“The Church and the Sacraments – Toward a Functional Interpretation” by Harry J. Fielding

From Restoration Studies III: 21-31 (1986)

It should be noted that the theological progress that Community of Christ has made in regards to the sacraments of Baptism and Communion had not yet occurred when this was written. At this time, we required everyone joining the church to get baptized/rebaptized and we only served the Lord’s Supper to members of our own church.

These were points of contention for decades before the progress was made, as can be illustrated in Brother Fielding’s article. It was agitation like this that ultimately brought about the more inclusive relationship with these sacraments that we now enjoy.


Throughout its history the Christian church has struggled to resolve an inherent tension produced by preserving historical traditions and customs and concomitantly seeking to introduce innovation. Christ himself, while working mostly within the social and religious structures of his time, did not hesitate to challenge the status quo when he deemed it necessary. This was also true of several early apostles. The martyrdom of Stephen (explained in Acts 6 and 7), for example, happened at least partly because he was perceived to be threatening the traditions of his ancestors. He paid the ultimate price: death.

The Apostle Paul probably ranks as the greatest pragmatist in the early Christian church. His willingness to dispense with Jewish tradition when working in other cultures caused great contention at the “Council of Jerusalem” in the middle of the first century (Acts 15). Fortunately for Christianity, a consensus emerged which largely preserved the integrity of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians alike. Had this not happened, it is quite likely that, as Wayne Ham wrote, “Christianity could have become just another Jewish sect.” 1

In its relatively brief existence the Christian church has carried with it past traditions, but it has also adapted many of these customs, forms of worship, and religious observances. The fact that such adaptions have occurred underscores a vital but often unstated premise: religion does not occur in a vacuum, but is intertwined with the wide culture of which it is a component part. This, in attempting to analyze contemporary trends in the Christian church and to suggest certain adaptations within the context of the Saints church, it is necessary to recognize the complex interplay of culture and religion and of present and past. It is not a simple linear process in which an outmoded form is replaced by a modern, complex form, but rather, this involves a process of dialogue in which social, ideological, and technological/economic forces all play a part.

Christianity in the twentieth century has been characterized by a multiplicity of forms and approaches. The remarkable spread of Christianity in the Third World countries in this century and the previous century has raised some searching questions for the church as it has attempted, not always with a great deal of success, to develop truly “indigenous churches” in Third World situations. The soul-searching has not only been in terms of Third-World Christianity; questions as to the relevance of Christianity in First- and Second- World situations have also been raised. There has arisen what Langdon Gilkey terms “the present ferment in theology”. And the questions Gilkey Raises regarding “the mode of their [the churches’] practical existence to their theoretical self-understanding” 2 have profound implications for the Christian church today.

The Saints church has not escaped the “theological ferment”. Indeed its inception was in just such a setting and the ferment has continued in various ways until the present. Section 156 of the Doctrine and Covenants in many ways epitomizes this fervor. In some ways, though, the concentration on the issue of the ordination of women, while vital and timely, nevertheless obscures a much deeper and fundamental issue.

Form and Function in the Sacraments

There is a clear emphasis on service and commitment expressed in Section 156. The Instructions regarding both temple and priesthood suggest that these areas are means of bringing about “spiritual awakening”, “great blessing”, and various “ministries”. The emphasis is on function rather than the specific forms that are yet to be developed. Indeed, verse 4 specifically states that the “functions” of priesthood offices “… will be expanded and given additional meaning”, and verses 7 and 8 further emphasize the importance of priesthood function. The concept of function as opposed to outward appearance or form is of great significance in developing a holistic appreciation of the sacraments of the church. Such an appreciation is particularly important as issues such as “open” and “close” Communion are debated. It is far more productive and less emotionally threatening to examine the functions sacraments play in the life of the church and to develop ways to enhance these functions, than to merely concentrate on the forms in which the sacraments are expressed.

