A good porition of Letter to a Doubter, and especially the section quoted here
is not specific to Mormonism. It could with little work be repurposed to defend
any faith based belief system.
There is an eastern saying (in Zen, I think) that goes – “without
great doubt there is no great awakening.”I’ve never
trusted people who claim absolute certainty, especially in areas where that is
all but impossible… like religion. In my experience, people who make such
claims are either young, unintelligent, or simply never engage the big
questions: which is typically a sign that their faith is very superficial. The truth should be able to withstand any scrutiny – if it cannot,
then perhaps it’s not the truth, or at least not the only truth.
And after it is all said and done, it is still a guessing game in which one may
never know their fate. But, aside from all the imagination of the many different
religious sales people of pies in the skies, it seems Jesus's teaching of
love they neighbor is the best council for this life and leave god to his
business: what ever that may be.
Faith without reason is flirting with disaster. The wise man builds his house on
"The call to faith, in this light, is not some test of a coy god waiting to
see if we ‘get it right.’"No, but the real
"test" for Latter Day Saints is not the call to faith, but the call to
obedience. Strict compliance to the requisite LDS codes and rituals trump faith.
Latter Day Saints must correctly perform the mandatory rites and rituals set up
by the church in order to be eligible for the full benefits of heaven...despite
any doubt or lack of faith.Interestingly, a recommend for
participation in these rituals is limited to qualified elites who can first
complete a set of rigid tasks and assignments, including a significant financial
contribution of one's income to the church, before they can even
participate in these mandatory rites and ceremonies.In the LDS
light, obedience "is" the test...with, or without faith.
A few years ago at the giving of a name and a blessing to a baby, a counselor in
the ward Bishopric required each man standing in the circle to produce his
temple recommend in order to participate. First time I knew of holding a current
recommend being a prerequisite for anything other than entering the temple.I still don’t know if this is a discretionary latitude allowed to
local leadership or if it was an isolated instance of a rogue counselor
practicing improvised Mormonism.
Tyler D,As a devout Mormon, I completely agree with everything you
say about certainty. The older I get, the less certain I am about many things
in life. And yet I feel that my faith is stronger and more mature now than when
I could say, "I know" with full conviction.I hope that more
people in my religious tradition become more comfortable with the idea of
ambiguity and being uncertain, and less eager to squeeze those who aren't
as sure. I think we'd be both more humble and more resilient for it.
I've seen too many -- utterly convinced of truth -- crumble when
encountering true challenges to their ideas for the first time. For
many, a deep faith requires an apprenticeship of doubt.
@Craig Clark"A few years ago at the giving of a name and a
blessing to a baby, a counselor in the ward Bishopric required each man standing
in the circle to produce his temple recommend in order to participate. I still
don’t know if this is a discretionary latitude allowed to local leadership
or if it was an isolated instance of a rogue counselor practicing improvised
Mormonism."--------I don't know if a Temple Recommend
was required a few years ago, but currently it is not required now.From the Church Handbook of Instructions, Handbook 2, Administering the
Church:20.1.2 "A bishop may allow a father who holds the
Melchizedek Priesthood to name and bless his children even if the father is not
fully temple worthy."
Weber State Graduate,Living the gospel is hardly so rigid as you
indicate. There are lots of folks with very different lives who qualify for a
temple recommend.And (for what sacifice there is - and that varies)
sacrifice demonstrates faith. It is easy to say we have faith. Another thing
entirely to put it into gear.Finally, my entire life in the church I
have been inundated with calls to learn faith - to gain a testimony, to come to
Thanks, Dan. The journey of faith is different for each, but the goal is the
Craig Clark: Were any of the men from out of town and not known to the Bishop
or his counselors. In that case, yes it may be required that the individuals
have a temple recommend or some type of letter that states they are worthy to
participate in the circle. It is not a prerequist but if one is officiating or
doing the blessing and not known to the Bishopric then yes it is necessary to
prove worthiness. The handbook does state this by the way.
RE: Defending the Faith(in JS). …described by biblical writers as
“the host of heaven,” … the*“sons of God” and,
even, as “gods.”The *“sons of God” in the OT
is generally taken to refer to angels. The idiom is a poetic way of describing
their nature and relationship to God.… the angels shouted for
joy? (Job 38:7 NIV) hat mightiest angel is anything like the LORD?
(Psalm 89:6 NLT).The result of the union between fallen angels and
women is rather clearly implied to be the Nephilim. (Genesis 6:4 NET).P. of G.P. Moses 8:18 the *”sons of god”; have we not taken unto
ourselves the daughters of men ?For if God did not spare angels when they
sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved
for judgment; (II Peter 2:4).@Twin Lights,to gain a testimony.
