Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sam Brown's Basic Principles and the Temple - The Body of Christ

There is an excellent review of Dr. Brown's book by George Handley at Patheos. I'm right there with George in his interpretation and recommendation. This is not so much a book review of Samuel Morris Brown's First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple (Maxwell Institute, BYU, Provo, 2014), as it is a thematic introspection taking off from his ideas. Hopefully with the Holy Spirit, and a sharing with you, the reader.

The basic principles of the Gospel - Faith, Repentance, Baptism and other ordinances, and the Holy Ghost - all enduring to the end are very important to me. I think they are a process of a lifetime. And here we have Sam taking those basic principle pretty deep in his linking to the Temple and the idea I hadn't really thought about so profoundly how those principles and ordinances are not accomplished just individually but as a people. We need each other. And that stretches over families, generations, congregations, priesthoods, and a living Faith evidenced through our choices and actions in Hope that our meager efforts will accomplish good and affirm the Faith we strive for.

Let me explain it this way. A couple of weeks ago, the Temple workers on my shift were sharing a scripture (the one night I happened to forget my reading glasses) with the admonishment not to discuss, just think about it. I'll ask the same of you. Here it is from Paul's letter to the Hebrews in which the Temple features prominent:
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
 21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
And then, of course, it goes on to Chapter 11, the great New Testament treatise on Faith through the examples of the Fathers, Mothers, and Prophets of old who relied on Faith as a promise of Salvation yet to come in Christ.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
It was their efforts in their trials and tribulations that evidenced the Faith requisite for God to award them with their own righteous desires seen afar off.

I never made the connection before, but the chapter ends with this:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
There it is, the welding link between heaven and earth, past, present, and future, the Fathers, the Mothers, the Children, and the Priesthoods. The Faith of a people united in Temple observance and ordinances. Check out Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128 again. And while you're at it, Section 138.

And don't miss Sam Brown's discussion of the Holy Ghost and mental illness. There are times when our situations in this life are not ideal and can even be toxic. We need to seek the better country out of broken families that can't be healed in this life, and from congregations that sometimes cause more pain in loneliness than the comfort and joy we seek in the far-off country. And we need to help and support each other in the life-long quest of Faith to create what we Hope for and is not seen.

The Body of Christ. It is us.

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