Although there is more diversity and freedom of expression being exercised with the sacraments than is generally perceived by the membership at large, some areas still need liberating. This essay does not provide a detailed examination of the philosophy and practice of the various sacramental ordinances in the Saints church; that has already been done in a thorough fashion by Peter A. Judd. 3 Instead it is an examination of three of the sacramental ordinances – baptism, confirmation, and the Lord’s Supper – and shows how form rather than function in certain aspects of these sacraments has led to what is, in my opinion, a rather inadequate understanding by a great many church members of the relationship of these sacraments to each other and to the sacramental life of the church.

The sacramental ordinances, represent the “basic stuff” of the gathered community of the church. In the sacramental ordinances, “symbols are used to signify the covenant relationship between God and the human creation.” 4 The symbols used (bread, wine, water, human hands, etc.) are the keys to unlocking a whole range of human relationships and values. It is important to note that the symbols themselves.

“are not of primary significance and that they key to an understanding of their symbolic quality lies in circumstances to which they refer or of which they are a part. It is not their particular nature but their relationships which account for their selection as symbols.” 5

Unfortunately, too often in the life of the church when the sacraments are considered, there has been a tendency to focus on either the symbols themselves or upon the form of expression in the particular ordinance. This has led to a diminished consideration of the relational aspects of the sacraments – the particular functions that the sacraments represent in the development of covenant relationships. This may be illustrated by reference to the sacrament of Baptism.


Contemporary Saints church authors point to two major components in the sacramental ordinance of baptism. 6 The first has to do with an attitude of personal commitment in which persons being baptized enter into a covenant relationship with God. The second aspect, belonging, deals with the institutional nature of the church. In this aspect there is a symbolic initiation of new members into the life of the church; they announce their intention to join with a community of persons who espouse similar ideals and beliefs. Once having been baptized and confirmed by the laying on of hands, initiates are entitled to all the privileges and responsibilities of membership. The sacrament of baptism this has two different functions and it is important to clearly recognize and distinguish between these. It is my belief that failure to distinguish effectively has placed the church in the position of demanding of many persons an unnecessary and sometimes degrading rebaptism.

In times past, it appears to me, there has been a great deal more emphasis on the first aspect of baptism (the “covenant” aspect) than the second. No doubt this is as it should be – the primary functions of the sacraments are, after all, relational; that is to say, they are concerned with assisting persons in developing quality relationships with God and fellow humans. If this is true, and fellow Christians have entered into a covenant relationship with God through the waters of baptism, although in the institutional setting of another Christian denomination, it is surely not a very reaffirming experience to demand rebaptism of those persons. In effect, we are saying to these people that their previous relationship with God was of no account, or at the very most of minimal importance. Such persons may have spent a lifetime serving God effectively and sincerely.

Through an insistence on rebaptism we seek to welcome initiates to our fellowship and yet ironically at the same time we are unconsciously degrading their previous Christian commitment. The problem is particularly acute in predominantly non-Christian countries where there is little or no recognition of denominational differences – one is simply a Christian. To insist on rebaptism in such circumstances is, I believe, nonsense both culturally and doctrinally. Such insistence grows out of an inadequate and outdated model of the church in which concepts such as “authority” and “the one true church” are paramount. In an age of ecumenical cooperation and enrichment, such a model is neither desirable nor viable. We are called to join with many other persons and organizations in affirming that God is creator and sustainer of the universe and that Jesus Christ is Lord.

If the covenant function of baptism is to be given primary emphasis, then we must recognize the validity of that covenant for any particular individual, even when the covenant has been made within the institutional framework of another Christian denomination. Some readers will no doubt object to this view, on the grounds that the person of whom we are demanding rebaptism has now reached a higher level of understanding and commitment than when the previous covenant was made. Such an argument, however, could be (or should be!) applied to every member of the Saints church who renews his/her covenant periodically at the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. No, that is not reason enough to cling to a rigid instance on rebaptism.


On the other hand, the second function of the sacrament of baptism (that of affirming corporate identity) is also extremely important in the life of the church. It is essential that we welcome new members into our fellowship and add their ideas and labors of love to those similarly committed to the highest Christian ideals. Every society and group has ways of announcing that people “belong” to that group and the church is no exception. It is important for the ongoing life of the church that this function be performed. However, it is my contention that the sacrament of baptism is not the most appropriate sacramental expression in which to embody this function of belonging.

