Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Yoke of Christ: Ancient Insights Related to Grace and Works

Last year while pondering Christ's famous command to take his yoke upon us, I wondered if some of the symbolism of the LDS temple might be relevant. As I explored some early Christian and ancient Jewish concepts related to the yoke and the rest that Christ offers, I found connections to covenant making and related issues, including grace and works, that I felt were worth sharing. I also found an apparent Greek word play that adds further meaning to Matthew 11:28-30. The result of my explorations became a paper that I was encouraged to submit to the Mormon Interpreter, my first attempt at a peer-reviewed publication on religious topics. The paper is "The Yoke of Christ: A Light Burden Heavy With Meaning," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 18 (2016): 171-217 (URL: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-yoke-of-christ-a-light-burden-heavy-with-meaning/). I hope you'll take a look and share your comments.

On the topic of grace and salvation, which crops up frequently in the discussions here, I think the perspective of Christ's yoke can be helpful. Here's one excerpt from near the end of the paper, which draws upon an earlier section where I discuss the various meanings of the "rest" that Christ offers to give those who take up His yoke:
Finally, returning to the theme of entering the rest of God, Paul in Hebrews 4 clarifies the relationship between the grace that is offered and our need to labor, without which even believing Christians may be at risk of losing the blessing of the Lord’s rest. Paul thus prescribes actions to preserve that blessing, actions which we could call moving forward with the Lord’s yoke:
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. …

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4: 1–5,9–11)
Of course, it is not the labor that merits salvation. Rather, after urging us to labor to gain access to the rest of God, Paul also charges us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Approaching the throne of grace and entering into the rest of the Lord is the ultimate purpose of the grace and mercy the Lord offers us through the Atonement. Our light burden carried forward along the way gives us no grounds to boast and in no way undermines the reality that it is through grace we are saved.

From the LDS perspective, the yoke of Christ is a useful image to describe the interplay of yielding to Christ, learning from him, and receiving at his hand blessings, guidance, and grace. “Learn of me” reminds us that the yoke is also a teaching tool, a tool for receiving direction and other blessings from the Lord as he leads us along the straight and narrow path, where our diligence is required but where his grace only can save. That perspective is hardly a Mormon innovation, but it resonates well with the teachings of scripture and with early Christian teachings. Consider, for example, the words of a prominent early Christian Father, John Chrysostom (c. 349–407 ad), Archbishop of Constantinople:
Fear thou not therefore, neither start away from the yoke that lightens you of all these things, but put yourself under it with all forwardness, and then you shall know well the pleasure thereof. For it does not at all bruise your neck, but is put on you for good order’s sake only, and to persuade you to walk seemly, and to lead you unto the royal road, and to deliver you from the precipices on either side, and to make you walk with ease in the narrow way.

Since then so great are its benefits, so great its security, so great its gladness, let us with all our soul, with all our diligence, draw this yoke; that we may both here “find rest unto our souls,” and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

25 comments:

James Anglin said...

The passage surrounding the yoke bit is:

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

You can read this in many ways, but one way seems to me to fit the contrasting themes of rest and yoking together most naturally. That's to think that Jesus is comparing himself to a yoked ox, and inviting people to share his yoke, as the second ox yoked together with him. If he's a strong ox, then pulling alongside him would be easier. And I'm not sure, but I imagine that oxen really have to be trained to pull well, and that yoking a young ox beside an old, steady one might be a good way to train the young ox to be docile. So then the part about learning gentleness and humility from Jesus would also work well, here. Whereas if Jesus is supposed to be the farmer, putting a yoke on the believer, then it's a little hard to see how Jesus's own humility would be relevant to the learning process.

I don't know whether the image implies that the burden will be light because the believer will go through their whole life yoked together with Jesus, or whether a period of training with Jesus will let the other ox cope with burdens on their own. The first option fits best with Christian doctrine, but the second makes more immediate sense when the invitation to share Jesus's yoke is given to many people ("all who are weary"). Though maybe the original term "yoke" could have meant a contraption for hitching many oxen to a single load all at once.

Either way, if this yoke image does have Jesus as an ox along with us, then it's an image that promises relief for the weary but also envisions eventual maturity. Eventually we'll get up to speed and pull along with Jesus, doing at least some of the work.

