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Faith in what?


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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? 

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We are to have faith in Jesus Christ, as directed by the Father and inspired by the Holy Spirit. This will allow us to discern what is truth, and what is opinion, what is historical and what is allegory. We often hear about the historical events in the Book of Mormon, but rarely any such concerns about the Biblical. There are cities and places mentioned in the Bible that thousands of years of searching have revealed nothing. Also, many speak of the places in the Bible that indeed exist, but knowing where something took place (or us reported too), but how do we know that the "event" itself took place. The short answer is we have faith that these miracles happened, because belief is not geographical. We know where some events took place, but there are conflicting accounts, such as Paul on the road to Damascus. This same Paul at least on one occasion (his teaching on remarriage) was opinion and not doctrine, but very little of that ever occurred. The Holy Spirit is what teaches us to have faith, and that which bears witness to what is true. Church doctrine is found within the pages of the Standard Works, and Church handbooks. The rest can only be found in fasting and prayer, and the assurance that our leaders do not seek to mislead. Wherever they do so through misspeak, it is soon corrected, through apology or through another in Church leadership. 

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2 minutes ago, Bill "Papa" Lee said:

The short answer is we have faith that these miracles happened, because belief is not geographical. We know where some events took place, but there are conflicting accounts, such as Paul on the road to Damascus. This same Paul at least on one occasion (his teaching on remarriage) was opinion and not doctrine, but very little of that ever occurred. The Holy Spirit is what teaches us to have faith, and that which bears witness to what is true. Church doctrine is found within the pages of the Standard Works, and Church handbooks. The rest can only be found in fasting and prayer, and the assurance that our leaders do not seek to mislead. Wherever they do so through misspeak, it is soon corrected, through apology or through another in Church leadership. 

Thanks Papa, so just a couple questions about your post.  I personally follow biblical scholarship and I question the historicity for much of the biblical accounts as well.  You started by saying that we need faith in Jesus Christ.  But then you turned that faith in Jesus Christ into being able to discern what is true.  I think that's where I'm differing with you basic premise.  Should we take that second step that you suggest to connecting faith in God/Jesus into an effort to determine if a scriptural interpretation or religious tradition or statement by an authority figure is true.  I wonder if this second step is where we've lost the point of what faith is all about in the first place.  

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If you think that the basis of faith is absolute certainty, based on irrefutable evidence that has been certified by skeptics, then perhaps, the real problem is your conception of what faith is. 

Alma 32 aptly describes faith as something that is grown through process that takes time, nurture, experiment, continuing growth, expansion, enlargement, and ongoing evaluation.   Alma aptly contrasts open-ended "cause to believe" (which is not perfect knowledge, not proven beyond doubt, and is therefore not built on coercive pressure, but on what a person finds inviting and promising) against, closed, coercive absolute, proven knowledge.  That sort of thing is not faith.

He starts with a seed, even a portion of the word (and he leaves it to the planter/experimenter to select the portion), and on that portion, an experiment, that takes time, and expressly does not quickly provide "perfect knowledge."  And he expressly includes "a desire to believe" as a necessary ingredient.  Rather, the process continues, and the encouragement comes in form of an expanded mind, and an enlarged soul, rather than say, doctrinal stasis.

So, I cannot personally tell anyone to start with the same portion of the word that I did,  nor can I unconditionally suppose that anyone who reads my work will come to the same conclusions.  But one thing that I have seen ever more clearly over the past several decades, is that Jesus was insightful in noting that the same seeds (words) can produce vastly different yields, all depending on soil, and nurture.  And that no matter where we start, that the great obstacles to greater knowledge of things as they were, are and will become, are what we currently think is correct, and what we desire to the point that we will not offer it up as a sacrifice.  It's all about Fear and Desire, which also turn out to be the way that Maya, God of Illusion  tempted Buddha under the Bo tree. What do I now think?  What do I now want? 

My God wants to invite and persuade us rather than to coerce our unwilling submission.  I have encountered a great deal that I personally find inviting and persuasive with respect to my ongoing faith in a loving God.  That is the basis of my faith, as the time and nurture and experiments on a wide range of topics, and the subsequent expansion of the mind, and enlargement of the soul, and delicious taste, and the ongoing promise I see.   It's not the same thing as absolute certainty and proof, and positivism and all that.  It's faith. 