A more appropriate vehicle is the prayer of confirmation and the accompanying laying on of hands. This symbolic act could be used to welcome into the fellowship of the Saints church all those who have previously made a covenant in the waters of baptism, either in the Saints church or in another Christian denomination. Thus the second function of baptism as presently understood and practiced in the Saints church would be expressed through the confirmation prayer, and the sacrament of baptism in the Saints church would be freed to concentrate upon the covenant relationship aspect for all those who had not previously made such a covenant. Indeed, the confirmation experience is already understood to “complete(s) a person’s initiation into the church” 7 so the approach suggested above is hardly introducing radical change in our approach to the sacrament of confirmation.


In any meaningful examination of the sacrament of baptism and its functional application in the Saints church today, one is led inevitably into a concomitant examination of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. There is an undeniable link between the two in Latter Day Saint thought which is well summarized by Peter Judd:

“It is usually claimed that the Lord’s Supper as practiced in the Saints church has a significance for Latter Day Saints that it is unlikely to have for anyone else. This is based on interpretation of the Lord’s Supper as renewal or reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant. In recent years there have been discussions in the church over the pros and cons of discontinuing the practice of close communion. The issue hangs centrally on whether the Lord’s Supper is seen primarily as a distinctive mark of Latter Day Saint identity, being closely tied to an understanding of baptism as membership in the Saints church, or as a mark of commonality shared by all Christians, being tied closely to an understanding of baptism as membership in the wider “body of Christ”.” 8

The dual functions of baptism are discussed in the above quotation, but it is, in my view, highly significant that Judd identifies the central issue in the debate over open and close Communion as having to do with membership rather than covenant. On the other hand, another Saints church author, George Njeim, in his meticulously researched and clearly written book 9 places a great deal of emphasis on the covenant aspect of the Lord’s Supper. In particular he feels that the reference to keeping Christ’s commandments in the Communion prayers is directly related to the concept of covenant and the commandments in the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Book of Mormon (3rd Nephi 5). He argues that while the wording in the Book of Mormon account is almost identical to that used in the gospel of Matthew, the setting is vastly different.

In Matthew the sermon is given early in the ministry of Jesus, before he has established his authority and the nature of the sermon is to present “teachings” rather than “commandments”, Njeim contents that in the Book of Mormon account, Jesus is clearly identified as redeemer and He gives a series of commandments before launching into his Sermon on the Mount. Furthermore, and of great significance to Njeim, the sermon is followed soon after by the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This sacrament is linked, in Njeim’s view, to that which has preceded it. A standard has been established in the principles, instructions, and commandments outline in the Sermon on the Mount and it is this standard that the Lord wishes us to live by as we celebrate His supper.

I have no quarrel with Njeim over linking the covenant function of baptism with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. On the contrary, I would agree that this is the central affirmation of the Communion meal. It is far more than simply a meal of remembrance, although it obviously includes that element. I quite happily concur that a vital part of the covenant relationship established at baptism is the obligation to keep Christ’s commandments and would see the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as being an appropriate aid to facilitate the fulfillment of that obligation. However, I do have a great deal of difficulty in agreeing with Njeim’s assertion that “It is the linking of the commandments of Jesus to the Lord’s Supper in the prayer of consecration which compels the church to observe close Communion”. 10

In my view, an adequate basis for understanding the commandments of Christ and the development of a significant covenant relationship does not founder simply because some people (regardless of whether they are Latter Day Saints or not) are not familiar with the Book of Mormon. There are many non-Latter Day Saints with whom I am personally acquainted who have a profound sense of covenant with the Lord Jesus and whose lives exemplify their perceived obligation to keep Christ’s commandments. I have shared with some of these fine people in partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper both in their churches and in mine, and have felt immeasurably enriched in doing so. Their baptismal covenant is as meaningful to each of them as mine is to me and their allegiance is to the same God and the same Lord I profess to serve.

