As Director of The International Center for Law and Religion Studies, BYU Law Professor Brett Scharffs interacts every day both with people from almost every possible religious background and with those who claim no religion. At this week’s Forum, he shared many of the "audacious" differences he's found when talking about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, audacious is defined as "daring, bold, confident, and intrepid." Scharffs’ remarks focused on the simple, yet crucial, audacious beliefs of the "peculiar people" of the LDS Church.
Scharffs shared a story of an Orthodox Christian Priest who met with LDS missionaries to prepare for a conference at BYU. The priest described the missionaries as earnest, polite and a little naïve.
The priest, however, found the picture of Joseph Smith with God the Father and Jesus Christ to be remarkable. When at the conference, the priest explained to Scharffs that this picture was a complete recalculation of the Christian doctrine of the trinity.
Scharffs explained his surprise.
"I have to admit, I had never thought of this illustration as noteworthy religious iconography,” said Scharffs. "But think about it – it depicts, in an illustration a child can understand, something profound about the nature of God and Jesus Christ."
Recognizing the reality of critics of LDS doctrine, Scharffs counseled BYU students to refrain from harshly judging the beliefs of others.
"There are plenty of religious beliefs held by others with which I do not agree, but it would not occur to me that I am helping someone to the truth by blaspheming, mocking, scorning or ridiculing their beliefs,” said Scharffs. "Let scoffers scoff, but don’t mistake them for friends or for seekers of truth and understanding."
In describing Joseph Smith's teaching concerning our relation to God, Scharffs shared that God has provided us with a way to return to Him and that He is always close to us on our path.
"He has provided a blueprint and roadmap – involving the Savior, His Atonement, the ordinances of the gospel, obedience and repentance – for us to return to Him, said Scharffs. "He does not leave us alone or comfortless, even when we feel alone and in need of comfort. As disciples of Christ, we must be prepared to stand alone although we are never really alone. God is powerful, mighty to save, but He also refrains from intervening too much in human affairs, lest we forfeit the full impact of the lessons of mortality."
Concluding his remarks, Scharffs shared that we should strive to be a peculiar people and have faith in our audacious beliefs.
"I believe in the power of love because of my faith in a Heavenly Father who loves His children. I believe in truth, because I believe in a God who is beholden to truth. I believe in goodness and beauty, in light and right, because I believe God is the creator of this universe and He radiates these characteristics,” said Scharffs.
"We have every reason to be fearless and bold, confident and courageous in our audacious faith."
Next Devotional: Matthew O. Richardson, Advancement Vice President
The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Advancement Vice President Matthew O. Richardson on Tuesday, Oct 25, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYU Radio.