Friday, March 19, 2010

An Easiness and Willingness to Believe

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

An Easiness and Willingness to Believe, by Elder Michael T. Ringwood
Of the Seventy

I'm in the process of listening to a radio interview on NPR's Fresh Air where author Bart Ehrman is outlining his departure from the faith (link to interview details). Apparently, he once believed the Bible to be inerrant, but through scholarly studies observed contradictions in various biblical accounts which, over time, convinced him that not only is the Bible false, but that God doesn't exist (actually, he's not sure if God exists—he's claiming agnosticism now).

Hearing of his book, titled Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them), made me consider authoring my own book to put his claims in a different light, and view the biblical accounts through the lens of the Restoration. While I likely won't actually do this, I have resolved to re-read the four gospels and record my impressions on the authors' points of view (I've already done this, interestingly enough, but want to do it again!).

My first impressions on why this scholar lost his faith included questioning his "inerrant" belief. Apparently many people believe that the Bible was literally penned by deity, and, therefore, is perfect. They dismiss the idea that the books of the Bible, many named after their authors, were actually authored by the authors. (Sounds strange to me.)

Another impression involved questioning what happened to his heart. Why did advanced degrees harden his heart? (I'm reminded of a play on words that might apply here, found in Alma 47:18, which discusses being poisoned by degrees.)

I was reminded of all of this as I reviewed Elder Ringwood's talk where he reminds of the need to maintain "an easiness and willingness to believe" else we suffer from hard hearts and an accompanied loss of the Spirit. While I'm sure he's not advocating an abandon of reason or inquest—I love to inquire—instead, he offers a test.

A test to measure our easiness and willingness to believe can occur each week as we attend sacrament meeting. In this meeting we renew covenants by expressing our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments (see D&C 20:77). As we sit in sacrament meeting, we should find it easy to make these covenants and easy to listen and learn through the Holy Ghost.

As I increase in knowledge, understanding, and even degrees, I want to keep a soft heart and an easiness and willingness to believe.

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