I visited my son this last week. He lives in an interesting place – Salt Lake City. As we walked through downtown Salt Lake City last night, we followed the crowd toward the Christmas lights. And soon, we found ourselves entering a gate that brought us onto the Temple grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
We were in awe of the display. The lights, the Nativity displays, the Temple lit up stretching into the black night sky, with the Angel Moroni standing as herald on the very pinnacle. The people were nice. Everyone was most polite.
But the whole while, I had the feeling that I was in a spiritual Disneyland. In fact, I said to Michael, the temple reminded me of Cinderella’s castle. It seemed like a set, a backdrop, it was not real. It’s a facade. As we walked around, we stopped at the various statues and read the stories of angels, visitations, baptisms and ordinations. And yet they all seemed so fairy-tale like, empty. There is no root in what God had been doing in the past.
From what I could see last night, the core premise of Mormonism is that for 1800 years the truth of God and the gospel were not available on earth… until God spoke to Joseph Smith. I can’t imagine God, who sent His Son, wouldn’t also maintain a witness on earth, as He promised.
What I saw was:
1) Devotion to a system of beliefs delivered by a prophet.
2) Commitment to a mission.
3) Sacrifice for a set of ideals.
There are many doctrines that the Mormon church teach that are not taught in the Bible. But beyond that, I was trying to understand what I was sensing as I walked those immaculate grounds. As I walked around, I had to ask, “What was missing?”
1) A devotion to the sacrificed Christ – he is merely an example, not one with whom we share communion.
2) A grasp of the central message of the Scriptures; the Bible – a message of grace alone.
3) A connection to the the salvation history of God through the ages.
As you celebrate this Christmas season, it is important to get beyond the lights and the form of religious celebration. We need to grasp the heart of the matter; a relationship with the Savior who came, became our redemption and is now delivering his message of the gospel of grace, through the church.
Only that is real.
What a great description: a spiritual Disneyland. My daughter, who rebelled against anything remotely legalistic growing up, married into Mormonism. So sad to see her walk away from the grace found in Jesus alone and into a system that is more about supporting the business and infrastructure of those at the top than the salvation of the followers.
Thanks for reading Jim. With you I will be praying for your daughter and son-in-law.
Shalom could very well be. My parents maegand to raise me in a total atheist bubble. I really DID grow up with no faith, no need for faith, no realization that faith existed as an important factor for other people.All the Jewish holidays etc. were celebrated but as fun social things that had pretty stories in them you know, like the Greek and Norse mythologies have really pretty stories, and like all the fairy tales I like so much.I was taught that there are funny people in the world who believe in gods, and magic, and superstition, and such and we don’t mock them because it’s rude .but I really did grow up without feeling that I was non-religious. I just WAS. the culture I accumulated was about books, and history, and music, and pop culture, and had nothing to do with what other people thought about fairies.
Thanks for sharing your background Dinesh. Can you tell me, are you exploring faith now? If so, what does that current journey look like?