Seriously – what if we’re wrong? This isn’t a glib quip – I’m trying to consider the real possibility and what that would mean. I thought I would put into essay form the head games I play, the scripture study it sparked, and the edifying conclusion I came to.
So what if we’re wrong? Who really asks such a question? I don’t think many do. Think about it – is there anyone out there who regularly considers themselves wrong or close-minded? Even the most ignorant, off-the-charts, tin-foil hat crazies feel justified in their opinions, and think they know the way the world really works. [As an aside, if you discuss some of our common ideas at church, a lot of members will feel you are that off-the-charts guy/girl.]
So what distinguishes us, who read sites like this, and read the words of Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard, Paul, Woods, Napolitano, et al.? What makes us different from the “hook, line, and sinker” folks, as I like to call all who fully believe what they’re told from the mainstream media and government ministries of information?
I’ll share with you my answer to this question shortly. First, I’d like to take you through some doctrine. The doctrine I sought out had to do with “opening eyes,” mostly spiritually. The reason I did this was to explore what I feel happened to me when I started down the path we all did of “waking up” so to speak. Just a couple of years ago, I was a “hook, line and sinker” member too. Then I came across the writings of some persuasive men named J. Rueben Clark, Jr., Ezra Taft Benson, Ron Paul, Thomas Woods, Jr., and Murray Rothbard who planted questions in my mind and posited ideas never supplied by the approved spectrum of opinion.
In Chapter 9, Christ heals a man blind from birth. The whole chapter is great! In summary, as Christ’s disciples passed by the blind man, they asked the Lord who had sinned, him or his parents. “Neither” was the answer, and Christ healed him – on the Sabbath. It turned into quite the scene. Most of the chapter concerns the Pharisees “investigation” into the matter. They repeatedly ask the healed man how it happened, and tell him Christ is a sinner. It’s thrilling to see the healed man’s transformation in light of the Pharisees’ bullying. He turns from a grateful man delighted in an amazing gift, to a man sure in his heart of the truth when challenged by expert manipulators. The fact that this man, who never learned to read, likely never went to school, and was virtually unlearned, could frustrate the Pharisees in such a manner is impressive, and entertaining. The Pharisees had the power to “cast out” of the synagogue those who confessed Jesus was Christ. So the man’s parents didn’t want to cross them when the Pharisees interviewed them. When at last the healed man meets Christ again, and realizes he was the one who healed him, he worships him. The last three verses read:
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
I conclude there are two instances of blindness shown here. First – the assumption that the blind man was blind due to wickedness. This kind of belief was so widespread, that even the disciples thought this, hence the question to The Master. Verse 34 shows that the Pharisees thought the same when they tell him he was “altogether born in sin” then cast him out. What kind of blindness is this? I consider it faulty judgment. Men saw a condition (blindness), and assigned fault to be the cause of it, which then labeled a certain value on him and his family. The seeing know they are in a better physical state, and the natural man suggests this is for a reason – something bad he did, or good the seeing did – whatever it takes for the seeing man to feel better than him. The second instance of blindness I feel is the fear to put out of the synagogue. The man’s parents most surely heard from their son how this happened, but would not say they knew when pressed by the Pharisees. Verse 23 explicitly states this was due to their fear of being put out of the synagogue – so they didn’t want to mention the name of Jesus. “He is of age, ask him.” The healed man may have cared about it, maybe not – he was after all a beggar and social standing in the synagogue was likely not his concern. But when the Pharisees pressed him, he took the little knowledge he had, never having even seen the written law, and reasoned away his attacker’s assertions. What kind of blindness is this importance of the synagogue? Needing to belong to the popular group. Both types of blindness come from the same cause: pride and self-importance. The principle of truth I took from this chapter is that when we look for truth, we need to get ourselves (pride, self-importance) out of the way so we can actually see the truth, i.e. Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we blind ourselves because we are in the way – we can’t see past ourselves.
In Moses, Chapter 1, The Lord showed Moses in vision the whole Earth and all the “children of men which are and were created …” (verse 8). When he is left to reflect on his spectacular vision, he mentions the difference between spiritual vs. physical eyes. In verse 11, Moses states:
But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
In the very next verse, Satan comes demanding that Moses worship him. And this very distinction between the spiritual eyes and physical eyes is what Moses uses to tell the difference between God and Satan’s fraud. “But I can look upon thee in the natural man” (verse 14). Shortly thereafter, Moses casts Satan out in the name of the Son of God.
