Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Must real Faith be in things that are True?

Alma 32:21 "And now as I said concerning faith--faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

Many will pose the question of faith demonstrated by people, in things that aren't true. What of idol worshippers, for example? When I first thought on this I couldn't see Alma's point either. But further consideration brought me to a new understanding. An extremist in some religions will give his life for his God. He does this feeling he will be saved by his God, for his valiant effort and sacrifice. But is Alma correct that this isn't faith at all?

I believe he is right. When a person deliberately denies reality and sets focus in one direction, is that true faith? It is only when a person faces his deepest feelings of doubt and is satisfied, that true faith can exist. In other words "blind faith" isn't faith, but just intelligence washing. We come to have faith in God because we try his suggestion and find it works. We eventually come to see that he is a reliable source of correct ideas. But each idea requires us to use our faith in him to actually follow it. Once we follow it, and see it working our faith grows even further.


Rob Osborn said...


You know what is wierd? I was thinking of this exact topic a week ago. I was thinking about what is the meaning of faith. I came to a conclusion similar to yours but yet different.

I concluded that faith is something we hope for to be true or that has the possibility of being true that may or may not come to pass. For instance- a blind man can have faith that he may see again through surgery whether or not the outcome will really grant him his sight again. Is it then fair to say that he has no faith if that which he placed faith in did not come to pass?

People in the early church placed their faith in the doctrine that plural marriage was the only ticket to exaltation. As the doctrine changed though, so did the focus on what doctrine people placed their faith in. So were these early saints placing their faith in an untruth and therefor was not faith?

It is kind of tricky I guess because of our limitations we place on the word itself. If faith is only a hope for things which we know are true, then the emphasis really lies in what we think we know to be true, and not necessarily what is actually true. This is how a person can have actual faith in something which may not be true totally. This is how the gospel is revealed to us I suppose. We place faith in a certain doctrine and then see if it pans out over time. If it changes or gets redirected, this does not mean that our faith was not true faith, it just means that it gets refocused on new meanings and understandings.

Early BoM prophets placed their faith in saving people before they died not having a more perfect knowledge of the spirit world and the work done there. Knowledge can cause us to place faith in things which may not be correct, but it is still faith that allows us to learn the actual truth of things later on.

I see faith as more of a spiritual mechanism for holding on to beliefs that cause us to increase our mental and spiritual capacity. Is faith measured in the substance of a beginning of a belief, or in the end thereof? My faith of the afterlife or of God and his doings may get redirected at different points, but the mechanism of hope is the same mechanism of faith.

Rob Osborn said...

Is my last comment not registering?

Doug Towers said...

What I am wondering is how you got your first comment registered at 5:50 AM and your second comment registered at 2:51 AM? While putting them both in on the same day. Who said there is no time travel?

Thoughtful insights that you raise. Particularly the question of obedience to lesser commandments that can be upgraded or visa-versa.

To the person having confidence in his doctor. I believe this isn't the type of faith that the scriptures are referring to. Alma presents that to obtain faith it is necessary to just manufacture a fake faith through a desire to believe. As you obey the principle you will feel it swell in your heart. This produces faith in the concept that will eventually turn to a sure knowledge, as you nurture it. Faith in doctors isn't always justified. They have failings along with successes. And people are aware of this. So this is just more of a "let's hope so" type of faith, as I would see it. Also, I guess this faith in the doctor comes from the fact that you may not have too many other options. Where as faith in what God asks will usually require you to ignore the fact that it would seem the opposite is the case. And do what he says in spite of your thoughts on the matter. It is more of a spirit/heart thing.

As I say your point on law/gospel/inbetween commandments is interesting. One thing I believe the spirit helped me understand was that there is no distinction between plural and monogamous marriage in reality. There is just marriage (just an off the side issue). In regard people practicing PM they obtain the eternal blessings relative to the principles they are obeying. The same applies for monogamy. Their faith is required either way. And if marriage is practiced in the correct manner husbands and wives will feel the full benefit of the union and their faith in God will grow.

When God alters the commandments he gives us, it isn't because anything has actually changed. It is either because we didn't live correctly the commandments he gave, or because we excelled in them and so he gave us greater ones. As Christ said, "I came not to destroy the law.." No laws given by God are ever destroyed. He makes these laws based on eternal principles. Faith in them will always pay off. Greater laws bring greater blessings if obeyed. And greater damnation if disobeyed. To save people from these bad consequences God has lessened the commandment at times. So he is just looking after us, as a loving Father.

I support the BofM prophets in their simple statements. Whether they knew of the spirit world or not really isn't the point. Those people knew sufficient of the truth to move forward toward Christ. If they didn't set their course toward God there and then it is unlikely they will ever change it. Satan is evidence that we eventually set a course, and then won't change no matter how much time you give us. We could give him endless instruction, advice and opportunities and he will still be exactly the same character. And the billions of our brothers and sisters who followed him don't appear to be changing their minds either. In life we have those who just rejoice in evil and doing evil to others. We have those who love those who love them and hate their enemies. We have those who love their enemies mostly. And we have those who love their enemies always. These are our 3 kingdoms and outer darkness.

Faith in absolutely false doctrine is still based on faith in God. And that faith is in something true. I would wonder if our spirit inside us could sense it wasn't right and the faith may not be true faith anyway. An interesting question. More to consider.

You've asked, "Is faith measured in the substance of a beginning of a belief, or in the end thereof?" I would support Alma's belief that at the end it becomes a knowledge. But it would definately alter over the period. Alma points out the necessity to keep it active during the whole process, until it becomes a perfect knowledge. I think Alma 32 is brilliant stuff.

Rob Osborn said...

Yes, yes, good points! I often wonder how the veil of unbelief works. It was brought up recently in class at church that the veil of their premortal life is not really lifted once one dies, especilly for the wicked. It was mentioned that it would usurp agency. But still I wonder about faith and how that veil really gets lifted. I have had certain dreams and quick visions of my family in the hereafter. Much to my pleasent dismay though, it was not what I had imagined or had placed my faith in. This in turn caused me to analyize where my faith really stood. Since than I have come to a more perfect understanding of how heaven must work.

I was telling my father one recent morning about how satan would have us believe that there are very few who get saved and go on to enjoy eternal life. I told him then that because of this great "veil of unbelief", satan has great power over the people of the earth, even the saints. I think we as members of the church have lost sight of faith to some degree. We no longer trust what we read out of the scriptures. We are not willing to have faith in god but in the arm of man. Even our student church manuals seem to have more power than the scriptures themselves these days. Not that the manuals are corrupt, just that we have come to rely on supplemental material as being the end said word in discussion.

If you question things and teachings we hold so dearly, it isn't long before members start wondering and even asking where your faith lies and that to be careful to not fall away from the church. Have we come so far in society that we cannot even feel each other out to find where real truth lies?

Maybe it is as you say, that there really is no true faith if it is not placed in a true principle or fact. Does the power and conviction of faith in real facts carry the power of the Holy Ghost?

Doug Towers said...

There is a lot in what you are saying here, Rob. Some of these subjects are vast. So I may not address them all.

I know what you are saying about the paranoia. It is sad, isn't it? Learning can't occur without questioning. Ideas must be challenged. I often find that in the process of learning, my opinion about something can go from one idea to believe its opposite. Then eventually back to the original belief but with a much deeper understanding of it.

You mention about dreams of the hereafter and how good things are etc. You have asked about the veil. I believe that veil is about as vapor thin as we make it. Having not been brought up in the gospel I had some disadvantages that my spirit bucked up at when I was very young. In contradition of my entire beliefs my spirit inside searched heavenward and pleaded with God to know what I had done wrong to be sent to this terrible place. This occurred at least twice that I can remember. One night I was looking up at the stars and suddenly became aware that I was something important up there. This was a memory of a time I didn't even believe existed or had heard of. And I have had other memories of the pre-existence. But I won't go through them all here.

You said,
"It was brought up recently in class at church that the veil of their premortal life is not really lifted once one dies, especilly for the wicked. It was mentioned that it would usurp agency."

I have heard this said before, several times. If that were true then does that mean that Satan has no choice? After all, he remembers that pre-existence. There is a lot of emphasis on the claim within the church that God waived his magic wand and made us forget the pre-existence so we would learn to walk by faith. While I support that the laws of eternity (working in their usual wonderful way) make all these things occur to our good, God didn't do it. He's innocent. Watch a baby. They stare as if seeing someone not there. Then they giggle as if someone is going gitchy, gitchy goo. But you can't see anyone. They can though. They see all those spirits who have come to see the baby. So why is it that the baby sees and you don't? That baby remembers the pre-existence. So when does the memory and our ability to see spirits go? We get lazy. It requires more effort to see spirit matter. More effort to remember beyond the flesh time. Our flesh problems make it difficult to remember. And eventually it is just like a dream in the night.

When we die I can't see any reason why that memory won't slowly return. The more evil type spirit would have more trouble dealing with it, and therefore may take longer for it to sink in (as they don't have as much intelligence, and so can't adjust as quickly). But I don't think it would take very long.

I definately support your comment about manuals vs scripture. With all due respect to the writers of those manuals. Who I realise work very hard. I think Isaiah was more inspired.

With what I understand of the requirements to be a God, I had started to wonder if the amount of people who would make God status was about as many as you could fit in your house. I was therefore relieved to read of 144,000 males who would gain eternal life. I think you are being super-optomistic to make it too many more.

You've asked, "Does the power and conviction of faith in real facts carry the power of the Holy Ghost?"

This is an interesting observation/question. I would have to agree with your thought there. That makes a lot of sense.

Rob Osborn said...

You brought up something that sent shivers down my spine- you said that babies are still connected with the other side and seem to giggle and laugh at somenone who we cannot see. This reminded me of when my son was first born and he got pink-eye. It was early in the morning- 1-2 am, and the only place open was the hospital. This was in Salt Lake, and we took him to ST. Marks hospital emergency room. There were not very many people there at that time and My wife started doing the usual paperwork in order to see a doctor. I was holding my kid in a carseat carrier and tending to him. There appeared two young girls whom for some odd reason, I could not guess their age. They had big bright eyes and came right over to where I was sitting with my son and said outright- "can we see Russell" they stopped suddenly in their wording and one spoke up cautiously- "his name is Russell isn't it?" I said yes it was and I pulled back his little blanket and one of them said something very profound. She said- "we have waited such a long time to see you Russell" And with that they were gone back down the hall from where they came. A minute later a women came in and asked if two girls were just in here. I said yes there were two girls in here a minute ago. The women then said- "I'm sorry, they are always bugging people around here" (the hospital). After my wife came back to me I related the whole story and she believed me even though she herself saw no one enter or leave the room, let alone talk to me.

Babies and their angels have so much faith it is uncanny, and if we are close to them children, they and their angels can show us magical stuff! I too think that the veil is lifted for everyone, including the wicked. How else could they stand before judgment with a perfect knowledge of the entire plan which includes the casting out of Satan in the pre-existance and their own individual decision as to where they went from there and why.

I personally think that in the end, at the great and last day of judgment, that there will be an almost innumerable people who have made god status, while there will be very few who do not reach that point. I have faith that the majority of mankind will at some point in time come to see the folley of their thinking and make dramatic changes which will lead them to godly lifestyles. It is a shame to me to think that there are so many who think that the majority of mankind, because of their choice to live sinful lives, will never become godly. I think we have lost faith in the power of forgiveness, change in ones heart, and the atoning power to glorify god by bringing eternal life to mankind as a whole except for those wicked angels of the devil.

Doug Towers said...

That is a strange experience, Rob. Do you remember what color clothes the 2 girls were wearing? Don't guess. Be 100% certain, or say you are unsure.

You've said, "I think we have lost faith in the power of forgiveness, change in ones heart, and the atoning power.."

I don't believe I have lost faith in any of these. The Nephites and Lamanites after Christ had everything. Everything was wonderful. People had wonderful parents. Great neighbours. Great family friends. Great community spirit. Everyone caring for each other. And yet with all this they eventually turned to evil. This was a deliberate action. A whole people turning to war in almost no time.

Your desire to save all mankind is shared by our Heavenly Father. And he knows how many will obtain it.

Rob Osborn said...


You know, I cannot remeber what they were wearing. I know that it wasn't all white clothing or that they were glowing white or anything like that. The only part of their countenance I noticed was that looking in their eyes, you could not tell how old they were even though they appeared as little children. It was that clue that told me that they were probably not mortal physical beings. The strange part of the incident was the grown women who came in and asked me such a bizarre question and then left. No normal human being would of ever walked into a waiting room and asked me specifically that type of question unless she had personally seen them in there bothering me.

Doug Towers said...

The reason I asked about the color of the clothes, was that a friend of mine had asked me quite a few times about spirits I have seen. Just recently we were watching the movie "Just Like Heaven", and she asked me something about Reese (who was acting as the spirit of someone...well if you haven't watched it I'll say no more). Nevertheless I commented about the color of her clothes. It then came out as a point that spirits I've seen don't have color. Color requires light to fall on physical particles.

So I was curious as to whether certain spirits had learned techniques to get over this problem. That was the point in my question.