If I face the choice of holding out for a different God, one who is finally going to coerce my unwilling submission so that I know at that moment of crucial confrontation that I have no alternative but to submit to the violent destruction of my preconceptions, and the simultaneous imposition of forced restrictions and immediate boundaries on my desires, I ought to consider which God is a more appealing figure of worship and which one is going to be the most pleasant to encounter and know?

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you think that the basis of faith is absolute certainty, based on irrefutable evidence that has been certified by skeptics, then perhaps, the real problem is your conception of what faith is. 

Alma 32 aptly describes faith as something that is grown through process that takes time, nurture, experiment, continuing growth, expansion, enlargement, and ongoing evaluation.   Alma aptly contrasts open-ended "cause to believe" (which is not perfect knowledge, not proven beyond doubt, and is therefore not built on coercive pressure, but on what a person finds inviting and promising) against, closed, coercive absolute, proven knowledge.  That sort of thing is not faith.

He starts with a seed, even a portion of the word (and he leaves it to the planter/experimenter to select the portion), and on that portion, an experiment, that takes time, and expressly does not quickly provided "perfect knowledge."  And he expressly includes "a desire to believe" as a necessary ingredient.  Rather, the process continues, and the encouragement comes in form of an expanded mind, and an enlarged soul, rather than say, doctrinal stasis.

I largely agree with your post and the Alma 32 method is a reliable method of testing faith in ideas.  I'm wondering if the Alma 32 method should be limited in how we apply it.  For example, lets say one of the GAs gives a conference address on a subject, and we find ourselves uncomfortable about the reasoning that leader gives, we give it some additional thought, talk to trusted family and friends, sleep on it, square it against other values we have and it still just doesn't sit right.  What should we do?  Are we obligated to accept the reasoning of this talk because it was presented by a church leader that we sustained in their calling as a matter of faith?  Or is this a misapplication of the principle of faith in the first place? 

My contention is that having faith in God is not the same thing as having faith every idea put forth by a leader, teacher, or scriptural interpretation that is out there.  My contention is that the scriptures and history and the gospel message actually give us many reasons to reject that kind of paradigm.  I wonder if faith shouldn't be exercised in a much more limited sense.  I shouldn't be taking every idea that comes out of the mouths of humans and planting it as a seed and exercising faith in those ideas to see if they are good seeds or not.  I have a lifetime worth of experiences and ideas that have already born fruit to measure these ideas against in the first place.  I don't need to exercise faith in every idea that passes my way, because I've already gathered all kinds of data that I can use to evaluate ideas that I hear. 

To me, this is what it means to use my mind and my heart when studying things out, and I don't think we need to ask God about everything because that's why God gave us a mind and heart to reason with in the first place.  

Edited by hope_for_things
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21 minutes ago, Calm said:

CFR that is what is meant by arm of flesh in scriptures.

It’s my interpretation of scriptures that i believe say we aren’t to trust in the arm of the flesh.  

Examples would be 2 Nephi 4:34 and D&C 1:19.   Is this what you’re asking in your CFR or something else?  It seems odd that you’re giving a CFR on an opinion about a scripture.  

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6 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you think that the basis of faith is absolute certainty, based on irrefutable evidence that has been certified by skeptics, then perhaps, the real problem is your conception of what faith is. 

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

No, not absolute certainty, we don't have that luxury even in real life but a little  certainty could go long ways to lighten our loads, it didn't happen for me last forty years, I hope for his sake he'll be more successful.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

It’s my interpretation of scriptures that i believe say we aren’t to trust in the arm of the flesh.  

Examples would be 2 Nephi 4:34 and D&C 1:19.   Is this what you’re asking in your CFR or something else?  It seems odd that you’re giving a CFR on an opinion about a scripture.  

I have doubts that "arm of flesh" in the scriptures refers to prophets.  I am CFRing for a reference that prophets acting in their divine calling is included in that category in scriptures (I am not asking about personal opinion).  From what I remember, it seems like a stretch.

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10 minutes ago, Calm said:

I have doubts that "arm of flesh" in the scriptures refers to prophets.  I am CFRing for a reference that prophets acting in their divine calling is included in that category in scriptures (I am not asking about personal opinion).  From what I remember, it seems like a stretch.

