To Servicemen in Italy: August 1945
3 hours ago
I wish I could strike a responsive chord in Christians like you. Mormons wonder why all Christians don't understand that we believe in the Book of Mormon on the basis of a spiritual witness. It is very hard for a Mormon to believe that Christians accept the Bible because of the scholarly evidence confirming the historical accuracy of the work. Surely there are uneducated believers whose convictions are not rooted in academic knowledge. Isn't there some kind of human, existential truth that resonates with one's desires for goodness and divinity? And isn't that ultimately why we read the Bible as a devotional work?
We don't have to read the latest issues of the journals to find out if the book is still true. We stick with it because we find God in its pages—or inspiration, or comfort, or scope. That is what religion is about in my opinion, and it is why I believe the Book of Mormon. I can't really evaluate all the scholarship all the time; while I am waiting for it to settle out, I have to go on living. I need some good to hold on to and to lift me up day by day. The Book of Mormon inspires me, and so I hold on.
Reason is too frail to base a life on. You can be whipped about by all the authorities with no genuine basis for deciding for yourself. I think it is far better to go where goodness lies.
I keep thinking other Christians are in a similar position, but they don't agree. They keep insisting their beliefs are based on reason and evidence. I can't buy that--the resurrection as rational fact? And so I am frankly as perplexed about Christian belief as you are about Mormons. Educated Christians claim to base their belief on reason when I thought faith was the teaching of the scriptures. You hear the Good Shepherd's voice, and you follow it.
...I am a believer and I can't help myself. I couldn't possibly give it up; it is too delicious.
Feb. 6, 2006
Elder Holland wrote a generous note last week. I was pleased to have him say “You knew (and I knew and everybody else knew) that you would have to deal with things as honestly and forthrightly as you could. Nevertheless, your faith and loyalty are apparent on every page.” That implies General Authorities appreciate the value of candor. I no longer worry about an effort to close down [Rough Stone Rolling]. There remains the problem of becoming a rival expert in the interpretation of doctrine, but I can avoid that by not talking doctrine when asked to speak. My mind is aswirl with doctrinal ideas which do not need to be vented, especially when I acknowledge their speculative nature myself…
…I wrote to Elder Holland about a rough patch ahead as animosity to religion keeps growing. I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ. Instead of speaking triumphantly of the gospel sweeping the earth, could we think of ourselves as the leaven in the lump, standing for righteousness and serving others? I wish we had a long record of kindness and friendship to fall back on, with less stress on proselyting. Then when the storms break around us, we would have friends to turn to.
Our covenant with God is to bless the people of the earth. That should be our motto. Establishing Zion does not mean sweeping vast masses of people onto our membership records but creating a people of God dedicated to blessing others. Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship, and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve.