quick.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah, you have statements that are for and against by apostles on both sides, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Right.

Scott Woodward:
So you’ve got President Kimball saying that after a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either the telestial, terrestrial, or celestial, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal. That’s a pretty strong statement.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Then you have, like, Hyrum Smith, assistant church president, when he said this back in 1843. He said, “Those of the terrestrial glory either advance to the celestial or recede to the telestial.” That’s interesting. But then if you write the First Presidency, here’s what the secretary of the First Presidency would send out, at least back in the 1950s or 1960s. Here’s a response they would give: “The Brethren direct me to say,” this is the secretary of the First Presidency, “that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression.” I think James E. Talmage will go that direction, Hyrum Smith, I think Wilford Woodruff has a quote on this. “Others of the brethren have taken the opposite view,” like President Kimball I just quoted, Elder McConkie, and others, “but, as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.” So maybe that’s all we need to say on that one, is that it is ambiguous, and there are apostles who have strong opinions on both sides, and I think that’s a key, actually. When you see apostles with strong opinions on both sides of the issue, that’s a great way in your mind to say that’s not a settled point. There’s not harmony. There’s not consistency. And therefore, my doctrinal confidence in that is going to be maybe semi or low, you know?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
And so that would be the quick version of how I would do that one is just to say, that’s fine being ambiguous. If the Lord hasn’t felt to reveal clarity on that point and apostles have different opinions, no problem.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
See, and I think the reason why I’m adverse to that one is it always turns into a “this apostle versus this apostle” kind of thing. I don’t like to do that.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I totally accept that apostles can have different opinions, but then it turns into a, well, President Kimball’s more recent than Hyrum Smith. Well, Hyrum Smith was the co-president of the church, and he’s a foundational figure, and I just don’t like when we set up one church leader against another one.

Scott Woodward:
Right.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
They can have differences and disagreements, but that’s where that road leads is us saying, he’s my favorite and so I’m going to go with them.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. The evidence just suggests it’s inconclusive, basically, right?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
All right. What do you want to say about evolution?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Oof. Okay, evolution.

Scott Woodward:
Evolution as an explanation for the origin of man is definitely false. Is there any scripture, Casey, that says that evolution could not be the way in which God created this world?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I can’t think of any, to be honest with you. Except maybe 2 Nephi 2, where it talks about no change in the Garden of Eden. They would have remained in the same state which they were in when they were created. But I think there’s also ways to work around that, too. There’s others that sound like it could be. For instance, in Genesis and in Moses, it says, let the earth bring forth plants. So God commands the earth to bring forth plants. That could be a poetic description of evolution. He says, let the waters bring forth animals.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That could be a poetic description. I’m thinking Moses 2:22-23. But then when he talks about the creation of man, he does say we fashioned them in our own image. It seems like the language is different there.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That’s not a slam dunk for or against when it comes to the scriptures, as far as I’m concerned. Because there’s ways to harmonize that idea with the scriptures. I don’t know.

Scott Woodward:
One member of the Twelve, Elder Stephen L. Richards, you don’t hear him quoted a lot, but he wrote once, back in 1933, when this was a really hot topic, he wrote something called “An Open Letter to College Students” in the Improvement Era, in which he said this, “If the evolutionary hypothesis of the creation of life and matter in the universe is ultimately found to be correct, and I shall neither be disappointed nor displeased if it shall turn out so to be, in my humble opinion, the biblical account is sufficiently comprehensive to include the whole of the process.” He thought this could be very well squared with scripture, like you’re saying. A case could be made. President David O. McKay was also quite favorable that this could very well be how it was done. But then there’s some contrasting opinions, aren’t there?

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Especially Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote a book called Man, His Origin and Destiny where he says absolutely false. He says scripture does not affirm it. If you accept the scriptures, then you have to reject evolution. He was pretty hardliner on that.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mm-hmm.

