Saturday, October 9, 2010

Charity Believeth All Things: Being Open-Minded

In my New Year's Resolution post last week, I included some thoughts from previous posts in my initial contemplation of the idea that charity believes all things - and I asked for input about how I might take that idea the rest of the month. As I have considered how to organize my thoughts, I have decided to start with two statements by Presidents of the LDS Church (Joseph Smith and Gordon B. Hinckley) and an excerpt from the Book of Mormon.

First, the very last thing Joseph Smith wrote in the 13th Article of Faith was:

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Next, Gordon B. Hinckley said more than once, in echoing another famous statement by Joseph Smith, that Mormonism should encompass all good:

“To anybody who is not of this Church, I say we recognize all of the virtues and the good that you have. Bring it with you and see if we might add to it.” (Ensign, November 1996, p.48. - From a General Conference talk in October 1996)

Finally, the Book of Mormon includes the following wonderful statement and counsel in Moroni 7:13-14:

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

I believe the point of Paul's message that charity believeth all things is encapsulated in these statements - with the caveat that I'm certain he meant believeth all "correct/true/ennobling/virtuous, etc." things. I think that such a qualifier is both obvious and important, so I simply want to mention it in passing here to be explicit.

My main point tonight is the link between "charity" and the ability to "believe all things". The epiphany that hit me hard only now as I was typing and editing that last sentence is that the ability to be truly and fully open-minded is central to the ability to believe all things - since it is impossible to believe anything unless one is willing to consider it first. Likewise, the ability to grant that others might have something that can enlighten us - that we don't know everything and what we do know we don't know fully - is the heart of charity. Thus, the truly charitable are the people who are most likely to be open to being taught by those with whom others reactively disagree - since they are the ones most likely to seek for ways to understand without judgment and reflexive rejection.

I have never considered that perhaps ONLY charity believeth all things, but I really like the way my mind is being led.

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