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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent

Growing up high mass Episcopalian, my thoughts on Lent go like this:

"What am I going to give up THIS year?"

"Does Sunday really count as a day off?"

"Can I REALLY give up chocolate for 40 days?"

Until I heard a sermon, in the PRESBYTERIAN church, that now has me thinking:

"Am I going to give up, or ADD something, for Lent this year?"

"Does Sunday really count as a day off?"

"Hmmm...ditch chocolate? Nah."

Do YOU practice the art of sacrifice during Lent?

Do you add or give up something that brings you closer to Christ?

What will your Lent look like this year?

Me, I'm still thinking.

Reading in my Bible every day, even if it's just a few minutes, is the thought that sticks out above all the others right now.

I can always fall back on giving up chocolate. ;o)

8 comments:

Baloney said...

I see it as an opportunity to make healthy habits. Also, if I give something up my cravings are a reminder to stop and pray.
I'm going to give up cokes this year (which is not a huge stretch for me) but one year I decided to have the full recommended amount of water each day. I ended up guzzling tons every night and that's never good. :)

Krause said...

We Mormons don't really practice Lent (ok, not at all, actually). Truth is, I really don't even know what Lent is about. Shameful, I know... I should at least know that, even if it's not a pillar of my own religion. Something about what Christ did before his crucifixion, right? Man, I hate feeling ignorant... Maybe a Lent primer would be in order for your less informed readers.

I guess it's just that our church's focus is so much more on Christ's resurrection (that's why we don't use crucifixes anywhere in our buildings or wear them as accessories) than on his crucifixion - after all, his death was only half of his atonement for us.

But I admire that people of other denominations are willing to make sacrifices like this for a lengthy period of time at Lent - in my opinion, anything that brings followers of Christ closer to him in spirit in their daily lives is a good thing.

Swizz said...

Krause,
Lent is the time, 40 days, that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. It typically does not include Sundays in the 40 day count. It is a time when Christians sacrifice...in an attempt to do as Christ did when He went to the wilderness for 40 days. We either give up something or take on something that will bring us closer to Christ.

I'm curious as to what Mormons believe in general. I hate to admit ignorance about YOUR beliefs! I have some basic ideas, but I think I confuse Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses some.

SO please share with us!

Krause said...

Mormons are often confused with J-Dubs (and I use the term affectionately), probably because we are both pretty aggressive proseletyzers. Perhaps you've had some J-Dubs knock on your door on a Saturday morning and offer you a free copy of the Watch Tower magazine, and perhaps you've also had a couple of young Mormon missionaries (always wearing dark suits with black name badges on their lapels) knock on your door, too. I've never really talked to any of those J-Dubs to see just where our doctrines differ, but I've long said that I will the next time they knock on my door, and I'm still waiting.

Also, evangelicals often seem disposed to claim that Mormons are not Christians, but I frankly just don't understand their line of reasoning, especially given that Mormons is just a nickname (derived from the Book of Mormon, a volume of scripture that is a companion to the Bible) and the full name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

We share the basic tenets of all Christianity - that Christ is the son of God and our saviour and redeemer, that he died and was resurrected to atone for our sins, and that by living the commandments and repenting when we falter we can all return to live in the presence of God and Jesus Christ again.

But we believe that after Christ was crucified and his disciples were killed one by one, the true authority of the priesthood (that is, the power to act in God's name and to receive direct revelation from him) was taken from the earth because Christ did not bestow it on anyone other than his disciples. In the absence of Christ's true priesthood, many well-intentioned followers of Christ perpetuated his teachings as best they could. But with no proper authority to receive revelation from God concerning administration of Christ's church, there were soon disagreements among men about the meaning of scriptures and the requirements of attaining salvation. Thus, today there are many different denominations of Christians who teach the same basic doctrines of Christianity with sometimes wildly different details.

Then, in the early 1800's, God restored the priesthood and the fullness of Christ's church to the earth through a man named Joseph Smith, and God directed him to a record of an ancient people that populated the Americas. This record was engraven on gold and brass plates, had been buried since around 400 A.D. Just like the Bible, this record told of the history of a certain people, and it included the teachings of prophets who testified of the coming of Christ and ultimately a record of Christ visiting the people of the ancient Americas. The ancient prophet who compiled and edited the plates was named Mormon, thus the compiled record was called The Book of Mormon. The purpose of the book is to be another testament of Jesus Christ, a scriptural companion volume to the Bible.

Additionally, we believe that since God restored Christ's true church to the earth, we now have a living prophet among us again, just as Abraham and Moses were living prophets in their days. Accordingly, through the living prophet we have received and continue to receive new revelations concerning the administration of Christ's church, including new understandings about God's plan of salvation. I guess you could say that we simply believe we have the fullness of Christ's gospel, just as we would if Christ were on the earth at the head of his own church today (in fact, just as it was when Christ walked the earth in mortality).

And I guess that's Mormonism in a nutshell for you. Questions? (No, there won't be a quiz later...)

Swizz said...

Krause,
THANK YOU!!!

