Monday, December 12, 2005

On shelving

Ned's post recently about praying for the knowledge of the truthfulness of the Gospel brought out the idea of the "Shelf" in a number of the comments. The idea being that there are so many doctrinal/historical inconsistencies with the LDS Church that one has to build a mental shelf to put them up and hide them so as to not lose one's testimony.

When I introduced myself I mentioned that I wasn't a great Gospel scholar. As such, I'm in no way qualified to counter or debate any of these issues. However in my humble opinion, somewhere along the line these debates are missing the boat.

When I lived in Georgia, I faced a couple of situations with Southern Evangelicals that became quite antagonistic when they found out I was LDS. I used the same tactic each time the situation was defused. I bore my testimony about the the one thing that we shared in common: The Savior. When I told them that I believed the Jesus Christ was the Savior, the Only Begotten of The Father, and the He died on the cross for our sins, they backed down.

Here's what those events have to do with shelves: no matter what oddities or conflicts (or difference in Christian sect) we may encounter, there are more important things.
1. God the Eternal Father LIVES, and is active in his role as our Heavenly Parent.
2. Jesus Christ truly did perform the Atonement, and because of it, we can be healed, we can be forgiven and we can progress eternally.

Above all else, these things reign supreme. We can quibble and debate about Church history or about why the Priesthood was restricted until the 70's, but in contrast to the enormity of those two Truths, they become miniscule concerns.

I was an Agnostic, Anti-Christian before I was baptized, and as such had no place for Heavenly Father of Christ in my life. The LDS Church brought me out of a miserable existence and gave me a great life be introducing me to Jesus Christ and the Father. Through the Atonement, I've been able to heal from sexual abuse and addiction. Through the Divine Mission of Jesus Christ, I've found peace and guidance when before there was wandering in darkness.

To me it doesn't matter if I really don't understand polygamy, or if there are several versions of the First Vision. What matters is my relationship with God, Christ and my family.

Just to make sure you don't mistake me for a lemming, the best thing the Missionaries told me on our 1st discussion was "Don't take our word for it, you'll have to find the truth of it on your own". I fully believe that we need to think and ponder things in order to really have a testimony. However, let's keep the Big Picture in sight. If nothing else, hold on to those two overarching truths about God the Father and His Son. Maybe someday you'll get a chance to chat with a GA on your concerns, or sit down with a Temple President he'll explain things to your satisfaction. Until then, let your peace be centered on Christ.
10:39 AM by The Narrator  Link
Nice post. I personally drive a wedge between the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed and the chuch as administered by small and simple imperfect people. This seperation is very helpful to me when I hear of some inconsistencies. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and the church is true as far as it is administered perfectly. The church is the only place that we can gain access to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but the church will have it's problems from time to time. But because I have this seperation in my mind these problems do not bother me at all.
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Narrative on the Journey of Life
from the perspective of an
everyday LDS guy.

I'm a 30-something husband and father of 5
living in the midwest. I joined the LDS Church
with my wife in 1993.


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