Friday, April 15, 2011

Accepting Differing Levels of "Faith" and "Knowledge" in the Church

Perhaps those who "reject" a religion's truth-claims should withdraw; perhaps not. I tend to believe there are reasons for many to remain affiliated with a religion (in this case, the LDS Church) even if they can't embrace the truth claims. Those reasons might include things as simple as, "It's the best I know, even if I don't believe it's exclusively true," and as complex as, "My wife (or husband) and kids are happy in it, they embrace it, and I am willing to participate as a non-believing member of record in order to maximize their peace and happiness."

What really concerns me is any exclusion of those who believe truth-claims are "unknowable" - since I believe they actually ARE unknowable to many.

Our own scriptures say that some are given the gift "to know", while others are given the gift "to believe" those who know. I think there is great selfless service that can be provided by those who either believe those who know or even don't believe those who believe or know - if they stay in the Church. I have NO problem whatsoever with members who reject exclusive truth claims retaining their membership, as long as they don't fight the Church. I have no problem with those who think things are unknowable staying the Church - with no disclaimers whatsoever. I think they belong in the Church every bit as much as someone who feels they know everything - or even as someone who actually might know everything.

Fighting the Church is one thing; simply not accepting certain claims is quite another. Simply saying certain things can't be known is at a completely different level. Personally, I would hope that NOBODY whose only "issue" is an inability to accept truth-claims or feel they are knowable would face excommunication over it or be encouraged to leave. I would feel a deep sense of loss and injustice if that were to happen.

To say it differently, I don't think accepting all truth-claims (especially the exclusive ones) even is a requirement of worthy temple attendance (or even ward or stake leadership), much less regular membership. I know a highly visible member of leadership in a stake where I have lived who doesn't like the "only true church" phrase because of how it can be and is interpreted by many - inside and outside the Church. I understand his concern, and I share it to a degree. He is a faithful member, with a truly miraculous conversion story, and to think that he should give up his membership simply because he can't accept that particular "truth claim" is abhorrent to me.


Anonymous said...

What about less active members who don't want to have anything to do with the church but stop short of having their records expunged?

Papa D said...

That's their choice and should be respected.

Nadi said...

Some missionaries knocked on my inactive sister's door a few months ago. She told them that she was already a member, and respected her family's beliefs, but didn't want anyone trying to reactivate her. The missionary was so frustrated that she offered to get my sister's record expunged. My sister rejected this idea though (and got the missionaries in trouble with my dad, who was a ward mission leader).

She claims it was because she didn't want to have conflict with my dad, but it's really because she still has a shred of faith. It will already be a difficult process for her to come back to church. She doesn't need any more separation between herself and the church.