Sunday, June 12, 2016

I See... How to Make the Old Testament Relevant, Part II

One of the critical challenges of the Old Testament is that it is... well... old. Initially, as we view it through our modern, rational, logical, and somewhat secular eyes, it is too easy to see only crazy stories of really old people who lived a long time ago in a faraway land.

Ironically it finds relevance today, however, in how Latter-day Saints should be assessing the past. The Mormon Third Eye believes that the no. 2 challenge to latter-day testimonies are deep and lingering concerns members harbor about unsavory elements of recent church history since the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith (No. 1 is pornography and it's destructive effects on the eternal family).

Think about it for a moment. What do concerns swirling around multiple accounts of the First Vision, the process of translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy, imposition of the ban on African-American males holding the priesthood, and almost every other controversial gospel topic have in common? The fact is that the ground truth of every one of these historical narratives involves a real or perceived error of judgment carried out by a church leader(s).

Somewhere along the way we lost our way and bought into a collective assumption that our ecclesiastical leaders are infallible, when in fact, like all of us, they fall prey to the prevailing bias of their era and may make errors in judgment. So, if our leaders make mistakes, how can we trust them? Should we trust them?

This is where the Old Testament can save us if we want it to. The Old Testament is fundamentally a compendium of stories about imperfect people who nonetheless served as tools in the hand of the Lord to bring about His great work. Has has a habit of working with imperfect people. Adam and Eve fall, Noah gets drunk, Abraham lies, Sarah is jealous, both Jacob and Joseph deceive, David commits adultery, and Jonah runs from God. Yet we don't talk about their problems very much because the gospel teaches us to look for the best in people and forgive others that we may be forgiven ourselves.

While I cannot deny mistakes may have been made then and now, neither can I deny the whisperings of the spirit to me on these matters: that if I am to be and act Christ-like, I will accept the inspired offerings of all ordained church leaders and overlook their faults. I will embrace the path of salvation they have laid out for us and find joy in accepting and living their counsel. It makes me happy.

This is the message of the Old Testament.

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