Monday, October 24, 2011

A Church within a Church

So our Sunday School teacher did something fantastic about a year ago. He dared to suggest that the gospel carries with it contradictions. Quite the day for the stake Sunday School president to attend. Our teacher followed this bold statement by saying that there are things within the church with which we neither understand nor agree that can challenge our faith if we're not rooted in the spirit. He mentioned political issues, abortion, and gay rights specifically. I'll give him credit for sheer chutzpah. I certainly wouldn't have dared to say anything of the sort, mostly because I don't like when other people disagree with the obvious rightness of my arguments. In thinking about this incident recently I began to wonder, are we approaching a point where we have a church within a church?

I do not mean that we will have a schismatic event resulting in separate organizations or separate dogmas.  Rather, I wonder if the conflict between those who read the scriptures with a literal approach, and those who do not, can co-exist.  Is this a sign of maturity in the Church, or is it merely an attempt to divide us by the adversary?  Another way to frame this question is this, how much dissent is allowed in Zion?

I think the answer is that there is not only a church within the Church, but that there are multitudes of churches within the Church.  This is not a bad thing, nor should it undermine anyone's faith.  Every person carries an individual experience to the altar of Christ.  Each of these burdens is atoned for uniquely and completely.  As such, the atonement is infinitely variable in what it atones for.  It only makes sense then that how we approach that atonement is also infinitely variable.  I do not intend to say that the priesthood or ordinances are unnecessary, quite the contrary.

I do see us at a cross-roads as a Church regarding how we teach the Gospel.  On the one hand, we have Preach my Gospel and all the implications that go therewith.  This singular manual turns us from generations of rote learning, indoctrination, and inculcation toward an approach that is individual and Spirit-based.  On the other hand, we have our Sunday School and institute manuals that embody a rigid formulaic teaching.  Personally, I think that both approaches have their benefits. But  if we are truly to achieve our prophesied potential, then we must tend toward the idea that one-size no longer fits all.

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