Job, Healing and Elder Oaks

Stephen Marsh Mormon 36 Comments

Elder Oaks General Conference talk on healing has ended up as one of the talks widely used for an alternate week priesthood and relief society lesson.  I almost got derailed into posting about the Book of Job and neo-Calvinism (the rich get that way because of the grace of God rewarding them for their merit, the unlucky, poor and distressed get that way because of their sins — that is the message of everyone in the Book of Job who God repudiates at the end …) but Elder Oaks talk was what I originally planned to write about.

In some classes, it appears that they teachers gloss over the talk and then launch into asking people to tell about times they were healed.  Healed = faithful saints with the grace of God.  Not healed = vile faithless sinners.  Kind of like revisiting the neo-Calvinism of Job all over again.

On the other hand, in the class I was in we talked about the talk, how Elder Oaks pointed out that the most important thing in a blessing was the will of God, the least important part whatever words we managed to say, and then got into a discussion of folk practices in the Church and the incident where Joseph Smith began the curing of the saints afflicted by cholera.  It was a dramatic event, made the more so by his return home to Emma, where she asked him merely “why could you heal all of those people, yet our children died?”  Joseph responded that he could only do the will of the Lord.

Sometimes it is not a lack of faith, sometimes it is not a failure to find the right person with the right gifts to give the blessing, sometimes it is not a failure to find the right words, and it is not a matter of inherent grace.  In all matters it is most importantly the will of God, with God’s love and purpose to seek our good, that is the significant factor.

Which I liked better than the way Job ends with a litany of examples of how God is powerful, Job is not, so repent and suck it up.  That did not comfort me much at all.

What do you think of the book of Job (especially now that it has been analyzed almost to death by the bloggernacle) and how did Elder Oak’s talk on healing strike you?  If it was taught in your stake, what about the lesson based on it went well for you, what did not and what do you think could be done to improve it?

Comments

comments

Comments 36

  1. It all leaves me confused, as I don’t really understand the point of blessings. If it doesn’t really matter what we say, and if the will of God is going to happen anyway, realistically, why do we do them?

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    Mike, I think we give blessings to involve ourselves with the will of God and to connect with it by faith. Sometimes it is the will of God that healing occur, but it appears not to happen without blessings or similar efforts.

    So, it matters what we do (though not necessarily what we say if we get confused), but not as much as other things — but enough.

    I’m obviously thinking of two different things. I think of my dad, dying of Parkinson’s, in pain, delusional, unable to rise from his bed, praying for death who asked for a blessing to release him from the nightmare. We got the whole family together, even his non-member Catholic brother, and I gave him a blessing. You know how it is, he wasn’t healed of Parkinson’s but he ceased to be delusional, the pain went away, he started walking again and had a couple or so good more years of life (with Hospice visiting every week). On the other hand, I’ve buried three children, all of whom one would have expected to have lived.

    So, we participate, we act in faith, we speak as we feel inspired, but we don’t obsess that we might use the right words.

  3. I’m really confused, Stephen.

    What you describe is more Calvinistic in anything. Free will? Nope. It’s all about God’s sovereignty. He will bless his elect, and everyone else…well…their suffering can be an example for the elect of where they would be but for the grace of God.

    It’s not all that comforting.

  4. #3 Paul,

    “Then why don’t all prayers begin and end with “Thy Will be done”? Then why the ceremony?”

    In case the boss doesn’t want that person to stay here on earth. We do [want them to stay] and that’s why we try everything possible but sometimes God steps in and still sends a 3 year old to heaven.

    Andrew #4 “He will bless his elect, and everyone else…well…their suffering can be an example for the elect of where they..”

    Job mentions a few times that the wicked prosper on this earth while the righteous suffer. Indeed Job himself is the best example.

  5. Stephen Marsh,

    I don’t agree that you have the full message from old Job. His message includes the side note a-wicked prosper, b-righteous suffer etc but the more important message is about testimony or the belief in God that isn’t dependent on any earthy event. Even in extreme suffering the righteous still turn to God for comfort and salvation and peace, then wait for ever for it to arrive.

