Virtual RS/PH #22: Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths

Mormonism has a focus on gaining knowledge that is unique in Christendom, largely due to the emphasis that Joseph Smith placed on learning.  Joseph’s total open-mindedness to both revelation and all forms of learning are central to the Mormon religion; this open-mindedness had potential for both good and bad outcomes.  The lesson discusses two main concepts:  what is “knowledge,” and how do we gain it?

What is Knowledge?

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.”  (1839)

(Note the singular use of the word “truth.”)  How does an open canon (ongoing revelation) enable members of the church to accept all truth as it is revealed regardless of the superstition, bigotry, ignorance or priestcraft of the day?  How does ignorance, bigotry, superstition and priestcraft still creep in?  What can individual members do to embrace truth and eschew superstition, priestcraft, bigotry and ignorance?

“Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. Woe unto you priests and divines who preach that knowledge is not necessary unto life and salvation. Take away Apostles, etc., take away knowledge, and you will find yourselves worthy of the damnation of hell. Knowledge is revelation. Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.”  (1843)

Joseph Smith takes his definition of “knowledge” for granted.  He seems to use it to mean revelation, not facts, scientific evidence or information.  How does this definition alter our view of the role of knowledge in our salvation?

How to Gain Knowledge

The lesson gives examples of how to gain knowledge, all of which are based on learning from those who know more, not through scientific experimentation or scholarly research.  Even revelation can be viewed as gaining knowledge from a Person (God) who knows more than we do.

How can we seek out the best teachers?

What Are the Obstacles to Gaining Knowledge?

The lesson outlines several obstacles to gaining knowledge (or one might say obstacles to revelation):  Word of Wisdom violations, creeds, and doubt and darkness.

Word of Wisdom.  When the School of Prophets was convened for 4 months of study, the Word of Wisdom was given to the members of the school so their minds would be clear and open to “knowledge.”  (Not as a temperance movement or a cultural marker of obedience as it is used today).  How does considering this original view of the Word of Wisdom change your perception of it?

Creeds.  JS specifically felt that other religions’ adherence to creeds was an obstacle to “knowledge” (remember that he used the word knowledge synonymously with revelation).

“I stated that the most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.”  (1843)

“I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes [limits], and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further’; which I cannot subscribe to.”  (1843)

“I say to all those who are disposed to set up stakes for the Almighty, You will come short of the glory of God. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions.”  (1843)

How do creeds limit our ability to receive revelation or accept changes to our current thinking and interpretations?

How do creeds compare with the efforts to correlate church materials (rather than remaining completely open to multiple interpretations and speculations)?

There are times when this total open-mindedness seemed to cause Joseph problems (e.g. Kinderhook, etc.).  Are there ways in which this complete open-mindedness can cause current members problems (e.g. speculation, wishful thinking, foolish notions)?  How can we avoid that?

Doubt and Darkness.  When we listen to teachers who do not have more (spiritual) knowledge than we do, or we allow doubt to overcome belief, we stop gaining additional (spiritual) knowledge.

“Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge; and hence He knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.”  (1843)

“When men open their lips against [the truth] they do not injure me, but injure themselves.  When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.”  (1844)

“As far as we degenerate from God, we descend to the devil and lose knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved, and while our hearts are filled with evil, and we are studying evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good. Is not God good? Then you be good; if He is faithful, then you be faithful. Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and seek for every good thing.  A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.”  (1842)

How do we sometimes let doubt create distance between us and additional spiritual knowledge?  How does listening to bad (spiritual) teaching cause us to lose (spiritual) knowledge?

Does pursuit of knowledge (facts, information) sometimes lead to loss of knowledge (spiritual knowledge, revelation, closeness to God)?  How can we avoid that while still embracing learning?

So, this is a pretty good lesson, IMO.  What do you think of some of the questions it poses?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

32 comments for “Virtual RS/PH #22: Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths

  1. Terry Foraker
    December 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Reading the above only increases my urge to toss those horrid correlated manuals as far from me as possible. As Hugh Nibley put it, “We seek knowledge as our greatest treasure, while the poverty of most of our manuals and handbooks defies description.”

