Jump to content

Why is belief so important?


Recommended Posts

I recently attended the Spirit of Dialogue conference at UVU and they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/50th-anniversary/spirit-of-dialogue-conference/

It was a great meeting with wonderful guests.  One of the highlights for me was the last session, a discussion between Marlin Jensen (former church historian and emeritus status GA) and Gregory Prince.  The audio is posted at the above link.  He said something that I've been pondering about ever since the meeting.  In talking about the essays and the challenges that the information age presents to members he said:

Quote

In the long run, choosing to believe is by far the most important choice that we will ever make in this life.  Right next to it I think is choosing the person that we will marry. 

The part in bold is what I've been struggling to understand.  He mentioned meeting with many people over the years who're struggling with their membership.  Why is belief so important to him, and why is it a choice?  Why is it more important than who you choose as your spouse?  Why is belief the most important choice we will ever make in this life?  I don't get it.

I have some thoughts, but I wanted to ask to the group.  Thanks

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
52 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

Because beliefs inform every aspect of our lives. IE; I believe city "X " is the best place to raise my children.

Specifically a belief in the church is what it sounded like.  Why would that be the most important thing.  I tend to think that our choices, our actions, are more important than our thoughts.  I know thoughts can lead to actions.  But he prioritized belief higher than our choices or actions.  Why would that be the case?  

Link to post
1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

I recently attended the Spirit of Dialogue conference at UVU and they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/50th-anniversary/spirit-of-dialogue-conference/

It was a great meeting with wonderful guests.  One of the highlights for me was the last session, a discussion between Marlin Jensen (former church historian and emeritus status GA) and Gregory Prince.  The audio is posted at the above link.  He said something that I've been pondering about ever since the meeting.  In talking about the essays and the challenges that the information age presents to members he said:

The part in bold is what I've been struggling to understand.  He mentioned meeting with many people over the years who're struggling with their membership.  Why is belief so important to him, and why is it a choice?  Why is it more important than who you choose as your spouse?  Why is belief the most important choice we will ever make in this life?  I don't get it.

I have some thoughts, but I wanted to ask to the group.  Thanks

I don't think I'd agree with how they're phrasing it. I do believe spirituality is an important part of the human experience (important to help us become whole human beings, not important in in the sense that we need to avoid some kind of divine punishment). But healthy spirituality can manifest itself in so many different forms. Maybe it would help to hear a clarification from them. 

Link to post

Because it informs everything we do. IE; Do we go to our Church meetings on Sunday, or do we go to the church of the NFL? I'm not trying to be flip here. Seriously; being a Saint in thought and deed is what we're are aspiring to. No one is responsible for random thoughts that sometimes enter our minds. We are responsible for dwelling on those thoughts though.

Link to post
17 minutes ago, Gray said:

I don't think I'd agree with how they're phrasing it. I do believe spirituality is an important part of the human experience (important to help us become whole human beings, not important in in the sense that we need to avoid some kind of divine punishment). But healthy spirituality can manifest itself in so many different forms. Maybe it would help to hear a clarification from them. 

This was part of a lengthy discussion about the church essays, the pressures that puts on certain people in the internet age with access to information that complicates and contradicts the dominant narratives of the past.  Marlin Jensen talked about people leaving the church and how sad he is when that happens, but he also described them using some of the negative stereotypes about people losing their morals and experiencing a dramatic change of livelihood in the process.  I'm sure he wouldn't universally apply that to everyone.  

I think with respect to belief it sounded like he truly does feel that aligning ourselves with Mormonism is the most important thing we can do in this life.  

Edited by hope_for_things
Link to post
16 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

Because it informs everything we do. IE; Do we go to our Church meetings on Sunday, or do we go to the church of the NFL? I'm not trying to be flip here. Seriously; being a Saint in thought and deed is what we're are aspiring to. No one is responsible for random thoughts that sometimes enter our minds. We are responsible for dwelling on those thoughts though.

It sounds like you've correlated belief in the 21st century with following orthodox behavioral markers for a 21st century Mormon, i.e. going to church on Sunday, etc.  These outward behavioral markers are how we should measure a person's level of belief?  

Is this the core of the gospel, going to church on Sunday instead of watching the NFL?  Sounds like a shallow gospel if that is the measurement.  How does belief = following behavior markers like Sunday church attendance, and why is that so important?  