    When “Job ends with a litany of examples of how God is powerful, Job is not” its just stating part of his testimony and part of the knowledge he is sure of, or part of what he ‘knows’ and not just what he ‘believes’. Job knows where his place is and where he fits in, and knowing where God is and what he is like, he turns to God in his hour of most need. Everyone else, even his friends and wife, turn against Job to accuse him of sin or to tell him to curse God and die and so on.

    I really can’t see Elder Oaks talk related to Job and his message much. If anything what is missing from Job is someone, a good friend, who would’ve offered him a blessing of comfort in his time of need since Job did loose all his children remember. Anyways, I’d humbly suggest you re-study Job (how’s that for a humble suggestion). I never knew that it was “analyzed almost to death by the bloggernacle”, I don’t get out much! but maybe you read too much from the bloggernacle and not much of the actual scripture?

  6. Oops, correction. #5 should have referenced #1 “if the will of God is going to happen anyway, realistically, why do we do them?”

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    Your question is why the form of the ceremony, not why the ceremony. In theory one seeks the will of God, to speak it. Thus one thinks one is speaking the will of God, by inspiration. Sometimes some are more inspired than others. The point that Elder Oaks was making that we need not obsess over the words, but should focus on faith and on finding the will of the Lord and becoming attuned. The talk doesn’t go into why it has the form it has, why invoke the priesthood, why use olive oil, etc., at least not deeply.

    But that is a good set of questions implicit in why not just pray “thy will be done” — why did Christ include that, but not begin and end with it in the prayer he gave us for an example? Even twelve step groups with the form prayer which is seeking surrender to the will of God don’t do that.

  8. Well, let’s look at Christ’s example. He healed people. Did he heal everyone? And those people who didn’t cross his path, were they somehow simply destined to not be healed of their malady? Lots of lepers have lived and died in their disease, how about those particular ten? Is it just capricious? And would those individuals have been been healed anyways, because obviously it was the will of God? Is there anyone he didn’t heal because it wasn’t God’s will?

    It’s enough to give one a headache.

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    Andrew S — I’m rejecting the friend’s comments the same way God did, and I agree there is no comfort in that at all. I just listened to the entire book of Job while driving out to East Texas and back and listening to it made it resonate differently. Thus I note the message of everyone in the Book of Job who God repudiates at the end

    Carlos — I’d agree that the more important message is about testimony or the belief in God that isn’t dependent on any earthy event. Even in extreme suffering the righteous still turn to God for comfort and salvation and peace, then wait for ever for it to arrive. — yes, that is the lesson that should come from Job, but it doesn’t flow from God’s statements in the book.

    If anything what is missing from Job is someone, a good friend, who would’ve offered him a blessing of comfort in his time of need — I’ve only buried three children Carlos, so I obviously have not suffered like Job, but I would agree with that.

    I think it would have been clearer if I had used the statement The Book of Job instead of the shorthand Job in several places, since Job refers to both the book and the character in it. My post loses clarity there.

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    I don’t get out much! but maybe you read too much from the bloggernacle and not much of the actual scripture?

    Could be. I only added the Book of Job into my analysis after listening to it being read to me. Otherwise I’d have stuck with Elder Oaks talk.

    The contrast between the classes that were basically “everyone share your miracles as proof of your inherent grace” and “God’s ways are mysterious and his will is not always easily understood or received, and blessings seem to be not controlled by righteousness” really struck me.

    Having listened to Job between when I first drafted this essay and the final draft, I thought of wrapping it in, since “everyone share your miracles as proof of your inherent grace” really seems like embracing the calvinism of the friends — the same quid pro quo determinism that miracles = proof of righteousness; bad things = bad person logic that God rejects at the end of the Book of Job.

    I just was not clear enough.

