Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Would We All Fly to Pieces If the Lord Answered Our Questions?

I was discussing the issue of evolution and the Creation in a phone call with my mother the other day. I expressed my desire to have more revealed information about the scientific aspects of the Creation, but she wisely pointed out that it might not wise for the Lord to answer many of our questions right now.

She figures that whatever the truth is, it almost certainly will challenge all of our assumptions, whatever they are, and would try the testimonies of the weak and inflexible while giving critics in and out of the Church one more thing to mock.

If the Lord gave President Hinckley a few clear answers to pressing scientific issues like the age of the earth, the processes used to bring the biosphere to its current state, the role of divine intervention in past genetic change, the details of who Adam was and what the Garden of Eden was, the nature of apparent pre-Adamic humans, the history of the rise of multiple races, and just what species of fruit the forbidden fruit was (could it have been the sensuous avocado? or perhaps the tempting pomegranate?), I think most of us would fly to pieces. We would probably all find something to offend us and make us question the Lord and His servants.

I would love more information, but we may need to have faith and patience until the grand era of the Millennium when the Lord will reveal all these things and many more. As the Lord states in Doctrine and Covenants 101:
32 Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things--
33 Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof--
34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.
35 And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory.
36 Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
37 Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.
38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.
I take it that those things pertaining to how the earth was made will, once revealed, be appreciated as "hidden things which no man knew." I think that means our guesses and speculations in 2005 are still inadequate, even those made by the most learned among us. But let's keep learning as much as we can, understanding that science is forever tentative, and that our assumptions and frameworks for interpreting data and scripture may be based on flawed assumptions that may require later revision. If you think you've got it all figured out, beware!

31 comments:

Jared* said...

I think there is substance to your point.

I like to think that we are already in the process of learning as stated in the scripture you cite. We could list a large number of scientific discoveries that, as far as we can tell, have not been known by man in the past.

Eric Nielson said...

I lood forward to that day. I also wonder what was contained in the sealed portions of the BofM. And what the things that were said that the prophets were told not to write. someday...

Radicalfeministpoet said...

An interesting thought. Just out of curiousity, coming from an outsider, has Hinckley had any revelations at all that he's made public, or has he publicly made any prophesies? He's not exactly in the news much, like the Dalai Lama or the pope, so if he's done anything like that most of us wouldn't have heard about it.

Daylan said...

I somewhat disagree with the premise that we would "fly apart" (at least now as opposed to later). Perhaps later our testimonies will be a bit stronger, but I'm convinced that our agency to "fly apart" will not change - that is if we would fly apart if answers were revealed now, then we will fly apart if answers are revealed later. I don't think anything will magically change us (besides our work and God's grace) to be ready for more information.

ltbugaf said...

Jeff, I think this also has a lot to do with the very capacity of the mortal mind. There's a limit to how much we can learn in our current state of existence.

When the Lord tells us to learn by study and also by faith, I wonder how much our capacity to learn can be increased in this life by the exercise of faith. Elder Maxwell used to talk quite often about seeing things "as they really are." That's a capacity that God has, and that we develop bit by bit as we try to be more like him.

Mormanity said...

Good question, Rad. Much of the work of President Hinckley has been in providing direction to the Church as a world body, building temples, advancing the strength of the Church at local levels, helping members focus on things that really matter, and teaching us how to live in this messef up world. In terms of profound doctrinal issues that have come through his influence, I would offer the "Proclamation on the Family" as a key example. I'll warn you that it contains things that might irritate even the most poetic radical feminist, but I doubt if that's going to be any surprise to you. It's a fascinating document and one that deserves more serious commentary and use by members of the Church, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, that document is 10 years old. Isn't there something new from the Prophet?
I think LDS say that one of the signs of the "true" church is a living Prophet that is the mouth piece of God on earth. Would be nice if we could see a little more of the revelations and prophecies from this living Prophet. Also, as far as I know, a Prophet is not exclusive to one church. But he is the Prophet to the world as there is only one God. So, I would expect to see more than a 10 year old document. What say you?

ltbugaf said...

Although no one should be duped when RFP claims to be asking "out of curiousity," someone who is sincerely curious about what the Prophet has said lately can find pages and pages of his words at www.lds.org.

