People have faith in all sorts of entities these days. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to exist without having faith in something. Even the greater atheists have faith in the scientists they recite or the logic they cling to or even the theories they postulate or prove. Many people have faith in the government. Many people have faith in the media. Many people have faith in technology. A lot of people simply have faith in themselves. Everyone has faith in multiple entities to a greater or lesser degree. It is where we put the weight of our faith that influences our ideologies and our happiness. Anyone who puts the bulk of their faith in themselves is bound to be disappointed and unhappy, though everyone needs to have faith in themselves to some extent to be balanced individuals with confidence and action. Anyone who puts the bulk of their faith in other human beings is also bound to be disappointed and certainly even more unhappy than if they put it in themselves as one cannot control another human being’s actions nor his or her thoughts.
I choose to try to put the bulk of my faith in an entity much more capable than I am and much more capable than technology and media and government and science and scientists. I choose to put my faith in God.
Specifically, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or a Mormon, and I have faith that God established this Church as His own– that what ideologies that this Church provides as doctrine (there is a vast difference between the culture and the doctrine, mind you, that many people within and without the Church misunderstand) are not only true doctrine but God’s doctrine– the Doctrine of Christ, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are a great many pieces of this doctrine and many background stories to how this doctrine is the same doctrine God has given since Adam– and I say that literally and not as a manner of speech. I don’t pretend to promote this Church as having “The Answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything”, but I do promote it as having all of the important answers to life, the universe, and everything, and that all of these answers are the correct answers. Most importantly, I also promote it as the church that teaches a doctrine that enables “doers of the word and not listeners only” to gain their own answers– to verify if the answers that have been revealed already are correct, and to get specific answers to specific questions having to do with any old part of that person’s life, from college to marriage to choice of friends to choice of occupation. It’s not a matter of choosing “what’s right for me”; it’s a matter of learning what’s universally right and then choosing it.
I have faith that we are not designed to take anything at face value, and I have faith that God doesn’t want us to. That’s right– that means that I believe that someone shouldn’t believe that the Bible is true just because it’s the Bible, but rather that a person should figure it out– with divine help, that is, as nobody can know of anything spiritual by mere temporal laws. I believe that just believing something because the Bible said so or a scientist said so or a prophet said so or a group of highly acclaimed anthropologists and philosophers said so is the easy way out of thinking for one’s self. Rather, I believe in knowledge firstly by trial and experience. We obviously can and must trust someone to first hearken to and then act upon an ideology he or she shares with us, but trusting them alone without trial isn’t enough. Even if what he or she says about Jesus gives a person warm fuzzies and butterflies and hearts and flowers and rainbows, all of that alone isn’t enough. That’s merely a start.
I believe that knowledge can come directly from God through personal revelation. Oh, but revelation is more than a mere flash of magic and a ta-da. Revelation is almost always hard work, and many people these days forego real communication with God because of the difficulty of gaining revelation. Yes, I believe that we can know the truth of all things via that glorious medium of revelation.
I believe that God has not left us to figure out every little piece of existence by ourselves; I believe that He has provided prophets throughout the millennia to reveal the most universal and life-saving truths– in essence, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that there have been times throughout the history of the world that people accepted what the prophets taught, there have been times when these prophets and the Gospel were rejected, and that there have constantly been false prophets teaching pleasing doctrines– sometimes very similar to the true doctrines. I believe that God has sent prophets to teach and share with us His Gospel today– men with weaknesses, yes, but given the power of God to bless all mankind. And I believe that we needn’t trust these prophets at face value– that we shoudn’t. That the prophets and God don’t want us to. That we should seek personal revelation to know if what the prophets have taught and do teach is actually true.
I believe that God has revealed more scripture through His prophets than just the Bible.
I believe that God has an immense and perfect love for each of His children individually, but I believe that He is not the cartoonish God so many of us Christians imagine up as children and have a hard time moving away from as we grow older– the same cartoonish God that anti-religion atheists use to disprove or poke fun at religion. I believe that God actually loves us each enough to let us go through ordeals, to not make our lives a padded carriage ride so that we can learn a few things. Actually, I believe that a padded carriage ride leads straight to hell, and don’t judge me to be a harsh, judgmental, fiendish “Christian”; there’s a science behind that. I believe that heaven takes more work and is more work than most people want to believe; in fact, I believe a heaven wherein we eat grapes and play harps and prance about on clouds and do nothing productive except live in an eternal resort is more hellish than fire and brimstone.
I believe that there is no way to achieve eternal happiness on our own; I believe that we need divine help.
I believe that Jesus Christ provided an Atonement through his sufferings, death, and resurrection in order to cleanse, heal, sanctify, and transform us to become like Him. I believe that this gift is too easily misunderstood. I believe that it takes work to truly accept Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and I believe it takes work to truly access His Atonement in its fulness to transform ourselves from our simple, silly, broken nature to a nature like His. I believe that this accepting and this transformation and healing and cleansing and sanctification takes more than a lifetime to complete. I believe that Jesus Christ has an infinite amount of mercy, but I also believe that He isn’t stupid; I believe that He requires a great deal of us, and that is everything we have and everything we can do; I believe that He will not pay our fare into the presence of God just because we cried a little and said we were sorry. I believe that His Atonement is worth much more than that. I believe that we are worth much more than that and that He requires hard things of us because He loves us enough to make us grow.
I know that what I’ve written above is true because I’ve found out for myself. I know that I need to share what I’ve learned about God with others and invite them to find out for themselves, too. If you care to, I’d be happy to discuss it with you.
Read my mormon.org profile here
Learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints here