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Justice

What/who is on trial?

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I heard a quote in church yesterday I'd like to share.

The scriptures are not on trial... we are.

It seems obvious to say that when we overly criticize scriptural texts we can lose sight of this important truth. It's how we conform our lives to the scriptures that matters, not that we find every error in them.

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amen to that quote. The scriptures are there for our benefit and yet we as humans try to over complicate the contents to contend one with another. Its a good thing the Lord has given us the spirit to help us sort out our simplistic mindset.

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Interesting. I disagree. I don't believe we are on trial. At least not in the sense that quote gives.

God wants us to take a critical look at everything. That is what we are here doing. It's our birthright. He wants us to look at the scriptures critically. That is what they are for. He wants us to discover the truths AND the false doctrines presented in them.

Why shouldn't the scriptures be on trial? "Truth has nothing to fear from investigation." Although, the truth can be frightening!

Are we really supposed to make people feel like criminals for investigating the scriptures?

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This mortal existance is a probationary time for us so yes we are on trial, however that doesn't mean we have to turn off our intelligence when we read something called scripture.

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I disagree. I don't believe we are on trial.

I know people have their own way of looking at things.

Abraham 3:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

This is the idea I had in mind when reading that quote.

God wants us to take a critical look at everything. That is what we are here doing. It's our birthright. He wants us to look at the scriptures critically. That is what they are for. He wants us to discover the truths AND the false doctrines presented in them.

Why shouldn't the scriptures be on trial? "Truth has nothing to fear from investigation." Although, the truth can be frightening!

Are we really supposed to make people feel like criminals for investigating the scriptures?

I get the idea that this quote is referring to those who criticize scriptural texts so much they look beyond the take home lesson.

I believe this is what the Lord was teaching Moroni here:

Ether 12:

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

We need to get past being overly critical of imperfections in the scriptures and get better at applying them to ourselves. That's how I take the quote.

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Notice the scriptue in Abraham didn't say we will be proven based on how many errors we can find in the scriptures, but whether or not we will heed what the scriptures say.

I realize there needs to be some analysis involved in determining what those words are. But, once we know the words are true, like we say every month about the Book of Mormon and prophet and church, it's time to act like we know it and focus less finding fault with the scriptures. We know because of the witness of the Holy Ghost, not because of some discovery someone made in the dirt or in an ancient language translation.

That's what I get from the quote.

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D&C 109

7 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the bestbooks words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;

Faith and study are different. Both are encouraged. That said i agree with

It seems obvious to say that when we overly criticize scriptural texts we can lose sight of this important truth

but

I also think realizing what is fable better allows one to accept the message.

Knowing that the story of the house on the rock is a parable doesn't make it's message less true. On the contrary it's much easier to appreciate the message.

If people tried to teach that it was historical we would be discussing old world building codes and levels of precipitation in Israel. ;)

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I heard a quote in church yesterday I'd like to share.

The scriptures are not on trial... we are.

It seems obvious to say that when we overly criticize scriptural texts we can lose sight of this important truth. It's how we conform our lives to the scriptures that matters, not that we find every error in them.

Egads. That smacks of the same repudiated and erroneous claim:

“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.”

Substitute “scripture” for “leader” and you’ve got the perfect formula for mindless robotic autonotrons mindlessly goosestepping to the beat of fundamentalist fever. Thankfully, the Church has rejected the notion:

“The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not "prepared" by "one of our leaders." However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.

The Prophet Joseph Smith once said: "I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please." This liberty he and his successors in the leadership of the Church have granted to every other member thereof."

I really don’t know who said that or in what context but I reject it, as presented. It contradicts the Book of Mormon:

Alma 32:27 “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”

If someone were to accept the maxim you post, they might conclude that God is the kind of god that colludes on a wager with Satan to kill God’s servant’s families to test the servant’s faith or that might believe that God is the kind of go who might command us to murder our enemies, steal their possessions, kill their wives and rape their virgins.

If one were to conform their lives to scripture as you preach, they might try and murder people with whose sexual practices they disapprove (Leviticus 20:13). Thank heaven that sentient and intelligent adherents DO test the scriptures.

