Episodes

Stories For Mormons: 012: Commentary on “Jesus Cleanses the SLC Temple”

This episode is a commentary on the previous SFM episode #11, “Jesus Cleanses the Salt Lake City Temple.” The commentary focuses on thoughts about the meaning of Figs and Fig trees, tithing and temple recommends. I’m sure there could be additional thoughts, insights and discussion about this story so feel free to explore your own impressions about it. You may disagree with my understanding and that is okay. Here is the link to the article that I read on this episode.

The Symbolism of Figs in the Bible

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6 thoughts on “Stories For Mormons: 012: Commentary on “Jesus Cleanses the SLC Temple”

  1. This episode sounded like you have an axe to grind.
    Without the tithing paid there would be no temples.

    We all have to do our part.
    Even if it just based on Surplus.

    • Disagreement with my commentary on this story is okay and in fact expected. But perhaps my some of the critique was misunderstood? As I see it we might say the same thing about Jesus with regards to the original biblical story found in Mark. As one reads it and attempts to view it from the perspective of the traditions and culture of the time, this Bible story really sounds harsh. We might say that he seems to have an axe to grind even. My story is not a direct interpretation of the Bible story of course but it is adapted to a particular view of experiences and understanding of what a relationship with God is or could be. Unfortunately the only experiences and views I have access to are my own, which does little justice to the myriad experiences the others have had. This is why I try not to force my opinions onto others as the only way to understand something. I speak from opinion only. A relationship of quid pro quo with God or Love doesn’t resonate with me and I am critiquing what I see as quid pro quo theology as I understand is currently taught in the LDS church.

      I think there may have been a misunderstanding with regard to tithing. I am not against tithing. The critique is that in the LDS Church, tithing is directly connected with saving ordinances, because without tithing a person cannot enter a Temple to receive saving ordinances here on earth. I have no problem if the Church needs money to operate the Temples. Asking for a free will donation to maintain temples is different than the sense of obligation to pay to enter the Temple to receive saving ordinances. When one joins a gym, one pays money to receive the services of that gym. The money is not seen as a donation because a service is being rendered in return. If the money stops then the gym membership will be revoked. To me it appears that tithing to the LDS Church works in the same way with the Temple. So the critiqued is made of the sense of obligation to pay tithing which resides in the Temple recommend interview questions.

      But if this is the case with tithing, then it causes one to think further into this relationship of commandments and the temple recommend questions in general. Why should any behavior keep one from receiving saving ordinances to returning to God? The behavior now becomes the currency in return for the service performed in the temple. It becomes more of a bartering system. So the critique is made further by questioning the need for temple recommends at all.

      I wouldn’t say I have an axe to grind. I would say that critiquing a sensitive subject like Tithing, the Temple and saving ordinances may feel like an axe. I know that not everyone will feel this way and it is not my place to try and force my way of thinking onto anyone. My intention is to just ask questions and provide an opinion/critique of what might seem unjust.

      I appreciate that you listened to the podcast episode and if this story or commentary doesn’t resonate with you don’t feel like you need to think twice about it. It is perfectly okay by me if you forget it altogether.
      Thanks again for listening,
      Johnathan

      • I apologize for hitting a nerve.
        Your assessment is correct, but a solution isn’t offered.
        A problem isn’t isn’t a problem unless there is a solution.

        Often has been the case where Temple recommends are issued to partial tithing paying members.

        Comparing the LDS church to the fig tree is a strong statement in of itself, as it currently stands it’s only outcome is for it to wither and die.

        I have never liked the fig tree story for that reason, no hope for redemption was ever offered. In the end I suppose we all wither and die at a certain point, however I would rather think of the transformation process where we continue to progress even if is to be in the world to come.

        How can the LDS church be more reasonable with it’s temple recommend process? This is a great discussion, what things can we do theologically and bureaucratically to make such improvements to the point where we are baring fruit once again that we may avoid the Lord’s curse?

        The sad part of all this is that I agree with you much more than you think or might give me credit for.

        I hear the axe grinding, please don’t cut me/us or the LDS church off. Pray, I tell thee, how we might avoid the wrath that is justly upon us?

        • Hmm… I thought I did provide a solution. 1st solution is to no longer require tithing to be paid in order to go to the temple. Tithing can still be encouraged to maintain the workings of the church. 2. Get rid of the temple worthiness interview all together. Worthiness is arbitrary. It seems that the LDS church wants a certain level of belief or devotion before going to the temple. An education course for preparation for the temple and a personal desire to go to the temple I think is all that should be needed.

          With regard to the Fig tree, where you see an outcome, I see a beginning. I view it as a representation of the current state of how Jesus saw the Jewish temple worship during his time and is possibly reflected in ours. I don’t think the withered tree is the end at all.

          With regard to the temple recommend process. I think if there is no worthiness requirements it will be able to help more people. I think the Church could create a temple prep course that speaks of metaphor and myth which go deeper than literal interpretations of scripture and ritual. Then once through the course they could meet with the Bishop and he can ask the individual if he or she desires to worship in the temple. If the individual desires to attend the temple then the bishop will sign a recommend and there you go. That I think would be at least a good start.

          • The problem with that scenario is that we end up being just like the catholic church. It’s not a great solution.

            I would propose the following:
            1) Tithing = A honest Surplus.
            2) Worthiness = Showing up for most Sundays. Keep in place.
            3) Create a special pass for those who want to show up for special occasions. This pass must be requested. Some commitments from the person who accepts the pass ought to be made. Nonmembers can accept taking the missionary discussions for instance. Non members can be witnesses but not participants of the ordinances themselves.
            4) A commitment to be each day more Christlike must be evident.

            Cheers.

  2. I don’t see a “reply” option to David on Sept 6, so I want to be clear that it’s that comment that I’m replying to:
    While I appreciate your sincerity, I hope that you will realize that what you propose in your counter-offer reflects the mind-set ingrained in the system you support. Each of your 4 proposals is subjective and requires a subjective judgement by a bishop/SP. No two people will assess your criteria in the same way. That is a problem at the heart of what the OP addresses. You also state “The problem with your scenario is that we end up being just like the catholic church.” But you have not identified what makes that a problem. Also, my observation is that we are already like the catholic church in that our belief system is founded on false narratives that are both obvious and silly to everyone except those inside the systems who are unwilling to objectively evaluate the facts.

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