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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Hi all,


Its John, often I have this thought and I wanted to get some ideas on it. So here we go, if we had a perfect faith (meaning in essence no Vail to blind us of the things of God) Would we sin? Could we sin truly knowing the dire consequences involved with acting against God? Please leave your thoughts!!! Some may bring up the third host of of heaven that rebelled against God and followed Satin. In question though, were they like us now, Did they have to use there faith or lack there of in there decision to rebel or did they have a perfect knowledge? I would say they did not have a perfect knowledge/faith.  
So...The the question is, if you have a perfect faith can you sin?

I really look forward to every ones thoughts


THANKS

23 comments:

Kandis Mortensen said...

Our internet is fixed! Yay!

Wow John, nice depth... Hmmm... Here goes my theory: In the pre-existance, we probably had to have some measure of faith about God's plan for our earthly experience because none of us knew exactly what it would be like. I think we knew how much God loves each of us, but we didn't have a perfect knowlege of His plan--we had to trust in His ways and desire to be like Him. Up to that point each 'intelligence' (or each individual spirit) had progressed as far as they could (or wanted to) in their path to Godliness. We each made a decision that we thought would have the best outcome for us, based on our desires to be like God. Maybe some intelligences wanted the easier way, or just followed what their friends were doing (the same way that we're influenced on earth today). Or maybe some of us were happy where we were in our progression and didn't feel a need to attain perfection. I think God's plan allows for each person to simply progress to where we want to be. He's not going to make us be like Him if we don't want to. But those of us who truly wanted to be like God, wanted to choose a plan that would give us the chance to prove ourselves to Him. The big question for me is whether any of those that followed Satan in the beginning changed their minds...? And what will become of them. Will they be given a second chance?

Sorry if this is truly confusing, I'm just typing whatever pops into my head and it's late--but I had to take a stab at it!

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

How does this apply to people today who say they have a perfect faith? Or "I know this to be true"?

John

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

Would they sin if they did? We know that we all sin.

John

audge said...

Hey John,
Great discussion. I loved what Kandis said. By perfect Faith do mean perfect Knowledge. Because if you have knowledge then their is no need for faith. When you have knowledge you have seen it...right, no need to have faith or believe with out seeing?! I can apply this to my life. I have a perfect knowledge that it is wrong to scream at my kids. There are other methods that are more effective and positive. Yet, I do it anyway. I have perfect knowledge that if I scream at my kids it won't help them or me much...but my agency allows me to make that choice. So, following this train of thought, I believe you can sin if you have perfect knowledge.

But, we can't have pure knowledge for Gods plan. How could we use our agency to try to find him if we had a pure knowledge He is here. How could we develop our own spiritual growth if we don't work or have need to achieve it. Seems kind of stagnant.

So, yes, I believe you can still sin if you have perfect faith and perfect knowledge.

Peace out-oh, and thanks for helping my brain wake up today.

John said...

Yes, Isnt Perfect faith and perfect knowledge the same thing??? Both of them are by name the highest order of each and I would say they both act in the world and would cause use to act in the same way....perfectly. They may get to the same result through different paths but they end up the same in the end.
I like your example. I am in the same shoes, but if we really had perfect knowledge/faith we probably wouldn't be yelling at our kids. We would see at that very moment the real consequences of the yelling and anger and we would be forced to reconsider. I think of the only person who would have a perfect faith/knowledge in reality and how he would act.....Of course Jesus Christ would not yell at his kids. But as for me and Im sure many out there we are still trying to make it to the level of Christ in the yelling area.

THANK YOU for writing in I LOVE this!!!

I am really thinking about new ideas

John

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

Hi John, I tried to set up an account to leave a comment on your blog but it did not work. I really should be doing my seminary lesson but wanted to give you my thoughts. Alma taught us that "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" Alma 32:21 In Ether 12:6 Moroni tells us .....faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. I would think that having what you refer to as Perfect Faith and then sin, that sin would be the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost and one would become a Son of Perdition at that point.

