Confusing Church, Religion & the Gospel

I was thinking about all my misconceptions and misperceptions that I have and I realized that some might have similar ones as they come across this blog. One might think, “oh this guy is another wack job out there trying to do who-knows-what.” “He probably wants to start up his own church for blah blah blah reasons.”

I have no desire to start up another church. Of course what they probably mean is a religious institution, but I’ll get to that later in this post. From what I have seen, every time a religious organization has been started up, it turns into a institutional structure that is in opposition to the principles it was founded on. The gospel, church and religion systems, are different things.

When we understand the difference between the gospel and the Church and the appropriate function of each in our daily lives, we are much more likely to do the right things for the right reasons.

Institutional discipline is replaced by self discipline.

Supervision is replaced by righteous initiative and a sense of divine accountability.

The Church aids us in our effort to use our free agency creatively, not to invent our own values and principles, but to discover and adopt the eternal truths of the gospel.

Gospel living is a process of continuous individual renewal and improvement until the person is prepared and qualified to enter comfortably and with confidence into the presence of God. Ronald Poelman (the original)

 I love this talk. If you want to read it, then follow this link. Anyone who reads that talk and learns the history of it, will open up a gate and go down a path that will change their relationship with God forever.

I want to go and live the gospel as brother and sisters and friends. Not where we have meetings but where we meet. That’s a huge difference. Do you attend your sunday meetings? Or do you “meet together oft” with your fellow believers? Big difference. I don’t go to a Christmas Eve meeting, I meet with friends for Christmas Eve. Just like the huge difference between a bride and a whore. If you are just casual about it, then both examples aren’t that different. A bride and a whore are women, they are going to have intercourse very soon and they are in a relationship with a man of sorts. The same with meetings and meeting. A meeting is something that you go to because is part of a business or organization or because you have to, while meeting is what happens as a result of your relationship with others. Just like the difference between whore and bride is about the relationship. At its most basic and fundamental pilar, the essential knowledge in this life is our relationship with God. Everything we do should be a consequence of that knowledge. To me, the movie The Passion was great in its portrayal of Lucifer. When Jesus is suffering in the garden, Lucifer asks Him, “Who is your father?” Satan’s whole plan is brought to light in that question. That is what his goal is for all of us. Put into doubt that relationship. If we are casual in our relationship with God, that will carry over into everything else. Casual is the root of the word casualty. In the war with Satan, he doesn’t take prisoners, he kills them.  

Another point tying Satan’s plan and this topic, pulling from Justin at the ldsanarchy blog:

So, you want religion, do you?

Religion is what Satan has been offering as a substitute for tribal relationships with our Heavenly Parents, Jesus Christ, and our fellowman since the beginning.  It is religion and the associated creeds that have prevented humans from coming to Jesus and the Father individually – instead forcing people to jump thru hoops, observances, rituals, classes, advancements, programs, etc.

There is a large history of Mormon churches and all the splinter groups. Here’s a list…with 119 different Mormon churches. I don’t think that is the solution. Lehi and his family left the church and the people in Jerusalem. They didn’t want to start a new church. They just wanted to escape destruction, follow the command of the Lord and go to the land of their inheritance. It is the first story in the Book of Mormon (similarly in the Book of Jared and its first story). The first thing in the book and do we realize its importance or significance? I didn’t until a few months ago. I have read the book many times and somehow never took to heart or mind that lesson. So I sympathize with those who have not realized the implications of that example.

Also, among the many different splinter groups there are differences in doctrines and teachings. The key to unity, which is an integral part of Zion, is focusing and uniting on the gospel which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost. All the other things are just that: other things. Levi and his family didn’t leave because they were in disagreement with certain points of doctrine. They left because the people had become so wicked, Israel “the Church” had left the gospel and was going to reap the consequences. There are many doctrines and covenants that are important to understand. There will be disagreement. If people aren’t all over each other’s butts on it and let everyone figure it out, then we’ll be able to overcome our differences and live with those differences until we are one heart & one mind.