James Anglin said...

Jeff, on your page 189 you quote Basil of Caesarea in support of unwritten authority in the early Church, which placed a lot of importance on rituals that are not described in the New Testament. This is not news to Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christians, who have always assumed that Church traditions were just as authoritative as the Bible, since after all the Church wrote the Scriptures — and decided which writings counted as Scripture.

The mainstream Christian view, however, is that the extra-canonical revelation was never really "secret doctrines and mysteries", but that the extra-canonical stuff consisted (and still consists) precisely of the traditional open practices of the churches, which were received from the apostles and faithfully preserved. Basil himself does seem (at least in your quote) to write in favor of secrets. I'm struck, however, by the fact that none of his examples is actually secret. The details of baptism to which he refers were (and are) unsupported by Scripture, but practiced openly. Even today, churches that baptize infants make a point of doing it with three splashes ("baptizing thrice"). Even today there is anointing with oil.

Perhaps Basil couldn't cite any actual secret extra-canonical teachings, because they were secret, so he restricted himself to examples that were only extra-canonical but not secret. It's still unclear to me whether he really meant to advocate anything more than a traditional Catholic attitude to church tradition as an authority independent of Scripture.

A bit later you mention the stole as a liturgical garment meant to symbolize Christ's yoke. It's not quite clear in your paper how ancient the stole was. In fact it has always been the standard priestly garment in Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches, at least. If Joseph Smith ever visited an Episcopal church, he would have seen priests wearing stoles.

And I suppose this is the main point that occurs to me after reading your paper. LDS rituals may indeed have ancient roots, but if so the roots will not only be ancient. The practices described in your ancient sources were also maintained in mainstream churches in Joseph Smith's day, and are still common today.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The ceremonies Cyril discussed apparently were not public. See http://biblehub.com/library/cyril/lectures_of_s_cyril_of_jerusalem/chapter_vi_effects_of_baptism_and.htm

An excerpt of the discussion, with quotes from Cyril, follows:

"Baptism, the Eucharist, and the oil of Chrism, were things that the uninitiated (amuetoi) were not allowed to look upon [277] ."

"We bless," says S. Basil [278] , "both the water of Baptism and the oil of the Chrism, and moreover the baptized (baptizomenon) himself. From what written commands? Is it not from a secret (siopomenes) and mystical tradition? Again, the very anointing with the oil, what word of Scripture taught that? And the dipping the man thrice, whence came it? And all the other accompaniments of Baptism, the renunciation of Satan and his angels, from what Scripture came they? Come they not from this unpublished and secret teaching, which our fathers guarded in a silence with which no prying curiosity might meddle, having been well taught to preserve the sanctity of the mysteries by silence? For how could it have been right to publish in writing the doctrine of these mysteries, which the unbaptized are not even allowed to look upon?"

As these secret ceremonies of Baptism and Unction are revealed by Cyril only in the Mystagogic Lectures, the supposed reason for saying, that in Cat. xvi.26, the promised gift of the Spirit refers not to Baptism but only to Unction, at once falls to the ground.

The true state of the case is well expressed by Bingham [279] , "Though the ancients acquainted the Catechumens with the doctrine of Baptism so far as to make them understand the spiritual nature and design of it, yet they never admitted them to the sight of the actual ceremony, nor so much as to hear any plain discourse about the manner of its administration, till they were fitted and prepared for the actual reception of it," -- or rather, till they actually received it.

James Anglin said...

Huh. I guess that at some quite early point, they did keep all those baptism details secret. At some not quite so early point, though, everything mentioned became quite public. Basil and Cyril were third and fourth century; it wasn't long after their time that Christianity was the majority religion throughout the Roman world, and from then on, everyone was in on the secrets anyway. The secret baptismal ritual described by Basil is just baptism as it has been practiced for nearly two thousand years — most of that time, without any secrecy.

everythingbeforeus said...

Even if they did keep the baptism a secret, I don't think that means anything. Jesus was baptized publicly in a river. I think that it just goes to show that there are numerous ways to pervert the basic message of Christ. You can either take what should be open and do it in secret, as Cyril describes. Or you can make something up altogether and say it can only be done in secret, per Joseph Smith.

