Ensign March Review, by Gary Carter.

Reviewing the Ensign magazine is a difficult task. There are so many different topics
and articles that a comprehensive review would take an eternity if it were to be done
with any justice. In this review, I wish to investigate one phrase. On page 21, we see a
very interesting passage:

‘When we understand the enabling power of the Atonement, we will be changed;
we will have access to strength beyond our natural abilities, our weakness can be
turned to strength, and we can know that “in the strength of the Lord” we can “do all
things” (Alma 20:4).Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have the power and the desire
to help us overcome our feelings of grief, despair, inadequacy, discouragement,
pain, and temptation. They constantly offer us comfort, peace, hope, love, and
strength. They can heal our feelings of fear, distrust, anger, self-doubt, sorrow,
discouragement, and inadequacy. They can be the best resource we have to help us
get through difficult days and trying times. If we but come unto Christ, He will lead us
to the Father and a fulness of joy in Their presence.’

The phrase ‘They can be the best resource’ is very interesting, perhaps telling, when
we consider the LDS relationship with God to the Christian churches relationship
with God. The questions that strike me are simply these, can God be called a resource
and should God be called a resource?

The first question is a complex one. Rasmus, in describing the enabling power of
the Spirit, says that Heavenly Father and Jesus have the power and desire to help us
overcome our despair and strengthen us against sin. This is something that is quite
difficult to argue against. Christians believe the triune God does desire us to be free
from all despair and does strengthen us against sin. Jesus is the rock that grounds us
(Psalm 95:1). By the gift of the Holy Spirit we are strengthened and renewed
in our walk with God and in our own personal struggle with sin. LDS scriptures such
as Alma 46:20, D&C 98:47 and Moses 1:20 in particular support this position seem to
support this position. Whether this makes God a resource or not is a different matter.

I was talking to a friend of mine from church the other day. She was telling me about
her son who used to work in HR and how much he despised working in HR since it
moved away from being the Personnel department and became Human Resources.
The whole ethos has moved away from the idea of managing people and making sure
that all was well within the business to an idea that human being are in fact resources
that are there for the management and their jobs in HR is to improve efficiency.
In essence, it that line of work, it sometimes feels like men and women are just as
much of a resource as electricity and a computer. Men and women are individual
created beings lovingly made by God with their own individual personalities and not a
resource. God has made us for purpose and relationship with him. If He is the creator,
then how can He be a resource? The created cannot control the creator. To call God a
resource has the dichotomy all wrong. As such, despite the underlining truths that it is
by God that we have the spiritual gifts and Godly virtues are cultivated within us, to
have the opinion that ‘They’/He is our best ‘resource’ almost treats God like a shop
where we go to pick up an extra dose of virtue and healing. As such it is not hard to
see how verses such as the one below can be used in the LDS church as a foundation
for such teaching.

And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he

saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and
he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship,
which is the God of glory. (Moses 1:20)

It is important at this point to mention that Christianity is not blameless in terms of
thinking of God as a resource. One only has to look at the prosperity church to see
that but on the whole it is quite easy to see a very distinct difference between the LDS
and Christianity on this front. The LDS church has never renounced the idea of an
infinite regression of gods. As such the creator/created bond that we were discussing
earlier on is not the same. It could be argued in LDS thought that the role of Heavenly
Father and Jesus is to bring other people to exaltation and godhood as they had
been brought to godhood themselves. The God of the Bible has no role as it were.
All creation is there to worship and glorify His name. These are two very different
outlooks but we can see one important question that comes out of this discussion,
which is this. How can a creator God be used as a resource by His created?

7 thoughts on “Ensign March Review, by Gary Carter.”

  1. Gary
    Well said, a fine piece of analytical writing.
    I would go further, however in examining the cited passage, especially the latter part.

    “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have the power and the desire to help us overcome our feelings of grief, despair, inadequacy, discouragement, pain, and temptation. They constantly offer us comfort, peace, hope, love, and strength. They can heal our feelings of fear, distrust, anger, self-doubt, sorrow, discouragement, and inadequacy. They can be the best resource we have to help us get through difficult days and trying times. If we but come unto Christ, He will lead us to the Father and a fulness of joy in Their presence.”

