Don’t Over-think Things

There are some brilliant comments from some of you. Profound comments, even. But you must be careful about over-thinking things. Doctrine is not to be understood as an academic or scholarly undertaking. (Remember the chapter in Eighteen Verses on Moroni 10: 5.)

It is supposed to be understood in the doing. (John 7: 17.) When you have done it, as Nephi has, then you will be able to explain the doctrine. To attempt to have a command of the doctrine without having done the will of the Father is to always be left without understanding. It is also not necessary to be able to fully expound the doctrine before doing it. It is necessary to take action consistent with the invitation offered to you.

Your mind can work at cross purposes. Remember the chapter on “Becoming as a Child” in The Second Comforter. In order to go forward you must go back. Simplicity is at the heart of God’s offer to commune with you.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Over-think Things

  1. “Don’t over-think things” Whoo, yeah. After I had to wipe my eyes from laughing so hard just looking at the title, I was able to read the post and I understand your point. There was no such thing as “over-thinking” in the home I grew up in. We “lived” the gospel, but we also studied our a**es off (sorry).

    My personal opinion is that the people who have “stumbled” onto your blog are not those inclined to neglect study or pondering.

    But yes, climbing the ladder that is leaning against the wrong building is quite a waste of effort. I try not to do that.

  2. Yes we shouldn’t overthink things but it’s easier to know when you are overthinking vs not thinking enough once you are on the other side. Its like learning a new software program, if you don’t know the program then the documentation doesn’t make sense; but once you learn the program the documentation now makes sense but you don’t really need it because you know the program.

  3. So if understanding can never give us experience than how can those people who are raised in the millenium ever really understand evil? & how to fight it & stay strong around it, if they never experienced it around them?

    Will the faithful from the 1st 6000 years of history be stronger & more valiant in eternity than those people in the millenium because they stayed righteous amid evil & had more experience with evil & thus learned more?

  4. Anon @ 8:36…
    I’ve wondered the same thing and also in relation to the doctrine that children under 8 who die are automatically saved/exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. Why would someone ever give a healing blessing to a child, then? Wouldn’t that be such a disservice? Or even against the Lord’s will, since what more can you have then exaltation?

  5. Interesting post, but it reminds me of the silly warnings we receive in church to stay away from the mysteries. I think there is a greater need for us to be warned to not Under-think things! Sure, doing God’s will is a great way to gain understanding of His principles/teachings. But that is just the beginning after we seek (over-thinking) to know what His will is, so I don’t understand the need to call people to hold back on the thinking!

    You say simplicity is at the heart of God’s offer to commune with us. That may be true in that it is a simple offer, but we must desire that our simple understandings increase into as much complexity as we are able to receive. You mentioned the scripture in Moroni: By the power of the Holy Ghost we may know ALL things – profound things, deep doctrine. How can one over-think if the Holy Ghost is one’s teacher? Even the very definition of faith, according to its Greek origin, is the sustaining of an idea until it is proven true or false. How do we prove something is true or false? Of coarse by doing God’s will. But also, it is by looking over and testing by the Holy Ghost the truth of academic/scholarly works. Sometimes it is by over-thinking things.

    Maybe we are thinking differently about thinking :) but I envision over-thinking as great pondering, wearing God out with our prayers for understanding, searching, seeking, etc.
    Under-thinking things can mean blind obedience, or blind faith. This is the kind of faith so many are proud to claim and it sounds like this: “I believe in such and such because I’ve been told its true or because I just feel it must be true. Under-thinking things at its finest. Problem is, this kind of faith is the defintion of a word none of us wants to be defined as: Blasphemos (English translation is Blasphemer). It means “to hinder by stating an unfounded, rumored, or unreasonable statement”. So to have true faith, I think we must prove, by argument or externalization or reason.

    I have not read the book you linked to in this post so I may be misunderstanding your premise. (I fully take responsibility for this!) If I am I expect to be corrected by someone! (Does this mean that I am presuming to “judge Mr. Snuffer’s intentions”? I hope not, because I don’t want to misjudge your intent!) Many people are doing (meaning according to Lexicon: preparing, acquiring, rendering, declaring, acting, spending time, celebrating, performing) God’s will, and have come to know Christ’s/God’s doctrine, and are ready to learn more by the power of the Holy Ghost. I can’t imagine asking these same people – some of which I’m sure post here J – to not over-think things.