Radicalfeministpoet said...

I had a look at Jeff’s link. If you take out the peculiarly Mormon doctrines—spirit babies, heavenly parents (was sex all Smith ever thought about?) and so forth, the proclamation that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children” doesn’t sound that revolutionary. Does restating what most everybody thought already really count as prophecy? There’s even enough wiggle room here to allow for gay marriage, group marriage, inter-species marriage, etc: though “marriage between a man and a woman” is said to be “ordained of God”, it doesn’t say that other sorts of marriages aren’t. We know, obviously, that the Mormon leadership has never renounced the doctrine that marriage between marriage between a man and a harem of women has not also been ordained of God, though for the moment God has decided to suspend that arrangement.

If there’s anything prophetic about Hinckley, I suspect it lies not so much in what he says as in what he doesn’t say. There are some who say he’s tried to distance himself from what most people (not just Christians) see as his sect’s more obnoxious doctrines, pointing to his refusal to publicly support Mormon-style deification in that Time interview (“I don’t know that we teach it.”) This despite the fact that one of his predecessors, L Snow, saw fit to express the notion in the form of a chiasm "As man is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” These people believe he’s one of those who want to “mainstream” his church, move closer to traditional Christianity, make the odder doctrines at least optional. But there are others who feel that it’s the old honesty issue again, that he just doesn’t want to own up to real Mormon doctrine. I admit I’m on unfamiliar territory here, as—Mormonism being small potatoes on the global religious scene—Hinckley doesn’t really get much airplay worldwide.

Nevertheless, he doesn’t seem to have made many revelations or prophecies. When was the last real one—was it the 1978 black thing? Have there been any others in between?

And what qualifies something as a prophecy or revelation? Surely not everything he says qualifies. B Young’s Adam-God equation got deep-sixed some time ago, didn’t it? And blood atonement has got short shrift in recent decades. Can Hinckley actually overturn previous doctrines? I mean really overturn, not just wiggle around them, as was done with polygamy and blacks in the Mormon priesthood.

Maybe ltbugaf could provide a more specific link to Hinckley’s pages.

ltbugaf said...

"Maybe ltbugaf could provide a more specific link to Hinckley’s pages."

I'm sure someone who has already told us that it knows everything doesn't need me to do that.

Eric Nielson said...

Boyd K Packers talk at the last General Conference addressed the question about a lack of recent revelation. In answer to the issue he went into a long description of the efforts to provide crossreferences in the LDS scriptures. It made me feel that everything in the church since Joseph Smith has been footnotes, litteraly.

In a way it makes sense that the bulk of doctrinal revelation would come quickly to the first prophet of a dispensation, and that mostly maintanence would follow.

Killed gay people? I made a post on my site where I sort of admitted to being a homophobe, whatever that is. But killing? I don't get it.

Eric Nielson said...

As I think about it, he has given a lot of what I would call counsel regarding pornography, abuse, gambling etc. Not much of a surprise, but that is one of the things prophets often do, call to repentance. Are other religious leaders doing as much to address these issues as a prophet would? These seem quite timely to me.

Also there was a warning about getting our homes in order - financially speaking. This happened a few years ago. Something like this that seems so simple could be very prophetic. Much of the world and perhaps the US in particular could face serious economic problems that we would be unprepared for. With the emergence of China in the world economy and the problems of the US auto industry many members of the church could have difficult times ahead if they are in heavy debt an unprepared. Simple things like what GBH has been preaching may be much more timely and prophetic than many of us give him credit for.

Mike Parker said...

"For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." (Acts 17:21.)

The way of the world is never changing.

The role of a prophet is more of a forthteller (one who speaks forth boldly concerning righteousness) than a foreteller.

But I suspect that if President Hinckley was issuing dramatic new revelations every week, RFP wouldn't accept them anyway.

ltbugaf said...

Interestingly, RFP asks us to believe that although its own gargantuan intellect vastly outweighs the combined brainpower of all Mormons on earth, it still needs help from a mindless Mormon sheep such as myself to perform a simple search on a web site.

