It is God's Will

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
mfree6464
Posts: 45
Joined: 23 Feb 2016, 17:07

It is God's Will

Post by mfree6464 » 24 Jan 2020, 06:45

We as members of the church have a number of go-to phrases we like to use that, in my view, help us massage the cognitive dissonance we can experience when things don't add up in what we believe to be God's one true church. A couple that come to mind immediately are "It's God's will" and "He was speaking as a man."

By accepting those two statements one is able to exist in a faith where the power of God via the priesthood doesn't always work and where prophets of God can be wrong without the whole system imploding.

Personally, I don't recall a time where Joseph Smith or Nephi or even Jesus Christ attempted to heal someone with the priesthood, failed, and then proceeded to teach us that God's will was the reason it didn't work (there are some examples I have read where lack of faith is given as the reason but that's different IMO.)

The reason I post this under "Spiritual Stuff" is because I would like to ask if these statements (and others like it) are doctrinal or just cultural?

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4452
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: It is God's Will

Post by nibbler » 24 Jan 2020, 07:59

The phrase, "it's god's will" extends far beyond the borders of LDS doctrine and culture, I think it's a part of being a theist and even more general than that, it comes with the territory with being human.

Time for an infamous "on my mission..." story.

Quite often when we extended invitations to people as missionaries the response was, "si dios quiere," meaning god willing or if god wants. That response drove us missionaries crazy because we'd hear it so often.

Missionary: Will you come to church this Sunday?
Investigator: If god wants.

As young, orthodox missionaries we'd think, "Of course god wants you to come to his one True church," or, "You know that you play a really big role in whether you go to church." But even as young, orthodox missionaries we knew that, "Si dios quiere," translated to:

Missionary: Will you come to church this Sunday?
Investigator: No.

"It's god's will" is the putty we put in the cracks to pave over circumstances where following the formula didn't produce the desired results we wanted or to explain away uncertainties... and apparently it serves as way of saying, "No thanks, I'm not interested," but not in those exact words.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4452
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: It is God's Will

Post by nibbler » 24 Jan 2020, 08:36

"Speaking as a man" is more specific to LDS culture, but the same general concept might exist in any group with leaders that are believed to speak for god.

I'm not sure of the exact origins. There's the story about the revelation to sell the BoM copyright in Canada. The saints were unsuccessful in selling the BoM copyright, David Whitmer wonders how they could have failed if it was a revelation, and Whitmer reports that Joseph Smith said, "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil." It's worth mentioning that Whitmer's citation of JS was given looong after the events took place and that Whitmer had long since parted ways with the church at the time he made the comment.

Joseph Smith did say (History of the Church, Volume 5, Chapter 14, page 265):
Wednesday, 8.—This morning, I read German, and visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet;" but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such. After dinner Brother Parley P. Pratt came in: we had conversation on various subjects. At four in the afternoon, I went out with my little Frederick, to exercise myself by sliding on the ice.
I think, "Speaking as man," it fills a similar role as god's will. People have a deep belief in a formula. God speaks to the prophet, the prophet relates god's will. If the prophet says something that changes or gets something wrong it places a strain on the formula/belief, so in order to preserve the formula/belief we tell ourselves that the prophet must have been speaking as a man and not speaking in their official capacity as a prophet.

It's human nature to want to know why and to figure out the formulas so we can introduce some predictability into a universe of chaos.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

Roy
Posts: 6151
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: It is God's Will

Post by Roy » 24 Jan 2020, 10:01

nibbler wrote:
24 Jan 2020, 08:36
It's human nature to want to know why and to figure out the formulas so we can introduce some predictability into a universe of chaos.
I agree with this. I call it the "currant bush" doctrine because of the famous speech by Elder Hugh B. Brown. The idea is that God has a plan for you and that sometimes your plan may contradict God's plan and He has to deny you the good things that you want for yourself for a season in order to provide even better things at some future date.

