- By Elder Thatcher

A Thematic Blog - -By Elder Thatcher
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Faith and Works---From Flowers to Fideism in Five Minutes

This is a pansy
Look to your right.  This is a pansy.   It gets it's name from the French word pensée, meaning "thought."  It has been used by some as a symbol for free-thought and the throwing-off of what some call the "tyranny or religion" and tradition.  The axiom of this line of thought is, "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence,"1   and its titles are many.

Faith has been slighted by the pansy.  Faith is sadly misunderstood.  Therefore, faith has been left out in the cold.  Atheists say, "I don't believe that God exists."  Agnostic say, "I don't know whether or not God exists."  Ignostics say, "I don't know what you mean when you say, 'God exists.'"  Or, if invited in, has not been treated as the honored guest it should be.  Every day I meet people who should probably talk with Jean Racine, the French playwright who asked, "Is a faith without action a sincere faith?"  The result has been a decline of moral thought, accountability, culture, and behavior.  That's the simple truth.  Where faith does not exist, relativism rules.  Where relativism dictates morals, obedience is fallacious.  Where obedience is unnecessary, happiness is impossible. 

I will now insert my obligatory C.S. Lewis quote.  "It is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion.  God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.  There's no such thing."

There is a relationship between Faith, Obedience, and Happiness that goes unnoticed.  Faith causes, or rather motivates us to obey God's commandments, because true faith does not exist without action.  It allows us to arrive at the truth that the Joseph Smith, the prophet of God taught in this way.

"In obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness...He will never institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His law and ordinances."  

 Faith and obedience are symbiotic.  One cannot survive without the other.  I believe that happiness comes as we arrive at and understand absolute truth.  How do we arrive at truth?  I subscribe to what philosophers call Fideism, in part.  By that I mean that both reason and faith are legitimate means of learning. 

Blaise Pascal, a philosopher and mathematician of the 17th century, understood what I have come to understand.  He stated that, "faith certainly tells us what senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them." 

Saint Augustine, a millennium earlier, taught similarly: 
"Understanding is the reward of faith.  Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand." 

Galileo said "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use."  Faith is the proper exercise of our native powers of intellect.  As we respond obediently and in faith to the way of life marked by an omniscient Being, we will gain knowledge, understanding, peace of mind, and happiness.  We show (and develop) our faith as Joseph Smith did when he stated, "I made this my rule, when the Lord commands, do it." 

Faith is above reason because the part is not greater than the whole.  Faith requires work.  Faith is humble and obedient.  If we have and exercise faith, we will and must humbly recognize that our own talents and abilities--our logic and reason, and our senses and conclusions--truly are as potent as pansies.


1 Coined by William Kingdon Clifford

1 comment:

  1. I just tought I'd let you know that peopleareseeing your blog. I did a google search for the Joseph Smith quote on happiness and your blog came up as one of the frost ones, so I'm sure people will see it. It is very good. Thank yo for your service to the Lord.