I’ll answer this way.  Prophets are mortals with fleshy arms last time I checked, but I have to be honest it’s possible some have had prosthetic limbs or were missing their arms altogether.  In which case these scriptures obviously don’t apply.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

I’ll answer this way.  Prophets are mortals with fleshy arms last time I checked, but I have to be honest it’s possible some have had prosthetic limbs or were missing their arms altogether.  In which case these scriptures obviously don’t apply.  

Yeah, don't see any scriptural validation in your comment that what God means by not depending on a "arm of flesh" is not depending on his prophets in their divine calling.

CFR is out to Investigator as well.

There is nowhere in PMG that says "have faith in arms of flesh".  Unless one can demonstrate the scriptures define "arm of flesh" to include prophets in their divine callings, this post by Investigator is a false claim.

"2 Ne 28:31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost."

"Mos 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments."

"D&C 1:17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;

21 That faith also might increase in the earth;

22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;

23 That the afulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers."

Prophets operating in their divine calling are teaching precepts given by the Holy Ghost, are proclaiming as commanded by God", so not "arm of flesh".

Investigator is wrong and should withdraw the claim.

Edited by Calm
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16 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

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? 

The reason why some are confused in the way you describe is because they haven’t received the Spirit of revelation in sufficient measure. When one does have the Spirit of revelation in sufficient measure, he is not only able to effectively discern between truth and error but, much more often than not, also able to obtain very satisfying answers. The true nature of the difficulties you describe are very well summed-up in the following words of wisdom from Paul:

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2)

But here’s the problem: To those who lack the Spirit of revelation, Paul’s words are mystifying. So even after being given a clear and highly illuminating answer they are still, all too often, left grouping in the dark. An effective starting point for many of those those who as yet have no spiritual witness of the restored gospel is to humble themselves to the dust, sincerely offer up a living sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God and then stop resisting the living prophets. But such people need to know that unless they do as described they will still confusedly be asking the same questions 20 years from now.

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President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.” 

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-8

 

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1 hour ago, Investigator said:

 

In order for the Church to be properly and effectively led by the Lord through living apostles and prophets, ideally each man and woman needs to become a prophet or prophetess in his or her own right, humbly functioning by inspiration within their own divinely-assigned stewardships and spheres of influence. A man or a woman who has obtained the spirit of revelation is much more likely going to diligently follow the lead of the living prophets whom the Lord has placed at the head of the Church, for such men and women possess the spiritual power to discern that today’s Church leaders are humbly functioning by inspiration within their own divinely-assigned stewardships and spheres of influence.

Edited by Bobbieaware
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8 hours ago, Calm said:

Yeah, don't see any scriptural validation in your comment that what God means by not depending on a "arm of flesh" is not depending on his prophets in their divine calling.

CFR is out to Investigator as well.

I really have no idea what you are asking for at this point.   I answered your CFR with scriptures that I interpret to include prophets in a broad sense, and that I believe those scriptures are saying we shouldn't trust humans which includes prophets, but that we should put our trust in the divine.  Lets discuss the interpretation in a respectful way, that's fine.  

I think you're over reaching with these CFRs.   You have the references and the way I interpret them.  You can't force anyone to interpret scripture in the same way that you do.  Investigator also gave his reference from the PMG manual in his original post, and explains how he/she reads that line from the manual.  Disagree with our interpretations all day long, and explain why you disagree, but quit with this silly CFR nonsense.   

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4 hours ago, Bobbieaware said:

The reason why some are confused in the way you describe is because they haven’t received the Spirit of revelation in sufficient measure. When one does have the Spirit of revelation in sufficient measure, he is not only able to effectively discern between truth and error but, much more often than not, also able to obtain very satisfying answers. The true nature of the difficulties you describe are very well summed-up in the following words of wisdom from Paul:

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2)

But here’s the problem: To those who lack the Spirit of revelation, Paul’s words are mystifying. So even after being given a clear and highly illuminating answer they are still, all too often, left grouping in the dark. An effective starting point for many of those those who as yet have no spiritual witness of the restored gospel is to humble themselves to the dust, sincerely offer up a living sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God and then stop resisting the living prophets. But such people need to know that unless they do as described they will still confusedly be asking the same questions 20 years from now.