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,…It does not,
therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy(Romans 9:
@sharrona – “Twin Lights, to gain a testimony… It does not,
therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Romans 9:
15-16)”Directed towards someone (Twin Lights) you don’t
know, this came across as slightly presumptuous and arrogant. But
your quote raise some interesting issues, not the least of which is that the
Bible can seem contradictory regarding how we are be saved. Yes, Paul suggests
in Romans that it’s all about faith, whereas other authors (e.g., Matthew
and James) say an awful lot about “human effort.”The
biblical writers were typically writing for a particular audience often trying
to correct a specific problem (i.e, over-emphasizing one aspect while ignoring
another). This is likely the case with everything said in the Bible regarding
the dilemma of Effort vs. Grace.If a believer is stuck on one horn
of the dilemma, the proper counsel is to get them to see the validity of the
other horn and regain some balance & perspective. To take Bible
passages as for-all-time absolutes is to miss the point and even flirt with
Twin Lights:Some may say that the requirement to give a significant
portion of one's income to the church -- despite today's distressing
economy -- as a prerequisite to performing the redemptive rituals that qualify
people for the full rewards of heaven is exceptionally rigid. If you don't
pay -- despite your financial situation -- then you simply don't get to
participate in those rituals. Of course, many Latter Day Saints
agree that mandatory financial payments are a worthy sacrifice and bring
blessings. However, others who struggle financially may question why cash should
even be a qualifier for celestial redemption. It's really a matter of
perspective about compulsory money exchange as a qualifier for any celestial
reward. My point is faith, which is the context of Peterson's
article, takes a back seat to "obedience" within the LDS church. You may
argue that obedience demonstrates faith. Fair enough, but it's clear that
without obedience to the required church rites and rituals, despite faith,
celestial redemption is impossible.
@ TylerD: Well said.@ Weber State Graduate: "it's clear
that without obedience to the required church rites and rituals, despite faith,
celestial redemption is impossible." And yet, I (and I think most Mormons)
would argue, that without Faith, all the obedience to "church rites and
rituals" is also for naught.They both go together IMHO. I don't think obedience only demonstrates faith, I think the
converse is also true. If you have faith you are led to obedience. Otherwise,
why would you have faith in something you could not obey or follow? That is not
to say that having faith is perfect obedience in all things, but it leads one to
the path of desiring to be, and being, obedient in all things. In other words,
does one really have faith, who is intentionally disobedient to the things they
have faith in?
Obedience that comes from a sense of genuine conviction of duty and obligation
can also be the self-serving defense of a collaborator in something that's
wrong. "I was just obeying orders," isn't the sort of explanation
that brings plaudits or laurels. I don't wish to be cynical, but let's
not forget that obedience is often most extolled as a virtue by those who wish
to be obeyed.
RE:Tyler D, Romans it’s about faith, James “human effort.”James 2:24-26. Martin Luther words, a man is justified(made righteous)
before God alone, but not that faith is alone. Faith is pregnant with good
works.For we know that is by grace we are saved after all we can
do.(2 Nephi 25 :23)similar to God helps them who helps themselves, Not Biblical.
God helps those who cannot help themselves, which is what grace is about . The
statement is often given as an example of the heresy of Pelagianism. The
“Pale” of Christianity is Monergnistic or synergistic.For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not
from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can
boast .( Eph 2:8-9)… “I tell you, no one can see the
kingdom of God unless they are born again=( Gr anothen, from above).(John
3:6)I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not
believe that I(ego) am(eimi) .(John 8:24) He is saying He is God.
Craig Clark,I have often been counseled and seen other folks
encouraged to get a testimony of what they are being asked to do. Certainly, I
have counseled my own children this way.Weber State GraduateFirst, I have never had an easy time paying tithing so I get the
question. But, in my experience and that of my friends, we have no easier time
paying tithing when we have plenty of cash than when we are struggling. Go
figure.Tyler D,Thanks. BTW, a nice summary of Biblical
The one line in Fast & Testimony meeting I cringe everytime I hear it is;
"I know without a shadow of a doubt..."Most testimonies
should hold the following disclaimer: "At this time..." or "To the
best of my knowledge..."We are all human.I love the
Book of Mormon -- because in it, we can learn and take comfort knowin that
in trying times and great difficulties, even Lehi - THE Propeht - murmured.
Sharrona,I prefer James to Martin Luther. "You see that a
person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone."
(NIV).The full quote from Nephi is: "For we labor diligently to
write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ,
and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved,
after all we can do. " It is far more than being God helps those who help
themselves. Rather, an acknowledgement of free will. That God will draw near
to us if we draw near to him (see D&C 88:63).Though we
acknowledge that all those (of age) are sinners, we do not see man as wholly
depraved but as children of a Heavenly Father. He did not create us to suffer
but to rejoin him if we will. In all of this, we must offer (willingly) the
acceptable sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There is no force
or it is not an offering.BTW, I assume you know that the
"works" Paul so often argues against are the works of the law of Moses.
Just wondering how those who interpret Paul's views on faith and grace
interpret his statements such as in Phillipians 2:12 "...work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling", 1 Corinthians 3:8 "...every man
shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.", and so forth.
Paul did not trash good works, only those like the Pharisaic additions to the
Law of Moses, and the Law itself, which we know Christ fulfilled by his own
statement. There is no such supposed disagreement between Paul and James.