  6. Over thinking things describes the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ. They had it all worked out, but in the process missed it completely.

  7. This is a timely post. I am Just finishing a month-long study of the book Approaching Zion. I love the celestial doctrine that Nibley shares in this book. I’ve had many wonderful experiences while seeking to fully wrap my head, heart, and actions around this doctrine. However, no one in the entire church or world that I personally know actually lives according to the laws and principles that are at the foundation of the Zion economy model. All, without exception, no nothing other than meeting needs with money. All concern themselves with the question of what will happen to them if they run out of money or leave Babylon’s employ.

    Denver, do you know anyone who has truly left Babylon’s economic model and who has successfully live according to the Zion economic model? Also, Do you believe it is possible to live according to the economic principles that govern Zion, even if only one or few persons on earth choose to live it truly? Of all questions I’ve ever asked God, this is one I don’t want to over think and under do…

  8. Thanks for this warning, Denver.

    For other commenters I have taken “over-thinking” to mean philosophizing, speculating, attempting to use the intellect and academic skills to move beyond the words of the scriptures.

    It would be like trying to argue how many “Holy Ghosts” there are. But that’s ridiculous and would never happen here…

    I’ve been listening again to Hugh Nibley’s “Time Vindicated the Prophets.” Its a timely message here:

  9. Ben, what if some scriptures that are not known much of are put into speculative clothing to keep them sacred, yet reveal them to the worthy?

    What if truths that have never been revealed must be advanced as opinions by lay-members until there is some acceptance among the Saints that allows for the official declaration to eventually occur, thus making the head and the feet and the hands all of one use for one purpose? Until we all come into a unity of the faith?

    Who shall divide the truly speculative from the truth so disguised? This is what I see in some of the comments posted here (and I am mentioning others, not my own comments), and so I still find it useful to hunt for treasures.

    Think that with this subject material, surely it has attracted angels and devils alike. Are we not told that we may entertain angels unawares?

  10. Zang, I find a great difference between scriptures that would be put in symbolic or allegorical clothing, whose meaning must be learned from a direct revelation from heaven, and the speculative philosophizing that generally supplants the plain revealed word with the carefully worked out reasoning of men.

    Perhaps it is because I partook of too much Nibley during my formative years, but I have a knee jerk reaction to speculation and philosophizing, especially when the line of thinking tortures a single scriptural verse, or statement of some general leader, into the basis for a long line of logic that totally conflicts with the general gospel set forth by the ancient prophets and the modern revelations.

    Case in point is the discussion of whether or not the Holy Ghost exists as a being outside of our own spirits, and if he does exist, is he one or 7, or perhaps more.

    Such speculations are amazing to me in light of the simple truth revealed from Heaven that “the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

    We dig, read, ponder, and expect to learn the Mysteries and have the scriptures opened up to us. However to expect human reason to be able to work out the truth is an idea that detours us from putting ourselves in touch with the Infinite. It steered the ancient church into apostasy, and it can and will do the same to us in modern times.

    I much prefer the program Denver is setting forth in opening the scriptures to help us get on the right path and obtain our own revelations. The speculation common in the comments is not only distracting, in my opinion it is harmful to that program.

    Neal A. Maxwell:

    “There is in the Book of Mormon a statement in which the Lord says, ‘Behold this is the gospel, which I have given unto you,’ and then he describes his gospel. (See 3 Nephi 27:13-18.) It is a simple story of a world to which a Savior has been sent whom men may accept or reject, but who is, nevertheless, the Messiah.

    “That simple story is the very thing, of course, the world cannot accept, and it is so simple that some may even be offended inwardly at times by the so-called simplicity of the gospel. Jacob, writing in the Book of Mormon, says of the Jewish people who preceded us and who rejected Jesus, that they ‘sought for things that they could not understand,’ and that they were forever ‘looking beyond the mark.’ (See Jacob 4:14.)

