Thursday, January 17, 2008

And You’re on Fire When He's Near You

I’m so confused.

I have really enjoyed my New Testament class this semester. I have been having so many spiritual experiences already during the course. Today we talked a lot about the parallels between the emergence of Christianity and the restoration (the emergence of Mormonism). The similarities have me convinced that God is the author of both movements. It was a wonderful feeling to realize it, and it made me realize that I still have a testimony of the restored gospel, a love of LDS doctrine, and a desire to be a part of Mormonism.

Despite this, I have chosen a path that will ultimately lead to leaving or being forced out of the Church. What has me confused is that I don’t think that is wrong. I don’t think an active homosexual lifestyle is sinful. I still have a testimony of homosexuality (so to speak), a love of (a certain person), and a desire to be part of a same sex marriage (and family) some day. How can I have such contradicting feelings that both seem to come from God?

After class today I was thinking about how wonderful LDS theology is when I overheard the conversation of a group of guys exiting the JSB in front of me. One of them was complaining about a female religion teacher that he thought was weird. Another remarked that he liked the teacher and said, “At least she has a good testimony.”

The first replied, “Testimony? She’s not married! What kind of testimony is that?”

The other said, “She’s not married?” with a voice of disdain.

“Yeah, she’s always talking about being single.”

“I wonder what’s wrong with her,” the second said.

That was as much of the conversation as I could handle. Feelings of revulsion towards Mormons welled up deep within me. Suddenly I wondered if the emergence of the restored gospel paralleled the emergence of Christianity too closely. Maybe it paralleled it right on into apostasy. I say that somewhat cynically, but I’m actually somewhat serious.

Just before the turn of the first century AD, God’s chosen people had become exclusive, hoity, dogmatic, wealthy, ritualistic, and hypocritical. He sent His Son to them to show them His compassion, to organize correct teachers, and to rebuke hypocrisy. Christ’s disciples soon were charged with the powerful experiences they had and the infallible witness they had of the resurrection. They went though out the world preaching Christianity, a religion that was refreshingly inclusive of all people and that was much more open and free in practice. Christianity exploded because of its amazing missionary program and the social climate of the Roman Empire. Many problems came from this explosion of growth, including the fact that there were a lot of diverse opinions and philosophies amongst the members. Unfortunately, the way that Christianity responded to these problems created the exclusive, hoity, dogmatic, wealthy, ritualistic, and hypocritical Catholic Church. (For example, second and third century Christians solved the problem of disunity by holding counsels and creating a rigid dogma. Any who didn’t conform were cast out.) The religion went full circle. (We call this a dispensation)

Centuries later, God sent a prophet to again reveal the compassion (and nature) of God, organize authorized teachers, and rebuke false doctrine. These early Latter-day Saints were charged with powerful experiences and modern witnesses of the resurrection. They went through out the world preaching Mormonism, a religion that refreshingly solved the problems of contemporary religion just as Christianity solved the problems of the religions when it emerged. The Church has exploded because of its amazing missionary program and the social climate of America. We face the same problems that early Christianity faced, including a diverse population. I wonder how we will respond (or how we have responded). Will we (have we) become an exclusive, hoity, dogmatic, wealthy, ritualistic, and hypocritical Church?

Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. Certainly I am out of line with the authorities, which promise us that we will never be lead astray in this the final dispensation (although a similar promise was given to Peter in his dispensation). I wonder, though, if this explains the contradicting feelings I have in loving LDS theology and in hating the practices and attitudes of Mormons. Either way, I think there are lessons we as a people need to learn from the early Christians and how they responded to the problems within their newly restored religion.


draco said...

Interesting- I really like the word "hoity."

One of So Many said...

The gospel is from God, the church is of man, and the culture...well that's of the devil.

October Rising said...

lol. one of so many hit it right on the head!

Potentate said...

I love it, oosm. ;) Well called.

Peter said...

You know, everyone loves what One of so many said, but I'd like to disagree with it (though I suspect it was meant as more joke than actual commentary).

You can't separate the gospel from the Church nor the Church from it's culture. The Church is a product of the gospel, much like the culture is a product of the Church. Furthermore, our understanding of the gospel is directly influenced by Church pronouncements and publications, and the authorities in the Church who make those pronouncements and publications are directly influenced by the culture from which they come and which supports and sustains them.

Thus, if the culture is of the devil, then either the Church is now apostate having been influenced by people who are the product of the devil's culture, or the Church was never of God because it's fruit is a demonic culture.

So no, I don't think you want to say that the culture is of the devil.