I can truthfully say that I have not seen God face to face, but have a testimony and faith that He does exist, that His Son, Jesus Christ came to earth, and that there is a Plan for our Salvation to return and live with them again. Think about Joseph Smith, he did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, the best example of your perfect faith / truly knowing. He never denied it, he knew it and he knew God knew was true. I am so grateful for all he did to help restore the truth on earth.

Truly we have a loving Father in Heaven. Our sins can be forgiven.

Regarding the third host in heaven. I am pretty sure faith was not a part of their itinerary. They lived with Heavenly Father and Mother. They had perfect knowledge.
We who followed Christ fought for righteousness. Lucifer and those who CHOSE to follow him rebelled against the Plan and are still in battle to make it fail and take who ever they can with them. PLEASE let Kandis know that there is no second chance for those who rebelled. Lucifer and his angels shall be cast out eternally. D&C 88:111

So, what does all this boil down to? As we continue to grow in our knowledge and testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and especially that great plan of happiness we can have the strength needed to continue the battle against evil that was started in heaven and continues here on earth now. Always be on the LORD's side. Teach Miles and Eli that that is where true joy and peace will be found in this world. "The foundation and guiding light for all our decisions is the gospel of Jesus Christ and His message to the world. The teachings of Christ must be embedded in our desires to choose the right and in our wish to find happiness. His righteous life must be reflected in our own actions" Hans B Ringger Q70 a quote I use in Seminary.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts. I sure do love you! Thanks for taking care of Wendy. I know it is not always easy, but it is worth it. I love her soooooo much. And I can't begin to tell you how much I love MILES and already love Eli.

Be Good.
Sincerely, MOM Hurst

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

That was from grammy Hurst (Wendy's Mom)

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

Grammy Hurst said....Regarding the third host in heaven. I am pretty sure faith was not a part of their itinerary. They lived with Heavenly Father and Mother. They had perfect knowledge......

Do you think that the third that didn't make it were totally aware of what a body would be like? Could they have a perfect knowledge of Earth and worldly woes? I would guess not, so they really couldn't have a perfect knowledge. Or a perfect knowledge of the plan and how it worked. They did have a perfect knowledge that God is our father and he loves us. If they believed this it begs the question why didn't they trust his plan and come to earth?

Just some more thoughts, I look forward to your response!!!

John

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

Shouldn’t you be studying Contracts right now? Nevertheless, this seems to be an interesting topic that allows a meaningful distraction. Like others have mentioned, I do not think that we possessed a perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation in the pre existence. However, I do believe that we received a thorough explanation of the plan and what was expected. Choosing this option definitely required faith on our part. I imagine that if we were given a perfect knowledge of our life on earth, we may or may not have wished to participate in the plan. For example, if you knew that you would live in a concentration camp most of your life and see your entire family slaughtered, you may think twice about coming to earth. On the other hand, if you knew that the challenges you would face may be very minor (pick your own hypothetical), then coming to earth may not appear so bad. I think having a perfect knowledge at that point would have created an idea of unfairness amongst God’s children.

On another point, your question does provoke some thought on the “third hosts of heaven” who decided not to follow the plan. Why would they still have made such an irrational decision even though they would still have bodies, experience, and a knowledge that they would indefinitely be saved (pick your own kingdom)? In my mind, Heavenly Father and Jesus would ultimately be influential in helping us make our decision, but clearly not everyone decided to come to earth.

Was it fear of not reaching exaltation? Was it to hard to comprehend? What reasons were so compelling that would dissuade our spirit brothers and sisters not to participate in this wonderful plan? Finally, were our own personal reasons for accepting the plan different from others?

Ryan

Kandis Mortensen said...

