testimony and false expectations
this is a serious blog, so only read if you feel up for it.
i recently read this cartoon (WARNING anti-mormon material… i don’t highly recommend it for some):
i laughed. great stuff. i loved the line about shipping the missionary off to timbuktu. did jack chick’s attempts to attack my religion phase me? not really. there wasn’t anything in there i hadn’t heard before, besides the supposed jupiter talisman joseph had on at carthage. so, joseph, much like a great man early 19th century americans, had interest in the occult. following his own teachings, he tried to find and assimilate truth from all religions and beliefs. neat.
but it’s pretty hard for me to give much credibilty to anyone who treats things like The Seer and the early editions of Mormon Doctrine as church doctrine (i believe some of orson pratt’s beliefs were officially denounced by the brigham young’s first presidency, and the church leaders had bruce r. mcconkie take out some of the more opinionated things in mormon doctrine because it appeared too authoritative). just as an example, bruce r. mcconkie said in general conference that everything he had said about the priesthood ban was incorrect and should be viewed as such.
i think the main point of this blog is to discuss my feelings about true testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ. i am currently reading bushman’s amazing “Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling”. i am only just beginning, but already, my belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but also an extremely imperfect human, with his vices and incorrect opinions (much like any biblical prophet… jonah anyone?), has been strengthened. i feel that the people who have difficulty in keeping their testimony of the gospel because of historical issues struggle because of false expectations. why does it matter that joseph smith only translated the missing 116 pages of the book of mormon with the urim and thummin, with the rest done with the seer stone? it doesn’t, the tools of translation were not important, because as Joseph emphasized for the rest of his life when he was asked, it was by the power of God. a lot of critics blame the church for white washing the history. but in reality, to interested parties, the information is there (and is becoming more and more available, for example, the joseph smith papers project). the church gives a basic, quick outline of the history, focusing more upon the doctrinal teachings and faith building stories. why would they do this? well, because as a church, they are more interested in helping people gain salvation by understanding needed doctrines and by building their faith. i have no issue with that. but i do have an issue when members incorrectly assume that anything outside of the quick history is harmful or wrong. don’t be afraid of history. if you aren’t interested, thats fine. but if you find out something that seems strange or different from what you thought about the history before, please don’t let it hurt your testimony. and why should something like joseph’s plural marriages not affect your testimony? here is why:
“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” -Helaman 5:12
build your foundation on Christ. don’t have false expectations. let the critics kick against the pricks. if you are interested, learn your history. i highly recommend Rough Stone Rolling to anyone who wants to learn more about the early history of the Mormon church, and about the amazing man that is Joseph Smith.