Mar 18, 2009

Wanted: Men On The Outside

“Perhaps the Lord needs [] men on the outside of His Church to help it along. They... can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else... Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the truth; while others remain unconverted... the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose."

{Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1928, p. 59 [quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints,” Ensign, Jul 1972, 59]}

I came across the above quote in an old Mormon Matters post and was struck by it for several reasons:

Firstly, I don't think I've heard or read anything quite like it from Church leaders before.

Secondly, it seems to be quite a contrast from the usual message of haste for the need to be converted in this life, not to mention Moroni's promise that "if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 10:4), as well as "God giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not" (James 1:5). In fact, it almost seems like a contradiction to me.

Thirdly, it reminds me of the discussion we had earlier about The Faith Gene and it seems to confirm the theory that some are unable to believe, not because of their own wrongdoing, but because God sees fit that "the beauties and glories of the gospel (be) veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose." That "men on the outside" can sometimes actually "do more good" elsewhere than in the Church.

Thoughts, anyone?

15 comments:

chris said...

My husband heard the missionary discussions three times over a period of several years before he became converted and was ready to be baptized. I believe he is stronger for the process.

My sister struggled with alcoholism and died from related medical conditions when she was about 50. Years later she appeared to my guileless and very spiritual brother and said she was prepared for all of her temple work to do done. I am convinced that there is much missionary work that transpires beyond the veil and that we need not desire when we or our loved ones have not met the spiritual milestones that we may have hoped to achieve when we hoped to achieve them.

chris said...

I meant to write despair, not desire.

Grégoire said...

Thanks for posting this.

When I was in my early 20s I studied Arabic and stumbled upon ibn-Rushd's great work usually translated The Incoherence of the Incoherence.

His position contained the idea that religion and science only seem incompatible because the human brain can not grasp the mind of Allah. God made people differently, and some he reaches through reason and philosophy, and others he reaches through Qur'an and prayer.

In short, Allah made atheists, and they worship him in irreligious ways.

I've never heard the Mormon version and am thrilled that there is one -- or was. I'm probably going to steal this and write an article in my own haus about it. I'll give you credit.

Jen said...

I believe this to be true. I think the Lord may veil our minds in many instances, not only in relation to finding the gospel, but in other ways as well, to help us fulfill a higher purpose... possibly one we agreed to prior to this life. I have known people who have married someone, only to end up divorced later and married again to someone they feel they have always belonged with. I believe it is a possibility that the Lord allowed them to be "kept from the truth" or their from their "true" eternal companion for a time to fulfill a higher purpose. I think these types of things probably happen more often that we realize.

Mother Teresa would have never been able to do what she did as a member of the LDS faith. There are countless others I am sure that would fall in this category as well. Yes, I think that God has a wonderful plan that we have only begun to understand.

Jen said...

*from their* not their from their
Sorry for not previewing first!

Hye Sung said...

I saw this on mormonmatters, too, and it actually is a comfort for me, having many friends and family who are not believers in God at all. Some people don't seek God or Christ, and He will lead them to live righteously and do well despite their disbelief.

sunrisetantalize.com said...

Thanks for this. My fiance is a non-member and I converted shortly before we became engaged. While I would be happy if J decided to convert, I do not expect him to. I especially feel like he is not ready at this point in his life, but who knows?

I have a similar theory as you, though I'm not sure where I got the idea from. Maybe a combination of talking to others, reading blog posts and personal revelation. Sometimes I try explaining to the missionaries that Heavenly Father might need men and women outside the church to do good elsewhere. I believe that these people (like all other people, I suppose) will have the opportunity to obtain a testimony in the afterlife. The missionaries look at me like I'm nuts - oh well.

I also believe that it is virtually impossible to reject the gospel while on earth. Since we are imperfect beings we can never make the church look exactly as God intended. In the afterlife the perfect gospel will be revealed and then everyone will have a chance to accept or reject it in its purest form. I like Jen's theory of a "veiled mind" too.

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The Faithful Dissident said...

God made people differently, and some he reaches through reason and philosophy, and others he reaches through Qur'an and prayer.

