Faith and the “Reality Distortion Field”

Something pretty for this post...Even though it really has nothing to do with it at all. :)

Something pretty for this post…Even though it really has nothing to do with it at all.

In the most recent General Conference, President Monson stated the following:

“May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary – a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.”

As you probably know (if you read this blog often), I could write an essay of at least 3,000 words on this subject. But I’m striving for brevity. So, here are a few thoughts on the faith we need to help inform our choices and empower us to accomplish our goals.

In our society, it may be tempting to think of faith as some kind of quaint virtue, or perhaps something even worse.

Faith is the first principle of the gospel. It is a subject we hear about time and time again.

Faith is a virtue, but it isn’t relegated to moral interests. Faith is real power. (By the way, virtue is power – not just something for boring, prudish people! You can read more about virtue here.)

Without faith that a seed will sprout, we won’t keep watering it, fertilizing it, and nourishing it. Therefore, without the vision, or faith, of what a seed will be, though that vision is so different than the seed itself, the seed will never become a plant.

Because faith is a true principle and power, we see can faith at work – not only in a religious sense, but in any case.

Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. It was often said that he had a “reality distortion field.” The “reality distortion field” or “RDF” is described as follows:

“RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. (Reality Distortion Field, Wikipedia)

There is plenty of criticism regarding Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” but the fact also remains: he believed a personal computer could be created. And it was created. He believed that they could figure out a way to put all of your songs in your pocket, and with the iPod, they did.

Later, now that we have been able to enjoy the success of Jobs’ ability to “distort” reality, we celebrate him as a visionary. We say this as if Jobs possessed some kind of magical ability. I don’t think that gives him enough credit. It really isn’t easy to “distort reality.”

I believe that this “reality distortion field” could be renamed to faith. Faith seems to “distort” our present knowledge and lead us to believe that with God, anything is possible.

Of course, faith is not a distortion. Alma teaches,

“And now as I said concerning faith—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.” – Alma 32:21, emphasis added

Notice the last phrase – which are true. We learn more about truth in Doctrine and Covenants:

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

Though faith doesn’t often seem to coincide with our current notion of reality, faith is a belief in that which is true – past, present, or future. And the truth is, we don’t know everything right now. There is so much we can’t see, so much we can’t sense. Relying only on what we currently know and experience is an actual and incredibly detrimental distortion of reality. A distortion of true reality – past, present, or future – will result in our impotence.

So, how do we develop the faith that empowers? How do we choose to distort what we think we know now and believe in something that is yet to happen?

We can simply put our faith in God. He is our Father. He knows all. He created all. He does have all of the information. He will enable us to sense and see what we need to know in our lives – even if what He reveals to us isn’t aligned with our current sense of “reality.”

When we exercise our faith, we may be misunderstood. Some may say that our “reality” seems “distorted,” but with faith in God, reality is never distorted. God isn’t bound by time – past, present, or future. He sees and knows all now. Through the Holy Ghost, and according to His will, our Heavenly Father can impart with us the knowledge we must know in order to achieve our goals. In other words, with faith, we can also become “visionaries.”

I don’t know…when I think about faith this way, it just seems so powerful. Why wouldn’t we want to develop it?!?!

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Charity Rejoiceth in Truth

One of my favorite scriptures has always been a declaration by Nephi:

“I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.” – 2 Nephi 33:6

I love the simplicity of Nephi’s testimony. And I love that he rejoices in simplicity and truth.

My love for this scripture hasn’t waned. In fact, in times like election years, I find myself wishing that there were more people who rejoiced in truth.

Of course, Nephi’s declaration also makes me think about myself. Do I truly rejoice in truth?

What is truth?
Several years ago, I had a college professor who was a self-proclaimed post-modernist. (The whole idea makes me laugh. You don’t hear things like that anywhere but in college, it seems). I went to college in Utah, and there were many professors who loved to shake things up by questioning religion, especially the Mormon faith. This professor was no exception.

One day, he started in a tangent about truth. He said, that there was no such thing as “truth with a capital-T”. Everything was just relative. It seemed to me that he had the notion of truth confused with beauty (Truth is in the eye of the beholder.) He challenged us to define Truth.

The challenge was rhetorical, but I knew the answer. Earlier that week, I had been in an institute class where we discussed truth, and the divine definition of truth:

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

Can you think of a better definition? This is the answer to what truth is. Truth isn’t the popular belief at the time. Truth is the knowledge of how things are. And it is more than that. It is the knowledge of how things are, eternally.

After the class, I went to tell the professor my definition of truth. I remember his response. He dismissed me before I even finished my sentence. Maybe he didn’t rejoice in truth. He couldn’t refute it. He just said, “Well, that’s what you believe.” (I didn’t mention that this was from the scriptures. I just said, “Here is how I define truth…”) So. I feel pretty satisfied – Truth Exists. Incidentally, I rejoice in this fact.

How to come to know the truth.
So…maybe it is still tough to understand what truth is, let alone rejoice in it. We don’t need to fear. We have a way to find out the truth.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are 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.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” – Moroni 10:4-5

Spiritual Scientific Method

  1. Receive things – We make an observation.
  2. Ask God – Ask A question. (don’t you love this?! Heavenly Father wants us to ask questions. He wants us to know. He doesn’t want us to follow Him blindly. He wants us to follow Him firmly.
  3. Have a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ – Make a hypothesis and experiment. We need to come up with some kind of resolution. The Lord has told us – we need to study things out in our minds.

    Additionally, we need to experiment. How on earth do we expect to have our hypothesis proven or disproven if we haven’t experimented? The idea is ludicrous.