  11. We discussed the healing talk. Our discussion focussed on using J. Stapely’s discussion of ritual healing in the early Church from a JMH article and tried to elaborate on how the early saw these rituals in their salvific context and then we discussed the implications of E. Oaks statement about the word part of the blessing. What does this men for blessing sof comfort of healing and tried to discuss approaches to blessings that might incorporate this insight but without removing their spiritual significance.

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  13. Perhaps a little off topic, but I seem to recall a statement from Joseph Smith where he basically states, “any religion that cannot care for the temporal needs of its membership, is in no position to care for their spiritual needs”. I don’t recall if Joseph went on to explain that, or whether it was someone else in a talk, but I recall an anology being made to Jesus. He performed many miracles which defied mortal contemporary understanding. He healed the sick to show that he has ultimate power over life and death, and to imply that he also held the keys to Heaven and Hell. He multiplied the food supply to show that his ability to succor was beyond limit. He transformed water to wine to demonstrate that had the power to work a mighty change in us, and on and on and on. Moses too was given this power so as to confirm to the Israelite company that he was Gods chosen vessel. He addressed their immediate concerns by bringing them out of their immediate captivity, symbolizing the need and means for each of us to make an exodus from the fall. The point is, it was important for them to perform these impressive works which brought temporary relief to societies most pressing concerns, so as to give merit to his bigger focus on salvation.

    Mormon claims to exclusive Priesthood Power sort of carry this same implication. By virtue of the Priesthood we claim that we hold the power to work the miracles of Jesus or Moses, thereby witnessing to those who fortunate enough to participate, that the greater claims of spiritual healing are founded in the source of absolute power. The same authority which we claim can heal, is also invoked to perform “saving ordinances”, which are not so immediately obvious as is a manifest healing of the sick. But there’s just one little caveat…sometimes it doesn’t work. In fact, it appears quite arbitrary. I am aware of no instances recorded in Scripture (ancient) where blessings or miracles were attempted by Prophets or Apostles, or Jesus, where God “appears” to have willed it otherwise. Operating from my assumption it would seem counterintuitive otherwise. When Moses smote the rock God chastised him and ultimately deprived him of personally entering upon the promised land, yet water came gushing out. What would have happened to Israel had it not? What about Jesus? Had he declared, “Lazarus, arise”, and Lazarus remained dead it wouldn’t have done much for his popularity. It’s a big claim to say we hold the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, and then pre-qualify everything conveniently with “Not my will, but thine”. Remember Jesus declared those words to demonstrate his willingness to submit to the will of the Father by not shrinking from task that lay before him. He did not say it to justify a failed miracle. In the context of Priesthood blessings, prefacing with “not my will by thine” is a direct admission from the Priesthood officiator, that he holds uncertainty over the rite – and therefore no true authority.

  14. Saying something is “God’s will” is not the same as saying that God wanted something to happen or not happen to someone. In my opinion there’s never a reason for suffering. It just is and we make of it what we’re able.

  15. Some challenging thoughts, Cowboy. I loved the discussion about the symbolism of the miracles — and then you veered hard off in an entirely different direction, i.e., what the symbolism of a “failed miracle”? Uncertainty? God’s capriciousness? Less than absolute power being delegated to his servants (apparently unlike Moses)? What the heck kind of an object lesson is that, and why do we need those lessons more than the dramatic scriptural ones?

  16. Thomas:

    The reality is, and you’ve made a good point, that I’m finding myself becoming more cynical than useful. I’ve been noticing this in myself, and it’s good to get a reminder. At it’s heart my argument in #15 is that I don’t believe that Church leaders hold any special authority from God, and so little “get out of jail free” disclaimers like “not my will, but thine” seem all too convenient. I intended to do so by showing how a commonly used scripture has been completely robbed of its context to make a point that is not theologically supported outside of Mormon thought. I see this as a total lack of accountability, whereas I used to find it all very confusing from a believing standpoint.

