Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sanctification of Christ's Church

It seems to me that a vocal few love to criticize the LDS church for the very few changes in policy, ritual or organization over its long history. They seem to enjoy pointing to the issues of polygamy which hasn't been practiced in the church for over 100 years, and the church policy allowing blacks to hold the priesthood as examples that the church cannot possibly be Christ's true church. They also point to grammatical edits to the Book of Mormon, and minor modifications in ritual ordinances as similar evidence that the church caves to social pressure instead of being inspired by God.

First off, let me say that in many cases small modifications to church organization or this or that are not due to any mistake but due to changing needs and circumstances. With regard to the symbolism of ordinances, if the symbol changes meaning and usage in society, then ritual may be modified to preserve the original intent and meaning of the ordinance. Remember that it is the meaning of the ordinance that holds priority over the outward ritual. This would not apply to changing baptism from immersion to sprinkling because the symbol of being submerged in water and with Christ in His death and coming forth in a newness of life as Christ was resurrected has not changed meaning in our culture.

That said, while the LDS Church claims to be the only true church of Christ on the Earth with the fullness of Christ's doctrine instead of only parts of the truth, the church has never claimed that its leaders or the church itself is infallible. Remember that the Church is a living church. But, some want to make the LDS church into an institution that flip-flops at every gust of social pressure. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a few isolated instances, the church may have been given a preparatory, temporary but necessary law until God saw fit to inspire the Apostles and prophets of the Church to progress and perfect and sanctify the church when the church and the world was ready. But just because social challenges and criticisms may be part of the motivation for progress doesn't prove the church is not inspired. Instead this proves that the LDS church is a living church and it is undergoing its own process of sanctification.

Yes, I admit that many revelations are partly inspired by the social context of the time. The value of having a living prophet is that he can pray and ask God for instruction to meet the challenges of the day. The Bible says ask and ye shall receive. Well, without the challenges and tribulation, there wouldn't be a need to ask the question, and therefore no revelation. Some assume the LDS church claims its organization as it existed in the days of Joseph Smith or today is perfect and infallible. The LDS Church is not perfect even in its current form. The Doctrine and Covenants says that in some instances the church is under condemnation or not enjoying all the fullness of blessings that it could be. But as the church meets each challenge and looks to Christ for guidance, the church becomes more sanctified, perfected, and blessed. And this will be a continuing process within the Church of Christ into the Millennium as the process of sanctification will continue in the church its membership and its leadership.

D&C 84: 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—

So, what some call flip-flopping on a few issues, is really the church progressing and becoming more sanctified. Remember that Christs church is a living church and that Christ is a God of the living. Also, remember that John in revelations is shown the the saints saved in in the Millennium dressed in white robes and serving in the temple. When John asks who where all these people dressed in white robes, the angel tells John that they are the Saints of God who have come out of the tribulation and washed their robes white in the blood of Christ.

Rev. 7: 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

So, we see that the tribulation is necessary. The Saints of Christ are not completely perfect, the Church of Christ is not completely sanctified in its current state, and the tribulation that is promised as well as the power and grace of Christ's atonement serves to sanctify and perfect the Church like the purifying of silver in preparation for the Millennium. Also, I would also add that this is how any attempts by Satan to fight against the true church only end up serving to strengthen and further perfect it.

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