Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Truth Ever-Changing

I define “inspiration” as a deeper insight gained through the working of the Spirit than that which one was able to comprehend previously - or is able to comprehend on her own. A classic definition: “a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul”

Neither of these definitions addresses truth or error in any way. If an ancient prophet came to a greater understanding than an earlier prophet, but the “new” understanding still was not the full truth, then such an insight would fit both definitions of “inspiration” - even though, from an absolute truth standard, the new understanding still could be seen as “error”.

Frankly, I don’t think we understand very many, if any, things fully (as God understands them); therefore, we believe things to be “true” (as true as we possibly can conceive), but we also believe that God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Some of those revelations probably will change how we see things now, but I still believe our current understanding of them is inspired - and even "true" for us, in most cases.


Unknown said...

Your thoughts remind me of a quote by Joseph Smith made famous by Nibley: "I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief."

Obviously it isn't knowledge of facts that exalts or damns us, rather interpersonal knowledge. The difference is between sapere and conoscere. The type of knowledge about God we get from prophets is much more in line with the knowledge of deity's interpersonal attributes (those things that would produce confidence in a faithful relationship with God) and the way that God relates to humans. Other types of knowledge are quite tentative.

Anonymous said...

I like this post. It makes me think of the following scriptures that describe how 1. The Lord Reveals to us 2. How we learn. 3. The definition of Truth

1. "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are htose who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more: and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." (2 Nephi 28:30. - This scripture describes the way God reveals and simultaneously - the way that we learn. If God were to reveal the "whole" truth to us, I'm not sure that we could understand it.

2. "And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come." D&C 93:24. I just love this definition of truth - as it defines exactly what you described - truth is not just what we know now -it is what God knows, and what he has, does, and will reveal to us.

Thanks for the insightful post.

Anonymous said...

What lovely souls you all are and balm to my troubled spirit-so often I have tried to puzzle these things out alone but never had a forum in which I could discuss them without offending others or fearing that i might weaken their testimony or mine.It's so much more wonderful to me that we are on a journey here together than to think that we have ,or should have , good to have travelling companions.

Papa D said...

Kent, I love that quote. I think sometimes Joseph was too willing to "believe too much" - but I wouldn't change that for anything. I'd rather have a visionary prophet who was willing to risk being wrong as the founder of my religion than a timid, creed-restricted theologian. The clean-up can be a bit messy, but the expansion of perspective and eternal possibilities is enthralling for me. Again, I wouldn't change Joseph for anything.

choc, great scriptural examples. I especially like the following statement:

"If God were to reveal the "whole" truth to us, I'm not sure that we could understand it."

I agree with that completely, and I wish we were more willing to be content with the "not-knowing" aspect of faith and not feel like we need to "know" everything. Everything I "know" is subject to change as I "know" more and understand better.

Anonymous, I am so glad we can function in a way that helps you - more than I can say.