Saturday, October 16, 2010

Charity Believeth All Things: The 9th and 13th Articles of Faith

As I have continued to consider what Paul might have meant when he said that "charity believeth all things", I have found myself focusing this week on the 9th and 13th Articles of Faith. They apply differently to this idea, but I believe each application has merit and insight - so I want to address both of them in this post.

First, the 9th Article of Faith:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

What I take from this statement is that we believe whatever God reveals, whenever He reveals it - and, in conjunction with my post last week about being open-minded, no matter the source to whom He reveals it. This implies that charity includes a willingness to set aside all natural arrogance and accept the idea that God can and will speak to ANY of His children - and then believe what He has said, no matter if it comes to "our own" in the past ("has revealed"), in the present ("does now reveal") and in the future ("will yet reveal") or to "others" at any of those times.

This is a part of charity specifically because it blunts the natural arrogance that assumes God chose, chooses and will choose a particular people to be the exclusive beneficiaries of His word - which almost always (if not always) includes the accompanying assumption of higher worth, worthiness or inherent value. This is not a conclusion that applies only to those who do NOT accept on-going revelation and living prophets. It also applies to those who DO accept the general premise of past, present and future revelation - if they ascribe a lack of revelation or worthiness to those outside "their own", generally. (That is perhaps the most pernicious effect of many of the justifications for the Priesthood ban, for example - the fact that some members used worthiness as a reason for the ban and, thus, were not truly charitable toward those who were not able to be ordained and endowed for that season.)

Next, the 13th Article of Faith begins with the following:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.

This listing of things we believe focuses on godly characteristics and actions, rather than philosophical, intellectual or doctrinal concepts or ideologies. It also is not focused on understanding these characteristics, but, rather, it is focused on internalizing and living them - becoming or being them. Again, with the fundamental caveat that I believe we are talking about all good things, this seems to emphasize that truly believing something includes a commitment to act - rather than simply understand intellectually. Much like "faith without works is dead, being alone", belief without becoming / being is dead.

Thus, charity believing all things might have specific reference to believing in striving to become Christlike (believing all things that He taught, including the need to become like Him) - and the attendant acceptance of both faith AND repentance.

1 comment:

Charleen said...

This opened a whole new way for me to look at charity. Our talks in church today were about charity and one of the individuals said, "The way we treat others tell us how well we are coming onto Christ." I'm sure they gave a reference to one of the apostle's conference talks but I missed it.
I am glad I read this and last week's blog yesterday and then went back and reread it again.