Ravell Call, Deseret News
I live in Pennsylvania and I have exactly three friends out here who are also Latter-day Saints. They’re great, we get along, no problem. One of these friends, however, has a very bad habit of explaining the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint totally incorrectly. It’s laughable sometimes the things that will come out of his mouth. What makes it not “laughable” though, is the fact that non-members believe him and I’m not always there to set the record straight. How can I tell him once and for all that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, without hurting his feelings or worse, bruising his ego?
I served a mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and for about the first two months I said probably every wrong thing you can imagine: "I know, it's amazing! It took 300 years to build the temple!" "It truly was a miracle, seagulls built the Assembly Hall — and the crickets helped!"
Maybe I wasn't that bad, but you get my point: I was saying some crazy things — not because I wanted to be sensational about historic facts, but because I was new and I couldn't keep all the details straight.
You might try helping your friend the way my trainer helped me:
"Hey great job today tackling the issue of (insert history or doctrine) on your own, when you said X, I really felt my testimony of that principle confirmed — lets look at (insert standard work) again to make sure we covered all the relevant points".
In reading it again with her, I could see my own errors and the corrections I needed to make. Even more importantly, reading the doctrine prompted a gospel discussion between the two of us where the Spirit could help us learn and more firmly grasp a new gospel principle.
I'm sure there were times when she was tempted to tell me not to say anything else ever again for the duration of my mission, but she recognized that my gospel understanding — as well as everyone else’s — was evolving, and that in time, I would learn.
So, in short, work with your friend to get the explanations right. Share with him explanations from the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price), use the Gospel Principles manual, Preach My Gospel and Mormon.org. And you'll be set.
Reader question: What other advice might you offer Phillyman? Imagine yourself in his friend's shoes, have you explained LDS Church doctrine incorrectly? How did you remedy the situation?
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