This is really interesting, thank you for posting these verses.  I've been reading Richard Rohr's book Falling Upwards, and just last night I was reading about a concept that Paul Ricoeur articulates as the second naivete, and it has to do with a post critical second half of life state of being where essentially the troubles of all the paradox's of life are no longer an upsetting concern and the person reaches a state where they are no longer reactive and anxious about things in the way they were earlier in life.  He talks more about how important it is to have wise elderly people who have reached this frame of mind to help guide others and be involved in our society.  And he also shares scriptures which point to these kinds of things, and I think your passages sound very similar to me.  

Good stuff.  

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20 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Here is my question, what are we supposed to have faith in exactly?

From the context of your question, I think it depends on what you are seeking answers about and feel you are not getting good answers for. I think it helps to remember what you already have faith in and build from there; in other words, see if you can tie the matter in question to that which you do have faith in and see whether they are congruent with each other, both in theory and in practicality.

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20 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

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? 

We are supposed to have faith in Christ, faith in God's ability to lead and guide and direct both His church and us, faith in the abilities of the Spirit to testify and teach, and faith things don't have to be perfect to be God's will or guided by His hand.

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17 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I largely agree with your post and the Alma 32 method is a reliable method of testing faith in ideas.  I'm wondering if the Alma 32 method should be limited in how we apply it.  For example, lets say one of the GAs gives a conference address on a subject, and we find ourselves uncomfortable about the reasoning that leader gives, we give it some additional thought, talk to trusted family and friends, sleep on it, square it against other values we have and it still just doesn't sit right.  What should we do?  Are we obligated to accept the reasoning of this talk because it was presented by a church leader that we sustained in their calling as a matter of faith?  Or is this a misapplication of the principle of faith in the first place? 

My contention is that having faith in God is not the same thing as having faith every idea put forth by a leader, teacher, or scriptural interpretation that is out there.  My contention is that the scriptures and history and the gospel message actually give us many reasons to reject that kind of paradigm.  I wonder if faith shouldn't be exercised in a much more limited sense.  I shouldn't be taking every idea that comes out of the mouths of humans and planting it as a seed and exercising faith in those ideas to see if they are good seeds or not.  I have a lifetime worth of experiences and ideas that have already born fruit to measure these ideas against in the first place.  I don't need to exercise faith in every idea that passes my way, because I've already gathered all kinds of data that I can use to evaluate ideas that I hear. 

To me, this is what it means to use my mind and my heart when studying things out, and I don't think we need to ask God about everything because that's why God gave us a mind and heart to reason with in the first place.  

Regarding this question:

Quote

Are we obligated to accept the reasoning of this talk because it was presented by a church leader that we sustained in their calling as a matter of faith?

Consider this definition of "sustain":

Quote

1.  To keep up; keep going; maintain. Aid, assist, comfort.
2.  to supply as with food or provisions:
3.  to hold up; support
4.  to bear; endure
5.  to suffer; experience: to sustain a broken leg.
6.  to allow; admit; favor
7.  to agree with; confirm.

The overall range of meanings here brought me a huge moment of enlightenment about our formal covenant with God to "sustain" one another.  Basically it means, for the sake of the community, be willing not only comfort those who stand in need of comfort, but also to put up with the crap.  If no one in a community has any tolerance for any disagreement or difference or conflict with any other member of the community, how long will that community last?  It means letting go expectations, letting go my pride, and letting God be in charge, and to assume that, as Isaiah 55 points out, God's thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and specifically involve a higher, long-term, process moving toward a distant goal, rather than, focusing on the my personal discomfort and frustration in the here and now.

Regarding this:

Quote

My contention is that having faith in God is not the same thing as having faith every idea put forth by a leader, teacher, or scriptural interpretation that is out there.  My contention is that the scriptures and history and the gospel message actually give us many reasons to reject that kind of paradigm. 

Your contention here is not something I contend with.  Rather, it has been the air that I breath for decades, with the caveat that I ought not be so sure that I know it all and am fit to not only judge those leaders, but to speak for and as God.   It's one of the reasons I keep citing and using the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth.

