link click here Meridian Article
When Joseph Smith presented the world the Book of Mormon in 1829, at age 23, he was a senior at Oxford studying English, theology, history and philosophy… Hold on. Actually, he had less than 6 years of “book learning” – probably a 5th grade education at best. Instead of school, he had plenty of years pulling stumps and farming, not exactly the resume of a writer. He had little .... link click here Meridian Article
Is God a Loving God?
By Mark J. Stoddard
One statement people constantly make that doesn’t work: “Why would a Loving God allow__________?” You can easily fill in the blank. It is a nonsensical (not nonsense) statement because once again mankind is creating God in their own image and not vice versa.
When we state we believe in a Loving God, we add a formal adjective that doesn’t belong. God is not The Angry God, The Vengeful God, or The Loving God. He is simply God. We either believe and have faith in Him, or, we don’t. When we decide God must be loving, we define God while we’re deciding what is loving and what is not. Our limited ability to judge Deity with eternal perspective doesn’t seem to stop us defining what is limited loving. On top of that we provide agnostics a chance to throw "Loving God" around to support their disbelief. "A Loving God wouldn't do that," they say.
What they fail to realize, and by extension we fail, is the word "loving" is defined in our finite terms.
If we walked into a room and watched a man take a knife and cut a person, we’d recoil in horror and perhaps do something like attack the man with a knife. In doing so, we’d claim to be loving. To the contrary we’d be harming the man with the knife, a surgeon, and potentially kill the person on the antiseptic operating table with our intrusion.
Yet we do this constantly by deciding what a loving God would do. Isaiah wrote that “my way are not your 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.”
Yet we persist in saying we worship a Loving God. Can we determine how loving that God was to let thousands of Lamanite Warriors descend upon thousands of some of the most dedicated and faithful people to ever live…the Anti-Lehi-Nephites. Some scholars have suggested "Anti" may be a reflex of the Egyptian "nty:" meaning “one of” or “to align with someone.” Those who aligned with Nephi and Lehi had once been blood-thirsty until they accepted Christ. When they did they knew that their crimes were terrible and that should they ever take up arms against anyone – even for a great reason like self-defense, their prior sins would be visited upon their heads when they once again becoming blood-thirsty. They refused to allow that awful state to return to them so they buried their weapons and refused to take them up even though a horde of terrifying warriors was coming upon them.
Those with faith in a Loving God might be tempted to say, “A Loving God would look upon their great faith and miraculously save them from destruction. Surely he could not let such goodness be for naught!”
But the Warriors descended upon them and a Loving God did nothing. The Warriors slashed and murdered innocent men. Where was the Loving God? Firmly in his omniscient state. God’s will contains eternal perspective. Soon the Lamanites could hack and cut no more and broke down and wept at the carnage they’d caused. Thousands that day left their blood-thirsty ways and joined or aligned with the Anti-Lehi-Nephites.
Later we learned of another attack and how the remainder of Anti-Lehi-Nephites and the recent converts again refused to take up arms, even in self-defense. But their sons had not needed to swear such oath so they took up arms and defended their parents with stunning results. How many millions of people have been inspired by their faith in their mothers – surely every ward has a speaker on Mother’s Day read from the Book of Alma where Helaman describes the great faith of these stripling warriors as they attribute their faith to their mothers: “we knew our mothers knew it…”. Perhaps an Omniscient God was indeed a Loving God once we understood a fraction of divine perspective.
Perhaps an omniscient God, as He describes Himself and His Son, knows what real “loving” is: ‘This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the Eternal Life and Immortality of Man.”
He knows the operating room, the doctor, the world completely and asks us to have faith in Him even when life’s trials seem to go against us.
When my first son Alexander lay in intensive care with three strains of E Coli pneumonia threatening his every breath and the doctor giving him a less than 50-50 chance of living. I went to the cafeteria where I thought a little food might help. But, I couldn’t eat as I sat and pondered. Wiping away tears and fears, it hit me hard. “Now is the time for you to decide what your faith in God really is.” The rubber was meeting the road. This wasn’t some ambiguous philosophy class discussion. This was reality. And it came to me as I closed my eyes and said, “Whether my son lives or my son dies, like Job said, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In confidence I arose…not confident my son would live. I didn’t know that. But I knew that I knew God lived and my son was in His hands.
Our son is now a faithful husband and father of six. He lives. His testimony is strong and he and Becky are teaching their children well. But the end was not yet.
|Alex with Becky (right), my mother, other of Becky's and our|
family, with Alex and Becky's kids in the back at Thanksgiving.
Within seven years of Alex’s birth, his two brothers died too young. We grieved, but the question of a Loving God or an Omniscient God had long been answered. That answer or foundation of faith, buoyed us up so that we could “Be Still and Know that I Am God.” As we were still, the Comforter was poured out upon us. Our boys were taken, but the faith of our children was strengthened and we were blessed.
How could a Loving God allow a child to die – two dear sons to die? Because He knows how it will build us and where it will lead us in this life and beyond.