A Blessing for Life?

Recently, I was reading an article about the life and death of the presiding patriarch in the LDS church Eldred G. Smith. He was quite an amazing individual and during his life it’s believed that he performed over 20,000 blessings for individuals. Quite an amazing thing. I’m sure that all 20,000 blessings were unique and specifically for the individual receiving it.

When I was a teenager roughly around the age of fifteen I prepared for my Patriarchal Blessing (Evangelist Blessing) in the LDS denomination. I had only met my Patriarch maybe twice. He was not a member of my particular ward (congregation). The blessing he gave me too this day still holds meaning. I often pull out the hard copy and read it from time to time. Occasionally, I read things that were not evident to me 10 years ago or even a year ago. This man who I barely knew shared with me things that only God himself knew. The blessing stands as one of the most significant events of my life.

About eight months ago I pulled out my patriarchal blessing and began reading it. Some of the promises that were given to me at age fifteen seems to have come to past, however, there were other aspects of it that did not seem to hold the same meaning as they once did. Andrew at the age of fifteen was a very different person than Andrew of twenty-seven years of age.

Over the last twelve years I had been married, had two beautiful children, graduated from college, and at this time of reflection I was going through one of the most significant events of my life. My relationship with Christ was changing and I was about to join another faith. I was discussing with my friend of how the blessing of my youth seemed to be a little dated and seemed to speak to a different person.My friend told me “why don’t you get it re-done?” This was something that I was a little skeptical of doing at first. Though I felt my blessing was for a young teenage boy; it still held promises that are dear to me and I believe they’re promises to be fulfilled later in life. My friend explained to me that the Evangelist Blessing would not be replacing my Patriarchal Blessing it would just be another opportunity to hear what message God has for me.

I decided I was to accept this invitation and prepare for my Evangelist Blessing. I met my Evangelist for the first time in a loud and noisy Chinese restaurant. It was extremely informal and it was nothing like my first meeting with the LDS Patriarch of my youth. Roger told me of his life and his experiences and I shared with him mine. I really didn’t know Roger. Roger is part of my congregation, but prior to our meeting I had only known Roger through his sermons. I was a little apprehensive about this meeting. My fear was that my understanding of the blessing was different than his. Roger had grown up in the Community of Christ where I had my experiences in the LDS church, but during our meeting I realized we had a lot in common. Our theologies were similar and our stories were similar. Meeting after meeting I began to trust Roger and not only did I see him as this man who was going to be used as a tool of God. I saw Roger as my friend.

Despite all this positive feeling; I was having a hard time of letting the spirit work with me. I really was fixated on how this was going to work in relation to my Patriarchal blessing. I also was fixated on what message might Roger share with me. I thought about what I wanted to hear.

I stumbled across a video made by Bryce Veazey entitled “Journey of a Blessing” the video touched upon many of the same things I was struggling with in my preparation. I was struggling with what I wanted the blessing to reveal to me instead of clearing my mind, so that God can reveal to me what I needed revealed. I decided to do as Bryce did clear my mind and await to hear the message that was intended for me.

At the end of my blessing I felt an overwhelming sense of peace come over me. I was joyful and I knew that God loved me. I had just received a sacrament that came from God. It is unique and in my case it meshes very well with my previous Patriarchal Blessing. Roger was someone who I barely knew prior to the blessing, but during the experience he shared with me a sacrament that will stay with me for the rest of my life and through the power of God he knew me better than I knew myself.

If you have never received an Evangelist Blessing I encourage you to do so. You do not have to be a member of Community of Christ (I was not a confirmed member at the time). If you have received one in the past and it doesn’t quite speak to you in the same way that it used too consider getting another one. If the one you received means everything to you and you have no need to get a new one or an update. I encourage you to read it often.

This sacrament is such a blessing that those of us in the Latter Day Saint tradition are able to partake of. Please feel free to write about your experiences below or share any thoughts that come to mind.

525687_408199032547278_1994545357_n

Advertisements

Sin & the Cross, and Why We Need Them

I want to share my recent blog post: The Cross, or Why We Need It.  It is on my blog.  I take on the dominant view of the cross about personal salvation and sin. My testimony is that the cross is a witness from the ancients about life in empire, the fate of God, & human relationships. I welcome your comments.

