Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

There are not enough churches

I was at work the other day talking with my coworker.  Somehow the conversation turned to how many different churches there were.  It is true that in our world there are very many churches.  If we look at the Christian denominations alone there are about 38000.  In the world there are many more religions and they are connected in various ways through current affiliation or through history to other religions.  It appears that there are 19 major religions throughout the world of which Christianity is the largest making up about 1/3 of religious people in the world.    
My friend pointed out that there are lots of concerns and sometimes complaints about all the different churches.  Some people think there are too many churches.  This is where he took off on an unanticipated tangent.  He pointed out that in the Christian religions, and maybe others, the basis of the church is the home.  That is where the majority or religious teaching occurs through instruction as well as by example, typically of the parents.  Church attendance is actually a support to the teachings in the family.  Without the family teaching and supporting religion in the home there would not be churches he suggested. 
His view ultimately was that there were not enough churches in the world because every home needed to be a church in and of itself.  Over the whole earth that would make an estimated one billion churches.  I was intrigued by my friend's thoughts on the matter and have thought about them since our discussion. 
His assertion that the family is the center of the church (and he further asserted the basic unit of the country) agrees with the LDS religious teachings and the emphasis is properly put on religious teachings in the home.  My concern comes when I considered trying to unify so many teachings in so many different homes.  Each home surely teaches, represents and complys with religious teachings differently.  It consistent parental effort to to unify one home religiously.  Unifying several homes would be difficult.   If every home were left to itself with no direction or no authority from outside the home it would be easy to imagine a chaotic shizm in just about every possible doctrine and belief. Would any beliefs remain common among any sizable groups in such circumstances?  Don't they all need some connection to authoritive doctrine and teachings? 

I was thinking about the various religions and how each religious group often does little things that push away other groups and alienate themselves from others.  That certainly creates a feeling that we have unreconcilable differences.  On the edges of most if not all religious groups there are those who will allow their prejudices and/or feelings of superiority to lead to verble clashes and even violence.  I certainly would not want these negative aspects from history, and recognizable in current world situations, to increase by encouraging every home to be their own religion without authoritive direction from God.   

However; my frienid certainly is right that the family needs to be a place where religious observance is paramount, safe, and where religion can be peacefully taught and lived.  Where questions can be asked without embarrasment and improvement can be made without old ties holding us back.  I conclude that religion is centered in the home and attending church is an attempt to be and have support from a wider community of people with similar beliefs.  We do manage to create a sort of unity within many or most churches today.  It is when people view themselves as different from each other in religion that we have difficulty with unity--though there are certainly exceptions and great successes in this matter from time to time.

Perhaps it would help if we all would see that we come from the same God, that our Heavenly Father is the one that put us here within His plan for us.  Accepting we come from one God might lead us to find His foundational truths that are available now on this earth.  [If we assume he created all these different belief systems then he becomes the author of the discord that he frequently warns and condemns in his scriptures and through his prophets.]  So clearly The Truth should trump what we then must call traditions of our culture, our families or to whatever we have given our allegence.  Recognizing the one true God's hand today and our true relationship to him and thus each other might humbly enable us to join together and unify.  It seems too overwhelming and implausable until the Millenium, doesn't it? 

President Howard W. Hunter said in Oct. Conference 1991:
"In the message of the gospel, the entire human race is one family descended from a single God. All men and women have not only a physical lineage leading back to Adam and Eve, their first earthly parents, but also a spiritual heritage leading back to God the Eternal Father. Thus, all persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God.

"It is in understanding and accepting this universal fatherhood of God that all human beings can best appreciate God’s concern for them and their relationship to each other. This is a message of life and love that strikes squarely against all stifling traditions based on race, language, economic or political standing, educational rank, or cultural background, for we are all of the same spiritual descent. We have a divine pedigree; every person is a spiritual child of God."

In that talk he quoted Brigham Young as saying:  “For me, the plan of salvation must … circumscribe [all] the knowledge that is upon the face of the earth, or it is not from God. Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil: it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity; it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:148.)

President Hunter further said:
"In the gospel view, no man is alien. No one is to be denied. There is no underlying excuse for smugness, arrogance, or pride. Openly scorning the pettiness and intolerance of rival religious groups, the Prophet Joseph Smith said in an editorial: 'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, ‘according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,’ or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India.' (History of the Church, 4:595–96.)

"Mormonism, so-called, is a world religion, not simply because its members are now found throughout the world, but chiefly because it has a comprehensive and inclusive message based upon the acceptance of all truth, restored to meet the needs of all mankind.

"In our humble efforts to build brotherhood and to teach revealed truth, we say to the people of the world what President George Albert Smith so lovingly suggested: 'We have come not to take away from you the truth and virtue you possess. We have come not to find fault with you nor to criticize you. We have not come here to berate you because of things you have not done; but we have come here as your brethren … and to say to you: ‘Keep all the good that you have, and let us bring to you more good, in order that you may be happier and in order that you may be prepared to enter into the presence of our Heavenly Father.’” (Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1948, pp. 12–13.)

Maybe the peace that we desire in the world starts in the families and then to the churches and on to communities and eventually the world.  So if we could unite our families in belief and practice then eventually we could move that to the rest of the world.  That would change our world and life as we know it.  There is a calmness, a peace, a common hope among groups that binds them together in faith and practice.  Every family could benefit from that as could our world.

Maybe the word church, as we understand it in our culture and times, is a bit devisive.  Maybe 'every home a chapel' [rather than every home a church] would better communicate that each home could be a sacred and peaceful place for family members to dwell and to learn the values that will spread from each home into the surrounding world.

L.Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Appostles

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan.

We will use all of the resources we have to encourage greater harmony, greater love, and greater influence in the Lord’s special designated unit—the family.

We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes.

We hope that by flooding the Church with family-oriented media, members of the Church will be assisted and encouraged to build stronger and better families. We hope it will cause a conscious and sustained effort in building an eternal family unit. An abundance of Church materials will be available for you from which to pick and choose useful ideas. At least by seeing family issues mentioned so often, we all will be reminded to focus our attention on the most important organization the Lord has established here on earth.

May it be our build a gospel-centered home, a safe harbor from the storms of the adversary. Let us again remember the promises and instructions from the Lord to His children:
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
“Light and truth forsake that evil one. …
“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”(D&C 93:36–37, 39–40)

1 comment:

  1. yay for families!! it is great to read about the power of families and all these great family quotes. i also liked how you talked about the power of looking for similarities between ourselves and others as opposed to looking at the differences (in beliefs, values, etc.). finding commonalities is a super unifying force and i wish the world in general would take that view more often than looking for differences.


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