Scott Woodward:
Elder McConkie kind of followed in that same way. So here, again, is a great example of kind of one where you have to say, okay, there’s apostles who have conflicting ideas on this or conflicting opinions.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
I know that makes you uncomfortable, Casey. It makes all of us uncomfortable. But it does—it does suggest that that’s not a settled point. You cannot use scripture to debunk evolution, basically, right? You can’t find united, consistent, harmonious statements from the prophets or apostles that are opposed to evolution. So evolution is something that does get some people uncomfortable, but there is plenty of room, Elder Stephen L. Richard says, Elder David O. McKay says, for those who find this a persuasive theory. Like, there’s totally room for people to believe that in the church and have temple recommends and be fine, right? That is not a test of faithfulness, whether you do or do not believe in evolution. So that’s an interesting and important point.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
I would say part of the reason why we have this scale of doctrinal confidence is I could say to a classroom full of students, if you don’t believe in evolution, it’s okay. That’s a supportable position. If you do believe in evolution, that’s okay. That’s a supportable position. I can think of an apostle that was contemporary to Joseph Fielding Smith and James E. Talmage, that’s Joseph Merrill, who would say, I don’t really care. He was a physicist, and whenever anybody asked him about evolution, he would basically say, the universe, guys, the universe is so complex that there is a God. Let’s don’t play around in the mud and worry about stuff like that. There’s a God. Here’s what God said to us. Here’s what God tells us to do. I don’t need much beyond that. Yeah. And let me just show you how the Church threads the needle on some of these more difficult questions. A couple years ago, in the New Era, back when the New Era was still being published, there was an, “I have a question,” and the question was, what is the Church’s teachings on the theory of evolution? This was the statement made. This is the New Era, October 2016, page 41. And this is what this official church publication said: “The church has no official position on the theory of evolution.”

Scott Woodward:
Mm-hmm.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
“Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution. Though the details of what happened on Earth before Adam and Eve, including how their bodies were created have not been revealed, our teachings regarding man’s origin are clear and come from revelation. Before we were born on earth, we were the spirit children of heavenly parents with bodies in their image. God directed the creation of Adam and Eve and placed their spirits in their bodies. We’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, our first parents, who were created in God’s image. There were no spirit children of Heavenly Father on earth before Adam and Eve were created.” So you can see them kind of threading the needle here, basically, saying, here’s what the scriptures say, and here’s what they don’t say.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And so here’s what we have to defend, and here’s what we don’t have to defend and don’t waste time worrying about stuff that we don’t have answers to quite yet.

Scott Woodward:
And I like how they said that’s a matter for science to take up, right? That the scientific method is more tooled to answer this than is the theological method.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
That there’s nothing that’s been revealed about that, therefore, we don’t have anything theologically to go on. Therefore, this is a great question for the scientific method. Let’s keep pursuing that.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah. We haven’t been doing this for the last hour to muddy the waters. We’ve been doing this to show there are things that we have high doctrinal confidence in.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
That’s the stuff that we defend, that we stand up for, that makes up the foundation of our beliefs. There’s a lot of stuff that we have very low doctrinal confidence in, and you don’t necessarily have to defend that stuff. You don’t have to argue with somebody for an hour about whether or not Cain and Bigfoot are the same person. Doesn’t matter, and we don’t teach it. And then there’s other things where it’s okay for us to say, hey, we don’t really know on that particular question. Let’s explore this together and see if we can come to a conclusion where everybody’s okay.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
And in that sense this model can be really useful because we defend the things that we really believe in. We don’t have to defend the things that we don’t teach or believe in, and we need to have charity and grace for each other when we can’t reconcile or we come to opposing views on things if we can’t definitively say yes or no, this is a teaching of the church.

Scott Woodward:
Yeah. Beautiful, man. Yeah, that’s right. Think about those things that we have high confidence in, like, God will forgive us as we truly repent of our sins.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Mm-hmm.

Scott Woodward:
There are doctrines that matter, and they actually affect our life deeply, and there are others that just do not.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
And that’s the value of going through this doctrinal heuristic.

Casey Paul Griffiths:
Yeah.

Scott Woodward:
Thank you for listening to this episode of Church History Matters. In our next episode we shift gears away from doctrinal confidence to discuss how to develop historical confidence. Specifically, we’ll get into how trained historians think about and evaluate the reliability of historical sources, and how we can begin to do the same by asking a series of five questions. If you’re enjoying Church History Matters, we’d appreciate it if you could take a moment to subscribe, rate, review, and comment on the podcast. That makes us easier to find. Today’s episode was produced by Scott Woodward and edited by Nick Galieti and Scott Woodward, with show notes and transcript by Gabe Davis. Church History Matters is a podcast of Scripture Central, a nonprofit which exists to help build enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making Latter-day Saint scripture and church history accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to people everywhere. For more resources to enhance your gospel study, go to scripturecentral.org, where everything is available for free because of the generous donations of people like you. And while we try very hard to be historically and doctrinally accurate in what we say on this podcast, please remember that all views expressed in this and every episode are our views alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Scripture Central or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thank you so much for being a part of this with us.

Show produced by Scott Woodward and edited by Nick Galieti and Scott Woodward, with show notes by Gabe Davis. Church History Matters is a podcast of Scripture Central. For more resources to enhance your gospel study go to scripturecentral.org where everything is available for free because of the generous donations of people like you.