    “The Jewish people, prior to the time of Christ and at the time of Christ, rejected the gospel, in part because it lacked adequate intellectual embroidery. The message was not sufficiently complicated or politically pretentious. Neither was Jesus when he lived among them. There is a kind of theological blindness to which Paul refers in terms of the message of Jesus when he says that to the Jews, Christ was a ‘stumblingblock,’ to the Gentiles he was ‘foolishness.’

    “The simpleness, the easiness of the gospel is such that it causes people to perish because they can’t receive it. We like variety, we like intellectual embroidery, we like complexity. I think we like complexity at times because it gives us an excuse for failure. That is, when you increase the complexity of a belief system, you provide more and more refuges for people who don’t want to comply, you increase the number of excuses that people can make for failure to comply, and you created a sophisticated intellectual structure which causes people to talk about it instead of to do it. Now, I’ve been in a few high priests quorum in my time and they had that tendency, anyway. But the gospel of Jesus Christ really is not complex. it strips us of any basic excuse for compliance, and yet many of us are forever trying to make it more complex.”

  11. Ben, it could be if you are recoiling because of your own Hugh Nibley-isms of the past that you may have a beam of justice in your eye. I haven’t yet found in your comments the willingness to allow for the following possibility (and maybe I just can’t see it):

    -That someone with these supposedly intellectual comments could have learned something first by the Spirit, then has tried using reason to put it into words as opposed to the other way around.

    If this is the order, then it would be safe. The things of God shouldn’t be rejected for the problems people have putting something spiritual into words. We are left to use reason to explain it some, and of course there are better ways, like the Book of Mormon said: we stumble because of the placement of our words, but when we speak, the power of the Holy Ghost brings in into the hearts of the hearers. We can’t speak face to face on this forum.

    I don’t mean to censure you, but even if you’re right 99% of the time, I think allowing for the 1% possibility I mentioned above will help you not to judge. It is likely what allows Denver to find peace in letting freedom of speech prevail in posting almost all comments. It doesn’t detract because it proves his belief in allowing all speech, even hate speech.

    I am a peacemaker at heart, I hope you take the comments that way. It may be that the intellectuals will repent by and by.

    For myself, I regarded logic as more desirable than the Spirit many years ago. I had a friend who helped me see the light. Together for 10 years or so we’ve been practicing relying on the Spirit and letting logic and reasoning go by the wayside. After being strengthened, I have come back into having a voice. That voice includes all the intellectual vocabulary of the past, and I am not concerned at how that sounds to others, because I know what is different now. I know that what I say will appeal to intellectuals, yet they may notice that intellectualism is no longer behind it, and it may strengthen my brethren when they notice that and wonder what lies at the root of it and where I got the hope from.

    But you must know there is more than meets the eye sometimes with words.

    How can any of us judge these things? How can you pull the mote out of your brother’s eye until you no longer recoil at people who make the same mistakes as you have? You see, the mote and the beam are both made out of wood…which means you both have the same mistake, only yours is more severely large since it has gone unrepentant for so long and causes you to persecute others. That is the parable…I shouldn’t use the word “you”. Apply it to yourself if you think you deserve it. I don’t judge you. You make all the right points in your post.

    What you say is true, but what I say is also more true. If you don’t add it to your repertoire in addition to what you already have, you will lose what you have, at least that is what the scriptures say. Judge for yourself.

  12. Zang, I expected a condescending lecture as a response, and you didn’t fail me.

    My real point is I agree with what Denver is trying to say in this post, and have learned from him more than ever that its the spirit and the experience with the Divine that trumps everything, especially speculation and philosophizing.

  13. I don’t hold myself as being high and lofty, but I do believe the ideas are lofty ideals.

    When you said, “My real point is I agree with what Denver is trying to say in this post, and have learned from him more than ever that its the spirit and the experience with the Divine that trumps everything, especially speculation and philosophizing,” I agree with you wholeheartedly. It may be that you won’t believe that I do agree with you and that you simply don’t wish to be friendly.

    If something I’ve said has offended you, I am simply suggesting the problem may lie within yourself, and doing the best I can to make suggestions that may help. I do that with those I consider to be on friendly terms with, assuming the best that we are all looking for the clues that help refine our repentance, as we all need it. I am just repeating the dialogue type the Savior advocated in the Sermon on the Mount in the JST of Matthew’s version of it. I do not judge it as condescending to lovingly point out hypocrisy, even if calling people hypocrites has been done in a condescending way before, I don’t intend it as such.

