Monday, August 19, 2013
The Need to Fight Spiritual Complacency
For me (and I think for all long-time members), these questions are important to ask. In my case, my family has been in this church for five generations, my immediate family members are all active members, and, to some extent, I find it almost impossible to separate my identity from my lifelong faith. I think that we all have a responsibility to counteract the drone-like attitude of "we-have-always-done-this-so-we-will-keep-doing-it." This is what I call "spiritual complacency." So what do we do?
Attending church and performing our church responsibilities are not enough. In fact, even enthusiasm for this gospel is not sufficient. In his essay, "Zeal Without Knowledge," Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley discusses Mormons' effusive attitude toward the church, and while important, is ineffective--even dangerous--without knowledge. Rather, Nibley argues, every member has the responsibility to be an earnest spiritual seeker. If Mormons teach that we can someday be like God, it means that our minds one day have the capacity to be like his as well. If that is the case, it appears that we have a divine obligation to be lovers of knowledge.
So, what makes us forget this responsibility? I think a problem can arise when we, in typical "zeal-like" fashion, express our appreciation for our gratitude of the truths we have. While I am immensely grateful for gospel principles I have learned, I think that this enthusiasm can obstruct us from seeking even greater knowledge, which can be found through purposeful prayers and gospel study. In short, we are so content with the truths that we already understand (or think we understand) that we don't probe and explore the gospel like we should. "True knowledge never shuts the door on more knowledge," says Nibley, "but zeal often does." I couldn't agree more. I think that being a truth seeker to the best of our abilities is an important antidote to spiritual complacency.
Being a prior recipient of important truths should be a door to perpetual exploring and searching upon additional truths. Our capacity for obtaining knowledge appears to be infinite: if we ask, we shall "receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge" (D&C 42:61). Part of the heart of Mormonism is (and should be) asking questions, as an inquiry is prerequisite to receiving a divine reply. Indeed, we would not be members of this church without a boy's simple question--who wasn't afraid to ask God for an answer.
Photo by Jo Naylor.