In a recent LDS Perspectives podcast with LDS author Fiona Givens, Laura Hales discusses Givens' new book, The Christ Who Heals: How God Restored the Truth That Saves Us.
Covering topics from the role our Heavenly Mother plays in the plan of salvation, how the Godhead and Latter-day Saints work to heal and save others, and the love God has for His children, Givens offers powerful insights into our relationship with the divine.
Here are just a few highlights from the podcast.
Heavenly Mother's Role in the Plan of Salvation
“Our heavenly parents clarified precepts and instituted ordinances,” Fiona and her husband, Terryl, write in The Christ Who Heals. During the interview, Fiona Givens expounds on this idea, saying:
Erastus Snow said that there could never be a God that did not comprise male and female, man and woman. Both Elder Holland and Elder Ballard specifically refer to the role of divine parents in this plan. Elder Holland talks about heavenly parents “anxious for their children, wishing them along, and waiting to gather them home.” I think the idea of heavenly parents has fallen out of fashion, perhaps, but the idea was pretty prevalent and accepted among the early people of the Restoration. . . . I think there are many women who are sort of stumbling and wondering what their place is and struggling to understand that Heavenly Mother was a co-collaborator in the Plan.
Elder Ballard describes the plan as “designed by heavenly parents who love us.” . . . The fact, as you said, that the quotation or citation of heavenly parents is being used more and more often by the Brethren themselves is a very good sign that space is being created for a greater inclusion of Heavenly Mother into this plan — because she was obviously part of it.
As Elder Holland says, “What would this world’s inhabitants pay to know that heavenly parents are reaching across streams and mountains and deserts, anxious to hold them close.” I think particularly for women, understanding that it’s not just the Father, but the Mother who is anxious to hold them close, I think will be very empowering.
Are Mormons Monotheistic?
After Hales broaches this complex question, Givens gave the following insights:
No, we’re not monotheistic as a religion. . . . I’m not sure that we’re polytheistic, either. I think we could definitely say that we’re tri-theistic because we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — so they’re three distinct entities all working together. . . .
We pray to the Father through the Son, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit also has great influence in our prayers, so when we cannot articulate what it is we wish to say, the Holy Spirit then comes in and empowers us to be able to articulate or to be able to utter.
There’s definitely a collaboration of all three. For me, I think this is one of the things that I think is so beautiful about our gospel — the fact that we’ve been invited into helping others heal in the way Christ has shown the example. When one looks at Christ’s life, essentially He’s healing — in every single miracle, He’s healing someone from a psychological ailment, an emotional ailment, a physical ailment.
What I find so striking is the idea that “saviors on Mount Zion” is not something with which Mormons are not familiar. They’re very familiar with that turn of phrase. Generally, we associate it with the vicarious work for the dead, but it has a much more contemporary and daily applicability when we look at Mosiah 18 and the covenants we make at baptism. . . .
God's Love Is Absolute
In closing, Fiona Givens shares the truth of God's absolute love for His children, saying:
For us and for Mormonism, God’s love is absolute. If we go back to the God of Enoch and the God of Jacob 5, He grieves, and He grieves because of our sufferings. God the Father addresses Himself as “Man of holiness,” and I think this is lovely. Maybe this will help. “Man of holiness is my name, the Son of man is my son, and we are mankind.”
Is that not beautiful? I think that we as Mormons forget that we are mankind; that we are like God and that within us is a divine spirit to choose a more abundant life, which required incredible courage. I don’t think we believe in absolute love. I think we often feel, “No — God’s love and Christ’s Atonement cannot cover what I have done." . . .
President Monson once said, “We of all people should be the most happy.” I think what he was talking about was this idea of the abundant love of God — that we can trust in His love, in the power of His love. The power of the Atonement really is that which can atone all of our sins. That can help and strengthen us. That’s why the Spirit was sent — not only to testify of the power of the Atonement but also to testify as the Comforter.
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Get more powerful insights from The Christ Who Heals: How God Restored the Truth That Saves Us.
In a world increasingly prone to doubt, a foundation in Christ is the only sure basis of a durable discipleship. And for Latter-day Saints, the Jesus Christ revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith is, in some very significant ways, a different kind of Christ than the Jesus of modern Christianity. The Christ of the restored gospel collaborated with Heavenly Parents for our salvation even before the foundation of the world, "does not anything" save it be for our benefit (2 Nephi 26:24), and is determined to patiently guide and nurture every one of God's children into an eternal heavenly family. Most significantly, this Christ does not rescue us from a condition of original sin or depravity. Rather, He is primarily a healer of the wounds incident to a long-planned sojourn, one intended to immerse us in the trials, pains, and soul-stretching of this mortal schoolroom. He is not only the most remarkable being in the history of religious thought; He is, in fact, The Christ Who Heals.