I know we are counseled not to read anti-Mormon literature. What is the reasoning behind this? Shouldn’t it be of value to us to know what is being said about our religion? It sometimes gives you the feeling that church leaders don’t want you to know what’s in our history because it’s not always pretty. I personally believe that our “church” is like an individual. It is continually growing and changing;not ordinances -and anything questionable in the past is just part of it’s growth. Thoughts?
I’ve answered this once before (Should members read anti-Mormon literature?). Let me see if I can add or clarify further.
The answer is simple really. Life is too short and we have to much to do to grow spiritually for it to be in any way wise to ingest something that is by design spiritually toxic.
Let’s take a more physical example. Let’s say you had a vial of arsenic on your table. Your friend says, “Hey I wonder what arsenic tastes like and what the symptoms of arsenic poisoning feel like.” So they tell you they are going to drink it. Would you not do everything you could to stop your friend from such a foolish action? Would you not clearly mark the arsenic as dangerous and poisonous? Would you not try to put the arsenic out of reach and make it inaccessible?
Why should the Church behave toward a spiritual poison any differently then you would to a physical poison?
Anti-Mormon material is by design spiritual poison. The best way to survive a spiritual poison is not in learning how it tastes, but by increasing your spiritual strength, your faith in Jesus Christ and your testimony of His actions and commandments.
Of course, there are some that can handle it (or think they can). Their faith and testimony is strong and they can go in and disassemble the arguments and reasoning. They can then make counter arguments and counter reasoning. But we must remember that all logic and reasoning (both for and against the church) is a poor shadow to a spiritual witness. In spite of the fact that some can do it, the Church does not make and give counsel that focuses on the spiritually strong, but rather the spiritually weak and it is wise to do so.
As for the idea that the Church does not want someone to know what is in our history, If that is the goal of the Church then they do an awful job. They preserve the history and make it available to whoever wants to dig in and study it. (Where do you thing the ant-Mormons find the historical material in the first place?).
Now granted the Church has not been a good history “teacher.” But teaching history had not really been its goal or focus. In some of the more problematic areas it has taken steps to address this with its “Revelations in Context” series which does teach a bit of history to help better understand the revelation. They are going to publish a new set of Church History books because it has been some time since the last set. There is also the Joseph Smith Papers. All this and more is/will be available to anyone that wants to study them.
Members who follow the Church counsels to study and learn will find plenty of things to use to learn about church history if they so wish. Whereas, those who do not want to make the effort have no leg to stand on to accuse the Church of “hiding its history.”