    The reality is, I’ve tried to tune my participation way down, and as much as I like it here – your right, I’m not being very constructive to an ongoing conversation which promotes an optimistic perspective on Mormonism in it’s wide variety of shades. I should now probably tune out, for a while. I know I have said similar things in the past, now I think I will tune completely out for a while – sorry for the decline in attitude.

  17. Cowboy — I think you misunderstood me; I was kinda agreeing with you. You gave a good explanation for the limited distribution of miracles in the New Testament era — i.e., the point was to establish symbolic themes, not simply to do good to specific people. And then you threw in contrast the even more apparently limited distribution of miracles in the modern Mormon era, which diminishes even the symbolic meaning. It’s definitely a thought-feeder. Is there any good reason for the apparent randomness of modern LDS miracle-working?

  18. Cowboy: You are not alone. I, too, have tried to comment less and less, as I don’t want to seem counterproductive to others. With regards to blessings/healings, I feel much like you do. Things I have seen:

    – A blessing of healing on myself before a surgery. I was promised that I would be back 100%, like things had never happened. There were good feelings present, etc. The surgery was done. No real complications, but I subsequently had additional surgery in an attempt to fix the same thing, and there is still daily pain. It’s been several years. I expect to have pain the rest of my life.

    – A blessing being set-apart for a fairly major calling. I was told that it would require a lot of time. I was told that

  19. Thanks for the clarification Thomas – I did misunderstand you. I think I get what you meant in #17. In other words you are asking, if God’s will is not to honor some blessing “requests” offered in the name of his Priesthood, what exactly does that accomplish for God. You ask in #19:

    “Is there any good reason for the apparent randomness of modern LDS miracle-working?”

    Personally I find none. As people we are trained to form belief based on consistency of outcomes. We look at past historical data to formulate future expectations. This is largely true of most all of us, whether trained or untrained. In fact, it is the entire basis of Alma 32. Experiment on the word, observe the outcome, either progress in faith or do not, based on interpretations of the observation. Knowing that this is how we form knowledge, faith, belief etc, and seeing as how this method is infact scripturally prescribed, it would seem quite contrary for God to disrupt that process if he has our faith in mind.

    Of course this raises all sorts of questions. After all we can’t make God accountable for every fancy expressed in a Priesthood blessing. Particularly given the large numbers of individuals who could perform the rite. So what quality control measures would make sense theologically, so that God could offer consistency with having his authority run amok? I don’t have an answer, but certainly he could do better than a random distribution which fares no better than the average population (I’m assuming this of course, though I have never exactly tested such a thing – my experience however says this is about right).

    I suppose the believers answer to your question would consider the blessing the context of Eternity. Why was this person allowed to suffer an untimely death? God had work for them on the other side. This I suppose is at least plauzible in explaining a death, but falls short when the death is preceeded by serious misery. Again, in these situations a person sometimes following the reciept of a blessing experiences relief – and sometimes they don’t. If they live for long periods of time, then I find the faithful response of “it was Gods will that they suffer” a bit lacking. Indeed it is perhaps the best explanation from a standpoint of hope, but not so when faith is in question. In short, when these justifications seek to instill hope in an otherwise grim circumstance, by clinging to the belief that God is good, and ultimately in charge, then I can set my pessimism aside and go with it. When the purpose of these rationals is to justify men who claim Gods authority, but have no or little proof – then I feel myself become cynical.

    Thank you for the response Thomas – I always enjoy what you have to say. I still think I’m starting to sound like a broken record, so I’ll back off, but I thought this comment deserved a response.

  20. (oops, pressed Return too soon)…

    – I was told that the Lord understood this and would watch over my family. Largely as a result of the time away from my family, my marriage nearly fell apart. We have fixed a lot of things, but I still bear emotional and psychological scars from the experience. The experience nearly killed the core of my being. I have no desire to ever serve in a “big” calling again if that is how the Lord watches over my family.

    – I have prayed extensively about various problems in the past as we’re taught to do. During one particularly trying situation, I fasted and prayed and went to the temple. I had probably the most profound experience in the temple I have ever had, and felt it was a direct answer to my prayers. I felt a true blessing. But at the end of the day, it was wrong and the opposite happened.

