I mentioned to Brother Matthews and Elder Nelson last night, that I don't mean to pick on Protestants by comparing LDS beliefs to Protestant ones, but that's what I've been immersed in for the last year - Protestant theology, not Catholic theology or Anglican theology etc etc.
In the last few years online in apologetics, one phrase I always saw daily on forums or in blogs was Protestants discussing "THE Truth". That the Bible contains "THE Truth", that the Trinity is THE Truth, that Jesus is THE way, etc etc etc. And I'm not disagreeing with any of that. I think these bold statements that religious groups make really helps set them apart from everyone else in the crowd. Jesus boldly claimed to not only be "a" way to God, but the only way to the Father. So, I am certainly not against using bold statements. The LDS church makes the bold claim that all priesthood authority was taken from the Earth when a global apostacy occurred - that's pretty bold as well.
However, Brother Matthews said something Monday night (which I've been meaning to blog about - but having a new dog is like having a new baby!) that really struck me. I like it a lot - will probably be adding it to my Ravelry quotes.Paraphrasing here, "We are looking for the Truth. Not someone else's opinion on the Truth, or someone else's commentary, but just the Truth."
As a Bible believing Jesus freak Protestant, my initial response was, "Well, aren't we all?"
However, if you take this and chew on it - are we accepting THE truth or someone's opinion or commentary on THE truth? A good friend of mine recently left the Protestant movement after 11 years and is now a Catholic. In one of our conversations, she was shared a conversation between herself and a Protestant friend. She was stating that the when Jesus says, "I am the bread" that He is saying that He is the bread. Her protestant friend disagreed saying it was figurative not literal, so she asked, "Okay, but why? Why does it have to be figurative why can't it be literal?" She further explained that when she researched this verse, all she came back to were commentaries (opinions) that all said the same thing, "Jesus was being figurative. He isn't really the bread." But why? What support do they have?So when looking for the Truth with a capital "T", how do we find it?
If Joseph Smith really was a Prophet, he certainly gave us a more modern day example of how to go about finding it - we seek earnestly after God and ask Him. I've always thought the story of the First Vision, however marvelous, was quite a leap of faith on Joseph's part.
But today, to pray about "which church should I join?" is quite normal.I can recall when we first left the LDS church, as confused as I was at the time as to why God would lead us out of the LDS church, I felt so certain that God had assigned us to this church. And no one thought that we were weird for being lead or guided to a certain church "home".
So, why does it seem to bristle and rub those critical of the LDS church the wrong way that Joseph went and asked the Lord the same question? He was looking for the Truth, not someone else's opinion of the Truth. As individuals, seeking after God's will in our lives - what are we to do? We can most certainly pray and study and then listen. I have really enjoyed Manna church's series last August on when God is speaking to you. I believe I can safely say, that even if I were LDS right now or then, this series would still greatly impact my life.
Right now - as I seek to understand where exactly God wants me and where exactly I should be vs where I want to be (LDS) I continue to ask myself - what is THE Truth and how do I know 100% for sure that I've found it?
In Joshua 9 when the Hivites came in disguise and said they were a far away country wanting to make a treaty we read in v 14, "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD". I think this story reminds us - to always check back with the Lord. Commentaries are nice - especially in those pesky Isaiah or Jacob I believe, but in the end, it is up to us to inquire of the Lord whether or not they are accurate or authoritative commentaries or just the understanding of men. Even under the proper authority of a spiritual leader - like a Bishop, Pastor, or Prophet, we should always go back to the Lord. Acquire our own testimony, our own confirmation of what they teach as true.
Something Pastor Hudson says that I always have loved is (paraphrasing), "God is an infinite God and we are finite creatures." Isaiah says the same thing in 55:9
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I certainly believe there are some things I'll just not know and accept that but firmly believe that God is a personal, knowable God. In my search for the Truth and not an opinion or part of the Truth, I know it is important to return to the scriptures and to my Heavenly Father.Recently, my Pastor told me that he feels that I've never really even left the LDS church - and in a lot of ways, that is absolutely true. It's my "heart beat", it's my spiritual home, it's where I feel most comfortable. I cannot deny the amazing spiritual experiences I've had in my Bishop's council earlier on, or the absolute overwhelming Holy Spirit in the temple when I took out my living endowments. Yet, I do not want to return to the church because I am comfortable there (as much as I hate writing that) or because I generally overall accept some theology or doctrine.
Generally, I believe the doctrine within the LDS church is possible and even logical. Why wouldn't God have a Prophet on this Earth today? Why can't families be together forever? Overall (speaking in very general terms) the LDS eternity view and the Protestant ones are not that far removed.I'm still struggling a little with the idea of the Godhead - which again, i believe is a more overall logical viewpoint of the nature of God, Jesus, and the Spirit vs the very romantic idea of the Trinity. I've been told that only one can be right - traditional Christianity or the LDS church, and I totally agree. Both can certainly contain some truth, but which one contains THE truth?