Service and Sacrifice: Mormon Spiritual Cornerstones

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts that examines the topic of Mormon spirituality, or how we respond to the Divine in personal living. Readers can find the first here, the second here, the third here and the forth here. The purpose of the series is to explain why Mormons are the way they are and what that has to do with religion and doctrine. It was inspired by critics who seem to misunderstand or question the inner spirituality of Mormons as materialists or shallow.

Many years ago I wondered what constituted a Mormon spiritual life. This pondering was brought about by critical comments that the LDS religion contained mostly materialistic emphasis of an Earthly Kingdom of God and rejection of spirit/body dualism. Usually this criticism comes from those who either believe in “Faith Only” salvation or spiritual matters should mostly be separate from secular concerns. Research on the subject has brought me to a conclusion that might sound too much like a truism than a profound discovery. Mormonism teaches that true spirituality comes from self-sacrifice in the service toward others.

Almost from the start, the concept of self-sacrifice as spiritual power has been a central Mormon teaching. What can be considered the first Priesthood manual stated:

Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. For from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It is through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life. And it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

- Lectures on Faith, N.B. Lundwall Ed., pg 58.

The question is, to what end do we sacrifice? Continue reading

Why it’s Impossible for the Church to Get in the Way of the Gospel

by Bruce Nielson

Andrew Ainsworth was recently nominated for a Niblet award for his excellent post which posed the question “Do we let the Church get in the way of the Gospel?”

The analogy is that of an orange:

Any church is like an orange: it has sweet, juicy, nourishing fruit (i.e., truths that help people live better lives); and it has a tough, bitter peel that protects the fruit and holds it together (i.e. an organizational structure, prescribed forms of worship, and claims to divine authority). Were it not for its protective institutional peel, a church’s nourishing spiritual teachings would become damaged and lost; were it not for its fruitful truths, a church’s institutional peel would be hollow and purposeless. Continue reading