jmb275 wrote:Also, missionary work, for me, is really the ultimate in, what I feel, is deception. We send out 19 year old guys who almost certainly know nothing about real church history.
Now, I recognize that this is the old way. They have Preach my Gospel now (which I haven't read), but from what I understand there is still no in depth discussion of church history. And the basics are the same, if just a bit less structured.
Great post, jmb - got me thinking about a lot .... made me realize in many respects, I can share your feelings - but I don't believe necessarily the church or missionaries are trying to be deceitful.
PMG is a little different, but like you said, just allows flexibility for teaching the same primary-level gospel doctrine.
My take is that I believe the church and the missionaries are being honest in their heart. Faith is the first principle of the gospel. Taking things on faith is not to cover up things, is just the way religion is. Pure religion moves you to be a better person. You can "feel" the teachings are good and move you to be better than if you stay where you are without it. It is more about the feelings and how it motivates you to change your life than it is about being proven with facts and details.
I'm not suggesting your post or anyone else's responses are lacking in faith, in any way, it is just how I'm thinking through this, so these are just my thoughts.
It is an interesting paradox: Seek Truth that will set you free of things that can't be explained. Miracles are a part of religion, not to dupe people, but just because we move ahead with faith before we can explain away what happened, because we become better by moving than by standing still trying to understand something.
Because of that, I can read Abraham 3:24-26 and have it touch me and change my life, even if verse 16 makes no sense to me. My questions around verse 16 or the facsimiles on nearby pages don't take away the value found in verses 24-26.
Likewise, Joseph Smith's account of Zelph does nothing to motivate me to love others or love God. But most of the Book of Mormon does. I can't believe he just made all the Book of Mormon up. But I don't care if he made up Zelph or not, it is of no value to me.
Elder Eyring's talk in conference about Adversity (was that written to me specifically?) confirms to me that the Lord's work is being done, because I feel it. Likewise, I feel good when my mason friend tells me the service he is doing in his Masonic Temple - he is a great guy and will be rewarded by a Just God who can resolve the issue of authority and baptism, so I don't have to worry about that.
I guess I am trying to learn that although many things in the church do nothing for my spiritual welfare, those don't negate the other things that do. I don't think I'll ever leave the church, I will just find ways to accept the godly parts and focus on those, and not worry about the historical details that do nothing to raise my spirits whether true or not. That isn't to say I want to live in ignorance or put blinders on or be deceitful or duplicitous. Only that I accept I can only process so much... so I choose to spend my time reading and processing the things that make me better, and not spend time on other things. That being said, I am more enlightened now to a lot of things about Joseph Smith and church history that I never knew before, and I frankly can see some merit in the arguments against Joseph Smith as a prophet. But I go back to my feeling that being in the church is making me better than giving up on it, so I will have faith in it until I feel otherwise. I hope I can be open-minded, be honest, and accept my shortcomings in being able to know all things so I can move forward in trying to make a difference in this world and for those I love.
I don't feel I'm appropriately expressing my thoughts, it almost sounds like I'm just saying some church inconsistencies don't matter...just accept it on faith...when I don't really mean that. I just think the church is better than any alternative, and I will keep moving forward looking for the godly parts while I striving to learn more.
Again, thanks for your post...it was good for me to think this through.