Friday, March 30, 2012

That Which Truth Can Destroy

Truth is called by the Lord, "knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;" (D&C 93: 24) 

On September 6, 1977 I was on the campus of Brigham Young University. I had come there to listen to a devotional talk by Spencer W. Kimball. I had arrived late and the opening remarks were already being broadcast outside the auditorium where the talk was being delivered. It was a sunny, mild, early fall day so I decided to stay outdoors and listen while enjoying the sunshine. The talk given by President Kimball that day was called "Absolute Truth." I listened  carefully to every word. The premise of the talk, as the title implies, is that there is truth that is unchangeable. There is truth that is "Absolute." 

Absolute truth, president Kimball said, is independent of men's belief or not. Absolute truth simply is true and does not depend on anyone to believe it in order to make it true. Likewise, men's "unbelief" in an absolute  truth, does not alter the truth in any respect. The lord revealed, "All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it." (D&C 93: 30) That "independence" makes truth unchangeable by men. Men may misunderstand, they may misinterpret, they may remain in pure ignorance, men may care or not care, they may vehemently deny, yet truth, remains unaltered, unaffected, unchanged by what men do or don't do.

I was affected deeply by the premise of President Kimball's talk that day In 1977. It made perfect sense to me. The premise itself was "true." I have never forgotten the meaning of that premise. I still believe it strongly today. "Truth" means everything to me. In fact, the discovery of truth has become a consuming occupation. I have learned some things that are, in fact, true in the absolute sense. Other things I used to believe were true, have now been relegated to a category of something other than "truth." 

Not everything we "believe" is necessarily true. In fact, most of what men generally believe about themselves, about the world, about God, about truth itself, is based in faulty premise that is far from truth. Interestingly, it seems to work just fine for almost all people to not be grounded in truth. Just believing something, anything, true or not, gives people a complacency that falsely comforts. Though comforted by belief in something that may be other than real truth,  the eternal law of consequence will always meet out resulting rewards, good or bad. These consequences cannot be chosen after the fact. They simply follow what we believe as a matter of, well, consequence.

Recently, another blog posted this quote: "that which can be destroyed by truth, should be" (P.C. Hodgell.)  I have not been able to get the meaning of this verity out of my mind since I first read it. The Lord Jesus instructed "ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8: 32)  If we are to be made "free" by "knowing" the truth, then certainly, we ought to seek to know it. If knowledge of truth might have the effect of destroying some other belief we may hold dear, then, that other belief ought to be destroyed. Truth, and the knowledge of it, is what are important. It is not important to defend long held beliefs and traditions. If those cannot stand up to the truth, then they should be discarded and "destroyed." I like the idea that truth should be used to destroy any ideology or belief that cannot stand up to it. We should be willing to trade every false tradition and belief we have for even one truth.

The ability of truth to destroy false tradition and belief is exactly why the Lord Jesus used the truth of His word to destroy that which was false about the Jews he lived among. Jesus in Matt. 23 delineates the destruction by His truth of all the Jews false beliefs and traditions:

"But woe unto you, scribes and Phariseeshypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (vs. 13)

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (vs. 15)

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgmentmercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (vs. 23)

"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (vs. 28)

"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:" (vs. 34)

There was much about the tradition of the Jews that truth needed to destroy.

False traditions that encumber our lives  in like manner should be destroyed by, and replaced with, truth. If exposure to truth can destroy something, then destruction is what is needed for that thing. The destruction of all that is false should be welcomed.

It was revealed to Joseph Smith, (D&C 123: 13-15)

"Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things."

In the next entry we will consider a few of the false traditions that encumber the latter day saints. If any of those traditions cannot stand the light of "truth" they ought to be rightly "destroyed." We ought to be grounded in solid "Absolute Truth."

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