Skip to main content

Ponderize D&C 137:9 - Purism vs. Pragmatism

“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” [D&C 137:9]

As I thought about this scripture I pondered about the apparent dichotomy between purism and pragmatism.  For reference, here are the definitions: 

     purist - a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style.
      pragmatist - a person who is guided more by practical considerations than by ideals.

Some of the questions that came to mind are:
  • Is there room in the Church for a a bit of pragmatism?  
  • Are we more focused on the results, or the process?  
  • Do the ends sometimes justify the means?  
  • It it better to obey the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law?
While I won’t answer all of these questions here, here are a few thoughts on the subject.  

The prophets and apostles have a responsibility to maintain the purity of the gospel.  Elder Packer said: 

      "The commandments found in the scriptures, both the positive counsel and the “shalt nots,” form the letter of the law. There is also the spirit of the law. We are responsible for both. Life is meant to be a test to see if we will keep the commandments of God. (See 2 Ne. 2:5.) We are free to obey or to ignore the spirit and the letter of the law. But the agency granted to man is a moral agency. (See D&C 101:78.) We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences."  (Boyd K. Packer, "Covenants", October 1990 LDS General Conference) 

An often cited example in the scriptures about the ends justifying the means is Nephi’s experience in killing Laban in order to get the plates of brass.  The family certainly needed them and without them they would have dwindled in unbelief and it is unlikely that we would have the Book of Mormon.  Elder F. Burton Howard commented on this experience: 

      "Some seek to justify their actions by quoting scripture. They often cite Nephi’s killing of Laban as an example of the need to violate a law to accomplish a greater good and to prevent a nation from dwindling in unbelief. But they forget that Nephi twice refused to follow the promptings of the Spirit. In the end, he agreed to break the commandment only when he was convinced that “the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Ne. 4:13; italics added) and also (I believe) when he knew that the penalty for shedding blood had been lifted, in that one exceptional case, by Him whose right it is to fix and waive penalties. (F. Burton Howard, "Repentance" April 1991 LDS General Conference) 

We have a significant amount of latitude when it comes to how we apply our talents to being profitable servants.  Consider D&C 58:26

The Lord said, “It is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant.” (D&C 58:26.)

The truth is that we are judged by both the means we employ and  the ends obtain. It is both “according to our works”, and “according to the desires of our hearts” (D&C 137:9)  Our purpose on this earth is not simply to check off a list of requirements (without considering the cost), but our purpose is to become something better.  It will do us little good at the last day to respond to the Great Judge: 

     "... Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?

The response to that line of reasoning is clear: 

     “And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (3 Ne. 14:22–23.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bajio, Cafe Rio, or Costa Vida?

It is time for the showdown.  Which one is best: Bajio, Cafe Rio, or Costa Vida?  Or is it (as was my opinion) that they are all exactly the same?

I decided to do a taste test.  Six people participated.  Three were salad testers and three were burrito testers.  None of the people who participated have any food judging experience although a couple of them have competed in cooking contests and have a couple of first place finishes to their name.   Each couple went to a different restaurant and picked up a Sweet Pork Salad and an Steak Burrito to go.  We ordered each salad with black beans and their creamy green dressing (whatever they happened to call it).  The steak burritos were ordered enchilada style with black beans. Then we all met at a central location and judged each dish on the following:


Value Score = Weight (oz)/Cost($)
Overall Appeal (visual appeal, aroma, garnish)
Recipe (Cooking, ingredient combination, too moist or dry)
Taste (Flavor combination, Seasoning, Texture)




This …

Using Tags in the Gospel Library App

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about using the highlight feature in the gospel library app to differentiate between gospel topics.

Why do we highlight in the first place?  The answer is simple.  It comes from the day when most people used paper scriptures.  They used colors and highlights to help you find scriptures.  Most of us do not have the time or the capacity to memorize the references for hundreds of scriptures so we relied on the our memory to get us close.  For example, the scripture about the natural man being an enemy to God, in my mind is not in Mosiah 3:19, but it is located in the first few chapters of Mosiah on the right hand page in the right column toward the top.  So, to find it I would simply flip through the first few chapters of the Book of Mosiah until I locate the highlights that I made on Mosiah 3:19.   This system served me well until we all started using electronic scriptures.  Now there are no pages or columns.  It is just one long column separated into chap…

No, I am not a vegan

Why I'm not a vegan (or a vegetarian for that matter).  After my previous post about the Word of Wisdom, I felt I should write an additional post covering this topic. 
First, the word "vegetarian" means nothing.  There are so many levels, tangents, and offshoots of vegetarianism that applying the label to yourself or anyone only causes confusion.   Some vegetarians eat dairy, some don't.  Some eat fish, some don't.  Some eat eggs, some don't.  Some are weekday vegetarians, and some only honor meatless Monday.  And the list goes on and on.  Labeling yourself as a vegetarian is simply a label that brings on a confusing discussion.  So, I don't use it.  
I'm not a vegan either.  You see, vegans typically fall into three categories: - They are in it for their own good health - They are doing it to be kind to animals, promote animal rights, avoid animal cruelty, etc.  - They are doing it do save the planet
The trouble with many vegans is that they tend to become…