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Mormon Parenting: Don't oversimplify the gospel

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

The chairman of one of our recent speaking events in the Midwest was a highly successful businessman and accomplished academic who told us he had recently attended a retreat with a Hindu guru who had “for the first time, given me a spiritual view of life that was intellectually satisfying.”

As we talked further with him, he said the problem he had always had with Christianity was that its teachings, while “lovely and uplifting,” could not answer his deeper questions about the human condition, about the vast injustices in the world and about his own purpose on earth — not to mention where his soul had come from and where it was going.

We found ourselves wishing we had had more personal time with him to share the vast perspectives of the Restoration and of Joseph Smith’s illuminated and intellectually challenging vision of the eternities and of God’s mind and plan.

We have also been aware lately of too many highly intelligent, prime-of-life members who are leaving The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints, or at least drifting away from it, because they are not getting satisfying answers to questions about gender equality or same-sex attraction or quandaries in church history.

Sometimes there is a tendency to oversimplify the gospel and to sanitize it a bit to make it quicker to teach for missionaries and easier to grasp for young children and prospective members. This is fine for Primary and for introducing people to the church, but we need to understand better and appreciate more how deep and comprehensive the gospel is and how well it answers the profound “why” questions that seeking minds always come to.

Yes, there is a wonderful simplicity to the principles that Christ taught, but beneath those pure, simple truths lie the keys to dealing with the most challenging inquiries known to the mind of man. We think, for example, of faith as a simple principle, but anyone who reads the Prophet’s 7 Lectures on Faith will find almost endless insights and food for thought.

As parents and grandparents, we want to do all we can to insure that our children, as they grow up, get the meat to go with the milk.

Our wish has always been that our children, and now our grandchildren, particularly as they become teenagers, will perceive the restored gospel as a rich smorgasbord of intellectually and spiritually satisfying answers and gifts. Let us list a dozen of these gifts here in no particular order and then, in columns ahead, expand on some of them in ways that may help us give them to our children:

Gift 1: Knowledge of man's premortal existence and of the eternal fatherhood of God

Gift 2: Knowledge of the purposes of earth and mortality

Gift 3: Knowledge of the degrees and dimensions of life after death

Gift 4: Enhanced faith in God and in his justice

Gift 5: A more complete comprehension of Christ, of his roles and of his relationship to us

Gift 6: The gift of the Holy Ghost

Gift 7: The gift of the priesthood

Gift 8: Eternal marriages and deeper family ties

Gift 9: The gift of gratitude, confidence and humility

Gift 10: The gift of potential and promises

Gift 11: The gift of purpose, priorities, programs and practical guidelines

Gift 12: The gift of continuity and consistency

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com.

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