Form and Function in the Church 11

The deeply felt emotions over such issues as the ordination of women and reinterpretation of the nature of the sacraments arises out of the “inherent tension” referred to as the beginning of this essay. Such tension is somewhat inevitable, given the dynamic nature of social conditions and the reciprocal influence that religion and society have on each other. However, the tensions between old and new forms both within faiths and between faiths, may be resolved, or at least diminished, if the admonitions of Paul Tillich, the twentieth-century Christian existentialist theologian, are heeded. 12 Tillich suggests that the church should not become bound by its past (“sometimes we might as if the Christian Church hasn’t carried with it to much of its past and left behind too little”); 13 nor should it disregard its past. There is a vast different between forgetting and being forgotten. The inability to remember is just as destructive as the inability to forget. The church should never forget its foundation. But “if it is unable to leave behind much of what was built on this foundation, it will lose its future.”

Another theologian who has warned against blindly clinging to tradition and custom is Lloyd Geering. In an article in which he elaborates on the overwhelming trend of the church toward “religious pluralism” 14 Geering notes the continuing decline of the mainstream Christian denominations and sees the future trends being toward “the proliferation of small religious groups.” 15 The emphasis, in Geering’s view, will be an increasing movement toward individual choice, which tends “to militate against the formation of either large or permanent religious organizations.” Geering laments that too many church leaders refuse to recognize the reality of the situation and try to solve the problem by adopting methods designed to “regain lost ground”, whereas, in Geering’s view, “the nature of the present social and religious change is so deep-seated that none of these measures can do any more than bring a minor and temporary relief.” Even the trend toward ecumenism will not be enough, he believes, to rescue the situation. Perhaps the only form of ecumenism which is “permanently viable” is that “which arises out of the humanity which men of all races and cultures share.” 16

As mentioned in the introductory section of this essay, the Saints church “has not escaped the theological ferment”. It was stated that “Section 156 of the Doctrine and Covenants in many ways epitomizes this fervor” and in the following section I went on to examine some of the plications of Section 156 in terms of form and function in the sacraments of the church. My central thesis was that the functions or purposes that the sacraments play in the gathered life of the church are far more important than the particular forms in which they are expressed. I drew attention to the clear emphasis that is placed upon the function of priesthood and various “ministries” in Section 156. I now wish to extend my thesis and suggest that the concepts of form and function have implications beyond the sacramental ordinances to the very nature of the church itself.

There is a real danger, in my opinion, of regarding Section 156 in isolation. Such an approach could interpret it as being an “institution-centered” document whose major concerns have to do with priesthood function and the establishment of a church temple. There are signs within this section, however, suggesting that such conclusions should not be hastily drawn. For example, in 156:1 Charles D. Neff is commended for his leadership which “has been of particular value in a time of expanding witness of my gospel.” The temple ministries (functions) deal with such things as expanded priesthood functions, the “pursuit of peace”, “reconciliation and for healing of the spirit”, “leadership education”, and “a strengthening of faith and preparation for witness” (Doctrine and Covenants 156:5). Above all, the passage goes on to emphasize, “it shall be a place in which the essential meaning of the Restoration as healing and redeeming agent is given new life and understanding, inspired by the life and witness of the Redeemer of the world” (italics mine). The final verse comes squarely as a challenge to the Saints to devote themselves “completely to the work of the kingdom” and to “go forth to witness of my [God’s] love and my concern for all persons.”

The implications for the church are profound. The church is portrayed as existing to bring ministry and blessing to the world. Even “the power of this priesthood” is not designed for the institutional life of the church, but is “for the blessing and salvation of humanity” (Doctrine and Covenants 156:7). There is a clear undergirding theme of emphasizing the purposes (functions) of the church in Section 156. This should not be altogether surprising, for it is a recurrent theme in the ministry of the current prophet-president of the church. In 1978 he drew the church’s attention to reaching out to “the bruised and the brokenhearted as well as those who are enmeshed in sin” (Doctrine and Covenants 153:9A), and urged the church to “bear affirmative testimony of my [God’s] love and my desires for all to come unto me” (Doctrine and Covenants 153: 9B). In 1980 there is particularly clear instructions given to the Council of Twelve and the Presiding Bishopric regarding pursuing “strategies and methods” which will help t promote missionary work and outreach, and in the same document the members at large are admonished to “move out in faith and confidence to proclaim my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 154: 7A).

