Friday, January 24, 2014

Pagan Temples and You

We hear a lot about the Bible and its relevance to people today. This is understandable given the huge contrast inherent in the relation between the first and twenty-first centuries. Historical context is sometimes hard to relate to. However, sometimes we are presented with opportunities to see a Biblical historical context in a present-day context, in order to better understand Biblical concepts. In Arizona we have such and opportunity.

In 1 Corinthians 8 we read about something quite odd that we would never expect to see in  twenty-first century America. All of chapter 8 is written "with regard to food sacrificed to idols" (v. 1). Unless you are an American (this applies to those in almost all Westernized countries) who has traveled to India you have likely never seen a food that has been sacrificed to... anything. In this chapter Paul goes on to give instructions about "eating food sacrificed to idols" (v. 4). Further, if you read the entire chapter you will see that Paul is also making a point about how our interaction with food sacrificed to idols could be a 'stumbling block; to the 'weak' and we might cause them to be 'destroyed'.

So, what is going on here? The best way  to understand these kinds of imperatives that Paul gives to the local churches and to see if and how they apply to us today is to put ourselves into their shoes. Sometimes this is an easy task. However, when we are dealing with commands about antiquated--seemingly barbaric practices-- such as eating the meat of animals that have been ceremonially slaughtered to a God of... let's say harvest, while seated in a temple of that God, we will quickly find ourselves clueless as to how we could possibly relate to these first century believers. If only we had a pagan temple with food sacrificed to idols.

Where have all the pagans gone? Well, you may not have to look too far if you live in Arizona. While we may not have any pagans as the word is used in the Bible; and while we may not have any temples where we might eat food sacrificed to idols, on Sunday, March 2nd you will have the 'opportunity' (you will be able to decide after reading this if it really is an opportunity) to experience something very close. On that day the general public who are not members of the LDS organization will be allowed to enter something that looks very much like a 'pagan temple'. The LDS org. has built something that is visually impressive and in my opinion is an abomination (spiritually and architecturally!): the Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple.

You may be wondering how on earth this is relevant to 1 Corinthians 8. Well, I will now tell you.

The Gilbert Arizona Temple will be dedicated in three sessions at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Sessions will be broadcast to all stakes and districts in Arizona, and Sunday block meetings will be cancelled for those units. Members ages 8 and older who have been issued a recommend may view the broadcast. Specific instructions for attendance will be made available through local priesthood leaders.

Angel Moroni Raising
On May 15, 2012, hundreds of spectators gathered to the Gilbert Arizona Temple to witness the raising of the gold-leafed angel Moroni statue atop the single central spire. Numerous students, who attend a grade school across the street from the temple, gathered in the school parking lot that day with their families. As Moroni began his flight, a large group of middle school students created a spiritually poignant moment as they broke into song, singing the Primary favorite I Love to See the Temple.

The Gila Valley LDS Temple quote:

"There is a difference in just attending the temple and having a rich spiritual experience. The real blessings of the temple come as we enhance our temple experience. To do so, we must feel a spirit of reverence for the temple and a spirit of worship."
—L. Lionel Kendrick
Acts 19:21-41 Zeal for the Temple of Artemis

About sixteen stories tall.
 About 915,000 sq ft. property

About one hundred feet tall.
About 68,000 sq ft. building.