I've really loved reading everyone's responses on this question--so thanks again for posting it! I loved Ryan's closing questions and my reading of the BOM tonight have offered me some further insights to what reasons would compel ' the 1/3' to choose Satan. I've been reading the last half of Alma (all about captain Moroni, the 'freemen' and 'kingmen,' and dissenters that kept convincing the Lamanites to battle the Nephites, etc.) All of the problems that the Nephites faced were somehow related to certain leaders seeking power. No doubt Lucifer harbored these same desires and probably used the same types of flattery and deception in trying to convince us to join his way. Did he promise those that chose his way some of that power? I'm sure of it! The theme of seeking 'unrighteous dominion' occurs so often in the scriptures and in life that it has caused me to reflect a lot about how this theme applies to the war in heaven... It seems like it always comes down to two camps--those who seek to defend the right to CHOOSE (that's why we chose God's plan--agency!) and those who seek for POWER. We may not have had a perfect knowlege, but we knew enough about each plan to realize that with God's plan we could choose and progress and with Satan's plan our power of choice would be taken away... Anyway, just more random ramblings... GO FREE-MEN!

John said...

Thanks Kan-Kan

Great insite!!!

It sounds like the idea of perfect faith or perfect knowledge could just be fictional ideas. No one can really have them other then the God Head. So I guess that means if we had them we would be like God himself. Therefore we would not sin.

John

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

Wendy's Dad sent this to me...

I read a few passages from the Book of Mormon that led me to reflect on our conversation re level of understanding and correctness of decisions. (I think it was early in Illinois). Here are some thoughts on the matter.

It makes perfect sense to me that often people make poor decisions because they lack understanding. As their understanding grows their decisions improve. This process, I believe, is a central thread of the Plan of Salvation. We use our agency to make decisions, we receive the fruits thereof, good and bad. We then make successive decisions, receive the corresponding fruits, the process continues. In time we will have charted a course of higher decisions and higher understanding that leads to exaltation, or, depending on our choices, we chart a course that leads to a lower kingdom. All of us fall short, make mistakes, that is why there is the Atonement. The Savior covers us through this learning/growing process, according to His rules.

Next, I have every confidence that the Lord will not hold us accountable beyond what we are capable of understanding. From the cross he uttered "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do". I think what He was saying is that the soldiers were following orders, they didn't grasp the magnitude of their actions, and are not to be held accountable. The Savior knew such, as did the Father, the statement was made for man's benefit. Adam and Eve eating the apple was a transgression, not a sin, they didn't yet have sufficient understanding to be held liable. Even though there were consequences to their choice, ie the Fall, the Atonement covered all of the consequences of the Fall, so to us, we are even.

We are told that those who sin against a greater light have a greater condemnation. This statement is a perfect fit to the concept that we are held accountable only to the level of our understanding. Children aren't baptized until age eight for the same reason. In 2 Ne. 2:5, Lehi is providing final counsel to his son Jacob (who by this time had beheld the Savior) and tells him "men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil". We are also told that there those who prefer darkness to light (seems to me that Cain is likely in this category). All of this tells me that the Lord is not going to charge us, "punish" us, for our choices and actions that are beyond what we know to be right and wrong.

As to the third part of the host of heaven, they, and we, were raised by perfect and loving Parents for eons of time before the crucial decision. Seems to me we all needed faith that the Plan of salvation would work, confidence in our Eternal Parents and in Jehovah as Savior. But, but, but, we had sufficient knowledge to make that correct decision. I cannot conceive of God imposing such a consequence for an incorrect choice, if the decision was beyond our ability to fully understand right, wrong, and what was at stake. Our Eternal Parents are perfect in applying both mercy and justice, would not have applied the law if it were not merited here.

Alma Ch 30 tells of Korihor, the anti-Christ. After a discussion, Alma told him, in essence, "Korihor, you are lying, you know it, I know it, the Lord knows it. You have one more chance to come clean or the Lord will silence your voice". Korihor chose poorly, became deaf and dumb. He then wrote (paraphrased) "you are right, Satan tricked me, it was great for the ego and for the wallet, but I knew all along that it was a lie". Then he felt to say "O.K., give me my voice back". Alma responded "if you get your voice back, you will go back to your old ways, it is a matter between you and the Lord". Korihor ended up a beggar and was trampled to death by the Zormaites To me, the lesson learned here is that Korihor now had greater understanding than before, but his heart had not changed, nor would his choices. I have no clue as to the course he chose after mortality.

