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"I Come Not to Destroy, But to Fulfill"


DonBradley

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"I come not to destroy, but to fulfill."

The original context of this quote is, of course, Jesus' teachings on the Law of Moses in the Sermon at the Temple. But I am increasingly struck with its wisdom, beauty, and limitless possibility for application.

Often, I think, we set ourselves at odds with others, for instance those of other faiths, forgetting that the real purpose of the restoration is to fulfill the very prophecies and aspirations these other faiths hope for. Other faiths don't aspire to the undermining of human welfare, the destruction of spirituality, the delay of Millennial conditions, and the damnation of souls. To the contrary! They share these aspirations with us, usually differing (at most) on how salvation, righteousness, spirituality, human improvement, and the Millennium are to be brought about. 'Even' secularists, of whom I was one, overwhelmingly share the aspiration for a world in which people are freer, more moral, less subject to needless suffering, and happier. We differ with them primarily (though certainly not exclusively) in adding to what they aspire to, rather than taking away from it. As we build Zion, we will fulfill the many good hopes of both others religionists and secularists, correct their relatively few misguided aspirations, and, as true Mormons in Joseph Smith's definition, add more good than they imagined there was to be had.

President Hinckley and other Church leaders have said that we don't want to take away any of the truths others have, only to add to what they have. But I wonder how often we hold attitudes toward other faiths and their adherents, and other seekers of truth, or engage in approaches to them that are is contrary to this ideal. "Bible bashing," for instance, seems to assume that the Restoration is on the same level as other denominations and fighting them in a zero-sum game, when, in fact, the Restoration ought to be lifted up high, elevated above contention where it can draw seekers to it by its fulfillment of their aspirations from the Bible, the light of Christ, and the good teachings of their philosophies and faiths.

I think Joseph Fielding McConkie's approach to testifying of the Restoration and challenging others to learn for themselves, rather than arguing, (an approach which has been absorbed into the missionary program) helps to achieve this. But I suspect we overlook many ways to treat the Restoration as a fulfillment of what our non-LDS Christian (and non-Christian) brothers and sisters anticipate and hope for.

What if we consistently both thought of and treated the Restoration, not as the competition for other faiths and the hopes of human beings generally, but as their culmination, and remembered that we, like our Master, come not to destroy but to fulfill?

How do we do this already?

How can we do it more and better?

I'm open to constructive criticism on these thoughts, or even being told I'm offbase. But I really do think there is a profound principle in this teaching in 3 Nephi 12 that constitutes a partial, but vital, mission statement both for the Savior and for his church, and that in this way as in so many others we ought to take him as our exemplar.

Don

Don

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President Hinckley and other Church leaders have said that we don't want to take away any of the truths others have, only to add to what they have. But I wonder how often we hold attitudes toward other faiths and their adherents, and other seekers of truth, or engage in approaches to them that are is contrary to this ideal. "Bible bashing," for instance, seems to assume that the Restoration is on the same level as other denominations and fighting them in a zero-sum game, when, in fact, the Restoration ought to be lifted up high, elevated above contention where it can draw seekers to it by its fulfillment of their aspirations from the Bible, the light of Christ, and the good teachings of their philosophies and faiths.

I don't think the Lord had ecumenism in mind at all, Matthew 10:34.

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I don't think the Lord had ecumenism in mind at all, Matthew 10:34.

Hi Space,

I don't think he did have ecumenismi in mind, nor would I describe what I'm talking about as ecumenism. Rather, I'm suggesting there's a broader principle underlying Christ's words in Matthew 5 / 3 Nephi 12 and am trying to understand what that principle is and how it might apply to us. Any thoughts on that?

As for the Prince of Peace who taught that peacemakers were the children of God, and that one should to turn the other cheek, that one should love one's enemy, that one should reconcile with others before attempting to reconcile with God, that contention is of the devil, that he that lives by the sword shall die by the sword, and the like saying he didn't come to bring peace but a sword, I feel reasonably confident in saying that the latter, anomalous statement ought to be interpreted in light of the body of his teachings, rather than providing the basis for understanding the rest of the Gospel. So far as I'm able to discern, despite the hyperbole (cf. "pluck out your eye") Jesus did come to bring peace, but intended to say that his disciples should follow him even if it set their loved ones against them. Such a statement acknowledging descriptively that others may turn against us as we follow him would in no way excuse us from the the responsibilities of following him by trying to make peace, settle our differences with our adversaries, reconcile with others before we try to come to him, avoid contention, be one....

My take.

Don

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Amen, Don.

