Saturday, January 10, 2009

Even a Child Can Understand

Here are my notes for a talk which I am supposed to share in church tomorrow morning. After putting my thoughts down I decided it would be an interesting topic to post on my blog, a chance to expand the congregation, if you will, to include folks who wouldn’t normally get a chance to hear this.

I knew a week ago the odds were pretty good that Bishop Duke’s “Plan B” would kick in, that he would be in Ft. Worth to welcome a new grandson into the family while I stand here in his stead and offer my thoughts on Elder Causse’s conference talk,
Even A Child Can Understand ; given last October.

I should preface my remarks to include my natural inclination to engage in conversations which escalate toward contention rather than sit back and absorb an opinion which is contrary to my own. That having been said, I find it quite remarkable that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The only reasonable answer would be that the teachings and doctrine of the Church must be true and that I recognized them as such.

Elder Causse’ explained:

“The Bible has probably been the subject of more interpretations and philosophical debates than any other book. However, a child reading this book for the first time will have at least as much, if not more, chance to understand the doctrine as the majority of those doctors of the scriptures. The Savior’s teachings are adapted to everyone. At eight years of age a child can have sufficient understanding to enter the waters of baptism and make a covenant with God with complete understanding.”

I didn’t join the Church until I was 28, having been baptized when I’d reached a point in my life when I humbled myself and became teachable. The Gospel is simple enough; even one as slow as I can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, even I can understand it.

Last week I read where a fellow from another faith was upset because of comments made in an interview by Glenn Beck, radio talk show host and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Apparently Glenn’s answers had been posted on Focus on the Family, a Christian web site. His responses did not set well with several others from different denominations within the Christian following and the interview was pulled.

reason for pulling the interview was later explained by Mary Wilson, of Focus on the Family; Glenn, and members of the Mormon Church couldn’t be Christians because our understanding of the Godhead was different.

“To cite a specific and extremely important example, the Mormon church does not subscribe to the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the early Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon . In fact, it’s our understanding that LDS believe in three *beings* as the godhead – three *separate beings* that are physically separate and distinct individuals who together constitute the presiding council of the heavens. But this is most definitely *not* the Christian view. Christians down through the ages have always believed that the Scriptures bear witness to *one* God who exists in *three* persons subsisting within a *single* essence.”

I recorded a statement from the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church which pretty much tosses the idea the idea that Christians have “always believed”, as if there had never been heated discussion as to the meaning of scripture.

“To counter a widening rift within the church, Constantine convened a council in Nicaea in A.D. 325. A creed reflecting the position of Alexander and Athanasius was written and signed by a majority of the bishops. Nevertheless, the two parties continued to battle each other. In A.D. 381, a second council met in Constantinople. It adopted a revised and expanded form of the A.D. 325 creed, now known as the Nicene Creed.”

When I was younger I would be asked to stand and recite the Nicene Creed with the rest of the Presbyterian congregation. I found a reluctance to do so as I couldn’t go along with the Presbyterian explanation of God being invisible, vague and mysterious. I’d accepted the scriptural account in Genesis which explained how man was made in the image of God; not some vaporous Being without form.

My pastor told me that I didn’t need to know the particulars; I should just leave it alone. I suppose that’s why I quit attending church, at least until I was able to find the Mormon missionaries and the answers to questions which had bothered me for years.

Elder Causse’ reminds us the simple truths in the scriptures are there for everyone, even those with limited understanding.

“What would a child understand from reading the story of the baptism of Jesus? Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. The Holy Ghost descended upon Him “in a bodily shape like a dove.” A voice was heard: “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (
Luke 3:22). The child would have a clear vision of what the Godhead is: three distinct persons in complete unity—God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost.”
a similar account found in Matthew )

I’d been challenged by someone to explain
why I, a Mormon, should be considered a Christian . I wrote my thoughts on the council of Nicene quite some time back and posted it on my blog.

The many sects of the Christian world would rather be led by a consensus gained from biblical scholars and politicians rather than concede the possibility that God would rather have His Holy Prophets in charge. It is not up to any committee of Biblical scholars or theologians to determine the truth and meaning of sacred writings or to determine a comprehensive set of beliefs; but the responsibility of each individual placed upon this earth.

When Jesus was on the cross he wasn’t talking to himself when
these words were recorded , “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

The scriptures make it clear, Jesus was
openly pleading with his Father, a separate and distinct Being , “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

I suppose the rest of the Christian community is unable, or unwilling, to see the plain and simple truths which have been supplied. Perhaps the more important issue might be, why haven’t they asked to have the missionaries explain the simple truths of the Gospel, why haven’t they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

I believe that Joseph Smith was the Prophet of God chosen to bring about the restoration of the Gospel in the Fullness of Times, to hold all the keys of the Priesthood so that the world would be prepared for the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have
his testimony .

“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is MyBeloved Son. Hear Him!”

Joseph Smith wrote a letter to a fellow named Wentworth expressing to him the most basic beliefs in such a way that even a child could understand them; we call them the
Articles of Faith . I’ve heard many accounts of young children being able to hold a conversation with total strangers while at the same time establishing, in plain language, these simple truths, to such an extent as to amaze learned adults. The Holy Ghost is there to testify of these truths; the child who understands the Gospel need only open his or her mouth.

The Father in Heaven to whom I pray has a body of flesh and bone and I am made in His image. His Only Begotten, Jesus Christ, is my older brother and has provided the means whereby I may return and live in the eternities with Them, this truth is validated by the Holy Ghost; even a child can understand these simple truths. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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