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The Importance of Faith


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4 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

Whether God is hidden to us is completely within our control

I don’t believe that is always true.  I have taken medications which completely suppressed my experience of the spirit.  If medications can do this, why not the body’s own chemicals? There are those who have disorders that affect moods and thoughts so significantly that a spiritual reaction could easily be either overwhelmed by too much ‘noise’ or if strong enough due to their experiences they would just interpret it as another such biological experience. 

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4 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I am doubtful of the proposition that religious certainty would make people behave better. Hidden in there is the idea that if we just knew what God wanted us to do we would all do it.

I suspect that in the last days God will begin proving things. Most will ignore it.

It doesn't work with kids (they often know what their parents want of them and still refuse to do it) so I don't see why it would work with us.

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3 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

You can only speculate that it will be manifest.

Well, sure.  And you can only speculate that it will not be manifest.

But my position is grounded in the doctrines of the Church, so it's not really "speculation" as much as reasoned extrapolation.

3 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Knees have bowed before, under the regard of overwhelming power.

Yeah, but coercion isn't part of the Plan of Salvation.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It doesn't work with kids (they often know what their parents want of them and still refuse to do it) so I don't see why it would work with us.

Then again, it might work with kids, depending on whether you allow for their underdeveloped ability to process knowledge. I think that once they do believe and understand, they really try.

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11 hours ago, smac97 said:

Well, sure.  And you can only speculate that it will not be manifest.

But my position is grounded in the doctrines of the Church, so it's not really "speculation" as much as reasoned extrapolation.

Yeah, but coercion isn't part of the Plan of Salvation.

Thanks,

-Smac

My position is also grounded in the doctrines of the church as well as my post-Mormon beliefs. For the record, I held this position for a significant time while I still believed.

"Joseph Smith

A. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, 11:3 --

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.

Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute -- for it is an attribute -- from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 1:13-16)

B. Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence! (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 1:24)

C. We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift and every good principle dwell; and that he is the Father of lights; in him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation. (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 2:2)"

https://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Quotes/FAITH.htm

Edited by Meadowchik
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9 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Then again, it might work with kids, depending on whether you allow for their underdeveloped ability to process knowledge. I think that once they do believe and understand, they really try.

Some do, some don't. Some try for a while and then quit. Lots of other variations too.

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16 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Some do, some don't. Some try for a while and then quit. Lots of other variations too.

It depends on the thing, I think. In that comment I was talking more generally about certainties and not necessarily about churchy stuff.

Edited by Meadowchik
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16 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

It depends on the thing, I think. In that comment I was talking more generally about certainties and not necessarily about churchy stuff.

Even with certainties I have seen people ignore what they know they should do. Knowing that eating healthy and exercising regularly will let you lead a happier life has not led to a renaissance in health.

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1 hour ago, let’s roll said:

Whether God is hidden to us is completely within our control.  He invites us to know Him, and is explicit in His direction on how to do so.  He has said that His work and glory is to have us know Him.  If God is hidden to us, it is by our choice.

Or He is not there and that which is in our control is our imagination.  But that's all simply illusion anyway.  What is in control is what we are fed, over time.  Sometimes that leads to belief, well most times, and other times it doesn't.  

What would be interesting is to figure out whether it really is his work and glory.  If so, then its all on him anyway.  And if that's the case, it's a wonder why so many don't know him.  He even goes so far as to letting people feel like they know him, during their lives, only to, after its all over, report to them that He actually never knew them and that they, due to Him not desiring to know them, are destined to suffer eternally.  If God so hides himself, then it hardly seems it is his work and glory.  It seems moreso that his work and glory is to keep himself hidden by making evolutionary biology be the means he trickily created everything, for starters.  But as it turns out, too, him hiding himself to promote the importance of faith doesn't really work either.  What a weird mess we find ourselves in, when ti comes to God.  

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

I am doubtful of the proposition that religious certainty would make people behave better. Hidden in there is the idea that if we just knew what God wanted us to do we would all do it.

