Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harvard Undergrad Explains Her Mormon Faith

I first saw this video last year around Christmastime when Aquinas posted Harvard undergraduate explains her Mormon faith. Rachel Esplin is/was the president of the Latter-day Saint Student Association at Harvard University. I was impressed then and continue to be impressed now.

Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose - 3. Rachel Esplin from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.


Matthew said...

Thanks for posting this - I am looking forward to watching the whole series over the next few days.

Impressive, indeed. I know I wouldn't have been able to do that at 20 years old.

Tom Anderson said...

Very impressive for a 20 year old from Blackfoot, Idaho! A very mature understanding of temple ordinances and garments for a young, unendowed member.

There were a few times that I thought "Why did she choose those words?" For example, the first thing she said about Jesus is "He is my older brother." Then she has to go on and explain what that means and why we bother to say it. It obscured our #1 teaching of who Jesus is.

I appreciate the familiarity that such a thought imparts, but I really don't think members should have that as their first characterization of who Jesus is. IMO, it can detract from our understanding of His role as our Savior and our God, and can contribute to forgetting how wide the chasm is between us and Deity.

The Chrsitian girl was funny.
I don't want to sound snarky, but couldn't they have picked a Christian who would be a little more articulate about his/her faith? I don't doubt her sincerity, though, and I liked a lot of what she said, particularly about her relationship with Christ being more important than any other descriptor of her faith.

Tom Anderson said...

One other thing I liked about the Christian girl is it was obvious that she had no motive to cast stones at any other faith represented.

For me, there is always a temptation to tailor my presentation to people who I know are listening and what I want them to hear. The Christian girl seemed to have no motive to "correct" anything the LDS girl said.

Clean Cut said...

Tom, I couldn't agree more with you about speaking of Jesus as our elder brother over the fact that He is our Savior and Redeemer. That makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I believe we need to be very clear on this point. Elder M. Russell Ballard, in a talk entitled "Building Bridges of Understanding", cautioned members of the Church:
"We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the pre-mortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn't go far enough in terms of describing the Savior's role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don't view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ's divinity…

"Now we can understand why some Latter-day Saints have tended to focus on Christ's Sonship as opposed to His Godhood. As members of earthly families, we can relate to Him as a child, as a Son, and as a Brother because we know how that feels. We can personalize that relationship because we ourselves are children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. For some it may be more difficult to relate to Him as a God. And so in an attempt to draw closer to Christ and to cultivate warm and personal feelings toward Him, some tend to humanize Him, sometimes at the expense of acknowledging His Divinity. So let us be very clear on this point: it is true that Jesus was our Elder Brother in the premortal life, but we believe that in this life it is crucial that we become "born again" as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant."

I'm afraid the "brother" thought (based on an understanding on the pre-mortal existence of which we know so very little) is used far too much. Not once does the Book of Mormon refer to Christ as "brother". It does, however, refer to Him as God. I think we need to emphasize that fact much more--as well as the fact that He is the father of our spiritual rebirth. We become born again as His sons and daughters.

If anything, we ought to be referring to Him more as a father than a brother! However one chooses to refer to Him, the covenant relationship we have with Christ is our only hope--without Him we would be lost.