WHY do so many Christians (and others) keep insisting that God is (or should be) rational? Why not concede, once and for all time, this déjà vu complaint that MAN has levied against God down through the millennia? Why not admit that God has never condescended enough to be the rational God we crave?
We put God in the Dock, as C.S. Lewis says, or, more recently, in with Dawkins & co. and He, God, doesn’t fare so well. Why? Is it because we think that what we
▪ experience with our five senses;is the measure of all things?
▪ “see” with our modern instruments;
▪ presume with our mathematical formulas;
▪ assume with thought experiments;
▪ think with our limited experience;
▪ would do as a loving parent;
▪ would do if we were God
Even many of the early church fathers1—supposedly believers in things beyond—couldn’t handle God’s “irrational” ways. Many of these “believers” mingled everything they could with Greek rational philosophy to make it intellectually palatable. Even revered Thomas Jefferson couldn’t stomach the miraculous God of scripture.2
Enamored by the Greeks (great thinkers and seekers though they were), we seem to have become so entranced by the siren song of rational philosophy that we, like sheep, have gone astray, down the MEandering, yellow-brick road of rationalism.
SO, how many times must we read:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Old Testament Isaiah 55:8-9),before we actually get it? How many “irrational” stories and miracles from scripture and other witnesses do we have to hear before we grasp the message? God is NOT rational. He doesn’t claim to be rational. He tells us in a thousand different stories that He is ABOVE rational. He may reason with man at times,3 but He IS and will forever be TRANSrational this mortal realm and mortal man.
Without that understanding, nigh every rationally-obsessed, seeking soul is going to have a crisis of belief about things and powers beyond. Why does this surprise us? Why are we shocked that an increasing number of once-believing Christians, including Mormons (et al.), are losing faith:
▪ as access to “knowledge” and “reasonable” speculation increases?Haven’t we read how “a stone was cut out without hands[!!] which smote the image,” breaking it to pieces and pulverizing the entire, towering idol till it was “like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” (Old Testament Daniel 2:34-5)
▪ as scholars and historians discover new incongruities and inexplicables?
▪ as the “wise and learned” argue the bi-polar of rational vs. irrational because for them TRANSrational is not an option?
▪ as we bow to the philosophic idol of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? (Old Testament Daniel 2:31-45)
SO, let us ponder! How rational is it, in this world, for God:
▫ to ask us to believe the story of Noah and the ark? (Old Testament Genesis 6-8)and most incomprehensible of all:
▫ to ask Abraham (and his male household, including servants) to submit to circumcision as a sign of an everlasting covenant? (Old Testament Genesis 17:10-13)
▫ to ask Abraham to sacrifice his covenant son as a burnt offering? (Old Testament Genesis 22:2)
▫ to promise that “the children of Israel shall go on dry [??!!] ground through the midst of the Sea” (Old Testament Exodus 14:16); and then to claim to actually deliver dry land in the midst of the divided waters “a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left”? (Exodus 14:29)
▫ to expect people to release all debts every 7 years? (Old Testament Deuteronomy 15:1-2, 9-10)
▫ to expect us to believe that “the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, ...”? (Old Testament Joshua 10:13-14)
▫ to ask Gideon to pare down his army of 32,000 to 300 before engaging their powerful Midianite overlords in battle? (Old Testament Judges 7:2)
▫ to put perfect Job through the wringer of contraries and confusion? (Old Testament Job 7, 10, 23, etc.)
▫ to give bizarre commandments to prophets? like those given to
Isaiah ~ to go naked and barefoot as a sign (Old Testament Isaiah 20:2-3);▫ to expect mortals to believe that three other mortals could walk in the midst of a “burning fiery furnace”; and that “the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them”? (Old Testament Daniel 3:23-27)
Ezekiel ~ to lay about for months on his left side and then his right as a sign; and to dig through walls (Old Testament Ezekiel 4:1-8; 12:1-7);
Hosea ~ to take a wife of whoredoms (Hosea 1).