There is abundant evidence in the above to show the intense concern felt by the prophet-president that the church should begin to fulfill its basic purpose (function) of bearing witness and bringing ministry to a world in need. But if any doubt remains, it is dispelled by the instruction which came to the church in 1982 (Doctrine and Covenants 155):

“6. Some of you have felt confusion as you have sought to labor in the midst of the many voices which are competing for a following, claiming to know my will. At a time when my word has clearly sent you forth to witness of my gospel, there are many who still are temporizing, looking for further confirming signs of the truth of those instructions which have already been given.

7. Know, O my people, the time for hesitation is past. The earth, my creation, groans for the liberating truths of my gospel which have been given for the salvation of the world. Test my words. Trust in my promises for they have been given for your assurance and will bear you up in times of doubt. Be not overly concerned with method as you go forth to witness in my name. There are many techniques for proclaiming my word which may be used as needs and circumstances dictate.

Set against the background of the three previous revelations, Section 156 reminds the church that it exists to bring ministry to the world. The church’s institutional life needs to be examined and upgraded so that its ministry is relevant to the present age. Simply stated, Section 156 emphasizes both the growth and expansion elements which provide the basic thrust of the church’s Faith to Grow program. 17

Because the church is called to minister in the world, and because there is diverse cultural expression in the world, the Saints church is faced with a difficult question: Is it possible to allow widespread diversity in the expressive activities (including the sacraments) of the church and yet at the same time retain a sense of unity and World Church identity? We might ask: Is it possible for the church to identify particular functions that may be part of its universal calling or mission?

At an RLDS conference I attended in August 1983 (the Fifth Asia-Pacific Conference), representatives from eleven countries struggled with this basic issue. During the discussion, Wayne Ham suggested a model comprising five specific functions of the church, and there seemed to be fairly general agreement that such functions were applicable in each of the countries represented. Later, a sixth element was added, which I have placed in the central element in the model.

The undergirding purpose of the church, in my opinion, is to provide the climate for people to encounter God’s presence. I have placed “encounter” as the central reference point because I feel it permeates each of the other five functions. Intersecting this are other basic functions the church is called to express. A brief explanation of these functions follows:

  • Celebration involves the community in praise and joy. This will occur through many difference activities such as worship, play, and recognition of rites of passage. It is not just a specific activity, but an attitude that permeates the entire life of the church.
  • Kerygma may be interpreted as the proclaiming function of the church. This may take traditional forms such as preaching and teaching, or it may be expressed on a more personal level by individual members of the church.
  • Diakonia involves the church in servant ministries. It is here that the church seeks to bring reconciliation and wholeness through redemptive ministries to individuals and groups within society.
  • Exorcism may be loosely defined as the casting out of those aspects of culture which are dehumanizing and which inhibit the spiritual potential of the church, society, and individual lives.
  • Koinonia describes the fellowship function of the church. The church is called to be God’s demonstration for humanity.

This model represents, perhaps, an ideal church. In actual practice, it is unlikely that the church would fulfill all of these functions (or even a majority of them) adequately. The life of the church, and the forms that it adopts to live out that life, must be related to the particular situations in which it finds itself. Each congregation must seek the most appropriate ways to perform basic functions to which the church is called. This is similar to the process employed by Inuit/Yupik ivory carvers, as described by René Dubos:

“As the carver held the raw fragment of ivory in his hand, he turned it gently this way and that, whispering to it, “Who are you? Who hides in you?” The carver rarely set out consciously to shape a particular form. Instead of compelling the fragment of ivory to become a man, a child, a wolf, a seal, a baby walrus, or some other preconceived object, he tried subconsciously to discover the structural characteristics and patterns inherent in the material itself. He continuously let his hand be guided to the inner structure of the ivory as it revealed itself to the knife. The form of the human being or the animal did not have to be created; it was there from the beginning and only had to be released.” 18

Elizabeth O’Connor also writes of the relationship between “inner and outer forms” and suggests that creativity in our inner lives is directly related to creativity in the world. The task of the church is to “call forth gifts” and this covenant relationship is extended to the whole world. The church enriches and is enriched by the “mysterious law of reciprocity” at work in the universe. 19 The mission of the church, in this view, is one of “enabling: or evoking “the treasure of personality”. The church is called to establish groups of persons who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, become “small initiating centers of life at work in the world,” O’Connor continues.

