Friday, March 24, 2006

THE SEASON OF FAITH: The Reform Mormon Liturgical Calendar

Faith. Knowledge. Revelation. Restoration.

These are the first four principles of Reform Mormonism.

These principles have always been important in all denominations of Mormonism since the religion came into being in the early 1830’s.

However, other denominations within Mormonism historically have tended to retreat from the doctrinal innovations of Joseph Smith introduced during the Nauvoo period of Mormon history, staying closer to the religion’s earlier links with Evangelical Christianity and Christian Primitivism. Theologically most Mormon denominations are similar to traditional Christianity--emphasizing an all-powerful God who, as creator of all things, commands that humanity love, worship and obey Him in order to win salvation and avoid punishment--be that punishment consignment to Hell or Outer Darkness, existence outside the immediate presence of God or eternity in a state or kingdom of lower glory. Within this context, most Mormon denominations have an understanding of Faith, Knowledge, Revelation and Restoration that is, in many important respects, quite different from that found within Reform Mormonism.

Reform Mormonism holds that Mormonism constitutes a completely new religion--one that grew out of the frontier Christianity of early 19th century American frontier, but which, during the late 1830’s and 1840’s, began advocating certain doctrines and philosophical concepts that not only contradicted earlier more traditional doctrines but which, in essence, undermined them completely.

Taking these theological innovations as a starting point, Reform Mormonism teaches that God and humanity are, in fact, the same type of beings; that they exist on the exact same principles. The individual is an uncreated entity within nature (as is God) and is completely autonomous and free (as is God). The purpose of human existence is happiness and progression--a process which is eternal. “As we now are, God once was; as God now is, we may become.”

Within this context, Reform Mormons have an understanding of Faith, Knowledge, Revelation and Restoration that is quite different than that which is found in other Mormon denominations.

Another major difference between Reform Mormonism and these denominations, is that Reform Mormonism focuses on the individual, the individual’s personal relationship with Deity and the individual’s personal progression. Like the ancient Jewish tradition in which Mormonism (like Christianity) has its roots, Reform Mormonism is a home-based religion--as opposed to a church/organization centered one. Each individual is his/her own Priest/Priestess to God. Because each of us is a child of God (sharing with God a common nature), each of us can approach God for ourselves without any other person, being or institution serving as our mediator. Each of us has Free Agency (Free Will), which is the innate authority to make our own decisions, pursue our own interests, initiate and pilot our own Eternal Progression. Each Reform Mormon serves as the Priesthood authority within his or her own homes and families--performing any and all religious ordinances and observing religious holidays.

Because the home is center of religious life, Reform Mormonism--unlike most Mormon denominations, but like most other world religions--has a liturgical calendar.

This calendar includes holidays that are celebrated within all branches of Mormonism--such as Christmas and Easter. But is also includes celebrations and commemorations of certain events within Mormon history. Some of these holidays include July 24 (Pioneer Day), February 16 (commemorating the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory), October 30 (the anniversary of the Haun’s Mill Massacre) and September 11 (the anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre).

In addition to these specific days, the Reform Mormon liturgical calendar divides the year into four seasons--one season for each of its first four principles.

The Season of Faith begins the first day of Spring.

The Season of Knowledge begins the first day of Summer.

The Season of Revelation begins on the evening of September 22nd--the anniversary of the date on which Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by the Angel Moroni. In some years, this date is also the first day of Autumn.

The Season of Restoration begins on December 23, which is the anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth and, in some years, the first day of Winter.

During each of these seasons, the principle associate with it is celebrated, studied and contemplated.

Beginning next week, we will begin exploring the principle of Faith as understood within Reform Mormonism. We will look at some of Mormonism’s foundational writings on the subject--such as “The Lectures on Faith” (which were delivered within the original School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio) and “The True Faith” by 19th century Mormon philosopher and theologian, Orson Pratt. Ideas and concepts found in these writings--as well as within the Mormon cannon of scripture--will be explored within the context of the individual’s Eternal Progression.


To prepare for future Gospel Doctrine lessons, you’re invited to contemplate--and to share your views--on the following questions:

1. What is faith?

2.What is the relationship of faith to belief?

3. In what ways are faith and belief similar and different?
4. Is faith always a virtue? Why or why not?

5. What has been the role of faith in your life? How has it played a positive role in your life? How has it played a negative role in your life?


Jump in and join the discussion! If this lesson has triggered some thoughts or insights, if it has provoked questions--share your these by emailing them to us at:

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Your Full Name
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Reform Mormons and those who merely have an interest in Reform Mormonism are invited to submit their names. Copies of this directory will only be emailed to those who include their names within it.


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