The Inaccurate Ruler

Do you ever feel like God has been trying to teach you something, and you're just not getting it, so He has to hit you over the head with it repeatedly?  All of the sudden, you see it and you think "OH!  I get it!"

Anyone?  Beuller?

It seems to me that I have been needing to learn a very particular lesson within this past week or so, and have been inundated with texts and experiences that speak to the self-same topic, even though they have come from very disparate places.  And I feel the need to share.  So, here goes...

Just as context, I have felt strongly that my Heavenly Father has pushed me over the past year to stop trusting in my own intellect - not just in academia, but in my relationship with Him, in my relationships with others, in my relationship with myself - and I have worked diligently to connect my head with my heart, using them in tandem.  I have also tried to make a clear distinction between the intellectual and the spiritual, in that I used to be very much inclined to participate in lessons at Church and Institute with my brain, thereby starving my heart from the spiritual nourishment that it needs (not to mention potentially veering others off course in the process).

Enter the lesson at hand.  Right now, I'm finishing up Stephen Robinson's Following Christ* and, in the midst of his discussion on the Fall of Adam and Eve, he plops this little gem:
While the physical and spiritual aspects of the Fall, death, and separation from God get a lot of attention, I would like to point out some other aspects that are often overlooked but that also have a profound impact on us here in mortality.  For example, we often forget that as fallen beings we are mentally fallen.  We humans trust reason and logic; some of us trust reason more than we trust God.  We have a tendency to think that if we start with what we know to be true and proceed with correct logic, we will always arrive at correct conclusions, but that is wrong, for human reason is flawed - it is fallen...Only the gospel give us guaranteed data to start from and a guaranteed perspective from which to interpret it...intellect itself is a defective instrument.  If a yardstick that is too long or too short is always used to measure itself when it is checked, the error will never be detected.  Since intellect is our fallen yardstick, intellect can never detect its own distortions.  
Now, that's a big statement with a lot of implications.  But, still.  Did you feel the same zing of "Why didn't I ever think of that before?!" that I felt the first time I read it?  Of course our mental faculties are fallen!  Of course we cannot trust our minds to work perfectly.

...But does that stop us from worshiping human logic and reason?

A few days after reading that statement, my professor for Book of Mormon studies lectured a bit on this issue. In talking about the moral agency of humans, he pointed out that true moral agency in our lives is not solely the capacity to choose, but rather, the capacity to choose when we know the Truth - both the Truth in the sense of knowing things as they really are and knowing He who is the Truth.  In the climactic point of the lecture, my professor posited the following:
If you don't have the Truth, you are not really exercising agency because you are bound.  You cannot see clearly, thus rendering you without the capacity to truly choose.  When you don't see things as they really are, you can't even see the choices that you could be making...Choices that ultimately bring you unto the Father.

This same professor shared a quote dealing directly with this topic in our ward's lecture series this past Tuesday.  He shared the quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie below:
We ought to judge everything by gospel standards, not the reverse.  Do not take a scientific principle, so-called, and try to make the gospel conform to it.  Take the gospel for what it is, and, insofar as you can, make other things conform to it, and if they do not conform to it, forget them.  Forget them; do not worry.  They will vanish away eventually.  In the true sense of the word, the gospel embraces all truth.  And everything that is true is going to conform to the principles that God has revealed.

Then, just today I was reading the blog for the Religious Studies Center and, once again, was presented with this idea - right down to the same analogy.  Here's the quote from the blog post that struck me:
President Smith was emphatic about our alignment with the scriptures:  'Let us have this matter clear.  We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man's doctrine.'

So, with all of these experiences and texts metaphorically hitting me over the head, I think it finally clicked for me today.  And what "clicked" end up not being some big epiphanic statement, but instead several searching, imposing questions. Questions that, if I search myself frankly and unapologetically, will lead me to a greater ability to see things as they actually are...

While I haven't been worshiping at the altar of human intelligence per se, I have to wonder if I have been standing as a witness of Christ in all things?  Have I taken views that put me contrary to the Gospel?  (Yes.)  Do I even recognize all of my trespasses in this area?  (No.)  Do I use my own as my own ruler, instead of the Father?  Do I try to fit my understanding of the Gospel inside of my own perspective, instead of letting the Gospel expand my horizons of understanding?

Also, perhaps more importantly, President Smith brings up a good point.  I have already covenanted to use the scriptures as my measuring stick.  Have been faithful to that covenant?

Now, I don't want to end on doom and gloom, mainly because I feel confident that I'm already on a really good path with all of the questions above.  And!  While I do think there's more room for growth, I think my Father might be trying to get me to readjust my paradigm, not point out that I'm a rebellious daughter.  As a matter of fact, I think that discipleship in this matter has less to do with my mind, but rather with the softness of my heart toward the Lord.  And here's the big punch line, my big a-ha!:

I think it's entirely plausible that I have been actively denying myself a fuller measure of power from on high because I have been too busy confining the capacities of the Lord and the Father to my earthly conceptions of them.

* The man is a genius.  If you have never read this book or Believing Christ, go.  Now.  Get it.  Read it.


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