Knowing vs. Being

Neal Kramer rides again!. See his earlier posts here and here.

In an admittedly brief meditation on issues associated with an earlier post in which I asserted that certain youth programs bear much blame for having young people leave the church, I began mulling over two big ideas: 1) epistemology, or how we know, and 2) ontology, or who or what we are. One of the great intellectual battles of the 20th century was fought over which philosophical perspective was of greater priority. With the extraordinary achievements of science and technology, the apparent certainty of their knowledge and its universal applicability, epistemology seemed to have carried the day. One reason we want to know something with certainty is simply to know in the same way that physicists or mathematicians know their stuff. So, when we want to sound certain or to express certainty, we usually find ourselves using an epistemological vocabulary or trying to adapt or mimic such a method. I might therefore say, I aver that Socrates lived in Athens in the 5th century. I can say this with some confidence because the relatively meager evidence of Socrates’ life fits the general method I employ.

Similarly, sentences like, “I know Billy lives on 124th street,” make good sense, as do sentences like, “I know that rock is quartz, or basalt, or granite.” The object of knowledge in each case is a generally agreed upon fact.

Americans are very fond of using this sort of language. It brings us a good deal of confidence and security when we have the full authority of science and technology on our side. The American rhetoric of certainty is grounded in science. Even the most basic questions about physical life and death must be expressed within such an epistemological paradigm.

I think this has some telling consequences for the way we teach young people about testimony. As long as American Mormons have been bearing testimony, we have felt comfortable envisioning a testimony as an object of knowledge that may be procured in something like the same way we procure a block of granite for use in our home or garden. The knowledge is depicted as existing independently of selves and choices. One can have a testimony in the same way one can possess the date of the invention of the light bulb.

But what if a testimony is not an object be possessed? Knowledge as a possession can be inconsequential. Most young people know this by instinct. They attend school, answer questions on standardized tests, and see or feel no consequences. In an epistemological sense, knowledge must be functional or have utility. If the utility is not obvious, the knowledge can easily be set aside or forgotten. It becomes trivial. If we believe testimony to be such a possession, then it has the chance of becoming trivial if it has not already been trivialized.

This is where I think ontology enters the picture. Who or what I am is surely different than what I know. The difference between knowing and being is crucial for young Latter-day Saints. I think that we LDS have come to believe that knowing is the critical component of our faith. I also believe it allows us to downplay the question of being.

What, then, does it mean to say I am a Mormon? In part, it must mean that I am not someone else. It implies some kind of personal transformation. It suggests a deepening of commitment. It suggests being a testimony rather than having one.

In short, it must include conversion. It is not simply a change of behavior, though that is important. It is a change of self. It is becoming a new person. It is having different desires. It is moving beyond what I know or what I do to who I am.

What do I glean from such musings? First, that knowing in the way many young people of my acquaintance use the term is insufficient to keep a young person in the Church. Second, that attending Church in order to care for myself, to seek personal valorization or validation, will not keep me coming. Third, that conversion is deeper than knowing and is more likely to keep me coming for the sake of others than for myself.

Being a Mormon is very demanding. To trivialize the demands of true discipleship is to stop short of conversion. It is to resist the tribulation of being born again. It is to shrink from the crisis of being that Jesus guides us to experience. It is to deny the peril of wholesomeness.

Am I therefore saying that testimony as knowledge is inadequate to keep us faithful? Maybe. My musings suggest that being is more important than knowing and that to focus on knowing or doing at the expense of being may not offer young LDS enough to keep them active.

Comments

  1. This is a great post, Neal. I agree that the language we employ isn’t enough to keep us in the fold, if you will. In some ways it reminds me a bit of the practice of “acting faith” during the Protestant Divine Healing movement during the latter portion of the 19th century. Adepts were encouraged to act as if they were healed from the first moments, rejecting medicine and pain, and thereby “act faith.” This obviously resulted in not a small amount of suffering. The question then becomes how can we “become”?

    One minor quibble, a while a go, I looked at the way people testified in the Journal of Discourses, and I believe that our current testimony ritualization isn’t particularly evident, though aspects of it are.

