Monday, November 22, 2004

A Convergence of Disparate Complaints

It seems different people always have different complaints. Over the last few weeks I have been reading Bigler’s “Kingdom of the West”, Mormon, and of course, Dave’s Blog. In the comments section of the latter, one post mentioned how church leaders have usually refused to let doctrine be pinned down. The usual complaint against this point is that people want to be seen as always having the right answer by having an escape route if things turn out wrong. Bigler’s book seems to have the underlying idea that being too convinced that one is right can result in problematic consequences. Part of Mormon’s complaint about the people of his time seem to be that they had lost their desire to build a kingdom, theocratic or otherwise.

So, here’s the challenge: if we assume each complaint has merit, what does this tell us about the type of truth we find in the Gospel? In other words how do we rationalize these perhaps disparate ideas? More so, is it even possible or worth while?

To the latter, I would tend to say, yes. However, this is because I think each of the complaints do have some validity. I think the validity comes about because these are all themes that I see playing out either directly or indirectly in the Book of Mormon, in the latter part of the 19th century church, and in our present confrontation with social progressiveness.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Normally I don't like to just post links with short comments. I also try to avoid talking non religious posts. However, I found this link from belmont club interesting. Perhaps in our zeal to promote democracy, we fail to see the cultural baggage we bring with it. Perhaps this was one of the problems the Nephites had. They may have had a tough time figuring out the parts of religion that were and were not compatible with their neighbours' cultures. Perhaps there is always an assumption that sharing one ideal means that everything on the periphery should be the same. For instance, is organ music and choral singing the only way to worhsip God in song? What about the drums and dancing that many Africans tend to do? Are they sharing the same ideal with a different sent of supporting paraphernalia?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Quotes from “Medieval Theology”

I managed to raid my brother’s book supply the other week. Among some of my finds was The Growth of Medieval Theology by Jaroslav Pelikan. While my schedule means it will be some time until I manage to finish it, I figured I would try and post some of the more interesting quotes I come across. Well read individuals may find most of these quotes old hat.

The authority of this one catholic church was guaranteed and maintained by those who held ecclesiastical office. Christ had ordained offices of varying dignity in the church. ... This identification of Christian ministers as priests in the Levitical succession, which had begun in the early church, did not obliterate the teaching, likewise a part of early Christian doctrine, that by virtue of their baptism all Christian believers participated in a priestly ministry. The “royal priesthood” described in the New Testament pertained to all, not only to the ordained clergy, for “all those who have been elected by grace are called priests.” Neither functionally nor doctrinally, however, did this idea of the universal priesthood of believers modify the concentration of theologians and churchmen on the ordained priesthood and its qualifications for the ministry of preaching and administering the sacraments.

Perhaps it is my ignorance, but I find the emphasis given to authoritative teaching quite remarkable. From my reading, it appears that fitting in to the “catholic” tradition of what the apostles handed down was considered the most essential thing to maintain in the church. Thus all the councils can be seen as attempts at preventing this tradition from an inevitable wandering. In this sense, priesthood authority matters less than an acceptance of tradition. The latter guarantees the former. The former does not guarantee a continuation of the latter. Indeed a previous quote summarizes this view quite nicely.

As a result, one could go so far as to charge that “any one who disturbs the unity of that holy church which Jesus came to bring together is striving as far as he can to undermine Jesus himself.”...So fundamental was the unity of the catholic church to Christian faith and life that apart from its fellowship all faith was vain and all good works were devoid of reward; only within “the unity of the catholic church and the concord of the Christian religion” could either faith or works have any value.