Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eyes of Faith

A recent news article talks about a number of members of the LDS church who have recently lost faith in the gospel (abc news article).  Some of them no longer believe in the existence of God.

It's incredible how there is a counter view, and an alternate explanation for everything related to faith.  No matter what the issue is, whether it's scripture, the restoration, doctrine, religion, God, war, earthquakes, or disease epidemics.  Anything can be explained away with science, psychology, social science, some arm of the flesh tool, or chalked up to a "creation of the mind" or mere coincidence involving chance and statistics.  I had to admit that some atheist claims about about God being a creation of the mind has some merit.  The God described by them does often sound like a mental creation.  So in a way they are right. But the claim of faith is that there is a true and living God, even if people do create a mental God, and then disbelieve in it.            

There is always an alternative to faith.  There is doubt and skepticism on the one hand, and faith on the other.  And you have to choose.  Sometimes every day.  Of those who travel the road of doubt and disbelief, none of them have what I desire.  They may have great worldly respect and power, but that doesn't last.  The folks in scripture do have what I desire, and so I accept and seek to gain the view and experiences that scripture authors have.  Interestingly sometimes people critical of me, actually help me leave stuff behind that I agree is a social construction, a creation of the mind, or a tradition not based on truth.  I think the truth holds up under close inspection.  President J. Reuben Clark taught: "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed" (Quinn, The Church Years, p 24.)

Pretty much any event can be explained away as anything and everything BUT God's hand.  Isaiah would describe world events and trends very differently than USA Today does.  Miracles can be brushed off as coincidence.  People can claim their own efforts achieved results (Deut. 8:17(Judg. 7:2).  A much needed gift showing up on the porch could be "other people's kindness" and not God.  Even Angels visits do not remove skepticism or alter the view for those who are not ready to view things in the proper light (IE the angel that stopped Lamen and Lemuel from beating up Nephi).

The adversary provides us and our minds with alternate, and skeptical explanations for everything.  But if we want to develop faith, and I think almost all of us do, we need to stop viewing life that way.  Especially your life.  It's easy with stories like David and Goliath for example.  We know who won, and we've heard the story from the point of view of a bible author for years. But it can be a bit harder to do this with events in 2012 and your own life.  But we have to, even if it starts on a small and humble scale.  It's our eye of faith that must develop, it's ours that will help us and bring us joy, not that of someone else.  

Joseph taught that "when you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation."

Relating that to our eyes of faith, one rung on this ladder is, without a doubt, leaving behind the view that God is distant, disconnected, and uninvolved in our personal lives.  And instead start seeing or at least being open to a very different view.  The scriptures teach that God is incredibly involved.  Even involved in the most wicked of times, people and places.  By descending below all things He is able to be in and through all things (D&C 88:41).  Even if someone denies it, rejects it, and insists on being oblivious to it, the true and living God is present in each life.  And God is Good (Ether 4:12).  Not seeing God's hand in life is probably a big part, if not the central part of the blindness we are supposed to overcome. You can't really remain blind, and develop an eye of faith at the same time.

Explaining away events is typically not a good idea.  D&C teaches that in nothing doth man offend God but those who acknowledge not his hand in all things... (D&C 59:21).   If repentance is what God continually asks of us, this seems like a good place to give adequate attention since it's one of the two things mentioned that offend Him.  I think embedded in that scripture is that God wants so very much to be involved personally, and with mankind. I for one, don't want to offend. I think we can all probably sense to some degree why it would be offensive to our creator when we brush off the degree of His involvement, or fail to see it.

Having eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a mind to understand are frequently mentioned in scripture. These are great qualities no business will give a raise for, and they are not part of the temple recommend interview. You can't really measure them and there is no blood test at the doctors office to analyze it. But heaven notices. And when we correspondingly notice heaven, what a beautiful thing the mutual recognition is.

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