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Do Latter-day Saints intentionally conceal their doctrine?

by W. John Walsh

Latter-day Saints do not conceal our teachings from the world. In fact, over 60,000 missionaries travel the world at their own expense to teach the gospel. We openly proclaim our message because we believe it is of supreme importance to the world. Latter-day Saints believe that it is only by living our teachings that true happiness can be found.

However, the gospel is usually taught systematically. Before advanced principles are taught, the basic principles must be learned. This is the same method of teaching that is used in all disciplines. Before a math student learns algebra, he learns how to add and subtract. The Bible teaches that this is the preferred method of teaching spiritual truths as well:

"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able." (The Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians 3:2)

" For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat." (The Holy Bible, Hebrews 5:12)

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" (The Holy Bible, 1 Peter 2:2)

"For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little:" (The Holy Bible, Isaiah 28:10)

While meat is fine for adults, it is inappropriate for children who need a different kind of nourishment. In addition, the Savior himself taught that it was not always appropriate to teach sacred things to those who would mock them:

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (The Holy Bible, Matthew 7:6)

"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (The Holy Bible, Matthew 13:10-11)

Some people take an intellectual approach to the gospel. They are always interested in gaining new concepts, but never develop greater spiritual depth. They are "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (The Holy Bible, 2 Timothy 3:7) The Church encourages its members to focus on those things that will allow people to develop personal relationships with God and be entitled to eternal life. The LDS curriculum is specifically designed to focus on basic principles like faith, repentance, prayer, and scripture study.

However, to say that Latter-day Saints focus on basic principles instead of advanced teachings is not the same as saying that we hide our doctrines. On this we site we have over 3000 pages devoted to every single aspect of LDS doctrine, including advanced topics. They are available for the entire world to view.  Dr. Robert L. Millet wrote:

"I will answer this [question about the supposed "secret world of Mormonism"] in a rather personal way. I have been a Latter-day Saint all my life. I was raised as a Latter-day Saint in Louisiana, and most of my friends were Roman Catholic or Protestant (Southern Baptist or Methodist). I spent my first eighteen years in Louisiana. I have since lived in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Idaho, Florida, Georgia, and Utah, and I have been intimately involved in the work of the Church through the years. Since 1973 I have been employed by the LDS Church as a marriage and family counselor, seminary and institute of religion instructor, and dean of Religious Education and professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. I have seen the Church from all sides--from right to left, and from top to bottom. I have worked closely with rank-and-file members and with Church leaders at all levels of administration. In all that time I have never encountered but one brand of Mormonism--the public version. I'm not sure where the secret brand--the one advertised by our critics as scheming, mischievous, power hungry, occultish, and dark--is to be found, but I haven't come across it. The reader would do well to be discerning and discriminating when it comes to some of the rather exotic assaults upon the LDS Church by its critics." (The Mormon Faith: A New Look at Christianity)

(See Why don't Latter-day Saints openly discuss the teachings of the temple in detail?; Why is a Temple Recommend Needed to Enter the Temple?; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

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