• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Response to "A Fairy Tale for Unwitting Adults, Part 1"

    Last Saturday, Xanghe posted "A Fairy Tale for Unwitting Adults, Part 1" which got me wasting study time and thinking about religion.

    After much rumination and pondering, I responded in part on his blog, but my thoughts kept coming, and I have decided to publish the remainder here. Mind you these are remarks to parts of his post, not the whole post. Please follow the link above to read the whole thing.

    "As I look back and begin to catalog all of the perceptions I've heard from both sides of the spectrum, I feel like I'm in the middle of a high-school love triangle. To make an analogy, I guess the person that both sides are fighting over would be Jesus (I hope that's not irreverent). Both sides want so badly to be looked upon by Jesus as the best and most faithful but, as high school students often do, each side feels insecure in their diligence and position and therefore belittle the other to attempt to compensate. Inaccurate as it may be, that analogy seems to reiterate itself every time I hear the born again vs LDS debate. But that's just my perception."

    POINT 2:
    That being said, I disagree partly with two points you made and agree with one. First, I don't think we're quite the high school analogy you said, although I get your point. It seems more to me like a football analogy.

    Mainstream/"Born Again" Christianity is like running some sort of wishbone in college 30 years ago. It's proven it gets results. All the old timers still run the single wing or power I (Catholicism). They're classic. Then comes along this new iteration of football -- the forward pass. Sure it's still football, and the other offenses have forward passes in their repertoire, but now someone comes along and says you can achieve your goal by passing MOST and running LEAST.

    Woah...that's heresy. Get to the end zone in another way? No more slugging it out on the ground? And so the backlash ensues.

    Who's right? Of course you can score touchdowns with both offenses, just like both denominations believe in Jesus. But fundamentally the proponents balk. It changes the game they're used to, they love, they "signed up for." Whether one is actually the “right” way to play football is not something someone can say in the midst of things. Only 100 years after the fact can you truly look back and say, yes, putting a scrimmage line in football was the “right” thing. With religion it's like that but complicated, because we all believe that there is a right way, but nobody now has the infinite foresight to say unequivocally what is correct. We have only faith.

    "The delineation between born again non-denominational Christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nothing to do with doctrine or beliefs or anything of substance - it's pure perception."

    This is complicated by the second thing that I disagree with: Christianity's inherent Nihilistic dichotomy. “The delineation between born again non-denominational Christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” has everything to do with “doctrines, or beliefs, or anything of substance.”

    Christian doctrine says you go to Heaven or Hell. Sure man tries to put a fudge factor in there (purgatory?), but the basics boil down to black or white. Jew or Gentile. Saved or not? This dichotomy is deeply ingrained in Christian theology from Genesis onward. Cain or Abel?

    Given this, it makes perfect sense why Born-Again Christians tell me “you don't worship MY Jesus Christ” and I can sit and nod when I hear a prophet of God tell me to be “a peculiar people,” or “be in the world, but not of the world.”

    For the same reasons one of my friends told me the other day that “we're all prophets of God,” I can say with conviction “God has called a new prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson.” Because they believe the Bible is infallible, and the only Word, and I, at the crux of my faith, say almost exactly the opposite – I “believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; [I] also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (AoF 1:8, italics added) and therefore Joseph Smith was his prophet and revelator, and therefore only through faith on Jesus Christ and baptism into His church (i.e. THIS church) can we return and live with him forever.

    "In the end, it's got to be both sides who decide to put doctrinal differences aside to seek for a higher level of understanding. We live in a world full of mislead perceptions blown out of proportion that result in hate and crime and war and death. Values and morals are shifting as religious institutions - Christian or otherwise - lose their foothold in society. The last thing we need is bickering and stubbornness between the individuals who call themselves Christian and who should be uniting to do good for Jesus' sake."

    Yes, you're right that we have a lot in common. Yes, you're right that we should build on these commonalities for the betterment of our society and humanity. Yes, I feel it's petty to use these differences to split apart political candidates – or to vote based on someone's religious label without looking at their actual track record, stance on real issues, and experience qualifying for the office. Yes, I believe that the best people on this earth are spread about through many religions and not hoarded in mine or another. Yes, I believe it's puerile to focus on denigrating other religions instead of focusing on building your own.

    That is why President Gordon B. Hinckley called on others to bring their good with them and see if we can add to it. That is why we should be careful about how we view people of other faiths. That is why I agree with you that we should band together to achieve common social goals – but not at the expense of our faith. We cannot soften our stance on doctrine. There is something fundamentally very different between our faiths. For when push comes to shove, I believe I belong to the “only true and living church” (D&C 1:30). That, as President Spencer W. Kimball said, “is an absolute truth.”

    1 comment:

    xanghe said...

    Super post, as always. I'm midway through composing Part 2 in my head, but a response to your response will have to wait to Part 3. I'm trying to avoid leaving comments that are longer than the post itself.