Friday, April 29, 2016

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Philosophies of Men

Editor's note: This is number 18 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne, sharing quotes from his book, Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. You can read the introductory post here. The first part of each post is a new introduction, placing the quotes in context with contemporary issues. The quotes that then follow are from the Determining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

            One reason the New Testament Church fell into apostasy was because it was overcome by false Greek philosophy. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is under attack by many different philosophies, but they all pretty much boil down to the same kind of thinking: there is no God, no right and wrong, no sin or evil or righteousness, and whatever a person wants to do is just fine. Or, if there is a god, he/she/it is remade in the image of men/women, and not men made in the image of God. In other words, God becomes what each person wants him to be for their own purposes. This is why there are so many different churches today; one for whatever set of doctrines suites a particular group. (And we haven’t even mentioned the unrelenting and vigorous Satanic attack on religious freedom throughout the United States and the world.)

With the restored Church of Jesus Christ, there is constant pressure from inside and outside to follow suit, to change the doctrines and reinterpret the scriptures to accommodate the vain philosophies of men. Mingling a little scripture with these modern philosophies/societal norms is an old game of the Adversary (who has pulled it off repeatedly in the past; hence the need for new dispensations). Therefore, whether it be gay/lesbian lifestyles/marriage, ordaining women/extreme feminism, promoting doubt of God as good, revising the narrative of the apostasy and restoration, or feuding with feds, it’s all man/woman-made philosophies. Whatever gets or keeps people out of the Church, or if not that, out of the temple, gives the devil a victory.

Instead, we should follow the prophets and apostles in their teaching the scriptures, so “that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils” (D&C 46:7).

Boyd K. Packer:

            While we have been about the work of anchoring ourselves to the scriptures, others have been busily cutting themselves loose from them. They have been drifting downstream, interpreting and revising the scriptures to agree with the philosophies of men. We, on the other hand, have been struggling upstream against the same current. We are determined to reach the headwaters of divine communication and revelation, to have it, as the Doctrine and Covenants demands, “that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20). (Conference Report, October 1982, 76.)

Mark E. Petersen:

            If we are eventually to become perfect as God is perfect, then our learning must go on and on continuously. We must have an almost insatiable desire for more knowledge and more learning. The important thing, though, is that we must make sure that our knowledge is good knowledge, that it is uplifting knowledge, that we get facts and not theory. We must have the facts. If we learn mistaken notions, we get off on a tangent. It is only the truth that keeps us on the track, and, therefore, we must be highly selective in the kinds of books we read and in the kinds of instructions we accept. (“Avoiding Sectarianism,” address to religious educators, 22 June 1962; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: The Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], 113.)

Gerald N. Lund:

            I also came to more fully appreciate two statements I had heard repeatedly in our church. I learned just how strongly the world feels that one cannot preach the gospel unless one has been trained for the ministry. That was the primary qualification for service in the minds of these sincere and wonderful young ministerial students and their teachers. Academic expertise was the prime qualifier, not priesthood authority or revelatory experience. I also saw just how successful the adversary has been over the centuries in teaching the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. It always intrigued me that it was stated that way, and not the other way around—that is, scripture mingled with the philosophies of men. By the time I was through with my studies there, I understood that the first was the better description of what had happened: The philosophies of men took first priority. Fourth, and most important, I came to learn just how much we owe to Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I learned what a rich treasure-house of doctrine we have in the Book of Mormon and other latter-day scriptures. Over and over I saw examples of the simplicity of the doctrine restored under the hand of the Prophet. I came to know firsthand how the Book of Mormon restored many of the "plain and precious truths" that had been stripped out of the Bible by careless transcribers and designing priests. (Susan Easton Black, ed., Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-day Saint Scholars [Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1996], 63.)

Mark E. Petersen:

            Do you see what foolishness is the wisdom of men? Do you see why we cannot accept the instructions and teachings of uninspired worldly men with respect to the doctrine and interpretations of the scriptures? We have a new revelation from God. We don’t have to depend on the uninspired teachings of these worldly-wise men. We must teach the new revelation that came to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith and which still comes to us through the present-day President of the Church. (“Avoiding Sectarianism,” address to religious educators, 22 June 1962; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: The Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], 116.)

Brigham Young:

            Now Lucifer has philosophy enough and religion enough to suffer his agents to run along with the truth hand in hand, and make himself appear like an angel of light, and teach hundreds of true principles, if he can only thereby get you to swallow one item of false doctrine. But the grand story is, the devil may rage as long as he pleases, and use all the cunning and craft that he may, yet he never can overreach those who hold the keys of the Priesthood, nor succeed in deceiving them. This Joseph taught the people, but they were slow to believe. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 2:15.)

