Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Outpouring of the Spirit

This post is a part of June's Synchroblog. Check back Wednesday evening for a list of links to all the other Synchroblog participants.

The topic for this month is
The Jewish festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) celebrates the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and falls 50 days after the second night of Pesach (Passover). This year that'll be June 7-8, depending on where you live and how you celebrate.

The Christian feast of Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in the book of Acts, ushering in the beginning of the church. Fifty days after Jesus’s resurrection (10 days after His ascension), the apostles were gathered together, and on Pentecost a flame rested upon the shoulders of the apostles and they began to speak in tongues/languages by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For the June synchroblog we invite you to reflect on the foreshadowing that Shavuot brings to the Christian feast of Pentecost. How does the Torah foreshadow the Holy Spirit? What can we learn from our forefathers that will enrich our faith? What are the parallels? What are the differences? These are some (but definitely not all) of the questions that might be explored in this synchroblog.
Honestly, I had to do a little bit of research on Shavuot to figure out how I was going to approach this topic. At the giving of the Torah, there was an outpouring of Spirit as well, but instead of hearing the message of the Apostles in their own tongue, during the receiving of the Law, rabbis tells us that the audience all heard a message as well, but it was communicated by the Spirit, and each person was given a different message.

Even knowing that, I wasn't sure what I was going to say until this morning.

***

He hung back after class. "Sister MyLastName, can I ask you a question?"

Sure.

"How do you balance all this" he waved around the classroom, "with what you know to be true?"

I teach political philosophy at a religious institution. This isn't the first time I've been asked this question, typically of a bright young mind who is sincerely honest both in their belief in God, and in studying in a discipline that doesn't really have a place for God anymore.

"Because, I want to share my testimony, but I'm not sure if I can say 'I know' any more. I believe, but can you really know?"

And I told him. Yes, you know. I know through the Spirit. It's confirmed to me the truthfulness of God being our Father, and Jesus is our Savior, and in Joseph Smith and in the Book of Mormon. I know those things are true. And I leave the rest of it up to God.

I don't really think God cares what you believe about dinosaurs, and geological time tables, and Glenn Beck. He cares whether or not you're keeping the covenants you have made with him. The gospel has existed in a lot of different places and a lot of different times, and sometimes the revelations that were good for other generations don't work today for some reason. I can cut my hair short and eat a cheeseburger and I think that's okay, and I think God's okay with that too. Doctrine doesn't change. Cultural practices of a doctrine does. So, we have to figure out what is doctrine from what is culture.

"Well, how do you do that?"

I said, this is where it gets tricky. You and I both believe in modern day prophets. We sustain them as prophets, seers, and revelators. They receive guidance from the Lord about how to administer his church. Does that mean that every utterance they make is Scripture? No. Sometimes they are just men. And sometimes they get it wrong. And they admit that they got it wrong.

We then talked for a while about how different practices of the church have been disavowed, and where apostles have admitted publicly that they were mistaken about statements they have made.

"So, how do you tell the difference?"

The Spirit will tell you the difference. When someone says something that is incorrect spiritually, the Spirit will let you know that it is incorrect. God trusts you enough to receive confirmation by the Spirit of the truthfulness of any message.

That's not a standard LDS viewpoint. We tend to just accept whatever they say as the truth, but there are times where they are factually inaccurate, or that the message they are giving as a general guiding principle doesn't apply to you, or needs to be practiced in a non-standard way. This is the point to me of the parallels between the giving of the Old Testament Law and the New Testament Law. Both involve God speaking, through the Spirit, to each of His children in an individualized personal manner. Whether it is literally in a different language, or if he is just speaking the language of our heart, we should be prepared for and seek after opportunities to feel the guiding influence of the Spirit in how we live the Gospel.

And I ended with, when in doubt, act out of love, and you'll never be wrong.

I hope it helped.

Kerri at Earth’s Crammed With Heaven… – Transformation
Sarita Brown at Gypsy Queen Journals – Pentecost: A Poem
Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes - The Incarnation of the Temple, Torah, and Land
Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved - Random Biblical Calendar Thoughts, Unity & Love
K. W. Leslie at More Christ – Pentecost
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – We Cannot Capture The Wind 
Emma Nadine at Life by List - An Outpouring of the Spirit
Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms - Shadow of Things to Come?
Abbie Waters at No Longer “Not Your Grandfather’s CPA” - Spiritual Gifts
Bill Sahlman at Creative Reflections - A “Wild Goose” Festival at Pentecost
John O’Keefe at john c. o’keefe – What’s With This
Kathy Escobar at kathy escobar – more than the leftovers

3 comments:

layton-fordham said...

This was a really interesting post, and I am very glad you wrote it because it was the post I almost ended up writing for the synchroblog before I changed tacks late last night.

I am not LDS or Catholic so I do not really believe in modern-day prophets adding (I assume?) to the body of revelation. But I do believe the Bible is meant to be read one way at one point in time and perhaps our understanding of it will change as we change and are better able to understand things that were at one time hidden from our plain understanding. I'm not trying to say your position is wrong; quite the opposite, this Protestant sees it as applicable to my own tradition as well because the scriptures are dynamic and our understanding of them is always growing through the ages.

A very nice theme, and well-explored.

Tammy Carter said...

If I could have a favorite of the Trinity...it would be the Holy Spirit! ;-) I also believe we can get a good understanding deep inside of peace because He is speaking to us through the Spirit. The hard part...obedience, discipline. You're right in that you can't go wrong with love, but love includes these things. Great post!

gracerules said...

"when in doubt, act out of love, and you'll never be wrong."

If only we would all live by that.

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