We've got a gun. In fact, we've got two. That's OK, man, 'cause we love God.

"Jesus, help me find my proper place."

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Some questions I've been thinking a lot about recently that I think tie in with D-Train last post and Ned's LDSLF piece. I don't know what to say about them, except that for me, personally, my relationship with the Church (and its teachings) depend a lot on the answers. I don't know the answers, though, but I have feelings that lean in certain directions. Perhaps I'll expand on these later. At very least, it is something to think about.

1) Is the perfect implementation of Jesus' teachings beneficial to the individual?

1b) Is the perfect implementation of Jesus' teaching possible? Probable?

2) Does the non-perfect implementation of Jesus' teachings bring more benefits than disadvantages to the individual?

3) Is the perfect implementation of Jesus' teachings beneficial to society?

4) Does the non-perfect implementation of Jesus' teachings bring more benefits than disadvantages to society?

[The above assumes that Jesus' teachings are what the Church teaches.]

My leanings, in order: yes, possible but rare, sometimes, probably, no.

It's the last one that kills me.

9 Responses to “"Jesus, help me find my proper place."”

  1. Anonymous Watt Mahoun 

    The general trend in your thoughts tends towards Jesus being more valuable as a personal deity than as the foundation of a hierarchal church and broad social order...this makes sense to me based on accounts of Jesus' life where he seemed to care little about organizing a church and greatly about caring for individuals.

    I think you're on to something with your implicit question about which if any of Jesus' teachings are represented in the political structure of the church....if there are any, they are definitely the less inspiring ones for me. It's his personal approach that I care about.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. Anonymous Watt Mahoun 

    Arwyn, D-Train, Mike and Pris,

    Just want to let you know that I enjoy your blog so much that I'm linking to you from my newly created blog:


    Keep up the good work!

  3. Anonymous Adam Greenwood 

    I'm not sure what you have in mind when you refer to perfect and non-perfect implementation (well, I know what you mean by perfect implementation, but there are lots of different ways implementation can be non-perfect, some of them really different from others)--

    But I'm curious about your applying Jesus' teaching to individuals and societies alike. I think Jesus' teachings as we have them were aimed at individuals and I'm not sure that if Jesus were teaching us about society and government he'd have said the same thing.

    So, when you say taht the non-perfect implementation of Jesus teachings in society does more harm than good, I agree, if by that you mean a culture and government trying to follow Jesus' teachings would be disastrous if most people in the society hadn't learned to follow his teachings in their personal life.

  4. Anonymous Pris 

    Adam: That's part of what I mean. I do agree that Jesus' teachings are meant for us on a personal level--trying to run a country like that, though, might be disasterous.

    But I also mean "society" as an aggregate of individuals. Take Jesus' exhortation to be "meek" and "turn the other cheeck". If all of us would do this "perfectly" (whatever that means) I think it'd work. But if we all did it "imperfectly"--well, I could see lots and lots of problems.

    Watt: That's kind of what I was thinking too. Perfect implimentation would require perfect understanding, right? But I doubt any of us have perfect understanding--and there are a lot of people out there that have understandings that seem kooky at best. So, if the Church doesn't have perfect (but perhaps just "very good") understanding of Jesus' teachings...what effect does that have on how we answer those questions?

    And the bigger question, I guess, is: which answers are the most important.

    (And thanks for the link!)

  5. Anonymous Watt Mahoun 

    I'm thinking that, as always, the answer to #2 is most important...that what the individual does with the teachings of Christ is the single best approach to making the world a better place...regardless of the degree of perfection in application. It's something that can be worked on according to the free-will of the individual and anything done increases hope.

  6. Anonymous D-Train 


    I like the set of questions, but I think the perfect/imperfect dichotomy doesn't work. One imperfect implementation of Christ's teachings would be if society followed everything but, say, the tithing of the mint and cumin. If we leave minor things like that undone and really try hard to follow the spirit of the laws, I think it's clear that society would be very well off. On the other hand, if we play the Pharisee game and crush those that don't, we're clearly worse off.

    I guess my question is this: the personal decision to follow Christ doesn't involve any mandate that society do the same. So: if we're imperfect and follow imperfectly, how does that make society worse off? How do we become "part of the problem" by trying to be like Christ?

    A related issue is this: what's the alternative to living the teachings of Christ imperfectly? It seems that the alternative is to live some other system imperfectly, which would be vulnerable to the same criticism.

  7. Anonymous Elisabeth 

    Wow, Pris - you are much more than just another pleasure machine (just came over from your comment at BCC). This is interesting stuff. I've thought a lot about your #4.

    I don't think it's possible to implement Jesus' teachings perfectly, because I think we don't really know definitively how His teachings relate to us given many of the circumstances of our modern world (not to mention issues of translation and whether or not people even recorded Jesus accurately in the first place).

    I see reading the scriptures as reading texts such as the U.S. Constitution. There is a lot of wiggle room for interpretation in the scriptures - and applying Jesus's teachings (according to whose interpretation?) to our own lives (or to social structures) can be extremely problematic - even if we have the best of intentions.

  8. Anonymous uZ9FSX7zsw 

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  9. Anonymous nHNxdwNBJY 

    qWDiDO9AEeeSdK 0UeGnawjdW FKhfiWaZTp

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