    Historically organised religious success has been due, in no small part to the Christian church’s promise that the suffering of the virtuous and righteous in this life will be rewarded in the next and that the evil and unrighteous will be to a similar degree eternally punished.
    This promise initially popularised by the prophet Zoroaster in about 6000 BCE has succeeded in seducing the hearts and minds of mankind for over eight thousand years.
    It appeals primarily to the need for a sense of justice and/or revenge and placates the general membership of a religion with the idea that for the good suffering is transient / temporary and fleeting.

    Let us examine the passage from the ensign in this light

    “They can be the best resource we have to help us get through difficult days and trying times.”

    Christianity in latter days has supplemented this older message with the promise of an Earthly kingdom of heaven before death, but again only for the faithful and righteous.

    Insert tithe/prayer, collect blessing from the tray at the bottom of the alter.

    Quick, clean and convenient, would that it were only that simple, the apostate masses would be pouring back in to the pews, righteous at the read and in cold hard cash.

    The Mormons and the Church of England have been particularly guilty of this platitude, since both churches seek to appeal to an increasingly affluent set of congregations.

    The idea of God/Jesus as a resource must be very appealing to those used to the modern consumerist society.

    Of course it is not true and those of both honest religious persuasion and of a secular logical disposition know that it makes no sense either theologically of scientifically.
    For if:

    “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have the power and the desire to help us”

    Then theoretically God may indeed have the desire to help us, may even have the power to do so, but by his own laws and precedent cannot and will not do so. Such interference would be an imposition on freewill, and an affront to the very laws of nature that govern the universe whether created by God or be natural processes as yet not fully understood or by a combination of both.

    {they can assist us} “overcome our feelings of grief, despair, inadequacy, discouragement, pain, and temptation. “

    Which of course begs the simple question “how?”

    ”They constantly offer us comfort, peace, hope, love, and strength. They can heal our feelings of fear, distrust, anger, self-doubt, sorrow, discouragement, and inadequacy.”

    Again “How?” most followers of the Abraham based religions would say the answer is by prayer and by the counselling of “Holy men”
    In short by having you talk about your problems, mull them over calmly and come to conclusions about how to deal with them.
    There are of course secular equivalents; genuine counselling from trained professionals will possibly return better results than the stumbling good-natured efforts of a Mormon bishop who spends six days a week working as a window fitter and is hampered in his efforts by sets of arcane prejudicial rulings on the genuine sources of the problems his parishioner might be suffering from.
    The same goes for relaxation therapy, self hypnosis, and meditation in place of prayer, which again my proceed from the religiously induced false assumption the cause of the supplicants “fear, distrust, anger, self-doubt, sorrow, discouragement, and inadequacy.” May be SIN and their own inherent EVIL.

    In short the article seeks to continue the Mormon false doctrine that reliance upon “Their God” will always be a better alternative, when dealing with the harder parts of life, than seeking professional help or developing good and above all honest self reliance and confidence.

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    1. Hi Henry,

      Thank you for your comment and forgive my late reply to the comment. You draw out some interesting ideas on the shortcoming of untrained laity in dealing with serious issues as well as the issue that some religious organisations actively seek to put their adherents off from seeking ‘professional help’ from organisations outside of the religious organisation. I do however, as much as I appreciate the positivity of your comment, disagree about whether God is somewhere to find refuge with the difficult areas of life. There are many good organisations with Christian foundations and practices that embrace good professional counselling to assist those who are struggling with difficulties in their lives. Those who seek out those organisations do seek God in their troubles but realise that God works within those professions as well. God created those professions so He does desire us to actually use them. My main critique of this article is rooted in treating God as a ‘convenient/disposable’ God who is there for our needs rather than an awesome, powerful God who remains as such with or without us. Many thanks though for this thought out response. It is very appreciated.

      God Bless,

      Gary Carter

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  2. You need to be careful fellas, if you continue to study this stuff you may catch the spirit and be converted. Jeff Walsh

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