Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
The reading of James E. Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ” challenges my levels of concentration.
The first time I read it, I spent more time flipping through the pages of Webster’s dictionary than I did in the text of the LDS classic, which is now over 100 years old.
Over the years, I have enjoyed re-reading it and reflecting upon the light it sheds on the birth, life, mission and resurrection of The Chosen One.
As I scribbled down my personal goals for 2017, I decided to again tackle reading “Jesus the Christ,” only this time from a different angle: I would delve into the thousands of scriptural footnotes that Talmage published.
While his footnotes are primarily scriptural references, occasionally Talmage includes other citations, including one about the fact that man cannot be saved by his own unaided effort.
“A comparison related to that given in the text is treated at length by Henry Drummond in his essay, ‘Biogenesis,’ which the reader may study with profit,” caught my attention in an early chapter.
I learned in a quick background check that Drummond was a Scottish evangelist, biologist, writer and lecturer who was extremely influential religiously in the late 1800s.
Drummond penned numerous catchy quotes that we still see posterized including, “Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things for people?”
In “Biogenesis,” the founder of Drummond Seeds addresses these two polar views: 1) Can spiritual life in man only come from pre-existing life or 2) Does life spontaneously generate itself?
In the lengthy essay Drummond tackles the assumption that science and religion violently crash in a head-on collision.
Drummond opens by writing, “Two great schools have defended exactly opposite views — one that matter can spontaneously generate life, the other that life can only come from pre-existing life.”
Rather than base the discussion strictly upon Christian scripture, Drummond extends his beliefs into the scientific world.
He writes, “There is no Spontaneous Generation in religion any more than in Nature. Christ is the source of Life in the Spiritual World; and he that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son, whatever else he may have, hath not Life.”
Drummond contends that just as there are similarities between inorganic and organic matter, the natural and spiritual man are similar in many senses.
He compares a crystal to a plant noting that both are made of atoms, display properties of matter, and are subject to physical laws.
However, Drummond notes, “But besides possessing all that the crystal has, the plant possesses something more — a mysterious something called Life.
The author argues that the difference between the natural and spiritual man is a scientific distinction: “He that hath not the Son hath not Life.”
Drummond writes that there are three points made clear in New Testament teachings that Christ gives spiritual life:
1) That “Christ liveth in me” is an explicit declaration, not merely a rhetorical phrase
2) When spiritual life is obtained it is literal, not something outside ourselves and
3) Spiritual life is not an ordinary form of energy or force
In short, Drummund’s writing drives home the point to me that through Christ we can be born again.
As taught by the prophet Mosiah, “Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name.”
Charlie Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.