Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Traditions of Their Fathers" and the Light of Truth

That which can be destroyed by truth ought to be drug out into the shining light of it, (truth) and annihilated. Truth is all that matters. Defending and holding tenaciously to long held beliefs and traditions should never be a consideration if truth is discovered or revealed that challenges the validity of that belief or tradition. Truth ought to take absolute precedence over every belief and tradition in every case. If a tradition or belief can stand up through a thorough examination of all evidence for and against; If, after that examination the tradition can yet be affirmed by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, then it ought to be retained and lived by.

The enemy of God uses two potent weapons in His arsenal for the destruction of men. In a revelation through the prophet Joseph Smith the Lord teaches: 

"that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers." (D&C 93: 39)

"Disobedience," implies knowledge or an understanding of a law or commandment that is then "dis" obeyed or disregarded. Violation of commandments or laws that are understood as principles of truth, is serious business. The martyr prophet Abinidi made this principle clear to King Noah and his wicked court of priests. He said:

"But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have willfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep themthese are they that have no part in the first resurrection.
Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim." (Mosiah 15: 26-27)

"Dis" obedience results in the enemy "taking away light and truth" from the children of men. In other words, men are led away from God and His redemptive powers by knowing a true principle then ignoring or "dis" obeying that principle of truth. 

The "traditions of their fathers" is the second way men are led away from God and His redemptive powers. "Traditions of their fathers" used as a weapon by the enemy to destroy men is different from disobedience. Disobedience begins from a premise of truth. Understanding a truth, men choose in a willful way to fall into non-compliance. When the enemy "taketh away light and truth" because of the "tradition of their fathers," the result is the same as disobedience, but the tactics used in the destruction are far different. The tactics of "traditions of their fathers" are specifically designed by the enemy to hide or cover truth so that it (truth) may never be discovered or understood and lived properly in the first instance.

"Traditions of their fathers" ought to be the very first area of inquiry when trying to discover what beliefs or practices of a people might be damaged or destroyed by the light of truth. If it is true that the evil one uses "traditions of their fathers" to take away light and truth from the children of men, then every tradition ought to be put on the examination table and dissected carefully from top to bottom, inside and out. This should be a welcomed process. There should be nothing to fear about the close scrutiny of every tradition under the bright illuminating light of truth. There ought not be any tradition, belief, or practice that should ever be held above the need for scrutiny and detailed, careful, examination. Otherwise, according to the Lord's words, we run the risk of having light and truth removed from us by the evil one. The result, if we are unwilling to identify and discard "traditions of our fathers" that may be in error, is just as bad, perhaps worse than disobedience. 

We tend to "get" the seriousness of disobedience. On the other hand, the seriousness of false traditions that lead astray is less of a pressing concern. Generally, we don't believe we have any false traditions that we should be worried about. Our convictions about our beliefs preclude the possibility in our minds of anything false being a part of our stable of guiding principles. If something has been believed for a long time, if that thing was believed by our father, and his father, and his father, if that thing continues to be believed by everyone around us, it must be right. The question of authenticity or adherence to truth of a long held tradition is never raised. It even becomes taboo under the enemies' plan to suggest a tradition ought to be examined. The evil one protects and perpetuates "traditions of their fathers" by instilling the idea that the mere suggestion of checking into a tradition is a sign of apostasy and a lack of faith.  The work of the evil one begins to unravel when the accepted and applied premise is, "that which  truth can destroy, should be destroyed."  Joseph Smith is the foremost violator of the false idea that traditions or beliefs should never be challenged or investigated. Joseph was neither an apostate nor was he without faith. He followed true principles and allowed the truth he discovered to destroy every false "tradition of their fathers." Joseph said, "to all those who are disposed to set up stakes to the almighty - will come short of the glory of God. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son, he must put away all his traditions." (Words of Joseph Smith location 4989 of 7184 Kindle version) Joseph understood and taught the destructive nature of "traditions of their fathers."

Joseph was told by God concerning the sects of his day, "I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JSH 1: 19)

All that Joseph did in the restoration of truth was to destroy false traditions and establish truth in its place instead. He did not hesitate ever to shine the light of truth on every idea or belief in order to establish the truth or error of it. Joseph never taught there was any subject we should not be willing to dismantle or investigate in order to prove its truth. Thomas Bullock recorded Joseph saying, "I advise all to go on to perfection and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of godliness..." (Words of Joseph Smith location 6646 of 7184 Kindle version)
Neither did the Lord Jesus ever teach such false doctrine. He is truth. He is the way. His doctrine is "ask and it shall  be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matt. 7: -8)

I reject the idea and attitude that it is a sign of apostasy or a lack of faith or loyalty to explore and question every belief and tradition of the latter day saints. I have found by "searching deeper and deeper," as Joseph suggested we should do, that "the tradition of their fathers" is indeed a problem for latter day saints. I am not afraid to examine every scrap of evidence pro and con relating to every belief and tradition of the church. The hardest, most difficult thing I have ever done in my life is to face the destruction by truth of traditions that I believed for most of my life were salvific for me. But, I have come to understand by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost that the destruction of those traditions and beliefs were necessary in order for me to find and follow the only path that leads back to the presence of God. 

I have learned that exposure to truth, and the destruction of the "traditions of their fathers" and the false beliefs of the latter day saints does not destroy the truthfulness of the church itself. The church is not our enemy. The church is the Lord's, it belongs to Him. That is an absolute truth. He established it through the prophet Joseph Smith. That verity is unchangeable by the belief, or disbelief, or conduct of men. The church's disposition as belonging to the Lord does not change despite errant beliefs, practices, or false traditions of the membership or leaders. False traditions and beliefs of members and leaders only have the effect of precluding them from blessings,  and spiritual progress that would otherwise be available to them. 

The Lord's people Israel have a long and proven history of leaving Him to go whoring after other Gods and precepts of men. (Deut. 31: 16, Psalms 106: 39) Usually always in that sordid and complicated history, Israel continued to believe it was Gods chosen people and that they had and were entitled to the blessings of the Lord. Just like the latter day saints. 

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