I have read with some sadness a few post on LDS blogs that have explored the idea of what sort of line would the church have to cross that would cause you to leave the church. I left a comment on one that seemed pretty profound to me, but seemed ignored by everyone else (which may actually be a good sign). The comment was a song lyric that goes, “The way out is the way in.” What I mean by that is that some event that would cause you to leave the church would (or maybe better should) be similar to what moved you into the church in the first place.
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Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: The Policy and the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13)Published November 17, 2015 Tolerance , Uncategorized 2 Comments
Matthew 13 is a long chapter with several parables taught by Jesus. For the purpose of this topic, the parable of the wheat and the tares really stands out. Up to this point, the gospel of Matthew has largely been a gospel of repentance, with nothing resembling an ‘Anything Goes’ gospel. But the parable of the wheat and the tares provides an example of significant tolerance for those who are characterized as the children of the wicked one.
In this parable, a man sows good seed in the ground, and at night an enemy sowed tares among the wheat. When the seeds grew, the servants noticed that there were tares among the wheat. They asked the man if they should gather the tares out from the wheat. The man said that they should not, lest they should root up some wheat along with the tares. The servants were to wait until the time of the harvest. At that time the tares would be gathered and burned, while the wheat would be gathered into the barn.
If one wants to make a case for absolute tolerance, this would likely be the go to parable. Here the Lord is saying to leave the tares alone, even though they are clearly tares. The reason for this is to avoid destroying some of the wheat by hastily weeding out the tares. In the wake of the recent controversial policy, this parable may be just as applicable to current events as my recent post involving the destroying leaven from 1 Cor. 5. Should the servants of God be ridding themselves of a destroying leaven as Paul suggests? Or should the rather leave the tares alone as Christ suggests? Both instructions seem to apply, as do the examples.
Other than by revelation from God, I do not think one can know for sure what course of action should be taken. Do circumstances warrant purging a destroying leaven (to protect the saints), or do they warrant leaving the tares alone until the harvest (to protect the saints)?
The parable of the wheat and the tares present an impressive amount of tolerance, and while this tolerance is not necessarily absolute (the tares are tares, and they will be burned at the harvest), it does seem to border on it, suggesting that sometimes we should leave the purging to God.
I would like to first state that I sympathize with those who are upset by this policy (see here for an official interview), and that even for those of us who can understand some reasons for this policy, it is not exactly something to celebrate. At best it seems that it may be an unfortunate remedy. I, like many others, would like to take a stab at expressing my initial thoughts on this controversial policy.
I went to the grocery store today. I grabbed a burger on the way and ate it in the parking lot. I threw the wrapper away and went into the store. After I put the grocery bags into the back of the car, I took my keys out of my pocket and noticed that the ignition key was missing. How could this be? I had the key chain, but the ignition key was gone.
In October there will be the annual meeting of the Society of Mormon Philosophy and Theology at Brigham Young University. The topic is “Doers of the Word: Belief and Practice“. The topic motivated me to review Kierkegaard’s short work, “Practice in Christianity“, and I wonder if a Mormon take on this essay could work for a paper.
To give some of the highlights, Kierkegaard speaks of faith coming in opposition to the possibility of offense at Christ as the God-man. This offense can come in two forms, one at the loftiness of Christ, the other at the lowliness of Christ. If one starts out accepting the God who is Christ, they may be offended at the lowliness of the life of Jesus. Additionally if one is familiar with the mortal condition of Jesus, the may be offended at the loftiness of Christ as the Son of God.
The bulk of the Kierkegaard essay seems to center on the risk of those who center on the loftiness, and turn into admirers rather than imitators of Christ. They distance themselves from the object of Christ, and mostly speak of observations or personal remarks regarding the Savior. Kierkegaard suggests we should instead be imitators or followers of Christ, and treat Christ as the subject rather than the object. Thus, Christ has ears to hear and eyes to see if we are genuinely following Him in imitation worship rather than admiration worship. Thus Christ becomes the prototype who is lowly enough to be imitated, yet lofty enough to bring all mankind unto Him.
I think this essay would resonate with most Mormons, with the exception of Kierkegaard rejection of the kinship between God and man. Thus I feel that Mormonism makes an even stronger case for imitation, and thus practice in Christianity. If I were to pursue a paper on this, I would try to persuade the audience that Kierkegaard was right about imitation worship in Christianity, and that Mormonism, which embraces the kinship with Christ makes an even stronger case. And that such imitation is the basis for religious practice.
I welcome any comments or thoughts on such an effort.
I have seen several comments on various threads that connect the preaching against a sinful behavior from a church, to the self-loathing of a church member who engages in this behavior. I feel that this connection and result are not necessary, and that more healthy responses from the believer are readily available.
Jared Hansen has written a concise guide for improved scripture study. His suggestions are very straight forward and practical, and have a very devotional approach. His goal is to help people have memorable spiritual experiences through studying the scriptures.
Hansen feels that reading the scriptures like novels can be a distraction. He recommends studying with a purpose, prayerfully pondering each verse. For Hansen, this feast is meant to be savored rather than gulped down.
Hansen exhorts his audience to pray, as they take on scripture study like they would an important assignment at work or school – writing down our experiences as we go – along with other valuable tips. He includes touching testimony, particularly of the Book of Mormon. This guide will help anyone who wants to pursue a serious and devotional study of the scriptures. It is available at Amazon here.