Scripture should be tested against Church teachings just as Church teachings should be tested against scripture.

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The quote is just a simple reminder of the importance of using the scriptures to better our lives and not using our understanding to better the scriptures. That principle is true. If you are guilty of it, as I sometimes am, then the quote is just a simple reminder. If you feel you have the proper perspective then I would think you would agree with the message of the quote.

As I said, people will read what they want in the quote.

But, again, I take home that it's the spirit that guides us to truth, not the critical analysis we put into it. We can study and dissect the scriptures all our days, but if the spirit isn't with us we're no better off than anyone else. I spend many hours studying the scriptures just to study them and try to figure them out. I enjoy it as much as the next person. It's easy to get lost in them.

Sometimes it's good for me to re-center myself on the principle the quote teaches: If the spirit isn't present in our study and in our lives then it really doesn't matter what errors we find in the scriptures.

And again, I'm not saying it doesn't take study and pondering. But, it should be the spirit that leads us to truth while we study, not discovering that texts of the Bible don't match.

I really don't think anyone would agree that finding errors in the scriptures is better than being taught the messages in the scriptures by the spirit.

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If someone were to accept the maxim you post, they might conclude that God is the kind of god that colludes on a wager with Satan to kill God’s servant’s families to test the servant’s faith or that might believe that God is the kind of go who might command us to murder our enemies, steal their possessions, kill their wives and rape their virgins.

If one were to conform their lives to scripture as you preach, they might try and murder people with whose sexual practices they disapprove (Leviticus 20:13). Thank heaven that sentient and intelligent adherents DO test the scriptures.

They wouldn't be learning by the spirit, then, would they? It might very well be that they became so critical of the text they lost sight of the whole point of the scriptures... namely so they could use them to better their lives and behavior.

And why do you imply that only people who are critical of the text are intelligent? Can they learn more from being critical of scriptural texts than they can learn from the Spirit?

Scripture should be tested against Church teachings just as Church teachings should be tested against scripture.

Yes, and again, what is the best way to test them? Ancient texts and archaeology? Scientists? Linguists? Or, the Spirit?

I really didn't mean for this to turn into this type of discussion. It's rather pointless. I just thought the quote served as a good reminder of why we have the scriptures.

Edited by Justice

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They wouldn't be learning by the spirit, then, would they? It might very well be that they became so critical of the text they lost sight of the whole point of the scriptures... namely so they could use them to better their lives and behavior.

Don't be pusillanimous. If you are going to call someone out, do it directly.

And why do you imply that only people who are critical of the text are intelligent?

I'm not implying it. I am saying it flat out. Intelligent people do test scripture. Unintelligent people may as well and if so, they are acting intelligently. People who don't are beholden to dogmatic inculcation.

Can they learn more from being critical of scriptural texts than they can learn from the Spirit?

I don't understand your question. You act as if being critical is mutually exclusive from Spiritual learning. It's isn't.

I just thought the quote served as a good reminder of why we have the scriptures.

It may be your way of reminding us how you view the scriptures but I don't think it is a reminder of why we have the scriptures.

Here's an exercise. Using your reminder - tell me why we have the Canticles?

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I'm not on trial anymore. The verdict has already been given. I am insane. :)

Anyway, the quote reminds me of the book "the book of mormon on trial" In the context of this book, the book of mormon is on trial. For individuals who know nothing about the Book of Mormon, and don't presently believe it, it is on trial to them.

It is also in some sense on trial to us, as are the words of every prophet, apostle, and general authority that has ever spoken for us to hear. We must determine by study, practice, and the spirit whether or not it is of God. Wise are the words "by their fruits ye shall know them." These would not have been spoken if we were to believe blindly.

However, the opposite is also true. We are on trial. As we learn the gospel and come to a knowledge of various truths, we are on trial to determine whether we will follow or not. I prefer the word probation, however trial works fine to me as well.

Anyway, thats my take on it.

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Don't be pusillanimous. If you are going to call someone out, do it directly.

This actually stemmed from a conversation I had at work with a few people who participate in a "Bible class" that one of them hosts in their home. They meet together, eat (Lord's supper as they see it), and iron out all the problems in the Bible. Their main source is the internet.

