Wednesday, July 29, 2020

D&C 27: Sacramental

According to the introduction to this section, Joseph Smith was met with a "heavenly messenger" as he was attempting to obtain materials to perform a sacrament ordinance.  Why are angelic visitations not in the Lord's repertoire anymore?

The Sunday Menu
Verse 2 should open the door to some stuff the church definitely doesn't want:

For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.

Okay, so if a deacon were to bring strawberry milk and cheese puffs to church but the priests do the usual sacrament prayers over it, the bishop should have no objection, right?

Good luck with that.

Also, one of the central ordinances of the gospel during which we renew the covenants we made during the baptism can be done with any kind of food and drink, but when it comes to day-to-day diet, coffee keeps you out of the temple and a glass of red wine at dinner is tantamount to defiling your own body?  Kinda weird sometimes what God chooses to care about.

Caveat Emptor, Ne Beberent
Kind of like the glaring omission of the three degrees of glory in Alma 41's discussion of the postmortal fates of our souls, this section contains another missed opportunity (verses 3-5):

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies;

Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.

Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth,

Wouldn't this have been a perfect time for God to mention that alcohol is forbidden?  Because if the problem was that we shouldn't trust enemies of the church and therefore shouldn't buy our sacrament wine from them, wouldn't it have been easier to kill two birds with one stone and tell us not to use wine at all?  Because then we'll follow the forthcoming Word of Wisdom and we also won't buy wine from bad people.

But this isn't merely a careless omission, because in verse 5, God says that we'll drink together someday.  The church, God, and the prophets of old will uncork a bottle of a fine vintage together and share the stuff God hasn't yet decided it's immoral to drink.

That makes sense.

Sinful Syntax
Even though this is supposed to be the voice of an angel delivering the words of God, this still reeks of human invention (verse 7):

And also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias;
I find it hard to believe that a perfect, omniscient god would be so sloppy with his pronouns that he needs to throw in a quick parenthetical clarification so that we know who the hell he's talking about.  Surely someone of his glory and his intellect could have come up with a way to structure the sentence that would have been less vague and more elegant.

Who Is Your God Now?
Forgive me for beating a dead horse here, but I need to revisit a recurring theme in my commentary (see Three-God Monte and Guess the Narrator, Episode 18):  who the hell is talking right now?  Verse 14 is a conveniently short example:
And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.
So, the beginning of this section exhorts us to listen to "Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer," which is already problematic as far as the identity of the godhead is concerned. The rest of the chapter is peppered with concepts that give conflicting hints as to whose words we're reading. There are several references to "my Father," implying the speaker is Jesus, but there are also claims that sound like they should be God the Father's: people he's sent or committed keys to; advisement to put on his whole armor (a reference to Paul's extended metaphor of the armor of God); references to my kingdom as opposed to Jesus's usual "my father's kingdom." Seems to me that in the absence of a script with the speaking roles clearly labeled, the simplest explanation for all this is—I can't believe I'm saying this—the Trinity.  

This only lines up if God and Jesus are the same people only not really.  They can't be completely distinct and they can't be completely unified, otherwise the narration of this section is an absolute mess.

But, of course, Mormonism isn't Trinitarian.  Right?

Put on the Whole Plumber's Outfit of God
One last thought from the last verse:
And take the helmet of salvation...
I realize I'm picking a fight with the apostle Paul and not with Mormonism, but salvation is a destination or a goal. The other parts of this metaphor are qualities and tools. Why have a helmet made out of the very thing your armor is supposed to help you achieve?

If we were to transpose the Armor of God concept from salvation to Super Mario, the helmet would be the Super Star or something.  What kind of sense would it make for the helmet to represent Princess Peach?

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