I believe that it can be intensely comforting when things go terribly wrong to believe that God is in control and that He must have a very specific purpose for things happening that way and that you will one day understand and rejoice in God's wisdom.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Minyan Man
Posts: 1974
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: It is God's Will

Post by Minyan Man » 24 Jan 2020, 14:57

Roy wrote:
24 Jan 2020, 10:01
I believe that it can be intensely comforting when things go terribly wrong to believe that God is in control and that He must have a very specific purpose for things happening that way and that you will one day understand and rejoice in God's wisdom.
I understand what you're saying Roy. I also think there are people in this world who may justify their behavior based on the idea that "if God
didn't want me to commit this terrible act (whatever it is) then He would of stopped or prevented me from doing it". I have a difficult time
understanding God's purpose for the holocaust. (This is carried to the extreme, I know.)

grobert93
Posts: 134
Joined: 30 Nov 2015, 16:05

Re: It is God's Will

Post by grobert93 » 24 Jan 2020, 18:01

Minyan Man wrote:
24 Jan 2020, 14:57
Roy wrote:
24 Jan 2020, 10:01
I believe that it can be intensely comforting when things go terribly wrong to believe that God is in control and that He must have a very specific purpose for things happening that way and that you will one day understand and rejoice in God's wisdom.
I understand what you're saying Roy. I also think there are people in this world who may justify their behavior based on the idea that "if God
didn't want me to commit this terrible act (whatever it is) then He would of stopped or prevented me from doing it". I have a difficult time
understanding God's purpose for the holocaust. (This is carried to the extreme, I know.)
And this is what bothers me about the culture that isn't being fought against, but seems to be embraced by leadership. Speaking as a man and if it's God's will to me are justifications for human error that has hurt pained members for decades. Most recent example is the Sunday school print mishap this year. A teaching that has been accepted for a very long time is suddenly "misunderstood" and they church is fixing it. I'm sure it was just men speaking as men for decades? I don't want to ramble more than I want to, I just fear that these statements of justification and ignorance of reality will continue to hurt those who are trying to honestly stay and believe in the church. Imagine if the church one day decided to allow gays to get married in the temple? Imagine Ballard saying "church leaders don't know where these teachings [gays can't get married] came from". He said it about PMG.

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7219
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: It is God's Will

Post by DarkJedi » 26 Jan 2020, 04:46

I sometimes think members/leaders use the will of God as an excuse for when things don't go the way it's often taught it should - the bishop still dies of cancer despite the blessings and ward fasts for example. God's will is always an out. From my perspective none of it is God's will, good or bad, because I don't believe God is involved in that way (or pretty much any way).

That said, I have noted int he past couple GCs or so that leaders have been telling stories like my example above - the kid gets hit by a car, there are blessings and plenty of faith, but he still dies. I actually appreciate that because it is more authentic on their part and alleviates some of the expectation that all blessings bring miracles, or that some blessings are entirely dependent on our faith (thus if we had enough faith the kid or bishop wouldn't die and it's our fault he did die because we didn;t have enough faith).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
LDS_Scoutmaster
Posts: 283
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 23:30
Location: SoCal

Re: It is God's Will

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 25 Feb 2020, 15:42

DarkJedi wrote:
26 Jan 2020, 04:46
... or that some blessings are entirely dependent on our faith (thus if we had enough faith the kid or bishop wouldn't die and it's our fault he did die because we didn;t have enough faith).
I was struggling with this one recently. I don't know if it's an issue for another thread but someone close to my DW and I has recently been diagnosed with cancer. As I thought about the blessing, I made a deal with God that I would do something to ensure the best outcome. I realize that this is a simplistic view like a child barganing with a parent, and I also know that I could be setting myself up for existensial disappointment (another one).
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

Roy
Posts: 6151
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: It is God's Will

Post by Roy » 25 Feb 2020, 17:14

I have noticed what I believe to be a trend of ascribing miracle status to things that are not miracles by strict definition.

Like saying that learning to overcome challenges is a miracle, or being able to see the bright-side in a bad situation is a miracle, or feeling the love and support of heaven through the actions of the ward members is a miracle.

If we redefine what miracles are then we can feel more comfortable in our worldview that God is a God of Miracles and produces miracles that same today as he ever has … according to our faith.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16832
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: It is God's Will

Post by Curt Sunshine » 25 Feb 2020, 17:28

Psychologically, it is important for a lot of people to be able to explain the unexplainable.

This is true even of a lot of non-religious people.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Post Reply