Marion G. Romney:

            Blessed is he who—based on a knowledge of the gospel—has unshakable faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. He has an anchor to his soul and a motive for action. The possessor of such faith, has a sure test by which to distinguish truth from error. He knows that he lives in a day of great conflict between good and evil; that anti-Christs stalk the earth in all lands; that false philosophies and doctrines emanating from the prince of darkness are being presented in such appealing manner as almost to deceive the very elect. All this he knows and more.
            He knows that earth was created to be a battleground for the souls of men; that this life is a testing time; that in mortality men must struggle between the two mighty forces of truth and error. He knows this because he has studied and searched what the living prophets say. He has also fasted and prayed about the teachings of the scriptures and living prophets. He knows from his own experience that faith comes from searching, hearing, pondering, and praying about the word of God.
            He knows that he himself has the gift of revelation, by which he may not only correctly interpret the scriptures and the living prophets, but also properly conduct his own personal affairs. He is not led astray by false teachings, theories, and philosophies, for he tests them by his knowledge of revealed truth. If they do not comport therewith, he rejects them or at least holds them in abeyance until all the facts are in. (F. Burton Howard, Marion G. Romney: His Life and Faith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 229-30.)

Mark E. Petersen:

            I shall never forget when I was in a sociology class I saw the professor, a short, bald-headed, bewhiskered man stand there in front of our class and actually defy us to believe in God. He defied us to believe in a special creation or that man is a child of God.

I have always understood that it was against the law to discuss religion in the schools. But these men apparently claim academic privilege or some kind of academic freedom, I think they call it in taking the right to destroy the very faith which the law prohibits us from teaching in the public schools. And when they do it, I think they are in violation of the spirit of the law, just as much as if they were teaching religion. Young people, remember the great men of the world believe in God.

We do not get our faith from science, however, and I hope you will never take the position that we must even seriously regard what science says about religion. Faith comes by revelation. No matter what science might do to promote religious faith, it can never save a man. Salvation comes through revelation and the power of God restored to men in these last days. And that revelation is available. That revelation has come. The power of God and his priesthood are now here among men and salvation comes through them. (Conference Report, April 1952, 106.)

Hugh Nibley:

            A top-ranking savant from the East recently made the observation to this speaker, that the unique thing about Mormonism is that it is a nonspeculative religion in a world of purely speculative religions. That remarkable characteristic establishes at once the identity or kinship of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the original, primitive Christian church, which in ancient times also had the unique distinction of being a nonspeculative religion in a world completely "sold" on philosophy. (The World and the Prophets, 3rd ed. [Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book & FARMS, 1987], 33.)

Charles W. Penrose:

            The revelations that we have are not simply utterances of the Prophet Joseph or others to whom they have been given. They are the word of the Lord. Don’t let us forget that. When we talk about Joseph Smith as a scientist, that is all right when we go to show that things revealed to him as truths have since been received and understood by the learned of the age and have come to them without knowing that he predicted them, but was he their author? We do not pit him against them, but we take the word of the Lord, and don’t let us forget that it is the word of the Lord that has come to us, and this Church is founded upon it.... The word of the Lord…is truth and can be relied upon, and we can take our stand upon it and bring everything to it, and that should be with us the standard. We don’t want to prevent men from thinking. I have heard some of my brethren say, “Well, do you want to stop men from thinking?” Not at all. Liberty to think and liberty to act upon the thought if you don’t infringe the rights of others. Liberty to think, liberty to read, liberty to have theories and notions and ideas; but, my brethren, it isn’t your province nor mine to introduce theories into the Church that are not in accordance with the revelations that have been given. Don’t forget that. And if any change in policy is to be introduced, it is to come through the proper channel. The Lord said only his servant Joseph should do that while he lived, and then after he died others were to be called to occupy the place, and the key is in the hands of the man who stands at the head, if any change is to be introduced in our Church. Don’t let us fix our minds too much on the ideas and notions that are called science. If it is really science that they produce, something demonstrated, something proved to be true, that is all right, and there is not a doctrine of our Church that I can find that comes in direct conflict or contradiction to the sciences of the times if they are sciences, but a great deal of that which is called science is only philosophy, and much of it speculative philosophy, and these ideas change with the ages, as we can see by reference to what has been called science in times that are past.

            …We do not want to cripple men’s minds, we do not want to wean men from investigating and reaching out into the field of thought. The boundless universe is before us all to learn and to live and to come up to the standard occupied by our Eternal Father and to be fit for his society: Let our minds enlarge, our understanding increase and let everything that is proved to be true and established and demonstrated come in to us as part of our belief, but the theories and notions of men that are in contradiction to the revelations of Almighty God are not to be considered in the light that some people view them. Let us be very careful about these things. (Conference Report, April 1918, 21-22.)

No comments:

Post a Comment