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MrShorty

"I don't have a testimony of the history of the church."

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I came across this essay from former U of U history professor and LDS Church historian Davis Bitton. http://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/review/16/2/S00017-5176ad2f5804e17Bitton.pdf

The main thrust of the essay is that it is essential to have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not a testimony of a historical narrative, and discussion of how those two concepts are different and interrelated.

One key concept that has frequently crossed my mind is the idea stated on page 339 that, even if I (as a non-historian) cannot answer the problematic questions in church history, I know there are historians who have wresteled with them and retained their testimonies of the Gospel. Maybe that feels like "leaning on the arm of man", but I don't feel that it is necessary for me to become an expert in every possible branch of study. I frequently find that it is sufficient for me to know that others have wrestled and are wrestling with church history and finding their faith intact.

The other key concept that I resonated with me was the importance of grounding my testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When pressed, I will usually cite Helaman 5:12 as my favorite scripture, because of Helaman's teaching that we must build our foundation on Christ and none other. Church history is interesting, and it describes a story of how the restored Gospel came to man in these latter-days (complete with human foibles and frailties), but it is not the Gospel.

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Great post!

That’s the very core of the whole thing: rooting our testimonies in Jesus Christ. He is the true Finisher of our faith.

Church history is important in the sense that it helps all of us to better understand the events related to the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is only information, thus it is useless in terms of salvation.

The Gospel is God’s words for us, thus it is the doctrine that leads us to Jesus Christ: the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

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The apostasy is such an interesting subject to me.  I do not believe that the adjective “total” adds anything of importance or value to the concept of apostasy.  Man – or perhaps I should say “the natural man” is an apostate creature.  As enlightened, inspired, and as intelligent as we like to view ourselves or certain others, we are all apostate creatures incapable of divine enlightenment.  The ancient apostle Paul had it best with the expression that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of G-d.

Everything man touches – turns corrupt and apostate.  Not until the resurrection will we be raised in incorruption (without corruption).   Sadly many lose faith in G-d and his work when they realize that the sacred holy scriptures have been corrupted – that every person called by G-d is a corrupted fallen son of Adam or Daughter of Eve.  When we realize the flaw of others we lose faith – But should we?

The Gospel of Christ is not about redemption by scripture – it is not about redemption through human or ecclesiastical history – of even the most possible righteous of men.  Some think that scripture – or the deeds of inspired men is enough?  But such thinking and faith is apostasy – call it total apostasy if you like – or not.  Jesus taught that the divine purpose of scripture (or those called to serve) is not to answer all the needful question of religious nature – but is to bring us to Christ – to remind us of him.

We can be inspire by men of high ecclesiastical or social standing and spiritually, by scripture or even the wonders of science or nature but the reality is – that unless such pints us with humility and repentance to Christ – it is a means of apostasy or total apostasy if you totally love the adjective total.

 

The Traveler

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Nice words, @Traveler

I'd just like to say something about this sentence of yours:

"Everything man touches – turns corrupt and apostate.  Not until the resurrection will we be raised in incorruption (without corruption)".

I understand that we aren't perfect. We are, as you well mentioned the apostle Paul, all sinners and short of the glory of God. 

We are children of God, His very offspring, thus having all capacity to grow spiritually. We are natural until we find Christ, accept His atonement, and “becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). With Christ enabling power of Grace, men can perform wonders in His name. So, when man is a child of Christ, everything he touches turns holy and sacred, thus acceptable to God. If it was not so, there would be no need for priesthood authority, apostles and prophets, scriptures, or even Christ. The purpose of the atonement is change, which is a life-time pursuit. Since Christ’s Grace comes with us all along the path, we can be sure that “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17).

 

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I have thought long and hard about this particular post – I am concerned because of the possibility that it will be misinterpreted and applied incorrect to justify things that should not be justified.  Sometimes the goodness of individuals is overblown.  Maybe that is the wrong idea – Sometimes the flaws of good individuals are brushed aside as a recognition and honor of their accomplishments.   In part, I believe this is the result of thinking perfection means having never had flaws.   The idea that if flaws once existed they can and likely will exist again.

The problem is that if there is nothing to be gained through our probationary experience – there is no justice or mercy in even one second continuance of our probation.  It would be a sin of G-d to leave us subject to the fall as fallen creatures.  Spiritual growth and development as a fallen being is an enigma that cannot proceed without the divine assistance of the Holy Ghost.  So subtle is the influence of the Holy Ghost in our probationary physical circumstance that his role in our eternal salvation is often overlooked in light of The Father and the Redemption of The Son.

Because of the doctrine of agency many over rate their importance in the outcome of things – thinking that any accomplishment is because of agency.  The reality is that without the sustaining of the Holy Ghost our agency would be lost to us.  In essence, during our fallen probation the Holy Ghost enables us to do some good through that influence.  I would go so far as to say that without the gift of the Holy Ghost no man can do good.  But the essence of this principle is lost in the thinking that we are more in control of things than we are and the sentiment in the question of – “What of the good done by many men that have not been baptized through the priesthood and received the gift of the Holy Ghost?”

The goodness that comes about; throughout the history of man is not because of man but because of the Holy Ghost.  When many come to understand that prophets and leaders make mistakes they wonder why anyone ought to follow?  In addition if we were close enough to any man (or woman) we would know of their flaws.  Sometimes this makes marriage too difficult for us to maintenance and service.   It is not our leaders we follow – but it is G-d that appoints them.  This is according to the oath and covenant of the Priesthood (D&C section 84).  And when we start to think that we are better than our leaders – it limits the influence the Holy Ghost has in our lives and we begin to despise those we should love.

I have learned in my marriage that it is better that I love and cherish my wife (despite her flaws) – making exceptions for her than it is for me to be right – or should I say to think and believe that I am right.  I do realize that others may have to take a stand to end abuse – but that is a different discussion.

 

The Traveler

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