I made a good mate on my mission who had been raised Jewish but who had converted to Christianity whilst at uni through the example and witness of some beautiful Evangelical teammates. It was only 12 years later that, in fulfilment of a dream he had had shortly after developing faith in the Saviour, he had met LDS missionaries and embraced the Restoration. He said it grieved him when he heard negative things about other Christian churches because he knew that, in his personal case, he could never have made the huge jump from Jew to Latter-day Saint. He needed first just to come to Christ, and that work was performed by our fellow Christians.

The analogy he used was that becoming a Christian was the spiritual equivalent of going from being deaf to hearing. Becoming a Latter-day Saint was the spiritual equivalent of going from hearing an AM transistor radio to hearing a CD played through a five-channel Dolby surround-sound stereo. That sounds like fulfilment to me, not destruction.

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The analogy he used was that becoming a Christian was the spiritual equivalent of going from being deaf to hearing. Becoming a Latter-day Saint was the spiritual equivalent of going from hearing an AM transistor radio to hearing a CD played through a five-channel Dolby surround-sound stereo. That sounds like fulfilment to me, not destruction.

Bingo.

That reminds me of several things:

First, I'm reminded of something an Institute teacher, now which Church Curriculum, told me: that the Church has generally only grown rapidly in areas that are already Christianized. In other words, the non-LDS churches in these areas pave the way for a greater fulness of the Gospel.

Second, it makes me think of Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest and of my dad, a convert from Catholicism and a very good LDS Gospel scholar in his own right, telling me that the other day that most of what he knows about the Gospel he learned in his Catholic upbringing. It's possible that this is hyperbole, but he didn't seem to think so as he said it.

And, third, it also reminds me of this:

D&C 35:

3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work.

4 Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah which should come, and thou knewest it not.

5 Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost;

6 But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.

The Lord himself framed Sidney's work as a non-LDS minister as something fulfilled, not destroyed, by the Restoration. Is there any reason to believe this was unique in this dispensation--that only Sidney Rigdon planted seeds in a traditional Christian denomination that have grown up in the Restoration? If not, why should we be quick to frame other religionists as opponents and their ideals that the Restoration shares and can further advance as something to be overcome, rather than to be fulfilled?

Thanks, HT!

Don

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I wonder what audience you have in mind with these thoughts; members of the church as a whole or regular posters at this site.

If the intent of the postings is for introspection, I'd suggest members of the church consider an old friend of mine's saying "The only thing Mormon's have to repent of is their own self righteousness". And that regular posters here beat their swords into plowshares.

Pride is our biggest challenge.

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I wonder what audience you have in mind with these thoughts; members of the church as a whole or regular posters at this site.

If the intent of the postings is for introspection, I'd suggest members of the church consider an old friend of mine's saying "The only thing Mormon's have to repent of is their own self righteousness". And that regular posters here beat their swords into plowshares.

Pride is our biggest challenge.

"The sons of Ephraim are wild and uncultivated, unruly, ungovernable. The spirit in them is turbulent and resolute. ...they are... bearing the spirit of rule and dictation, to go forth from conquering to conquer." Brigham Young JOD vol 10, 188

In some ways, these attributes are strengths that allow us to overcome hardships and endure tribulation faithfully, as Pres. Young said. Strengths can be downfalls, though, and an unconquerable spirit is prone to stiffneckedness as it refuses to be governed. Clearly Pres. Benson also saw this when he penned "Beware of Pride" and called us to submit ourselves to the Spirit.

Elevating ourselves above our brethren or condemning then for what they yet lack is completely at odds with the governing principles of the priesthood which are persuasion, longsuffering and love unfeigned.

MnG, daughter of Ephraim who still occasionally struggles to let herself be governed

P.S. "Even though the special gift of the priesthood is the discerning of spirits, 'No person through the discerning of spirits can bring a charge against another...'." Nibley quoting Brigham Young (Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints p.227)

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I don't think he did have ecumenismi in mind, nor would I describe what I'm talking about as ecumenism. Rather, I'm suggesting there's a broader principle underlying Christ's words in Matthew 5 / 3 Nephi 12 and am trying to understand what that principle is and how it might apply to us. Any thoughts on that?

I think it's only one aspect of the gospel to which many people cling to the exclusion of all else. Jesus taught us and gave us example of the art of "bashing".

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Jesus taught us and gave us example of the art of "bashing".

What's interesting is that the people He's always "bashing" are the Pharisees and Scribes, legalistic minded leaders of the church. It was lepers he healed, beggars to whom he gave sight, and an adultress to whom He frankly showed mercy. It was to those who knew better that he reserved His sharpest rebukes.

