I had an interesting exchange with a Mormon fundamentalist. Here is some of our conversation
As the conversation began, he expressed disdain for reason and common sense in favor of following what God tells him. He thinks reason leads to a darkened mind.
Here was my response: When has true reason and common sense ever led anyone to a darkened mind? If reason and common sense are bad then the prophets are all imposters because they all used it. The reasoning of Jesus was so powerful that the authorities were afraid to ask him any more questions. Joseph Smith, who you accept, used a lot of reason and common sense.
“Great God! Where is common sense and reason? Is there none on the earth?” exclaimed a somewhat frustrated Joseph Smith as he was trying to drill the simplest logic into the minds of the members. (See Documentary History of the Church Vol 5:297)
If the reasoning and common sense are sound then they will be the same. Anything that is true will be in harmony with reason and that which is not true will have flaws revealed by reason.
Fundamentalist: “And since His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9) then man’s reasonings are generally not the same as God’s truths. Again, by the Spirit we will know the truth of all things.”
JJ: The scripture doesn’t mention reasoning.
This scripture is a continual excuse for believers to remain mentally lazy, but such laziness is contrary to the prophets.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
“And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” (Acts 18:4)
Sure, God’s ways are higher than ours, but a calculus teacher also knows math that I do not. This does not mean that I drop the use of reason or learning from fellow humans if I decide to learn it.
He stressed that he discerns all truth by the Spirit of God
JJ: That is a good goal, as long as you do all you can do first as illustrated by this scripture:
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that YOU MUST STUDY IT OUT IN YOUR MIND; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:7-8)
We are not just given higher knowledge with no effort but we must study things out with all the faculties at our disposal.
Fundamentalist: “You said that since not all people feel the Spirit, or don’t feel it enough, or don’t feel it accurately then it is okay to turn to man’s help. Is this what God says? Where? His plan is for us to learn to connect directly with Him by the Spirit. He knows not all can do it perfectly, instantly and consistently at first. That is not a reason to abandon the plan, His plan.”
JJ: First you keep talking about God’s Plan as if you have some idea of what it is. Have you received some revelation on the matter because the phrase “God’s plan” is found nowhere in the scriptures and whatever it is, is not clearly laid out. That is why there are hundreds of religions with hundreds of ideas of what the plan may be.
Secondly, I am not advocating abandoning anything given out about any plan. Why do you misrepresent me so? You are arguing with a straw man here.
Next, he accused me of excluding people from contacting the Holy Spirit and God’s plan.
JJ: Again, you are arguing with a straw man. I have never said that God would exclude anyone. However, it should be obvious that God does not just give us answers on a silver platter but one must learn how to avoid all the pitfalls of deception as well as crossing the barriers between matter and spirit.
I would guess that all the people in this group are doing their best to contact the Spirit and get the right answers, but obviously most are not succeeding or else we would think as one for we would all get the same answers.
There are many people who will state they are doing their best to contact the Spirit but rarely if ever get an answer they can definitely say is from God. Would you just abandon these people and say “since you do not have a direct pipeline to God as I do, the hell with you. You are just too wicked for my company.” That is just as silly as it sounds.
All are capable of contacting the Spirit, but all know not the path, but all will eventually discover it.
Fundamentalist: “And because some only receive contact every once in a while, means they should receive truth another way? Where is that in the scriptures?”
JJ: Where does it say that I have to learn that 2+2=4 from the scriptures? Obviously, most of the truth we learn in life is not from the scriptures. The scriptures only tell us only a handful of truths, important as they may be.
He again stressed on learning from God rather than man.
JJ: So if you see yourself as having direct phone contact with God the how many planets are in the Alpha Centauri system?
Then it must not work for you the way you say.
Or how about a question about God?
How many spirits are there designated to this earth? When will Jesus show up? Another fundamentalist says the Spirit told him Jesus is already here and has written books. Is he deceived? If so, why? What does the Spirit tell you about that?
Fundamentalist: I don’t sense a great deal of confidence in Father’s plan for us. We need to keep seeking God until we get all the answers.
JJ: I have full confidence in that part of the plan as I understand it. I can’t vouch for what your reasoning mind sees as the plan.
As it is, we first learn about God through teachers in church family etc. This we do through this regular learning method that you despise and reject. You make it sound like you were just born with a direct pipeline and learned nothing through the regular intellect.
If you are honest you will have to admit that you have learned most of what you know through this other way of using regular study and regular teachers.
Fundamentalist: I’m really surprised at your audacity to suggest that God’s way won’t work for most people and so it is good to seek another way.
JJ: God’s way or your way? I don’t think you have a clue as to what God’s way is.
Fundamentalist: What Father would prepare for His children in ways that won’t work for them?
JJ: Is someone saying God has prepared a way that does not work? Who are you arguing with here?
Fundamentalist: The danger of your distractions is that people will swallow your lies that they can’t really rely on the Spirit to guide them so they must turn to other ways to find truth. This leads them away from God and His plan for them.
JJ: Okay, I get it. You do not believe in using your brain or thinking. That explains a lot. What I do not understand is how you think that God can reveal anything to a person who has learned nothing, not even how to read or speak, or did God teach you these things?
So to learn to read you first sought God’s will? If you seek my will, you ask me. If you seek God’s will you ask God. No one disagrees with this obviously mental conclusion.
So if you and I both seek God’s will. Why then do we disagree?
