Tag Archives: faith

Lots of insights from MSH! (updated as I have time to add more notes)

There will be a whole ton, and they’ll be somewhat randomly ordered, but they will be tagged so I can find them again!

  • Ether 12: faith doesn’t always need to be quantified, or turned into something economic
  • Goal is to focus on Christ, not focus on faith.
    • Faith will come along the way, as a gift, as you seek for Christ. Seeking = open, ready to receive, looking,
  • “Faith is things” ??
    • Things are things AND more than things
    • Faith changes things?
    • Faith is in those very things around you but you see them differently, or you use them differently, or God uses them to teach you, etc.
    • Things = Christ’s body that he showed the Nephites?
  • “We receive the gift of faith by seeking Christ, not by seeking faith” (quoting Jenny here)
  • Ether 12:41 and Alma 32? similarities and differences…
    • faith is assumed, trust you can do things when faith is exercised. Not seeking faith, using faith.
    • Seek Christ/ plant word(Christ)
    • But Alma does see faith increasing. But then again, it’s a gift, and not what you were seeking after.


  • This is my description, after listening to Joe’s paper:
    • Sacred time= cyclical, Messianic time= future changes present (oriented to future, so linear), Secular time= just linear (no orientation)


  • word “history” only used 5 times in the Book of Mormon, and all are in small plates.
  • 2 Nephi 5, Nephi is very interested in boundaries of all kinds
  • (boundaries, history, these are secular questions)
  • First Nephi says history, then later more history part, then more particular
  • Maybe he sees that it’s tricky to separate secular and sacred
    • even when he separates them into two separate books it’s still hard to keep them a part!
  • Secular is supposedly neutral, but really, based on our discussions, we could say that secular = history+religion-religion?
  • That version is subtractive, but Nephi is additive (more history)
  • v. 32/33 pleased vs. desiring
    • admits there is a lack (of history) so some might desire history
  • Desire can disrupt sacred?
  • Lamanites have words like “seek” “toward” associated with them
    • v 19 disrupts sacred teaching
    • (note when Nephi desires something in ch 5 it is that he desires NOT to have kings)
  • Laman and Lemuel often a topic on large plates! During times when they are being lectured Nephi will stop and say that the rest of the lecture is on the large plates (Brilliant, brilliant insight by Kim!)
  • Plates sort of parallel the two groups (Lamanties/large plates and Nephitites/small plates)
  • But these divisions are overcome:
    • Book of Mormon is addressed to Lamanites
    • small/large plates are together now
  • Does a division of sacred and secular open up a space for us to do work of covenant, so we can seal it all back together in a better way?


  • BYU has a vision that Elder Holland talks about, where our spiritual life should make us better scholars, and our scholarship should make us grow in our spiritual life.
    • But, it’s hard to tell who has the vision and who doesn’t, and who can make that vision emerge in students and who can’t
    • Everyone has their own qualifications or clues
    • But maybe it’s more like Kierkegaard’s “Knight of Faith” – you can’t tell. Eats dinner the same, walks home the same, can’t tell that someone does the same things but in a different way, with a different heart, a different orientation


  • Maybe priesthood assignment itself is a circle of power for men? Given a huge task and told to figure it out!
  • Could be true too for all callings of course. Hmm


  • King Follett discourse is an example of the appeal to low/common Church mixed with High Church.
  • Introduced as if academic. Here are some thoughts, not here is doctrine or here is how to live your life
  • But rhetoric style is plain
  • but “refutes” ideas, like a paper
  • paragraph 12 has a hugely amazing doctrine, but the sentence structure treats it like it’s equal to the other things in the sentence!
  • Plain container fill it with radical ideas?
    • Family proclamation feels that way to me. Looks plain but full of radical ideas 🙂

Faith is faith on a word about Christ

I was rereading Moroni 7 today, and verses 20-34 seemed to have such a clear logic and flow that I wonder why I hadn’t seen this so clearly before! I guess that’s why we keep reading over and over and over again! So many things yet to be noticed that are right in front of us.

