Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why are Genealogists Concerned with Evidence

One of my sons, Jared, has a blog entitled, By Study and Faith. He does not usually write directly about genealogy, as such, but some of the posts he writes are particularly illuminating on some of the aspects of genealogy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of these issue was raised in a recent blog post on the subject of evidence. The post is entitled, Evidence of Truth.

The first question that comes to my mind is whether or not genealogy is involved in the pursuit of truth in the sense discussed by Jared? If genealogy is involved in the pursuit of truth, what are the implications of that search on the methodology of those involved in researching their ancestral heritage?

Jared addresses two types of evidence: scientific evidence and experiences with the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, that confirm the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I propose a third, historical evidence as used by genealogists to investigate and identify their ancestry. President Thomas S. Monson made the following statement in the June, 2014 edition of the Ensign Magazine. Quoting from that article:
The Lord expects you and me to perform our family history work well. I think the first thing we must do if we are to perform our work well is to have the Spirit of our Heavenly Father with us. When we live as righteously as we know how to live, He will open the way for the fulfillment of the blessings that so earnestly and diligently we seek. 
We are going to make mistakes, but none of us can become an expert in family history work without first being a novice. Therefore, we must plunge into this work, and we must prepare for some uphill climbing. This is not an easy task, but the Lord has placed it upon you, and He has placed it upon me.
I firmly believe that obtaining genealogical evidence requires both the investigative approach of a scientist while at the same time being open to the promptings of the Spirit. As President Monson further stated,
As you pursue family history work, you are going to find yourself running into roadblocks, and you are going to say to yourself, “There is nothing else I can do.” When you come to that point, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to open the way, and He will open the way for you. I testify that this is true.
I also believe that this Spiritual help will not come without substantial effort on our part in seeking after our dead. It is true that many members of the Church feel promptings to seek after their departed relatives. But how many follow those promptings and put forth the effort needed. Again, referring to the message from President Monson,
There are millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who never heard the name of Christ before dying and going into the spirit world. But now they have been taught the gospel and are awaiting the day when you and I will do the research necessary to clear the way so that we can go into the house of the Lord and perform for them the work that they themselves cannot perform.
I certainly believe that genealogy is also a pathway to discover truth. But it is most effectively supported by a strong reliance on the Spirit of the Lord.

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