    – I work in the medical field. I have seen patients severely injured and basically brain-dead. I have seen blessings with promises of “full recovery” with no residual problems. I have seen the same patients dead the next day.

    Perhaps I don’t understand. Perhaps my ways are not God’s ways (which is absolutely true). Perhaps my daily pain is actually fully recovered. Perhaps … who knows…

  21. Mike S-

    Your not alone in your experiences. Let’s assume blessings truly are from God. I have wondered if there is a higher purpose in saying one thing and doing another. Maybe it is the ultimate test in life to see if we will turn completely away from God because things didn’t go as we interpreted them in a blessing. I have wondered too, if things are said in blessings to give us hope rather than to tell us the actual reality of what is going to happen. Then there is always the one we all like to hear…. it will happen according to God’s timing. Anyway, it is hard to understand and make sense of it…. that’s for sure.

  22. One of the things I am feeling in my own personal experience with healing blessings that don’t come as hoped is that it takes a lot of work on my part to figure out what God’s will really is. It’s sometimes a bit lazy on our part to just ask for a blessing and think that it’s going to be fixed automatically. What does healing mean to God? Is it always a removal of illness or immediate suffering? I don’t think so. It is a real exercise of faith to be ok with that and to look more deeply in the experience of pain and suffering for His healing power that may come in different ways, may unfold over time.

    I also think our impatience often gets in the way of understanding His will. We want resolution, and we want it NOW. Chronic illness has given me a chance to ponder what might be going on, what I might be able to learn, what those around me might be learning, what bigger picture there may be. I also watch for patterns in blessings, and am learning to exercise faith in a different way than just getting what I think I want. I don’t think it’s all arbitrary or a copout, even though it can be very, very hard to understand.

    It’s also really interesting when you can feel when a blessing’s words really are spoken under inspiration vs. under a spirit of human hope. Just because Elder Oaks said that the words aren’t the most important part of the blessing doesn’t mean that they can’t be very significant when truly spoken under inspiration. Again, the onus is on the receiver to sort through that in faith, to learn to discern what is inspiration and what is ‘best wishes’ kind of talk. If we just put the burden on the blessing giver, we ourselves end up copping out a bit, imo. This kind of faith is hard work. And I think sometimes it takes more faith to not lose hope when results aren’t clear-cut.

  23. Stephen,

    Oh, I see know what you are trying to say. But this ” but it doesn’t flow from God’s statements in the book” , that’s because its about Job and his statement of faith.

  24. Mike S and Jen — having seen real miracles, and then having not seen them (i.e. none happening, or worse, beating the odds in the wrong direction), I’ve found this a topic that I still don’t fully understand. On the one hand, I understand the theology that “God is not a vending machine” or a domestic animal who acts mechanically and predictably. On the other hand, the density of miracles seems to have declined.

    The real secondary question is “Just what is it reasonable to expect from God?”

    Michelle — that is a good point as well.

    carlos — interesting perspective on just what the book is about and its focus.

    But blessings are a sub-set of three questions:

    1. How does God communicate with us?
    2. What is reasonable to expect from God and why are their variances?
    3. How do I make sense out of a world where (a) miracles do happen, but (b) they are not predictable?

    Predictable miracles — that is easy to create a theology around. Predicable lack of miracles — that is easy too (I’ve a friend who believes that God is aware, he just does not intervene in this world — that makes for an easy theology).

  25. On the other hand, the density of miracles seems to have declined.

    By what measure, I might ask?

    Is it possible that we are missing the miracles that are just a part of our every day life and of living in this day and age?

    For example, my thought here is that the blessings of medical science really are miracles in and of themselves — blessings that preserve us and help us and save us so much more than any of our forebears experienced. Our lifespan is double what those in Jesus’ time experienced…and even much higher than our pioneer forebears.

    We also have the gospel spreading all over the world and people miraculously finding it all the time.

