Holy Tentles of the Restoration

Community of Christ produces a special edition of the Hymns of the Saints hymnal, to commemorate the dedication of the temple.  It’s bound in blue, rather than red, and has a large picture of the Temple in Independence within the first few pages.

I’m telling you this to relate a story involving my three-year-old daughter, Ella.  Never willing to go to the nursery, but preferring to make mayhem during the service, Miss Ella was flipping through the hymnal last Sunday during the sermon.  Seeing the picture of the temple, she turned to me and said, “Daddy, that’s the tentle.  I want to go back.”

I’ve taken Ella and her older brother Lincoln to many temples: Kirtland, Nauvoo, Salt Lake, and Independence.  And I’ve tried to teach them, at their level, that these are places where the Saints have sought to encounter God and a message of purpose of peace.  Someday, I hope that they, too, will be able to rejoice in the temples throughout the Restoration as efforts by the Saints to capture a glimpse of what existence is and should be about.  I hope that they will especially find the temples of Community of Christ meaningful to their lives and cosmosviews.

In any event, last Sunday I wasn’t sure what the speaker was saying at the moment that Ella pointed to the picture of the Temple, but I was struck that my daughter was paying attention to my efforts to share with her something that has come to mean a great deal to me; but more importantly, struck that perhaps she had caught the power of that holy place, and that it had become something important in her life, too.  It is this type of identity development which will be crucial in our effectiveness, as Community of Christ members, to pass on to the rising generation the message of peace and Zion that the Temple symbolizes.  God’s efforts will not be frustrated, but ours likely will be if this sort of passing of the torch doesn’t take place.

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Blogging about Blogs

Blogs are everywhere now, and the number of people who have their own personal blog grows constantly. Its only logical that the subject matter on blogs should by now cover virtually every topic imaginable. Search any imaginable term in Google Blogs, or your search engine of preference, and undoubtedly someone’s blog will come up talking about it.

It is only fitting then that the amount of people blogging about the Community of Christ is growing. This site is merely just one example of people, some members/friends/associates/curious observers, blogging about their views and opinions on issues related to or involving the Community of Christ in some form or another. Many of the bloggers on Saints Herald blog elsewhere, too. Even Grant McMurray has his own blog:http://grantamused.blogspot.com/ Will it ever stop? Does it ever need to?

Community of Christ blogs are not only about the church from the inside, but growing more and more prevalent are blogs of others looking in on the church and examining it to varying degrees from their own set of life experiences. Personally, I see this most often in blogs from visitors to Community of Christ historic sites. People visit Nauvoo or Kirtland (mainly) then go home and blog about their experience with Community of Christ guides, or about their attempt to understand us. In a bizarre phenomenon, many of these visitors seem far more willing to pour their inner souls out to the entire world over the internet than they ever would on an anonymous comment card or simply to one volunteer.

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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

Is Mormonism Christian?

I’d like to revisit the theme of the most recent Restoration Studies, while keeping my comments largely to the LDS Church (although with obvious implications for Community of Christ).

For most Mormons, to be “Christian” means being a believer in Christ.  But orthodox Christianity has higher standards, not unlike the standard of “the one true church” of the Latter-day Saints: Christian churches are true expressions of salvation through Christ; and to admit a church into this elite category requires recognition that it falls within the doctrinal, spiritual, and sacramental traditions of the universal church, handed down and preserved from Christ to the apostles, the apostles to the bishops, and the bishops to the present-day.  Before being recognized as part of this “one true church,” Christians are as exclusionary as Mormons, for, for both groups, salvation is on the line. Continue reading

“I would present to you, my brethren, Joseph Smith”

Joseph Smith III

In traveling to Amboy, Illinois 6 April 1860, Joseph III shared these words (150 years ago today) with the gathered conference preceeding consideration of him to the prophetic office:

I would say to you, brethren, as I hope you may be, and in faith I trust you are, as a people that God has promised his blessings upon, I came not here of myself, but by the influence of the Spirit. For some time past I have received manifestations pointing to the position which I am about to assume.

I wish to say that I have come here not to be dictated by any men or set of men. I have come in obedience to a power not my own, and shall be dictated by the power that sent me.

God works by means best known to himself, and I feel that for some time past he has been pointing out a work for me to do.

For two or three years past deputations have been waiting on me, urging me to assume the responsibilities of the leadership of the church; but I have answered each and every one of them that I did not wish to trifle with the faith of the people.

I do not propose to assume this position in order to amass wealth out of it, neither have I sought it as a profit.

I know opinions are various in relation to these matters. I have conversed with those who told me they would not hesitate one moment in assuming the high and powerful position as the leader of this people. But I have been well aware of the motives which might be ascribed to me,—motives of various kinds, at the foundation of all which is selfishness,—should I come forth to stand in the place where my father stood.

I have believed that should I come without the guarantee of the people, I should be received in blindness, and would be liable to be accused of false motives. Neither would I come to you without receiving favor from my heavenly Father.

I have endeavored as far as possible to keep myself unbiased. I never conversed with J. J. Strang, for in those days I was but a boy, and in fact am now but a boy. I had not acquired a sufficient knowledge of men to be capable of leading myself, setting aside the leading of others.

There is but one principle taught by the leaders of any faction of this people that I hold in utter abhorrence; that is a principle taught by Brigham Young and those believing in him. I have been told that my father taught such doctrines. I have never believed it and never can believe it. If such things were done, then I believe they never were done by divine authority. I believe my father was a good man, and a good man never could have promulgated such doctrines.
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Do you get it?

Awesome is the only word I can think of in describing a Christmas celebration I attended yesterday.  It was indeed a worship service (although some there might not have realized it) involving loud rock, long hair, and shooting jets of fire.  The enlightened readers will immediately perceive that I speak of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or “TSO.”

In the midst of the lasers and fireballs and dueling electric violins, I was struck by a verse from Ecclesiastes.  While The Preacher might not have intended it to be used this way, it was nonetheless compelling:

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
Eccl. 1:9-11 (NRSV, emphasis mine)

While there is nothing new under the sun, many try to disguise the ways in which their creations are indebted to another. Continue reading