I suspect that in the last days God will begin proving things. Most will ignore it.

I thought we were sitting in the last days now.  What has he proved?  That all presumptions previously declared to be from God aren't true?  Quite an odd thing to want to prove, don't you think?  This is one sneaky God roaming around out there.  

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2 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I thought we were sitting in the last days now.  What has he proved?  That all presumptions previously declared to be from God aren't true?  Quite an odd thing to want to prove, don't you think?  This is one sneaky God roaming around out there.  

I mean the LAST last days.

There are hints God will do this in the prophecy chapters of the Book of Mormon. If it does happen I do not expect it to be a gradual unveiling either.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

Then again, it might work with kids, depending on whether you allow for their underdeveloped ability to process knowledge. I think that once they do believe and understand, they really try.

Some do, definitely. But not all.  Knowing what someone wants you to do, and even believing they sincerely believe it’s best, doesn’t always mean much if you really don’t want to do it or don’t agree with them. 

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53 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I mean the LAST last days.

There are hints God will do this in the prophecy chapters of the Book of Mormon. If it does happen I do not expect it to be a gradual unveiling either.

When believers go on their rants about finding hints for miraculous things to come by reading between the lines it's usually time to take cover.  

So nothing like "Imma be proving to the world that I'm floating around watching some of yous people's every move.  The rest of ya?  Well I never knew ya anywho".  

 

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7 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

When believers go on their rants about finding hints for miraculous things to come by reading between the lines it's usually time to take cover.  

So nothing like "Imma be proving to the world that I'm floating around watching some of yous people's every move.  The rest of ya?  Well I never knew ya anywho".  

Well, that was clearly not a rant. My rants are much longer and get threads closed. It is also only a suspicion I have. 

I will say that if the Book of Mormon and/or major elements of the New Testament story are proven true then yeah, TAKE COVER!

If I am wrong and the Second Coming hits without that: Ooops, you can laugh at my wrongness while we burn in hell together.

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

Or He is not there and that which is in our control is our imagination.  But that's all simply illusion anyway.  What is in control is what we are fed, over time.  Sometimes that leads to belief, well most times, and other times it doesn't.  

What would be interesting is to figure out whether it really is his work and glory.  If so, then its all on him anyway.  And if that's the case, it's a wonder why so many don't know him.  He even goes so far as to letting people feel like they know him, during their lives, only to, after its all over, report to them that He actually never knew them and that they, due to Him not desiring to know them, are destined to suffer eternally.  If God so hides himself, then it hardly seems it is his work and glory.  It seems moreso that his work and glory is to keep himself hidden by making evolutionary biology be the means he trickily created everything, for starters.  But as it turns out, too, him hiding himself to promote the importance of faith doesn't really work either.  What a weird mess we find ourselves in, when ti comes to God.  

I don’t find any ambiguity or mystery in anything you posit above.  I know who could clear it up for you, but you don’t believe He exists.  If we spend our time seeking answers from mortals, the best we can hope for is mortal answers.  

Perfect, omniscient answers come from perfect, immortal sources.

Btw, I trust that there are many who say they know God, knowing full well that they don’t...in the same sense that there are many who tell us they’re here to help us knowing full well they’re only trying to help themselves.

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I think the Givens' are onto something when they write about how a certain cognitive distance is required for us to truly have choice which reflects what we truly want and who we truly are. There's a saying that people show who they really are once they put on a mask; being separated from those who know us and their expectations of us offers us the chance to really let loose. Given that the face of God is veiled from us and we feel independent, we can act as we are and show who we are and what we value most highly. We can choose whether or not to become worthy of godhood. 

There's also the idea that faith is a principle of power and constitutes the very power of God. In that case this life would be a sort of workout, strengthening our divine muscles if you will. 

