“…faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews 11:3,
‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’
“By this we understand that the principle of power, which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist - so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith, as it existed in Him. Had it not been for the principle of faith, the worlds would never have been framed, neither would man have been formed of the dust. “ (“Lectures On Faith” 1:13-16)
Mormon scriptures teach that God began the act of creation by looking upon chaotic matter dispersed throughout space and deciding to organize it into new worlds. Within Mormonism, “creation” does not mean to “make out of nothing,” but to take the chaos of nature and organize it in such a way that it is of benefit to intelligent beings.
But to do this, all intelligent beings--Divine or human--must first envision what it is they wish to bring forth.
Proverbs 29: 18 states: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Without vision--without the capacity to envision what does not yet exist but which can be brought to pass, humanity would indeed perish. Without this one attribute, we would be something less than human; we could not claim to exist in the image of God in any profound or deeply meaningful way.
The capacity for vision allows us to transcend the restraints of time and space, to imagine the consequences of our actions and the possible end results of future endeavors. Faith is the principle behind all human action. Without such vision, faith would have no basis. We could only react to events as they happen. Human striving and creativity would cease.
The need to create is found in every individual and it has always been central to Mormonism. Whereas other religious movements of 19th century America often focused on returning to nature or on withdrawing from the world at large, early Mormons were builders of cities and states. Joseph Smith looked out upon a disease infested Mississippi swamp and envisioned, in its place, the city of Nauvoo. Brigham Young looked out on the deserts of the Great Basin and envisioned a state filled with cities, towns, industries, orchards and farms. The Mormon people were able to see these visions as well, to make these vision their own; these visions served as the basis for a faith inspired the people to action. The course of our nation’s history was changed as a result. A Mississippi swamp became largest city in Illinois, and the deserts of the American west blossomed as the rose.
Vision and faith play important roles in the lives of everyone regardless of age, profession, natural endowment or social standing. A daydreaming child envisions the life she wishes to lead as an adult. The young athlete contemplates his reflection in the mirror and envisions the body and skill he wishes to develop. The artist, composer and writer must envision the works they wish to create before their labor can begin. A business or industry must first be visualized before it can become a reality. A couple must envision the type of life they wish to enjoy together before a commitment to such a life can be made; without a common vision, any future happiness together is in jeopardy.
“Without vision, the people perish,” our humanity is lessened, our potential for growth and progress is undermined. Just as faith precedes all creative action, so vision precedes all faith.
EMULATING GOD’S CREATION
Central to Reform Mormonism is the doctrine that humanity’s purpose is to emulate God. As Joseph Smith taught, “You have got to learn how to become Gods yourselves, the same as all Gods before you have done.” God is envisioned as a “Creator” in that He is the one who, through the knowledge He has acquired through experiencing progression, brings order to chaos. This is the nature of “God’s creation.”
Central to Reform Mormon practice and observance, is the ordinance of the Sacrament. When the bread is broken, the following blessing is given:
“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of thee, and of the covenant to emulate thy creation. Amen.
Emulating God’s creativity, is central to the human experience. Not only it is the foundation of Eternal Progression, it is essential to human joy and fulfillment during our time on earth. To accomplish this, the capacity for vision (which has historically been central to the Mormon experience) is needed. Faith in needed as well--not faith as in a blind belief or testimony, but faith as a principle of action and power. So it is that Faith is the first principle of Reform Mormonism.
THE COVENANT TO EMULATE GOD’S CREATION
To make a personal covenant to emulate God’s creation, to begin to be creatively engaged in the business of living, to begin meeting the chaos in the world with God-like vision and faith---to make this covenant is in itself to convert to Reform Mormonism.
No one can make this covenant for another. Such a covenant is neither authorized or made official by any authority other than that of an individual’s free will and agency--for nature has not endowed anyone else with the either duty or capability of living life for another. It is not necessary or required that one join any organization, church or sect to make this covenant with God.
Each of us has sole authority over our lives; as regarding our relationship with God, this authority is the Priesthood. We are by nature sons and daughters of God, Priests and Priestesses.
Our conversion is complete when each of us, in whatever way that makes the event relevant, accepts that fact that we exist in the image of God and make a covenant to emulate God’s creation.
REFORM MORMON THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK
How can emulating God’s creative acts, bring a deeper sense of purpose and a sense of personal power to the experience of day to day life?
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