I am not sure what the point here is. Is Cyril being cited as an authority we should listen to? If so, the Saints had better start locking the chapel doors before Sacrament starts. Otherwise, the Gentiles might wander in and see the bread and water being passed around.

It is always dangerous to rely on the Fathers of the Great and Apostate Church to back up LDS practices and doctrines, because most of their writings and ideas need to be tossed out as being great and apostate.

flying fig said...

Etbu is on to something...

Jeff, according to LDS.org "After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances"
How do you rectify this official LDS teaching and your use of early Christian church fathers to support your argument here?

Anonymous said...

Hi flying fig,

The statement on lds.org still fits with what Jeff has posted. The teachings from the LDS church does not pin down a specific time in history when the teachings and the priesthood were completely lost so teachings from early Christian church fathers could still have remnants of the proper ordinances.

Steve

flying fig said...

Jeff sites the work of Clement of Alexandria written in 195, Lactantius 250-325, Augustine 354-430, as well as writings from the "first FOUR centuries of the early church"

lds.org states theological corruption took place WITHIN the first century and had already begun as the NT was still being written. lds.org/ensign/1984/12/early-signs-of-the-apostasy?lang=eng
If this is to be taken as fact, it's difficult to believe proper ordinances were still being observed into the fourth century

flying fig said...

"The apostasy did not happen because the Apostles were gone; the Apostles were taken because the apostasy had occurred" lds.org

Anonymous said...

Hi flying fig,

Our comments are dove tailing nicely with each other's although we are making different points.

I think that the point you are making is that there should not be any shred of valid, written doctrine after the apostasy. This is not the case because we believe the Bible to be the word of God and the Bible existed throughout the apostasy. The LDS church puts more emphasis on a lack of authority during the apostasy. Also, I think that the point you are trying to make is if the teachings of the early Christian fathers was unique at their time period (in other words, is this new revelation) or are they transmitting knowledge that had been around for hundreds of years before the apostasy? Bringing up these references from early Christian fathers leans more towards the transmittal of information rather than saying this is newly revealed doctrine.

https://www.lds.org/topics/apostasy?lang=eng

Steve

everythingbeforeus said...

I don't think there is anyone claiming there is not shred of truth after the apostasy. What I have a problem with is reading the entire Christian past from the point of view of current correlated Mormon doctrine, and using that as the standard by which all other "truths" are deemed correct or in error. If you want to go down that road, current Mormon doctrine and practices would suggest that even many early Mormon doctrines and practices were apostate. If a prophet of God can teach that Adam was God, I don't see what the big stink is when an early Christian leader advocates for the Trinity. By the standard of contemporary Mormonism, everyone else, Smith and Young included, were in apostasy.

Anonymous said...

Hi everythingbeforeus,

The Church teaches that the the ordinances were corrupted in addition to the authority being taken from the Earth. The divergent thread has focused on the disparate teachings only.

Steve

flying fig said...

Hey Steve,

I see your point, but Are they simply transmitting knowledge that had been around for hundreds of years? Are they trustworthy?

According to lds.org "LDS theology asserts that the church of the Savior and his Apostles in the Old World came to an END within a century after its formation. The doctrines which its inspired leaders taught were corrupted and changed by others not of similar inspiration, the authority to act in God’s name was taken from the earth, and NONE of the Christian systems that existed after those developments, though they did some good things, enjoyed divine endorsement as the Lord’s own church"

Are they simply transmitting knowledge that had been around for hundreds of years? Are they trustworthy?

"Could early (corrupt, apostate) Christians actually have had hidden rituals OUTSIDE those published in the canon of the New Testament?"

"The LDS faith and significant portions of early (corrupt, apostate) Christianity share an important element that divides us from much of modern Christianity, namely, the belief that there are (corrupt, apostate) sacred teachings and ceremonies that are NOT DIRECTLY FOUND in canonical writings"

"in the fourth century, (corrupt, apostate) Basil of Caesarea (c. 330–379) in De Spirito Sancto spoke of doctrines “received from the UNWRITTEN tradition of the Fathers”

I may be wrong, but this sounds to me like hidden, non-canonical writings of what the LDS church would describe as corrupt, apostate christians

flying fig said...