▫ to counsel followers: “That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away”? (New Testament Matthew 5:39-42)
▫ to further counsel: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”? (New Testament Matthew 5:44)
▫ to expect mortals to keep their good works under wraps as in “when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret”? (New Testament Matthew 6:3-4)
▫ to expect responsible people to “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on”? (New Testament Matthew 6:25; see also Doctrine and Covenants 84:41)
▫ to say: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”? (New Testament Matthew 10:37)
▫ to affirm the story of Jonah being three days and three nights in the whale’s belly? (New Testament Matt. 12:39-40; Luke 11:29-30)
▫ to feed 5000 and then 4000 with next to nothing and to claim to have more left over than they started with? (New Testament Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-38)
▫ to say: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you”? (New Testament Matthew 17:20)
▫ to counsel a rich young man that “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”? (Matthew 19:21) “ME” being one who had recently said: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (New Testament Matthew 8:20)
▫ to say: “...he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted”? (New Testament Matthew 23:11-12; Luke 22: 26-27)
▫ to command his Twelve missionary apostles to “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip, [nor bread] for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat”?( New Testament Matthew 10:9-10; see also Mark 6:8-9; Luke 22:35; Doctrine and Covenants 24:18; 84:78)
▫ to tell truth seekers that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (New Testament Hebrews 11:1); “wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”? (Book of Mormon Ether 12:6, bold emphasis added.)
▫ to ask that we mortals “lay aside the [attractive, desirable, visible] things of this world, and seek for the things of a better [unseen world!]”? (Doctrine and Covenants 25:10)
▫ to have an angel take the Gold Plates (source-records for the Book of Mormon) back from Joseph Smith, leaving him without tangible proof of his story? (Frontispiece: Book of Mormon “Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” p. 3: final paragraph, last sentence.)
▫ to stand by and sanction the torture and death of a Beloved Son? (New Testament Matthew 27:46; 3 Nephi 11:11)None of these examples (and hundreds more) fit within our rational, mortal, natural-man4 disposition.
▫ to WILL that this beloved, perfect Son be crucified for the sins of others? (New Testament Luke 22:42; John 4:34; Book of Mormon Mosiah 15:7; 3 Nephi 11:11)
Philip Yancey wrote The Jesus I Never Knew to explain, in part, his discovery of a Jesus that his Church had never taught. Perhaps another book could be written titled, The (Transrational) God We Rationalized.
So why is God TRANSrational? Because:5
▪ He knows stuff we don’t?From His higher place, He makes perfect sense to Himself and His purposes, even if not to us. (In déjà vu of mortal parents and teenagers?!)
... all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:24)▪ He knows this union of spirit and flesh has infinite purpose?6
... [H]e [chastened us] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (New Testament Hebrews 12:10)▪ He understands that without disturbing / discomforting reminders, we might think THIS earth and life is the best OR all there is?
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 58:3)▪ He knew that His supernal gift of agency7 was going to bring out the best AND the worst in souls being tested for eternity; BUT that somehow (comprehensible to Him), justice and mercy (through the atonement of His Son) would work out all the messy, cruel, despicable, wretched, abominable choices too many of us make while in pursuit of “our way” and The Three Temptations?
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; ... blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: ... (Old Testament Deuteronomy 30:15, 19-20);And now remember, remember, ... that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you. (Book of Mormon Helaman 14:30-31)
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. (Old Testament 1 Samuel 2:8-9)
“ ... the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (New Testament Revelation 7:17)
... the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul. And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it. Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory; For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:16-19)
In listening to painful stories of wandering and wondering souls, it seems the main reasons we lose faith are because:
1. We have wrapped our celestial God in rational robes and suffer confusion and despair when He doesn’t play to the “reasonable” script we have assigned Him;Whatever our individual reasons, wouldn’t life be more understandable, endurable, AND (sometimes) enjoyable if we just got over insisting that God be “our kind of” rational? It might help if we:
2. He doesn’t behave like the loving parent of our expectation or preference.
3. We don’t like being peculiar, confused, mocked, persecuted, in pain, or seeing others in pain. We don’t like the submission and sacrifices He seems to expect. We don’t like our hearts broken.8 We don’t like or comprehend what He allows. We can’t fathom how any of this can be made right.