  2. Great thoughts, Neal. I don’t think that epistemology and ontology can be easily separated in real life. If a person knows a fact, that fact will naturally change their being. Someone might argue that knowledge can be had independent of being, or being independent of knowledge, but I think their influence on one another is very strong. Our being cannot be saved in ignorance.

  3. Thanks for your post Neal. Elder Oaks expressed some similar thoughts in his talk “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 32–34. Elder Oaks draws distinctions among knowing, doing, becoming or being, and conversion, all of which I think are important.

    I do not think we need to wait to strive to “become” until after we have received or come to feel a firm testimony of the Church’s teachings. I think it is entirely appropriate to take a Kierkegaardian “leap of faith” and strive to become a faithful disciple of our Savior and His teachings even though we may not “know the meaning of all things” 1 Ne ll:17, and may only have a “desire” to believe. Alma 32:27.

    When, during a discouraged time on his mission, then-Elder David O. McKay saw and internalized the saying “What E’er Thou Art Act Well Thy Part”, I do not think he yet had an extraordinary testimony of the teachings of the Church. But that did not prevent him from striving to “act well” his part.

    And while I have not been blessed with (or have not yet developed) the same capacity of belief and knowledge as others, I am glad to have seen that Jesus was right that miracles can happen if we only have the faith of a mustard seed. And that with my grasping to that modicum of faith and hope, God can make of me more than I could ever make of myself.

    In some ways, I think a testimony is a choice. It is a conclusion about truth claims that we may reach based on the data (including spiritual experiences) we have received.

    And thus I agree with Bryce, that what we believe and know affects what we become and are, because in making choices what to become and be, we take into account “all the data” (including spiritual experiences) and our conclusions (tentative or firm) about reality.

  4. Neal,

    I enjoyed your thoughts and appreciate your application of philosophy to spirituality. I especially identify with your concern over Mormon epistemology (especially when espoused by 6 year olds at testimony meeting).

    I am intrigued by:

    What, then, does it mean to say I am a Mormon? In part, it must mean that I am not someone else. It implies some kind of personal transformation. It suggests a deepening of commitment. It suggests being a testimony rather than having one.

    I think that “being Mormon” implies many things, only some of which imply “being a testimony”. I also think that “deepening commitment” is hard to define. In my case it’s more about self-identity than it is about strict commitment to doctrines and behavioral norms. From a spiritual perspective, I’m not sure that my Being Mormon has necessarily brought me closer to the benefits of the atonement.

    To the contrary, I often wonder if I wouldn’t become a more spiritual person if I attended a church that had more engaging services or whose pulpit politics were a better fit for my own. Rather than coming away on the defensive, I could fully embrace what was being taught. However, I doubt I would ever “Be” a Unitarian, because I already “Am” a Mormon.

  5. “One reason we want to know something with certainty is simply to know in the same way that physicists or mathematicians know their stuff.”

    From John Derbyshire, “The Importance of Not Thinking Too Much”:

    It would be nice if we could get back to that innocent state of society in which things like marriage were not thought about too much, just taken for granted with “carelessness and in-attention.” Innocence, unfortunately, is well-known to be a thing that, once lost, is impossible to recapture.

    Or perhaps not. In the middle of writing out the above, and intending to proceed to a satisfyingly pessimistic conclusion, I happened to read the August 2003 Notices of the American Mathematical Society. That excellent journal has a review, by math professor Michael Harris, of a book titled Mathematics and the Roots of Postmodern Thought, by Serbian-Canadian mathematician-philosopher-novelist Vladimir Tasi?. (Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.) Harris opens his review with an anecdote, a true story about a conversation held in Harris’s presence during a math conference in Münster, Germany.

    Over a restaurant dinner (Harris tells us), three professional mathematicians resurrected an issue from the great “crisis of foundations” that racked mathematics in the early 20th century — during roughly the period from Russell’s paradox (1901) to Gödel’s theorem (1931). This “crisis of foundations” arose because mathematicians had begun inquiring into the logical and philosophical underpinnings of their subject, trying to find the fundamental axioms underlying all of math, trying to find unshakeably firm foundations for the process of mathematical proof, asking questions like: “What is a number, really?”

