Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Literal Foundation of Symbolism and Figurative Teachings

I have come to accept lots of things within the teachings of Mormonism as symbolic and figurative, things that most members see as literal, but, at the heart of it all, my faith is very literal and focused on the concept of the relationship between God, as a real Father, Jesus, as a real Son, and all of us, as real children - that, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here," and that, "As God is, (hu)man(s) may become." For me, that foundation is literal - even, again, as I have come to view many aspects of our "details" about that foundation as symbolic or best approximations. 

I believe one of the geniuses of profound prophetic vision is the ability to take the literal and the symbolic and meld them into a cohesive narrative that allows individuals to see either (or even both) within that narrative.  I think Jesus was the Master at that - with the Biblical parables as a great example, but Joseph Smith also was phenomenal at it - with his repositioning of Heaven within the temple, the placing of Eden in his own land, etc.  Literal and/or figurative, those narratives have great power - and they all are centered on the literalness of our intimate relationship as a human family. 

I really don't care all that much about how individuals see the "details", but the literalness of the foundation itself is very important to me.

2 comments:

Howard Dirkson said...

Well reasoned and well articulated. Amazing that some find this concept threatening.

Anonymous said...

I've never found this threatening, but I have found it a little silly-when the missionaries first came to the UK their question was-did Christ visit America? Later this was supported by Books of Mormon illustrated with archaeological findings implying the workmanship of Book of Mormon peoples.All very literal.I'm happier to see this as symbolic of relationship rather than a truth claim, but I am left wondering quite what I should view as literal and what symbolic. But then, maybe I could view Anglicanism's very open cannon as being symbolic of God's welcoming love? I'm really a little puzzled these days.