Both O’Connor and Dubos are pointing to a “release model” of ministry which I believe the Saints church must embrace if we are to adequately fulfill our mission. We must identify our basic calling or functions and then find appropriate forms (programs, materials, ordinances, etc.) in which to express our purpose. The possibilities for the church to encourage the release of this creative power are limitless. Such ministries are indeed universal and not limited by time or cultural setting. The entire world is seen as God’s domain, and God’s power is discerned at work in a complete range of human activities and relationships. Such a view encompasses not only other cultures, but also other religions. It gives rise to a view of the church as a “continuing process” which is “in constant interaction with its environment. … The form of the church, therefore, is not fixed forever in a preexistent pattern, but is dynamic and flexible, responsive to circumstances and conditions of human experience.” 20

The challenge before the church today is to build relational ministry in today’s cultures. We must guard against the tendency to attach permanence to the church’s forms of expression. Today’s church should release the resources which allow persons to enjoy a contemporary experience – indeed, a contemporary lifestyle – empowered by the living presence of the Holy Spirit. It is in this sense that Hendrik Kraemer describes the church as an “apostolic body”. It is apostolic not in terms of authority, “but because in all its words and actions it ought to be a bearer of witness to God and his decisive creative and redeeming acts and purposes.” 21

Summary and Conclusion

The history of the Christian church has been characterized by its continuing struggle to find appropriate ways of bringing ministry relevant to its age, while at the same time seeking to preserve traditions. A reciprocal influence has always existed between church and society, but at many points the church has chosen either not to recognize this or to minimize its importance. In so doing, the church has become locked into various forms or models and has seen the maintaining of these as its primary calling rather than seeking to discover the basic functions or ministry it is called to perform.

This has been true of the Saints church also, and recent debate over the efficacy of the sacramental ordinances, particularly centered on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, has grown from the “maintenance background” described above. What is crucial for us to recognize is that the sacraments do not belong to the church. We sometimes talk of the sacraments of the church as though these are somehow the prerogative and possession of the church institution.

I believe that it gives a far more accurate representation to see the sacraments being instituted by God and practiced within the confines of the church institution. I use the word “confines” with great deliberateness, because I feel that for the present the church provides the most suitable climate in which to express the sacramental ordinances, but this may not always be the case. The sacraments exist as part of a holistic complex of relationships; they exist to assist persons in developing the quality of their relationships with God and with each other.

If we fail to see that the sacraments exist as means of assistance and not as end products in their own right, then we effectively close ourselves off from avenues of insight and rich resources that would aid us in our task of ministry. The sacramental ordinances exist as “help” or “crutches” for our covenant relationships, and I believe that ultimately the sacraments as we now know them will disappear from the life of the church be will be replaced by the living and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

The church itself has, in my opinion, fallen into the trap of maintaining institutional forms at the expense of functioning effectively in the world. I earlier drew attention to how Section 156 of the Doctrine and Covenants helps bring this into focus. Indeed, the church itself must never be regarded as an indispensable institution; it too exists as a means of assistance for promoting growth in our covenant relationships and for allowing others to enter into such relationships. The church exists, as Stephen Neill expresses it, as a “provisional arrangement” 22 and must be regarded as “expendable”:

“Herein is the genius of Christian witness: the disciple and the church are expendable. They are instruments – means and not ends. When the doctrine of expendability is taken seriously, the church becomes a distinct organization. In contrast to many organizations, it does not exist primarily for the benefit of its members. Rather, it enlists ordinary people in its fellowship to give them a job – to witness. The church exists to further the mission of Jesus Christ.” 23

The “incarnational thrust” of Section 156 and the few sections preceding it is not new in Latter Day Saint thought. 24 However since the mid-1960s there has been an increasing philosophical emphasis upon the incarnational approach. For example, in 1965 the First Presidency issued a powerful statement on the relationship of the church to the social order 25 which spells out the need for acquiring a wide range of political, economic, and vocational skills in order to build effective “kingdom communities”.

