Monthly Archives: April 2012

Reclaiming Faith

Faith has become a vacuous word which more closely connotes blind wistfulness than it should.  Somehow Faith has been positioned as the antithesis of Reason in the battle for the modern mind.  And even in the realm of religion it is largely divorced from action and reduced to mere belief.

True Faith is a principle of power and action.  It is the power whereby universes are created, sins remitted, lives changed, innovation actualized, papers published, and all progress realized.  It is more powerful than Reason alone because Reason cannot produce anything but enlightenment without Faith.  But even the philosopher’s journey is a faith-based one.

True Faith is (1) seeing something that may not yet exist anywhere else but in your own mind (2) which is true, and (3) exerting all your energy to see it realized.  These are the essential ingredients of True Faith.  Faith without works is hope.  Believing in something that is false is vain even if you work yourself to the grave to bring it to pass.  And if it is seen or known in some other way, it is not faith but knowledge which does not guarantee actions based on that knowledge.

If faith ceased academia would crumble because research epitomizes acts of faith.  CERN would close its doors.  Even the determinist’s efforts to explore the neuroscience and philosophy behind determinism would necessarily cease.

And the only Faith that can lead us to stand in the presence of God is centered on Jesus Christ.  As Alma in the Book of Mormon put it:

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

~ Alma 5:15, 16, 19

Remember that True Faith must be belief in something unseen but true, and this is true.  So I will envision what Alma suggests and do all things that lie in my power to ensure their fulfillment.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Book of Mormon, Philosophy, Science

Childlike

Ever since I’ve had kids old enough to wail in grocery store checkout lines I’ve been perplexed by the scriptural admonition to be childlike.  The more the scriptures expound the subject the greater the disconnect between my own experiences and the ideal.

Mosiah 3:19 says that we must become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”  I’m a decent father, but my kids probably rate a 20% on the Mosiah scale most of the time.  To be childlike really means Christlike, and the admonition to be childlike is a commandment to emulate The Perfect Son.  But that’s not always clear from the context of some verses that seem to really be talking about children.

Then yesterday my sweet, precious Nora, almost 2, came running to my arms after taking a tumble outside.  She buried her face in my shoulder and wept bitterly for several minutes.  You would have thought her entire world had fractured and the only thing that could fix it was the gentle embrace of a loving parent.  Then it hit me.  In that moment she was perfectly childlike.  Submissive.  Meek.  Humble.  Patient.  Full of Love.

It’s comforting to know that we too can be childlike when we fall, when the sting of sin harrows up our souls and it feels like all is lost, when we are weary and can’t move forward another inch or another day on our own strength, and the only thing that can make it better is to be encircled about in the arms of the Father of Our Salvation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adversity, Book of Mormon

Free Will: Part II

Samuel Johnson wrote that  “all theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it.”  I tend to agree but believe that he overstates the strength of the theory.  Nowadays determinists drape themselves in controlled experiments and neuroscience and make conclusions based on weak but statistically significant results and claim to have proven determinism.  Can you say, “naked emperor?”

These neurological studies draw conclusions that cannot be determined from the study itself.  They measure the effect of thought on the organism not the origination of thought (and by extension choice.)  Look at this picture.  Respond to this question.  We’ll scan your brain and determine that these stimuli triggered activity in this part of the brain which guides moral judgment.  Therefore moral judgement is determined by external stimuli only.

A recent article over at Reason.com discusses several presentations from the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies on moral judgement, free will, and sacred values.  A fair portion of the article discusses the ideas of William Casebeer,  that “holding agents responsible depends on the notion of being in or out of control. Being in control depends on what he calls the functional architecture of a well-ordered psyche.”  The obvious question is ordered by what or whom?  It’s the conundrum of Plato’s Cave: who frees the philosopher?  If the goal of shaping society is a question of developing a citizenry with well-ordered psyche’s, how do the shapers know what it means to be well-ordered?

Leave a comment

Filed under Free Will, Philosophy, Science

Safety in Numbers

If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

~ Anatole France (via Anderson Layman’s blog)

Leave a comment

Filed under Various and Sundry

Theosis

“The only begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

“The difference between us [and God] is indescribably great, but it is one of degree rather than of kind.”

Hugh B. Brown

 

1 Comment

Filed under God and Man

Good Tree, Good Fruit

Funny how the same words can be spoken with opposite meaning depending on intent.  For example, an exasperated father can throw his hands up and say, “what more can I do?” as in, “he’s just so stubborn and will never learn. I want to ring his little neck! What more can I do?”  Or this could be a silent and sincere plea to the Lord for help as in, “Father, I have no more strength. My patience is expired. What can I do now to ensure that my son feels my love for him and Thine. What more can I do?”  The former perspective is self gratifying with an answer implied: nothing!  The latter acknowledges ignorance and hungers for enlightenment.

Try reading the questions below and see if you don’t feel the difference by simply switching perspectives.  Regardless of the answer, when humbly asked, these questions could rend the Heavens and call down inspiration from God or otherwise terminate any possibility of enlightenment:

What more can I do?

What’s so great about Isaiah? or

What can I learn from Isaiah that I can’t learn elsewhere in the scriptures?

Why should I study the Book of Mormon?

Isn’t the Bible sufficient?

Why would we need living prophets?

Isn’t the Holy Ghost enough?

Maybe the answer really is “nothing” or “we don’t” or “it is.”  But there’s only one way to ask where the answer isn’t predetermined.

Leave a comment

Filed under Various and Sundry

The Promised Messiah

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels. And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.(1 Nephi 19:7,9)

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11-12)

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. (Mosiah 3:7)

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19:18-19)

God will provide himself a lamb. (Genesis 22:8)

Your lamb shall be without blemish. (Exodus 12:5)

Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. (Exodus 12:21)

He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. (Isaiah 53:8-9)

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:8)

death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen. (Luke 24:5-6)

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (Luke 24:36)

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands andhis feet. (Luke 24:39-40)

And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zechariah 13:6)

Leave a comment

Filed under Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament, Old Testament