    Well, the three diners all expressed different opinions on the issue in question, which is a very crucial one. (“The ontological status of the continuum” — but you don’t need to know this to understand my point.) Harris sought to pursue the discussion down into deeper matters… but found that his colleagues did not have the necessary knowledge, and didn’t actually care. These foundational issues, though interesting in their own right, and fine for a few casual conversational exchanges over the dinner-table, do not really matter in the day-to-day work of most mathematicians.

    My point is that a field of knowledge can endure a “crisis of foundations,” in which the most fundamental issues are opened up for inquiry and deconstruction, without causing any permanent harm to the field. Harris’s restaurant colleagues were working mathematicians — number theorists, actually — who knew about the “crisis of foundations” and found it mildly, historically, interesting, yet went on with their daily work as if it had never happened.

  6. Neal,

    This resonates with a verse in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians. He tells the people “ye are our epistle.” As you suggest, testimony can (should?) be understood more as being a living testimony rather than as an abstraction from our bits of information/knowledge. As Church members, our “Being Mormon” should enrich this life while providing hope for the next. Rather than privilege those whose epistemic traditions permit or favor the “knowledge” angle, it becomes more important to create space for experience to govern the relationships created and made possible through the restored gospel.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  7. To put this in language that I can understand, are you saying:

    1. Some number of the youth can’t say “I know” when bearing their testimony without feeling like they are lying.
    2. These people feel that they have to be able to say “I know” to be Mormons.
    3. Being a Mormon is not being able to say “I know” publicly, once a month, but rather, you know, going to church.
    4. So, losing the somewhat anachronistic “testimony” language would lead to higher participation, because the people who don’t “know” would be more willing to participate.

    But, Mormonism is epistemological to its core–isn’t every activity (everything) since correlation required to enforce the “I know” horn of the dilemma?

  8. RE: John Mansfield (#5)–

    At first I liked the concluding idea in the Derbyshire quote you posted — that we can happily apply our beliefs in daily life even if we haven’t fully deconstructed the foundations of those beliefs.

    But when I clicked through the link and read the whole article, I was a little less convinced. I would ask: What if western society had never stopped to question the foundational ideas behind feudalism, slavery, the hegemony of the Catholic church, and more recently, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination? By deconstructing the foundations of these societal beliefs, we have arguably come to a better place where people are more equal and reason is placed above tradition and superstition.

    To tie this back to the original post: I think it is important for church members and leaders to constantly think about why we do what we do — this process seems to have been the impetus for many important revelations from Joseph Smith on to the present day. Nonetheless, I like the idea that a testimony is better evidenced by a conversion of behavior than an acquisition of knowledge.

  9. Despite my comment #8 above, I still think Neal’s original post nicely sums up a very appealing religious philosophy (what I call religious liberalism): that the effects of religious belief on a person’s life are often more important than the absolute truth claims of those beliefs.

  10. According to BRM in the bible dictionary, true faith must be based on true principles, or it cannot provide the desired results. I f we are to take this statement then Bryce is correct and the two (epistemology/ontology) are interrelated.

    I would suggest that some of the problem might lie in the use and meaning of the term “testimony” among LDS. I can’t explain the origin of the term within broader Christianity, but I have observed that the application of it within the broader Christian community is more closely aligned with the legal usage of the term. Outside of Mormonism a testimony is a declaration of facts and events. If a born again were to testify to you they would in effect tell you the story of their conversion. Usually this entail how they were a worldly sinner, but then…(spiritual experience).

    In Mormonism, particularly now, if someone is asked to share a testimony, they may or may not offer some personal insight or retelling of past spiritual events, but always finish with with the Mormon creed – I know the Church is true, JS Prophet, JC is Savior, current Prophet,…, amen. Often times the creed is the only thing offered. I have personally been bothered by this because the teaching in the Church is that this series of statements is thought to be one of the most powerful ways in which a member can persuade another to faith. Frankly, to me it is a boring and tired statement and has never caused me anything but confusion. I am less interested in what someone claims to know, and more interested in how they came to those conclusions.

    There are 3-4 testimonies in the history of the Church which do not follow the creed structure, but form the foundations of the Church. The Testimony of The Prophet Joseph Smith (1838), the 3-8 Witnesses, and the testimony of Oliver Cowdrey. In each of these cases the authors/witnesses retell the events which led them to the truth and understanding, and it is from understanding these events that the truth claims of “I know the Church is true,….” get their veracity.

