Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Passing the test

Lately I've been learning tons about what life was like for previous generations hundreds of years back.  For example, today I learned about Christopher Wren, the architect who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London.  He lived to the age of 91 in a time (18th century) where most people lived to be 30 or 40.  He was fortunate enough to come from a family that wasn't working class.

I mention this because of how unfair it is to expect people who live wretched, short lives to "pass" this "test" of life.  It's easy for people in church in a first-world country in the twenty-first century to talk about life being a test where we must stand up to temptation and endure to the end.  What if you're a child in a developing nation who can fall ill ridiculously easy?  What if you're a child who worked in the mines, standing in the pitch darkness all day to every so often open a door for the miners (where you also couldn't have food because it would attract rats).  I suppose  some people throughout history would at least be able to attend church on Sundays (especially as a reprieve to their hard labor).  But the church they would attend isn't even the 'true' church, apparently, and the 'true' church wasn't apparently on the earth.  How is that fair?

This is the time where someone could say that we all have our lots in life and that our life was designed to help us where we need it.  That's a little dismissive of people's hardships, in my opinion.  It's easy for you to sit in your air-conditioned home and say that living in a slum is just what that person needed.

The Plan of Salvation seems applicable to church members in developed nations from the Restoration onward, but I don't know how much sense it makes for the rest of humankind.  There was a time when the Bible was only in Latin and you could be burned at the stake for trying to publish it in English.  How in the world are the people who lived in that time supposed to know the truth and "pass" this "test"?


  1. I don't think the phrase "pass this test" is doctrinal in any way. The whole point of this life is for us to prepare to be with God again, and the neat thing about the atonement is that it accepts the effort of all people, no matter their situation in life or their lack of knowledge of the Gospel. I often think of people in China who for millenia have never even been able to hear of Christ (let alone the Gospel), but I love the Gospel because their efforts to live as best they can are accepted by God and they can be taught the truth in the next life. I don't claim to know exactly how that works or why, but I'm grateful for a God who is understanding of different circumstances (which is good, cause he let them be that way!) and wants us all to come back to Him.

  2. I agree that the purpose of life outlined in the gospel only makes sense from a very limited set of circumstances.
    In the Book of Abraham, god specifically refers to life as a chance to test his children, to see if they'll do everything he commands them. Then he turns around and makes his commands accessible to only a tiny fraction of the people in all of history?

    Of course, life as a test is only ONE of the purposes outlined in the plan of salvation. After all, just "getting a body" is important, too, no? That's why god decides to take some babies back to him... they don't need the test or experience!
    In fact, church leaders have repeatedly indicated that those who die in infancy will certainly get to the Celestial Kingdom!
    (Never mind the inevitable conclusion that a truly selfless parent should therefore KILL HER BABIES!!!)

    Basically, the church's response that this life is just a tiny part of a grander plan SEEMS to dodge the rational bullet you've fired, but ultimately ends up negating the value of mortality entirely.