Fundamentalist: “You asked for an example of a truth that is not in harmony with man’s reasoning and common sense. How about when Christ taught that if you lose yourself you will find yourself.?”
JJ: This is in perfect harmony with the reasoning mind once the meaning is understood. I have taught this to many people who have not claimed to have direct contact with God and it is well accepted.
Care to try again?
Fundamentalist: “BTW, isn’t it rather arrogant to tell me what I cannot do?”
JJ: Not at all. There are many things no one can do including you. You can’t make 2+2=5 and you can’t make a true principle not true.
Fundamentalist: “And there are others. Faith is not really reasonable – to trust in something you cannot see?”
JJ: There is nothing unreasonable about faith as it is taught in the scriptures. Again, I have taught this to many people who say they do not have direct contact with God and it is very well received by the reasoning mind when correctly explained.
True faith is always logical, else why apply it? Do you work against your best interest?
Fundamentalist: “Man’s reasoning will always fall short. Our answers need to come from God.”
JJ: And you are a man who seems to be falling short with your own reasoning here. After all your whole post is in your own words and not God’s.
Well, I guess you could in a roundabout way say that even 2+2=4 is from God, but it can be discovered with the reasoning mind which is an endowment from God.
Galileo was better at finding the truth of the universe than all the Bible thumping priests put together.
Fundamentalist: “The truths I am seeking are the ones I do not know and need to know. I already know the sun gives light and, in reality, do not need to know if the earth is round.”
JJ: Since you think you will someday be as God and create earths you do need to know the earth is round if you are going to create one, else you may make a square or flat earth.
Fundamentalist: “Where reason and common sense are founded on man’s ideas they are leading away from the true light.”
JJ: Galileo used man’s reasoning on truth gleaned outside of the scriptures, or direct revelation, and he found more truth than the priests. He did better than those who attempted to rely on God and the scriptures.
In history those who attempted to rely on their interpretation of God and the scriptures have often been proven wrong. Why? Because they threw out common sense and reasoning that God gave us to use.
Fundamentalist: “Not all reason and common sense is founded on truth.”
JJ: Reason is not truth, but the search for truth using a logical process. If you start with a fallacy and use true reasoning you will unravel the fallacy and eventually find the truth. The reasoning mind will not let you accept a beginning fallacy without questioning it. The one who thinks he knows the mind of God will often not question and be as wrong as the Mormons believing their prophet will not lead them astray.
Fundamentalist: “We need the Spirit to guide us to the teachings that are truth. We need to rely on the Spirit and not just someone’s reasonings and teachings.”
JJ: We need both.
Fundamentalist: “I hold up God’s truth up and measure all other thoughts by that standard. It appears that you approach it with reason as the standard and that truth must harmonize with it.”
JJ: All truth I have received through the inner Spirit from God is reasonable and logical. You apparently do not believe this. Galileo thought truth had to be logical, but the priests who put him in prison did not. That is the difference between you and me.
Fundamentalist: It almost sounds like you don’t trust anyone to discern between the Spirit and emotional desires.
JJ: Obviously there’s a lot of people we can’t trust or else we’d be obligated to follow every Mighty and Strong One as well as the false Messiahs and prophets that come along.
Fundamentalist: You say we should study things out before asking, but the scriptures says, ask and ye shall receive, so I think we should just ask and lean on the Spirit.
JJ: So tell me of a revelation you received from God concerning a true principle that took no study or thought on your part?
You’re being black and white here like the priests who went against Galileo. If you are prompted by the Spirit to study in a certain direction, fine. Go with it. But if the Spirit doesn’t care one way or another then use your own mind and learn something you enjoy, like Spanish perhaps. The Spirit isn’t going to teach you by osmosis what you can learn with a little effort.
Fundamentalist: Yes, we need to make some effort, but to me, the effort is in learning to learn by the Spirit and in exercising sufficient faith to do so not to lean on other men’s reasoning.
JJ: First, I do not use other men’s reasoning, but my own. You are the one who uses the reasoning of other men. These men may be called prophets, but they are still men and still capable of being wrong or misunderstood.
We both agree on learning as much as possible from the Spirit, but you do not give me any credit in this direction.
Fundamentalist: “I believe in studying things,”
JJ: Then why are we having this argument? It started because you think I am wrong in presenting the Principles of Discovery which involves studying things.
Fundamentalist: It appears that you have decided that most men cannot be Spirit-led and therefore you are justified in replacing such guidance with man’s reasonings and common sense.”
JJ: You cannot replace such guidance unless you have it. It is a hard fact that few receive infallible guidance from God. The fact that we cannot even agree in this group proves it beyond doubt. All have to follow the highest they know and if one doesn’t perceive a direct answer from God he has to reply on his best judgement and reason. But if the seeker keeps following the highest he knows then he will eventually arrive at a true knowing through the Spirit.
Fundamentalist: Paul, who reasoned as he taught (as you quoted him), said: ‘For a many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ (Romans 8:14)
It is our birthright to connect with our Father, if we desire it enough to learn how. And then, through the Spirit, we can learn all things – all truth. This is God’s plan.
JJ: Yes, it is our birthright to be sons of God and learn truth directly from the Spirit. Looks like we agree after all.
Now the question to resolve is this. How is it that you learn things through your spirit which are conflict with what I and others in this group learn when all of us are sincere?
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” — Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
Sept 9, 2007
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