As my previous post indicates, I have recently had a crisis of faith of sorts. The events in my life have brought forward many of the doubts and questions that I had about religion in a way that did not allow me to simply ignore them.I want to find some more meaning and purpose and direction for life and in life and the unresolved concerns with Mormon Christianity.
Ultimately I remain a believing LDS Christian (of sorts) because at root I believe that what I perceive as the core of the religion and I believe that I have enough basis for that belief to order my life around it. I think Mormonism is compatible with the Articles of Understanding that I have settled on.
To me, the teachings of Joseph Smith illuminate the real connection we have with God, i.e. the Spirit. What the history of religion suggests is that actual 5-senses experiences with the supernatural are very few and far between, grains sand on the beach of all of human experience.Believers rely on the testimonies of those who see visions and extrapolate theology from that.However, what is also apparent is that many, if not most, humans have internal experiences that we can define as spiritual; feelings, impressions ideas, inspiration etc. that accompany religious practice.People read the Gospels the Torah, the Vedas or the Book of Mormon and are convinced of their divinity by the spiritual experiences that accompany the reading of those texts and practicing their teachings.I have had many of such experiences, nearly all of them came to me in the process of practicing and living as an LDS Christian.
Due to my own experience, one aspect of Joseph’s teachings that I embrace is the fact that we can have hope to access the Divine through spiritual experiences and that the Spirit is “poured” out on all people and worthy of following.Joseph was revolutionary in that he rejected the arbitrary boundaries that I believe close us down from all further enlightenment.I can agree with the approach to religion he describes here:
“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, and say, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further”; which I cannot subscribe to.”
Joseph taught others to “seek the face of God” not only as a possibility but as a commandment. (1 Chr. 16: 11, D&C 101: 38 )The reality of his own experiences were his guide.He believed and taught and revealed that we were all entitled to see God if we were pure in heart.
My understanding of God as Love requires such a democratic access to truth.If we are to take Jesus’ recorded promise that anything we ask in his name we have to believe that he will give us Confirmation of his Divinity and reality if we ask for it.
Another thing is also clear to me, that it is practically impossible to distinguish between my sincere spiritual experiences and those of others who would brand me a heretic and infidel (or fool) for believing what they confirm to me.This leads me to the conclusion that I think we also have to approach spiritual truth with a tremendous amount of humility and, for lack of another word, skepticism.To remain both intellectually and spiritual honest I think I have to float all of our doctrines on the sea of reality and be opento what is revealed as real, through ours and others senses, experiments and experiences as we
While this point of view may put into question all kinds of doctrines and current teachings of the LDS Church,in my mind I can (still) be a Mormon because the religion allows for this sort of radical open-mindedness, the ability to accept all truth and bend and adjust previous beliefs to reflect the reality that is revealed and understood through investigation.I believe Joseph Smith stood for and died for the idea that we can believe lots of varied things but yet remain open further light and knowledge to correct us as we move closer to understanding of reality.
This is not to say that this brand of Mormonism is generally accepted, there are as many closed minded Mormons as any other group. But I believe that I both embrace Mormonism while being fully open to further understanding that may shift my understanding to directions that other Mormons would not accept.