I don't understand your question. You act as if being critical is mutually exclusive from Spiritual learning. It's isn't.

I'm referring to our main source, as I mentioned above. If the internet or critical pieces on scripture are our main source I believe we need a paradigm shift, as I tried to tell those people at work.

Also, it appears you are suggesting that those who rely on the Spirit to reveal truth to them are not intelligent. One should use any and all sources that help them with their studies, but when it comes to the final say in the matter, or when it comes to cutting through the fat and getting to the meat, the Spirit should have the final word.

Here's an exercise. Using your reminder - tell me why we have the Canticles?

This is a perfect example. I never studied any outside texts, commentary, or critical analysis of this work of Solomon, yet as I read it the first time I felt it was not inspired. Since that time I do not read it when I read the Bible.

Edited by Justice

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Look, I'm not saying we can throw science and archaeology away. I enjoy reading and studying the works of scholars and spend a fair amount of time reading and studying commentaries about the scriptures, both LDS and non LDS. I find them fascinating. They have taught me a great deal. But, I try to rely on the Spirit to help me decipher. When I don't (and it happens fairly often) I can get some ideas that just aren't true, and I can become overly critical. So, this quote strikes home to me and reminds me to rely on the Spirit, last of all, to learn truth. It may have a different meaning to others who read it.

To me, the bottom line is to rely on the Spirit for truth. The truth He delivers will not change or fail.

Edited by Justice

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Where does this place people who do not get a burning in their bosom or "feel the spirit" in the same way others do?

How are they to learn?

Or, what if I get that same feeling when I am reading the Greek myths or the Koran? What does that mean? That they are literally true and factual stories?

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It seems to me that there are plenty of scriptures that say we will be judged. I don't seem to remember reading anywhere that the scriptures we be judged, and of course things of spirit can only be discerned by the spirit otherwise they are just words on a page. The spirit is key that unlocks the scriptures to us.

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Where does this place people who do not get a burning in their bosom or "feel the spirit" in the same way others do?

How are they to learn?

Or, what if I get that same feeling when I am reading the Greek myths or the Koran? What does that mean? That they are literally true and factual stories?

The thing is, we all feel the spirit differently from others, and differently in different situations. There is a chapter in Preach My Gospel which discusses the various ways in which we may feel the spirit. Sorry I can't remember which but I think it is chapter 4. So it doesn't really place you in a different position from them/us. We must each individually determine how the spirit communicates to us, and rely on that.

For Greek myths, I would say that feeling is a simple thrill (at least it is for me) and that the scriptures have a decidedly different feel when the spirit is witnessing truth. And even then, many of their stories and myths are actually simply skewed representations of truth themselves. Examples are their creation and flood stories. Very skewed, but still representing the truth.

The Koran can be considered at least inspired by Christians as it holds largely the same doctrine as the Bible, just from a different part of the world. The only thing that prevents it from being scripture is that as far as most Christians are concerned it holds the same balance as the Book of Mormon, and by itself doesn't consider Christ the Messiah. The only reason that we as LDS don't consider it scripture is that it wasn't given by the type of prophet that holds the keys of the kingdom, but only one that has testimony of truths granted by the spirit, similar to us all. And the Christ not being a Messiah part holds reservation in our hearts as well.

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Until one opens their mind and their heart (Alma 32) they will not feel the Spirit. If people are trying to open their minds to Greek myths being true, the Spirit cannot help them. If one is truly looking for truth they will be led to it, or it will be led to them.

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Until one opens their mind and their heart (Alma 32) they will not feel the Spirit. If people are trying to open their minds to Greek myths being true, the Spirit cannot help them. If one is truly looking for truth they will be led to it, or it will be led to them.

Truth is everywhere. That is what the spirit tells me. Greek myths can be just as true and useful as Jewish myths. Each culture thinks their myths are superior, but they aren't.

Why wouldn't the spirit help someone trying to learn truth from Greek myths? My experience is that the spirit can teach the truth of ALL things from ALL sources.

