Some have argued, including myself, that the ancient prophets wrote symbolically, metaphorically, and not literally. But is that really the case?
It's taken more time to write about this reconstruction, because it is perhaps a more sensitive subject, and more complex, than any I have written before about Mormonism or Christianity, yes, even more so than Jesus or Joseph Smith (which might be an indication that something is off-kilter). The Salt Lake City based Latter-day Saints take the Book of Mormon very seriously as a holy text, as scripture revealed by God, similar to the Bible, and perhaps even more important than the Bible. The Book of Mormon is one thing that makes them unique, their own testament of the divinity of "Jesus Christ," which they believe is also evidence of the unique prophethood of Joseph Smith and the divinity of the church he organized as God's "true church." But I think the truth may be much more nuanced.
It is true that traditionally God and Christ have been predominantly associated with the male gender and masculine principle (a "He"), at least in the West. What we need to decide today is if that traditional interpretation, these symbols of the Divine, are still valid, and accurate, and if they point to truth in the present, or if we need a better interpretation of these symbols as a society, a culture, in our interspirituality, in the world today.
At times I feel like much religious terminology and symbolism has failed to bring unity to our modern culture and global society, and that we need new terms and symbols to point to these highest realities for which we yearn. New religious movements often emerge under such conditions (and there are tens of thousands of these movements in the world today). But I'm not sure that helps, but just further divides us, each believing they have "the truth."
The ideas we have about God are not God. Any idea, thought, or concept never was and never will be God. They may be helpful symbols that point to God, metaphors, analogies, allegories, images, but they are not God as God is. They will inevitably conflict with one another and be fallible, as every symbol eventually fails at actually being the thing it is supposed to represent. The symbol is never the thing-in-itself.
The ritual practice of anointing makes the person that is anointed an "Anointed One," which is what the word Christ literally means, and by derivation is what being a Christian means. Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century noted of those who had been baptized and anointed, "You have been made Christs, by receiving the anti-type [symbol] of the Holy Spirit [the oil]" (Catecheses 21.1). Receiving the chrism they are ritualistically made Christs, being clothed in that Name and Identity, taking it upon themselves in actual fact as their own Eternal Identity, their True Name/Self.
Jesus was the man, the human form, the male person who lived in the Middle East some 2000 years ago. Christ is the realization of oneness with God, Source, Universe, Reality, in and through all of life, love, goodness, and truth. I perceive it is synonymous with Buddha-nature in Buddhism, and the Atman in Hinduism.
Deep within me a thousand sweet breaths of Silence
cover my lips and say—
An addition to the BHT, about the insufficiency of outward commandments, laws and rules.
I don't think so. But I think it is deeply, absolutely, universally Real. Let me explain.