Dear Reader,

A Latter-day Saint who believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are authorized of God doesn’t necessarily accept whatever the church puts forth as “gospel.” On the contrary, anyone who wants a better church tomorrow really ought to speak up today. We aren’t potted plants. Let's face it: Theological malarkey will continue to thrive in the church if members say “amen” to it all.

That is the main reason this site exists.

It also exists because I want to encourage wavering Latter-day Saints not to leave the Lord's restored church merely because of its flaws and the errors of its leaders.

Each article is listed below with a title, short synopsis and a link. They were written by Steve Warren (bio below). Articles by others may be added.

Keep the faith.

Steve Warren
West Valley City, Utah

“God is actually trying to create a much more profound relationship with us. We can only do that if we are actually wrestling with issues at hand.”
--Fiona Givens

Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth.

Steve Warren was raised in Heppner, Oregon, and has lived in Utah for 44 years. He attended Ricks College for two years, served a mission to Colombia and Venezuela, and graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in communications. He and his wife, JaNiece, have two sons and a daughter. He wrote and published Drat! Mythed Again, Second Thoughts on Utah in 1986 and was a copy editor at the Deseret News from 1988-2008. He wrote and printed 100 copies of a novel, Beyond the Finish Line, but has yet to find a real publisher. (2018)
Knowing, believing, seeing Insights into our borderline dysfunctional LDS relationship with the word “know.”

Pathway to heaven The Scriptures show one sure way to return to God’s presence: possess a heart that pleases him.

Obedience gone awry Strictly following the prophet is an excellent idea—at least as long as he’s right.

Falling short, staying put Living prophets constantly err, but that’s not a good reason to leave the Lord’s church.

What in the world? Certain strange features of the Book of Mormon add to its credibility.

Some kind of miracle Fiction. An invitation to speak in sacrament meeting begins a Utah couple’s wild ride.

The cross = victory The cross is a worthy, positive symbol because it reminds us that it is the dying Christ who saves us.

Pilate tried Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus; Pontius Pilate sought to set him free, so let’s give the man a break.

Father, Father, Father Why do we repeat the name of Deity so often in prayers these days?

Witnesses Multiple witnesses provide a compelling reason for anyone to ponder the claims of Mormonism.

Who is God? The Book of Mormon and other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ is God and that Heavenly Father is God the Father.

In the beginning If we didn't allow speculation and guesswork in lessons on the Creation and Adam and Eve, classes would be really short.

Short takes Brief quotes, comments and reflections on a variety of gospel topics.
A few heresies... that would make for a more interesting sacrament meeting.
Oopsy-daisy 40 foul-ups by top LDS authorities.
Appreciating Christ

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Knowing, believing, seeing

We Latter-day Saints have developed a relationship with the word “know” that is borderline dysfunctional.

Young LDS children quickly learn that saying “I know the church is true” elicits a favorable response from their elders.  This often occurs before they have learned the name of the church or the meaning of true.

Children eventually notice that active youths and adults prefer the certainty of “I know” in testimony settings to “I believe.”  “I believe” sounds like I'm not quite sure whereas “I know” feels like the Holy Spirit has spoken.  Let’s face it, no one ever gets up in testimony meeting and says, “I have a hunch that the church is true.”

In LDS meetings, shedding of tears or displaying strong emotions are often viewed as evidence that the Spirit must be present.  From there, it is but a small step to conclude that “the Spirit has borne witness to me; therefore, I know.”  However, as Elder Howard W. Hunter has noted, “strong emotion or free-flowing tears . . . ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself.” Sometimes, the presence of the Spirit is accompanied by “total silence,” Elder Hunter said. 

A significant proportion of “I knowers” serve missions.  However, an interesting thing happens to some of them during and after missions—they confess that “I didn’t really know the church was true until my mission.”

Another change occurs as the years pass.  Although 100 percent of new members are active at least for a short time before and after they are baptized, the overall activity level in the church is around 40 percent in the United States and about 25 percent elsewhere.  (Full tithe paying, sometimes viewed as a better measure of commitment, is somewhat lower.)  Of the majority who drift into inactivity, many were once “knowers” who have become less knowing—or even doubtful.  A few even question the existence of God.

How does one go from being a “knower” to doubting the existence of God?

Could it be that observing how some “knowers” behave is enough to turn anyone into a doubter? 

A better answer might be that many are content to remain Moroni 10:4 Saints. They felt the Spirit after following Moroni’s counsel to ask “if these things are not true” but haven’t laid a deeper foundation for their faith by studying and pondering and questioning.  Perhaps they feel that serving in callings and enjoying fellowship in the church, along with shedding tears and experiencing strong emotions occasionally, provides all the spiritual roots that they need.  They may sense little need to search knowledge or examine difficult questions.  In fact, they may believe that  questioning indicates a lack of faith and lack of confidence in the Brethren.  Then, when the trial of faith comes, they go wobbly and, ere long, find themselves among the less-active majority.

Another answer may be that many knowers weren't really knowers at all; they were simply strong believers who failed to  grasp how hard it is to know anythingespecially for mortals.  Yesterday's facts often become tomorrow's nonsense. 