    I think if we as members focused on our testimonies as being those events in our lives which led us from uncertainty to certainty the testimony could become a vibrant thing for the youth to grab onto. Just one word of caution, no Paul H. Dunn please.

  11. Speaking of BRM, he had ideas that are very relevant to the knowing vs. being discussion. BRM seemed to lean quite strongly toward the idea that your belief and understanding have to be correct in order to be saved, not just your behavior. As one example, he taught:

    The Lord expects us to believe and understand the true doctrine of the Creation—the creations of this earth, of man, and of all forms of life. Indeed, as we shall see, an understanding of the doctrine of creation is essential to salvation. Unless and until we gain a true view of the creation of all things we cannot hope to gain that fulness of eternal reward which otherwise would be ours. (Ensign, June 1982, pg. 9)

    I have a hard time accepting the idea that we will by judged by how well we understand the finer points of doctrine, especially doctrines that have very little bearing on our day-to-day behavior. In BRM’s specific example above, historical records show conflicting beliefs among the bretheren regarding the “doctrine of creation.” If our salvation depends on a correct understanding of this doctrine, then I would hope the Lord would reveal it a little more clearly to his children. And even then, only bright and articulate people could hope to be saved.

  12. The current issue of Element, the Journal of SMPT has an excellent article by Adam Miller on testimony.

    I’m short on time, but basically he says that the only knowning that matters and the only testimony we can thereofore have is one of the atonement and it’s personal impact on our life. Everything else, as they say, is an appendage thereto.

    Thus when we say we “know” about the atonement, we mean we have personally experienced it’s power in our lives in a revelatory fashion.

  13. CE-

    I don’t want to put words in Elder McConkies mouth, but I don’t believe that he was saying that in order to gain salvation a person must perfectly understand those facts before they die. Rather that in order to progress unto to Godhood we will eventually have progress unto perfect knowledge.

    As far as creation goes, BRM was straight from the same vein as Joseph Fielding Smith (on about every other issue for that matter), literal creation as taught in the scriptures, and anything which is more or less of that is apostasy. So he may have been stressing the argument of faith vs. science to the tune of “no man can serve two masters”.

  14. Matt –

    To play devils advocate, then how does that relate to the temple, sustaining of Prophets, church callings, commandments, ordinances?

    To answer my own question, I think it depends on broadly or narrowly we define the atonement.

  15. Matt, I think that article by Adam Miller is a masterpiece. Adam is one of the great writers in the church in my opinion.

  16. molly bennion says:

    Neal, Your important post reminds me of Lowell Bennion on integrity. “We love our neighbor not out of commandment and not to be saved in heaven, but because it is our nature to love.” “We act with purity of motive, being honest …not because it is the best policy.” (from The Things That Matter Most)
    Knowing helps us to be, as well as to do, better, but becoming intrinsically good people, people of pure motives whose doing is good because we are good requires much more than knowing. So how do we go about teaching this not only to the young, who I agree would find more reasons to stay if convinced of so profound a concept, but also to the rest of us? Every time I try to teach this concept to adults at Church, I meet too many blank stares.

  17. cowboy (#13) —

    . . . I don’t believe that [BRM] was saying that in order to gain salvation a person must perfectly understand those facts before they die.

    Maybe you’re right. But BRM seemed to think that if a person believed false doctrine in this life, they could not be saved. This is evident throughout his “Seven Deadly Heresies” speech.

    To his credit, he clearly states that the purpose of correct belief is important because “what we believe determines what we do.” But I have a hard time seeing how our understanding of creationism, Adam-God, etc. really affect our day-to-day behaviors.

  18. 3 points worth mentioning

    1) The seventh deadly heresy is the belief that we must be totally perfect in this life to inherit exhaltaion. Elder McConkie rejects this notion, but suggests that that does not alleviate us from the necessity of trying. I know of nothing in his speech(s) that would imply we cannot be saved if we espouse false doctrine. Logically, everyone would fail were that the case. Points 3-5 of his talk relate to false beliefs which could be damnable, especially if our belief in them affected our conduct here and now.

    2) “…I have a hard time seeing how our understanding of creationism, Adam-God, etc. really affect our day-to-day behaviors”.