Link to post

Belief to me is important..a choice that I make and sometimes change keeping fundamentals that are important to me.it is how I make decisions short and long term in many areas of my life.  I also think that belief is personal...it doesn't have to be a belief that millions of others say or think is right although we may agree on many things.  But it is personal and a spiritual space that fills the other realms in our lives.  I can watch an NFL game on Sunday and still do the good that I require of myself.  To me, a chapel is unnecessary. My chapel is the stars..the fall leaves..a walk by the river..and prayer.

Link to post

I joined in 1971 at the age of 20. I've always subscribed to the idea that show me what you do, and I'll know what you believe. I can't show you my beliefs. I can only show you my actions. Knowing that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of the living God, is the core of the Gospel. Doing as my, inspired by God, leaders say is the demonstration of that belief.

Edited by thesometimesaint
  • Upvote 3
Link to post
14 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

Belief to me is important..a choice that I make and sometimes change keeping fundamentals that are important to me.it is how I make decisions short and long term in many areas of my life.  I also think that belief is personal...it doesn't have to be a belief that millions of others say or think is right although we may agree on many things.  But it is personal and a spiritual space that fills the other realms in our lives.  I can watch an NFL game on Sunday and still do the good that I require of myself.  To me, a chapel is unnecessary. My chapel is the stars..the fall leaves..a walk by the river..and prayer.

I can get on board with belief being a personal expression, that makes sense.  I guess I think that belief is not something I can choose or control so much as its my current orientation towards the world around me.  I don't feel like it is a choice or that its something that is moral or ethical either.  It just is.

For example, I believe that gravity works because I have experience seeing it work in my life.  I don't have any cause to doubt that it exists.  For religious things, I may believe that God exists, but I may not believe that God will answer each and every time that I pray.  Those beliefs are formed from experience and represent my observations religiously, but they aren't a matter of choice for me.  I can't just all the sudden say, "I believe God answers all my prayers", when I haven't experienced that in my life or seen that in my observations of the lives of others.  Does that make sense?  I couldn't all the sudden choose to not believe that gravity exists either, no matter how hard I try.  

  • Upvote 1
Link to post

Belief, whether based on the evidence of the unseen (faith) or the evidence of the seen (observation), determines every single choice we make.

Sounds kind of important.
 

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
12 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

I joined in 1971 at the age of 20. I've always subscribed to the idea that show me what you do, and I'll know what you believe. I can't show you my beliefs. I can only show you my actions. Knowing that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of the living God, is the core of the Gospel. Doing as my, inspired by God, leaders say is the demonstration of that belief.

Ok, that makes more sense to me, and maybe that's the connection Marlin is getting at.  Believe the church is led by God, trust the leaders, and that is the most important decision in life.  Allegiance to the institution because the institution is the only path to salvation, is that the basic math of your belief?  

Once I stopped thinking that the church had exclusive authority, then I was open to re-evaluate the gospel from a different vantage point.  I interpret the central message of the gospel as one of love and service towards others, and actions towards this end matter to me now.    

But I lost my belief in the church's exclusive authority, and I don't think I can get that back.  

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
6 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I can get on board with belief being a personal expression, that makes sense.  I guess I think that belief is not something I can choose or control so much as its my current orientation towards the world around me.  I don't feel like it is a choice or that its something that is moral or ethical either.  It just is.

For example, I believe that gravity works because I have experience seeing it work in my life.  I don't have any cause to doubt that it exists.  For religious things, I may believe that God exists, but I may not believe that God will answer each and every time that I pray.  Those beliefs are formed from experience and represent my observations religiously, but they aren't a matter of choice for me.  I can't just all the sudden say, "I believe God answers all my prayers", when I haven't experienced that in my life or seen that in my observations of the lives of others.  Does that make sense?  I couldn't all the sudden choose to not believe that gravity exists either, no matter how hard I try.  

Gravity doesn't care if you believe in it or not. God is a different question.

Link to post
22 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Belief, whether based on the evidence of the unseen (faith) or the evidence of the seen (observation), determines every single choice we make.

Sounds kind of important.
 

I'm still struggling with why though.  What if I'm an atheist, but yet I choose to spend my time serving others, I have a family and live without excess, I treat people with respect and I do all of this because I value how these choices I make influence my friends, family and community.  Atheists have no belief in an afterlife, so all those moral and ethic decisions are not out of a desire qualify for a reward or to follow a set divine commandments.  

