Saturday, March 10, 2012

"By Obedience to the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel" Does Not Say Anything about the Church

As I have contemplated how to approach my New Year's Resolution post for this week, something jumped out at me that I have known for decades but that hasn't hit me in quite this way previously - so I figured I would share it, even though it is a very short thought for this type of post.

The 2nd Article of Faith, in its entirety, says:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. 

This Article of Faith says nothing about the LDS Church (other than the fact that the "ordinances of the Gospel" are included within it), and it says nothing about believing everything someone else believes, and it says nothing about cultural expectations, and it says nothing about general rules and instructions, etc. It only talks about "the laws and ordinances of the Gospel". 

I think that's important to consider.

Thoughts? 

16 comments:

Jettboy said...

I suppose this might make sense if you don't read the rest of the 13 Articles of faith or in isolation from all other Scriptures and statements of Joseph Smith. It later goes on to explain the ordinances can only be done by those holding and are known to hold authority. After that it explains what kind of authority that is; prophets, apostles, evangelists, etc. Besides, the "we believe" doesn't mean any Catholics or Protestants. Obviously it means Mormons and by extension The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Joseph Smith by revelation founded. He was very explicit about Jesus Christ organizing a Church in the last days.

Papa D said...

Jettboy, I said "other than the fact that the "ordinances of the Gospel" are included within it". That covers everything you wrote in your comment.

That's not my point, at all. My point was the difference between what it actually says "obedience to the LAWS and ORDINANCES of the GOSPEL" and how it often is interpreted by many members.

Jettboy said...

"it says nothing about believing everything someone else believes, and it says nothing about cultural expectations, and it says nothing about general rules and instructions, etc."

True, but is says almost nothing about what those "Laws and ordinances" are and where they come from other than in vague terms. For all we know it does mean the above, although I'm not saying it does. It is an argument from silence divorced from all that has been revealed and what will be revealed.

Matthew said...

And this is yet another thing that has been lost in the hierarchization and corporatization of the church. The church is not the gospel, and it is not the gatekeeper to salvation, and too often we forget that. Obey the church and be saved. That sounds familiar....

The laws of the gospel are pretty few - love God, love each other, repent, forgive, believe in Christ. (See Matthew 22 and 3 Nephi 27)

If we put the time and effort into living those laws that we put into living our traditions (modesty, earrings, and so on), what a change that would bring about. We would be a peculiar people indeed, and would really begin to take the name of Christ upon ourselves.

I think that the way we have come to conflate the gospel and the LDS church is also an abdication of agency. We are acted upon, told what to do and think, and we live far below our privilege and our Parents' intention of us being agents, to act and not be acted upon.

Food for thought.

Papa D said...

"It is an argument from silence divorced from all that has been revealed and what will be revealed."

No, it's not - not at all. It's a very narrow point that is critically important, imho.

Look, I'm as orthoprax as it gets. I'm also as dedicated to the LDS Church as it gets when that is measured by most objective measures that don't include time compared to retired members. (grin) I LOVE the LDS Church, but I also LOVE the Gospel of Jesus Christ - and, as Matthew says, it's the conflation of the two that I am addressing here and the very real consequences of that conflation.

I believe "on these two laws hang ALL the law and the prophets". I believe that when we truly love and have real charity for others, all the other things take care of themselves. For example, if we really loved our fellow congregants, HT and VT of ALL members wouldn't be necessary **as they currently are implemented in most units. We could mention to someone that so-and-so hasn't been to church for a couple of weeks, and that someone automatically would find out why and express real, personal concern. The "law of the Gospel" would drive the interaction, not a program or rule or expectation or challenge or whatever else we would choose to call it.

The distinction I drew is isolated in the post, with no real commentary, specifically because I don't want to make it more than it is. I want it to remain a very narrow, but powerful, point. This AofF says we are saved by obedience to the LAWS and ORDINANCES of the GOSPEL - and focusing on what it actually says is very important (even critical), imo.

Howard said...