(Click to go to mattfrizzell.com)

Mapping the Community of Christ Terrain of Identities

Recently, Matt Frizzell posted an article on this blog reflecting on the differing possible identities for the Community of Christ. I have been reflecting on his article for some time now and considering what the dimensions of the Community of Christ identity are. Too often we have simplified the conflicts in the church down to a “Liberal-Conservative Split” which I think misses a lot of nuance. I have come up with a basic typology (ever the political scientist!) based on two dimensions:

1) a “Latter Day Saint/Protestant Axis”, based on a person’s attachment to the RLDS tradition, scripture, doctrine and story as opposed to a more conventional Protestant theology.

2) a “Fideist/Rationalist Axis” based on a person’s trust in reason, science and scholarship versus a sense that faith must come before and above reason (a kind of scholasticism).

This is what I get:

Latter Day Saint Protestant
Fideist Traditional RLDS Evangelical/Pentecostal
Rationalist Post-Modern RLDS Liberal

Continue reading

What is the future of the Community of Christ in a North American post-RLDS perspective?

I just published a long-ish blog post that responds to the question, “What is the future of the Community of Christ in a North American post-RLDS perspective?” The post focuses on questions of Community of Christ identity in light of its North American heritage.

I share the link here to invite reactions and comments to my observations about the nature and limits of RLDS identity and how I believe Community of Christ logically fulfills essential non-sectarian strands of RLDS heritage in Restrationism and early American Christianity.   I welcome responses from Mormonites, ex-Mormons, Community of Christ members, Restorationists, historians, theologians, and others.

CLICK HERE to go directly to the post, or follow the links above to my blog.

Blessings,  Matt Frizzell

Sticks and Stones and … Compliments?

Several years ago when my congregation attempted to join the local ministerial alliance (in a town right next door to Independence, Missouri), I was met by a coalition of fundamentalist and evangelical pastors intent on keeping out the (then) RLDS Church. Their reasoning ranged from claims we were “non-Christian” all the way to “not Christian enough” and, finally, to “it would just open the door for Mormons to want to join.”

As it turned out, they only wanted to talk about Joseph Smith. Apparently, our faith movement’s founder represented all that anybody needs to know about contemporary Latter Day Saint groups.

To shorten a long and rather nasty story, I’ll just skip to the part where representatives from United Methodist, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, and Roman Catholic Churches prevailed. A Methodist pastor put it this way: “Nobody asked me to prove I was ‘Christian enough’ to join, so why should we start now?”

Eventually most of the fundamentalists/evangelicals bolted from the alliance when an LDS representative was admitted a few years later. They formed their own group, which over time has dwindled in size and influence.

I mention this episode as a way to ask, “Do we expect to be misunderstood or misrepresented?” Is this a natural outgrowth of religious discrimination and persecution experienced by our forebears in the almost two centuries of our faith movement’s existence? Although nobody’s getting tarred and feathered these days (at least here in North America, as far as I’m aware), has suspicion become our default setting?

Continue reading

Community of Christ and the telos of the Restoration

I want to introduce a word: telos. Telos is a Greek word that means “aim” or “purpose.” However, the “aim” or “purpose” in the meaning of telos is not the goals and objectives that defines today’s business or organizational thinking. Telos refers to the purpose or aim unfolding,  guiding, and innate within a thing or an event.

Telos indicates the essential aim of purpose of a thing as it comes to fulfillment in a process of growth and change. It points to the deep, even divine, purpose that is unfolding and fulfilled in the outcome of its evolution. Considering something’s telos is a way to grasp or understand how the change at work in something works itself out and is fulfilled in its life.  This telos connects a thing to its true being, its fulfillment, and origins. Continue reading

What Would the Apostle Paul Say to the Community of Christ?

Rich Brown is the newest columnist here at saintsherald.com. He recently posted the following on his own blog, ForeWords, published at the Isaac’s Press Web site.

The letters attributed to Apostle Paul offer particular guidance to Community of Christ in its current struggles related to baptism and human sexuality. Of course, they need to be considered along with 2,000 years of Christian history and doctrinal development, almost two centuries of the same in Joseph Smith Jr.’s Restoration movement, and 150 years of the Reorganization.

Let’s begin with baptism.  One basic statement stands out in the seven letters just about everybody agrees were actually written by Paul (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon):

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” –Romans 6:3-8 NRSV

Clearly Paul positions the act of baptism as participation with Christ in being raised from “death” to “life.” Thus believers experience a symbolic death to the power of Sin and a rising to new life. Note what’s not in that passage: the idea that baptism washes away sins (meaning individual transgressions), the ministerial authority of the person administering baptism, the particular method of baptizing, any connection with an institutional church, and baptism’s relationship with confirmation.
Continue reading