Mormon says his speech is going to be about faith, but he has some groundwork to lay down first. Mormon says that without Christ, none of us could have any good thing. “Otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them” (verse 24). But how do we lay hold upon good things then? “Thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing” (verse 25). Faith is also what gives us power to do good things: “If ye have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (verse 33). And most importantly, along with repenting and being baptized, Christ says, “have faith in me, that ye may be saved” (verse 34).

So we see know that faith is necessary to lay hold upon good things, to do good things, and even to be saved. But how does faith come about? What is faith? Does God have a plan to make all of this possible?

Well, of course, he does. “For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to…make manifest concerning the coming of Christ (verse 22). “And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come” (verse 23). “Wherefore…men began to exercise faith in Christ” (verse 25). We get a little more detail on angels in verses 31-32:

“And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. 

“And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth a way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.”

This is all so remarkably clear to me today. God creates the possibility of faith by sending messengers (either by calling prophets or by sending angels to chosen men, women, and children who then bear testimony). The possibility of faith is conditioned on God sending words and messages about Christ into the world. That is faith. Faith is believing on a word, and that faith creates a place for the Holy Ghost to empower, teach, sanctify, etc. It all seems to start with faith, and faith seems to start with a message, and that message seems to start when God speaks or sends angels.


I was very impressed with the idea laid out here that the work of the covenants (the Abrahamic Covenant being the big example) is accomplished through speaking! I knew that angels ministered and that they did the work of fulfilling covenants, but for some reason I had separated those as two different jobs. But I think verses 31-32, quoted above, are clear that ministering messages is how they fulfill the covenants. They teach, which brings the Holy Ghost, which changes people, and that gathers Israel or whatever other promise is given through a particular covenant. Teaching. Teaching. Teaching. Wow. I’m again shocked at the value and power of teaching.

Alma 32 and being “compelled to know”

In response to my post on Alma & Korihor, a friend of mine referred to Alma’s discussion in Alma 32:16 about those who are “compelled to know.” So this morning I’m looking at verses 16 through at least 18 to think about his response.

Verse 16 says, “Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.”

I don’t know what to make of it yet, or how it falls into this current study, but I found it intriguing that he is equating (“or rather, in other words…”) being humble with believing the word of God. Or is he? I just found that interesting. His discussion about being humble so far seemed to me to be a discussion of the fact that they were kicked out and therefore didn’t have the same pride as the rest of the Zoramites. It seemed to me to be a discussion of how the saw themselves; they were lowly in heart, etc. I didn’t see that has having any direct relationship with their belief in God’s word. So where does the connection lie? I suppose I do remember Alma saying he turned around and saw they were ready to receive God’s word. But his discussion of humility, as far as I had read previously, didn’t discuss this aspect. It was a commentary on their lack of pride. I don’t think those two things always have to go together, do they? Lack of pride = ready to believe? Not sure. It seems a prerequisite, but not necessary companion.

So what is he saying here? Let me look again at the verses.

Ah, I do see a few points that change my thoughts on Alma 32:16. He does say in verse 13 that “sometimes” if someone is compelled to be humble they seek repentance, etc. Not necessarily equated, then.

Also, I re-read their original question to Alma, and they specifically ask How are we supposed to worship if we’re so poor we can’t go into the synagogues? The fact that 1, they want to worship and 2, they want a way around their problem to do so, combined with their humble demeanor, is probably why Alma says that they were humble and prepared to hear the word.

So anyway, back to Korihor, belief, etc.

What strikes me now in the story of Alma 32 is that they were ready to believe whatever Alma told them, before they heard it. This is a pattern I am noticing in the Book of Mormon. Lamoni tells Ammon that he will believe whatever he tells him. He has already decided to believe, before he even knows what Ammon has to say! How unusual does that sound to us! We think of preaching as a chance to share with someone ideas and doctrines that they can then go and pray about. But in Lamoni’s case, his heart was changed enough already that he was ready to change his thinking to whatever Ammon told him was true. The same happened with Lamoni’s father and Aaron. This seems to be a pattern, at least with the Lamanites.