    I really understand your questions, by the way, but I think sometimes we limit our view of God and miracles by only looking at a very small subset of what ‘miracles’ might be. Also, miracles span beyond this life, especially including the resurrection and all the blessing of the atonement.

    I loved this from Elder Cook, in response to the recent bishop slaying:

    “all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

    THAT’s a miracle — the most amazing of all!

    Just found this from Pres. Kimball:

    The question is often asked by wondering or skeptical people: Why are there not the spiritual manifestations today, including healings, as in the days of the Prophet and the days of the Savior?

    The answer is clear: There are infinitely more healings today than in any age and just as wondrous. The religious history of the Savior’s ministry and the period following is written in a few short chapters, and as John said, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

    As the years of history were condensed, it would be expected that only the most spectacular of the healings would be chronicled, giving the impression that all miracles were spectacular ones and all who asked were healed. Little mention is made of the possible numerous times in Christ’s and the Apostles’ times when the blessings were not so outstanding, when a headache was stopped, when a recovery was greatly speeded up, or when agonies were relieved. Today the libraries would bulge their walls if all the miracles of our own time were recorded.

    Lastly, I think faith would be hard in the face of predictability. 😉 It’s that Pres. Kimball quote that says if all the sick were healed, etc. we wouldn’t grow. “The Lord does not always heal the sick, nor save those in hazardous zones. He does not always relieve suffering and distress, for even these seemingly undesirable conditions may be part of a purposeful plan.

    “Being human we would expel form our lives, sorrow, distress, physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long suffering and self mastery. The sufferings of our Savior was part of his education.”

    The tension of not really understanding the whys all the time demands a faith of us that pushes us beyond our own often linear view of healing and resolution. I don’t think we really want an easy theology, because we wouldn’t have to stretch to trust, regardless of what we do or don’t understand.

    I know I’m being longwinded here, but this is a topic I think about often.

  26. “Lastly, I think faith would be hard in the face of predictability.” I’m not sure I get why. If there is no predictability how does one move forward with faith? Which way is forward, and why exactly? What would be the wisdom of banking on an outcome with low persistency? Is it even faith anymore, or just a shot in the dark?

    “Is it possible that we are missing the miracles that are just a part of our every day life and of living in this day and age?” I guess I just don’t see frequent occurences that are “just part of our every day life” as indications of anything greater than our everyday lives. Besides, while this is not a new argument, can we really say that “every day miracles” even stack up against a single, uncommon miracle, like raising someone from the dead? Or commanding that a person be healed, in the name of Christ, where the healing is instant as opposed to a typical process of recovery. Modern scientific advancement is certainly a miracle from a broad perspective, but it says nothing of Priesthood authority or blessings. Conceptually, a reality of the atonement would be a miracle, but that’s like saying “won’t it be amazing when Moses parts the Red Sea”, before the fact. None of us have actually achieved the long promises of the resurrection, so it’s not quite evidence yet?

    “Being human we would expel form our lives, sorrow, distress, physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long suffering and self mastery. The sufferings of our Savior was part of his education.”

    Sure, from the standpoint of mortal experience that would be correct. There would be little debate however as to whether miracles happen. Also, if this is to be, then what exactly is the point behind a ritual that which takes the shape of Christs example, elicits the “potential” for God to intervene, but at best holds relatively the same odds of healing as no ritual? Why even go through all that, and what does it accomplish other than more confusion?

  27. Just my thoughts.

    If there is no predictability how does one move forward with faith? Which way is forward, and why exactly?

    Part of faith is learning to discern, imo. We move forward one step at a time according to our best knowledge and the guidance of the Spirit. And that means sometimes we’ll make mistakes or misunderstand a signal/message/whatever.

    And to me, it’s also in being anchored to what IS predictable, which is that we will all be resurrected and have the opportunity to be exalted through Christ’s Atonement. As Elder Oaks said, faith is ultimately in Jesus Christ, not in temporary outcomes that we may desire.