    If my language sounds condescending, I’m not aware of it, and I’d be happy to give it up. I freely said I have the vocabulary of the intellectuals still hanging around, but I am not so overly self-conscious as to worry about using it any more. I don’t use it with the condescending attitude that it may portray. I am simply too unlearned now to tell when the learned language is too harsh, and I have stopped analyzing so I don’t always know when I slip into it.

    I am an ignoramus when it comes to that, so you’ll have to accept my apologies.

    The real question remains, what shall you and I do in response to condescension? How do we love our seeming enemies? I can separate myself from all that I’ve written and still stand by your side with a hand of fellowship. Can you say the same? I assume you can. I hope you can.

    You can not escape the love that I have for others, including yourself. No matter what you do, you will not be able to deny that I possess this love. You can be jealous (not saying you are), you can be callous (not saying you are), you can insult (not saying you are doing that either), and it will not affect that love in the least bit. Only I can destroy that gift. And I do not boast, but shall I deny that I have it? I only point it out to give hope to other miscreants like myself so they know they can have it one easy terms, too. I am no-one special.

    Charity cleaves to charity, and if you have the gift, too, then we will be friends, or in the least, if you have it and I don’t you will convert me to it, as is the nature of charity. Or does charity judge my case as hopeless?

    If this doesn’t have its effect at reconciliation, (and it is not intended as a lecture), than simply accept my apologies and let’s move on.

  14. To Everyone watching the ideas about the Holy Ghost:

    If the Holy Ghost is a status of sanctification for every spirit as Denver suggests, then all sanctified mortals or angels are Holy Ghosts. They do NOT have bodies of flesh and bones because they are simply borrowing matter that belongs to the Creator. They don’t own it. Therefore, we do not HAVE bodies yet either.

    Only Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ own their bodies in the verses used in D&C 130. Joseph Smith was speaking the truth as it was, is, and shall be. Michael, or Adam, is the first to have achieved this sanctification in our race (except Jehovah) and therefore is the Archangel. Such did his posterity rise up and call him at the council at Adam-ondi-Ahman.

    Adam achieved this sanctification before when he was Michael, and he did it again as a Christ-figure when he fell and came to this earth, hence he was called Michael again.

    Six others are or will be identified as having achieved this status before they were born, and they will sound the trumpets at the last day. There were others, holy men that we know not of. These will be the 144,000 that will join up to meet them. This doesn’t have to be a set number, more than it is symbolic of a fullness of the Priesthood.

    If we attain to this sanctification and Holy Spirit of Promise, it may be said we are “exalted” because we will be. But, we must go on from this exaltation to the exaltation that the Father and the Son have.

    This all hinges on that “IF” at the beginning. Take it for what you will.

  15. How else could our spirits dwell in temporary bodies (called “us” by Joseph Smith) or the spirits of angels reside in resurrected bodies, if they weren’t personages of spirit? Can we say for sure that angels possess their bodies if angels are subject to God? Even if they have the matter of their resurrected bodies on some type of permanent loan, aren’t they still not their own, but belong to be ministers to those of a far more and an exceeeding weight of glory?

    If our eyes are single to the glory of God, then holiness descends upon our spirits, but it my not tarry with us, if we let it slip away. How great shall be the darkness within us if that happens! Shall we not call the former an endowment of power?

    Shall we not also say that those filled with this holiness speak by the power of their own Holy spirit? And shall we not also say that those that speak in the spirit of truth and those that receive in the spirit of truth, (that is, receive of the holiness spoken by others unto their own spirit as holiness upon them), that both are edified and rejoice together?

  16. I am speculating in the two posts here about the Holy Ghost. It doesn’t all harmonize with every scripture yet, I don’t think.

    It is part of studying it out.

    Ben and Denver’s warnings about the need for spiritual experience and confirmation over the speculation are still paramount.

    There is a point where studying it out is overkill. That is left to each individual to decide when they are ready to experiment upon the word and when they are being reluctant to move out of the studying phase because of fear, in my opinion.

    In my opinion, God commands us to speculate to begin with, but He also commands us to be up and doing after a useful period of it, and not wallow in fear of the unknown.

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