Anyway, enough for this evening, time for me to go to bed.

Steve

hortinthewho said...

Great topic!

There are several things (I think) to address here. First the concept of Perfect Knowledge or Perfect Faith. I think there is a distinct difference between the two. When we read in Alma 32 we read about the process of Faith and it concludes with a Perfect Knowledge of that thing. Thus "making (our) faith dormant." This would also suggest that just having the Vail removed would not be sufficient to give us a Perfect Knowledge, because while we could see all of these principles and gain a Perfect Faith until we "test" those principles we don't have a Perfect Knowledge (at least while in Mortality).

Personally I think that yes you can then sin against this knowledge. It is a matter of agency and not knowledge. As with the example that was already used, you may have a perfect knowledge that yelling at your kids isn't the best way to handle a situation but you CHOOSE to do so anyway.

I think the one difference comes when you have obtained a perfect knowledge of exactly what would happen to you if you committed the unpardonable sin. If you had a perfect knowledge of this perhaps then you would not choose to commit this sin. I do not know how many people have this knowledge. The scriptures tell us what will happen but in relatively broad terms.

Also as all of us know the Holy Ghost can teach us about a very large number of topics. I think that Denying the Holy Ghost primarily applies to matters pertaining to Salvation. The Spirit could have taught you how to handle a situation at work, you could follow the format presented by Alma to test this and obtained a Perfect Knowledge of that thing. Now if in the future you choose not to exercise the knowledge that the Holy Ghost has given you, have you committed the unpardonable sin? I say no.

Next, the 1/3 of the hosts of Heaven. I believe this boils down to a difference in the plans. We have not been taught a large amount about Lucifer's plan. I have been taught a little bit and I will touch on it briefly. There were Eternal Laws in place for us to be able to become more like our Father in Heaven. Several of these include; obtaining a physical body, and free agency. How could have Lucifer's plan allowed us to do both? I have been taught that the answer is that there would have been NO LAW while in mortality other than to have accepted the plan. We then would have fulfilled both of the previously mentioned laws. Any progression that would have been made would have been made on an individual basis vs (under our Saviors plan) the Principals and Ordinances of the Gospel helping us to grow and progress. It appears to me that we did not have a Perfect Knowledge in the Pre-Mortal Existance of how the plans would have played out (perhaps an element of "Perfect Knowledge" is tied to our Physical Bodies, since we previously were only Intelegences?), however our Heavenly Father did and that is why he choose the Plan we are now living. The rest was then a choice of Agency.

To answer your question in short. If we had NO Vail to blind us AND we HAVE obtained a Perfect Knowledge of ALL things, as a matter of principal we could sin although I would say most would choose to not, but I say it boils down to Agency. Just because we have a Perfect Knowledge doesn't mean that we aren't vulnerable to the temptations of Mortality.

Hope my comments made sense.

Rob

John, Wendy and Miles Watson said...

From Wendy's Grandpa Hurst

My first reaction to your letter was, Is he going to be a criminal defense lawyer? and this question is a primer.My next thought was that this would be a good topic for HP meeting but then so many of them sleep through it I decided that it was for the elders. 1. The term "sin" has to be defined vs. transgression. Did Adam sin or just transgress?
(several years ago Dallin Oaks clarified this in general conference or BYU devotional)
2. What is perfect knowledge? Where does this fit in the concept of eternal progression?
3. Cain was called "perdition" when he killed Abel as he had been instructed by God. Some say that he will be over Lucifer as Cain has a body. I don't know where he will live or preside in a place of outer darkness. Some say Judas did not commit the unforgivable as he had not received the Holy Ghost as the other eleven did at Pentecost.
4. Intelligence is light and truth. I don't know how this fits into the DC 130 where it tells us that a person will have so much the advantage in next world by his diligence and obedience than another. It would appear that the highest part of the celestial kingdom may have some divisions. Maybe this refers to the terrestial and telestial glories.
5. In the PGP it tells that where there are two intelligences one will be greater than the other. "I am the Lord thy God and more intelligent than ye all." A seminary teacher told me that we should look at it this way, no matter how dumb I am, there is someone who is dumber.
6. I am still thinking about your question. Maybe I should have been a politician. They never give clear answers. They just talk/

Love you all, G Hurst

PS you probably have thought about all the foregoing.

