Thursday, January 10, 2019

Lasting Impressions from 2018 #3: What is Truth?

My last deep impression I wanted to share from 2018 was a talk by Elder Christofferson entitled "Truth Endures."

It's hard to sum up the profound effect this talk had on me. It's interesting to me because I've since shared this talk with other people but I don't know that it's been life-changing for them like it has for me. I guess I just heard it at a time that I really needed to hear it, and so it's had a lasting effect on me.

If you want to study the talk, I highly recommend listening/watching it here. I have included a few of my favorite quotes, but it really is best understood in the context of the entire talk he gave.

“Truth then is a thing grasped completely only by the gods, those who are omniscient and who see and know all things past, present and future.”7

It's amazing to think that there are a lot of opinions out there, but if you believe in Truth (with a capital T) then there is only one source for Truth: our omniscient loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. And, the most amazing part is that I have personal access to a being who knows all Truth through prayer. 

I turn now to the Savior’s declaration, “the truth abideth forever and ever.”18 In section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord declares, “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.”19 I take this to mean that all truth, including the truth that governs our present sphere, exists independent and apart. It is unaffected by my preference or your opinion. It stands independent of any effort to control or change it. It cannot be lobbied or influenced in any way. It is a fixed reality.

I loved the way he put this, that Truth has nothing to do with what I want, what others want, or what we think "needs changed" or anything like that. In fact you can't lobby Truth. It is what it is.

He wrote that “our knowledge of the core principles [such as those embodied in the Ten Commandments] is ineffaceable. These are the laws we can’t not know.”31 Moral relativism denies that these core principles exist, or if they do, denies they are right for all. Moral realism argues that we don’t really know the truth, but we honestly search for it and do the best we can, trying to see on a foggy night, as it were. Budziszewski declares, “We do know better; we are not doing the best we can. … By and large we do know right from wrong, but wish we didn’t. We only make believe we are searching for truth—so that we can do wrong, condone wrong, or suppress our remorse for having done wrong in the past. … [O]ur decline is owed not to moral ignorance but to moral suppression. We aren’t untutored, but in ‘denial.’ We don’t lack moral knowledge; we hold it down.”32
I loved the idea that Truth is something we already know, and not something we are trying to find. 
I mentioned near the beginning what Lehi taught about trying to escape punishment and misery by denying the reality of sin—“if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall … say there is no sin.”41 If we could erase the law, or truth, as those fighting against conscience are trying to do, we could indeed get rid of guilt or punishment or misery. But remember, as Lehi cautioned, without the law there would be no upside to our existence either. We would erase the possibility of righteousness and happiness. We would erase creation and existence. Obviously, the idea of erasing or eliminating truth is nonsense, but there is a way to eliminate misery while preserving the opportunity for happiness. It is called the doctrine or gospel of Christ—faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism, both of water and of the Spirit.42We must help our students, in the Savior’s term, “do truth,”43—that is, wholeheartedly embrace the Light of Christ that is in them and welcome the added light and truth that come through the Holy Ghost. Resisting, rationalizing, and pretending will not do. Only repentance and obedience to truth can deliver the “authenticity” many covet. Only repentance and obedience to truth can preserve and enlarge our happiness and freedom.
This was another idea that was put in such a way that I understood it better. Because Truth is fixed, there is nothing you can do erase the effects of it. The only antidotes are those that were intentionally put in place/provided by Jesus Christ-- repentance, baptism, obedience.

John records the Savior’s powerful promise “to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”44 Knowing and following the truth most assuredly does make us free—first free from the bondage of ignorance and sin,45 and then free to pursue every good thing until we receive the Father’s kingdom and all that He can give.46Knowing that Jesus is Himself “the way, the truth, and the life,”47 perhaps the most significant meaning of the truth making us free is that by His grace, He frees us from death and hell.48
Lastly, because Truth is set in stone, knowing it and accepting it sets you free. 

This talk has helped me recognize what Truth is. That God is God, and His laws are laws, not ideas. I feel less responsibility for God's truth. Instead I see it as a fixed reality that I am willing to accept.

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