You could also say that the atheist is following a set of beliefs, these beliefs are that there is value in civilized society, that treating others the right way is an ethic that they ascribe to.  Yet these beliefs are not the kind of beliefs that Marlin Jensen seems to think is the most important choice any person can make in this life.  WHY????

Link to post
4 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I'm still struggling with why though.  What if I'm an atheist, but yet I choose to spend my time serving others, I have a family and live without excess, I treat people with respect and I do all of this because I value how these choices I make influence my friends, family and community.  Atheists have no belief in an afterlife, so all those moral and ethic decisions are not out of a desire qualify for a reward or to follow a set divine commandments.  

You could also say that the atheist is following a set of beliefs, these beliefs are that there is value in civilized society, that treating others the right way is an ethic that they ascribe to.  Yet these beliefs are not the kind of beliefs that Marlin Jensen seems to think is the most important choice any person can make in this life.  WHY????

Parable of the sheep and the goats.

Link to post
3 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

They are of equal importance.

I would say that actions are much more important than belief and I don't think we really have much control over our beliefs anyway.  That's not what Elder Jensen said though. 

Link to post
6 minutes ago, thesometimesaint said:

Parable of the sheep and the goats.

I believe this is core to the gospel, but it speaks nothing of belief.  How we treat people matters, and I think even the motivations we have matter as well.  Perhaps that is what belief is about, but I would argue that doing these things out of love instead of motivated by fear, is the much better reason to do good things.  

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
15 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I'm still struggling with why though.  What if I'm an atheist, but yet I choose to spend my time serving others, I have a family and live without excess, I treat people with respect and I do all of this because I value how these choices I make influence my friends, family and community.  Atheists have no belief in an afterlife, so all those moral and ethic decisions are not out of a desire qualify for a reward or to follow a set divine commandments.

You could also say that the atheist is following a set of beliefs, these beliefs are that there is value in civilized society, that treating others the right way is an ethic that they ascribe to.  Yet these beliefs are not the kind of beliefs that Marlin Jensen seems to think is the most important choice any person can make in this life.  WHY????

The results.
The temporal results of your compassionate atheist's actions may not be any different than the temporal results of a charitable believer would be.

As a believer I have seen results in my life that I don't think for one second could have been achieved without my belief.
And using the old Pascal's wager argument (without getting into a big philosophical debate about the wager) the results of believing if/when the gospel is revealed as inarguably true will likewise be different.

 

Link to post
3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I recently attended the Spirit of Dialogue conference at UVU and they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/50th-anniversary/spirit-of-dialogue-conference/

It was a great meeting with wonderful guests.  One of the highlights for me was the last session, a discussion between Marlin Jensen (former church historian and emeritus status GA) and Gregory Prince.  The audio is posted at the above link.  He said something that I've been pondering about ever since the meeting.  In talking about the essays and the challenges that the information age presents to members he said:

The part in bold is what I've been struggling to understand.  He mentioned meeting with many people over the years who're struggling with their membership.  Why is belief so important to him, and why is it a choice?  Why is it more important than who you choose as your spouse?  Why is belief the most important choice we will ever make in this life?  I don't get it.

I have some thoughts, but I wanted to ask to the group.  Thanks

Some of these I've been wondering also. And what if we believe something false? Just take our chances? How do we know if the belief is correct?

Link to post
32 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

The results.
The temporal results of your compassionate atheist's actions may not be any different than the temporal results of a charitable believer would be.

As a believer I have seen results in my life that I don't think for one second could have been achieved without my belief.
And using the old Pascal's wager argument (without getting into a big philosophical debate about the wager) the results of believing if/when the gospel is revealed as inarguably true will likewise be different.
 

Ok, so if you're saying that when the results are equal, then thats all that matters.  You are also saying that for you personally, you feel like your belief has helped you to achieve better results, but I could say that an atheist might think the same thing that their beliefs help them to achieve better results. 

Oh, and i think Pascal's wager made sense during his lifetime, but we have come a long ways since he lived as far as knowledge and understanding about the mechanisms of the universe, and belief in God is not longer a default belief in our culture.  

Link to post
14 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Some of these I've been wondering also. And what if we believe something false? Just take our chances? How do we know if the belief is correct?

