An analysis of FairMormon’s page on “Mormonism and the reconciliation of the Flood of Noah with scripture and Church teachings”

On the page Mormonism and the reconciliation of the Flood of Noah with scripture and Church teachings, FairMormon prominently declares the following:

This is a doctrinal or theological topic about which there is no official Church doctrine of which FairMormon is aware… The Church does not take an official position on this issue

This document reviews the accuracy of those statements compared to current Church materials on the subject. The starting point for the analysis will be the Guide to the Scriptures, which is described as follows on its introduction page (emphasis added):

The Guide to the Scriptures defines selected doctrines, principles, people, and places found in the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. It also provides key scriptural references for you to study for each topic. This Guide can help you in your individual and family study of the scriptures. It can help you answer questions about the gospel, study topics in the scriptures, prepare talks and lessons, and increase your knowledge and testimony of the gospel.

The entry in the Guide to the Scriptures for Flood at Noah’s Time says:

During Noah’s time the earth was completely covered with water. This was the baptism of the earth and symbolized a cleansing (1 Pet. 3:20–21).

This statement is unambiguous and is contained in an official scriptural guide that was created, in part, to define doctrines. The guide also legitimizes the concept of the Flood as a literal baptism for the Earth, which some view as a no-longer-emphasized arcane idea advanced by early Church leaders. The references on this page also include Ether 13:2, which some have considered a reference to the waters from Creation.

Next, a brief overview of the Gospel Topics portion of seems pertinent. This section of the site was released near the end of 2013, and its content has been curated to help “members better understand the doctrine and history of the Church”. The Gospel Topics section for Noah also confirms belief in a worldwide flood:

Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives were the only people on the whole earth saved from the flood (see Genesis 6:13–22; 7:21–23; Moses 8:16–30).

The Bible Dictionary entry for Noah is cited further down the page, where additional details indicate:

The Lord’s covenant with Noah affirmed that the earth would never be covered with a flood again (Gen. 9:1–17; Moses 7:49–52).

The concluding statement in the Bible Dictionary cites modern revelation in support of the global flood:

The authenticity of the Genesis account of the Flood is confirmed by latter-day revelation as recorded in Moses 7:34, 42–43; 8:8–30. See also Ether 13:2.

By stating that the authenticity of the Genesis account (adjacently described as being a worldwide event) is confirmed by latter-day revelation, the Church appears to be reinforcing its position on the subject through additional scriptural authority.

Furthermore, the first reference under the Learning Resources section for the Gospel Topics page links to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article for Noah. There is no explicit mention of a worldwide flood, although Noah is described in this manner:

He became a second father-with adam-of all mankind following the Flood…

Similarly, a 2014 article in the Ensign titled “Noah” is cited, wherein the following is stated:

God covenanted never to flood the earth again. … Mortal roles [of Noah]: preacher of righteousness before the Flood; savior of family and animals from the Flood; second father of the human race

The first link under the Study Manuals section refers to the Pearl of Great Price Institute Manual (released in the year 2000), which contains the same teachings.

Lastly, the new Old Testament Study Guide for Home Seminary Students, which has a 2015 copyright, is also referenced. This manual refers to the Flood many times in several different sections, and always describes it as a worldwide event (consistent with the position of the Church presented in this analysis thus far). A 1998 article by Donald W. Parry in the Ensign is used as a reference on page 42 of the manual. Although the reference is used in support of the Tower of Babel (a subject worthy of its own analysis), this lends renewed credibility to the article, wherein the following is declared (emphasis added):

Still other people accept parts of the Flood story, acknowledging that there may have been a local, charismatic preacher, such as Noah, and a localized flood that covered only a specific area of the world, such as the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers or perhaps even the whole of Mesopotamia. Yet these people do not believe in a worldwide or global flood. Both of these groups—those who totally deny the historicity of Noah and the Flood and those who accept parts of the story—are persuaded in their disbelief by the way they interpret modern science. They rely upon geological considerations and theories that postulate it would be impossible for a flood to cover earth’s highest mountains, that the geologic evidence (primarily in the fields of stratigraphy and sedimentation) does not indicate a worldwide flood occurred any time during the earth’s existence.

There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets.

These quotes demonstrate that belief in a global flood is well represented in official Church material, despite FairMormon’s claims that this is a “topic about which there is no official Church doctrine” and on which “the Church does not take an official position”.  Based on the Church’s apparent official endorsement of a global flood, FairMormon’s statements seem to imply that other Church teachings might also be viewed as “topic[s] about which there is no official Church doctrine”.  Is the current definition of doctrine so strict that prophetic statements, General Conference addresses, official publications, study guides, and lesson curricula are insufficient to establish teachings as “doctrinal”?