Did Jesus really organize a church?

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Post Reply
User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7374
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Feb 2014, 05:35

I have given the idea that the LDS church is patterned after the church Jesus organized much thought over many years. Honestly, I don't see that Jesus actually organized a church or that organizing a church - or starting a new religion - was even his aim. The only reference of any church service I see in the Bible is Jesus attending synagogue, and Jesus and his disciples apparently also followed Jewish traditions and kept Jewish holidays and rites. Other than the son of God part, Jesus generally taught Jewish doctrine, and I do note that Jesus didn't actually say much (that we have recorded anyway) about himself being the son of God - it was mostly said by others. It is clear he did have apostles and that they did have a role in helping him do his work and they may have organized a church, but did Jesus actually do so? Are we teaching something that isn't correct? Please understand I am not accusing the church of lying, if anything it's another one of those things that just gets repeated and is eventually accepted as true.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1786
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by On Own Now » 20 Feb 2014, 08:07

I think it's largely unknowable, because of our reliance on accounts written 40-ish years after the fact.

As portrayed in the Gospel's, Jesus did establish a movement, complete with community, treasury, hierarchical leadership and missionaries. He referred to it as the Kingdom of God, and he wasn't talking about the afterlife. I believe that the NT account of Jesus' activities shows a lot of similarities with the first few years of Joseph Smith's movement.

So, really, it comes down to how much belief one has in the NT account.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5644
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by SamBee » 20 Feb 2014, 08:33

The word used in the NT Greek is "ecclesia", which means group or assembly. Since he gathered a group of disciples around him, and held assemblies in various places, I suppose he did. But whether that entails an organization is a different question.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3539
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 20 Feb 2014, 10:05

I've often questioned this myself. It's tough to say. Jesus wasn't that concerned with organization except calling the Q12. Beyond that, we have no real information about his personal efforts to create a church. Yet one carried on after his death, so something happened off the page. Many people credit Paul with being the true organizer of the Christian church, which is probably true. He at least franchised it all over the ancient world. It's the diaspora version of what BY did in our day. Paul set up churches in all the major cities. BY gathered all the dispersed saints (that went with the Brighamites anyway) and put them in one big theocratic city (that many think still is a theocracy today).

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7374
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Feb 2014, 11:09

Thanks for your comments. I was really thinking more of the teaching in the church that it is organized like the church Jesus organized, with apostles, prophets, deacons, etc., not so much the doctrine. I'm thinking of that diagram often used in Primary and YM/YW where it's a church building with Christ as the foundation and all the other parts labeled and built on to that to make the church building - I'm sure if you've been around for awhile you've seen it.

I agree that there were assemblies and there was some sort of simple organization and I also agree it's hard to know with the limited information we have. I'm not seeing that Jesus had deacons, teachers and priests, though, he certainly didn't have RS, Primary, etc., and even things like sacrament seem to have only been introduced immediately prior to the crucifixion, and in the case of the sacrament only to the Q12. I guess I'm just not sure missionaries and Primary teachers should go around teaching something like this that there really isn't evidence to support.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roy
Posts: 6268
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by Roy » 20 Feb 2014, 12:51

DarkJedi wrote:Thanks for your comments. I was really thinking more of the teaching in the church that it is organized like the church Jesus organized, with apostles, prophets, deacons, etc., not so much the doctrine. I'm thinking of that diagram often used in Primary and YM/YW where it's a church building with Christ as the foundation and all the other parts labeled and built on to that to make the church building - I'm sure if you've been around for awhile you've seen it.

I agree that there were assemblies and there was some sort of simple organization and I also agree it's hard to know with the limited information we have. I'm not seeing that Jesus had deacons, teachers and priests, though, he certainly didn't have RS, Primary, etc., and even things like sacrament seem to have only been introduced immediately prior to the crucifixion, and in the case of the sacrament only to the Q12. I guess I'm just not sure missionaries and Primary teachers should go around teaching something like this that there really isn't evidence to support.
I believe that this is problematic because it is one of the A of F that we have the primary memorize. I was in primary recently when the instructor said that evangalists in the primitive church are the equivalent of Patriachs is the modern church. Really?!?!? How about we just organize our church however we feel like it and then slap a bunch of old sounding titles on everybody?

I dislike the memorizing of the A of F anyway. As a statement of our modern beliefs I don't think it is very good. Do we really believe in ten tribes returning from the north? And to elevate such a belief to an aritcle of faith that would be binding on everyone... I think the current church leadership could come up with something better.

Even still, having kids memorize a statement of our beliefs seems overly focused on making them into good Mormons and not enough into good people.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Old-Timer
Site Admin
Posts: 16887
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by Old-Timer » 20 Feb 2014, 13:49

There is an "out" in Christianity that allows Jesus to have organized a church even if it didn't happen during his mortal life. It's called the resurrection - and it includes his appearance to over 500 people and the statement that one of his visits was said to have lasted for 40 days (which might be the older Hebrew term meaning "a long time").

I'm not certain Jesus established a church in his mortal lifetime (or after his death), but I think it's a valid statement in the context of Christian theology.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7374
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Feb 2014, 04:16

I hadn't looked at it from that point of view, Curtis, and agree that it is a possibility - although again we have no evidence it happened. I also believe that when this idea is taught, it more than implied that any organization occurred during the earthly ministry of Jesus before the crucifixion.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5644
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by SamBee » 21 Feb 2014, 06:54

He appears to have organized a twelve, and possibly two seventies.

However, I had this argument with an RC. Romans always like to stress the continuity of their church, but as I pointed out to him, his church has little to do with the NT body.

I suspect Jesus was a Jewish reformer. Did Luther plan to start a new church? Arguably not. Did John Wesley? Almost certainly not. DId Buddha plan to reform Hinduism? Well, there was no such concept as Hinduism at that point in time.

Christians were attending synagogues into the fourth century.

I think when we talk about the primitive church, it was most definitely primitive.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

amateurparent
Posts: 952
Joined: 19 Jan 2014, 20:43

Re: Did Jesus really organize a church?

Post by amateurparent » 21 Feb 2014, 07:03

We talk about Christ organizing the church, but the reality is that Paul started the entire movement after the crucifixion. We have Paul's report of a vision. His conversion. His name change. His organization. Did he have a WWJD bracelet and act accordingly ? We don't know.
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

Post Reply