"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
December 18, 2007

Where’s the fight?

Important in the record of the dispensations is that when men to depart from God’s way and substitute their own ways in its place they usually do not admit that that is what they are doing; often they do not deliberately or even consciously substitute their ways for God’s ways; on the contrary, they easily and largely convinced themselves that their way is God’s way. “The apostasy described in the New Testament is not a desertion of the cause, but a perversion of it, a process by which the ‘righteous are removed and none perceives it.’” The wedding of the Christian Church and the Roman state was a venture in political dialectics, a restatement of the age-old political exercise of demonstrating that our way is God’s way….the Lord told the Apostles that in time “whosoever kills you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). The horrible fiasco of the Crusades went forward under the mandate of the Deus Vult — God wills it: it is His idea; the Inquisition was carried out by selfless men “for the greater glory of God.” In every age we find the worldly powers hypnotized by the image of the world as a maidan, a great battleground, on which the forces of good and evil are locked in mortal combat. True, there is a contest, but it is within the individual, not between ignorant armies; that solution is all too easy. Recall the statement of Joseph Smith that “every candid man [must] draw [the] conclusion in his own mind whether this [any political system] is the order of heaven or not.” Banners, trumpets, and dungeons were early devised to help men make up their minds. But God does not fight Satan: a word from Him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are especially told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try Man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested–not God’s. Nay, even in putting us to the test, “the devil,” to quote Joseph Smith, “has no power over us only as we permit him.’” Since, then, “God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not,” it is up to us to decide how much power Satan shall have on this earth, but only in respect to ourselves; the fight is all within us. That is the whole battle. But how much easier to shift the battle to another arena, and externalize the cause of all our misfortune.

It is easy enough to see how a world willingly beguiled by the devil’s dialectic is bound to reject God’s way and continue with its own. Even the Saints are guilty: “Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed.” As in every other dispensation, the world will continue to go its way, which is one of progressive deterioration:….After all is said, there is nothing for it but to accept God’s way–nothing else will work. (Hugh Nibley, on the Timely and Timeless, Beyond Politics, pages 310-311)