“I Build Houses”I am convinced that continuing, modern-day revelation represents profound, yet naturally-evolved answers to mankind’s questions about God, and about our place in the universe. Let me begin my explanation with a parable of mine.
One day, a 3-year-old boy asks his daddy what he does. The dad promptly, and sincerely, answers: “I build houses.” The little one walks away satisfied.
When the 7-year-old boy again asks his daddy what he does, the father explains that he is the boss of a company that builds houses for people. Once again, the boy walks away satisfied.
When the 13-year-old boy asks his dad what he does, the father explains that he has a construction company that plans and develops communities of new houses, and then actually builds those new communities. He further explains, in his answer, that he has entire sub-contracting companies he oversees, who do much of the specialized work in furthering his new-community construction. After a good half-hour discussion, the young teenager walks away, satisfied. In fact, the boy can actually aspire to become what his father is, possibly for the very first time.
When the 18-year-old young man has graduated from High School, and asks his father what he does, the man-to-man discussion lasts far into the night. The young man hears about entrepreneurship, “Environmental Impact,” governmental regulations & oversight, international acquisition of building materials, professional trade unions, architecture, civil & electrical engineering, personnel management, and so much more. They frankly discuss various Universities and courses of study for the young man. The scope and detail of the discussion is limited in many respects, but is still magnificently rich. The son falls asleep satisfied, and awakes the next morning infused with purpose, vigor, and direction.
When the 26-year-old Professional Engineer asks his father what he does, his father admits that he spends much time planning for the day when his son can assume joint leadership of the Company he started so long ago. After graduating with a Civil Engineering degree, and with the 4 years apprenticeship in his father’s company under his belt, the son now understands just how much he has yet to learn; but he looks forward with satisfaction to that day when he can, in fact, become a joint partner with his father.
He also looks forward to the day he answers his own son’s questions. When his newborn son can someday ask: “Daddy, what do you do?” he’ll answer: “I build houses.” And that’ll be just right!
Our place in the universe and in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom is something like that little boy asking his daddy what he does. We are, as yet, so immature and inexperienced in the goings-on of the huge, rich cosmos that we cannot possibly grasp very much more than the basics. For sure, we are no longer the nomadic, technologically ignorant peoples of 6 or 7 thousand years ago. Nor are we, any longer, the somewhat more civilized, world-wise citizens of the Roman Empire, either. Today, we are a people in the midst of technological innovations and scientific understandings that far transcend the concepts of peoples ten or twenty centuries past (let alone those of 6 or 7 thousand years ago!). We have progressed to the point where we are intellectually ready for so very much more of the story – but we are most likely STILL not quite ready for the whole, complete story.
Never fear, for we are family; and when we are ready for more, our loving Heavenly Father will surely provide. We are told, after all: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” [Luke 12:32]
Jesus knew 2000 years ago that the time had come when the closely-disciplined little ones, his Father’s earthly children, could be given more information – hence the “New Testament” of the Bible. His “Good News” was strikingly different from what the men and women of his culture had heard before. Countless majorities embraced it; while the few, established authorities who felt threatened by the apparent upsetting of the social & theological applecart, sought to suppress and destroy the new & different – and even the messenger, too.
The thing is, had they analyzed it more, and actually sought to understand the message Jesus preached, they could have recognized the natural evolution of the message was appropriate to their own natural evolution socially, culturally, theologically, and even psychologically. The difference between what Moses proclaimed and what Jesus proclaimed was nothing more than those additional, profound truths a wise, loving Heavenly Father knew that his children were ready for – and he provided them through Jesus Christ.
The father of the 3-year-old boy didn’t lie to his son; he simply provided the son with information to the uttermost limits of his young son’s capacity to understand.
The father might never have actually swung a hammer, or personally sawn a beam, but that does not mean that his statement; “I build houses” was wrong. In fact, that statement, in its simplicity, invited investigation and nurtured growth. Right on from the very start, the wise father freely gave his son all the information he was able to handle. The difference between the information – revelation, if you will – that the father shared with the 7-year old boy is that there is a hierarchy of labor & organization concerning house building, and his daddy is the guy in charge. The father did so when it was right for the son; and did so in a way that fostered the son’s healthy development and sincere motivations for a wonderful future as a full-partner with his father, in his father’s life’s work.
By answering so freely, the father also established and reinforced the son’s absolute right to come to the father for any answer, at any time. The father established a personal, intimate relationship of love and trust. Continuing revelation perfectly accomplished, the son eventually embraced the father’s vision; and joined with his father in the “family business.”
We are the little flock Jesus spoke to. We are the children of the Eternal Mansion Builder. We are able to petition God for answers, through our prayers. Just as the child of the house builder, we may expect to receive answers “…to the uttermost limits…” of our understanding. We should expect to receive answers when it is right, and in a way that fosters our healthy development and reinforces our sincere motivations. Those answers from our Heavenly Father, great or small, are the nucleus of continuing, modern revelation.
As such, continuing, modern revelation clearly builds upon the answers of the past. It appropriately rests upon the foundations of previous revelations, and utilizes the scaffolding of simplified, circumscribed understandings to erect more correct, more permanent spiritual edifices within individuals and cultures. Scaffolding must, of necessity, be adjusted, increased, moved, and eventually removed during construction – one can’t complete some structures by merely building on one side, for instance! Neither does a fully functional, completed structure even need scaffolding any longer; therefore the scaffolding is cast aside and discarded. No matter how necessary, even critical, scaffolding may be before and during construction of any permanent structure, there is very often no trace of the scaffolding to be found after the structure is completed and placed into its intended service.
Such is true, I suspect, of many of the supposedly sacred and inviolate religious dogma, rituals, and doctrines – especially those modified or eliminated through continuing, modern revelation.
Continuing, modern-day revelation naturally corrects some minor misconceptions, which inevitably grow in the mind of immature, ignorant children; even as it gives, perhaps for the first time, the information necessary for the genuine aspirations of the children toward “the family business.” It neither invalidates, nor replaces religion. It, instead, wondrously superimposes upon the properly prepared mortal mind a heavenly panorama of grace, growth, and accomplishment.
Harold Sherrod, Jr
Las Vegas, Nevada