  4. The Holy Ghost will tell us the Truth of all things – In this phase, our hypothesis, through appropriate experimentation and observation, will be either proven or not. We can then choose to accept the hypothesis or reject it. Either way, the Holy Ghost will tell us what is actually true.

Why does it matter?

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Truth leads to freedom. Have you ever seen this in your life?

I will give a fairly dramatic example.

In my first marriage, I was married 7 years. Throughout my marriage, I had no idea of the truth. I thought that I was married to a man who respected me and honored God. Anyways. I didn’t. He lived a double life. He was having many affairs and was living in a way completely contrary to the gospel and to what I had agreed to when marrying him.

The entire situation came to me as quite a blow. The Truth, stung me in a way that I can’t describe. It was a shock. I remember someone asking me if it would have been better if I didn’t know.

Of course not!

And there were two reasons:
1. Even though I was married, things were amiss in my marriage, and I never could determine the problem. I prayed about it. I went to the Lord. Nothing ever seemed to be resolved. I learned why once I found out about my ex-husband’s affairs: the Spirit cannot bear false witness. He could never make me feel better about my marriage because it was a lie.
2. As difficult as finding out the truth was, I was so grateful for it. The truth led me to shedding the shackles of a very bad marriage. I believe it was also better for my ex-husband. He could be relieved of his duties and obligations as a husband. Because I knew the truth, I was able to be freed. As much as it hurt, I felt better, I felt free.

Truth leads to freedom in every instance. For me, I rejoice in truth because I’m pretty happy about freedom.

Jesus Christ is the Truth

“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” – Doctrine and Covenants 84:45

The word of the Lord = Truth → light → Spirit → the Spirit of Jesus Christ

This also makes me think of what we know about the Devil:

“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” – Moses 4:4

We can find the source of truth with Christ. If something is not true, we know who is the author of it.

Our Response to Truth
Those who have a charitable heart, respond to truth with rejoicing. We will be like Nephi who “glories” in it.

If we don’t have charitable hearts, and if we don’t cleave to truth, we may hate it.

“And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” – 1 Nephi 16:1-2

Nephi teaches us the ways both the righteous and the wicked feel about truth. The righteous are justified by the truth. They find solace, peace, and ultimately freedom in truth. Those who are wicked are pained by the truth – it cuts them to the core.

How do you respond to truth? Do you like it? Glory in it? Do you try to avoid it? What are ways that you can improve? Do you find that sometimes it is easier to believe a lie rather than truth? How can you develop more charity so that you begin to rejoice in truth?

The Book of Mormon: Establishing the Truth of the Bible

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love learning about it. I love reading the Bible, and I love thinking about the doctrines taught by our Savior.

One thing about the Bible, it often leaves me fuzzy. Sometimes the doctrines that are mentioned seem elusive – difficult to understand.

I see why there are so many opinions on what the Bible teaches. It is no surprise to me that there are hundreds of religions that stem from a belief in the bible. We know that the bible went through many translations. Even the Lord knew that this would happen, and he explained to Nephi:

“And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.” – 1 Nephi 13:26

So, it begs the question, What is true? What is the gospel? Which doctrines are true and essential for our salvation? How do we make and keep covenants? Where is authority?

And here is where my love for the Book of Mormon steps in. The Book of Mormon helps to clear up the fuzziness.

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” – 1 Nephi 13:40

The Book of Mormon does not compete with the Bible. Instead, it establishes the truth of the Bible. Isn’t that amazing! Because of the Book of Mormon, all scripture is relevant. Without the scripture, we are left, to stumble because we don’t have the whole picture. The Bible is missing pieces. How can we be whole, or perfect, if we don’t have all of the instructions?

The Lord knew this would be a problem:

“…after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.

For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.

And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” –1 Nephi 13:34-36

We have the Book of Mormon today. We have the Lord’s record. We have His gospel, his rock, and salvation. We don’t have to stumble on the fuzzy concepts taught in the Bible. Instead, the Book of Mormon enlightens our minds and brings even more beauty and clarity to the words of the Bible.

Plain and Precious Parts of the gospel
Thanks to the Book of Mormon, I have been able to better understand:

There are so many other doctrines that I keep thinking of – including prayer, how to baptize, government, service, and the connection of faith, hope, and charity.

Each of these principles and ordinances can be found in the Bible, but most of them are relatively enigmatic. The Book of Mormon uses plain and simple terms to help us understand true gospel concepts. And, as we learn these things, the Bible becomes more beautiful, informative, and helpful to our lives.

I’m grateful that the Lord has blessed us with a way to access His love and mysteries. We can come to know Him and his true teachings as we study the Book of Mormon and Bible together. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is the word of God. I know that it will help us to understand His mysteries. As we seek His word – in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, He will enlighten our minds. He bless us with power and vision. We will be happier people. We will understand our Heavenly Father and Savior more and live lives worthy of the best blessings that He wants to give us. When we read the Book of Mormon, we open ourselves to divine tutelage. The Lord will correct us and direct us in a kind way. Our understanding of the Bible increases, and we can develop a true friendship with our Savior.

***
Do you have a difficult time understanding the concepts and principles of the Bible? Which ones seem fuzzy to you? Do you think that you are open to having greater understanding of the truthfulness of the Bible by accepting the help that comes from the Lord through the Book of Mormon? If so, comment here and we can have a discussion.

Or you can also find the Book of Mormon online – with many handy study tools. You can also get a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

Finally, check out some other great blog posts on the Book of Mormon at Jocelyn’s Book of Mormon Blog Hop

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