It seems like there has been a lot of talk lately about religion vs. secularism. It all seemed to come to a head when Elder Oaks gave his talk on Religious Freedom. – or at least, that’s when I started really thinking about protecting religion. Yesterday, I read an article over at Mormon Times, and then today, I read an article by Michael Otterson here.
Religious Freedom has been on my mind.
I’ve also noticed how, at times, I think about the ideas of atheism. I do not tend to close my life off from opposing viewpoints. I listen to NPR. I read Russian Literature. I’m not shrouding myself under the cover of Glenn Beck and other zealots. I’m trying to be well-rounded, and religious.
But sometimes it’s hard to feel strong…And that’s why I LOVE the scriptures.
In Jacob 7, we are introduced to Sherem. He is the first “Anti-Christ” mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Sherem was preaching to the people – declaring that there would be no Christ. He was flattering them with the sole purpose of overthrowing their doctrine. (see Jacob 7:1-2).
Currently, we deal with similar pressure. Secularism is the latest religious fad. In the quest to justify and prove secularism, we find that secularists feel that they must simultaneously debunk religion – and especially Christianity. And the worst part is, I find myself wavering a little in the middle of this “debunking.” I often find myself wondering how I REALLY know that Jesus is the Christ. I find myself questioning if my faith and testimony is true, or if it is just something I decide to believe as a defense mechanism.
I don’t like it when I begin doubting because I have received testimony. I know that such doubts display only ingratitude and an unwillingness to remember the ways that the Lord has blessed me. Additionally, doubt is really me allowing myself to blind myself to the current testimonies that I have in my life – that all witness of Christ’s love for me and all of His children. I realize that the doubts I face aren’t doubts as much as they are concerns on how I address my faith and the right to protect it to those who do not share it.(*)
Well, while I was reading the scripture in Jacob, I found that it referenced to the following:
“And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him [Korihor]: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?” – (Alma 30:22).
These questions, asked by the high priest of the land of Gideon to Korihor, ought to be asked now.
- Why pervert the ways of the Lord?
- Great question. What purpose is there in perverting the ways of the Lord? Why should we think that adopting wickedness of any type will lead to any kind of happiness or progress? The Lord’s ways are good. They work. Family is good. Kindness is good. Service is good. Charity, faith, and hope are all good. These qualities, or ways of the Lord, do nothing to reduce our society. In fact, they build it up. So why on earth should we pervert the ways of the Lord? We know that His ways work! We have thousands of years of history to back it up, too. Regardless of whether civilizations believed in God, when they were righteous, they were blessed. When they allowed their societies to be consumed in wickedness, their societies failed. So the question stands: Why pervert the ways of the Lord?
- Why teach the people that there is no Christ and interrupt their rejoicing?
- This question really gets me. Why would we interrupt the happiness and joy people are experiencing because of the message of the True and Living Christ? Christ offers us hope and happiness. When we truly grasp His gospel, our hearts are full of charity and gratitude. We rejoice. Why would we interrupt this GREAT thing?! And what is offered instead? Doubt, Discouragement, and, ultimately, Misery. I see no purpose in this. It makes no sense. Based on the outcomes of faith, I’d have to say that the advantage is with Christianity.
I know that there are many people who might site examples where religion was the cause of terrible injustices. I know that there were infractions caused in the name of Christianity. I would have to say, however, that they were not backed by Christ. Think of a modern-day parallel. There are current terrorists who commit horrible crimes in the name of “Allah,” yet many Muslims emphatically explain that such perpetrators are extremists. These jihadists do NOT represent the religion of Islam which actually preaches peace. It is the same with Christianity. We cannot control the actions of all believers, but we can trust the core message. Christ preaches Love. He preaches meekness, kindness, patience, charity, and peace. He teaches that we love our enemies and turn the other cheek. And in return, he offers us happiness and hope.
So the question remains…Why interrupt these rejoicings and preach that there is no Christ? It makes no sense.
- Why speak against the prophecies of the Prophets?
- Another great question? Why speak against the prophecies of the Prophets? Often it is asked, what evidence does a believer have to prove that these prophecies are true? We could also ask, what evidence is there that the prophecies are not true? The fact is: in order to understand things of a spiritual nature, we need to have the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness when a prophecy is true. Likewise, he will NOT bear witness to false prophets. Everyone does not need to believe in the gospel – our faith is a personal choice. But the attacks on faith are spiritual; therefore, they need to be based on Spiritual experiences. Otherwise, the argument is ridiculous. . Oh…and besides that, there are grave consequences for the mistreatment of the servants of God.
We, the people of faith, can believe, and can stand strong in our beliefs. We will have to continue to nurture our faith as those around us will question what we believe. And it’s okay. We are all free to choose as we like. I’m not the kind of person to make a “call of action.” I don’t think that it is worthwhile to fight with others. I don’t think that we need to be offensive. I believe we should be Christ-like. We must resolve to understand what it is that we believe, and then continually show that we understand the laws of the gospel by loving Christ and by loving all of His Children (our spiritual siblings).
oh…and I have to say, I rarely meet people who put me down for my religion. Thankfully, most people I meet are friendly, kind, and loving. Additionally, most people I meet are not secularists or atheists. They seem to have some kind of spirituality – even if they don’t regularly attend church. So, is all of this religion talk mostly political? I’m not sure, but I do think that it always helps to know where we stand.
*(Content added 11-24-2009) I really want it to be understood that these questions do not answer why I believe in Christ. Instead, I guess it is more or less questions on, “Why not believe?” They were questions given to Korihor when he was trying to specifically destroy the church and the faith of its followers.
I remember listening to an interview on Fresh Air with Bill Mahr. He had just made his anti religion movie. A big part of it was to convince people that they were basically idiots for believing in any kind of religion. While listening, I kind of wondered how I would have responded to him if I had been one of the random people interviewed on this movie. Obviously, there’s no way I’d convince Him of my testimony. It would be impossible as testimony is only conveyed through the spirit. And that is why I love these questions – because instead of trying to convert, they are simply defending religion.