How does this account apply – what can we take from it? Many of us pay attention to and read authors who frequently discuss the need to “turn things around” before it is “too late.” The part about being “too late” is what I’d like to focus on here. It’s important to see the world and current events not through physical eyes, where we feel the enemy (maybe the state) may actually win and it will be too late for hope, liberty, and freedom to prevail. We need to see these things through spiritual eyes and remember key points about power and dominion.
Men imagine they can rise up to take what they consider to be power and dominion – which even then is but illusory, because even then it only lasts for the length of their temporal life in the temporal world. They can obtain all the wealth, dominion, and control imaginable, but it is all really only an illusion. No power is legitimate or lasting except it be given of God. We must remember that in the end, the gloom and doom powers seeking to enslave man will fail, and true individual liberty, through Christ’s Atonement, is now and will always be victorious.
The Holy Ghost
In Moroni 10:5, he states: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” In October 2010, Elder David A. Bednar gave a General Conference address titled “Receive the Holy Ghost.” He discussed the ways to properly invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. He stated:
Our invitations for the companionship of the Holy Ghost occur in many ways: through the making and keeping of covenants; by praying sincerely as individuals and families; by searching the scriptures diligently; through strengthening appropriate relationships with family members and friends; by seeking after virtuous thoughts, actions, and language; and by worshipping in our homes, in the holy temple, and at church.
Our very thoughts words and deeds can invite or chase away The Spirit. Elder Bednar gets to the core of his point about the Holy Ghost: “Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives.” That should be our main objective in doing the long litany of gospel activities. He then invites us to be as the stripling warriors to get the Spirit by “perform[ing] every word of command with exactness….” The manner in which we receive the Holy Ghost is another topic Elder Bednar spoke on in April 2011, in a General Conference address titled “The Spirit of Revelation.” He stated:
We as members of the Church tend to emphasize marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations so much that we may fail to appreciate and may even overlook the customary pattern by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes His work. The very “simpleness of the way” (1 Nephi 17:41) of receiving small and incremental spiritual impressions that over time and in totality constitute a desired answer or the direction we need may cause us to look “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14).
Ultimately, our main objective in doing all we do – should be to “receive the Holy Ghost.” And we should realize that most always, we’ll receive it in “small and incremental spiritual impressions … over time ….” But as Elder Bednar states, so simple a system can cause many to look beyond the mark. All of us have this potential, and should be careful not to attribute our political opinion to spiritual refinement. It is obviously not impossible for The Spirit to lead and guide an individual to political truth – however, there are so many more important areas one would likely need spiritual guidance first; such as marriage, children, vocation, calling, health and fitness, diet, etc. In my opinion, the Lord isn’t about to send His Spirit to refine us politically if we really need refinement in any of these areas.
So what is the difference between us and the crowd ignorantly chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”? A like-minded non-LDS colleague of mine would call it hesitation and fear. “They fear where their mind goes,” he said – when they consider the state to be anything other than our benevolent protector. They can’t get over the cognitive dissonance.
Could it be that we just see reality so much clearer – due to our spiritual refinement? This is a tempting answer – because it just begs us to feel pride. I reject such a subjective and pride-fuelling answer. Such an answer can be used by anyone for anything. Even if hypothetically true, it should not be the conscious answer we choose to have.
So what is the difference between us and the “hook, line, and sinker” crowd? My conclusion: nothing. I have my opinion based on whatever forms it, just as others have their opinion based on whatever forms it. Any other answer puts us on a path to self-righteousness, pride, and spiritual blindness. If we can’t see past ourselves, we won’t see Jesus Christ, the Truth.
So what if we’re wrong? If we are, then we’ll be the preppers, survivalists, and contrarians who are a bit quirky, and looked at funny in church and political discussions. But we’ll all be just fine because things are better than we think they are. If we’re wrong, then there is less peril – there really isn’t as much to lose as we thought.
Ultimately, “What if we’re wrong?” is the wrong question. It should be, “So what if we’re wrong?” “So what” – is the important part. While paying attention to developing threats to liberty and temporal freedom is very important – it has the potential to distract and consume us. What is more important is that we spend time on our knees, refining our ability to listen to the still, small voice, and developing into a truly Christ-like character.
What good is it to spend our whole life fighting the enemy of liberty, getting our dream retreat with all the required preparations, and persuading hundreds/thousands to flock to the title of liberty, if we ourselves miss the whole point – spiritual liberty through Jesus Christ? I know of a temporally well-prepared member who’s been waiting for the end of the world for years. Due to his missing the point, he is an unhappy, unloved, sorry soul.
While we head into a historic season where principles of physical liberty are directly confronted, debated, and decided, let us not get so wrapped up that we distract ourselves from the victorious author of real liberty, spiritual liberty, and eternal life – Jesus Christ.