I have a few questions. Not to debate, but for my own informational purposes. They will not be all at once, but as I come across them as I reread your summary and I do my own research.

First question...
Where can I find the information on the disciples being killed one by one? (Okay, so I haven't dug much farther than that...will have more questions later!) Thanks!

Krause said...

Susan,

Here are a few Bible references that talk about the deaths of the apostles. Though, obviously, the death of each is not documented in the Bible, there are verses that foretell of the apostles’ fates. In no particular order:

John 16:2 Christ speaking to his disciples, telling them they will be killed.

Matthew 23:34-39 Christ speaking to the multitude in Jerusalem, foretelling that they will kill and stone the prophets that he sends to them (see also Luke 13:34)

Luke 11:49-51 Christ speaking to the apostles, saying that the blood of the prophets shall be required of this generation

Acts 7:54-60 Description of the stoning of Stephen, who in Acts 6:2-6 had been ordained by the apostles—importantly, by the laying on of hands by those in authority (more on this some other time)— to preach the gospel (note that though Stephen was not one of the 12, his treatment here is indicative of what the people did to those who preached the word of God)

Matthew 24 This is a great chapter because it discusses many of the things that would happen after Christ’s death. In verse 9, Christ foretells of the apostles’ deaths; in verses 11 and 21-24, Christ foretells the great apostasy (the period I mentioned in my previous post where the priesthood was absent from the earth, roughly the first 1800 years after Christ’s crucifixion); and verses 27-31 discuss the circumstances of Christ’s second coming.

And these are just a few to give you an idea of how the fates of the 12 were documented. Remember, the important part of this is that no one other than the 12 were ever given Christ’s priesthood, thus, as discussed in Matthew 24, there was no one left with proper authority to administer Christ’s church on earth, and the great apostasy followed. But Christ also promised a restoration (see Acts 3:19-21), and that restoration has now happened.

I look forward to your next questions, and I promise I won’t take offense at any of them and will respect your own personal faith in answering them.

Jason

Swizz said...

Krause,
I read through the verses you sent. They do refer to the eventual deaths of the disciples, but don't show all of them.

Next question...where does it say that the priesthood was taken from Earth? Jesus set up the church, gave leaders, and God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell IN us (Already here dwelling AMONG us).

Okay, that's it for now! I'll keep reading and asking!

Krause said...

Swizz,

There are only a few scriptures that point to the disappearance of the priesthood from the earth. I think the best one is Amos 8:11-12. As I’ve mentioned, direct revelation from God can only be given to prophets called and ordained by God himself. The famine of hearing the words of the Lord spoken of in this passage is a time when there will be no one on the earth who is so ordained to receive the word of the Lord directly.

Here are some additional references:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. The falling away spoken of in verse 3, which Paul says must precede the second coming, is the great apostasy.

Galatians 1:1-6. In verse 6, Paul marvels that the people will be so soon removed from the Lord. This is removal is the great apostasy.

And even from the Old Testament:

Psalm 74:9-11. God will withdraw his hand, and there will be no prophets for an indeterminate amount of time.

Isaiah 60:1-3. The darkness that Isaiah prophesies is the great apostasy, and we, in the American continent, are the Gentiles that will come to the light of the restored gospel after the period of darkness.

Also, you make an interesting point about the church and the Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Ghost). God calls and ordains his servants, and no man can take the priesthood upon himself (see Hebrews 5:1-4; John 15:16). Only those holding the proper priesthood authority can act in God’s name, and that includes giving the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 8:14-20, where Peter and John lay their hands on the heads of the other apostles after their baptisms to give them the gift of the Holy Ghost). You mention that God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and this is true to an extent. God gives everyone what we call the Light of Christ, which is the ability to instinctually know right from wrong and, most importantly, to receive testimony of truth. God testifies of truth to us through the Light of Christ, and he gives the Light of Christ to all who walk the earth.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is different. It is a direct connection to the Lord through which we can receive guidance and direction in our lives, and it may only be conferred by proper priesthood authority (as was done by Peter and John) upon those who have been baptized (which must also be done by the proper authority). Once received, the Holy Ghost acts as a constant companion in our lives and allows us to receive revelation from God concerning our own lives. Each person who has the gift of the Holy Ghost can receive direct revelation from God insofar as he is authorized. The living prophet is authorized to receive revelation concerning the whole of the church, whereas I am authorized to receive revelation only in regards to my own family, but it is by the exact same power – the gift of the Holy Ghost – that revelation comes to us both.
As I answer your questions, I hope you will see the parallels between the Bible verses I give you and the way I describe the church today. The structure of Christ’s true church is the same today as it was when Christ established his church during his mortal ministry; God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Thus we now have twelve apostles, just as Christ did; we are called to serve in the church and ordained by the laying on of hands, just as Christ’s apostles and preachers were; and ordinances like baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are performed today by priesthood authority, just as they were in Christ’s day.

I hope this isn’t overwhelming; I wanted to answer your specific question and also address the other issue you raised.

Throw me your next question whenever you like, Swizz.

Krause