A not-so-strange custom.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
It’s foolish to think that what is, always was, and ever will be. We don’t expect this anywhere in our lives, so why suppose it’s true when talking about Revelation from God to Man? The scriptures teach that God reveals His word line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little (Isaiah 28:10) and that we are to have milk before meat (I Corinthians 3:2). To the saints in Corinth Paul explains that this is because “ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” At what point in the 50 odd years after Paul’s epistle did people become so enlightened that there was no longer a need for revelation, or that all mysteries had then been expounded?
Joseph Smith taught:
It is the constitutional disposition of mankind to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of The Almighty… Why be so certain that you comprehend the things of God, when all things with you are so uncertain?
– Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 320
We Mormons get into trouble for believing that God is not silent, that Heaven as well as our Canon are open. A radical proposition to be sure, but one that seems perfectly reasonable. The Bible is the beginning of Wisdom but not its end. I do not believe that everything there is to know about the Kingdom of Heaven and the destiny of God’s children is inexhaustibly contained in its pages. In short, I choose not to set bounds on the works and ways of the Almighty.
A while back I read an article about how a correct understanding of neo-Darwinism necessarily leads to atheism. The crux of the argument was that if God is all-powerful and created the world in a designed, intelligent way, why is evolution so chaotic, full of dead ends and redundancies. Why didn’t God will a perfect world into existence? The disdain of the authors (and their logical conclusion) suggests that if the world evolved in a chaotic, random, and seemingly unintelligent way, that either God did not create the world or He is not all-powerful. God is all-powerful by definition, therefore He did not create the world.
If they were sincerely trying to understand God’s nature, the authors were asking the wrong question. They ask the question that helps them win favor among enlightened elites and land their article in The Economist, but it is not the question that would lead to understanding about God’s dealings with His children.
Their approach is fine if you want to slay a straw man with a clever turn of logic. But if we really want to learn about God’s dealings with His children, we should start by asking: Given that God created the world, why does the evidence (biological and archaeological) suggest chaos or incoherence?
There are myriad examples of perfectly wonderful outcomes that were reached through chaotic processes, many of which we understand through revelation and scripture were influenced by God. Our own lives develop in non-linear ways, full of dead ends, detours, loss, Providential breakthroughs, innovations and unanticipated directional shifts. But for the humble follower of Christ it will lead to a perfect end. And think about the establishment of the early Church by the Apostles, the redemption of the children of Israel from Egypt and the advent of the Law of Moses, or the framing of the United States Constitution. Good outcomes from chaotic processes is the norm, not the exception.
There’s even scriptural evidence to suggest that if the opposite were true, if perfection and completeness were the startling place, then chaos would be the result. That’s what we see in Genesis ch. 2-3 with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
What is truly remarkable is that God can create a world, fulfill His purposes, establish His Church, guide His children’s lives, build nations, all without infringing upon our inviolate free will. That is certainly more difficult than willing a perfect world into existence. It also provides a mechanism whereby we may learn and grow. So what others have offered as evidence of God’s impotence or irrelevance turns out to be a rather clear instance of His omnipotence.