The faith of God, part three


Continued from part two.

To summarize from part two: faith is not hope, nor hope faith, nor either of these charity, but these are three distinct principles. Also, faith is a noun, meaning that it is a thing or things that can be possessed or obtained, but that once the thing or things is obtained or seen, in other words, once the thing or things become perfectly known, faith becomes dormant in that thing or things and knowledge takes over. Knowledge and faith, therefore, are opposing principles, each one nullifying or canceling out the effect of the other. As God has all and perfect knowledge, it appears that my Buddhist ex co-worker monk was correct in his conclusion that it is impossible for God to have faith. Nevertheless, there are more evidences to consider.

Acts of faith summarized

The whole of the standard works records acts of faith from page one to the very last, but two writers in particular dedicate a chapter each to a summary of those acts. In Hebrews 11 and Ether 12, Paul and Moroni go through the list of things accomplished or obtained by faith. Essentially, they conclude that all things are accomplished “by the faith of men” (Ether 12: 8). Or, in the words of Ether, “by faith all things are fulfilled” (Ether 12: 3).

Mormon also talked about faith (and hope and charity) in Moroni 7. Like Ether and Helaman, quoted in the previous part, Mormon explains that faith precedes hope. (See Moroni 7: 41-42 “…ye shall have hope…because of your faith…” and “…without faith there cannot be any hope…”) In fact, the order of these three grand principles is always given as “faith, hope and charity” because faith precedes hope, or allows hope to be engendered and then faith and hope allow charity to be engendered. (This is a topic for a different post and will not be covered here. I mention it merely to show that faith is different than hope and charity and required in order to obtain the other two necessary principles.)

Living by faith is better than living by knowledge

One of the more curious aspects of faith is that in the scriptures it is emphasized more than knowledge is. The scriptures even go so far as to say those who live by faith are more blessed than those who live by knowledge. (See Scriptural Discussion #10 for these scriptures.) Both Alma and Jesus himself stated this. Strangely enough, though, modern LDS stress the acquisition of knowledge over the acquisition of faith. For example, we bear our testimony, not our belief, in fast and testimony meeting each month. We say, “I know the church is true,” not “I believe the church is true.”

If we follow the thought of Alma and Jesus and apply it to God, then we get that God is less blessed than us since he knows and sees all things and cannot (according to the Buddhist) exercise faith, whereas we mortals, seeing and knowing very little, can be more blessed than him if we exercise faith. But can anyone be more blessed than God? Such a thought seems impossible. God possesses all things. Can anyone possess more than God? Surely not.

The easy way out of this quandary is to simply say that the scriptures apply to mortals, only, and not to God. We exercise faith until we become like God, knowing and seeing all things, and then our faith becomes dormant and we live by our knowledge, as he does. Faith, then, becomes a crutch or means to obtain the knowledge that God has. Once obtained, we need faith no longer and rely upon our knowledge from then on.

A lot of LDS probably think along these lines. I think that the Buddhist was probably also thinking along these lines. But what if the scriptures apply equally to God, as they do to man?

Assuming that God has faith…

What if the principles communicated in the scriptures, beginning with the very first principle of the gospel, which is faith, are all part of the nature and characteristics of God, which must be developed by us in order to becomes like him? One of the comments to the previous article took the view that God does have faith, but that there are two types of faith: pre-knowledge (lower level) faith and post-knowledge (higher level) faith. Personally, I found the creativity involved in making this distinction quite refreshing. Most people never give the thought of God having faith more than, “yes, he does” or “no, he doesn’t.” The problem posed by the Buddhist is a valid one. If God has faith, how is this possible since knowledge nullifies faith? If God does not have faith, why are we continually striving to develop an attribute which is ungodly?

Let’s assume the impossible. Let’s assume that the scriptural principles are descriptions of the attributes of God and that God sees and knows all things but lives by faith, thus making him qualify, according to his own words, as “more blessed.”