In addition, RFP also professes to have an interest in what President Hinckley says. Why? RFP has already informed us that (1) any testimony that includes a supernatural or divine event is not to be believed and (2) the process of seeking answers to prayer is "not even worthy of consideration." But President Hinckley's words are based both on claims of supernatural events (guidance by the Holy Spirit) and claims of answers to prayer. Why, then does this Everest of intellect take any interest at all in President Hinckley's statements?

ltbugaf said...

It also ought to be noted that RFP began its rantings on this thread with another lie--this time about its motives in asking. That might give us reason to question the validity of its sermons on honesty.

Bookslinger said...

I think I finally figured it out:

Lt. B.U.G. of the Air Force. Close?

Shawn said...

Howdy Jeff,

Ignoring RFP's insidious posts, I think the Perpetual Education Fund is a program that will be tied to reflections of Hinkley's Presidency as much (if not more) than the amount of temple construction. As the PEF grows, it has the ability to positively change future generations in communities that need help the most.

Along the same lines, I can't remember a General Conference during the past five years, where the First Presidency hasn't strongly warned against pornography in all its forms (esp Internet-based).

Regarding your original post, I've thought about that often... and it always returns to the poor saps (those who did not believe) who didn't catch on when Jesus walked the earth. The parable of the 10 lepers illustrates how quickly people incorporate amazing things into "their" reality (only one returned to thank Jesus). Once a person's frame of reference encapsulates miracles as just part of life, the value in the miracles (or answers as it relates to the post) seemed to fade.

Might be why so many people worship the lottery. :) That 1 in 53,000,000 sure generates a lot of believers!

Anonymous said...

I'm stilll waiting to hear what the Lord has revealed to this Living Prophet. Some proclamation about the importance of the family seems kinda redundant. Yes, the family is important. Can we please hear what the Lord has told you for us now? Porn is bad. OK, great. Still waiting to hear what the Lord said though.
tick tock tick tock

Shawn said...

tick tock, eh? You wouldn't have a smile like a crocodile, eh? :)

I mentioned the PEF. If you're not interested in that, I'm too lazy to aid you in your attempted thread jacking. You could always go read or listen or watch past general conferences at lds.org while your passing the time tick-tocking on this blog.

Anyway, Jeff... one additional thought; open "questions" may predicate a fruitful lay ministry. Meaning only "the serious" need apply. :) Faith has to step in where unanswered question lie. I'm amazed at all of the service work that is accomplished by leaders in our stake. They're not slackers, either. Doctors, lawyers, working and stay-at-home moms, military leaders, firefighters, educators... somehow they find time out of their busy schedules to engage their faith. Maybe the leap that is required in having "faith" is also the same mechanism required to encourage a strong lay ministry.

ltbugaf said...

Bookslinger: Guilty as charged, although technically it's now captain.

ltbugaf said...

Actually, you don't quite have the "B.U.G." part right, but I can't give it all away, now can I?

Mormanity said...

The PEF is an outstanding example of prophetic leadership. It was a very powerful moment to me when President Hinckley explained it and shared the vision of what it could do. And it's a vision that is becoming reality.

Anonymous said...

The PEF, that's it? That is all the mouth piece of God can come up with? Oh man, our little planted is doomed if that is all we get.

Eric Nielson said...

Anonymous:

Might I ask a question? What doctrinal question do you have that is vital to salvation that has not been addressed by a modern day prophet of the LDS church?

Mormanity said...

Anon @ 5:34 (RFP, I presume?), that's a rather nonconstructive comment. Critics can say that in response to every word that has ever proceeded out of the mouth of a prophet - or poet. I'm sure none of them ever have or will meet your expectations. Is there any conceivable message that an alleged prophet could give that you would not snicker at?

I'm sure that almost anything ouot of the ordinary that a prophet could say can be mocked as silly and ridiculous, right up to the time when the once laughable becomes entirely reasonable, at which time one can then snicker about how obvious it was all the time.

I remain puzzled about why you care to hang out here to tell us po' Mo's how backward we are. Wish I understood you and your background a little more. But you're still welcome.

Kcowolf said...

While I might be a tad late and a tad far down the line to have a post noticed by anyone, I'd like to put in my two cents here. I've wondered some about why it doesn't seem like "new doctrines" are being revealed more quickly to the Church through God's prophet. However, I've never been bothered by it. I can state that the last public revelation wasn't 1978 or 1995. We've seen several things in more recent years that can be traced to revelation: the PEF program (already mentioned) and Preach My Gospel (the new Church missionary manual) are examples of this. Missioanry calls are examples of modern revelation; I can personally attest that my assignment to Brazil was at the time and in the place God wanted me to be.

