Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference Review — Part 1

Note: as a personal aside, I’ve just looked over the long list of draft posts that I haven’t finished. Arg. How do people do this? Do they have any other life?

Last weekend at the request of a beloved friend and in line with the overall theme of this blog to search for truth, I attended the Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference. Here are a couple of broad-brushstroke impressions of the experience.

A Saint By Any Other Name

Warning: I’m attempting to be fair and unbiased here, but I really don’t believe that anyone can be totally unbiased. No offense is intended…. There are negatives here. These reflect my deficiencies more than they do the body of attendees at the conference. That aspect will be more obvious in Part 2.

Seemingly, the conference was attended primarily by disaffected Mormons. With no demographics to help, it appeared that many have either resigned from or have been excommunicated from the LDS Church. Many others, like me, actively attend.

Positive Impressions:
Praise

If you have read earlier posts, you are aware that I am highly critical of LDS culture for excluding praise from our worship services. The method of worship of the Messianic Jews (and most probably others) will open your eyes.

While the speakers, musicians, and attendees did not praise God nearly so much as the Messianic Jews, they did very much more so than is found in the typical LDS meeting. It was refreshing. Being unable to readily build a table, or better, a visual metaphor like a tachometer:

  • Praise in prayer
    • Messianic Jews — Red lined
    • DoC Conference — Idle
    • LDS Meetings — Engine stalled
  • Praise in song
    • Messianic Jews — Red lined
    • DoC Conference — Cruising
    • LDS Meetings — Idle
  • Praise in talks/teaching
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — Engine stalled
    • LDS Meetings — Engine seized
  • Praise in casual conversation
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — (Rough) Idle
    • LDS Meetings — Engine seized

Note: In this last category, my perception of the DoC Conference attendees is based on a rather small sample of conversations. Most of these where very short and very superficial with little of God, but a couple indicated a high degree of gratitude and praise for God. As you might guess, I spent far more time in those.

Scripture
  • Scripture in talks/teaching
    • Messianic Jews — Red Line
    • DoC Conference — Red Line
    • LDS Meetings — (Rough) Idle
  • Scripture in casual conversation
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — Cruising
    • LDS Meetings — (Rough) Idle (may be optimistic)

Note: what is perhaps most important here is not just the frequency, but the sophistication with which the Messianic Jews and DoC Conference attendees used scripture. It was as if comparing elementary school to at least Jr. High, if not High School.

Feeling The Spirit
  • Feeling the Spirit in prayer
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — Idle
    • LDS Meetings — Engine stalled
  • Feeling the Spirit in song (particularly musical numbers)
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — Cruising
    • LDS Meetings — Idle
  • Feeling the Spirit talks/teaching
    • Messianic Jews — Cruising
    • DoC Conference — Cruising
    • LDS Meetings — Idle
Negative Impressions:

There was a high degree of sociability, but I did not witness an equivalent degree of love. There was a high degree of intelligent, sophisticated communication, but I did not witness an equivalent degree of humility.

At the social events, if one were participating as a subject in a blind test, one may not have known that they weren’t at some LDS ward social (setting aside the liquor, dress code, and occasional disparaging jokes about LDS culture), hence the heading, above.

Perhaps here, more than anywhere else, my personal bias is exposed if not highlighted. It might well be me alone that would put this under the negative column. Nevertheless, to a large degree, much of the casual conversation — in most cases I was an observer, not a participant — seemed spiritually vapid and banal. I know, too harsh jonathan.

Just as much of LDS culture is inherited from US culture, it seems that much of the DoC Conference culture is inherited from LDS culture. While it is my opinion that the vector towards Zion is in the right direction, it is not clear that the culture has moved sufficiently in that direction to warrant belief that the group is thus prepared. Let’s face it, we really have little to no idea what a Zion culture would be like outside of inference and speculation based upon exceedingly limited scripture. So it might be that they are getting close. Or, it might be that they are still very far away. This, in part, reflects back to the GPS metaphor: a compass, a map, and a destination are useless if you can’t figure out where you are to some reasonable approximation. Here I wonder if we even know the true destination; we might as well be voyaging to Atlantis. If that doesn’t make you want to depend more fully on the GPS, I don’t know what would.

Bottom Line

I’m exceedingly grateful to have gone. There are a several individuals I deeply admire and with whom I hope to develop a deeper association. I believe I can learn some important things from them (again, see Part 2).

The talks focused on the doctrine of Christ, which are the foundation for the church.  These were thoughtful and inspiring. They were not deep doctrine; they were not intended to be. They are worth seeking out to listen or read and test. If profound, it is because of quality of presentation, not depth or breadth. There was almost no froth (I really need to publish that draft :- ).

In the end, it appears that the DoC leaders and attendees are attempting to make a concerted effort to move from the LDS culture to something closer to what they imagine Zion should be (e.g., more grounded in scripture; more worshipful). Kudos to them.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.