It appears that I have often been a voice of contention recently. I have tried hard to never condemn or accuse people, only ideas. I don’t think I have ever accused anyone of being evil or hypocritical, but I have criticized things that have been written. I have, however, been accused – both overtly and passive-aggressively. I’m not just being contentious or disagreeable. I think about the things I write a lot. I think there is an important message for us all in them. But, I find myself increasingly on the outside looking in. So, why do I find myself in this position?
I believe we are clinging to doctrines that were meant for another people, in another time; doctrines that did not, and can not, prepare us for Zion. I think we need to ascend and reach higher than many have in the past. I think this is a new age – an age of love, not an age of hierarchy, and power, and fear, and judgment. New Age philosophies call these two ages Piscean and Aquarian. This is coincidence. This belief that I have is NOT the result of these new age philosophies. I am learning these things, only to later find that they match these other ideas that have been put forth by others. In other words, I am simply recognizing our condition.
I am learning, based upon my experiences with the spirit of Christ – the Holy Spirit – that He is not, and never was, a God of fear and judgment and wrath and condemnation. At times, He was perceived as such, and, being a God of agency, He allowed that, but He was never such. So, if that is true, how does this reconcile with scriptural stories, especially in the Book of Mormon?
Consider the stories in the Book of Mormon – stories of redemption that we have been instructed to liken unto ourselves.. Let’s begin with a favorite – King Benjamin’s people – a people much like us, who had been taught a traditional religion, but who had lost the power of the spirit. King Benjamin taught them in a way to bring them back, attacking their pride and teaching humility. Alma the Elder’s people were simply WICKED. Alma the Younger imself was wicked. The People of Nephi, the Anti-Lehi-Nephis, were brutal murderers. Those who found themselves surrounded by fires of redemption in the prison were in there brutally beating, slapping, ridiculing, even spitting on a naked, bound Nephi and Lehi. These were evil, carnal, base people. Their stories of redemption were miraculous in contrast. Such miracles were required to redeem such a wicked people. These people of whom the stories of the Book of Mormon were about were adulterers, murderers, liars, ,thieves, etc. Yet, we expect our experiences to compare to theirs. We expect our rebirth experiences to mirror theirs. I’m not aware of any among us who would even remotely compare. I think it’s totally understandable that my moment of rebirth would be less dramatic than theirs. How about yours? I’m not saying that such miraculous things don’t happen, only that we do ourselves a disservice if we think that we’re somehow not fulfilling the gospel if they don’t.
Another point. We don’t have Zion. Whatever we have done in the past, whatever anyone since Enoch and Melchizedek and the post-visit Nephites (for 200 years) has not resulted in Zion. A definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing expecting different results. I truly think that focusing on a doctrine that emphasizes that we are sinners, that we have to fear God, that we should be somehow motivated out of fear of a judgment day is NOT going to bring about Zion.
I think we need an ascendant doctrine. Not a new doctrine, just a new focus, a new, perhaps higher understanding of what the scriptures are teaching us. The two great commandments are simple – Love God, and Love your neighbor. The Sermon on the Mount is an instruction manual for how to do this. This is the doctrine that will bring about Zion, that will bring about redemption, that represents the fruit of the Tree of Life. These other doctrines are all designed to entice us to look up from our fallen state, having partaken for millenia of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Well, I think we need to look up.
I can’t picture people walking around in Zion, in the presence of Christ, consumed with fear of offending Him, or with fear of His judgment,, or a coming judgment day. I can’t imagine people thinking to themselves, “I’m not worthy to be here…I must somehow earn His love and the love of everyone else here”. But this is exactly the mindset that is perpetuated by our common interpretation of the scriptures. I absolutely hate it every time I hear my friend talk about how lowly he or she is, how they are not worthy, how they need to be redeemed, but that they are waiting patiently, faithfully, for that day of redemption to come. I invite these to look up. Look to Him and see the love in His eyes, and recognize that you are NOT unworthy. Recognize that you are His! Look up.
The Answer and Covenant, which I participated in, focused on loving each other. It invited us to look up. Jared Livesy’s Guide and Standard proposal, whether I agree with his method of presentation or not, is inviting us to look up. I was told to take the covenant, to be with this people, because I am to teach of His love. This is what I am trying to do. I am inviting us to look up – to look to Him, and recognize Him in ourselves.
David Johnson posted yesterday that the Lord told Him that Zion was in our hearts. David spoke truth. It MUST begin in our hearts. We MUST reject teachings that focus on fear and judgment and wrath. These doctrines that I reject may have been important in their day, for another people, in a different age, but they did not bring about Zion, and they never will. These are doctrines of separation, of fear. They may have been necessary then, and they may be necessary for some people today – a true manifestation of the preparatory Gospel.
But the preparatory Gospel will not bring about Zion.
Let us repent, and turn to Christ – the true Christ – a Christ whose power is the power of Love – who would never exercise any other power over this people. Do we need to repent of adultery and murder, as liars and thieves? No! We are not adulterers and murderers and liars and thieves. Instead, we need to repent of jealousies and FEARS. We need to repent of the need to control others – which we do through fear and manipulation. We need to repent of the doctrine of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – the doctrine of FEAR. Just as this age is an age of ascension – hopefully the age of Zion – so our repentance must be an ascended repentance.
Christ IS within us. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us. Christ showed us the way. Without Him we would never even be in this position – poised to ascend. We have been taught by our parents, by teachers, even prophets. Even those who lied to us still prepared us. Toward what end, then? That we could continue to focus on doctrines that fail to yield the greatest fruit – the fruit of the Tree of Life – the Love of God? No, we glorify Christ, and we validate those who prepared us, by looking up, by reaching higher, by leaving these doctrines of fear, and wrath, and judgment behind us, and focusing on oneness with Christ and with each other. He will NEVER force us to reach higher – this we must indeed do for ourselves. It is in this way that we love Him, glorify Him, demonstrate our belief and our faith in Him.
Please, let us look up, and ascend to the knowledge that will bring about Zion.