The shelf model is probably familiar to most Mormons. If you have doubts, questions, concerns, the saying goes, you put them on a shelf. You focus on the basics (however those may be defined). You accept that you can’t resolve everything.
But what do we think about people in other faiths? What if they have reservations about the Trinity, or wonder why their church doesn’t teach eternal family relationships, or are bothered by a lack of modern prophets? Presumably we wouldn’t advocate that they shelve such concerns. Given our focus on proselytizing, we actually have a lot of incentive to take the religious concerns of non-LDS about their churches quite seriously–often more so, it seems, than the issues raised by those who are already members of our faith.
Perhaps this double standard is somewhat inevitable in a church which makes the kinds of exclusivity claims that we do. But when we talk about the merits of the shelf idea, I think it’s worth considering whether we would recommend it to anyone outside the church.
- 16 April 2011