|| comments closed||trackbacks off|
|Are “Faithful” Mormons Christian?|
Mar. 29th, 2009 at 3:31 pm
Recently on Meridian Magazine, Colleen Harrison published a raw and open-hearted account of how her perceptions of what it means to be a faithful member of the Church actually led her away from Christ and — she believes — led her children away from the Church.Â The interesting thing about her description of her former views is, it is a list of activities and responsibilities that, I believe, is shared by probably the majority of active members of the Church:
She goes on to quote from her book He Did Deliver Me From Bondage:
Sister Harrison then chronicles her decision to join a 12-step recovery program. She doesn’t say exactly what for (addiction to food? extreme attachment to false ideals?), but she goes on to express the profound lessons she learned from the program:
The answer to the title of my post is a complicated one, because obviously there are differences in opinion of what it means to be a Christian. If you define the word Christian as meaning someone who accepts the prophets’ witness of Christ’s divinity and mission, then the answer is that most of us are Christian — we accept that witness — while others of us are either undecided or outright skeptical (see DKL) of Christ.
Sister Harrison’s account argues for a different definition of Christianity, one that involves surrendering all of one’s other concepts of salvation and redemption, whether careerism, perfect-housewifeism, excessive devotion to good ideas, or reliance on anything but the Spirit for understanding that can only come through the Spirit. By that definition, I’m not sure that most Mormons are Christian in practice, on a day-to-day basis. I think I personally fall short of that standard, which is why I found sister Harrison’s article so challenging and useful to me personally.
In my personal experience in the Church, I did not understand the atonement until I was in my teens, and sadly, I did not come to really understand the reality of Christ until my mission. It was many years after my mission, after having read the Book of Mormon more than 20 times over the years, that I was sitting and reading it on a DC Metro train and it dawned on me that Christ is the main character and the whole purpose of the Book of Mormon.Â If you accept the Book of Mormon’s divine origins, then you are painted into a corner on the issue of the divinity Christ, and all of the higher criticism of the Gospels — useful or not — cannot settle that central question for you.
In any case, I think sister Harrison’s article should be required reading for Church leaders wondering why members often lack enthusiasm for missionary work, and also for leaders wondering why so many of our youth are deciding to leave the Church.Â Her story, with its insistence upon experiential understanding of Christ, is the most important kind of story we can tell each other in the Church.