One of the inspirations for the Latter-day Saint Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto was the Agile Manifesto, which has been incredibly influential in the software development community.
The Agile Manifesto wasn’t created by computer scientists working at universities. It was created by a group of people who had worked in the business of software development for years and wanted to shift the way the industry approached the practice of software development.
Their manifesto set out some guiding principles that could be adopted by individuals or technology companies to help them produce better software by focusing on solving real-world customer problems, and by using a flexible, iterative process that did not try to anticipate too much in advance. Eventually there were books, and conferences, and papers, but initially it was just a statement meant to influence the culture of software development that was shared virally among software developers.
The goal we have for the Latter-day Saint Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto is similar: A public statement meant to influence the culture of the Church. It is a statement of principles that can be adopted by individual members of the Church, or Church-adjacent organizations, to encourage intellectual engagement with the Church and the Restored Gospel in ways that are faithful and flexible instead of either rigidly dogmatic or heretical and doubting.
Those who have added their names to the manifesto as signatories are expressing their public agreement with the principles of the manifesto as a framework for faithful intellectual engagement, and with the purpose of influencing culture.
There are many young members of the Church who feel the only options they have when it comes to the Gospel are to be rigidly dogmatic to the point of being fundamentalist or to reject the church’s teachings in favor of progressive political doctrines and intellectualism. The Latter-day Saint Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto provides not only an alternative, but a rallying point to which they can point and say: “This is what I believe.”
We realize that others have tried to strike this balance in the past, but in practice their frameworks have veered too quickly and easily towards sacrificing fidelity. We are unabashedly on the orthodox side. So our manifesto is decidedly orthodox with an emphasis on fidelity. But our fidelity is not merely to tradition and the applications of the Gospel formulated by past generations (how things have been done before). Our fidelity is focused on relationships: fidelity to the Lord, fidelity to the Church, fidelity to those who the Lord has given authority, fidelity to the Restoration, and a deliberate rejection of critical and murmuring attitudes, or undermining those with authority.
At the same time, we believe that those things that are cultural or traditional can be revisited and explored in new ways. There may be new ways to apply gospel principles to the specific challenges of our generation.
Our manifesto may not express these ideas perfectly to everyone who reads it, especially those who come to it with a different context than our own. That is our goal, however, and we hope that–with the addition of the growing roster of affiliated essays–our message will become and remain clear.
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