    This rational suggests that only our day-to-day behaviors are on trial. As for the examples you mentioned

    Adam-God: In a vacumm this may seem irrelevant, but lies at the heart of what Jesus taught regarding life eternal. I am not advocating that Adam is God, but rather knowing God personally, who he is (within mortal confines) and who he is not.

    Creationism: This addresses our purpose in relationship to God, here in mortality. What could be more important than that. That is why is emphasized so much in the Temple. The debate here generally focuses on the mechanics which, again, may seem irrelevant but have serious implications. This is a tough one because science demonstrates emphatically (with good reason) that creation was an evolutionary process, that life passed through degrees of simplicity and complexity to our current state. However as BRM pointed out in your talk, and Joseph Fielding Smith before him, anything that places man in a fallen mortal world prior to the fall, undermines the Atonement and, doctrinally speaking, our eternal purpose.

  19. Lets call it 2 points

  20. AMEN!

    The last paragraph, I believe, is the absolute core of the inactivity rate for our youth. Many have been taught how to “believe or know” but too few have been taught how to “become”. The Church and the Gospel have influenced many to some degree, but they haven’t been changed by it – or, in MANY cases, they don’t realize consciously how they have been changed by it. Iow, they don’t realize what they would “be” without it. That is true particularly for those who are BIC, especially for multiple generations.

    In our homes growing up, our children are not taught explicitly enough about repentance **as a positive process of progress and growth** and how to tackle “becoming” in a way that will help them recognize the growth they experience – to take charge of that growth in a very real and personal way.

  21. cowboy, my overall point is that BRM seemed to put great emphasis on the importance of what we know. Would you agree? BRM even emphasized the salvific importance of knowledge on a topics that seem (to me) only tenuously connected to behavior.

    I think this is an interesting contrast to Neal’s original post.

  22. Joseph Smith:

    A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God” (History of the Church, 4:588; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 10, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, link.)

  23. Joseph Smith:

    “Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. Woe unto you priests and divines who preach that knowledge is not necessary unto life and salvation. Take away Apostles, etc., take away knowledge, and you will find yourselves worthy of the damnation of hell. Knowledge is revelation. Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation” (Quoted by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, reporting a discourse given by Joseph Smith on May 21, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, Notebook, Church Archives.).

  24. Easy there quote-generating machine.

  25. lol.. :)

  26. CE #21 – I agree that BRM did teach that salvation hinges on our knowledge. I just wanted to stress that the conditions for attaining that are much more reasonable than they sound. They include for progression beyond the mortal sphere.

    We cannot attain all knowledge in this life, I think we agree. But we should not take the attitude that certain gospel issues do not matter (creationism for example) because it does not fit into a basic capsulated view of the repentance process.

  27. Bryce:

    I second your motion, the quotes speak for themselves.

    um…Then again, that’s sort of what quotes do.

  28. You can’t become something of which you don’t know, but you also can’t become something of which you DO know without applying what you know.

    That seems like the central point of the post – that knowledge *alone* doesn’t do anything unless it transforms the one who knows – that knowledge isn’t truly knowledge until it’s put into practice and experienced – that, “Faith without works is dead, being alone.”

  29. Agreed, Ray! I think that has often been the definition of wisdom – applied knowledge.

  30. cowboy #14

    Per Miller, it seems that if your testimony of Joseph Smith, the Temple, tithing, etc isn’t related to how those items or things have helped reveal more access to the power of the atonement to you, it isn’t really a testimony.

    Kent #15- I have to confess I’d never heard of Miller before, but I really enjoyed the article. If I get free, I’ll post a review of it and Element over at NCT someday…

  31. Matt:

    I think that’s why I decided to answer my own question. What I really can’t figure out is why I still felt compelled for the “Enter” button as opposed to the “backspace” button. OCD is my guess.

  32. cowboy (#26) —

    I think that when our own church leaders have diverse opinions on a topic, then that suggests that the Lord hasn’t clearly revealed his will on the matter. I think that some of Elder McConkie’s teachings cited above fit this category. And I *do* take the attitude that these issues aren’t terribly important for our day-to-day gospel lives.