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Substitute “scripture” for “leader” and you’ve got the perfect formula for mindless robotic autonotrons mindlessly goosestepping to the beat of fundamentalist fever.

You certainly have a way with words! Where is my oil can?

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You certainly have a way with words! Where is my oil can?

Now that I see it... a little redundant, using "mindless" twice.

Note to self: Try and be more creative in my invectives.

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Also, it appears you are suggesting that those who rely on the Spirit to reveal truth to them are not intelligent. One should use any and all sources that help them with their studies, but when it comes to the final say in the matter, or when it comes to cutting through the fat and getting to the meat, the Spirit should have the final word.

I have a question for you.

If you rely on the Spirit and come to a conclusion about scripture and I rely on the Spirit, must my conclusion match your conclusion in order to be valid, or can I validly reach another conclusion from you?

This is a perfect example. I never studied any outside texts, commentary, or critical analysis of this work of Solomon, yet as I read it the first time I felt it was not inspired. Since that time I do not read it when I read the Bible.

So you put scripture to the test and found it wanting. It seems that in your case, scripture is on trial.

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If you rely on the Spirit and come to a conclusion about scripture and I rely on the Spirit, must my conclusion match your conclusion in order to be valid, or can I validly reach another conclusion from you?

This is something I've thought about often. It doesn't seem to be the case at times, does it; even more times than one would think.

I know some people in the Church that I think I hold in high regard. Their works show that they indeed are Christians. But, when I discuss certain principles with them it's clear we have arrived at different conclusions.

I'm leaning toward believing that the reason for this difference is no two people have the identical intelligence and knowledge. We have all read diiferent things and have had different lessons of life. I tend to think that people believe more alike than different... generally. It might be that people stress different things more than others and it puts a different twist on things.

That doesn't completely account for the difference, I know. At the end of the day I just simply don't know the answer to your question. But, I think what I have stated plays at least some part in why this occurs.

So you put scripture to the test and found it wanting. It seems that in your case, scripture is on trial.

After thinking about this comment, I see your position more clearly. Maybe I can now explain mine more clearly. Considering your comment, the point remains that I did not discover this by being critical of the text. It never entered my mind that after reading it I would walk away believing it shouldn't have been included in the Bible. As I began to see that it was different, I struggled even harder to find why it can be true, or to find the hidden symbol in the message I was missing. I was critical of myself, if you will, for not seeing or understanding what was being said.

The thing is, we have been taught the Bible has some errors. We have been taught that large portions of some books were changed or removed, and even entire books were removed. But, we are told that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book (meaning scripture in my mind) of any book on earth.

I see less concern with the Book of Mormon, and less reason to be critical of it. The Bible is different, even if only partly. Joseph Smith was critical of it because we know he said parts of it were wrong or missing. It's interesting that he used both methods to arrive at the errors in the Bible, and even to arrive at his re-translations of the parts he changed. But, it was the spirit that had the final say in those changes. To my knowledge he never said anything of the sort about the Book of Mormon.

Still, in a general sense, we know much of the Bible is correct. My point for bringing this up is that we should concentrate on living the teachings of Christ, over being critical of the scriptures, and THAT is the best way to have the errors made known to us. It seems backwards, but true anyway.

The power in the Gospel that is promised to make us better people does not come from finding error in scripture. It comes from living Christ's teachings. Truth will be revealed to us as we live the Gospel, and seek more to uncover our own flaws than the flaws found in the scriptures.

I know that's generic, but it's the mindset of a humble person. If we get too involved in finding errors in the scriptures, it can lead to overconfidence in one's self and possibly a bit of pride. I'm not accusing anyone of this, I'm just pointing out a natural consequence if we lose sight of the fact that this little quote is an axiom.

Nowhere in my words will you find me condemning good old fashioned study and hard work when it comes to studying the scriptures. I have learned truth from both methods, being hit blind-sided by the spirit with a revelation about a principle, and I have learned from comparing texts and definition seeking. Truth can be uncovered both ways. I prefer the former because to me it's more powerful and has always led me farther down the road of change.

So, this is why I see this quote the way I do. I do not condemn anyone for seeing it differently.

Edited by Justice

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