4. Maybe most of all, we don’t comprehend faith (or perhaps don’t want to), being: “the substance [assurance—JST] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”9 But, as I have asked elsewhere: HOW is God going to test/prove/try us? by NOT offending our sense of logic and reason? by always confirming our faith-based, telestial/terrestrial perceptions and biases? by offering up physical evidence? by preventing contradictory, confusing evidence? by making it easy to believe? by flooding us with “rational” signs? by preventing every bad choice or consequence? ... What better way to push us toward “the evidence of things not seen” than to hopelessly confound the “evidence of things seen?”
Let God be omniscient.So, whether we like it or not, God is NOT rational. And despite Dawkins & co., He is NOT an irrational figment. He is our loving, kind, merciful, just, gracious, powerful, unchanging, TRANSrational Father—however it may appear to rational, mortal minds. The choice is ever before us as in ages past:
Let Him be a God of miracles and inexplicables.10
Understood that if we can’t get beyond rational, we won’t get beyond telestial / terrestrial.11
Sought to look beyond sight and to hear beyond hearing, as in:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon [us], the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make [us] of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and [we] shall not judge after the sight of [our] eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of [our] ears: (Old Testament Isaiah 11:2-3)Remembered the ancient ones:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (New Testament Hebrews 11:13-16, bold emphasis added.)
Rational / Natural-Man legacy?12
(i.e., that ancient philosophic idol headed up by Babylon of old)
(through faith, repentance, obedience, & Christ)
(i.e., that ancient philosophic idol headed up by Babylon of old)
(through faith, repentance, obedience, & Christ)
Wherefore thou art no more a servant,
but a son [/daughter];
and if a son [/daughter],
then an heir of God through Christ.
(New Testament Galatians 4:7)
but a son [/daughter];
and if a son [/daughter],
then an heir of God through Christ.
(New Testament Galatians 4:7)
* Or more accurately, “the Gods,” as Pearl of Great Price Abraham 4 & 5 reveal.
1. Read Hugh Nibley’s, The World and the Prophets concerning the Christian church of the early 1st to 4th century and beyond, or listen to his radio lecture series, Time Vindicates the Prophets (some are on YouTube).
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible . [ This following paragraph added November 17, 2014: However, I have come across an alternative interpretation of the "cut up" New Testament. Perhaps Jefferson was not clipping out (or discarding?) the miracles, but was collating the precise, spoken words of Jesus in a small book to carry with him for quick and easy reference. Perhaps this is the better explanation considering the Lord’s words in Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:80 ~ “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” BUT again, other correspondence of Jefferson’s (as noted in the wiki reference) may support the conclusion of his preference to do without the miracles. Whatever the motive, we can remember that God can inspire good, imperfect, free-thinking men and women to accomplish His grand purposes.]
3. Doctrine and Covenants Section 50:10-12 ~ “And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand.” (See also Isaiah 1:18)
4. Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19 ~ “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” For one example of a “natural man” read about Korihor in Book of Mormon Alma 30:12-18, bold emphasis added.)
5. These are some additional supporting scriptures for this next section: New Testament 1 John 3:20 ~ “... God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things”; Book of Mormon Alma 32:6 ~ ... “he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word” (see also 32:13); Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:39 ~ “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
6. Doctrine and Covenants Section 93:33-34 ~ “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.”
7. Scriptural references to agency: Doctrine and Covenants Section 29:36 ~ “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency”; Doctrine and Covenants Section 93:31 ~ “Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light”; Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:78 ~ “That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment”; Pearl of Great Price Moses 4:3 ~ “Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down”; Pearl of Great Price Moses 7:32 ~ “The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;”
8. Doctrine and Covenants Section 59:8 ~ “Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (See also Old Testament Psalms 38:4)
9. See also Book of Mormon Alma 32:21 ~ “... if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”
10. New Testament 1 Corinthians 2:9- 14 ~ “... the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”; Old Testament Isaiah 28:21 ~ “For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.”
11. New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 ~ “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead”; Doctrine and Covenants Section 76:71, 78, 81 ~ “And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. ... Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun.” ... And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament.” For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory”; Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:22-24 ~ “And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.”
12. Rational heritage includes the natural man of Mosiah 3:19 (see footnote 4); and if we think rational heritage arrived with the Greeks, we’ll probably be surprised when all things are revealed. Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 30:16-18 ~ “... the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed.”