Perry’s Position 9: Commitments in Relativism further developed, has this:

The person now has a developed sense of irony and can more easily embrace other’s viewpoints. He can accept life as just that “life,” just the way it is! Now he holds the commitments he makes in a condition of Provisional Ultimacy, meaning that for him what he chooses to be truth IS his truth, and he acts as if it is ultimate truth, but there is still a “provision” for change. He has no illusions about having “arrived” permanently on top of some heap, he is ready and knows he will have to retrace his journey over and over, but he has hope that he will do it each time more wisely. He is aware that he is developing his Identity through Commitment. He can affirm the inseparable nature of the knower and the known—meaning he knows he as knower contributes to what he calls known. He helps weld a community by sharing realization of aloneness and gains strength and intimacy through this shared vulnerability. He has discarded obedience in favor of his own agency, and he continues to select, judge, and build.

To me, taking God's advice to "seek out of the best books wisdom, by study and by faith" is not just asking God, but accepting the way God answers.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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20 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

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? 

Thank you.  I agree.  

I am a frustrated member of the Church because in large measure it doesn't feel like I can relate to my fellow members on this.  Even around here most seem to think I have to put my faith in my leaders, the system, and all that.  I'm afraid faith in leaders, as is common in the Church, is an empty faith, or dead faith.  We surely can trust people in part, we must in some sense throughout our lives.  I think that's true, but I find the suggestion to just put my faith in my leaders a big problem that will only cause more problems.

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For me faith is the "assurance of things hoped for".  Hebrews 11:1.    When Sariah is having major worries, Lehi responds with the following in 1 Nephi 5:4-5,  "I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.  5 But behold, I have obtained a land of promise."    Lehi speaks in the past tense as if he had already obtained what he had seen in a vision.  This is audacious!  For me that lies at the heart of being a believing human.  We imagine things which do not exist, and with that assurance of things hoped for we travel across the Atlantic towards "india", or experiment with aerodynamics and invent powered flight, or invent cripsr cas-9 and begin experimenting on the very edge of what is known, venturing into the future.  To gain a prospective mind for the future requires vision and a wild relentless drive to make it happen.   

I am intrigued by the research of Martin Seligman on prospective vision, "homo prospectus".  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/opinion/sunday/why-the-future-is-always-on-your-mind.html

Also Elon Musk goes into prospective vision in his talk at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.  He says the following, "so falcon1 this is where we started out a lot of people really only heard of spaceX relatively recently.  They may think or say that falcon 9 and dragon just instantly appeared and that's how it always was.  It wasn't  - we started with just a few people who really didn't know how to make rockets.  The reason I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer isn't because I wanted to it was because I couldn't hire anyone - nobody good would join!  So I ended up being that by default and messed up the first 3 launches, the first 3 launches failed, fortunately the fourth launch - which was the last money that we had for falcon 1 - the fourth launch worked, or that would have been it for SpaceX.   Fate liked us that day, the fourth launch worked, - it's interesting that today is the 9th anniversary of that launch."  

Now what about faith in Jesus Christ?   Will share about this in a different post, (relates to reworked atonement ideas after I read Noah Harari's sapiens - penal substitution and satisfaction theories failed for me - i decided to integrate more unfinished chaotic creation and transhumanism ideas).

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52 minutes ago, CV75 said:

From the context of your question, I think it depends on what you are seeking answers about and feel you are not getting good answers for. I think it helps to remember what you already have faith in and build from there; in other words, see if you can tie the matter in question to that which you do have faith in and see whether they are congruent with each other, both in theory and in practicality.

I'm actually questioning the premise that you're building this comment on.  Is this the correct application for the principle of faith in a general sense.  Is faith supposed to be a question and answer mechanism of sorts?  

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21 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Here is my question, what are we supposed to have faith in exactly?

We're supposed to have faith in God particularly Christ. However I also tend to think that the recent spat of books on faith as a response to troubling issues are problematic. Perhaps not problematic in a practical sense. For a certain group of people it seems to actually function quite well. It's just that again I'm a bit put out by linguistic issues. Which is certainly me being too picky. But overall I think it devalues the meaning of faith.

I think really what's being asked is to trust what you know and assume that the things you don't know will work themselves out. The analogy is much more to say science where there are often contradictory things or things we can't explain but we still believe in our strongly established theories because of the evidence for those. However the way it's described too often seems like the blind faith towards propositions that you sometimes see in traditional Christianity. Especially during the heyday of such things from late antiquity through the medieval era. Since I don't like blind faith and think we should only talking about statements with meaning the approach often bothers me.

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