  2. December 7, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I am impressed with your site and its content! I am also a member of the LDS church and use Sundays to give a little information out about our church. I am impressed with others that do the same. I have fav’d you on Technorati and have also added you to my links on my website at http://issuesoncall.blogspot.com. I hope you will do the same for me. I am looking forward to great upcoming posts with more awesome information. Thanks!

  3. CarlosJC
    December 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Quick quesiton -do you give this class on the second sunday? Since I believed its worldwide, ie RS/PH on 2nd and 3rd sundays?

    By the way this is another great post. Can I print it out and use it as my side notes? for my next weeks class? please??any royalties charged?

    (Sidenote: the word of wisdom actually changed from its ‘advice’ for health and knowledge in 1830’s, to commandment in aprox 1911 for Temple entry and then Pt Grant made it a watertight commandment for all Temple recommends. The problem is that church committees, one after another, have ignored all the changes, from advice to commandment. I’m sure this was mentioned before here in MM).

  4. hawkgrrrl
    December 7, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    There was a very good recap of the history of the Word of Wisdom at Life on Gold Plates: http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2007/09/development-of-word-of-wisdom.html. A must read for all.

  5. hawkgrrrl
    December 7, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    CJC – yes, I teach on 2nd Sundays, and these are the lessons from 2nd & 3rd Sundays. Feel free to use whatever you like. Not sure some of the questions are best for class vs. b’nacle fodder, but that’s your call. There’s also another site that does really good recaps, although not in a “notes-style” format like this. I particularly enjoy Joe Spencer’s stuff at Feast Upon the Word blog: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/.

  6. Jerry
    December 7, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    You mention word of wisdom but if it is eternal truth as we live it today Jesus Christ sinned. This is not an eternal truth but given to us because we are too weak as a church to live the eternal law of self regulation through personal revelation. This also seems to be the case for dress and grooming. I see that instead of getting better as a church we are moving closer to the Israelite’s in the desert than to the ideal

    A lot of great questions though great post.

    On your doubt and darkness it is very clear we can all learn even from Atheists. By studying their questions and logic I can more fully appreciate Gods plan. When we listen and question we are open to the spirit. I often learn things that are not in the lesson or discussed by reading more or being reminded of some thing else.

  7. Wade Nelson
    December 8, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Hawkgrrl

    Your name never ceases to amaze me. Like Uriah Heep it coveys meaning with cunning razor-sharp subtlety.

    The important question for me is what happens when knowledge revealed to the individual conflicts with dogma of the institution? Do Mormons actually believe that Mormon Dogma
    does not exist? That question itself is a joke.

    I love and live by the quote of the Prophet I want the liberty to believe as I please; it feels so good not to be trammeled. He never did and died for it why should we?

    Does Boyd Packer detersminer my knolwdgee/ AWill a TBM answqer that a/

    I feel trammeled every week in Sunday school and High Priests Group. knowledge to almost every member means what we hear every six months and nothing more n’est-ce pas?

    Hawk grrl Help!

  8. Ray
    December 8, 2008 at 12:36 am

    #7 – ?

    1) The individual must follow what s/he believes his/her revealed knowledge is.

    2) Yes and no.

    3) No idea what you mean.

    4) Not worth trying to answer, frankly.

    5) See answer to #4.

  9. Shadow
    December 8, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Hawk,

    Another excellent series of questions as always. Insightful, logical, and useful. Now on to my ranting…

    “The glory of God is intelligence.” That’s what proverbs teaches us. Oddly enough, it doesn’t really say what kind. Many assume spiritual knowledge alone. I believe it to be knowledge in general. Einstein was once credited with saying something like “Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.”

    Learning of what the Creator has made, gives us insight into Him. I have often gained an appreciation of the gospel though my studies of mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The universe is far too ordered for there to not be a point to existence.

    The gospel teaches us a lot. I wish we took more advantage of it. So many truths are contained in the journal of discourses and they are not read by the church as a whole. Words cannot explain how my mind has been opened and knowledge almost literally poured in when I read it. We need to do better with what we have if we are to get more. I’ve used the references in anti-mormon literature as starting points for my studies. Not only are they out of context, but the talks they come out of (usually journal of discourses) are extremely insightful and enlightening.

    There are many obstacles to learning. Traditions of the elders and having a dogmatic point of view are a big one. I often think of Galileo and his trial by the church for heresy when I think of knowledge. Even though he was correct, the church couldn’t really handle it. Many people even nowadays feel that religion and science are enemies. They don’t have to be. I’ve seen a lot of progress in the church (missionary, teaching, etc.) stunted by the traditions of the elders (things that are not doctrine but are treated so). I think everyone probably knows what I’m talking about.

