Thursday, 24 January 2013

What, specifically, must mainstream Christians learn from Mormons?


1. Theology must be simplified by being made concrete and personal. God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost should be talked about as persons with motivations, dispositions, intentions; and with whom we have relationships over mortal time and beyond.

2. In such terms, Christians need to know as a story what we are doing on earth, God's plans and our intended purpose - how we engage with the purposes and plans, how we should exercise our free will.

3. Christian life should be framed in terms of God's direct involvement in the minute details of daily life: to be engaged by frequent prayer, for thanks, worship and repentance; with expectation of personal answers and revelations, guidance and strength and encouragement, personal miracles.

4. Marriage and families must become central to the Christian life: men and women seen as complementary and mutually dependent and with a divinely ordained role in family; but marriage and family as primarily sacred relations, in recognition that we all are literally God's children, and therefore brothers and sisters.


This last centrality of marriage and family is not a necessary nor universal Christian doctrine in terms of the history of the faith; but it is absolutely necessary here and now and in these circumstances.

Although it is not primary (individual salvation is, of course, primary) the sacred centrality of marriage and family is the major secondary imperative around which Christian society should be organized, here and now and henceforth.


If the response to this is "But you don't need to be a Mormon to do all that stuff" - then I reply: "That is exactly my point!"



Steve said...

Bravo! I don't believe it's so much what we must learn, but what Christians must unlearn. Mormons are a good example of being separate and distinct as faithful to God, but yet engaged in society with fruitful manners of remaining uncorrupted. Too many have forgotten that to be pleasing to God, we will be unpleasing to society.

The Crow said...

God is not a person.
To imagine such a thing is to frame existence in terms of humans, thus entirely missing the place of humans within existence.
It is useful to equate God with reality. That thing that humans exist within. Or not.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Steve - "Too many have forgotten that to be pleasing to God, we will be unpleasing to society." - I should probably have included this point.

@Crow - But you aren't a Christian, and you don't want a church, do you?

@D - Of course families will typically be biological - and it is much easier/ more effective to go with nature than against her. But our status as Sons of God and spiritual sibship transcends this. Those who have no biological families are, of course, still part of God's family. Those women who do not have their own children can still be Christian mothers.

The Crow said...

While it is true that I am not a Christian, I would be very happy for there to be a church, and for that church to be a Christian one, if it could only return to its basic premise of the nature of God, which seems it currently has lost all track of.
One visit to an ancient church is enough to inspire and enthrall, but the sheer gobbledygook descending from the pulpit so undermines such inspiration, that all the labour of ages is undone.

What I had attempted to communicate is that the notion of God's nature has become entirely human in perspective, and therefore entirely fallible, as is the nature of humans.
Life being not entirely about humans, then it would be useful to cast one's gaze further afield, to the animals, birds, trees, oceans, stars...
The very big thing of which all are a tiny part. Which is the nature of reverence.
Which is the nature of worship.
Which is the nature of Heaven.

The Crow said...

There are some very important points lurking and laying, within this simple thread.
Human stuff.
As if humans, and the things that humans generally concern themselves with, were the whole and only point to The Creation.

This is actually everything that is wrong with religions. They take the unknowable and instead of revering (aka fearing) it, they reduce it to some pat, humanistic nursery rhyme.
God wants this. God expects that. God is watching you...

Remove the human mind (ego) from life, and the magically mystical comes rushing back in to take its place.

There would be nothing wrong, or failing, about Christianity, if it returned to reverence for the thing it claims to worship. The God that can be present in Man, when Man steps aside, gets out of his own way, and lets the God in him manifest.

Jesus was never about Man.
He was about what remains in Man when the man is put aside.

Renée said...

Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body goes a long way to taking care of points #1, 2, and 4.

Renée said...

Are you familiar with Pope Benedict XVI's 'Reform of the Reform?' At his urging, the focus of many in the RC Church right now is reinterpreting the documents of Vatican II in light of 2000 years of church teaching rather than opposed to it. Latin, the pre-conciliar mass, habited nuns and even Gregorian chant are making a come back.

Theology of the Body explores the holiness of the human body, the complementarity of the sexes, the sacramental nature marriage and the family, and how all of this relates to the trinity and God's plan for humanity--all the points that you are focusing on, including spiritual motherhood and fatherhood and adoption. While it was meant for Catholics, as a former Baptist, I believe it is even more important for Protestants who have unmoored Christianity from its traditional connection to the physical world.

By the way, these posts on Mormonism have really helped me view it in a new light, no better or worse than any other Protestant denomenation. Can you recommend any sources for more info beyond the BOM?

Bruce Charlton said...

@R - I am slightly familiar with this area through reading the Roman Catholic newspapers, and I have read a couple of books by Benedict and some of his 'essays' - I regard him as a great man.

All this is excellent, but repudiation is also needed to clear the ground for thee changes. And this would be resisted by many/ most bishops and scholars, who are thoroughly corrupted.

Spend a few hours browsing the videos on the website (some are short snippets - jokes, dramas, interviews, mini-teachings; others long sermons from leaders, some are dramatized segments from the Bible and the Book of Mormon). I have found these an extremely valuable spiritual resource, very encouraging.

Daybreaker said...

Bruce Charlton said...
@Crow - Most humans most of the time Humans must have a personal religion, and that religion must be transcendental, or else that religion will not save them. The religions that save are personal - God as a person must care about me as a person or else it is all energy, particles and forces.
I have seen what happens when a priest goes down that road, and as the expert (and without supervision) is not effectively challenged. It is not good.

Escalating the desire for the impersonally mystical and marvelous to where mundane "thou shalt nots" regarding morality and honesty are (even just implicitly) transcended is a straight path into a furnace.

Beware impersonal religion.

ajb said...

Theology of the Body has been of significant influence recently, especially among young Catholics. I second Renee's point.

George Goerlich said...

I'd also like to point out that marriage is sacred. Love is sacred. The greatest act of love between two couples is in a sanctified sexual union. Because contraception is unnatural and against God's natural will, we can assume the greatest act of love between a couple generally results in children. Those children then literally embody the act of love - they are the physical representation of sacred love and an essential part of God's plan.

To somehow overturn this plan, such as getting married to have sex without committing adultery, but then to use contraceptions and not have children is terrible. Finding a "loophole" through contraception is damaging the holy purpose. If you acted this way in order to adopt instead of following God's plan, not only are you essentially intervening or interrupting a holy act, but you are essentially harming yourself and people on a genetic level.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GG - I disagree with you about contraception to the extent that almost all Mormons use contraception, and yet are clearly the most family-orientated of the modern-integrated self-identified Christians. This refutes the idea that there is a *necessary* link between contraception and all the bad things of the sexual revolution. However, your point may still be correct as a generalization.

Bruce Charlton said...

I have edited this comment thread to remove the off-topic debate on foreign adoption - which seems to have been based on a misunderstanding of my use of the word 'adoption'; so I have removed that word from the posting as well.