I’m not against organization. I think that there can be a unifying system but that it isn’t what most think it is. That’s not that way it is in much of the scriptures. Like Poelman’s talk, the point of the LDS Church is to help people who don’t live the gospel to provide ways for them to do so. In the New Testament, Jesus never said, give all you have unto the church then come follow me. Give your cloak unto the church then they’ll give it unto him that asked it of thee. You and I are supposed to do it because it is our desire. We seek after these things, we don’t cut a check for 10% and call it good. That is so sterile and unattached to what we are supposed to be learning in this life. It’s closer to paying taxes than it is to healing the sick and caring for the widows. The church is there to get people in the habit of doing something similar to Christs’ example until they can do it on their own. Joseph Smith was trying to lay the foundation and build Zion. In so doing, the Law of Consecration and the United Order were involved. The United Order was a way to get people into living the Law of Consecration because they weren’t doing it on their own. We need to get beyond relying on an institution and become a church.

As individually and collectively we increase our knowledge, acceptance, and application of gospel principles, we become less dependent on Church programs. Our lives become gospel centered. Poelman

Zion isn’t a place I’m ready for yet. I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing wrong and what I can be doing. I want to go on Sundays and help the homeless kids in Seattle. My game plan as I see it is this: my family and another can team up, the wives and kids make lunch sack meals then another man and myself go find a kid each Sunday. Those that aren’t interested in our help, will probably enjoy some food. For safety reasons, I think it should go this way until we figure out a good system. I’m not sure how people will react nor how well I will be at helping these youth. Anyways, go and find one kid and find out if they want to go to college, trade school or get a job or what they want to do. Then we can help them get set up by enrolling them or getting them a job, getting a place to live and whatever else they need. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Also, I want to start visiting the senior center. I used to in college and really enjoyed it. It’s just one of those things that for some reason takes a little push to start. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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11 thoughts on “Confusing Church, Religion & the Gospel

  1. Hi, Rob. Thanks again for posting on my blog. Otherwise, I never would have found you. You desire to help homeless kids stuck out at me. Charity…that’s usually what comes to mind when we think about Zion. It reminded me of a post I made on a discussion board a little while back. I’m going to post it here:

    “It was brought for the millionth time in Church today, in fact, it was brought up twice–once in a video with GA I didn’t recognize in Sunday School, and once by the teacher in Elders Quorum–how the world is becoming ever more wicked, and how the Church is the last beacon of light in a dark and dreary world.

    “It simply isn’t true. The world is so bathed in light right now that I lament I cannot familiarize myself with each light individually. It wasn’t so in the past, but it is now.

    “But where does this put the Church? This is by no means meant to be “anti-Mormon”, but what will our ignorance cost us? I had a sociology of religion professor refer to us, very much in passing, as insular. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but intuitively, I knew he was right. I think, as Mormons, by having such a negative view of the outside world, we’ve gone and circled the wagons, and now we’re just waiting to watch it burn, which obviously is a mistake.

    “Despite our missionary program, I think we’ve always been a little insular, given the particulars of our origins, but maybe it’s time we snapped out of it.”

    “I was looking through the bulletin today, purposefully looking for evidence that I might be wrong. Was my ward actively engaged in the community in some way? Did my ward have a service project of any kind planned? No. Everything was centered internally on the ward…except that the 31+ singles were going to help out at the soup kitchen, which is great, except that I am neither 31+ nor single.

    “This is not Christianity. Like an individual who only acts in ways that help himself, a ward that only acts in ways that help itself is being self-centered.”

    “I’m only speculating that the Church’s negative worldview has led to it’s self-centeredness, but nevertheless, who can argue that this worldview has been healthy for the Saints?”

    I think a huge problem the Mormons face is that they emphasize conformity over community. When you say, “The key to unity, which is an integral part of Zion, is focusing and uniting on the gospel which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost. All the other things are just that: other things,” I feel like share the same yearnings. Right now we have the illusion of unity, i.e., we belong to a “conformunity.” You and I are sharing an experience. “In the mouths of two or three witnesses….” But when everyone what to do, right down to how to think, speak, act, and dress; how is the gift of prophecy supposed to be exercised? How is anyone suppose to be edified or enlightened. I certainly feel like I knew the difference between a meeting and meeting oft.