    Many times people don’t want to research what they don’t agree with or don’t understand. They don’t want to know. They are happy in their own little world. This is self limiting. Don’t be afraid of the truth. When you find it, embrace it. Our leaders were wise to say that everything they say is not to be considered doctrine. However, they could have told us how to differentiate between the two. This leaves the door wide open for jumping to conclusions.

    The bottom line, learn everything you can. Secular knowledge can nicely complement spiritual knowledge. If you want more, study what you have.

    I’ll get off my soap box now. Merry Christmas everyone.

  10. CarlosJC
    December 8, 2008 at 2:23 am

    #4 Hawkgrrrl,

    Yes Unlce Golden is a gem! But that article only mentions the Grant changes as a passing comment and almost a footnote; it’s mostly about what happened in the 19th century. Because of this I prefer President Packers explanation from the 2007 April conference were he said that the WoW was adopted unanimously by the church with a sustaining vote in 1908. Even wikipedia’s explanation is better -from my viewpoint off course.
    Thanks for the heads up on that scripture blog, seems interesting and I read more soon.

    #9 Shadow,

    Problem with JofD is in knowing what is doctrinal and believable and what isn’t. For example Brigham Young’s comments on blacks are very dubious, seems he was lashing out more than teaching truths.

    #8 Ray,

    You having one of your ‘sweet and friendly’ days?

  11. hawkgrrrl
    December 8, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Jerry – “You mention word of wisdom but if it is eternal truth as we live it today Jesus Christ sinned. This is not an eternal truth but given to us because we are too weak as a church to live the eternal law of self regulation through personal revelation.” I don’t agree with this conclusion. I’m not sure self-regulation is a higher law. I also don’t think the lesson is alluding to WoW as a sin (except in the sense that smoking and chewing tobacco was inconsiderate). What I got from the lesson was that following the WoW advice would open up their minds to more knowledge; IOW, tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol limited their ability to receive knowledge and to communicate effectively with each other and with God. Remember that it was not given “by way of commandment” originally. The intent was to add to the Saints’ intelligence and ability to receive revelation.

    Wade – “The important question for me is what happens when knowledge revealed to the individual conflicts with dogma of the institution?” Well, the good news is that you can almost always find an authentic high-ranking source that agrees with your viewpoint when this is so. Teachers pick and choose whom they quote. What I think JS was really saying, tho, is to pick teachers (or sources) that challenge your thinking and cause you to broaden your mind, not just to reinforce your own conclusions. I suppose that what’s good for the goose (the dogmatic instructors) is good for the gander (the independent minded pupils).

    Shadow – I always find it interesting that there was a series called “Know Your Religion.” Do we really need a series to tell us that? Good thoughts.

  12. John Nilsson
    December 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Hawk,

    I have a hard time seeing how the original revelation on the Word of Wisdom, to say nothing of previous revelations, could have been received, understood, and accepted by smoking, drinking, chewing backwoods types, since we all know, as good Mormons, that partaking of these substances prevents one from being in tune with the Spirit 😉

    Honestly, this is a teaching I’ve never understood (violation of the WoW blocking revelation). If it were true, not only is the receipt of revelations by Joseph Smith and his successors rendered instantly problematic, but the modern missionary effort of the Church couldn’t function at all either. No coffee-drinker could ever get an impression from the Spirit that coffee-drinking is bad. It’s a knotty paradox, that’s for sure.

    I think the Word of Wisdom is best seen apart from the issue of knowledge and looked at from the point of view of health, although I’m aware of the verses at the end of section 89 which specifically mention treasures of knowledge, so my disentangling isn’t perfect either.

  13. Hawkgrrrl
    December 8, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    John N. – Well, two things: 1) I don’t think this is saying that WoW violations block it entirely, just limit it by limiting one’s ability to think or communicate clearly (that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t receive any light or that you’ll get a suspect revelation, just less of it), and 2) this is a common belief among practitioners of eastern meditation who eschew all stimulants and depressants. I know of a group that also bans taking aspirin because it disconnects you from the experience of a headache.

