Friday, February 12, 2010

Killing Faith

I have no idea whatsoever if I chose my beliefs or how much control I have over my choices now. I believe I can choose, because I don’t like the alternative - and because I personally feel like I am choosing. What I feel most strongly is that I have made a conscious choice about HOW I reach conclusions - that I sit down, weigh my options, analyze what has brought me joy and decide to make decisions that will enhance and build on that joy. Perhaps that isn’t really a conscious choice; perhaps it simply is part of my inherited, genetic make-up. I don’t worry much about it, since it feels like conscious choice to me.

Having said that, I also believe that one of the greatest fallacies believed and taught by too many members (not by the Church or in the doctrine) is that all people experience the Spirit and construct belief in the same way. We tend to extrapolate the “burning in the bosom and stupor of thought” that was one person’s way of getting spiritual answers to all - which excludes me, since I don’t feel most of my impressions and answers that way. We tend to mis-read Moroni 10:3-5 and assume that ALL investigators and members who read and pray about the Book of Mormon will “know” (generally through a burning in the bosom) that it is true - which excludes many who have a desire to believe and would be wonderful members of the Church but who never join because we tell them they can and should “know” in the same way we know. When we insist that everyone can know, and that they should know, we literally are killing faith.

I understand the tendency to want to see clearly, in black and white. I just don’t like it, because it excludes many people and puts unrealistic expectations on many other people - people who could find great joy and add great worth to the Church without those expectations.

My own summary: Who cares “how” someone comes to believe and/or accept and/or follow? It doesn't matter to me if someone can say, “I know” - or just “I believe” - or just “I want to believe; strengthen my unbelief.” I believe it’s much more complicated for myself than I personally understand, so as long as someone is willing to worship with me, I don’t worry how they got there. I just care that they got there. I’ll let the Lord sort out how much control we all have over our choices, believing that such a determination will be merciful in the end.


Andrew S said...

Good post! (Ok, this sounds totally spammish, not saying much more than that).

ellen said...

excellent point. one of the spiritual gifts is to believe in the belief of others. it sounds a bit remote or second hand, but it's on the spectrum!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post,Ray,and strengthens my determination to treat others with respect.Determination that can be tried on a Sunday.

Sometimes I think we have to be willing to suspend our disbelief.Since I'm prepared to do that in a theatre,I feel I should be prepared to give God the benefit of the doubt.

Andrew S said...

Anonymous...I am not Ray and don't come here to this site very frequently...but the final part of your comment confuses me.

When we are watching a play or movie, we hope that the actors and acteresses are performing so well that suspending disbelief is not problematic. If the performers fail to do this, we don't generally give them the benefit of the doubt -- instead, we review the performance poorly and maybe even share our thoughts with our friends.

Regardless, the focus is a bit different. The reason we have to suspend disbelief with theatre in the first place is because the performers are professional *liars* -- their task is to move us emotionally with *false* personas.

Let's contrast. In accounting, we are tasked to be professionally skeptical. We want information that is materially fair. The transparency of financial information is crucial, so if someone in the process is in disbelief, instead of suspending disbelief they should seek assurance -- in the form of an audit or something like that.

Is God a professional deceiver, or is he materially fair and transparent. Or something else? Or what?