@Twin Lights I prefer James to Martin Luther.Of course you do,the
mis-understanding of James is the hallmark of Works righteousness and is what
separates Christianity from religion. Eph 2:8-9 v.10 NLT For we are
God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do
the good things he planned for us long ago.D&C 88:63=James
4:8” Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you… you
Sinner…you “Double Minded”. See James 1:8."(Psalm 51:5 NIV Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother
conceived me.(Psalm 51:17). a” broken and contrite
heart.” The word for "contrite" means To be bowed down with the
awareness of our spiritual bankruptcy. The law of Moses, JS,…sacrifice
will continued(HofC v. 4 p. 211-212).1 Cor 2:14: "The natural
person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,…." The Natural
man is 1st . Spiritual man is 2nd.Eph 2:3b: "We were by nature
children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
@sharrona – “Of course you do,the mis-understanding of James is the
hallmark of Works righteousness and is what separates Christianity from
religion.” – and numerous Bible quotes.Thanks for
inadvertently reiterating my point about the horns of the dilemma. All the great
canonical works from all major traditions have one thing in common – they
all provide loads of counsel for people stuck on either horn. The
sad part is most people when they’re stuck will cherry pick these works to
find the passages that reinforce and support the horn they are frozen on, while
often belittling people who cite opposite passages as “misunderstanding
them.” It is not unusual to find the self-righteous and
complacent talking endlessly about “faith alone;” while at the same
time there are anxious and neurotic folks, focusing too much on
“works” who strain to “be good” and never feel worthy
enough. Many of these folks would experience tremendous growth in the Spirit if
they simply cherry-picked the exact opposite Bible passages. And
this happens in all traditions… do you think suicide bombers might be
cherry-picking the Koran in a way that feeds their own neuroses and pathologies?
RE: Tyler D, The self-righteous and complacent talking endlessly about
“faith alone;”Wrong,“To affirm free will is to
compromise grace“. The Bondage of the will, Martin Luther.he
saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit(Titus
3:5).It’s the Holy Spirits job to give someone an overwhelming
sense that they are lost. To drive them down deep into the ugliness of their own
heart, the wretchedness of their own sin. RE: G L W8, Paul's
views on faith and grace: (1Corinthians 3:8 NLT) “God does not
reward the Christians according to the success of their labor, because that
depends on himself; but he rewards them according to the faithful labor which
they bestow on his work.”), Or a good apple tree produces good apples.And,…Work hard ”to show the Results of your
Salvation”’ obeying God with ’deep reverence’ and
fear.(Phil 2:12 NLT) .
@ sharrona – “RE: Tyler D… Wrong,“Your Bible
quotes just reiterate my points about cherry-picking and being on the horns of a
dilemma once again. So, thanks… @ sharrona –
“It’s the Holy Spirits job to give someone an overwhelming sense
that they are lost. To drive them down deep into the ugliness of their own
heart, the wretchedness of their own sin.”And again here
– sure, there are some that need to hit rock bottom (as AA recognizes) and
have their pride shaken before they can truly change their hearts. But there are
many others for whom this approach doesn’t work at all. If it worked for
everyone we would all be Calvinists. In theological terms, your
approach is extreme-Augustinian. But there is also the Pelagian view which is
held by the Eastern Orthodox Church which believes our efforts play a larger
role. If your works for you, great (although you do sometimes come across as
angry and self-righteous, so perhaps you could benefit from another approach as
There are some who will never understand those who don't believe the way
they do. Some want every member of their family to believe the same as they do.
When one breaks away from that it can be heartbreaking to those that still
believe, and it shouldn't be. If one doesn't believe anymore then let
them be. Don't attack or distance them because they don't believe what
you do right now. Many LDS get very defensive when somebody they know leaves,
they can even be downright rude and offensive. That kind of behavior is more
likely to keep them away rather then draw them back. I have seen it in my own
life. I have no desire to go back to church right now, and I feel for me it is
the right thing to do based on the fact that I don't believe in it anymore.
It may change down the road, but in the meantime I am doing whay my heart and
mind is telling me to do, and I feel great about it. Don't outcast somebody
for changing their mind - adults are allowed to change their minds.
Sharrona,First, I do not accept Martin Luther as authoritative.
Second, the concept that grace is thrust upon creates an image of God that is
rather abhorrent. He would then be creating us (for who knows what reason) and
simply selecting some of us to reward forever and others to punish forever with
no real reason - just simple caprice. Why would I find such a God worthy of
being followed?Rather, I view God as the benevolent Father.
Creating us all to succeed based on what we choose. Further, that even
suboptimal choices, that are not outright rebellion, are not worthy of
punishment forever. A God that views his whole purpose to bring to pass our
immortality and eternal life.Tyler D,Thank you. Some
very nice points.Brahmabull,I hope to see you back
The "heavenly council" has always consisted of only God The Eternal
Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the KJV and the BoM both
state. It is not the corrupt and erroneous council of Gods and Goddesses of eons
past that comes from the D&C and the PoGP.