    By the way, look me up on Facebook if you’re interested.

  2. Thanks Rock. I’ll probably listen to it today at lunch and let you know if there is anything pertinent to your post.

    The criticism is actually nice…compared to some sites like over at Times and Seasons, where on the posts that I’ve read, there really isn’t a whole lot of differing opinions. There were a lot of long ones on your Evidence post. The comment sections are my favorite because people can come up with some really good stuff and other times it’s just funny.

  3. Noah-

    That wagon example is great. I know there is a huge ad program and many members are posting stuff on facebook about being Christian. But what did Jesus do? He went around healing and blessing people. After he would help others, then they would talk to him and listen to His message. That is how I teach my boys that a missionary should be. The Jews would criticize Him because he would hang out with prostitutes and other types that were looked down upon by the church. Jesus was the guy hanging out in the sleezy parts of town and the ghettos helping people out, serving them. That is Christianity.

    As far as the Church not doing more Christ like activities, I’m to blame along with others. I have never proposed a project or invited others to do anything of the sort. I have done things that others have set up. But that is changing now. It’s not that now I know I’m supposed to do it, I have known it for a long time. My desires have been changing and I want to do it.

    So my Grandma who is Catholic is a very Christian person. She has cooked at the downtown soup kitchen every week for as long as I can remember. She also goes with some friends to the local abortion clinic. There they stand across the street with signs offering to help those that go there. They aren’t preaching against them, they are just offering to help them in that difficult time and to help them in any way they can. Her chapel is across the street from the LDS chapel in a small town. She has asked me to go with her to the Relief Society on Sunday and ask them if they would like to join up. I plan on going down there before the month is up, I’ll post the results.

    At our last ward, we lived in an area of Seattle that is bordered on two sides by water and the freeway on another. It’s a nice little boxed in area. I was thinking about the Ephesians 4:13 where it talks about unity. I was trying to think of all the religious buildings in that area and there are tons. If all of the local leaders from the Christian, Muslim and other faiths made a joint effort so much good could be done. We could cover all the area very well. If the goal was to make ourselves available to all the people living there and let them know that if they needed any help and also to find out who needs help we could almost eliminate any poverty and joblessness and many other problems.

    When my mom was dying of cancer, the ward helped, they brought some meals and offered help. But the local community and friends did so much more. A fund was set up that raised money, a concert was performed to raise money, and meals were brought to our house every day for months. People came by the house all the time. I could go on about why I think there is a contrast but the point I want to make is agreeing with when you said, “The world is so bathed in light right.” It’s true.

    Ya, the witnesses thing is one of the reasons I have been so into the bloggernacle lately. I know there are others out there like us. I just added you on facebook.
    That was really long.

  4. Good article. I liked what you said about meeting versus having meetings.

    Your post reminded me of Brother Snuffer’s vision (not angelic vision, but idea-vision) of Zion. A place where people help each other because they want to.

    I like the idea of no go-between between those who help and those who are helped. If we have the Spirit with us, we will naturally go where we should and do what is good, helpful, etc.

  5. Thanks Toni. And thanks for reading and commenting.
    I think the meetings principle is a big reflection of what Zion is.

    I just checked out Snuffers vision. Thank you so much for mentioning it. I love it.

    That Spirit you talk about is what we are supposed to follow. It makes me think of the command to not judge. I couldn’t think of a more important place to do so than in Zion. If we look at others and think they aren’t doing their part, that will be possibly the worse thing that could happen.

    • You’re right. Thinking others aren’t doing their part, imo, leads into making more and more rules and regulations, adding more and more “authorities” to boss people around, etc. As Brother Snuffer points out in his Elijah fireside, once you begin to regulate Zion, it’s gone.

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