How Stands the Dispensation? 50 Variations On A Theme
As an overall title for this large collection of essays on the nature of the church in the latter days, the above title seemed appropriate. Each of these essays has its own title and named subsections, altogether providing quite a list of topics. These essays were written over the past two years after studying various aspects of church doctrine and administration for the past 20 years. As I went along, my research knowledge grew and my attitudes changed as a result, sometimes weekly. That constant changing of viewpoint would logically mean that these essays are not necessarily consistent with each other, and may or may not cover all the topics I had in mind. Going back now to make sure I covered all the ground I intended to cover, while modifying all the essays to make them consistent with each other would be quite a task. I may have to let this project sit for a while before I would feel up to going the next step.
Without really intending it, I seem to have gradually invented a different kind of apologetics. I find myself defending the true and complete scriptural gospel against, and taking issue with, the LDS church, which has revised the original gospel so much, apparently for its own convenience, that it is almost unrecognizable in many areas when compared to the gospel restored and taught by Christ and by Joseph Smith. In many important cases, the gospel tenets taught by the existing church are exactly the opposite of original gospel teaching and practice.
In more normal apologetics, we might find people almost completely polarized, with one side vigorously defending the current interpretation of the gospel as put forward by church leaders, as against those who may be strongly and even mercilessly dissenting from the current church headquarters interpretation, or who may be representing a completely different faith tradition. It is often true that the actual truth is found somewhere in between the polarized arguments. That could be true in my case as well, as a three-way, four-way, or five-way discussion could help clarify all the issues and answers.
Much to my surprise, I find myself in this "internal apologetics" position. I believe it has special merit because I also believe that, however difficult it may prove to be, it is theoretically possible to get the church back in sync with the gospel, and then proceed to do what was always intended that the church would do, that is, to create a gospel-based civilization that can usher in the millennial era.