Thanks Tacenda.  You bring up a good point.  I think its safe to assume that many of our beliefs are false, we should often be skeptical of what we think we know, because of the limitations of our understanding and the way our brains use information in illogical ways.  

This is what I call humility, this position of accepting that we are likely wrong about many of our beliefs, and I think the gospel actually encourages this kind of humility.  Unfortunately I don't see the Mormons define humility the same way, in our Mormon culture, humility is all about aligning your thinking with church authorities.  How great would it be if the authorities modeled actual humility.  

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
3 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Ok, so if you're saying that when the results are equal, then thats all that matters. 

No, I am saying that the temporal results are equal.  It doesn't matter if an atheist or a Christian gives their $20 to the poor or a blanket to the homeless.

I am saying that not all results are temporal in nature.

Quote

Oh, and i think Pascal's wager made sense during his lifetime, but we have come a long ways since he lived as far as knowledge and understanding about the mechanisms of the universe, and belief in God is not longer a default belief in our culture. 

Agreed, but I don't see that as progress.

Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Bernard Gui
      Something I wonder about...
      In 3 Nephi 12, Jesus says to the people at the temple,
      How are they more blessed if they believe the words of the eyewitnesses? Those who witnessed, believed, and were baptized also received forgiveness and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I understand the implication that greater faith is required, but in what way are they “more blessed”? Is this a quantitative or qualitative increase? 
      Those who were at the temple already had their faith sorely tried. They survived persecution, threats of death because of their faith, cataclysmic destruction, and days of darkness. They were allowed to see and touch the risen Savior. That in itself is an incomparable blessing reserved for very few mortals. Their obligation then was to be His witnesses. Without them, we would not know of the Resurrection. 
      I understand that signs do not necessarily lead to faith. Many who see signs never believe or fall away, but none of these Nephites nor the disciples in Jerusalem who saw and touched the risen Lord fell away. Sister Gui suggested it means those who hear the testimony of the witnesses and believe are more blessed than those who hear the testimony and don’t believe. It seems to me, though, that the Savior is comparing two groups - the witnesses and those who believe the witnesses - and the latter are the more blessed. 
      On two other occasions, some people are declared more blessed. 
      1. Those who humble themselves without compulsion.
      2. The three Nephite disciples who desired to tarry.
      However, speaking to Thomas, the Lord said,
      In this instance, those who believe without seeing are not more blessed. 

      I understand how these people are more blessed because of their faith. What do you think the Savior meant in 3 Nephi 12?
    • By nuclearfuels
      Looking for some insight into Alma 29:3 -
      But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
      Seems like if Alma's faith grew he would naturally pray for not only his people but the Lamanites, and then others (people in Jerusalem and Middle East, Lost Tribes, etc.).
      But then he chides himself for wanting to do that.
      What's the problem here?
      Should he trust God to have called Prophets to cry repentance to all those other people so Alma should just "stay in his lane?"
      When you pray and you're really feeling the Spirit, what would be incorrect about praying for your family, ward, stake, the whole church, the whole world - to be blessed with health, prosperity, a greater acceptance of the restored gospel?
      I guess we should focus on the jurisdiction of our own callings but honestly I pray for things I'm quite sure God laughs out loud at, not to mention when I pray for others outside of my stake, church, etc.
       
    • By Calm
      https://www.uvu.edu/religiousstudies/heavenandearth/


      Heaven & Earth
      Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation and Faith
      February 22nd - 23rd, 2018
      Classroom Building, Room 511
      Utah Valley University

