Monday, November 17, 2014

I Want to Be a Mormon Christian, Not a Christian Mormon

If you look closely at multiple General Conference talks and statements over the years, I think it's obvious that the top leadership of the Church believes there is a difference between church membership and Christian discipleship. In fact, at least twice in my memory during General Conference, it was said in crystal clear terms that activity in church doesn't guarantee Christian discipleship. The issue is that many talks appear to illustrate a belief that it's hard for most people to live a Christ-centered life without also having a church-centered life - and, frankly, they probably are correct in most cases.

Christianity and church affiliation are so intertwined now, as much outside the LDS Church as inside it, that it's really hard for people of pretty much any denomination (or even "non-denominational" congregations) to separate the two - and, given the communal nature of the New Testament focus, I'm not sure the two actually can be separated properly. In a very practical way, it really is difficult to divorce being a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth from being part of a religious community - a group "following", if you will. In Jesus' ministry, it wasn't a formal "church", per se - but people absolutely left family and friends to follow him around as he preached. They formed a religious community, even if they didn't build and gather in meetinghouses of their own.

Furthermore, as I have said in other posts here, the Mormon conception of the next life is not focused on individual salvation but rather communal exaltation. 

The difficulty here, in my opinion, is not that we need to separate the two affiliations totally and make it Christian discipleship vs. church membership; rather, we need to balance the two and prioritize them so that we live Christ-centered lives within the LDS Church - not that we live church-centered lives that include Christ.

In other words, we should be Mormon Christians - not Christian Mormons.

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