I’m a product of my time. How could I not be? At 5, I learned “Eenie meenie miney mo” with words I would not use today, since I’m now a product of the 21st century, and not the 1960’s. If somebody found an old recording of me in 1962, saying the above nursery rhyme, I would be embarrassed, but probably be excused because of my age, and it being “a different time”.
The go-to argument from current Church leaders when old quotes and deeds of former Church leaders come up that seem harsh, or clash with our modern understanding, is that they are a “product of their time”. This was recently in the news with a talk that Elder Cook gave to BYU, where he said Brigham Young “said things about race that fall short of our standards today”, and “some of his beliefs and words reflected the culture of his time.”.
What if we take Elder Cook’s words as truth. Brigham Young’s hateful teachings about race were caused by the attitudes of the general population around him. But if we also accept that he was a prophet, it implies that God allowed his prophet to teach hateful false doctrines and claim that they were eternal laws.
So what does that mean for current prophets? Can we have any confidence that prophets today are not teaching hateful doctrines that are caused by the general attitudes of their day? By “their day,” I don’t mean 2020. I mean the 1950’s when their attitudes were set. Does God allow his teachings to get mixed up with the awful opinions that are truly damaging?
So lets do a thought experiment. Lets say it is 2120, 100 years from today. What current teachings and understandings from 2020 will be rejected at this future date and explained away as just the culture of their time?
I’ll go first. If gay marriage is fully accepted by the church in this future year, I would say most of Elder Oak’s conference talks will fall into the “product of his time”, or maybe even “he was speaking as a man”
What do you think?