      click here for a pdf version of the program 
       
      Description
      The relationship between science and religion has been among the most fiercely debated issues since the Copernican revolution displaced traditional wisdom regarding the nature of the cosmos. Some have argued  for a sharp division of labor while others have sought to harmonize spiritual and empirical truths. From its beginnings, Mormonism has wrestled with the implications of modern science and has produced a variety of  theological responses. This conference will explore the landscape of Mormon thought as it relates to the relationships between science, theology, scriptural narratives, and LDS authoritative discourse. It will also examine abiding questions of faith, reason, and doubt and the reactions against the intellectualizing forces that bear on the truth claims of Mormonism.  
        Keynote Speaker
      Molly Worthen
      Assistant Professor of History
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      author of Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism Eugene England Lecture
      Steven L. Peck
      Associate Professor of Biology
      Brigham Young University
      author of Science the Key to Theology Conference Participants
      Philip L. Barlow
      Leonard J. Arrington Chair in Mormon Studies & Culture
      Utah State University
      author of Mormons and the Bible: The Place of Latter-day Saints in American Religion
        Brian D. Birch 
      Brian D. Birch, Director, Religious Studies Program
      Utah Valley University
      series co-editor, Perspectives on Mormon Theology
        David Bokovoy
      Online Professor of Bible and Jewish Studies
      Utah State University
      author of Reading the Old Testament: Genesis - Deuteronomy 
        Matthew Bowman
      Matthew Bowman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
      Henderson State University
      author of The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
        Deidre Nicole Green
      Postdoctoral Fellow
      Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
      author of "Becoming Equal Partners: Latter-day Saint Women as Theologians” 
        Jamie L. Jensen
      Associate Professor of Biology, Brigham Young University, author of “Influencing highly religious undergraduate perceptions of evolution:  Mormons as a case study” 
        Boyd Jay Petersen
      Program Coordinator for Mormon Studies
      Utah Valley University
      author of “One Soul Shall Not Be Lost': The War in Heaven in Mormon Thought" 
        Jana K. Riess
      Senior Columnist
      Religion News Service
      author of The Next Mormons
        David W. Scott
      Professor of Communication
      Utah Valley University
      author of “Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?"  
      Ben Spackman
      History of Christianity & Religions of North America Program
      Claremont Graduate University
      author of “Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis”  
      Co-Sponsors & Partners
      Religious Studies Program, Utah Valley University College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Utah Valley University
    • By hope_for_things
      As an orthodox Mormon, when I have questions and critiques on topics that I hear at church or read about, I'm frequently told that it all boils down to just having faith, especially when people don't have good answers to my questions.  Terryl Given and Fiona Given's even articulate this idea in their book, The Crucible of Doubt, about how when presented with information on both sides of an issue, that this is precisely the point of God's plan so that we are able to choose and exercise faith.  
      Here is my question, what are we supposed to have faith in exactly?  Should I have faith in the historicity of an event described in the BoM?  Should I have faith that a talk given in conference by a church leader is an inspired talk that accurately reflects the mind of God?  Should I have faith that the words written in the Sunday school manual are inspired by God?  Should I have faith that the interpretation of scripture espoused by my high council representative is the one true interpretation?  What exactly should I have faith in?  
      From my reading of scripture, particularly the Bible and the BoM there is a repeating theme that humans continue to mess things up. In the bible, some of the worst offenders are often the prophets.  They are constantly falling short of the divine will and making big mistakes and getting chastised by God.  Many passages warn against trusting in the arm of the flesh. 
      So this brings me back to the question of faith, and I wonder if all the times that my fellow Mormons encourage me to just have faith, if they aren't actually are giving me really bad advice.  I'm thinking from the experiences I've had and the examples throughout history, that the thing I need to put my faith in is God directly, and not in humans or scriptural interpretations.  Maybe having faith in a church leader is not the purpose of faith at all.  Maybe having faith in a traditional church truth claim is also not the point of faith.   Faith in God, directly is not the same thing as faith in the church or faith in scripture or faith in authorities.  Faith in God seems like the only kind of faith that really can work. 
      Thoughts? 
    • By nuclearfuels
      So if you were called over a period of 8 years in let us say a certain calling which you had reservations about but accepted anyway, at what point would you say no to future callings in the same certain calling area?  If you said no to such a calling and then received a similar calling a few months later, what would you think? Not enough adults to call or inspiration coming back again?  In all honesty when Auxiliary leaders make recommendations for certain callings in ward council/correlation mtg, is there further prayer/consideration/Spiritual guidance by Ward Leaders?  I believe so and I hope so; just seems strange to get a calling quite similar to one I said no to a few months earlier.
      I've heard that Sunbeams coteacher in a former ward I was in received seven no's in response to callings and I can't judge anyone who turned it down as I wasn't part of those callings' issuance.  A friend of mine in college turned down a Primary call since she was a homemaker with three boys and said she needed a break.
      The non-linear part makes sense; we all don't progress in the same order of callings...BUT it seems odd to me to have received such a similar calling in multiple wards over many years, in a chartered organization that I do not support.
       
×
×
  • Create New...