May 9, 2009

Knowledge and Action

I know of only two members of the Church who have actually read the entire outline of my concerns. Yet, I have been told by dozens that my concerns, and essentially any concerns, are unfounded.

I wonder how these people feel qualified to tell me that my concerns are groundless, while not knowing what my concerns are. It resembles calling the fire department to report seeing smoke coming from a building across the street, and being met with, "I don't see any."

And I ask these people entirely hypothetically, what would be a good concern? What would be a valid concern? Imagine something, no matter how ridiculous, that would cause you to question the validity of the Church's claims.

I can think of a whole lot of stupid reasons to leave the LDS Church, or any church for that matter. Some leave because they get bored. Some feel they don't have time. Others leave because they were offended by something another member said. Some just really want to drink coffee, or watch rated "R" movies, or sleep in on Sundays. Some claim to believe in God, but only up to the point where he tells them how to live their lives. I think these reasons to leave are all mere excuses, and not enough to warrant such a decision. If the LDS Church's claims are true, then we are obligated to follow its doctrine. The only reason one can reasonably leave a church is if its claims are false, its foundation a fraud.

But on the other hand, it seems to me that active members think there could be no good reason to leave the Church. Or perhaps they don't want to know that there really might be good reasons.

On my mission, I remember a particular person upon whose door we knocked. He was very polite and listened to our introduction of the Book of Mormon, but when we asked if he would like to find out if it were true, his answer puzzled me greatly. He said, "Oh no. I don't want to know if it's true. If it's true, then I have to do something about it!"

So maybe ignorance is bliss for some people. They are comfortable where they are, and learning something new could force them to see that their view and interpretation of existence is flawed. Maybe some of those who don't want to know exactly why I left the Church are afraid that I do have very good reasons for doing so. Maybe they don't want to know that my criticisms of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon might be true, because then they might have to do something about it.


Richard Packham said...

It seems ironic that many Mormons refuse to look at any material (books, websites, Eli's list of concerns) that are critical of the church. "That's all anti-Mormon stuff, and it's all lies and distortions!"

What would the Mormon missionaries say to an someone who refused to read the Book of Mormon because he knows already that it's a fake? They would probably say, "You can't decide whether it's true or not until you have read it, can you?"

It's the same with materials that claim to show the more negative side of Mormonism. You can't decide whether those materials are true or not until you have read them, can you?

You can't decide whether Eli's concerns are valid until you know what they are.

Elder Joseph said...

I read The Book Of Mormon and spotted Biblical King James verses in there word for word.
I also noticed that it seemed to be written in a type of autobiographical way as I could relate to alot of the characters in there like Korihor/Zeezrom etc as being people similar to whom I met myself and was challenged by throughout my years as what I thought was a believer.

It turns out my instinct was correct and that alot of it is a type of autobiography from Smith.

And anyway, If I felt it was true then which Mormon Church should I join? There are over 100 versions I think.

Should I join those who practice Joseph Smith and Brigham Youngs eternal Celestial polygamy principles or should I join those who have abandoned their founders sacred teachings and even prefer to disown and distance themselves from the sacred words of their prophets and apostles throughout Journal Of Discourses(Unless it suits them of course).

tim bishop said...

Just so you know, I did read all of your reasons, and many of the source materials. Those things, mixed with personal experiences, lead me to different conclusions than they did you, but you of all people should be able to accept that.

Eli said...

And I am very glad that you are personally able to reconcile these things. Thank you for having the decency to read my reasons. My question, then, is if you could imagine anything at all, real or fictional, that might make you question the divinity of the LDS church. Is the Church infallible in your mind, or is there simply nothing less fallible?

Tim said...

[Sorry, this response is longer than I planned, and it is a bunch of pro-Mormon beliefs for anyone who wanted to know what it says without reading it all.]

I do question it, often. Especially in reading all of your reasons for leaving the Church have I raised questions about all of this.

Recently, you know that we lost our little girl. That too made me question an awful lot of what I believe and "know" to be true. I fell a long way until I could find something rock solid to stand on again.

I do think that there is nothing less fallible on Earth than the Church, but it is far from infallible. I've read stories of prophets and general authorities that make me realize that they are human as the rest of us. I've been in positions where I ought to be doing more to help others, but haven't. Some may be offended for the things I have done as well as all of the other people in the Church.

I have felt inspiration (and I do believe it to have come from God) in many instances. Joseph Smith described a inspiration as "pure knowledge flowing into you." Part of my understanding that the Church and its teachings are true come from the fact that on multiple occasions I have studied the Scriptures and prayed and come to understanding a principle or subject in a particular way. I feel that that understanding has come by Providential help. Then, I continue to study the words of Joseph Smith and other latter-day prophets, and find they understand the subject the same way.

I know that I ought not to go finding those who think like me to be my teachers, however, the fact that I have felt that I have been inspired to understand one way, and then I find that they understand the same way and by the same means, it gives me confidence that they are inspired by the same Source I have come to know and love as my God.

It is the love I feel from God that I now stand on for my foundation. Too many times have I felt pure joy and light from obeying His word, so that I cannot deny the truth that He is and that I have been in His right way. Too many times have I been out of that way and unable to feel those same feelings of joy, so that I cannot deny that God will not be with me on any other path. I have seen and felt the miraculous power of the Priesthood restored to Earth through Joseph Smith. I have felt the power of the Book of Mormon to teach God's word, and it too came through Joseph Smith.

Yes, I have considered that I have been deceived in some way. I don't believe I have. I feel that I have had full use of my faculty to come to my conclusions independent of others. I also feel like this is the only logical course to take even if it were deception. Even if it weren't true, than any other path would be sufficient to get me where I would be headed. But this Church is the only way to reach the Heaven taught by Joseph Smith. That is the Heaven I want, so I will work for it, and if it turns out that Joseph Smith were a fraud, I will be a better person for living the teachings of the Church the best that I can.

If I didn't answer your question I apologize, I could try again but it might be another essay.

Eli said...

Response to Tim: Then for yours and your family's sake, I hope you are right. In any case, I certainly believe that God is a god of mercy and love. From my point of view, there are far too many red flags in the Church, and not nearly enough (or adequate) answers. While I have felt good about several of its doctrines, I have also felt horrible about several of its doctrines. Through my attempts to feel okay about them, only more questions and complications arose.
While we differ in our conclusions, I am certain that God knows our hearts and will treat us accordingly.