Monday, February 18, 2013

"Social Justice" at Church

Yes, I rabble-roused again in High Priests Group yesterday. I was not teaching, but listening patiently to the lesson on life-long conversion (Lesson 3 in Lorenzo Snow, Presidents of the Church Manual) and the discussion was on being responsible for your own testimony. Which was fine. But then one of my buddies pipes up with "So, no 'Social Justice' here with equal results for everybody."

It required response. As diplomatically and soft-spoken as I could, I said, "I detect a slight political message in my friend ____'s comment. Can I just say that "Social Justice" does not mean equal results, it means EQUAL OPPORTUNITY!" (I didn't use caps or yell in the class, that's just for the benefit of the readers here. I went on using my Jedi lawyer tricks (and hoping for the Spirit) to work this back into the lesson and on subject with a discussion of how we of course had to be responsible for our own testimony, but we can't do it alone. We are a community of believers to support each other and we need this community to take the message out to those who have never had an opportunity to hear the message to have their own testimony.

"How can they learn except a preacher be sent?" I admitted I was roughly paraphrasing Isaiah. Checking later, I was roughly paraphrasing Paul in Romans but he connects right back into Isaiah thusly:
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:14-15 referencing Isaiah 52:7.
[Which reminds me out of nowhere that an old friend of the family gave me a white shirt for my mission with that scripture from Isaiah embroidered on the tail presumably to keep tucked in to my pants. Being a little confused about whether it was my feet or my backside that was beautiful upon the mountain, I principally used that shirt as my "lucky" baptism shirt when I went into the waters with someone. Once again demonstrating that religious belief often mixes with folk or private lore for an odd mix of individualized practices.]

The instructor got back to the lesson even diverging in support of it to the statement of the Prophet Joseph that the gospel and our witness is simple. From the Introduction to "Our Heritage" he referenced:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
The reference there is to History of the Church, 3:30. Original Source, Elder's Journal, July 1838, p. 44, Joseph Smith Papers Project. [wow! Digital provenance at your fingertips!] which cites the source this way:
The fundamental principles of  our religion is the testimony of the apostles  and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that  he died, was buried, and rose again the third  day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all  other things are only appendages to these,  which pertain to our religion.
But in connection with these, we believe in  the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith,  the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according  to the will of God, the restoration of the  house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth. 
After the lesson, I went and apologized to my friend for being a little "fiesty." His response was that if that was "feisty" he wasn't worried about it.

Later that evening I was telling this story to Anonymous D who responded, very appropriately, that God's gift of salvation is a free gift for all. He wants us all to be like him. We only have to choose to take advantage of it and follow Him with all the basic principles of the Gospel.

I noted that was in line with the God's own stated purpose:
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Moses 1:39.
He doesn't seem to make distinctions among us. His work and glory are available to all and I'm not going to question his judgments. We all seem to keep doing it down here, though . . . .

[note to self: repent, repent, repent]


  1. I should also point out that Anonymous D did go on a bit about how the Lord does actually want us to be "equal" in economic terms - no dividing into classes - no rich, no poor - and it's all over the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him on these topics.

  2. I am looking forward to Anonymous D's post. I do think that Christ wants us to all have the opportunities, but no one person should have their "result" mean that thousands of people are denied a right to basic necessities.

  3. I'm also thinking about equality of reward as well. Especially in light of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. They agree to a penny regardless of the time spent laboring. In our case the Lord has promised all that he has, apparently he has no problem sharing even when He and His Son did all the real labor, the reward for all is the same, all that He has. Latter-Day Saints have been as uncomfortable with that concept as were the laborers in the parable, which, in light of the Gospel is really interesting. After Elder Holland spoke about just this parable in conference I heard it briefly discussed in quorum meetings and then swept under the rug. It was too drastic, too unjust.
    Anonymous D

  4. Nah, you don't need to repent. Don't be so hard on yourself. I really enjoy this site, and the way you write. I agree with you politically on almost everything and agree with you about religion and the church. I am registered Independent, but lean a little left.
    Thanks for the work you put in to this site. Everyone needs to look at things from a different perspective and try to have an open mind, but unfortunately very few do. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks! But, everybody has to repent. 1 John 1:8. You're right though that I probably don't have to repent for my politics.


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