All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil (part 3)

The Famished ChildSadly enough… it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.” (Elder Jeffrey R Holland, The Cost – and Blessings – of Discipleship)

This is the third (and final) post in a series on the Problem of Evil, specifically looking at three fallacies that are inherent within the problem (at least as it is usually described). Continue reading


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil (Part 2)

Image from Flickr, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Image from Flickr, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Flash floods wreak havoc in a neighbourhood and a family’s home is made uninhabitable, with many precious items that hold priceless memories lost forever, and with months or even years of wrangling with insurers and living in inadequate temporary accommodation awaiting them. A young father, following years of depression and struggles with school, home and family, is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, shattering his hopes for a life being able to be the father he wishes to be. A child develops leukemia, and she and her parents face many years of expensive hospital visits and painful treatments until finally she passes from mortality, far too young. I could go on, and of course you could create your own list of tragedies that strike either in your own life, or in the lives of your family or friends.

Tragic? Yes, without any shadow of a doubt. Uncommon? No, not remotely. Pain and suffering are things we each experience during our mortal lives. And the questions that will touch each of us during such times will be variations on, “Why me?”, “How can I endure it?”, “Please, Heavenly Father, wilt thou take this pain away?”, and sometimes, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

Ultimately, a question that touches most of us at some point will be, “What is the purpose of suffering?” Continue reading


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A Faithful Perspective on the Problem of Evil

WHERE'SI’ve started this post a couple of times, and then, unsatisfied with what I had written, discarded it. It’s been bobbling around in my head for several weeks now – hence no other recent posts as I’ve been thinking about how to write about something for which I don’t really have satisfactory answers.

A few months ago we had some young people from our local Church congregation come over to our home on a Sunday afternoon and we talked about science and religion. We had an enjoyable time, and we then asked them if they’d like to come back again, and if so what subject they’d like us to discuss. I’d prepared a few suggestions, and the very clear preferred topic was about the unfairness of life. This may go from the “everyday unfairnesses” of things we all experience, for example why maybe one person gets the job they love, and another doesn’t, or why one person gets serious illness and another doesn’t; through to the unfairnesses that appears so cruel: why do tsunami’s wreak such havoc and devastate countless innocent lives; why are some people born into kind and loving families, while others are born into horror? Continue reading


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The Journey – An Allegory

6261718098_48baf2fc8f_nThere once lived a young couple recently married. With their small baby daughter they lived in a temporary dwelling in a hot desert. There were many thousands of people who shared similar accommodation nearby, and over time it became apparent that food and other necessities would not continue to arrive to support the population.

When the people had arrived at the town they had been informed of a Kindly Man who had established this area as a temporary shelter, and that he would send a message when it was time to move on, with instructions as to what the people should do.

As time passed, and supplies dwindled, many began to believe that the story of the Kindly Man was nothing more than a myth. Consequently some individuals and families around them started to move out into the desert, following promises of sustenance, and even opulence, elsewhere. But the couple recognised such promises as nothing more than vague rumours, and the routes people were taking uncertain. They considered it would be foolish to follow such rumours into the desolate wilderness, and so they waited with little more than a hope that the Kindly Man was real, and that he would send the promised message before life’s necessities vanished and they, along with their precious baby, perished. Continue reading


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On Prayer and Patience

I love the passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon where Alma and Amulek are teaching the poor amongst the Zoramites. Their teachings comprise chapters 32-34 of Alma, and begin with the famous passage comparing the word of God to a seed. This passage is worth study itself in relation to the Atonement because ultimately, Alma teaches, the seed will grow into the Tree of Life which, as Nephi teaches us earlier, is a representation of the love of God, as manifest through His Only Begotten. “To partake of the love of God is to partake of Jesus’ Atonement and the emancipation and joys which it can bring.”, said Elder Neal A Maxwell about the Tree of Life (Lessons from Laman and Lemuel, October 1999 General Conference).

As we partake of the fruit of this tree, “…behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:42-43)

It is interesting that Alma here teaches that some of the blessings of the Atonement will come to us after we have exercised a degree of patience. Continue reading


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A Lesson in Patience

BaptismI have twin daughters. They are a delight, and I am constantly astonished at how different their personalities are despite their identical genetic starting point. I have learned many things from my children, and recently I had reason to stop to consider a wonderful life lesson taught to me by one of my twin daughters.

It relates to their recent baptism, but for those who read this and may not be LDS, there are three things that are important to know about baptism in our Church.

Firstly, children do not get baptised before the age of 8, which we believe is when children begin to become accountable for their actions. We believe that prior to this age, Christ’s atonement covers all mistakes no matter how sorry or otherwise a child may be.

Secondly, baptism in our Church is by immersion – the whole body under the water at the same time, symbolising the death of the old self, and cleansing resurrection to a new life as a disciple of Christ. If your hair floats on the top of the water it has to be done again – 100% simultaneous immersion is essential.

Thirdly, all males in good standing in the Church are able to hold the Priesthood, meaning that they are able to directly perform ordinances like baptism for their families. A real highlight in my life has been being able to baptise each of my children.

With the above points in mind, and as the time drew closer to my twin daughters’ 8th birthday, we began to prepare for their baptism. They were both very excited as the months and then weeks drew closer. We had some practice sessions at home, “bend your knees like this”, “now close your eyes and hold your nose”, “try and keep your feet on the ground so a toe doesn’t pop out of the water”, etc. They invited school friends to come and see their baptism, told their teachers, and generally just couldn’t wait.

But, as the day drew nearer we recognised a potential problem – neither of my girls were able to put their heads under water. We’ve often gone swimming as a family, and they attend swimming lessons at school. But they never put their heads under water – they don’t even like water on their faces. That’s fine for a family swimming trip; not quite so fine when they want to get baptised, and the baptism must be by immersion. Continue reading

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