    I guess I just don’t see frequent occurences that are “just part of our every day life” as indications of anything greater than our everyday lives.

    I was talking about both every-day stuff and the modern advancements that have made many of the reasons for previously-given blessings unnecessary. I’ve thought about so many miracles that were performed back in the day that simply are taken care of now through modern medicine.

    Also, if this is to be, then what exactly is the point behind a ritual that which takes the shape of Christs example, elicits the “potential” for God to intervene, but at best holds relatively the same odds of healing as no ritual? Why even go through all that, and what does it accomplish other than more confusion?

    I’ve felt this confusion before, so I understand where it’s coming from. (I remember once really losing it when my dad gave me a blessing that very clearly did not come to pass — I was yelling, “Why have blessings at all if you can’t rely on them?” As I sort through it, I think that it’s like anything else. God lets us, imperfect people, participate in His perfect ordinances — not because we’ll always get it right, but because the process of learning to be more in tune with Him and His will and His plan includes participating in these ordinances. And I think we have to be anchored in ultimate outcomes of God’s priesthood — which are eternal — rather than insisting on present outcomes in order to validate our faith.

    The Atonement is the ultimate source of power. God and the Savior are the True Holders of the Priesthood. We are simply instruments trying to figure out what They would really have us do and say. We’re Gods in training, not all-powerful beings. 😉

  28. Michelle, nicely said.

    This is labor day week-end, of course, when I remember Robin, the last of the three children I buried in a four and a half year period.

    So this theme is closer to me than I was thinking when I planned this post a week or so ago.

  29. I was thinking about the reality of what you have been through, Stephen, as I was thinking about unfulfilled desires in this life. My heart goes out to you, many times over.

  30. “We move forward one step at a time according to our best knowledge”

    I think this is the whole point, which is why I raise issue over inconsistency and ambiguity in miracle distribution.

    “As Elder Oaks said, faith is ultimately in Jesus Christ, not in temporary outcomes that we may desire.”

    Faith in Jesus Christ, in accordance with “best knowledge”, can only come through those temporary outcomes. I won’t relegate that all to miracles such as healing, but it still requires a break from ordinary human experience to give rise to a rational faith in the intangible. As for the atonement, it’s not quite predictable – a fine thing to believe in, but not predictable (how do you predict without faith/hope).

    Regarding technological advances – I don’t get this at all. People still die from uncurable maladies, and in many cases the best that medical science can do is prolong the misery. Have we advanced? sure. Beyond the need of miracles which give temporary relief and cement faith? no. This doesn’t sound much different from the preacher who allegedly challenged Joseph Smith’s claims regarding the First Vision. “all such things were done away with the apostles…today all revelation is contained in the Bible”. The entire premise of Mormonism, Michelle, is that all such things continue to exist by virtue of the Priesthood. The windows of Heaven are said to be opened, and the acient power and miracles found in the New Testament once again are found on the earth. That was the message. It appears that many, even within the Church, doubt the literal reality of that, so the message is rationally evolving.

    I am aware of no indisputable (reasonably) miracles which match, even closely, those alleged in the scriptures. There is of course heresay, but I frankly doubt most of it because it cannot generally be substantiated – so I’m required to believe the stories on faith, rather than growing in faith by being privileged to witness it. And therein lies the problem, no evidence. Rather than seeking it, it appears that we now choose to rationalize it.

  31. Cowboy,

    Cowboy, perhaps I’m misreading you, but I’m starting to feel a bit like we’ll go in circles if I continue to engage; I think we may have some basic disagreements on what can grow faith. I think the priesthood power on the earth IS tangible and is evident all around us. I feel it in my life in ways that make me want to stand up and shout. Evidence, to me, abounds.

    Now going back to read some of your comments, it appears that your perspective is different. I don’t know what to say except I’m genuinely sorry that you’re feeling disheartened and cynical. I wish you the best as you try to sort through this. I certainly can relate to some of your questions, but I disagree with your conclusions.

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