You see, Steve, These quotes from Jeff's article acknowledge clearly non-canonical writings from what the LDS church would consider apostates to support his argument.

James Anglin said...

We have very little hard evidence about the early Christian church, but it's fascinating to try to guess how things happened. My impression from reading Chadwick is that authority structures emerged in order to deal with a serious brand identity problem, amounting even to a problem of version control. What was the Gospel?

Everyone agreed that it was what Jesus had preached; but he was out of the scene, at least to objectively confirmable senses. Core members of Jesus's movement, who had known him well, had acknowledged authority to say what was Jesus's message and what was not. But they were scattered, and some were killed, and anyway there was no @TheRealPeter account to tweet the party line to the world. News traveled slowly, and once you were out of earshot, there was no such thing as authority. Somebody could bring you a letter and claim that Peter had written it. How would you know whether Peter really had?

Then there was Paul. Paul's only personal contact with Jesus was in a single brief mystical vision. He was a card-carrying Pharisee, but compared to the original Apostles, he might just as well have been a Gentile; he was a complete outsider, adopted in, grafted on. No wonder that what he mainly gave to Christianity was its radical transculturality: anyone could join, no matter where they came from; all that mattered was faith.

Paul made that transcultural minimalism stick, as core Christian doctrine; but the doctrine itself, and Paul's own personal precedent as a self-proclaimed apostle, were big trouble for version control. What would Christians do, when the next Paul came along, maybe from some distant Gentile land, claiming to have seen Jesus in a vision, and announcing major new teachings under Jesus's name?

James Anglin said...

The solution that emerged, long before the New Testament was canonized, was the Catholic hierarchy of local bishops whose ordinations could be traced in a succession of physical contacts, by hand-laying, to an original apostle. Paul of Tarsus was grandfathered in, but henceforth no-one who simply claimed a personal revelation could be allowed to speak for the church. "Catholic" at that point just meant "universal"; the very word was a claim that there existed such a thing as universal Christianity. It was also a methodology. If someone proposed a new doctrine, the way to test whether it counted as Christian was to check whether it was accepted universally by all bishops.

To Protestants, and I think to Mormons, the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy was the beginning of the great apostasy. I think it was really an improvised solution to an urgent problem; and it basically worked. The very fact that Christianity went through crises of schism and heresy for the next several centuries is actually a proof that the apostolic hierarchy did work: it cut the version control problem down to the level where at any one time there were only a few rival versions, instead of versions proliferating exponentially until no distinct faith remained.

A lot of important Christian doctrines and practices developed during this chaotic early phase — including the traditions of recognizing certain documents as authoritative scripture. Yet it's a dark age, to history. We know only the aftermath.

When Jeff as a Mormon cites this early Catholic history, and pre-history, I don't think the point is to claim direct continuity with the development of Mormonism in the 19th century. I see it more as an explanation by analogy. Older religions than Mormonism show similar patterns. Important doctrines and practices can develop orally, within a small group of insiders, before they emerge into public knowledge, or are written down. That doesn't necessarily mean that all such later developments are only spurious accretions. They might be perfectly natural parts of the original revelation, as its fuller implications were revealed over time. The reasons for their development to have happened in secrecy, at least from later historians, may have been practical and understandable, when one thinks about the circumstances of the time.

flying fig said...

James, you said "When Jeff as a Mormon cites this early Catholic history, and pre-history, I don't think the point is to claim direct continuity with the development of Mormonism in the 19th century. I see it more as an explanation by analogy"

I simply believe that once you have written off an entire span of history as corrupt and fallen away as the LDS church has, it makes it difficult to later return and site teachers within that period as a reliable, trustworthy sources for anything, especially non-canonical, hidden rituals.

flying fig said...

(cites)

Also, the book of Acts shows Paul had the endorsement of the apostles to represent the original church as he did

James Anglin said...

Yes, the original apostles eventually signed off on Paul's proposals. The weird thing was that he eventually became quite independent of the original twelve, accepted as an apostle in his own right. In fact he became the über-apostle, writing a big chunk of the New Testament, while hardly anyone else got more than a couple of pages. A few generations later, I don't think a former persecutor could have just claimed a vision and started preaching, as the Gospel of Jesus, a spiel about faith and justification that didn't even sound like previous preaching. Things were up for grabs, in those early days, in a way they never afterwards were.