There's also a thought that I have had recur to me a few times. Perhaps it is crazy. But I am a firm believer that suffering is an essential part of this earthly experience. I don't know how many of you have ever read the Eragon books (if you haven't, then spoiler alert) but in the end the good guy goes to fight the evil emperor and gets totally whooped. The hero loses the climactic final battle in devastating fashion: the evil emperor is for all intents and purposes a god at that point and is just way too powerful for any combination of opposing forces to ever overcome him. The hero's last-ditch effort is to cast a spell that causes the evil emperor to feel, to experience, to understand every negative emotion he has ever caused in his generations-long reign. The experience is too much for the Bad Guy, who destroys himself and rids the world of his tyranny. End scene. 

It occurs to me that we could become a lot like the Bad Guy of Eragon without a knowledge, a personal knowledge born of experience, of suffering. We could cause it and just not know, and as Gods, who could teach us? I believe that apotheosis requires a period of suffering, an inoculation against coldness and cruelty, but to have that we must first know what those concepts are and what they mean to the individual, and that requires experience. It's kind of like the Primary song, "How could the Father tell the world?/Of sacrifice, of death?/He sent His Son to die for us/And rise with living breath." How could the Father show the world of cruelty, of coldness, of wickedness and pain? How could He teach us about these things so that we would recognize and avoid them? By inoculation: during our "short night in the inconvenient hotel" as Mother Teresa described mortality-as-juxtaposed-with-eternity, we would be exposed to these things. We would be exposed to despair and suffering, so that we would not consider them too cheaply. 

As to how this connects back to faith, it seems to me obvious that God has to be at a distance during such an experience. In a tragic sense, humanity needs to be free to be choose cruelty as well as good, so that we may see that all things have their opposites. But that freedom would not exist were God to hover there. Nor would we be able to experience despair or hopelessness, with God ever nearby. To experience these things for even the shortest time, God needs to pull away for a minute. We all need to go through Gethsemane, to be crucified together with Christ. We all need to ask, at one point or another, "Oh God, where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?"

Or, in the words of the Exemplar, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 

Faith is a necessity because of the necessity of God's distance. God has to be distant, He has to, or else the Plan fails. It rends Him, we are told, but it is not avoidable. Thus, He asks us to have faith, offers it as a means of sustenance, and waits until, for each of us, "it is finished." This is my theodicy and with it my theology of faith, such as it is. 

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Which is why withholding naturally available evidence could be an example of withholding agency.

Or it might be the singularly damaging mistake of helicopter parenting, in which hovering robs the child of making his own decisions.  Such children are crippled because the parental thumb on the scale prevents their ever learning from the school of hard knocks.  The road to hell is lined with good intentions.

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9 hours ago, Risingtide said:

I have been thinking lately about why God keeps knowledge of many things from being scientifically provable, and the price that has been paid  because of disputations on matters of faith. I'm sure your all familiar with these historic persecutions. God could if He chose reveal to mankind with unmistakable clarity how we are to worship, and what is true and false doctrine. I suppose it must be that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, and that test is the reason for our mortal  probation. It pains me to think of the cruelty that religious disputations have fostered throughout history, and the hate apposing sects of believers have felt, and still feel for one another.  I can't know what other evils humans might get up to if religious uncertainty was done away with, but certainly some horrible wrongs have come along as part of the price of uncertainty.

It is not God, nor religion per se. It is the evil that dwells in the heart of men. They have used the name of God in vain and killed and robbed and committed all manner of atrocities. But they will be judged for that. Men have always corrupted the true worship of God and traded it for their own man-made "religion" to get gain and exert power and dominion over others. But God is not unaware of the evil of mankind. In due time, He will bring to bear His justice and His judgement upon them. Our task, is to endure to the end in faith and in love, no matter what the world throws at us.

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people." Rom 12:19

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5 hours ago, Calm said:

I don’t believe that is always true.  I have taken medications which completely suppressed my experience of the spirit.  If medications can do this, why not the body’s own chemicals? There are those who have disorders that affect moods and thoughts so significantly that a spiritual reaction could easily be either overwhelmed by too much ‘noise’ or if strong enough due to their experiences they would just interpret it as another such biological experience. 

Thanks for your thoughtful response Calm.  A couple of thoughts.

