Branches of the Tree of Life

This entry is part 17 of 34 in the series 2010B

Posted June 4, 2010
Alex, who is a member of the Keys s well as an LDS related list in which I have been posting the mission series asks essentially this.

If the Mormon Church is corrupt and many of its teachings are flawed then why would the Spirit or soul give any witness related to it or guide anyone to join it?

This is a good question and is one I expected to receive.

The problem is that there is no person or organization that is perfect. The first lesson the seeker after truth must realize as he seeks an inner verification is that the Spirit never witnesses to infallibility.

Of course, many people who think they received a witness merely received a good emotional feeling about something that sounded good. On the other hand, some do receive an true inner verification from the Spirit through the soul. What they often fail to do, however, is not carefully reflect on just what it was that was that was verified.

The Spirit verifies truth in two major areas.
Direction and true principles

(1) Direction.
There is a path that takes us back to union with God. As we begin the path it is as if we have choices of many branches, like the top of a tree of life. Now even though there are many branches, and some are stronger than others, it is still a true principle that even the smallest and most imperfect among them receive life giving force from the Source. Therefore, if the seeker has a choice of merging with one of the branches or being separate from all branches the Spirit will witness to him that merging with the available branch is desirable.

The religions and churches of the world are the first branches of the Tree of Life.

None of them are perfect and all of them have many flaws and just criticism can be made against them. Even so, they are the kindergartens and elementary schools that take us on the path out of darkness and point us toward light and life.

Many of those reading this have been associated with a church in their past. Consider this question: Did you learn things of value from your association with it? I would guess the answer is yes. My answer is certainly yes, even though I outgrew it and they kicked me out. The church, as imperfect as it is, was the initial source that set me on the quest for the meaning of life and search for truth.

My initial experiences in the church were invaluable.

Therefore, when the seeker, who is not yet connected with a branch leading to greater connections with the Tree of Life, has a choice to hold on to a branch or no branch at all, the spirit will verify to him that he should move forward.

If he seeks it the verification or witness may be to join the LDS, the Catholics, Protestants, Buddhism or any particular school that will just pull him into the system whereas he begins to contemplate the meaning of things.

A person can also receive inner direction on various choices in life such as marriage, career or place of residence. If an inner verification is sought and none is received it means that the partner, career or location will not make much difference to your progression. But sometimes you may need to marry a specific person or follow a certain career and in this case you will receive a witness or verification.

Such verification does not mean that you will have smooth sailing, but it does mean that you will either spiritually benefit yourself or help others progress because of it.

So the spirit therefore gives witness to true direction – a direction that leads the One Path.

(2) True Principles.

The language of the soul is the language of principles. Facts are so relative that rarely is any inner witness relative to them. Instead, on reflection, the seeker will find that an inner witness is related to some principle.

Many people read the Bible and receive an inner verification and then assume that the whole thing is infallible but what is it that was really verified? It could be one or more of a number of things:

That Higher intelligence (God) does exist and there are beings of a higher order that work with us to aid us in our progression.

That there is an inner Christ or God that we can access for guidance.

That supernatural events and miracles are possible.

That there is a higher or spiritual love that we should embrace.

That we should see ourselves as servants willing to give a helping hand to our neighbors.

Now when a seeker reads the Bible or joins a church and receives an inner warm confirmation of any of these principles he is likely to interpret such as confirmation that the whole of the church of the Bible is 100% true and infallible.

The same goes for the LDS church, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. When a person receives a witness in connection with them it is either connected with direction or some true principle revealed. When I was in the church I never received a witness of the Book of Mormon as a whole but I did receive some powerful witnesses of some of the principles taught.

My first witness happened shortly after I started reading the book and came across this scripture:

“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” I Nephi 10:19

I have applied this teaching throughout my life and it is indeed a true principle.

Another thing that struck a powerful chord with my soul was the teaching that little children do not need baptism to be saved from original sin.

Then, here’s another scripture that registered within:
“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” Moroni 7:13

Similarly, there are a number of teachings and experiences of Joseph Smith, despite his imperfections, that call forth an inner witness. One thing that brings forth the Spirit verifying that at least, at that moment, he was in the Spirit was Parley P. Pratt’s account at Liberty Jail:

The incident takes place in Richmond, Missouri, sometime in November of 1838. The Prophet and his associates had been taken prisoner at Far West, Missouri, and were awaiting trial at Richmond in some rough log houses situated near the courthouse.

Six men at a time were chained around the ankles with a long chain that was held to each ankle by a lock. Parley poignantly recounts: “In one of those tedious nights [imprisoned in Richmond in a rough log house] we had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards, Colonel Price at their head, as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they had committed among the “Mormons” while at Far West and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children,

I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words: 

“SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and bear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!”

He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.

I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri.”

Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 209-211.

The seeker gains valuable knowledge when he realizes that many people of widely differing belief systems have received inner verification of true principles and direction. This is why it is so important to be cautions in making negative judgments of others. Maybe your friend has received an inner direction to follow a path that you consider to be in error, but for him such a path will lead to his next step on the path of liberation. If we are not careful a condemning judgment may prove to be a great error.

Brother Little was an atheist and the inner verification that God exists that he received from reading and praying about the Book of Mormon was a good thing and thus he began treading the path to liberation.

Copyright by J J Dewey

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