Beyond Ordinary: Faith, truth and priesthood restriction

Published: Friday, March 9 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

There is an inherent danger in ascribing the actions of mankind to the will and purposes of God, for God's thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. God's are higher than mankind's and mankind may only know them if and when God reveals them to us. Oftentimes God reveals a commandment or revelation to be carried out by his children without any, or a full, explanation why he is requiring the action of his children, and we should refrain from attempting to provide reasons for any of God's commandments or revelations, especially those that seem restrictive or exclusive in nature, Elder Dallin H. Oaks pointed out in the book "Life's Lessons Learned."

A perfect example involves the restricted earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus taught his disciples that while he was on the earth both he and they were to go "but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." Yet Christ never explained why his Father gave him that limitation or why he passed it on to his disciples. There are some things Heavenly Father just doesn't want us to know, one being the exact hour of the Lord's Second Coming.

As I have pondered the things I have read and heard in the aftermath of the Washington Post article, my thoughts centered around two things. The first was the relationship between faith and truth, and the second was the story of Joseph of Egypt, son of Jacob.

The apostle Paul defined faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Book of Mormon prophet Alma the Younger added that faith is "not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that "truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come," and that "all truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself."

Thus, faith is hope, but truth is knowledge.

Moroni, the final Book of Mormon prophet who delivered the record of his people to Joseph Smith, wrote of how one may convert the hope of faith into the knowledge of truth: "[A]sk God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if [a thing is] not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unabashedly claims to be the same church and organization established by the Savior himself during his earthly sojourn, restored in these latter days through his servant Joseph Smith. It candidly claims to possess the authority of the holy priesthood of God, also restored in these latter days through Joseph Smith.

Most of the world today does not believe or accept these claims. Yet, whether the world, you or I believe or accept the claims has no bearing on their actual verity, for the truth is independent, and acts independently, of whatever you or I may accept as true. Thus, the claims are either completely true or absolutely false. Just as Jesus Christ is either the Son of God or was a mere mortal, Joseph Smith is either the prophet of the Restoration or a total fraud. There is no middle ground; they are either the one or the other.

The same goes for the LDS Church's restriction of priesthood to those of African descent prior to 1978. Either it was a policy founded by prejudiced individuals influenced by the racism of American culture and sentiment of their era, or it was something which occurred in keeping with the design and purposes of the Almighty.

In short, either it was of man or of God.

As with any matter or faith, including the aforementioned claims of the LDS Church, pronouncements by mere mortals cannot answer these questions for us. We must individually learn of gospel truth via the Lord's way — through faith in Christ and revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. The truth about matters of faith, i.e., spiritual verities, must be proven and made known by spiritual means.

Which brings me to Joseph of Egypt, the son of Jacob, aka Israel. Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, which caused Joseph to be hated of his brothers. Their hatred toward him intensified after Joseph revealed several of his dreams to them. Initially the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but then settled upon selling him into slavery to traders who eventually took him to Egypt.

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