Roy...you make a great point...and taking it back to that article is a good way to clarify what we are talking about. Because I think we got off track with how some people "feel" or interpret what was said...not what was really said.
And, for the most part, I agree that how you framed it all does seem
to be what he is talking about. At first glance, perhaps that is the message.
But honestly...if we try hard to listen from our point of view at what he could really be saying about "gospel" then I think we can avoid the trap of just assuming that church and gospel are the same and everyone at church believes that. Because I think that is when we get into trouble because it doesn't make sense to us.
Why would he use the word "gospel" if he was meaning "church"? Don't you think there is a very good reason different words are used? I totally cling to that. If he wanted them to be the same, he should have used the same...but he didn't...so I have my view and feel totally honest I am seeking the teachings of an apostle.
He is stating:
It is a distinctive way of life, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members.
In my opinion, this is where people get tripped up. They start making sweeping statements of how it "feels" at church there is pressure to conform and it "seems" like there is no wiggle room or option. To go further, asking for opinions from leaders compounds the problem, because then in one converstaion (limited by language to expound deep ideas) you are getting someone at church to sum up an idea in words...and then we walk away from the bishop's office saying..."the church says that". And that isn't the "gospel"...it isn't even the whole "church"...it is one volunteer dude trying his best in one conversation to express one set of ideas in one context being discussed. Yet...we walk away with limited ideas and lazily say..."that is what the church teaches so I want to make no further effort to reconcile it."
And we shift the blame from our spiritual struggle internally with God to the opinions of others at church...we want their validation and when we don't get it...we think there is no other way to resolve it.
The ultimate issue is how people are placing limitations on themselves, with assumptions, feelings, and how things "seem" to be in the church. I truly believe there are fewer limitations to being mormon than many people think. I think people get caught up in one or two issues...which may be church culture and tradition and limited application of teachings...and don't get to a Stage 5 conjunctive faith that allows for paradox and layers of truth and variation in experience and application of truly Christ-taught principles. Instead...they are talking about coffee and home teaching and family home evening.
But the gospel...is about internalizing principles. God does not want us to be commanded in all things. He wants us to understand the true principles and live it best we can, repenting when we screw up. We cannot figure it out alone, we go to church to get support and learning and others' perspectives so we can get taught and supported. But ultimately it is how we live it that matters. And others are doing that too.
That all being said...I believe we get ourselves trapped in the snares of the evil one when we start to think church = gospel, and when we start thinking there is no place in the church for us because everyone else is so perfect and I can't live that way. The reality is...there is an orchestra, a choir, or whatever analogy you want to use to show there are many differences in the church on specific things
So...while the church culture may be strict, and just take DHO with what he said, and assume he means there is only one way...the gospel culture is to know the spirit of the laws, the principles behind teachings, and apply them to life with honesty and sincerity and love, and see that there is a right way and wrong way for our heart to turn to church commandments.
I truly believe that if one dude decides he will drink coffee, but is the salt of the earth loving and serving and kind and gentle and goes to church and does whatever he is asked to do...the ward members will fully accept him, even if he gets judged by some and he knows how to handle that and love others...the culture at church is that people who are good people are welcomed and accepted. Even if a bishop denies that dude a TR, but he doesn't care, he is focused on being a loving servant of God and love everyone he comes in contact with, and if the bishop challenges him to stop drinking coffee...but he says he feels ok where he is at...he may not have certain callings, he may not have a TR, but...people will be ok with him when they know his heart is good...they just disagree with his practice of drinking coffee.
That man can decide to be offended by not being a bishop. Or he could be offended by not being able to go to the temple and see his kids married. He may be offended the bishop is telling him he is wrong.
If those offenses are enough for him to just give in and stop drinking coffee to avoid those things...great. If not...and he doesn't see a need to...then the culture of the gospel is that he will be a mormon and people will know him for who he is...not one or two differences in how he lives.
Do you not think this happens all the time at church?? It does.
Roy wrote: ↑
29 May 2017, 08:33
A culture where we do not schedule anything on Monday. A culture where immodest dress is eschewed.
Or what about things like read scriptures daily, go to 3 hours of church, pray morning and night, attend seminary...the list goes on and on. And...some people don't do all of those things, do they? How many testimonies are about people trying to recommit to reading the scriptures daily as a family??? Are they perfect? No. Should they be doing this, as DHO said to have standard practices members follow? Yes. When they don't do it perfectly do they get literally shunned? No (I'm not saying there isn't peer pressure...but who cares what others say or judge us by...we ALL do this in the church).
THere are way way way too many things we could all possibly do that could be included in a church culture that it is literally impossible to do it all.
So...everyone does best they can. They pick and choose the best ones and give on some they feel are not as important as other things. They feel guilt they can't do more...and then they go to church and remind themselves that Christ says they can't do it all and cut themselves slack.
It is an ongoing part of church and pushing ourselves to be better while accepting we will never be perfect.
SD summed it up for me by answering the question I posed to him...
Some idiot named Heber13 wrote:With your definitions of the gospel, and your experiences with what GAs would say, how would they respond if I told them I have happiness and am comfortable that I am on the path to eternal happiness and have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as I am now? I have NEVER been happier! I promise I am telling the truth. So what would a GA tell me?
I can only speculate as I'm not a GA and don't have their full perspective. Plus, they are all different and have different personalities, level of caring, etcetera.
Further you haven't presented a problem for the GA. You said you are happy.
In the absence of a problem, I don't think the GA would care much about it. Or he would infer a problem, and give you hope that someday your wife will come around. Or that God will work out all these exceptions that the standard gospel can't resolve. I don't know.
If I am happy, and live the gospel principles...people at church will be fine with me.
If I feel peer pressure to conform to how OTHERS SEE IT and don't like that...that is something I deal with in my life. I can search ways to resolve it and bring my behavior in line with others, or I can feel OK my life is on track and acceptable to God, and ignore the judgments of other imperfect people who are on their own journey.
But if I'm happy...and don't present a problem to a GA, SP, Bishop, HTer or friend at church...then...they would not care much about it. So neither should I...and I don't need to assume I am not welcome in church when others are more likely to accept me than I might tell myself internally with fears and feelings of non-conformity.
My internal fears do not equate to church culture and what people at church think.
That is the culture I see.
The gospel culture is all the shared values we are all trying to live. And we have to apply them to our lives and live them honestly so we progress spiritually and understand God's will.
There is just so much variation to it, that we should not limit our thinking to what we project out of fear on to others or the church.
Be good. Be happy. Love others and love god. All other things fall into place with adhering to those 2 great commandments, as DJ said...that is the gospel simplified. All other appendages are to be wrestled with in proper light so that we can reconcile them with others without violating those 2 great commandments.
It is not easy. But it starts with letting go of what others think of us, and focusing on the gospel...and we can see that gospel culture is there at church, sometimes despite the church culture that is also there to give us opposition and trials, that we may learn what was told to Adam..."In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" all the days of our life.