30 June 2021

My Thoughts on the CES Letter

 "Yes, Virginia, I have read the CES Letter..." and my response follows.

I have had spiritual experiences for decades in relation to scripture and God's hand in my life. These experiences satisfy me that God exists, that God speaks to prophets who record their experiences in whatever way they deem fitting, whether through speeches or writing or videos, and that God continues to work for the exaltation of men and women. 

Through divine intervention in my own life and years of reading and reflection, I am satisfied that the Book of Mormon was written and translated by those who were acting on God's influence and instruction. I am satisfied that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the structure through which Christ effects his promises and authorized priesthood toward God's purposes. It is an organization founded and run by rather ordinary people with faults and shortcomings. I am also satisfied that there is no intent to deceive or profiteer among Church leadership and any success that the Church enjoys, financial or otherwise, comes from proper stewardship and heavenly inspiration. I am further satisfied that malfeasance within the Church is resolved in a manner consistent with justice and upon its discovery.

I respect those with great experience, especially God, who I revere as the Father of all, in sharing their wisdom with me as they will. Just as any parent produces a sheltered environment in which children learn and grow into maturity and adulthood, I trust that a Heavenly Father set that same standard for me. I realize that I am still a child in many ways and trust that God will reveal greater knowledge when I am mature enough to understand and put such wisdom to righteous uses. Like any responsible parent, I reject juvenile calls for "full disclosure", especially from those who prefer to use such information destructively or ignorantly. Countries carefully guard "nuclear secrets" from "bad actors" to prevent global destruction - the same principle applies to sharing our more "sacred" beliefs with those who are bent on our personal destruction. 

There will always be detractors and dissenters from every point of view, from every culture and nation, and from every faith. Nothing on this earth is of a perfect nature and faults, real or contrived, will always surface for those resolved to dredging up such. I have always found that any endeavor or fact is made better by the influence of sincere and forthright people with good hearts. I have also come to know that any endeavor or fact can be defaced by the evil acts and accusations of those who seek only to destroy and denigrate. One's "facts" and intentions can be evaluated by the demeanor and vitriol of those who proclaim them - people are usually neither as good or as bad as their supporters or their critics purport them to be.

In relation to Joseph Smith, I find that the Book of Mormon has been a great benefit to me and I am grateful to the man who produced it, no matter how it was done.  My esteem for Joseph Smith and his associates in the church he founded is based upon the positive influence that the Book of Mormon and other writings have had upon my life. The Holy Bible and my reading of it have also been of great worth to me and I honor both Jew and Gentile that brought it into my family, faults notwithstanding.  I am willing to set human foibles aside to better appreciate the value I find in these remarkable texts and those associated with them.

It is useful for me to evaluate people or groups by their "fruits". In my estimation, those associated with Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing good and becoming better, both individually and collectively. I have found that these good and better results are direct reflections on the summed life of the man, the stories and lessons in the book, and teachings and purposes of the church. God's ultimate goal of the exaltation of men and women is far better accomplished through the efforts of faithful Latter-day Saints than through the doubt and dissension promulgated through "the CES Letter", which I recommend to none.