That's really good, Grégoire. I'm sure that most atheists would reject the idea that they are worshiping God in any way, irreligious or not. But for those who do believe and have a hard time understanding why some don't -- and often chastise people for not believing -- it should give them cause for reflection that yes, even non-believers can do God's will for them as individuals, just like any of us.

Sunrise, I'm married to a non-member and like you, although it would be nice to see my husband convert someday, I don't really expect him to. The past few years, I have gradually come to understand that perhaps his lack of desire to convert is not simply a display of stubborn pride, but rather a way for ME to learn and get a different perspective on the Gospel, people, and life in general. It wasn't easy for me to make the decision as to whether I should marry outside of the faith, but later on I saw the wisdom in it as I think that the challenges I have gone through in recent years would have caused huge problems in my marriage if I had been married to a strong, active Mormon. Being married to a non-member has given me the freedom to ask questions and develop views that I think most Mormons I know would really have a problem with. I've often thought that a Mormon married to me would have left me long ago. :)

I really wish that we would hear more of these quotes from Church leaders. Some of the rhetoric is so "doom and gloom" as I like to call it, and it's a huge turn-off to people like my husband. One that comes to mind was the talk by Russell M. Nelson in General Conference last October about marriage and all his "shoplifting" and "cheap" analogies in regards to non-temple marriage. I hated that talk and I still do no matter how I've tried to look at it. I realize that he had a message to deliver, which is fine with me, but I felt the way that he delivered it was tactless and downright offensive to some.

Jen, I agree with you about Mother Teresa. I don't really have any heroes, but she is one to me. I think she was where she needed to be and I don't doubt that she was more in tune with God than probably anyone. I did a post about that here a while back.

Hye Sung, I think you're right. They can still "live well" and even "righteously." As I've struggled with my own doubts and trials of faith, it's given me more of an appreciation for unbelievers and it's not as easy for me to simply dismiss them as "prideful sinners who just don't want to believe in God." Of course, they can go overboard, just as believers can, and both sides are prone to extremism and narrow-mindedness. It's just too bad that we can't all appreciate the contributions from believers and non-believers alike who make the world a better place.

Grégoire said...

I'm sure that most atheists would reject the idea that they are worshiping God in any way, irreligious or not. But for those who do believe and have a hard time understanding why some don't -- and often chastise people for not believing -- it should give them cause for reflection that yes, even non-believers can do God's will for them as individuals, just like any of us.

ibn-Rushd's Incoherence of the Incoherence was a specific rebuttal to an earlier work by al-Ghalazi called *The Incoherence of the Philosopher* which condemned anyone who found inspiration in the likes of Aristotle; so it was written specifically to the true believers who condemned the average guy who liked secular knowledge rather than or in addition to Qur'an and Hadith.

Anyway, when I read it the first time (in Mormonville a/k/a Cardston Alta.) I thought it was an amazing departure from what I was used to. Your reference is the first I've ever seen of a Mormon ibn-Rushd.

Mormon Heretic said...

FD,

You got a mention on "Today in the Bloggernacle" from Mormon Times (part of Deseret News.) See the March 19 post!

thefirestillburning said...

I don't ever want to face my maker with the excuse that I was too busy doing my duty to my church to do my duty to Him.

Almost 20 years ago I realized that if I maintained my calling in the church, I would damage my wife and daughter in unimaginable ways because of actions taken (in honest ignorance) by the church 35 years earlier.

I also knew that if I chose the church and consciously inflicted that cruelty to my family, I'd probably lose my soul.

By choosing my family I found new power and new opportunities to serve Him that would have been closed to me otherwise. I haven't had to be "outside the church" yet, but if I felt that was necessary, I'd follow where I felt the leadings of the Spirit -- with tears, but no hesitation.

FireTag

The Faithful Dissident said...

It was wise of you to recognize the needs of your family, Fire Tag. Especially where the Church is larger, the time we can potentially spend on Church duties can quickly become a full-time job if we allow it to. I think this is particularly true of those who have callings in the bishopric or stake leadership. Some travel is also often involved in such callings.

I've sometimes wondered whether it's even fair to call men who have families and work full time to have such callings. Especially in larger wards, I wonder if it wouldn't be smart to call multiple bishops, so that bishops can be more effective in being able to serve the ward members, as well as have enough time to devote to their families.

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