Yesterday’s document drop in Mormon WikiLeaks included a letter titled “Report from Stake President on Individual Remnant Believer.” Along with this letter from a stake president to a member of the Seventy was an attachment written by someone who serves in the Correlation Department. This last gentleman had been asked to read a book written by the “Remnant Believer,” presumably to comment on its coherence with “correlated” LDS doctrine or lack thereof. Among his conclusions was the following point:
I’m afraid that his book is another effort to broaden his recruiting efforts. He is very good at arguing his point of view, he will use scriptures and statements of the brethren out of context to prove his point. For many whose understanding is limited he sounds very persuasive.
I think that there probably is a reason that Remnant Believer feels perfectly comfortable quoting leaders and scripture out of context. Likewise, there’s a reason that so many people’s understanding seems “limited” when faced with de-contextualized or ahistorical readings. For the last 15 or so years we’ve spent the Third Hour of our Sunday meetings reading the Brethren without the benefit of much context or co-text. Our Gospel Doctrine classes treat scripture the same way. In fact, it’s unreasonable to expect people to read our canonical or semi-canonical literature any other way since that is the cultural and doctrinal pattern we have happily employed since about forever.
If context is important to discerning the range of meanings that might be associated with the authorial voice, we’ll need to start making more use of it in meetings, classes and manuals, no? And that could get interesting.