Thursday, April 28, 2005


Bad Things Happen

At BuyCom&ConSent there is piece on why bad things happen -- are they punishment or just life. I recalled a conference talk on the subject and found Elder M. Russell Ballard's "Answers to Life's Questions" from the Ensign of May 1995. Elder Ballard's fundamental statement is that the only satisfying answers to questions about suffering and unhappiness in the world "come from the comforting perspective of faith in our Heavenly Father and his eternal plan for our happiness."

Elder Ballard indicates that part of the test of mortality is our willingness to be obedient. "Obedience is essential to obtain exaltation and eternal life." He quotes King Benjamin that the obedient are "blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual." (Mosiah 2:41).

One of the most interesting things in the talk was this quotation from the Prophet Joseph Smith: "We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received." This naturally raises the question for me, 'What commandments do we not know because we're not keeping the ones that we do know?' 'Are there yet higher laws we need to be living but are not because we're not living the law we do have?' The answer to the latter has to be 'yes' and would seem to be supported by early church history. Would this also explain why we keep hearing many of the same things from the general and local church authorities? We're not living what we have so we are not ready for more. More, as in additional scripture, higher laws...?

Back on the original subject: Elder Ballard says that Heavenly Father's plan does not provide for "blissful happiness at every step along our mortal journey. Life is filled with harsh realities..." He goes on to say, "God has put his plan in motion. It proceeds through natural laws that are, in fact, God's laws."

Elder Ballard also notes that agency is a crucial factor. "Often overlooked is the fact that choices have consequences; we forget also that agency offers the same privilege of choice to others. At tiem we will be affected adversely by the way other people chose to exercise their agency." That is such a downer. Sometimes I just hate other people's agency.

I don't think this talk ever really answers specifically the question over at BuyCom about an unfortunate happening being the result of a need to repent, or is it just life. Although, this talk tends to give support to the just life argument in my opinion. I've had the same question about bad things in my life: 'Am I being punished, tried, or life just tough?'

I really did like this statement from Elder Ballard: "Those who live according to Heavenly Father's eternal plan... will not destroy their spiritual sensitivity... Neither will they search for doctrinal loopholes to find reasons to challenge the ordained leadership of the Church nor tamper with the simple truths of the gospel." I really like this statement because I find a lot of this on the internet sites -- discussions critical of leadership decisions or questioning the leadership and doctrines as officially taught -- not much that is apostate, just murmuring. It reminds me of something I read from Nibley recently about the apostasy. He mentioned that the church in the 2nd century turned to erudition instead of inspiration.

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