    I’m not saying this is the right interpretation, but I prefer it to the notion that the WoW was somehow a crystal-ball meditation on the world of medicine or a cultural marker to distinguish us as a peculiar people. And it seems supported by JS’s words.

    However, other inhibitors to receiving revelation/knowledge that JS didn’t mention: 1) cultural biases, 2) one’s level of intelligence, 3) one’s level of maturity, and 4) one’s opinions based on personal experiences. All of these were probably at play in his own life, and still are for all of us today, probably through all levels of the church. These are big obstacles to overcome, but I believe it’s in our grasp to do so.

  14. Ray
    December 8, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Just to consider:

    A friend of my oldest son lived with us for a while, because he and his father were at odds. He had attended church in another denomination during his youth, and he made the comment to me once that it was amazing how bright most Mormon kids were that he knew. They seemed to excel at school (in general), and they seemed to understand scriptures when they read them (even at an early age). He mentioned my 7-year-old specifically as having a better grasp of passages she read than his youth minister growing up.

    Obviously, part of that is the tradition of reading scriputres daily and discussing them verse by verse, but he made an interesting observation – as someone who started drinking at the age of 10 to escape. He said, essentially, “I have to believe Mormon kids’ minds simply are clearer than many others, especially when their ancestors haven’t smoked or drank or used drugs for generations.”

    That really made me stop and think about the LONG-TERM benefits of the WofW that aren’t obvious to us – but that were apparent to my son’s friend. I think we underestimate just how “clear-minded” the average Mormon kid is who comes from a long line of those who have obeyed the WofW.

  15. Shadow
    December 8, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    #10 – Carlos

    Agreed. However, Brigham Young also stated that he had never given a discourse that the members of the church couldn’t take as scripture. Even nowadays, general conference talks are given weight comparable to that of scripture.

    The major point I tried to make later in that post is that how we differentiate between doctrine and opinion is left up to the individual which allows for quite a bit of variability. It would be nice if this were addressed at the next general conference. I feel that it would be of major benefit to the church as a whole.

  16. Hawkgrrrl
    December 8, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Ray: “They seemed to excel at school (in general), and they seemed to understand scriptures when they read them (even at an early age).” However, I often think scholastic achievement is more tied to being a suck-up than actual intelligence. And kids probably learn some apple-polishing through association with the church. Respect for elders and authority both come to mind. Teachers eat that stuff up with a spoon!

    Shadow: “It would be nice if this were addressed at the next general conference. I feel that it would be of major benefit to the church as a whole.” Really? OK, here goes. Follow the brethren. 🙂

  17. Jerry
    December 8, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Hawkgrrrl said – Remember that it was not given “by way of commandment” originally. The intent was to add to the Saints’ intelligence and ability to receive revelation-

    So Jesus Christ reduced his intelligence and ability to receive revelation?

    I am not arguing for the use of alcohol but the word of wisdom as we have it today is in response drunkeness that led to wife beatings and other abuse. The rest of it came in because of the alcohol and tobacco. There is no eternal principal here is my point. We obey the WofW because we are asked to and we are asked to because some members became drunks. Any other interpretation however nice they may sound is revisionism. My grandmother was in the thick of this. Soon after this became the law of the church she divorced her drunk abusive husband and moved on. This really was uncommon before this rule became a hard rule to live by. It is interesting that she never gave up her english teas and that never prevented her from going to the temple.

    It may be true that we believ intelligence and revelations are improved but you could also argue that relaxing and losing the daily tension by drinking 4 oz of wine could also enable you to listen to the spirit better. Having not had the wine I couldn’t tell you if that would work. But it is very clear that Jesus drank wine and given the use of coffee in the middle east that is likely as well.

    One of the differences between the law of Moses and the laws that Christ brought was not having to be commanded in all things. We should be able to let the spirit guide us. We should be ashamed that the prophet has to tell us to shave and to wear a belt and how many earrings to wear. We sound like a church of 10 year olds some times. The argument I get at church is that it is cultural and that fits. How can any of that matter in next life given all of the ways people around the world and through time have dressed and groomed themselves.

  18. Ray
    December 8, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Just to clarify:

    My example was a comparison between a people who have lived the WofW for generations and those who have been more than “4 oz. of wine to relax” drinkers. I think there is real power in the spiritual and intellectual benefit of abstaining, but I also understand totally the benefit of a relaxant used properly. I just think the overall benefits of generational observance of the WofW are hard to argue against.

