Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LDS Public Affairs Chief Michael Otterson Characterizes Pew Religious Knowledge Survey As Long On Superficiality And Short On Spirituality

Michael Otterson, chief of the Public Affairs Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has posted a response to the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey conducted from May 19th through June 6th, 2010 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. His essay, which reflects only his personal point of view, is published in his regular On Faith column in the Washington Post.

Otterson suggests that religious knowledge is not the same as religious experience. He states that, for example, knowing that Genesis is the first book of the Bible or that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem has nothing to do with the quality of one's religious experience. He cited a scripture from 2 Tim. 3:7 which states, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth", as support for his position.

In the final analysis, Otterson concludes that the Pew study was about superficial knowledge and not about religiosity or spirituality. One can have faith in God and live accordingly without producing proof of a theological degree or demonstrating academic-like mastery of biblical history.

Michael Otterson hits the nail on the head. Don't forget that when it became time to restore the fulness of the Gospel, the Lord didn't pick some high-falutin' "valuable intellectual property" in New York City. Instead, he chose an unlettered 14-year-old boy in upstate New York named Joseph Smith. And with that choice was ushered in the last dispensation in this world's mortal history -- the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. And what about those "valuable intellectual properties"? Well, when facsimiles of the written characters in the Book of Mormon plates were brought to Professor Charles Anthon, after Anthon was told the source was sealed, Anthon's response was "I cannot read a sealed book".

So much for those "valuable intellectual properties", huh?

The idea is not to put down intellectual research and discourse, but merely to put it in its proper place. Joseph Smith's First Vision cannot be explained by mathematical formulas or reams of intellectual discourse. It's a matter of faith -- either you believe it happened or you don't believe it. One cannot "prove" metaphysical events using physical processes.

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