11 June 2013

Traditions of My Fathers

Scripture: Philippians 1:10-11, 20 NLT

"For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation--the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God."

"For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past.  And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die."

Observation: It's only through Jesus Christ that truly righteous character can come.  Everything else is deeply tainted with the philosophies of men, and damns us. It's when we frequently or continuously experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we can truly discern between the two.

Application: Never before in my life have the philosophies of men been so starkly apparent to me.  I'm appalled by some of the things I've read that members of my church have taken as prophecy--when they're nothing more than the strong opinions of our 20th century church leaders which have become tradition, followed with blind (i.e. damning) faith.  It's like the story of the newlyweds we've all heard.  The wife would always cut the ends off the roast before putting it in the pan. When asked by her husband, she would stick firmly to her answer: "Because that's the way you cook roast."  Finally, he pressed her until she admitted that she had learned it from her mother, and didn't know why it was "the way".  The next time the couple visited the wife's parents, the husband asked his mother-in-law why she cut the ends off of her roast.  She had the same answer as her daughter: "Because that's the right way to cook roast." And, upon further pressing, she told him she had learned it from her mother.  It took some patience, but finally the newlyweds went to visit the wife's grandmother.  The husband managed to take the grandmother aside and ask her why she cut the ends off of the roast.  The grandmother laughed, and answered: "When my children were at home, I only had one roasting pan--a rather small one.  I cut the ends off so the roast would fit!"

I'm in a process right now of discovering just how many perfectly good roast ends I've discarded over my life, and the joy of abandoning those wasteful and spiritually beggaring practices.  The Book of Mormon is true.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  He saw the Father and the Son: discrete, individual, infinite and eternal, glorified and resurrected gods.  I sustain our current leaders as prophets, seers & revelators . . . but I fully recognize they are men, just as Joseph was. Joseph would be the first to speak up and say he made mistakes--a lot of them.  That the members of the church shouldn't take anything he said on his credit alone, but should pray for confirmation, and seek to receive the same revelations themselves.  The Restoration was, in part, about demolishing the high and thick walls organized religion had erected between God and His children. There is no scriptural guarantee that the prophet will not lead the church astray; indeed, that contradicts the precious principle of agency that God the Father was willing to sacrifice a third of the hosts of heaven to preserve.  He didn't force them to stay--even then, His children had complete and total agency.  I will no longer live in such a way as to discard my agency to flatter the traditions of my fathers--no matter how couched in pleasant terms they may be.

Prayer: Oh, God grant me power in the Holy Spirit to discern, and lead me clearly as to when I should hold my tongue and keep the peace, and when I should speak.  In Jesus' name, Amen.