Reconstructing Mormonism’s and Christianity’s Jesus/Christ

(This continues a series of posts about reconstructing the Mormon/Christian narrative. Please read this introductory post first, if you haven’t already, before continuing.)

Jesus is, of course, the center of Christianity, including Mormonism. In Mormonism, he is prominently identified in the name of the largest denomination of which I was a member, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everything revolves around Jesus.

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Notes on Christian Mysticism from a Seminar with Bernard McGinn

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Bernard McGinn

This weekend I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Fairfax, Virginia, to attend a seminar hosted by the Shalem Institute, an organization that fosters contemplative living and leadership. Their invited guest to present for their annual Gerald May Seminar was Bernard McGinn, who is Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. McGinn is an American Roman Catholic Theologian and is considered one of the world’s foremost expert scholars on the history of Christian mysticism. He has written seven volumes outlining the history of Christian mysticism, and may write two more, bringing the history up to the present time. This series is known as The Presence of God. Continue reading “Notes on Christian Mysticism from a Seminar with Bernard McGinn”

Reconstructing Mormonism’s “God the Father”

(This continues a series of posts about reconstructing the Mormon/Christian narrative. Please read this introductory post first, if you haven’t already, before continuing.)

The God we are referring to is often known in Mormonism (and more generally in Christianity) as “God the Father,” “Heavenly Father,” or just “the Father.” He is the highest God, and this God is referred to predominantly as a “he” or male figure, although it is also taught occasionally that he is married to a wife (“Heavenly Mother”) and they jointly occupy that highest position of God. As a man or couple, God is portrayed literally as a human being, with a human body of flesh and bones, albeit resurrected (immortal), glorified, and exalted. God is said to be the governor of the universe, and the father of humanity. Humans are made in the image of God, are God’s literal offspring, which is why we too have a human body of flesh and bones. God is a personal being, who hears and answers prayers. It is taught that our goal in life is to become like God the Father, to be a God and live in heaven for eternity. We do this by following God’s commandments, his laws.

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Is the Truth Really Found “Within”?

Some Mormons, other Christians, and perhaps people generally, are uncomfortable with the idea that the truth is found within us. They might consider this to be incompatible with the gospel, navel-gazing, narcissism, and selfishness. But I think the whole purpose and goal of the Christian gospel, and of spirituality more generally, is to help us discover that Truth is at the core of our being, which is our divine nature in God, in Reality. This is beyond all that is “selfish” in us, reaching the ground of who and what we really are. Continue reading “Is the Truth Really Found “Within”?”

What is the Second Coming?

One of the most profound realizations I’ve had in recent years is that the Second Coming is something that we can effect through our “repentance” (metanoia = a change of mind, or conscious perception of the world).

I don’t mean to say that we bring it about directly, because there is a real element of Grace involved (ego is absent, so “we” end up not “doing” anything in the end), but it is not something that we wait around for as an event in an indefinite future. We can do something now (“works,” practices, service), which can reveal Heaven on Earth, and which eventually reveals the Christ. This has been known in the past, but we’ve largely forgotten it in our modern culture. Continue reading “What is the Second Coming?”

Mary Magdalene (2018) and her Witness of Christ and the Kingdom

A few days ago I had the opportunity to see the film Mary Magdalene (2018), which is a biblical drama of the ministry of Jesus, taking interest in the person of Mary Magdalene, as she may have seen it from her point of view. It depicts how she resists the status quo of her family and traditional society, how she is looking for deeper meaning in her life, and how she comes to be a follower of Jesus.

It’s a beautiful film, directed by Garth Davis, starring Rooney Mara as Mary and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. The screenplay is written by Philippa Goslett and Helen Edmundson. I particularly liked one of the closing scenes where Mary has just witnessed the resurrected Christ and comes to tell the other apostles. I have included the script of this scene below. I think it has deep insight, which I’ll comment on below.

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Four Types or Stages of Resurrection

It seems to me that there are at least four types of resurrection, or at least four stages of the process of being resurrected, or events that could be considered resurrection. But first, this is according to the understanding of resurrection that I have outlined in previous posts, so if you aren’t familiar with those please take a look. In short, the resurrection is not something that happens to us after biological death, rejoining our dead physical body back to our ego “spirit,” as most of Christianity has come to believe, but rather it is a falling away of the ego psychological “self” and an awakening to the true Self or true Life within us and all things. Continue reading “Four Types or Stages of Resurrection”