But it seems to also be what is going on here in the land of the Zoramites. The poor approach Alma and, it seems to me, and perhaps to Alma, that they are ready to receive whatever he will tell them. Their hearts have already been softened, or changed, to that point. They have some sort of faith, or, as Alma will put it, they at least have a “desire to believe.” Something has been stirred in them already. Because of their humility, they have already planted some seed without even knowing it! Or, they desire that seed, to know what Alma will say. Perhaps that is a good way to tell Lamoni’s story too. Ammon’s love and power had humbled him to the point that he desired that seed without even knowing what it was. His ground was ready to receive it and to plant it. And is not that readiness already some sort of “faith”? I think Alma is trying to say it is. If we plant it, we plant with at least some sort of minimal faith. Otherwise we would reject it completely. So it seems.

So, what does all of that have to do with Korihor and faith. Well, I was already thinking along these lines (the way Lamoni and others believe and then hear the word) before I got to Korihor’s story. But let’s take a look at Alma 32:16 now and see what they teach me.

At first glance, it’s easy for me to want to force this part of verse 16 to say something like I just said above: “yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” Taken out of context, it could sound something like “without being brought to know what the word is.” But in context, I think Alma means something like “knowing” as a state beyond faith or believing.

Let’s look at verses 17-18 now:

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.

18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

So (this is for you Mike), I can see his question about faith as relating to two different parts of these verses. First, it could be read that asking for a sign is not faith. (Which I think was your objection to my reading of Korihor.) Second, it could be read as a counter to the last part of verse 17. There are those who say if they see a sign, then they will believe. Alma counters that particular part of their request by saying that is not belief; if a person were to receive a sign in such a way that that person “knows of a surety,” then that person knows and doesn’t believe.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Alma weighs in on the question of whether or not it takes faith (even if the person doesn’t think it does) to ask for a sign and to receive a sign as from God. I think in Korihor’s case, we can see that since we know he did believe and Alma knew it too. But that’s our only test case in Alma, that I can think of.

I wrote the post because I hear sometimes people saying, “I can’t believe how dumb atheists are. I mean, right here Alma shows us that earth and all its complexities should prove to us that there is a God. How could this all come by a big bang?…” etc. Mostly my point in that other post was to say that I don’t think Alma is trying to prove anything in some sort of general, objective standard way. I think he is talking to a person he knows 1, doesn’t have a solid argument, in that same general, objective standard sort of way, and 2, already believes somewhere inside them but is being too proud to admit it. I think I know what Joe’s response would be; he would say that Paul argues that all of us, somewhere inside us, already have felt and know truth (not details of information, but truth or light in a more general sense). Either we humble ourselves and admit it, or we are proud and fight against it.


I know, and so I will be surprised

Confusing effects with the truth…

So I have been thinking about something that we humans do sometimes that really gets us into quite a bit of trouble. 🙂

At times, we believe (or want to believe) so strongly in something that we start to get obsessed with what we see as the effects or consequences of that thing. For example, at one point people who believed in a God in a certain way decided that a consequence of God’s omnipotence was that the earth went around the sun. It was a manifestation of God’s glory and our subjection to Him. People became so sure of this “manifestation” that they saw an attack on this manifestation as an attack on the existence of God Himself.

We can all smile at their naivety, but how often are we doing the exact same thing?

Someone hears there is someone professing to be a prophet. They decide first what manifestations a prophet would have, if he came from God. Then they judge a person by their list.

Sometimes people growing up in the church decide that since most of their ward is well off, if they keep the commandments God will bless them to be financially stable as well. When this doesn’t happen, they assume what they had been taught about God and blessings isn’t really true.

I made a list of qualities I expected in a future husband when I was in YW (who hasn’t made one of these lists – or 3 or 7 – in Young Women’s lessons??). When I started dating someone, I realized he didn’t match one of those things I thought would be a sign of a good strong relationship.  I wondered if I should walk away.

In these and so many cases, what we are doing is mistaking a manifestation of truth as a necessary part of truth. Rather than this route, I think we need to ask ourselves if the core idea – God, love, etc. – is something we believe in, and then let the rest follow.

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