Saturday, May 08, 2004

Peripheral revelation

One of the misunderstandings some people have of revelation is that it should consistently reflect “the mind and will of the Lord.” After all, isn't the point of revelation that God reveals his mind and will to us? Yes, but sometimes that can only go so far because of our own situation and preparation. I use the analogy of peripheral vision to illustrate why the Lord might reveal something to us that isn't exactly right.

Imagine that God wants me to move in a particular direction, but I am currently facing 180º away from where he wants me to go. God tries to get my attention focused in the direction that he wants me to go, but because I am so focused in my own direction, suggestions of the Spirit to that effect seem strange to me, to the point that I do not recognize them as being of divine origin. They are out of the range of my vision. So, instead, God inspires me to turn to something that is in my “peripheral vision”: something I am willing and able to consider. As I turn in the right direction, other things come into my peripheral vision. This process can continue until I have turned around to where God wanted me to be going in the first place.

I have had this kind of experience in my life, where I have felt led in one direction (toward schooling or a career path, for example), only to discover later that it was just a step in the right direction, eventually leading to a situation that I felt was where God wanted me to be.

It seems to me that this idea has significant implications for how we view revelation not only in our personal lives, but also to the Church. Things that we consider relatively stable may really just be a step in the right direction, eventually leading us to where God wants us to go. Perhaps if we think about things in this way, we may be able to get some inspired hints as to where these things may be leading...


  1. A great "type" for this is the Liahona which directed them in the direction for the next couple of days but really didn't give them a clue about their ultimate direction or goal.

      [Comment originally posted by:
    Clark | Homepage | 05.09.04 - 1:33 am]

  2. In my World Religions class at BYU we discussed the origin stories of Islam, Zoranastrianism, and Sikhism and how all three of these religions took a people that were strictly polytheistic and made them strictly monothestic, and whether this was more or less 'proof' that God had a hand in it--a 'nudge in the right direction', even though none of those faiths were (nor were they supposed to be) the 'full restored gospel'. Makes sense to me... Church leaders have been saying for years that Mohammad in particular was 'inspired of God'. And the 'gentle nudging' idea also goes along with the 'line upon line, precept upon precept' doctrine, only giving mankind the things that they are ready for at the time.

      [Comment originally posted by: Kevin | Homepage | 05.09.04 - 9:47 pm]

  3. I think this is a great analogy to my rather complicated way of explaining the same point. I have always thought it rather naive to assume that fundamental change can truly make sense from our current perspective. To get to someplace new means having no real clue what it will be like. I find on my weekend drives I have found more than one unknown oasis this way.

      [Comment originally posted by: chris | 05.09.04 - 11:55 pm]