Social pressure in the church to declare “I know” is hard to resist, especially for young people in certain testimony settings where everyone is expected to participate.  I should not, for example, have asserted on my mission that I knew it was the will of God that blacks not have the priesthood in this life.  Similarly, those of us who once stood up and said we knew blacks were not entitled to the priesthood cannot be taken seriously if we now say we know women will never receive the priesthood. (My belief is that in this life the priesthood is for males only.  In the realms of the exalted, I suspect that if there is such a thing as priesthood, everyone will have it.)

Those of us who are fallible need to be careful how we use the word know lest we erode our credibility.  Besides, Christ expects us to be humble like a little child, and believers are humbler than knowers.  Because the church is indeed the Lord's, we may sense that we are entitled to say know when humility would guide us to say believe. It won't harm our salvation, for example, to admit we believebut do not knowcertain major details of the Plan of Salvation. For example, we teach that the path to godhood/exaltation for all spirit children of Heavenly Father consists of such requirements as coming to an earth, obtaining a physical body, being baptized, being sealed to a spouse for eternity and being resurrected. Yet the few verses of Ether 3:12-18 suggest that godhood/exaltation is possible without meeting any of those requirements. These verses show that Christ was a full-fledged god long before he came to earth, before he possessed a physical body, without being baptized, etc. Posts elsewhere on this blog note the startling frequency with which things we once “knew” in the church have proven to be false.  (See Oopsy-daisy” and Obedience gone awry)

Seeing is not believing

With apologies to doubting Thomas, we also need to remember that seeing is not believing.

A magician’s audience knows the fallibility of seeing.  We all have had experiences that within seconds can turn knowing into doubting.   President Harold B. Lee’s words suggest testimonies are like that:  A testimony is fragile. It is as hard to hold as a moonbeam. It is something you have to recapture every day of your life.”

If we saw an angel, would we never doubt again?  I doubt it.  But when Harold B. Lee spoke of “a sureness beyond sight,” he was speaking of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s when our inner spirit connects with the Holy Spirit that we most “know” anything.  In any event, the following experience reaffirmed to me that seeing is not believing and that knowing is “as fragile as a moonbeam.”

In the spring of 2013, I arose early and went golfing at a nine-hole course in West Valley City.  Just as I hoped, I was the first golfer out, which meant I could walk at a brisk pace and not get stuck behind groups or slow golfers.

At the sixth hole, a 500-yard par 5, I hit a fairway wood from the tee and ended up about 200 yards out near the right side of the fairway in grass moist with dew.  On my second shot, being somewhat unsatisfied with the distance of my first shot, I took a fairly energetic swing, but at the instant the club struck the ball, my feet slipped out from under me.  I ended up on my back, dazed and hoping I hadn’t injured myself—especially since no one was around to help out.

I was happy to find myself uninjured.  As I arose and reached for my club, I was  also happy that no one had been around to witness my embarrassing fall.  However, in total disbelief I saw my ball on the ground in front of me. It hadn’t moved!  How could this be?  I knew I had made good contact.  But I quickly realized that I had never actually seen the ball move.  After all, I was hitting directly into the early morning sun.  Also, when I slipped, my feet had gone up into the air, and my line of sight had instantly shifted from the ball to the sky.  Could it be that the feel of contacting the ball was nothing more than an illusion created by the sudden jerk of my body as feet slipped out from under me?  In a half minute, I had gone from knowing I had struck the ball to knowing I had missed it.

I then took another swing, made good contact and could see the ball flying toward the grass along the right edge of the fairway.  As I pulled my cart toward the location of the ball, I noticed something fairly common—a ball in the center of the fairway.  (One good thing about being the first golfer out is that you may find a ball or two left behind by the final groups from the previous day.)  As I picked up that ball and checked its markings, I got my second shock—it was my ball!  I could have sworn that my second shot had gone to the right edge of the fairway, not in the center.  Had it struck some object and ricocheted to the left?  I simply couldn’t believe it, so I walked over to where the ball should have landed to see if I might find a clue.  What I found was another ball—my ball!

At that moment, it dawned on me exactly what had happened.  In the instant before my feet had slipped out from under me, I had indeed struck the ball.  However, when my feet were in the air and my back was striking the ground, the second ball had fallen from my pocket and landed exactly where the first ball had been.  Hence, I had gone full circle from knowing I had hit the ball to knowing I had missed it to knowing I had hit it. And in between, I had been baffled about how a ball that I saw flying toward the right edge of the fairway could apparently end up in the center of the fairway.

You just never know.

If you’re wondering about my score on the hole, please don’t.  In actual competition, I would have received penalty strokes for playing the wrong ball (twice), and for illegally moving a ball.

And by the way, I've had two other experiences in recent years where I couldn't believe my eyes and a third experience where I couldn't believe my ears—an episode that almost cost a dog its life. One of these days I may recount those experiences in this post.

I admit that my standard for knowing anything may be unrealistically high. For example, I do not “know” that the sun will rise in the morning.  I am content to say that I am quite sure that it will rise.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet everything I own that it will rise—unless the persons betting against me were God, Lucifer or one of their angels.  

1 comment:

  1. Some good insights into knowing and believing. I graphed the terms and noted that the "knowing" crowd took has increased virtually every decade since 1900 when it was around 57%. (General conference usage). It is rumored that there was a memo sent out to wards that encourage its use around the mid 1960s. The ratio of "know" to "believe" peaked in the 2000s at about 79%. It is currently around 77%.