And this is where the definition of "Mormonism" comes into play, of what's "fundamental" and what's not. What's "REAL" Mormonism verse "watered-down" Mormonism. This is how people, not even members of our church, claim they know my religion better than me, not even making the distinction between Mormonism vs the truthfulness of the restored Gospel.Your talking points are not new, yet certainly not in line with older core LDS though either, they reflect the newer watered down picture of Mormonism.
If we continue, out discussion will reveal this.
Given my experience above, this is why I tell the people that have left the Church that their understanding is not my understanding.
Let me ask, if the Church isn't teaching Mormonism, who is? Mormonism has become, in essence, an ethnicity when the term "Mormon" shifted from an adjective to a noun, to now a verb (ie. "There's more than one way to "Mormon"). Hence, the Church doubling down on moving away from the "mormon" label. Could it be that the Church rejects the sentiment of Mormonism as their critics do? (And when I say "sentiment" I'm thinking of the analogy below.)
Forgive my crappy artwork. It's supposed to be a river flowing down the mountain. The living waters represents revelation received by prophets and apostles recorded in what we know as the "Standard Works". Each given authority downstream receives inspiration to teach to their intended audience - these teachings are also written in conference talks, magazines, etc. Older addresses are found in Church History records, Journal of Discourses, etc. Further downstream are those that continue on all previous addresses, adding their own personal perspective. And even more downstream we have, as you suggest, apologists, think tanks, and philosophers both in and out of the Church.
The difference between our reasoning, is I define Mormonism as I go upstream and receive it from the source, which is what church leaders counsel us to do. You define Mormonism as you go downstream or sideways. Both definitions are technically correct. It's ALL Mormonism. Yet, maybe we ought to distinguish Mormonism's cultural beliefs vs the gospel as defined by the church.
See if you can see the distinction.
The Gospel: "In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom." (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/gospel?lang=eng)
Mormonism: “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priest craft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priest craft. …
"Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”
As you may have recognized, Mormonism is relative, the gospel is absolute.
Would you consider that a fair distinction?
If that be true, in the analogy, going downstream is relying more on "the arm of the flesh", going upstream relies on the Spirit and personal revelation.
Those who are of 'telestial' reasoning, are those is trust in certain men's authority, but not discovering for themselves overarching truths by revelation (given not by flesh and blood).
99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.
100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;
101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.
If watered down Mormonism is adding more pure water to Mormon sentiment, then I consider that a good thing.