    Just as an example, why would I decide to consume even 4 oz. of wine daily (even understanding its general benefit to the society at large) – when my life expectancy and overall health as a Mormon (and my own family’s longevity and general health) already is higher and better than those who drink only that much wine daily, and when I find other ways to relax each evening? What benefit would it provide to me? None whatsoever.

  19. Hawkgrrrl
    December 8, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Jerry – no argument here. I’m merely discussing the context provided in the lesson that was from JS. It was never a commandment while JS was alive. To your point, it was ratified much much later (or else your grandmother was one really old woman).

    I can see someone making the argument that ‘loosening up’ with a glass of wine makes one more open to the spirit by lowering inhibitions; I just think it’s not true. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion I guess. As to the example of the Savior, honestly, who knows? They had no refrigeration in those days, and they lived in a desert. How do you avoid wine? The grape juice is gonna ferment. That’s just the way it goes. But, to disabuse you of the coffee notion, it was invented in the 9th century, so Jesus missed Turkish coffee by a few centuries.

  20. December 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    This quote in the lesson makes me sad –

    “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft.” (1839)

    This may have been true in the early days of the Church but now Mormonism has its own “dogma” that prevents many from being open and embracing truth.

    From my research it appears that early leaders of the Church were willing to accept truth from various sources, but now it has to be channeled through Church leadership before it evens gets considered. Does this prevent us from receiving eternal truths?

  21. Ray
    December 8, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Great question, Capt. There always is a tradeoff when an organization grows and matures, and by “trade-off” I mean of one good thing for another.

    Institutionally, perhaps it does slow the reception of new eternal truths – but it also slows the promulgation of speculation as truth, which is not a bad thing at all; individually, I think the quote still holds true. It’s the balance of the institutional and the individual that gets tricky, and I’m not certain I know the proper balance for myself, much less for others.

  22. Hawkgrrrl
    December 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Ray & Capt: I think that “tension” between speculation and correlation is one of the most interesting parts of this lesson. There were plenty of issues in the early days due to speculation (e.g. Hiram Page’s stone, Zelph, things they assumed the BOM said that it doesn’t really say, justification for the priesthood ban, heck we could possibly even throw in polygamy on this one), just as there are today (e.g. God & Satan are twin brothers, the HG is really Adam, crazy conspiracy theories you sometimes hear, etc.). I have heard many kooky theories batted around in my 40 years, and I have to say that some correlation is a very good thing.

    But does correlation sometimes stifle us from seeking personal revelation or engaging in a more meaningful and open-minded way with the gospel? It probably does at times.

  23. Ray
    December 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I agree totally, Hawkgrrrl.

  24. December 9, 2008 at 1:09 am

    RE: “Not as a temperance movement . . .”

    Great post, as always, Hawk! To your broad and encompassing themes, let me contribute a narrow and peevish (though not necessarily brief) comment.

    There are very few if any distinctive “Mormon” doctrines or practices which are as inextricably linked at the hip to Joseph Smith’s immediate world and pervasive culture than the Word of Wisdom. Many Latter-day Saints have some awareness of this, but from lack of extensive data, they often couch their comments on that subject in rather cautious, relative language. Yet virtually every element of D&C 89 had dramatically striking correlations to issues and concepts which were being published and preached intensively at the time (I’m weak on the tobacco for sick cattle thing, but give me a little more time on that one).

    Even the chronology is interesting. Beginning in 1832, various American temperance societies began to organize a first-time, major temperance (anti-drinking) rally to be held on the same day nationwide in every village and town throughout the United States. It was publicized well in advance, and observed from the most humble hamlets to Washington D.C. “Shall we, whose souls are lighted,” asked Lewis Cass,

    With wisdom from on high,
    Shall we, to men benighted
    The lamp of life deny? [quoting “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”]

    “Our Government,” declared Cass, “. . . would soon become as desolate as the monuments of departed freedom . . . of the old world, if it were not guarded by the virtue and intelligence of the American people and their representatives. All, therefore, are interested in the great cause of public morals . . .”

