Sunday, February 8, 2015

In search of truth about Mormons

I've been having a few conversations with people about their choices of staying or leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, LDS, or Mormon Church. I'll just call this "the Church" for brevity and not wanting to experience carpal tunnel. I have learned quite a bit about them, and a bit about me.

I know this isn't really a religious blog. But the topic came up and is something that I think about often and have deep feelings about. And to sum up why this fits, here is a quote that I heard in college and has resonated with me ever since. "I believe in Mormonism, like I believe the sun has risen. Not because I see it. But because by it I see."

To put that in more verbose words that aren't nearly as poetic. I don't just believe in the Church because I have attended, felt the spirit, gained a testimony through the holy spirit's witness, and witnessed confirmations aplenty. Not just that. But I believe in the Church because I live in a crazy chaotic world that would fill one with despair if not for the perspective of eternity that the Church offers me.

All of my friends that I have been talking to recently, who have left the Church, are making the claim that they have discovered that the Church isn't true, or isn't really Christ's Church because of something they have learned. Basically, they once believed, but after study, and reasoning, they have determined that that belief was an error and their faith was misplaced.

I find this interesting. First, I didn't acqure faith, and a testimony and knowledge of the gospel by simply study and reason. I did study. I did reason. But my faith isn't based on earthly evidence. Its based on the confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

To use their method of reasoning we are building this logical construction.

  1. The Holy Spirit testified of the Church.
  2. Reason and logic tell me the Church is not correct.
  3. Therefore the Holy Spirit must have lied to me.

  1. I felt the Holy Spirit testify of the truth of the Church.
  2. Reason and logic tell me the Church is not correct.
  3. Therefore I didn't really feel the Holy Spirit
  4. And I will never be able to find the truth because I don't know how to recognize it.

I could go on, but they all boil down to the Holy Spirit either lying, not caring, or being much less than it is described to be. But this doesn't seem to faze my friends. And one said to me when I was asking them about feeling the spirit when reading the Book of Mormon and praying. 

She said that she had felt the spirit when reading and praying, but that we shouldn't rely on that good feeling when we have questions about Church history or doctrine that we can't answer. Or where the answers aren't satisfying our curiosity. 

Interestingly there is a place in the Bible where Christ deals with this exact issue. After Christ was crucified and rose from the tomb, he visited the twelve. But there was one named Thomas that was not with them when he came to them. In John 20:25-29 there is an account of what happened next.

But I can imagine the conversation before Christ appeared to Thomas. He would have told Peter that what they were saying wasn't reasonable. It didn't make sense. There was no compelling evidence. The Jewish leaders said the body had been stolen, and that was so much more likely. There was a complexity penalty to the logic of a resurrected savior.  The good feeling they had believing this was nice, but they needed to look at the facts and the evidence. 

I'm sure all of these arguments were made, and I know they have been made down through the ages about Christ. I feel proud to be apart of a Church that is receiving these now. 

But in Verse 29 Christ tells Thomas, "Because thou hast seen me, thou has believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

This is a special message from Christ to all of us living today. We are truly blessed when we acquire faith in him without needing to touch and see him. 

Unfortunately when I try to make this comparison, my friends seem to think I was telling them to stop thinking and become mindless drones. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I am trying to encourage is an examination of where they have chosen to look to the acquisition of knowledge.  

Most of us have all our senses. We can see, feel, touch, taste, and smell. But those are not all of our senses. We can also love, and hate. We can also wonder, and feel pride. We can be scared and feel fear. And we can feel brave or protective. 

When you feel like dancing or singing, what sense are you feeling that with? Just because you ignore it and don't dance down the grocery isle does not mean that you didn't, actually, feel it. 

I feel with the Holy Spirit. Its like a sense in every sense of the word. Just like seeing and touching. No, it doesn't mean that I can shut my eyes and let the Holy Spirit guide me to the door without hitting walls or tripping over my kids shoes. (But then with my eyes open I trip on their shoes too, so...)

The Holy Spirit's mission is to testify of truth. And having this truth detector means that I sometimes make choices that I can't explain all of the reasons for. I can give reasons, but sometimes the real reason was that I felt like it was the right or wrong thing and do did or didn't do it. 

When I read the Book of Mormon, I feel the spirit. When I pray, I feel the spirit. When I go to Church, I feel the spirit. And all of these feelings are that these are good and righteous things that are pleasing to Christ. 

So in the end. If the Mormon Church asked me to wear funny hats all the time, or never shave my beard, or give a portion of my money to the Church, or abstain from certain foods, or media, or offer prayers multiple times a day, or visit the poor, or leave my home and occupation for a couple of years to preach the gospel, or speak and act in specific ways. (It does ask some of these things by the way. But not all. We can talk about that if you like in the comments.)

If the Mormon Church asks me to do or not do something. I accept it. Not because I am a drone, but because I get a confirming feeling that it is the right thing. A good thing. And I try to do them as best I can because I like that feeling. 

I like the feeling the Holy Spirit gives me. It tells me the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a true church that is pleasing unto God. And next to that, confusing words of men and discrepancies in 100 year old records or fads in this years fashion of morality don't really matter.