I came this statement by someone who regards himself as a liberal Mormon:
"Mormonism has a small minority of liberal leaning thinkers, leaders, apostles, but the mainstream is towards the right. If Mormonism would liberalize it would not have as many converts."
Mormon Heretic has been hosting a very interesting and enlightening interview with members of the Community of Christ on his blog. For those who aren't aware, Community of Christ (CofC) is what used to be The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS). It's been interesting to read how the RLDS evolved into what it is now, which elements of the early LDS Church it kept, and which ones it has abandoned. The CofC, which permits women to hold the priesthood, is more open-minded about the prospect of same sex marriage, and rejected polygamy from the very beginning, would seem to be an attractive alternative to Mormons who are socially liberal and/or who reject certain teachings throughout LDS Church history. Fire Tag, a CofC commenter on Mormon Heretic's blog, shared his very thought-provoking perspective. (You can read the entire thread here.) He made it clear that this was simply his personal opinion, not the church's official policy, and that the CofC was seeking to revitalize its institutions, even though he personally felt that it wasn't what God wanted them to concentrate on doing:
“Attempts to revitalize our congregations may succeed here and there for a time. Congregations have been revitalized in the past with no discernable long-term effect on the larger church’s growth. An apostolic leadership will, of course, continue to look to see how we can maintain and reinvigorate our institutions in order to try and carry out our mission. Yet, sooner than we wish, our denominational infrastructure, regardless of how desirable it might be to have, is going to disappear for most of our people; most of the people of the West have already launched our society’s future toward another course. “Evolutionary pressures” from that society are driving us toward a time of increasing individual ministerial autonomy in which church leadership cannot even monitor, let alone direct, most of what our people do in the name of Christ. And most of that work will not be carried out through congregational structures or programs.
The recently published Pew Religious Landscape Survey confirms the increasing disconnect between denominational life and religious life in the United States, with more than half of American adults either having left the denomination in which they were raised or regarding themselves as religiously unaffiliated, even though 83% of the adult population still regards itself as religious.
For our denomination to adapt the gospel faithfully in our cultural setting, and hopefully even to thrive, requires that we become a denomination that glories in sending people OUT of our denomination, to where God calls them to best serve in the culture.
So, to reiterate, I believe our continued value as a corporate entity to the work of the Lord at this point in history involves the church supporting our people in dispersing out of our “corporation” and moving wholeheartedly into participation in the multiple, cross-cutting communities that make up a modern society. This is almost like the early Christians moving into the catacombs of Rome where they could refresh themselves beneath Rome’s notice, yet continue to provide enriching ministry to their neighbors in their daily lives as God opened doors. None of the turmoil of the Empire could ever dig them out of the society once they were so dispersed, and these “meek of the earth” did inherit the Empire.
In our time, such distributed efforts will send us into fellowships with groups made up of differing Christian, non-Christian, and/or secular backgrounds. The unity or preservation of our faith community and its institutions will no longer be primary, for the time has come for many of us to expend ourselves. Should that not be enough to fulfill our part in the mission of transforming the world, then we can best hope that God will grant us the opportunity to prepare the path for the work of our successors, and perhaps even allow the youngest of us to participate in the movement of our successors.”
I think that many of us Mormons who would like to see the LDS Church become more liberal have this vision of it flourishing and people easily accepting the faith if it would just let go of what some regard as very archaic teachings and practices. But would it result in the Church's self-destruction?
What do you think would happen to the LDS Church if it were to become more liberal?