In a way you could say that Joseph Smith was his own Paul. The later Mormon doctrines, and temple rituals, were different in flavor from the Book of Mormon (though perhaps arguably compatible with it) in somewhat the same way that the Letter to the Romans is different in flavor from the Gospel of Mark (though arguably compatible).

I suppose you're right (flying fig) that it's a little tricky for Mormons to cite early Catholicism as a positive precedent for Mormon doctrinal development, while also insisting that the historic Christian church went bad very fast. But I'm not sure how much of the cake Jeff is really trying to eat versus have, here. Maybe a certain amount of rightness persisted for a while in the early Church, and it's those good elements which stand as precedents for Mormon practice.

Of course, it would be a tad hard to distinguish that kind of logic from mere circular reasoning, which recognizes the good practices that were precedents for Mormon practices solely by the fact that they resembled Mormon practice. That's always the problem with authority. We all want to affirm it when when think it's on our side. When it calls us wrong, then it must be corrupt.

James Anglin said...

"The LDS faith and significant portions of early Christianity share an important element that divides us from much of modern Christianity, namely, the belief that there are sacred teachings and ceremonies that are not directly found in canonical writings."

Flying fig is objecting that Mormonism teaches that this early Christianity was corrupt and apostate. I'm saying that the "much of modern Christianity" which does not share this belief in extra-canonical teachings really only amounts to American evangelical Protestantism. The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Churches have always acknowledged church tradition as an authority, alongside the Bible. Even Lutheranism, for all its emphasis on "sola scriptura", maintains the liturgical vestments and baptismal rituals that are, as Jeff emphasizes, found nowhere in Scripture.

Putting my point and flying fig's together would seem to make the problem worse for Jeff's Mormon argument, because together our points mean that extra-Biblical authority is most definitely a feature of the (to Mormons) corrupt and apostate church, and not just of some pristine early phase. Mormons can still self-consistently insist that their extra-scriptural revelations are valid even though those of mainstream Christianity are corrupt; but the fact that the early church also had extra-scriptural teachings no longer seems so worth mentioning, in support of Mormon extra-scriptural teachings, since the consistent Mormon position would seem to be that most extra-scriptural Christian teaching is corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

I always appreciate your comments.

Cheers,
Steve

Arthur Hill said...

Some contributions to this article, from one who is unlearned. Most of those who have read the King James version of the Bible, have not noticed that the word baptism is not found in its text, or a reference to such a right is very vague. Baptism takes on a bit of a folklore theme, with the focus being on the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth. Most forget that John was baptizing people, long before Jesus shows Himself on the banks of the Jordan. As Latter Day Saints, we also disconnect ourselves from the rights of baptism being performed in the days of Adam, and Alma, who lived before Jesus. In the New Testament there are statements being made by Jesus to either Nicodemus, or those who asked Jesus about his authority. Nicodemus was told about baptism, and was also ridiculed by Jesus when asked him this. You are a master Israel and you don't know these things. This indicates that Israel was performing baptism, that is what Nicodemus was to have known. 23 ¶And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. Jesus ask about baptism, and the those who were asked the question, obviously knew of the demands of this right. To me it is obvious that the Jewish people felt that they were God's chosen, and had an exclusive right over salvation. As we also do not disclose the rights performed in the temple, the Jews were secrative about the ordinances performed, that allowed them to enter into God's kingdom.

James Anglin said...

The King James version uses the words "baptize" and "baptism" quite a lot. The terms are not even really English translations, but direct transliterations of the original Greek βάπτισμα (baptisma) and the related verb forms. The Greek verb means "wash", but somehow in a special sense; it was not the default word for ordinary washing.

According to the Wikipedia article on baptism, this term was used by Greek-speaking Jews in Jesus's time to refer to ritual washing. These ritual washings could apparently go as far as full immersion, for example in the ritual for conversion of a Gentile to Judaism. At least up to a point, then, it does indeed seem that baptism was already part of Judaism before John the Baptist came.

