“God doesn’t talk to blabbermouths”

May 20, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 8:56 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Theology

Ben S. put up another good post over at M*. The basic subject is: What spiritual matters should we avoid discussing? I posted on a related subject some time ago but I want to try again.

I have often heard (and even taught) that God won’t share his secrets with us if we can’t keep a secret. Or as Elder McConkie is is quoted as saying: “God doesn’t talk to blabbermouths”. That makes enough sense I guess, but I wonder if we have a proper idea of what really constitutes God’s secrets. What is it we’re not supposed to investigate and discuss (or blab about)?

Obviously we don’t discuss thing that we have specifically promised not to discuss, but what about everything else? What about the nature of God? What about the foreknowledge of God? What about the nature of the pre-mortal existence? What about the nature of our post mortal existence?

I think the answer is that we should be thinking about and studying and searching out all of those sorts of things. Why? First, because there aren’t many more important things for us to spend our mental energies on. Second, because they can help us understand why we have been commanded to act certain ways. How are we ever to become like God if we never can understand his motivations? I firmly believe that if we really want know what Jesus would do in the situations we encounter we have to see the universe more the way Jesus saw it in his mortal probation. If we are to be his friends, we need to try to see as he sees.

I also believe that for some reason the word “speculation” has become a dirty word in the church. That cannot be a good development. If we clamp down on searching and exploring too much who will be the ones gaining that light, knowledge, and intelligence to take with them into the next life?

God may not like blabbermouths, but he does not like us omitting rigorous gospel investigation and discussion either. I believe the latter is a much more common problem than the former.

10 Comments »

  1. “I have often heard (and even taught) that God won’t share his secrets with us if we can’t keep a secret. That makes enough sense.” –

    What, is God a two-year old?

    Comment by Liam — May 20, 2005 @ 9:55 pm

  2. I’m not sure what you mean, Liam… Does one have to be two years old to want something kept secret?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2005 @ 11:10 pm

  3. I have often heard this theory repeated at church. Everytime I hear this, I find myself asking…why? It seems that this is a developmental change within the church. Not that the Saints have never been expected to keep secrets, but that the Saints should be secretive about their spiritual experiences and that this is inherently true of most divine communication seems to be what the change is. Joseph kept relatively quiet about the first vision, but that was because of his fear of persuction more than anything else. Or on a more positive note, maybe it’s a true principle that the Saints are finally keeping that they didn’t keep so well in the earlier days of the church. For example, Joseph had problems with Hiram Page looking into the seer stone and recieving revelations about the location of Zion while Joseph was away. At this time Joseph recieved a revelation explicitly giving the president of the church authority to recieve revelation for the church and no one else. But the cynical part of me doesn’t think this is the case. :) It seems to me that this is a perfect excuse we use to explain the lack of divine communication within the church.
    (excuse grammatical, spelling errors, etc. I wrote this early in the morning when I got up to get a drink of water. :) )

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — May 21, 2005 @ 2:00 am

  4. Geoff

    I can’t reconcile our maker requiring that secrets are kept. I don’t believe God plays games, and I can’t believe that God would need certain men to keep certain things hidden from his other creations.

    Liam

    Comment by Liam — May 21, 2005 @ 8:24 am

  5. First, I think God does require men to keep things secret from others, and it’s not a game. Besides those things in the temple, God has kept His prophets from telling all. Joseph onces said something to the effect “if I told you everything I have seen and know, you’d want to kill me” speaking to the brethern. There are several places in the scriptures where the prophets are told not to write what they have seen.

    Second, I think the blabbermouth quote refers more to us keeping sacred experiences sacred. There are appropriate times, with appropriate people to share these things, but we don’t cast our pearls before swine.

    Personal spiritual experiences shared with the wrong people can bring ridicule, scorn, resentment and maybe persecution. If God has a spiritual experience for or with me, why would I blabbermouth it?

    Comment by don — May 21, 2005 @ 10:48 am

  6. Besides those things in the temple, God has kept His prophets from telling all.

    I agree. Ben S. showed all sorts of references to support this in his post I cited earlier. There are definitely mysteries that God does not share with the whole world. That is where the whole casting pearls before swine concept comes from.

    Personal spiritual experiences shared with the wrong people can bring ridicule, scorn, resentment and maybe persecution. If God has a spiritual experience for or with me, why would I blabbermouth it?

    I agree here too. Personal experiences are clearly among the pearls we should protect. But this post is not about those type of experiences, it is about the excessive fear and loathing we seem to have as a church about investigating theology and doctrines that remain very fuzzy to us. I think Craig’s comment was spot on in that regard. It seems to me that we have have taken the wise counsel to shield the personal, intimate revelations we have received from God relating to our own lives and expanded it to become a prohibition on talking about any thing that remotely resembles “speculation”. I think that such an overzealous approach cannot be inspired by God. God wants his saints to search out his and fully comprehend his “mysteries”. They are only mysteries to those who don’t know and understand them yet after all.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 21, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  7. “but we don’t cast our pearls before swine.” – this is the language of elitism, exclusion, pride, and arrogance.

    Comment by Liam — May 21, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  8. Ha! Don’t blame Don, Liam. He was simply quoting Jesus.

    How do you reconcile the that scriptural reference with your position? It is an interesting take, though it is well beyond my position on this overall subject.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 21, 2005 @ 2:13 pm

  9. “He was simply quoting Jesus.” – by quoting Jesus (and that line has always been controversial in its interpretation) Don was assuming that he had both 1) the the special wisdom of, and 2) the discretion of, Jesus as it relates to others who are not as privileged in their spiritual enlightment. I see this as elitist, exclusionary, and too often the pretext of Us vs Them thinking in certain organized religions.

    Comment by Liam — May 21, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

  10. Elitism is a pretty loaded word I think… It is hard to dispute that all of scripture is full of examples of God being exclusive and selective in deciding to whom he will reveal his secrets/mysteries. How else can we explain God’s chosen people in the Bible? They are chosen and all other are excluded. Your position seems to be at odds with this reality. Are you imputing God as an exclusionary elitist? The Bible is a case study in Us vs. Them religion. (Though after gentiles were allowed to join the church in the revelation Peter received this dissipated somewhat.)

    Clearly God wants to share all of his mysteries and secrets with everyone that is prepared to receive them. I posted just recently that God wants all to be prophets, seers, and revelators within our own stewardships. But I don’t think it is a wise thing to blithely and flippantly discuss the personal revelations we do receive. It seems disrespectful to the sacred nature of such experiences.

    I think this elitism topic is a separate issue from the one I posted on (our overactive repression of seeking and discussing the mysteries of God) but it is an interesting topic nevertheless.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 21, 2005 @ 3:35 pm

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