Guest post by Kent White
Mormonism offers a worldview which gives meaning and purpose to my life. I love the gospel I find in the Mormon scriptures and I believe that the way I understand that good news has led me to choose two basic axioms which filter my interpretations of my experiences and desires in this life:
- I am here to be of service, not to seek to be served.
- All these things shall give me experience and shall (eventually) be for my good as a result of:
- Christ’s power to heal all the pain I feel
- Christ’s power to heal all the pain I’ve caused others but can’t fix myself
With those two deep anchors (or lenses) in my life, I feel gratitude and open to relationships with others. I feel that Christ is patient and at-one with me despite my disappointments, sins, and pride. But there is a set of foundational assumptions that have led me to this worldview, and I think that those assumptions can be found in the way we as Mormons use The Plan of Salvation. Joseph Smith said, “The great plan of salvation is a theme which ought to occupy our strict attention, and be regarded as one of heaven’s best gifts to mankind.” (History of the Church, 2:23) It is this plan which provides the blueprint from which I build my life. It provides me with a powerful worldview which I believe allows me to function quite well in this world with family and strangers alike.
According to Leo Apostel, a worldview should comprise seven elements:
- An ontology, a descriptive model of the world
- An explanation of the world
- A futurology, answering the question “where are we heading?”
- Values, answers to ethical questions: “What should we do?”
- A praxeology, or methodology, or theory of action.: “How should we attain our goals?”
- An epistemology, or theory of knowledge. “What is true and false?”
- An etiology. A constructed world-view should contain an account of its own “building blocks,” its origins and construction.
I think it is obvious that Mormonism’s worldview as provided by the plan of salvation strives to answer each of these elements.
James W. Sire defines a worldview as “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic construction of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”
When I hear my kids (the oldest is almost 11) saying in their prayers “please bless the food”, “please let us have a good time tonight”, “we hope that you will love us forever”, and “please bless Heber to close his eyes and stop looking at me”, I know they aren’t getting their presuppositions about how God works in the world from my wife and I. Now I used to have pretty messed up ideas about God that weren’t based on anything but my vanity and wishful thinking, and I can’t necessarily blame my parents for that since they weren’t fundamentalists or agnostics. In fact, my parents did a pretty awesome job at teaching us the gospel by living it. It is obvious that my kids are acquiring this worldview of God and how he works in the world in a very unstructured and unconscious way for the most part.
A few years ago my wife and I wrote a picture book for my children that would explain the entire plan of salvation to them (addressing the seven elements listed above) and help provide them a doctrinally correct, simple, and practical worldview (with my own take on some things). Basically my goal was to provide the essence of the gospel for an 8-12 year old understanding that will still have relevance (and provide insights and reflections) for an adult.
Over the years I have found myself making some changes to the book as my understanding increases, but I still don’t feel like the final product is adequate. Is this even a possible or doable endeavor? My next post will deal with the outline of the “book” I wrote for my kids and what should be included in a discussion of the plan of salvation, but for now I would like to discuss and explore the issues related to raising children with a specific worldview that works for them.