Perfection Prereqs

Note: this is yet another one of those embarrassing posts about something that I should have more fully understood long ago.

Again during breakfast, again during prayer, again while pondering our responsibility with respect to obedience to the law, and the meaning of its fulfillment, it came to me that the set of coursework established to teach perfection has a prerequisite course of study: obedience to the law.

Of course. Duh.

Isn’t that what is taught in the temple endowment? Isn’t that the point of “The Law of Moses?” Isn’t it implicit in Paul’s teaching in Hebrews regarding “go[ing] on unto perfection?”

Okay, that much is obvious. What I didn’t internalize (continuing the education metaphor) is that when one studies trigonometry, one uses algebra — hence the prerequisite. One doesn’t set algebra aside. When studying multi-variable calculus, one uses arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, and basic calculus. You never stop using the prerequisites. If you stop using arithmetic, you necessarily stop using everything that builds upon it.

Isn’t Paul’s point that with the foundation complete, it doesn’t need to be built anew? What is needed is to build upon the foundation, right? Where is the implication that the foundation is abandoned?

Said differently, does the law of consecration build upon or does it replace the law of obedience and sacrifice? Could one obey the law of consecration while disobeying (e.g., ignoring) the law of obedience and sacrifice?

Maybe Christ fulfilling the Law of Moses means something more than I’ve understood. Is it reasonable to presume that Jesus did not mean that we could only obtain perfection by abandoning the Law of Moses?

Does this contradict the intent of Paul’s writing to the Galatians?

But before faith [in Christ] came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith [in Christ] which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith [in Christ]. But after that faith [in Christ] is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:23–25)

This is a related, but different metaphor, perhaps more akin to no longer being supervised by the high school teacher that taught us algebra when we are in college taking calculus from a professor there. The distinction being that we do in point of fact lay aside the teacher, but not the teachings. Paul seems to be saying that we move beyond the law to something else. What did he mean? That we have faith in Christ so we are no longer under an obligation to love God or our neighbor? That would be absurd, would it not? Paul, would you care to comment on your intentions here?

If a person before learning of Christ obeyed the Law of Moses, did she not do so because of her faith in God? Or, was not her obedience an expression of her faith that the Law of Moses came from God?

God gave the law, He certainly has the right to void and replace it. But, did He?

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