  • The conditions you describe are, for the most part, temporary.  They may impact, for a time, one’s ability to seek with the requisite intent, and to feel communion as we normally would.  A permanent inability to do so would make one unaccountable.  I have an adult son in that category. Non-verbal and cognitively a young child.  He passed the test we undertake in mortality prior to coming here.
  • Temporary conditions may inhibit our ability to perceive God’s personal care, but I’d invite you to consider that that care takes place even when we can’t perceive it, e.g when we are asleep, unconscious, medicated or not in possession of our senses.
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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Well, that was clearly not a rant. My rants are much longer and get threads closed. It is also only a suspicion I have. 

FAIR enough.  Rant was the wrong word there.

3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I will say that if the Book of Mormon and/or major elements of the New Testament story are proven true then yeah, TAKE COVER!

How would they be proven true?  

3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

If I am wrong and the Second Coming hits without that: Ooops, you can laugh at my wrongness while we burn in hell together.

Sounds enjoyable.  Lets make a heaven outta that joint.  I won't laugh, though...promise.  

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7 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

My position is also grounded in the doctrines of the church as well as my post-Mormon beliefs. For the record, I held this position for a significant time while I still believed.

"Joseph Smith

A. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, 11:3 --

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.

Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute -- for it is an attribute -- from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 1:13-16)

B. Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence! (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 1:24)

C. We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift and every good principle dwell; and that he is the Father of lights; in him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation. (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 2:2)"

https://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Quotes/FAITH.htm

Your quote from Lectures On Faith Explain that God’s exercise of faith is elemental to His power. The worlds were created by His faith for example. If that is true then our learning to exercise and navigate life with a reliance on faith is a form of training to develop a more god like nature, becoming more like Him through the practice. This gives me a basis for understanding His exclusion for the most part of sure knowledge on many religious questions. On the other hand, a lot of horrid things have come as a result of religious differences and confusion. 

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I’m sorry I couldn’t participate more actively in the discussion. It was a really busy day at work. I appreciate all who have taken the time to contribute to the discussion. I didn’t expect so many responses. Thank you all. It’s a interesting topic, and one that to a great degree I expect will remain mysterious, at least to me. There is much we won’t know while in mortality. 

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3 hours ago, let’s roll said:

I’d invite you to consider that that care takes place even when we can’t perceive it, e.g when we are asleep, unconscious, medicated or not in possession of our senses.

I have no doubt that care takes place even if we are unable to perceive it. 
 

I do not believe people will be held accountable if there are reasons they can’t translate possible perceptions of the Spirit to an understanding of what is the source of those perceptions for whatever reason save knowingly refusing to do so (the whole denying the sun is shining while looking at it stuff).

I have a very liberal view of actual accountability as I don’t believe anyone in the mortality phase is fully accountable. Full accountability will only come imo after death when we comprehend the implications of the gospel and how we were influenced and the impact our choices had on others. 

Edited by Calm
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3 hours ago, Risingtide said:

Your quote from Lectures On Faith Explain that God’s exercise of faith is elemental to His power. The worlds were created by His faith for example. If that is true then our learning to exercise and navigate life with a reliance on faith is a form of training to develop a more god like nature, becoming more like Him through the practice. This gives me a basis for understanding His exclusion for the most part of sure knowledge on many religious questions. On the other hand, a lot of horrid things have come as a result of religious differences and confusion. 

I don't think so. On the contrary, I think that the teachings on continuing revelation and ongoing learning inherent in "eternal progression" are all about life putting forth more things to learn. Thus, to force confusion and withhold evidence in an unnatural way would be contrary to that process.

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Or it might be the singularly damaging mistake of helicopter parenting, in which hovering robs the child of making his own decisions.  Such children are crippled because the parental thumb on the scale prevents their ever learning from the school of hard knocks.  The road to hell is lined with good intentions.

I'm not sure what this has to do with "withholding naturally available evidence."  Teaching children how so they can learn and do themselves is the opposite of helicopter parenting.

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