One of my impressions is that we need to look more closely at what President Hinckley and our other Church leaders tell us during Conference time. Sometimes it seems like all they cover is the basics. Perhaps it's because we haven't fully grasped them yet. I know that at each conference I find things that I need to improve on, and I'm sure many other people can say the same.

Other times their messages (while not containing specific prophecies of impending doom or destruction) ARE warnings given by God to us. Case in point, I don't know how big gambling on TV was before I came back from Brazil, but President Hinckley gave a talk about it in October 2004, and when I came back I could easily see that it was (and is) becoming a steadily increasing problem in society. President Hinckley's talk was perhaps nothing new (he even cited other Church leaders who had spoken against gambling in the past), but his talk can be seen as a fresh warning that it is becoming a problem and that Church members need to be clearly taught what God has said concerning it.

To the casual observer, messages from Church leaders may seem like nothing more than social commentaries or restatements of what has already been said. Jesus Christ's parables were nothing more than simple stories to those who put forth no effort to grasp their deeper meaning. In some ways, what Jesus Christ taught was new, but in other ways, it was simply telling the people what they had already known but weren't doing.

In short, to try to judge President Hinckley or any other modern prophet by the revelations we think they should receive is to judge God by our standards. A true prophet can be known by his fruits, and we've seen the fruits of the work of President Hinckley and the other prophets of the Church, but we have to judge by the fruits they bring forth rather than the fruits we think they should bring forth. The best way to know if Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God or not is to follow the same method described in James 1:5, Moroni 10:3-5, and the last two paragraphs of the Introduction of the Book of Mormon. In short, ask God if these things are true, with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ.

ltbugaf said...

The flippant summary of the Proclamation on the Family offered by Anonymous at 11:34, "Yes, the family is important," hardly scratches the surface of the Proclamation's content. However, I suspect Anon is not interested in the content it requests, but merely in sneering at whatever the Prophet says.

Anon asks for "what the Lord has told [the Prophet] for us now," but to each item of what the Lord has told him for us now (about the family, about pornography, about the Perpetual Education Fund, etc. etc.), Anon snorts a contemptuous dismissal, pretends its request hasn't been fulfilled, and asks the same question again.

If you don't want what the Lord has said, why keep asking for more of it? I can't help being reminded of the taunts of the soldiers who handled Christ before his crucifixion.

Anonymous said...

I love that excuse, Wow, I sure am glad there is no proof of a supreme being guiding this lonely world. I would just blow up if he exposed too much of how this world was 'created'. I just couldn't handle it. Great excuse to keep people ignorant. Either that, or maybe there is no great conspiracy by the Gods and there really isn't any. Something for you not to think about and ponder. ohh my head!

ltbugaf said...

I'm trying hard, but I just can't make much sense of that last comment. Somehow the idea that we aren't yet ready to know everything is an excuse for something? Somewhere in there seems to be the idea that all belief in anything that requires faith is just a big conspiracy to make money for religious leaders? (Would that list include the ones who sacrificed their own lives, as Joseph Smith did?)

I guess if Anonymous wants, he/she can try again. In the meantime, Merry Christmas.

Mormanity said...

Spiritual matters aren't going to cut it with anon. I think what is desired is something more practical, something like this: "XYZ stock, now at 25 per share, should hit 50 by the end of next year. Buy buy buy!" Perhaps anon is looking for a prophet like Jim Cramer, but more accurate.

ambarwarrior said...

I am responding to the question of new revelation by Gordon B. Hinckley. I agree that getting our homes in order, made before the current hike in gas prices and 9/11, Katrina,etc was definately a prophetic warning. I also believe that the prophet's challenge for everyone to read the Book of Mormon is also a warning and a test, kind of like when Moses raised the staff so that the Israelites could avoid the snake bite. Those questioning Hinckley because he didn't exactly make a prophecy straight out (like on 9/11/2001 planes are going to hit the World Trade Center towers) do not understand the role of a prophet. How is everyone doing on their Book of Mormon reading?