    There stood the Secretary of War of the United States, in the hall of the House of Representatives on the Sunday evening before the nationwide rally, virtually preaching, “. . . with the less reluctance, even in this hall of legislation, because the evils of intemperance, against which we are called to bear our testimony, and in the suppression of which our co-operation is demanded, have passed, like the blast of the desert, over this fair land.” —Proceedings and Speeches at a Meeting for the Promotion of the Cause of Temperance, in the United States, Held at the Capitol, in Washington City, February 24, 1833. (Washington: Printed by Way and Gideon, 1833), 3-4.

    Notices of this event were circulated months in advance by the tens of thousands in temperance publications throughout the nation, even up and down the Mississippi Valley, carefully scheduling Tuesday, February 26, 1833 for the simultaneous observances. It was surely the greatest anti-drinking event of the nineteenth century. On Wednesday, February 27, 1833, Joseph Smith dictated the Word of Wisdom.

    “. . . Let every friend of temperance,” urged a major Albany publication, “—let every lover of his country, and of man—let every parent—let every child—let every christian in these United States turn his attention to the TWENTY-SIXTH OF FEBRUARY, 1833, and make it a day worthy to be recorded on the brightest page of history; a day which in point of importance to future generations, may be enrolled with that which gave us FREEDOM.” —Temperance Recorder. Devoted Exclusively to the Cause of Temperance, Published monthly, by the Executive Committee of the New-York State Temperance Society. Vol. I, issue 10 (for December 4, 1832), p. 79.

  25. Jerry
    December 9, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Ray,

    I am not sure you can link the WofW with longer life. My HP group is about 80% obese the RS is 50%. The wiki study mentioned above compared those who meditate not avoid foods or drink. Asians who eat a lower fat diet clearly live longer than Americans as does every alcohol drinking culture in Europe and the Middle East.

    On my mission the drunks always seemed to find us and we ended up spending a lot of time around them. There is not much else that could destroy your life the way alcohol and drugs can. The chuch seems to have a much lower problem of kids getting involved with substance abuse especially if they attend even semiregularly.

  26. Kari
    December 9, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    One of the questions that could be considered further is how do we gain “knowledge” by spiritual means? Can we really actually “know” something by the spirit, or do we exhibit faith? If we “know” that the church is true, how do we then deny another’s spiritual confirmation that their church is correct. If we “know” that Christ is saviour by a spiritual witness, then can we deny the knowledge of a buddhist who “knows” the ultimate ideal is reaching nirvana?

    Leaders of the church in the 19th Century “knew” and testified that monogamy was the downfall of civilization, and the cause of infanticide and adultery. Leaders of the church “knew” and taught that those with black skin were less valiant in the pre-existence and would never hold the priesthood in this life. Leaders and members today “know” that same-sex marriage is evil and will destroy the family. Leaders and members over the past 100 years have “known” that evolution is wrong/evil/incorrect (but yet it’s taught at the Lord’s University).

    My catholic friends “know” that the pope is God’s mouthpiece on earth, continuing a chain of authorized leadership that stretches back to Jesus. They also “know” that we must be saved from original sin. My evangelical friends “know” that I am in a cult, and will not be saved.

    So how do we resolve such differences in knowledge? Do we simply state that our spiritual witnesses are the only that come from God, and those of others’ come from Satan? I was once taught that in Church. Or do we become more ecumenical in our thinking, and accept the spiritual experiences of others as equally valid to our own? If we do this, then can we still claim to be the “only true and living church”?

  27. Hawkgrrrl
    December 9, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Kari – I think the issue is the word “knowledge.” JS used it the way he used it, but that doesn’t make it a correct usage of the word. Applying the word “knowledge” in a religious context renders it meaningless IMO. We should be more precise in our language. Just because JS set precedence doesn’t mean we can’t be more precise.

  28. Kari
    December 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Amen. So what word do we use? Faith? Hope? Certainty?

  29. Hawkgrrrl
    December 9, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Personally, I like hope and faith when talking about spiritual stuff. Or even “learning.”

  30. Linda
    January 31, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Are you still doing the R.S. lessons. I really enjoy reading your thoughts. I was looking for lesson 24.

  31. hawkgrrrl
    January 31, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Sorry to say I have been released. There are some good resources at Feast Upon the Word, although my favorite blogger there has switched from PH to GD this year.

  32. Linda
    March 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Sorry to hear you were released. I enjoyed your sense of humor.

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