August 27, 2011

Catch the Irony?

I served a mission for the Mormon Church in Tokyo, Japan.  While I don't share many of the fundamental beliefs of its membership anymore, I consider my missionary service as one of the finest things I've ever done.  But here's a tiny example of what I find disturbing about the work and what it does to the young men and women who provide the selfless service. 

One of the lessons we taught to investigators of the church was a doctrine referred to as the Plan of Salvation.  According to Mormon theology, we came to earth after living as spirits in God's presence and did so for two important reasons: 1) to gain a body and 2) to have the memory of the pre-existence taken from us so that we could learn to live by faith.  Regarding the second purpose, we were quick to say that faith was not a perfect knowledge, but something akin to belief.  However, no sooner would we teach this than my companion would invariably say (because I refused to make such a statement) that he knew these things were true

Do you see the irony?  So few Christians do.  For the most part they acknowledge the need for faith--even agree that faith has more to do with uncertainty than perfect knowledge--but then they fill their lives with dogma.  Saying one has faith in the Bible is entirely different than forcing one's reality to conform to the Bible's teachings.  Yet, that's what many Christians do when rejecting science in favor of scripture.  Remember how pious church leaders forced Galileo to do the same and turned back the clock on the human understanding of the solar system?  Recall also that a variety of evil acts have been perpetuated--slavery, for example--by using scripture to support them. 

In my opinion, faith should be the thing we cling to until the truth of a matter is made evident.  Now, of that I can bear testimony.

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