Monday, October 15, 2012

Mormonism's God Really Isn't the God of Mainstream, Protestant Christianity

Frankly, I see more similarities in the "big picture" theology of Mormonism to Buddhism than to most of Christianity - and I really can understand why other Christians say we aren't Christian. When I use the standard LDS Church vocabulary, I call it a restoration of ALL things - not just all things Christian.

(Just as quick examples: There is a strong strain of reincarnation [multiple life stages of growth and development culminating in oneness with the divine] in our theology - even though it is not the classic Buddhist version. There is a strong sense of focus on finding and creating ancestral ties - even though it is not the classic Shinto, Buddhist or Catholic version. It's much more of a combination - a melding of theologies, if you will. There are MANY examples of this within Mormonism.)

How does that affect my view of Jesus?

It really doesn't affect the core of how I view him and his mission, but it does expand his role for me.

Whether I view his life and death as having a literal saving component or as being purely symbolic (and by "purely" I mean "fully" not "merely"), I see "Jesus" as a universal Savior and his life and death as a universal model. (much like the name "Elias" means simply one who is sent to represent, leading to someone being "an Elias" - and much like "Adam" being a universal designator of "man" and "Eve" being "mother" - and much like we speak of individuals being "Saviors on Mount Zion") In this view, the terms Savior, Redeemer, Creator, Judge - and even God - become conditions and roles rather than unique titles for only one Being - with Jesus becoming the one who is the Exemplar of all these conditions and roles to bring us toward Godhood, not just God. He is the Model of one who became man to become God again - and, in so doing, bridged the previously unbridgeable chasm that lay between GOD and his children. He "marked the path and led the way" not just to God, but to Godhood. He is not just God, but rather he also is me - and you and all.

To me, pure Mormonism isn't about Christianity; rather, it's about Christ and Father as emulative goals for all. It's not about a chosen people; it's about humanity being chosen. It's not about us OR God; it's about a real, binding relationship between us AND God, our Father (and, beautifully, Mother). It's not about individual salvation; it's about inter-connected unity and exaltation.

I know that gets lost often in the clash between theology ("Mormonism") and organization ("LDS Church"), but this post is about Mormonism, not the LDS Church - and the transcendent nature of Mormonism largely keeps me aligned "faithfully" to the LDS Church. It's what makes that "duck" a unique and singular "swan" for me, to a large degree - or, more precisely, it's the venue in which we are taught that we ducks actually are created to become swans and that the same is true of all around us.

Finally, Christianity, as it is conceived and presented and believed by many, many Christians, isn't truly a universal theology. (It is for some, most notably many Catholics, but it is not for many, most notably the vast majority of Protestants.) It's a world-wide religion, but it's not a universal theology - nor even universal for this world. It doesn't posit that even the majority will be saved, much less that all will be saved and an unknown number exalted. (a larger number, in my opinion, than even most Mormons believe) Mormonism really is a world-wide religion with a universal theology - and it posits Jesus as the great mediator / savior / redeemer of all creation (even in "other worlds"). Again, whether or not that is taken literally or figuratively / symbolically, it is a transcendent concept that is fundamentally different than the view of Jesus within the rest of Christianity.

Jesus really is different in Mormonism than in Christianity - primarily because he isn't limited to being a "Christian" Savior / Redeemer / God within Mormonism.