Sunday, August 15, 2010

Truth Eternal

One of our Latter-day hymns asks the question, "Oh say, what is truth?" The hymn goes on to testify:

3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

4. Then say, what is truth? ’Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Truth is eternal

The very nature of truth is that it is eternal. What was true for Adam will also be true for us today. We do not need to change our beliefs to accommodate political correctness, or fads of the day. A teacher in church shared with us an article that she came across in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity". The author talks about how some churches, in an effort to draw the younger generation to their congregations, have modified their worship, and in some cases even their doctrine. For generations of time, prophets of old preserved truth, unaltered. But as the human race turns more and more from God, we find them changing doctrine. President John Taylor, third president of the church, said, "One great reason why men have stumbled so frequently in many of their researches after philosophical truth is that they have sought them with their own wisdom, and gloried in their own intelligence, and have not sought unto God for that wisdom that fills and governs the universe and regulates all things. That is one great difficulty with the philosophers of the world, as it now exists, that man claims to himself to be the inventor of everything he discovers. Any new law and principle which he happens to discover he claims to himself instead of giving glory to God....If there is any truth in heaven, earth, or hell, I want to embrace it; I care not what shape it comes in to me, who brings it, or who believes in it; whether it is popular or unpopular, truth, eternal truth, I wish to float in and enjoy. (John Taylor The Gospel Kingdom, 47)

The Scriptures Can Help Us Discover Truth

One of the ways that we can distinguish truth is by following the teachings of the scriptures. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, "God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that “every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime” and “that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (Alma 30:17–18). Alma, who had dealt with Korihor, did not leave his own son Corianton in doubt about the reality and substance of a divine moral code. Corianton had been guilty of sexual sin, and his father spoke to him in love but plainly: “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5).

In a complete reversal from a century ago, many today would dispute with Alma about the seriousness of immorality. Others would argue that it’s all relative or that God’s love is permissive. If there is a God, they say, He excuses all sins and misdeeds because of His love for us—there is no need for repentance. Or at most, a simple confession will do. They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior.2But a God of love does not leave us to learn by sad experience that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10; see also Helaman 13:38). His commandments are the voice of reality and our protection against self-inflicted pain. The scriptures are the touchstone for measuring correctness and truth, and they are clear that real happiness lies not in denying the justice of God or trying to circumvent the consequences of sin but in repentance and forgiveness through the atoning grace of the Son of God (see Alma 42). (D.Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” Liahona, May 2010, 32–35)

We Should Not Fear Truth

Remnants of the truth can be found in all civilizations, although they may not have a fulness of the truth. But we can accept truth no matter from what source it comes. If the spirit confirms that a thing is true, we need not fear, but be believing. Pres. John Taylor said, "In regard to our religion, I will say that it embraces every principle of truth and intelligence pertaining to us as moral, intellectual, mortal and immortal beings, pertaining to this world and the world that is to come. We are open to truth of every kind, no matter whence it comes, where it originates, or who believes in it. Truth, when preceded by the little word “all,” comprises everything that has ever existed or that ever will exist and be known by and among men in time and through the endless ages of eternity. And it is the duty of all intelligent beings who are responsible and amenable to God for their acts, to search after truth, and to permit it to influence them and their acts and general course in life, independent of all bias or preconceived notions, however specious and plausible they may be." (John Taylor, "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, 209)

The Holy Ghost Will Lead Us in to All Truth

One of the most important ways that we can discern truth is by the power of the Holy Ghost. One of the main missions of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. Through the power of the Holy Ghost we can know that Jesus is the Christ. We can be led in to all truth. As we feel the swelling feelings of confirmation in our heart and in our mind, we can discern between truth and error. In John 14:26 we read, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni taught, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5)

We Must Be Worthy of Inspiration

If we want the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we must be worthy of it. Elder Richard G. Scott taught,
"The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration. For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him. " (Richard G. Scott, “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions,” Liahona, Nov 2007, 90–92)

Pres. Joseph Smith taught, “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
With the Holy Spirit, and the scriptures as our guide, we need not fear learning. We have been given these gifts by God to help us and lead us in to all truth. Through obedience, study and prayer, we can open the lines of communication with our Heavenly Father and ask for help in discerning truth. But the standard of truth must be preserved. We should protect truth, and cherish it.


Looney said...

In classical philosophy, the ultimate truth is viewed as eternal, but they had no notion of it being associated with a being, much less incarnate as in John 14:6. When I was young I hadn't thought about this much, but it seemed strange that Jesus would be truth, but not strange that he would always be truthful. Later Christian theologians developed this more, although sometimes I am skeptical of the elaborate explanations. Any thoughts on that?

Delirious said...

This is an idea I've never heard before. Jesus is "the truth" because He leads us in to all truth, gives us all truth, and only speaks truth. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with an idea that He is the incarnation of something other than Himself. In my mind, instead of Him being the incarnation of truth, I think just the opposite, that He is the author of all truth. That all truth is created in Him. He is the origin of truth.
I think sometimes scholars over analyze the scriptures; thereby making something very complicated out of a simple truth. I used to follow a group of bloggers who did this. I couldn't believe some of the complicated notions they were able to come up with from simple straight forward scriptures. lol