To me, this means that the when reproof is required by prompting of the Holy Ghost (D&D 121) it is generally going to be among those who are leaders in the kingdom - those who've made covenants and been consecrated to be about their Father's business. Not to those who largely "Know not what they do". In such cases Paul provides the best advice when he writes "if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness."

To quote Him directly, "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

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What's interesting is that the people He's always "bashing" are the Pharisees and Scribes, legalistic minded leaders of the church. It was lepers he healed, beggars to whom he gave sight, and an adultress to whom He frankly showed mercy. It was to those who knew better that he reserved His sharpest rebukes.

To me, this means that the when reproof is required by prompting of the Holy Ghost (D&D 121) it is generally going to be among those who are leaders in the kingdom - those who've made covenants and been consecrated to be about their Father's business. Not to those who largely "Know not what they do". In such cases Paul provides the best advice when he writes "if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness."

To quote Him directly, "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

Excellent thoughts!

It seems to me that there is much that could be justified from the New Testament. Didn't Jesus tell Peter to bring a sword to Gethsemane? Didn't he curse a living thing? Didn't he "call people names"--at least "fool"? Didn't he compare another "race" so to speak (Gentiles) to dogs?

But are these things the overall tenor of his teaching and example? Or are they anomalous and contextual? And are they what the most Christlike people we know do?

Thanks, MNG,

Don

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I think you've stated it beautifully. I am part of this gospel and church precisely because it affords for the peace and salvation of all of God's children. The following is a quote I have in my Signature on another lds website.

"Mormonism" is a system which . . . if carried out . . . [will] fulfill the sayings of the Prophets, both ancient and modern, put down all wickedness, abuse, proscription, misrule, oppression, ignorance, darkness, and tyranny, and restore mankind to righteousness, truth, liberty, law, and government, in which the Lord's will [shall] be done on the earth as it is in heaven. That is what "Mormonism" will do, when carried out . . . (JD 1:297-309).

I also found some cool stuff that Brigham Young said and as provided on lds.org.

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I'm in agreement Don.

Last Sunday we had a lesson about the power of the priesthood. The remark was made that "we don't have a monopoly on truth, but we do have a monopoly on authority." We must recognize the beauty in other faiths.

My favorite of Krister Stendahl's 3 rules of interfaith dialogue is the instruction to leave room for "holy envy" of other faiths.

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I'm in agreement Don.

Last Sunday we had a lesson about the power of the priesthood. The remark was made that "we don't have a monopoly on truth, but we do have a monopoly on authority." We must recognize the beauty in other faiths.

Yes, awesome! I'd prefer the Don Bradley Translation revision ;-), to lay the stress differently: "We have a monopoly on authority, but we don't have a monopoly on truth."

My favorite of Krister Stendahl's 3 rules of interfaith dialogue is the instruction to leave room for "holy envy" of other faiths.

I love that idea. That we can't always, with integrity, just absorb what others have, but we can appreciate, admire, and wish others Godspeed in carrying forward the unique strengths with which they've been blessed!

Thanks, Sargon.

Don

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WOW, Maidservant! Yes, you clearly have the spirit of what I meant, and have had it since long before me! I love the quotes you've collected, especially in conjunction. The whole here is greater than the sum of its parts!

"Mormonism" is a system which . . . if carried out . . . [will] fulfill the sayings of the Prophets, both ancient and modern, put down all wickedness, abuse, proscription, misrule, oppression, ignorance, darkness, and tyranny, and restore mankind to righteousness, truth, liberty, law, and government, in which the Lord's will [shall] be done on the earth as it is in heaven. That is what "Mormonism" will do, when carried out . . . (JD 1:297-309).

This is simply amazing, and precisely the direction I was thinking in. 8-)

I'm saving this whole post.

Thanks again! And please feel free to chime in further if you feel so inclined. :P

Don

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OK, I guess I should have mentioned the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Sermon at the Temple. The wording is basically the same.

Don

As a side comment, Welch's work on comparing the Sermon on the Mount and at the Temple is fascinating; if you haven't had a chance to read up on it, it's well worth the time and effort.
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As a side comment, Welch's work on comparing the Sermon on the Mount and at the Temple is fascinating; if you haven't had a chance to read up on it, it's well worth the time and effort.

Hi Cal,

I read it, or a significant part of it, way back, but hadn't thought of it in a good while. I could certainly stand to refresh my memory and explore more deeply, particularly now that I'm so impressed with the differences in the Sermon at the Temple and very, very open to the thesis I recall Welch advancing that the sermon is really, in context as well as in location, a temple text.

Thanks for the reminder. :P

Don

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