    So I can support the basic notion that “we are saved no faster than we get knowledge,” but I would argue that the knowledge we need is not of the esoteric type. I picture something more along the lines of how Jesus said he would judge us in Matthew 25:31-46.

    Again, I only bring up Elder McConkie’s thoughts on the subject because they provide an interesting comparison to Neal’s thoughts. If we define a testimony as knowing all sorts of esoteric (and ill-defined) doctrines, how will that affect our youth as they come of age in the church? I appreciate Neal’s insights (and cowboy’s, too).

  33. Neal Kramer says:

    I’m interested in the comments about knowledge an the references to Elder McConkie. I was worried that I might seem to contradict him. In Mormon Doctrine, however, Ithink he agrees with me. See paragraph 2.

    1. In a broad, general sense conversion consists in changing one’s views or beliefs to conform to a pattern of thinking which was unacceptable prior to the time of the conversion. There is one Biblical instance of such usage. (Acts 3:19.)

    2. In the full gospel sense, however, conversion is more — far more — than merely changing one’s belief from that which is false to that which is true; it is more than the acceptance of the verity of gospel truths, than the acquirement of a testimony. To convert is to change from one status to another, and gospel conversion consists in the transformation of man from his fallen and carnal state to a state of saintliness.

    A convert is one who has put off the natural man, yielded to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” Such a person has become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19.) He has become a new creature of the Holy Ghost: the old creature has been converted or changed into a new one. He has been born again: where once he was spiritually dead, he has been regenerated to a state of spiritual life. (Mosiah 27:24-29.) In real conversion, which is essential to salvation (Matt. 18:3), the convert not only changes his beliefs, casting off the false traditions of the past and accepting the beauties of revealed religion, but he changes his whole way of life, and the nature and structure of his very being is quickened and changed by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Peter is the classic example of how the power of conversion works on deceptive souls. During our Lord’s mortal ministry, Peter had a testimony, born of the Spirit, of the divinity of Christ and of the great plan of salvation which was in Christ. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he said, as the Holy Ghost gave him utterance. (Matt. 16:13-19.) When others fell away, Peter stood forth with the apostolic assurance, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:69.) Peter knew, and his knowledge came by revelation.

    But Peter was not converted, because he had not become a new creature of the Holy Ghost. Rather, long after Peter had gained a testimony, and on the very night Jesus was arrested, he said to Peter: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32.) Immediately thereafter, and regardless of his testimony, Peter denied that he knew Christ. (Luke 22:54-62.) After the crucifixion, Peter went fishing, only to be called back to the ministry by the risen Lord. (John 21:1-17.) Finally on the day of Pentecost the promised spiritual endowment was received; Peter and all the faithful disciples became new creatures of the Holy Ghost; they were truly converted; and their subsequent achievements manifest the fixity of their conversions. (Acts 3; 4.)

    It is interesting to note also that the Latter-day Twelve, long after they had testimonies of the gospel, and more than two years after their calls to the apostleship, were promised that if they would be faithful they would yet be converted. (D. & C 112:12-13.)

    As to the quotations from Joseph Smith (it is nice to have that new manual, isn’t it?), I’m not sure that’s all that the Prophet has to say on this issue.

    As this relates to youth, I’m still concerned that the emptiness of the word “know” is a crucial feature of trivial uses of “I know” in testimony meeting.

    And I mean the ways it’s used by young adults as much as by anyone else. I fear the trivialization keeps us from becoming and being. perhaps the creedal testimony serves as much to trivialize as anything else.

  34. CE: I don’t want to be misunderstood here. I am not suggesting that salvation is wholly contingent upon acquired knowledge. In fact I entirely agree with many of the comments, Neal’s last post I think is dead on. I would also agree/posit that there is a hierarchy in the ranking of relevant knowledge, some knowledge is more important than others. Obviously, as has been mentioned here, knowledge of things surrounding the Atonement are paramount.

  35. I am out. This was a good topic, with plenty of insightful discussion.

  36. I think people can “become” without fully “knowing” in a sense that typical LDS testimonies reflect. Take Elder Oaks’s sermon on becoming wherein he cites the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Personally I like to see those laborers as doing God’s will where they stand, and figuring other things out at the end.

    Knowledge leads to becoming, but that doesn’t mean a person has to completely understand the process or reasons just yet.

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