No Doubt to Know

girlthomasTrying to find a way with Scriptural understanding to reconcile the honest search for Truth and the spiritual destructiveness of unbelief, I found that doubt is not a positive attribute. As described by prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ, doubt is the enemy of faith. Unbelief is slightly worse because of a more concrete condition of the mind and heart, but they are both related to each other. Doubt doesn’t lead to faith. It destroys it by leading to questioning everything; even miracles that we participate in by the Grace of God.

The one instance when doubt brought greater understanding was Acts 10:17 after Peter received his vision of the unclean animals. Religiously speaking, it was a weak doubt because he had complete confidence the vision was real. He simply wondered, “what this vision which he had seen should mean,” and pondered for an answer. His faith in the vision was rewarded with a missionary opportunity to baptise a gentile. He then realized in Acts 10:28 that, “it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” The use of the word “doubt” in this instance might be the wrong choice of words, when “wondered” might be more appropriate.

Despite modern definitions and meanings, to doubt is not the same as questioning. It is natural and even required by Scripture that we should question. No one can discover truth without inquiring with mind and spirit where it can be found. How we are to question is important to properly growing in faith. There is a form of action involved that goes beyond the intellectual curiosity. It reads in 1 Thes. 5:21 that believers should, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” As always, Jesus Christ explained how this is to be done while teaching at the Temple. His teachings became a source of astonishment to the people attending because he had no formal intellectual training. They asked him how he could know so much without the proper school education and he responded in John 7:16-17 that, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” and “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” He is teaching that the way to discern spiritual things is to follow what God has already taught. This idea is emphasized in verse 19 when he asks, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” Those who do not follow the basic teachings of God cannot comprehend deeper truths and will be stuck with their questions. Continue reading

Selling a Life—Missionary Work

As I explained before, sustaining the law supports agency just as much as sustaining choice. You can’t support one to the detriment of the other without destroying agency in the process. It is a common misunderstanding that laws unrighteously apply force to individuals, so long as they are just and reasonable. They do not force obedience, but they do attach a consequence to behavior that some might perceive as force because they don’t like it.

Participating in a community is an implicit contractual agreement. There are guaranteed to be some laws you don’t like. I have heard this referred to as “tyranny of the majority” which is an empty catch phrase. “Tyranny of the majority,” in any meaningful sense, is ALWAYS present in life. Whoever has the majority of people behind them has the power. That is not the prerogative of democracy, and complaining about it or imagining it away is merely an exercise in fantasy.

The advantage to democracy is that it exposes this underlying reality to the open air and uses it to slow corruption. Note that it won’t stop corruption, only slow it. I believe that we are currently in a situation where corruption is present throughout the system. Theoretically, democracy should be capable of cleaning out the sump unless the majority of the people also succumb to corruption. It remains to be seen whether or not that is the case in the USA.

That being said, there is nothing inherently good about democracy, just as there is nothing inherently good in ANY form of government, even anarchy or decentralized government. The key to a good government is not structure, it is righteousness.

Alma said it much better. The preaching of the word of God has more power than the sword or anything else which had happened to his people. Power to change minds. Power to change hearts.

I believe that if we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stop preaching party politics and begin to preach the word of God in the political arena, we will affect true and righteous change. This doesn’t mean proselytizing, necessarily. This means to preach gospel principles. Frugality, self-reliance, charity, peace, patience, acceptance of others’ weaknesses, hard work, hope, sacrifice, unity.

If any of us truly wish to save the collapse of this country, it will not come by finding the political party which best suits us or trying to convert others to our cause. It will certainly not come by vilifying those who do not agree with us. It will not come by government overhaul. It will come because there are people who eschew politics in favor of peace, power in favor of charity, rightness in favor of righteousness.

Unless that happens, there truly is no hope.

Original Poetry: By the Hand of Uriah

In the months I was preparing to visit Israel last year, I listened to a great deal of the Old Testament while riding my bicycle to and from work. Listening instead of reading helped me approach the scriptures in a way that prompted new insights and ideas, and I unexpectedly found that listening inspired me with some ideas for poetry to write.

Though I am not a prolific poet, the poetry I write is usually infused with gospel concepts and imagery. But I had never thought of poetry so directly inspired by scriptural narratives before.

As is usual for me, the time between when the idea for a poem occurs to me and when I actually write it is substantial. It has been well over a year, and I am now approaching the one year anniversary of my trip to Israel for Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles.

This last Sunday, I sat down and wrote a draft of the first poem, and then honed it during the next day and a half. Hope you enjoy it.

Continue reading

The Faith Convictions of Muslims

Before the tragic attack on the World Trade Center, I had a grudging respect for the Muslim faithful. They seemed the most spiritual and religiously conservative group on the planet, untouched by the Western immorality and atheism. There was the accusation that was only because of the lack of educational opportunities, but even those who went to Western and U.S. schools went back home without losing religious convictions. There was something about Islam that a person who had their own strong faith convictions had to admire.

When the infamous 9-11 attack happened, there was hope that citizens of the United States could learn something about themselves out of the deadly chaos. Perhaps the Christian nation as a whole would re-evaluate the moral direction it had taken. They would take notice of Muslims and look within to question how they had lost their spiritual way. Certainly they could contrast the strength of conviction and moral cohesion of such a large group of people and come away determined to change. For one brief week it seemed possible.

That illusion was quickly shattered. It didn’t take very long for people to continue going about their business like always. Each generation seeming more intent than the next to rid themselves of religious and moral guidance. Meanwhile, the extremist Islamist leaders ended up sharing the anti-Christian, anti-Israel, and anti-United States stances of Western liberals. That wasn’t a surprise, but how they played off each other was. They ended up doing the your enemy is my enemy dance. The terrorists came off not as moral crusaders, but political despots eager for attention with the blood of the dead. Still, the question stands how Muslims remain faithful stalwarts in such large numbers while Christianity, and Mormonism included, continues to stumble. Continue reading

Positivism vs. Scientific Realism: An Example

For those following my series over at Wheat and Tares, don’t miss out on my latest post: Positivism vs. Scientific Realism: An Example. Here is a teaser:

However, Deutsch is right about one thing. Positivism ultimately fails to grasp the value of believing your explanations. It is only through believing your explanations that you can comprehend them. And only by comprehending them can you refine them into something even more useful.