John said...

Rob....You have this figured out!!!

GunthërBrown said...

If we had a perfect faith would we sin? Could we sin truly knowing the dire consequences involved with acting against God?

In short, if faith then no; if knowledge then yes. Perfect faith would imply action completely aligned with the will of God, and therefore sin would be irrelevant. But if we were just acting on knowledge, then

To clarify that answer, I was going to try and distinguish between what I take "perfect faith" to be, and what "knowledge" is. But after a week of trying to wrestle it out, I still feel like I haven't wrapped my head around it. But that's OK, these are just off the top of my head thoughts, right.

OK, first, by knowledge I do not refer to the “Knowledge of God” (Prov 2:5, Hosea 6:6, Eph 4:13, Col 1:10) which is too much akin to perfect faith. Yes, I am clearly deviating from scripture here. Luther would probably not approve, but bear with me.

Let me define knowledge in a very basic way, like simply external, physical experience. Like “I watched that tree fall,” or “I saw that tree fall on TV,” or “I was hiking in the forest, and a ways off I saw a movement that could be reasonably interpreted as a falling tree, and the noise I heard strengthens that conclusion,” or even “I was told by a man that I respect greatly that trees can fall.” These kind of stimulus outside of your own thinking are what I consider knowledge. Like seeing words in a book, or watching a graph on a computer screen change while you are conducting an experiment in the underground lab at BYU, or feeling the pull back into your seat as you push on the gas pedal. This is knowledge.

Faith, on the other hand, involves the decisions we make, sometimes based on knowledge, and sometimes not based on knowledge. For example, Faith would be my decision that vanadium dioxide does in fact exhibit a phase change with hysteresis induced by temperature. I base that faith, that decision, on the countless hours I spent in the underground lab (at BYU) watching a computer screen display data from an experiment that I built on a program that I wrote. The knowledge came from seeing the data, the faith came from deciding on what I had seen.

Faith is the decision about whether or not you are accelerating based on what you see, hear and feel as you punch the accelerator. Faith is your decision that trees are mortal and can die and fall over, based on what you have seen, or have been told, etc.

Faith can be good or bad. Obviously one can decide on a principle correctly or incorrectly based on a number of factors. To me, the good version of faith is when a CORRECT conclusion is reached, according to Heavenly Father's judgment. “Bad” faith isn't necessarily immoral or evil faith, just incorrect in some way. To illustrate, consider the person flipping on the light switch. Maybe in the past they have flipped the switch thousands of times, and every time the light has come on. Based on that, they may conclude that every time the light is switched on, the light will “automatically” turn on. In this they would be incorrect, and the faith would be “bad.” There conclusion needs to account for the possibility of a lack of electricity in the circuit that may prevent the light from going on even when the switch is flipped. Good faith would be a conclusion that flipping on a light switch has the possibility of turning the light on.

Maybe the persons lack of knowledge influenced the incorrect decision, and also it really wasn't that far off, because most of the time the light does come on. Those two points are, however, irrelevant. Their conclusion was not correct. Only correct faith can be good.

I'm somewhat straying from the topic with that analogy, but it exemplifies soooo many different situations where people are questioning God because their own faith turned out to be incorrect.

Faith can also be developed not on knowledge, but also by reasoning or spiritual prompting. I think every Christian, Muslim, or Jew must admit at some fundamental level one or the other. Somehow we have to bridge the gap from the mortal to the immortal. Excepting theophany, we have to at some point say, “I have no direct knowledge of this,” and either go on our reasoning or some kind of spiritual prompting that God exists. In the underground lab, I didn't put my hand on the VO2 and “feel” its change in temperature and resistivity, or watch it with my eyes. I would not have been able to see or feel any of it. All I could do was watch my computer screen, and then reason about what all the data meant.

