Where Did God Go?

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 1.04.59 PMOn a hot late July evening, a group of us were gathered together at Little America in downtown Salt Lake City following the Sunstone symposium.

Tony asked, “Where is God in all of this?”

He was referring to Mormonism’s cataclysm when he said, ‘all of this’.   It’s hard not to notice how the church is contracting from the middle, sending out shock waves of disaffection around the world.

And so Tony’s question at Little America, about church and culture and orthodoxy turned into a shared conversation about the perennial question, “Where is God in all of this?”

It seems to me that Mormonism has replaced God with the priesthood.

 

For instance:

  • If there is a theological debate,  (regardless of how robust the argument) priesthood authority prevails.
  • If there are moral and ethical concerns abroad, we are required to defer to priesthood authority.
  • If there is a social, cultural, personal or political crisis,  good scriptural exegesis, prayer, or personal revelation won’t even necessarily win the day.  Bishop, Elder or President so and so will.

“Follow the brethren.”    “Trust the Church leaders.”   “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”   “God will never suffer the prophet to lead the church astray…”

And so it goes.

You see, Mormon priesthood has become its own kind of God.  A God fashioned after its own image of supremacy; Masculine, American, and corporate.   This God is the ultimate authority. Doubting this God/Priesthood is understood as treasonous. All that this priesthood does or decides for the church is meant to be as authoritative as God Himself.   The priesthood is God’s mouthpiece on Earth – or so we are repeatedly told.

But this is claim of clergy = God is an utter, unmitigated nonsense, and thinkless corporate drivel.   The stench of conflating men with the divine is so blasphemous that it’s no wonder people are walking away from the church in alarming numbers.

But it’s not apostasy – it’s a revolt.

Spiritual maturation can’t tolerate the smallness and impotence of a Sunday God who walks around in a polyester suit wielding his priesthood and dispensing salvation.  And there’s only so much internal spiritual work that one can do before the effort to stay on the pews produces more hurt than it heals.

My Stake President recently asked me, “Why are you so hard on the Church?”

It was a good question and has given me pause.

My answer:  “I’m hard on the church?

How about the church is hard on the members, and I’m just sticking up for me and them?”

Instead of creating community, anxiously engaged in bringing forth the Kingdom of God, the church is burdened with homogeneity, conformity, idolatry, judgement, a narrowness of mind, authoritarianism,  unreasonable work expectations, manipulation and a tedious and ugly emphasis on right belief – as if belief saves.

I’m someone who is furiously and wildly in love with Jesus and the idea of the Kingdom he called forth.   So when I see the worship of priesthood as if the priesthood is the gap filler for God, it makes me rightly indignant.

Greg Boyd (1) argues,

“…the truth is that an idol is anything we treat as a god; that is, anything we use to satisfy the hunger in our soul that only our Creator can satisfy. An idol is anything other than God that we rely on as a source of Life.”

Churches don’t  save, redeem, rejuvenate, transform or even love.  They are just a structure; a container for our personal and collective spiritual observances.   And until the priesthood recognises and repents of the collective sin of their self-idolization the Mormons will forever be stuck in the thick of the church’s own arrogant self-congratulation.  And God will stay imaged as the priesthood,  perpetually entombed in the narrow confines of its own ailing spiritual and mortal imagination.

  1. Boyd, Gregory A.. The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution (Kindle Locations 516-518). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

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