Judging the scriptures by our traditions

I have been surprised how thoroughly we judge our scriptures by our traditions rather than judging our traditions by our scriptures.

You can read a verse that teaches something as plain as day in church and it will be made to stand up be and measured by a bunch of traditions rather than judged by other scriptures. I recently saw a man reject a plain teaching of the scriptures because it wasn’t “optimistic”. If fact, come to think of it, I have  seen that come up more than once, where a plain teaching in the scriptures has been cast out because it is trumped by our belief that we need to “be optimistic”.

I don’t see how anyone who still accepts the Old Testament can claim that optimism is one of God’s defining traits. Faith is. But faith is different than optimism. No one reading the Old Testament comes away thinking “the God of the Old Testament is sure an optimistic old soul”. That simply isn’t how God acts. The same is true reading the Doctrine and Covenants. Optimism is one of our man made virtues. It simply isn’t part of what defines the god of heaven.

We must judge traditions and other ideas by the scriptures as read by the power of the Holy Ghost. We do not judge the scriptures by our traditions.

Was it “optimistic” for Nephi to believe that his posterity would all be destroyed for their wickedness? No. But it was revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost, and he had faith that it would come to pass. It wasn’t optimistic, but it was faith. There is saving power in faith, but you can be an optimist and still be as wicked as you want.

We need to read the scriptures as if we had never read them before, as if we knew nothing about the gospel and see and believe what they really say instead of reading them through the lens of our traditions. We need to cease to read by the light of our traditions and instead read the plain teachings found there by the light of the Holy Ghost.


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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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