There is a difference, in that faith based on reason is rather weak, easily overturned. As reasoning skills get better, it gets stronger, but it can never match the impenetrable nature of faith based on spiritual prompting. I say “prompting,” but I mean a spiritual experience apart from the physical “seeing, hearing, touching,” etc. I won't go into why reasoned faith is weak, but I hope everyone can see clearly that it is true.

SO back to the main point, “Perfect Faith” means to me an all encompassing correct faith derived from a spiritual experience. Consider the one who is taught every single doctrine possible, learns it inside and out, gains external knowledge about all of it by observation, experiment, etc, and reasons completely and correctly about everything. This person would know it all, and even have a correct faith, but because he lacks in the spiritual aspect, his faith would not be perfect. I believe this person could still go against the will of God, and fall away.

I'm not sure how the adversary falls into this picture. I'm sure his knowledge of eternal law is complete, and he knows physics through and through. He knows the dictionary of heaven by heart, etc. But I think somewhere along the line his conclusions about the mind of God went astray (Moses 4:6), therefore his faith started developing holes and inaccuracies, which distinguishes him from the know it all. Clearly satan doesn't know it all. This “bad faith” continued building until a moment of massive error, and now we say: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isa. 14: 12)

Perfect faith does not need to involve 'knowledge' of everything. Nor does it require any amount of reasoning. It must simply be correct, encompass everything, and be based in the spirit. Simple...haha. This person would still have moral agency to choose for themselves, but they would never choose anything contrary to the will of God. I want to mention pride as a big factor in ruining it, but correct faith regarding humility is encompassed in “perfect” faith.

So I've explained the “what” of my thoughts without really touching the “why.” Sorry it took over a week to write this, and its probably still all wrong. And double sorry that it probably took a week to read this because its so long. Thanks for asking the question, Mr. Watson:)

Art

John said...

Rob, I said you have this figured out because you seem to be in line with what I think about the subject the most [I guess that assumes I am right]. I plan on writing more about this but law school has other plans for my time right now.

John said...

Why do you say I have "this figured out." I wasn't sure if the comments even made sense when read in continuity. I figured there would be more insights to follow up on some of my comments.


Rob said......I should have put this on top of my last comment.

John said...

Art you should be taking notes

GunthërBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GunthërBrown said...

Fine...but you have to admit that 2 and a half hours is a dang long class.

Alan said...

Hi, John. I really shouldn't take the time to respond, so I'll just give you a link to a website with a lot of really smart people discussing Alma 32 in ways that are probably relevant to what you're thinking about:

http://alma32.wordpress.com/ - go back to the posts in May and work your way up, skimming or otherwise as you have time.

Anyway, it's a bunch of Mormon philosophers picking the text to pieces and seeing what they get out of it. Sometimes they get pretty hard to understand, usually by bringing up a bunch of arcane philosophers (Lacan, anyone? How about Foucault?), but there are some solid takeaway points that are really relevant to this discussion.

I'll just summarize what I see the tie as being: like Art wrote, perfect knowledge and perfect faith are two very different things, and having perfect knowledge does not create perfect faith. In fact, it can even hinder the development of perfect faith, which is probably why we needed to leave God and be put behind a veil in the first place. Having knowledge, or thinking you have knowledge, is in some ways like the pride of the Zoramites who reject Alma: you have what you want and falsely believe that you don't need more. It can harden your heart to the Almas God sends to teach you.

