Religion = Gospel + Church + Culture

I think religion has three main components.

First, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is perfect, never changing, and simple. The Gospel is always Christ centered.

Second, the Church. The church is the organization that is used to administer the gospel teachings and to aide its members. Church has a wide range of definitions:

any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority

public worship of God or a religious service in such a building

ecclesiastical organization, power, and affairs, as distinguished from the state

All of these definitions fit into this discussion.

Third, the Culture. By culture I mean the “collective customs and achievements of a people.” It can be the culture of a group of worshipers, or the culture of a nature, or the culture of the world.

If we take the three elements of religion and arrange them so that they overlap, I believe we get something that looks like this.

The Church includes the Gospel, but not all of the gospel. The Articles of Faith illustrate this point.

“9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

This point is also mentioned numerous times in the Book Of Mormon. There are many times when we are told that not ever thing is being written in the record. 1 Nephi 14:28 ” And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw. ” Jacob also talks about this in 2 Nephi 11:1 “… only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me.”

The Church also includes the Culture or World at the time. The only way the Church could exclude culture would be if it only had perfect members. The Church is not for the perfect, but for those that need help to obtain perfection. As long as the Church has non-perfect people in it, it will also include culture. It will have elements of Pride, Back Bitting, deception, and other non-gospel traits.

But the gospel and culture can never touch. The gospel can never contain any culture, it is pure and perfect, and not of this World.

Here is the ideal situation. When the gospel and the church are one circle, devoid completely of the culture of the world. This has happened several times in the scriptures. In 3 Nephi 11 there is an account of when Jesus Christ visited the Nephites after his death and resurrection. After the people had been taught directly by Jesus, it says in 4 Nephi 1:3,18

3. And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

18. And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an *hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.

There is also a record of a city that achieved this goal. The city of Enoch was taken up to the bosom of God. “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled. ” (Moses 7:69)

Bottom line: We just need to remember that the people in the Church are not perfect. And that the Church is just a vehicle to receive the Lords gospel, the Lords ordnances, and is responsible for its administrative tasks.


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