I don't think I buy the reading of John 3, that Jesus was upbraiding Nicodemus for not knowing more about Jewish baptism. The only direct connection to water baptism in Jesus's words is the brief mention "born again of water and the spirit". In fact he talks mostly about being born again of the spirit, speaking in mysterious terms. If what he had in mind was a specific physical ritual, you would think that he might have mentioned it more explicitly. That would have been a lot clearer, if water baptism was what he had in mind.

It is not at all clear that Jewish purification rituals were really similar to Christian or Mormon baptism; but I don't see why Mormons should expect there to have been perfect continuity. If the early Christian church became corrupt, then surely pre-Christian Judaism may also have been at least somewhat corrupt. And if the idea is that ancient temple rituals were secret, like modern Mormon rituals, then one would hardly expect to find much documentary evidence for them now.

I don't see any great stumbling blocks for Mormons, in this study of ancient Jewish and Christian rites. If a Mormon believer were bothered by the thought that Mormon rituals seemed too radically different from the older practices, then finding significant amounts of continuity would be reassuring.

If I try to imagine how I would feel about Mormon rituals if I were Mormon, however, I think my worries would be in the opposite direction. I'd be bothered that the Mormon rituals seemed like just another set of variations on ritual themes that have had many variations over the ages. It would seem to me as though the bread of heaven were turning out to be no such strange new thing as manna, but something like pepperoni pizza with extra peppers. I'd feel somehow let down.

That's just my own feeling — in fact it's only my imagined feeling. I don't really have any personal experience with Mormon rituals.

everythingbeforeus said...

If I try to imagine how I would feel about Mormon rituals if I were Mormon, however, I think my worries would be in the opposite direction. I'd be bothered that the Mormon rituals seemed like just another set of variations on ritual themes that have had many variations over the ages. It would seem to me as though the bread of heaven were turning out to be no such strange new thing as manna, but something like pepperoni pizza with extra peppers. I'd feel somehow let down.

Let down is how some would describe their initial experience in the temple. My initial experience as a young man mission-bound in two short weeks was one of surprise. Such ritual! I had previously been under the impression that only people like the Catholics had memorized prayers and solemn rituals and Spirit-sucking liturgy. But whattayaknow! There I was in ritualistic robes listening to 2 hours of pre-packaged ritualistic language.

But I did get a new name. That was cool. I was given a new name through the power of immediate inspiration! How did those workers know how to do that day in and day out! Later, however, inside the temple itself, I would overhear an exchange by two workers in which it was revealed to me that the new names aren't by inspiration at all, but simply selected for the day according to a rotating schedule. Everyone who went into the temple for the first time that day got my new name, too. How naive I was! My fault, though.

Some ex-Mormon, with the contribution of many others, has re-created the "new name" schedule. You can check just about any date on the calendar and find out what new name is being given out that day.

The endowment is essential for exaltation. Essential. It is so essential. I would think that if everyone's exaltation depended on it, the temple blessings would reach more people if they would perform these ordinances in small units attached to the side of Stake Centers. It would save the church a ton of money! Instead, the church builds elaborate and excessive displays of worldly wealth full of chandeliers and woodwork and fine art and gardens. Millions of dollars! They place the temples only in affluent suburbs or isolated areas. What they have done, essentially, is craft a pseudo-religious experience, tell the members it is required of them if they want to be with their family forever, and then they put a charge of 10% of all you earn for life on top of it. It is a great business model.

Eventually, as more and more members wake up, supply is going to greatly exceed demand. Temples will be underutilized. This is going to greatly change the identity Mormonism has so carefully created for itself. Hinckley's grand vision of temples dotting the earth is not sustainable. The bubble will burst. It is going to start a period of great crisis.

Arthur Hill said...

First are you looking for a response? I would have to ask you first about your belief in God, this is where I start. Without a foundation to build from, then all of the ordinances that are performed by the Church, has very little meaning. I will give you a small example of what I mean. All that we do affects, that includes the spiritual and physical. When we eat it affects the physical, and unless one studies micro biology, then one would not understand the physical, and biological affects of each organism, or element that enters into our body. The same with the spiritual. As you have stated, the temple experience, seems to be dogmatic in rituals, and rights. I also understand why it is. But again I cannot continue with any profound statement, unless God is understood first.