But in a more important sense, knowledge is like the compulsion that forced the poor Zoramites to be humble. It's something that happens to you, something that impresses itself on your senses or on your experience (like the data on the computer screen in Art's experiment, or like a miracle). This means that at some level it's great: if God impresses himself on your experience in some way, you have an opportunity to begin a relationship with Him. BUT ONLY THE OPPORTUNITY. Faith, rather than being something impressed on us, is our reaction to what is impressed. The poor Zoramites faced a choice: they were compelled to be humble. Would they take that opportunity to learn true humility, the kind of humility that would keep them humble even if they were rich? The kind that would lead them to accept God's promises of salvation and continue desiring their fulfillment even when everything on earth is going pretty well?

Knowledge, as something that impresses itself on us, is a sort of compulsion. But in our reaction to these compulsions lies our faith. When the seed starts swelling and sprouting and beginning to grow, do we, in Alma's words, say the seed is good? Do we let this create a desire in us to taste the seed's fruit, even though we have not experienced the fruit itself? And do we stay true to this love of the seed even when it seems to have been dormant for a while, or true to the desire for fruit even when the tree's not growing very quickly and you wonder if you've planted a bush? That's where the faith is. Not in having knowledge impressed on our experience from outside as would happen if the veil were removed, but rather in fidelity to the experience of God that has already been impressed on us and desire to deepen that experience and thereby our relationship with Him.

Okay, I guess I did take the time to respond. But I still recommend the website. It's challenging, but it's deep, and there are some brilliant observations about the chapter there that I got a lot out of even when I didn't understand all the philosophical discussion going on in between.

Love you, John and Wendy (and Miles!). I hope law school's going well.

Alan

hortinthewho said...

I just want to take a moment and clarify some things regarding faith and knowledge. Many people have kept saying that knowledge leads to faith. This is backwards. As we read in Alma 32:21 "And now as I said concerning faith--Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." And in Alma 32:18 "...If a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it." In Alma 32:26 "Now, as I said Concerning faith--that is was not a perfect knowledge--even so it is with my words. ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge."

It is the next verse that we are invited to "...awake and arouse (our) faculties, even to an experiment.." Then comes the comparison to the seed. We are told if you plant a seed and it "...beginneth to enlarge (our) soul..." then we read in Alma 32:29 "Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge." Then some clarification comes in in verses 33 & 34; "And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant..."

Perfect knowledge replaces faith.

As we read in Alma though, just trying the experiment and having tasted of the light we do not have perfect knowledge of everything. We only have perfect knowledge of the seed. And as we are told in verses 35 & 36; "..and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good."

We don't have to worry "if we planted a bush," because as we are told in Alma 32:31&32, "...every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good..." and the tree (if we nourish it) will grow and bring forth fruit. An apple seed doesn't grow a lilac bush.

Perhaps the term perfect knowledge is the difference here. We can "know" something but still not have a perfect knowledge of it. Perhaps many of us refer to our scholarly knowledge instead of a perfect knowledge. Let me give an example. When on my mission we frequently ran into people who would gain a perfect knowledge that Joseph Smith was a prophet, these same people would gain a perfect knowledge that the Book of Mormon was true but would take issue with having to join the Church. We could teach them about a triangle, if 2 sides are true you know the 3rd side of the triangle and you know that it is true. So if Joseph Smith is a Prophet and the Book of Mormon that he translated is true, then the Church is true and you need to be baptized. We could give them this "knowledge" but did this give them a perfect knowledge? No it didn't. Because as we read in Ether 12:6 ".. For ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." Until they chose to exercise faith in the "knowledge" they had been taught they couldn't have a perfect knowledge of the truthfulness of the Church and the need to be baptized.

Perfect knowledge can never stand in the way of faith. Our scholarly knowledge can, or our own stubborness can. If we have a perfect knowledge of something and we continue to nourish that perfect knowledge that it may "take root" until the tree grows and brings us fruit then it will continue to teach us.

The only time we can truly doubt whether or not a seed would have grown into a tree is if we pull up the plant and cast it out. This does not mean that the original seed was not good or that we did not obtain a perfect knowledge from that experiment, just that we chose not to continue to exercise our faith in nourishing it and chose to cast it out instead.

I, again, hope that this makes sense and that it may be helpful to someone.