In 1973, one of the “foundation stones of faith in the Restoration” 26 was placed under close scrutiny with the publication of a series of essay on Zion. It is perhaps rather fitting that this essay should conclude with extracts of the First Presidency’s preface from that book, because I am aware that the views in this essay will not be “equally acceptable to every reader”. But if it should serve to stimulate thought and discussion and perhaps contribute in some small way to a growing understanding of the dynamic nature of the church and society, then I shall be well satisfied. For

“In the light of continuing revelation the ’cause of Zion’ has become increasingly rich in meaning. Indeed, we have come to see in it the integrating principle of history, the challenge of the ages. It is incarnational in spirit and method. It is the process of giving form and substance to the purpose of God in human life. Its resources are those of the universe, for the Lord himself has said in the inspired word that spirit and element belong together. …

Students of this book will find many concepts and numerous points of view. Not all are acceptable to every reader. It is proper, however, to explore each other’s minds in the spirit of faith. Zion is a human expression which involves the whole realm of divine creation. We can all be enriched if we will listen to each other. We can all be enlightened by the Holy Spirit as we study and reflect upon each other’s ideas, hopes, and testimonies.

Zion the Beautiful beckons us on.” 27


1. Wayne Ham, Yesterday’s Horizons: Exploring the History of Christianity (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1975), 18

2. Langdon Gilkey, Naming the Whirlwind: The Renewal of God-Language (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1969), 5.

3. Peter A. Judd, The Sacraments: An Exploration into Their Meaning and Practice in the Saints Church (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1978).

4. Peter A. Judd and A. Bruce Lindgren, An introduction to the Saints Church (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1976), 110.

5. Raymond Firth, Symbols Public and Private (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1973), 18.

6. See, for Example, Peter A. Judd, chapter 2; Judd and Lindgren, 101, 102; Maurice L. Draper in Credo: I Believe (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1983) treats these aspects in some depth in chapter 10.

7. Judd, The Sacraments, 55.

8. Ibid., 91.

9. George A. Njeim, The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in the Fullness of the Gospel (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1978).

10. Njeim, 220.

11. Much of the material in this section was published previously in an essay I wrote for Exchange, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter, 1983-84) entitled, “Missions/mission?” Drummoyne, N.S.W.: Australia-New Zealand Region, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

12. Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1956).

13. Ibid., 29.

14. Lloyd Geering, “The Pluralist Tendency – Pluralism and the Future of Religion in New Zealand,” in Religion in New Zealand Society, ed. Brian Colless and Peter Donovan (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press. 1980).

15. Greering, 176.

16. Ibid., 183.

17. For a concise definition of these terms, see Leader’s Handbook (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1984), 10.

18. René Dubos, A God Within (London: Angus and Robertson 1973).

19. Elizabeth O’Connor, Eighth Day of Creation (Waco, Texas: Word, Inc., 1971), 9.

20. Maurice L. Draper, Credo: I Believe (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1983), 89-90.

21. Hendrik Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, third edition (London: James Clarke, 1956).

22. Stephen Neill, The Unfinished Task (London: Edinburgh Press, 1972), 72.

23. Joe Serig “Church and Mission,” in Evangelism – The Ministry of the Church (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1981), 34.

24. For developments in Latter Day Saint thought see some of the excellent essays in The Restoration Movement: Essays in Mormon History, eds. Alma R. Blair, Paul M. Edwards, and F. Mark McKiernan (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1979).

25. The First Presidency, The Church and the Social Order (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1965) Saints’ Herald 113 (15 March 1966): 186-189, 198-199.

26. Paul A. Wellington, Ed., Readings on Concepts of Zion (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1973), 9.

27. Ibid., Preface.