Church Promotes Intellectual Studies?

A recent feed from the LDS Newsroom caught my interest.

http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f6b9f17aa4206110VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD&vgnextchannel=f5f411154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD
In it, we read the following:”…the Church encourages a deeper and broader examination of its theology, history and culture on an intellectual level, …”It sounds wonderful, but is it true? Does the church REALLY encourage deeper and broader examination of theology? I tend to only see evidence of the opposite. I see General Conference talks that are becoming increasingly basic in nature. I see they church de-emphasizing long-held doctrines that tend to receive criticism from outside the church (plurality of Gods, for example). I see President Hinckley sidestepping questions about unpopular items in church history (polygamy, for example).

I understand that church history is not appropriate for all members (or non-members). Milk before meat. General Conference is probably not the appropriate venue for deep theological discussions. Those for whom it is not faith-promoting should not be subjected to it. Indeed, intellectual theological and historical discussions should be elective (as opposed to required) in the church. But where in the church do we find such an elective program? Is this the purpose of CES?

I’m also curious of how the church can really promote honest historical research if they are only willing to accept apologetic conclusions. I fear that the church may only support broder examination of theology and history so long as you come to conclusions of which the church approves (Grant Palmer comes to mind). If members are afraid of church discipline for arriving at conclusions the church doesn’t support, then is it really fair for the church to say they encourage a “deeper and broader examination” of church history and theology?

I pose the following questions for readers: Do you feel that the church has encouraged you to to seek a deeper and broader understanding of church history and theology on an intellectual level? What resources does the church provide to the average member of the church who wants to gain a deeper understanding? What role has a “fear of coming to the wrong conclusions” played in your desire to explore the deep recesses of church history and theology?

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