Ray wrote:...it's the conflation of the two that I am addressing here and the very real consequences of that conflation. A very worthy topic! I enjoyed you comments.

Papa D said...

Thank you, Howard.

We don't see everything the same way, but we are brothers in a very real way - and I appreciate your perspective, even when I occasionally just shake my head and smile. (and I'm sure you have the same reaction to some things I write) *grin*

Firebyrd said...

I think this is so right. It also brings up why we do work for the dead (as an aside, I really don't understand why people get so up in arms about it. Seems like they're attributing us a lot of power if they really think our rites makes dead people part of our church. Seems kind of strange to believe we have that power if they think we're so wrong in our beliefs.). Work for the dead allows us to make sure the ordinances of the Gospel are done for those who already followed the laws.

Anonymous said...

Good point Fyrebyrd, and a lovely useful thought Ray. I shall be remembering this as I interact with my lapsed daughter and her lovely no mo fiance,particularly when they marry as they plan in a local anglican church. Great to feel I have some support.

Jettboy said...

I understand what you mean when you say, "The church is not the gospel, and it is not the gatekeeper to salvation." I beg to differ on the gatekeeper as it holds the keys. We will just have to disagree on this and keep it at that because this is not my blog to expound in detail. I believe that the Church is the Gospel and the Gospel is the Church. To put it another way, I think they are so integrated that if you split the administrative from the rest, then we end up stuck where we were before the First Vision; what church is right or are they all wrong together? As Joseph Smith said, "there is no salvation to be found between the pages of the Bible without a legal administrator." Jesus Christ is that administrator, and this Church his "corporation" for the last days.

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

" For example, if we really loved our fellow congregants, HT and VT of ALL members wouldn't be necessary **as they currently are implemented in most units. We could mention to someone that so-and-so hasn't been to church for a couple of weeks, and that someone automatically would find out why and express real, personal concern. The "law of the Gospel" would drive the interaction, not a program or rule or expectation or challenge or whatever else we would choose to call it."

Huh. I'm not so sure I agree with this. I think if we understood the gospel, VT and HT would work more as it should. I think there is great value in having an order in the organization, and that doesn't preclude others from caring. But the practical element of making sure that everyone has someone to call upon, or someone to call the when the need arises to disseminate information, is extremely powerful in its own right. I think there is a delicious tension here. I think we need both the gospel and the Church, simply because we are mortal, and because both together can help create order in a fallen world, if we will let them and understand their purposes.

I understand the frustration that we often don't bring the gospel into the Church programs, but even that to me is part of what the Lord is working on with us. He knows that we are fallen, and He knows that we need help and practice, both trying to reach out more, and trying to forgive when we aren't reached out to enough.

I once heard it said that God plays n-dimensional chess. I think that is the case with the gospel/Church tension.

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

Another example of what I mean -- the weakness of culture gives us the opportunity to learn to be more Christlike, and to also learn to rely more directly on God in discerning truth from error, divinity from mortality. The opposition is part of the plan of our perfection and a reminder of our need for Christ.

Howard said...

Papa D.
Yes that's a good description of our blogging relationship! I feel the same way.

Papa D said...

I need to clarify that I have NO problem with the HT & VT teaching programs, in and of themselves. I think they are wonderful and inspired. All I'm saying is that if the principle behind them was internalized in our collective hearts, they wouldn't be necessary - even though they still might be implemented, anyway. They fail far too often right now NOT fundamentally because they are programs but because the "law" that gives them power and meaning isn't fully part of out very being.

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

I think we are sort of saying the same thing in different ways.

Rich Alger said...

"I believe "on these two laws hang ALL the law and the prophets". I believe that when we truly love and have real charity for others, all the other things take care of themselves. For example, if we really loved our fellow congregants, HT and VT of ALL members wouldn't be necessary **as they currently are implemented in most units. We could mention to someone that so-and-so hasn't been to church for a couple of weeks, and that someone automatically would find out why and express real, personal concern. The "law of the Gospel" would drive the interaction, not a program or rule or expectation or challenge or whatever else we would choose to call it."

I completely agree