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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 21 - Obedience

A large amount of  quibbling from the Anti-Mormon presses has to do with how they see obedience, versus how the Latter-day Saints see it.  What is obedience, why must we obey (according to Christ), and does choice play a part, or is it just blind?  We will examine these claims.

Obedience Defined defines the word "obedience" this way: "Conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, especially on the part of one who has vowed such conformance."  This definition is what we are looking for.  The religious superior whom we obey is Jesus Christ.  However, it must be remembered that He speaks through His prophets - always and forever.  Secondly, the Mormon people have indeed vowed such conformance in the holy Temples.  

Remember the simple truth, "If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15)."  We show our love for the Savior by obeying His Gospel, which Gospel we receive through His prophets.  This leads to the question of, blind obedience or no?

Blind or No?
Imagine that a servant stands guard over a vineyard.  He stands on the ground, and in front of him stands a 10-foot tall wall, over which he cannot see.  Behind the servant stands a watchman upon a 50-foot tall tower.  This watchman has an unobstructed view over the 10-foot wall and outside of the vineyard where the King's enemies lurk.  If an enemy comes and the watchman sounds the alarm, the servant would do well to hearken to it, because the watchman can see what the servant cannot, and that knowledge can be life-saving.  Does the servants obey blindly the voice of the watchman?  No he does not, because the servant can see the watchman upon that tower, and knows the watchman has a clear view of what is beyond that wall.  Although the servant cannot see what is over that wall, he must come to a knowledge (through obedience) that the watchman will not misguide him.  This is the same principle the Messiah taught in John 7:17: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."  It is through obedience that we learn to truly see.

To illustrate, we have the experience of President Joseph F. Smith.

"President Joseph F. Smith, in company with Bishop Charles W. Nibley, was returning home by train from a trip to the east.  Near Green River, Wyoming, he had just stepped out onto the platform at the end of the car when he heard a voice that said, 'Go in and sit down.'  He went back into the train, hesitated a moment, and then said to himself, 'Oh, pshaw, perhaps it is only my imagination.'  He then heard the voice say again, 'Sit down.' Responding immediately, President Smith took his seat.  Just then the train lurched as a broken rail caused the engine and most of the cars to be thrown from the track.  Bishop Nibley said that if President Smith had not acted as he did, he would have been seriously injured, for although his car remained on the track, all of the cars were 'jammed up together pretty badly.'  President Smith said of this experience, 'I have heard that voice a good many times in my life, and I have always profited by obeying it (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 523–24).'"

President Smith did not obey blindly, but he exercised faith as he had in the past.

The Mormons are not blindly following their leaders.  President Boyd K. Packer taught how obedience brings freedom.  Said he:

"Some who do not understand the doctrinal part do not readily see the relationship between obedience and agency. And they miss one vital connection and see obedience only as restraint. . . . Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. . . . There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see ("Agency and Control", April 1983 General Conference)."

I know if one obeys the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, happiness will come.  I say these things in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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