Friday, February 24, 2012

A Different Way to Define Zion: Unity Despite Differences

To follow-up on my last post

If there must needs be opposition in ALL things, that would include Zion.  How can that be?  

In the third verse of the entire Book of Mormon, in introducing his record, Nephi says:

"And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge."

Jacob follows that later in Jacob 7:26 with:

"wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge"

In Mormon 9:32. Moroni says:

"And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge"

Finally, Mormon sums up his abridgment by describing it in Mormon 8:12 with the phrase:

"the imperfections which are in it"

Every one of these verses relates "truth" directly to what each person "knows" individually. In other words, the "truth" is critical to each and every person, but it also is defined by each and every person according to "the best of (my) knowledge." To say it differently, every one of these passages speaks of "knowledge" through the lens of personal experience - not as some academic, intellectually-defined, universal, "perfect" or absolute standard.

My take away from these verses is simple:

Being absolutely certain that we know universal Truth isn't critical for everyone, is destructive for many and important for others. So be it. I'm in the first category, but that doesn't make me any better or worse automatically than someone in the last category. I also have no right to shatter someone's certainty if that certainty is crucial to their peace of mind and well-being. That's just selfish. However, finding something in which I as an individual can believe as truth "according to my own knowledge" is absolutely critical to my happiness, peace and well-being - and I think that's true for every single person who lives on this earth.

I can't live my life "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine". I need to have something to which I can cling during the storms of my life - something that can provide the safety and security of a kite-string while I let my kite fly anywhere I want to explore. I might not be "absolutely certain" of much on a universal level, but it's vital that there be some foundational things that I personally, for myself, independently can say I "know for myself" - that is "true" for me.

My own conviction is that there is PLENTY of room in the LDS Church for people whose "personal knowledge" varies radically, as long as there is a common desire to understand, progress, journey, grow, search, believe, etc. For me, it's MUCH more about accepting on-going and personal revelation than it is about agreeing on every point of current doctrine. Coming to grips with that paradox (the need for an element of unity within a broad diversity of personal perspective) is what I see as the core definition of "Zion" - people who are very different in many ways overlooking those differences and uniting anyway. I've seen it happen at multiple levels, so "according to my knowledge" I can state it is possible.


Clean Cut said...

I really like this, Papa D. Great post.

Paul said...

Agree with CC, Papa D; this is very nice.

I think if we consider our lives on earth a journey, a trajectory back toward our Heavenly Father, it's a lot easier to accept differences between us. I may be further behind you in some respects and I may be ahead of you in others. The critical question, though, is not where we are, but if we are moving toward home.

As a result, what one considers to be a "key" doctrine may be different than what another sees that way. (In the end, that seems to be where our differences are anyway, aren't they? Most of us are trying to do the right thing; we may just not agree what the next right thing is.)