Elder Bednar’s First Fist Bump

Elder Bednar's Fist Bump

Elder Bednar’s First Fist Bump

Elder Bednar made history this past weekend by giving Elder Perry the first fist bump recorded in LDS General Conference history.

The first fist bump in General Conference is seen by many (ok, just me) as an attempt to apply the counsel of the apostle Paul.   Paul counseled the ancient church to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12).  Elder Bednar’s first fist bump gives the age-old rite of the “holy kiss” a modern update.

Time will tell if Elder Bednar’s fist bump gains theologically significance to members of the Mormon Church.  If I had to bet – which I won’t (faithful Mormons don’t bet or gamble) – I would guess that the “holy fist bump” won’t become Mormon doctrine.  The “holy kiss” never did (see D&C 88:132-33; footnote “a” to 2 Corinthians 13:12)

Modern revelation can overrule ancient practices

Consistent with its claims of modern revelation, the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon or LDS Church) has re-worked historical practices on occasion.

Biblical Christianity, confined to the limits of a closed cannon, has struggled how to handle scriptures containing historical anachronisms.  For instance, a controversial scripture by the apostle Paul is “let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak” (1 Corinthians 14:35).

This scripture, however, has not troubled Mormons nor is it part of Mormon doctrine.  In July 1830, just three months after organizing the church, Joseph Smith received a revelation on behalf of his wife, Emma Hale Smith.  This revelation commanded that Emma Smith be set apart to “expound scriptures, and to exhort the church” (D&C 25:7).  Since the beginning, LDS women have participated actively in the church.

To me, modern-revelation is more sensible than trying to ignore ancient practices (pretending they never existed).  And it avoids the even worse practice of trying to apply them literally when they clearly no longer apply (if they ever did).  However, revelation comes by the will of God, and not man, meaning that some practices will likely never change such as the church’s stand on pre-martial sexual relationships.

First Prayer in General Conference by an LDS Woman

The Church had a long-standing tradition of having men pray in General Conference (women leaders spoke but LDS women not pray general conference).

However, the practice of having men give prayers in general conference came to an end.  Two LDS woman – Jean A. Stevens (first counselor in General Primary Presidency) , and Carole M. Stephen(first counselor in General Relief Society Presidency) prayed in general conference for the first time.

Revelation is a central tenant of the Mormon faith.  After all, “we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Article of Faith #9)

While a church that grows and changes opens itself up to criticism, to me it is evidence that God guides His church.  Christ guided His ancient church through revelation “through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles who he had chosen” (Acts 1:2).   Why would He guide His modern church any differently? (See Hebrews 13:8)

Visit Mormon.org to learn more about modern revelation

Additional Reading

 

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