In subsequent parts I will attempt to show that, in fact, God possesses all knowledge and all faith, that he walks both by sight and by faith in all possible ways, and that his power does not reside in his knowledge, but in his perfect faith. I will attempt to show that it is through his immense faith that he obtained his knowledge and that it is through his faith that he continually increases his knowledge and that it is through his continually increasing knowledge that his faith continues to increase. I will show the reader that God’s fullness of faith, knowledge, etc., are not a set amount, but that these things continually expand as his dominions increase.

This is probably going to be fairly deep doctrine, but I’m going to keep it out of the Deep Waters section, as faith is so basic to everything. I want to open it up completely and give everyone who reads a good long look at my understanding of why faith accomplishes all things, why faith is needed by us mortals, why it is the very first principle of the gospel, how it is obtained, how it is maintained, how it is expanded, why God possesses a fullness of faith, and why he would cease to be God if he didn’t both have and exercise all faith.

Once this understanding is communicated, it should be easier to see why the whole purpose of the gospel is “that faith…might increase in the earth” (D&C 1: 21). It is the acquisition and exercise of a fullness of faith that makes us like heavenly Father and it is the acquisition and exercise of a fullness of faith that keeps heavenly Father in power. That’s it, in a nutshell. We are here on Earth to obtain and live by faith and to increase it continually until we receive a fullness. Everything else is an appendage.

Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part four: the word of God

Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part two

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

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3 Comments

  1. Not sure about the assumptions made from Scriptural Discussion #10. To me, the Savior is saying that the overall state of those who live by faith is somehow better than the state of those who were there, personally ministered to by the Savior. To me, this is not to say that it is better to have faith than knowledge, but rather implies that faith is a necessary tool along our journey to a fulness of knowledge, glory, etc.

    With respect to Alma, it sounds like he is saying it is better to humble oneself than be humbled by some external influence. Yes, that humbling can and does result in knowledge of some sort (i.e. touching a hot stove burns the skin). But of what quality is compulsory knowledge? Or what type of knowledge is compulsory knowledge as compared to knowledge obtained through the willing exercise of agency? These seem like relatively complex issues; I am unsure how they directly apply to this discussion of the superiority of faith over knowledge. It would be interesting to further explore these themes.

    Your post is largely well stated, though, and I find it intellectually and spiritually expanding.

    The idea of a continual progression, even among exalted beings, hints at the possibility of a God that may be ever increasing in knowledge, which could indicate faith as a necessary precursor. As in “If You Could Hie to Kolob:” “Improvement and progression are one eternal round.”

    By the way, that hymn is one of the great mysteries to me. The gates of understanding and comprehension are locked.

  2. God has faith in the principles of love agency forgiveness justice really everything that could be called “truth”. It would take a huge leap of faith to entrust so many children with agency and freedom to choose. It takes even more when one of your children is trying to convince the rest not to listen to you, and appears to be doing a god job. It would try the faith of any man to the breaking point to trust his children with the amount of freedom god has given his children. And then he says “i’ll give you whatever you ask for” he has incredible faith in everything working out without his meddling. Satan’s lack of faith in these principles leads him to his desire to control others, is really a kind of fear

  3. After writing part 14 of this series, I looked again at this part and noticed the following:

    I will attempt to show that it is through his immense faith that he obtained his knowledge and that it is through his faith that he continually increases his knowledge and that it is through his continually increasing knowledge that his faith continues to increase.

    This is technically correct, but worded wrong. In other words, I understand what I meant by this saying, but I should have been more precise in my words. When I wrote, “his faith continues to increase,” I did not mean that He obtains more faith, but that He exercises more faith as His knowledge increases. God has the same infinite quantity of faith that He has always had, but He exercises more of His faith as His knowledge increases. I should have written that sentence in this manner:

    I will attempt to show that it is through His immense faith that He obtained His knowledge and that it is through His faith that He continually increases His knowledge and that it is through His continually increasing knowledge that the exercise of His faith continues to increase, meaning that He exercises increasingly greater amounts of His faith.

    I see now, from this post, that I still haven’t gotten around to explaining why all this is, even after 14 parts! I suppose I will need to do a 15th part to tidy up the loose threads of this series and unfold whatever questions still remain.


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