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I have not thought this through much yet, so help me out here.
First a preface.
I have a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, that he was a real person who came to earth, suffered in Gethsemane and in the crucifixion, and through his atonement and death we are made "square" with God, and that we are "saved by grace after all that we can do" and that, as a 40 year member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple worker, I don't think any aspect of these ideas can or should be altered in any way. We are talking about "salvation" here, in the sense of being forgiven from sin, and we are NOT talking about exaltation- which is a whole different level of "salvation" which is often confused with "being saved" as other Christians use the terminology. This IS the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church has the best paradigm I think, for mankind to follow. That means I consider that we are the church with the most truth about these matters than any other on earth today, and are most importantly a LIVING church because we can all receive personal revelation on a daily basis, and our leaders are inspired men, as shown by all the changes we are making which I highly endorse. In other words, I have a testimony that we are the most "true and living church" on the earth today.
On the other hand, I am personally interested in reaching out to the secular world and drawing parallels between our beliefs and the way the world sees things to help explain the gospel to secular people. We live in a secular world in which church is separate from the state- at least so far, and allegedly we still have freedom of religion, but the way things are going, that is another question beyond this thread.
But I think we need all the help we can get in converting people who are now "secular" to see us as normal people who have a church which is spiritual but also rational rather than seeing us as kooks or cultists, or people who "just believe" what they are told.
Now the question.
How does the notion of "being saved by grace after all that we can do" differ- except for the word "grace" which is a spiritual term- differ from the secular notion that, say a criminal, is forgiven by the law, after he has done all he can do by serving his sentence in prison, paid his fine, or, in short, doing whatever society feels is "all he can do" to go free and be forgiven?
The philosophy of Pragmatism eschews philosophical distinctions which make no practical "difference" in practice. In laymen's terms, one might say "it's six of one, half dozen of the other"- meaning it is virtually the "same thing"
Remember again we are talking only about our theology of forgiveness here, not exaltation, not even being "saved" technically- JUST the idea of what it takes for God to forgive us of our sins.
How does "saved by grace after all that we can do" differ from "freed by the law after all our penalties (prison sentences etc) are done"?
Could this analogy be used to explain our doctrine of the atonement to secular people who already of course understand the idea that once one has "done the crime AND served the time" he should be forgiven?
We have the ransom analogy and other analogies of the atonement- how does this view differ in a PRACTICAL sense, and could it also serve as a useful analogy?
I hesitate, somewhat (though probably not enough), to do this. (Fools rush in ... ) Though names, locales, other identifying details, and surrounding circumstances have been changed for dramatic purposes, real-life, flesh-and-blood people are involved, and perhaps this cuts through the flesh to the muscle, and through the muscle to the bone. Some time ago, I wrote a piece of "faction" ... factual fiction ... about a relationship in which I was involved once, and about the metamorphosis of a young lady for whom I once cared a great deal. Though we're no longer as young as we once were, and though she long since has moved on, on some level, I care for her still. I've tried hard to move on, too, and I'm not really very big on "pining" for anyone. Hopefully no one gets the idea that that's what this is about. I'm posting this in General Discussions in hopes that it attracts broader attention and wider traffic before the Mods decide to move it to Social Hall.
Love and marriage figure somewhere in here, of course. It is a romance, after all. I'm not necessarily interested in focusing more than in passing on those topics. Hopefully, we can also avoid turning this into yet another thread about gay marriage. I'm more interested in exploring broader themes of repentance, of forgiveness, of change, of metamorphosis, of what it means to recognize our identity as Children of God with a divine heritage and potential, and so on. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the first chapter/installment of Deanna: A Story of Love and Change.
What is reality, really? How does that relate to the present, to the past, and to the eternities?
Gonna riff on a few things in rapid succession... Be kind/gentle. An early draft.
Tacenda's comment last week about remembring/regretting something supposedly left undone as a teenager. To be told in the here and now that such a memory didn't match this reality. And something she had been kicking herself for...for years...either didn't happen...*or was erased* as if it hadn't. Something otherwise benign that I had done last week, but deeply regretted, because in hindsight I realized that I had done so a few weeks prematurely, and needed the objectd handed off for something else first. That object was somehow restored back to me as if i had never handed it over, and the person to whom I had handed it to insisted I had never done so. So when I looked to see where I had taken it from to hand it to him, the thing I had given away, was returned to me, like bread cast upon the water. Such an event is not a one-off. But has unfoled several times over the last several years. Mandela Effect. A glimpse of the scope of atonement/restoration? An entire nation moved (New Zealand) from where I disstinctly remember it being when I visited years ago. Can the present be rewritten, either iwthin this reality, or having it plastered over with a better reality of choices we wish a better version of us had made? With a better reality? Every wrong made right? Tears wiped away. The things we regretted doing erased? Yet retaining a memory of what our past *had* been, to keep us grateful/mindful of the slate wiped clean. Shortly after the Tacenda's comments, and my experience with the thing restored back to me, I watched a brief mindbending thing this week about the nature of reality, in line with other things related to Quantum phiysics/mechanics that I've been following over the years. There are those who say, in less detail than the thing I watched last week, that this reality is literally a simlulation created by advanced intelligences. Akin to the Matrix, but more benevolent. Part of my role in training organization was designing and developing interactive learning, including developing computer simulations. Map that with what we are taught of the core purpose of this life...to come here and learn and grow. The very concept of Valhalla, one of the nine Norse realms (we are taught the celestial contains 3, and others have asked about subdivision of the terrestial and telestial). If the lower kindgoms are fratals of the higher, a 9-fold division would ripple through as the result. Valhalla, a heaven where the valiant have the ability to get back up, refresh ourselves, and fight on (improving through additional challenges). Square that with the somewhat-common LDS belief that we won't be sitting around playing harps, but will have engaging thngs to do in the eternities. So if realities can be overmapped, what would happen if a critical mass of the righteous withdrew from a a society/reality? We are told woe unto a city when the righteous are driven out. Civilizations left behind sometimes implode, or collapse under their own weight. Sodom. Ancient Jerusalem. And Jerusalem again in 70 AD. What did Brigham mean when he said this earth/reality was created with chunks of such taken from other worlds? Is reality, including the past, present, and future, more elastic than we might have otherwise thought? What of what is promised, the ability to see lower realms. What is the practical purpose/function of having access to seeing such? Our elven ancestors were said, at least in Celtic lands, to have the means, at least at certain junctdures, to open and close doors to other realities. Brigadoon style. What do the transparent walls of the New Jerusalem really represent/consist of?