Friday, April 29, 2011

A Personal Relationship with Christ Is NOT the Ultimate Objective

Many non-Mormons with whom I've talked over the decades talk about the need to have a DIRECT relationship with Christ as the ultimate objective of life - not one "filtered" through prophets and tradition and buttressed by doctrines of institutionalism. They see a "no-intermediary relationship" as more "personal" and, therefore, more "pure".

I appreciate that stance (truly), and I agree with part of it (truly), but, as a total goal, it simply is too anti-Biblical for me, ironically. Jesus taught that He was the Way, the Truth and the Light - in bringing people to His Father. I believe taking the Father out of the picture and focusing solely on Jesus destroys much of the Gospel he taught. 

He preached an intermediary Gospel, and, if the New Testament is to be believed, He established (through the earliest disciples), an intermediary church structure with prophets and apostles as the leaders or guides in the journey to the Father through the Christ.

Again, I appreciate the need for a personal connection to the divine, and I'm not advocating that we view prophets and apostles and religious leaders as surrogates in any way, shape or form.  When it comes right down to it, I'm not even saying that they are absolutely necessary to "come unto Christ".  I do believe, however, that they play a vital role in the type of religion Jesus accepted and generated - and I just can't see the wisdom of eliminating everything Jesus and the earliest disciples appear to have established in favor of something it appears He and they never advocated.


ji said...

But sometimes we Latter-day Saints might be seen as going too far in diminishing the Savior and favoring the Father -- Come unto me, the Savior said, not go unto the Father -- and in John chapter 14 the Savior tells an apostle that if one seeks the Father, he should simply look to him instead. This is the Church of Jesus Christ, not the Church of the Father. As the hymn says, We'll sing all hail to Jesus' name. I believe that if I seek for and follow the Savior, then he will lead me to the Father in the right way -- but if I seek the Father directly, I'm in error.

Papa D said...

I agree, ji - and I would say that there is a balance (a fine line, if you will) that is important to try to walk.

We absolutely need to reach the Father through the Son, but the path of prayer itself, for example, is to the Father - NOT "to" the Son. There is a HUGE difference theologically and Biblically, between "through" and "to" - and too many Christian paths meld the two and change the actual theology in the Bible, imo.

Geoff J said...

I used to think this sort of thing is worth arguing over but not anymore. When it comes to contact with God, we can't see or smell or touch whoever it is we have a "personal relationship" with, so it seems silly to fight over specific identities of our contact behind the veil. As long as someone is giving us actual useful information via revelation/inspiration at all that is good enough for me. Whoever it is obviously prefers anonymity.

Richard Alger said...

Good point Geoff. I think it is important to note that for most Christians, Christ is the Father. So there is not difference.

Papa D said...

I agree with pretty much everything you said, Geoff - especially about not fighting about it. However, I really do believe that there is an important aspect of the Biblical Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth that disappears when the Father is melded into the Son and the intermediary nature of His teachings loses its place in Christian theology.

Perhaps the height of irony regarding this concept, at least in my mind, is that I wouldn't have written this post based on the theology of the Book of Mormon. This post is about the theology of the Bible. The irony doesn't escape me.