Language is important. The meanings of words are important. This book by the Givens explains how many of the words we use at church do not mean what we traditionally think they mean. The words we use are wounding many members, especially our children as the words they are hearing at church do not feel spiritually in alignment for them. Let’s get back to the true meanings of words like: forgiveness, sin, atonement, heaven, salvation, obedience, repentance, and many more. “All Things New” is an essential book to become familiar with if you are struggling at church, or if someone you love is struggling at church (which probably captures 99% of you).
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You’re listening to Parenting Through the Detour, Episode 44. Let’s talk about the book “All Things New” by Terryl and Fiona Givens.
Howard W Hunter said, “Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to Him.” Well, how are your detours going? Because it felt like everything has gone wrong and you don’t know what to do now. I’m Tina Gosney, a life and relationship coach, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I’ll help you find your footing again through those detours. And when you begin to find your strength and your courage, navigate your own detours, you’re going to begin helping your family through theirs as well.
Welcome back to parenting through the detour. I’m so glad that you’re here. I just returned a few days ago from a big mastermind in Texas, of life coaches. In fact, there were 1500 of us, at this mastermind imagine the like the biggest conference hotel room you can imagine. And that’s the kind of room that we were in, if it’s 1500 people. And it was pretty amazing. And I saw a lot of people that I’ve only ever met online, so many people that I’ve only ever known online. And some of them I haven’t even seen in two or three plus years. And so I was kind of worried that maybe some people wouldn’t remember me. Maybe I’d met them. There’s quite a few actually, that I met a long time ago. And I haven’t seen them since then. But I was kind of worried that they wouldn’t remember me, but I remembered them.
So this is what I did. I just would see somebody that I recognized. And I would just go up to them. And I would say, “Hey, do you remember me?” And every single time they said, “Yes, Tina, I remember you.” And it was so fun to have that in that experience to meet people that I’d only met online. And I was just thinking like, what if I had not been the one to go up to them and say, “Hey, do you remember me?” What if I didn’t take that risk? Because you know, that is a risk that maybe they’re gonna say, “Yeah, I don’t remember you at all.” And I was just telling this to my daughter, we were talking about this about how we don’t go up to people and say, “Hey, do you remember me?” We just wait for them to come to us. So often.
And when they don’t, then we it’s kind of awkward. Like, we don’t want to say, Hey, we’ve met before, and to see what their response is going to be if they like if they don’t remember beating you, right? So I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve, I used to be that way. And I’m just not going to be that way anymore. I’m just going to acknowledge that I’ve met you before. And hopefully if someone comes up to me and says, “Hey, do you remember me?” And I don’t, I’m going to be completely honest. And say “I am so sorry, I don’t to remind me of how we know each other.” And sometimes I’m going to see somebody that I don’t remember their name. And so I’m just gonna say, “it’s so good to see you. But please remind me what your name is.”
And it’s all okay. It’s all okay. I think people would much rather have you acknowledged that you’ve met them, and that you can’t remember their name, then pretend like you’ve never met them because you don’t remember their name. Or just ignore the whole situation because it feels awkward. So this really has nothing to do with podcast today. I just wanted to share that with you. Because it was something that I was talking about with my daughter, who’s a lot younger than me. And I was telling her I said, I hope that you get to this point before you’re my age, that you can just go up to someone and say, Hey, do you remember me and just let it sit the way it is? Whatever the response that you get from them is, let it all be okay. But that’s you do that because that’s the person that you want to be.
So I think that we all should just do a better job of going up to someone and being their friend. Speaking of friends, Are we friends? I want you to get on my email list. Because I send my friends on my email list little tidbits of help every week into their inbox. And to the people that are on my email list, those friends that I have, they get to know what I’m doing, what classes I’m offering, the things that I have coming up that they can take advantage of. They get to know it first before anyone else. So if you are not my friend on my email list, I want you to go to tinagosney.com. And I want you to click on the Start Here button, because that will get you signed up for my list and you’ll get a pretty cool trick Meeting pdf training. And then you will you and I can be friends. And you’ll start knowing what I have coming up in my business. So there’s also a link in the show notes. If you don’t want to go there, you can go to my website, just Google my name, Tina Gosney.
You know, a few short years ago, just shortly after my son told me and his dad that he was gay, I was really, really struggling. I was having a really hard time making sense of anything in my life. And I felt like the entire foundation of what my life was, had just crumbled. It was really tough. And I became friends with Tom Christofferson at this time.
And he gave me some really great advice as we communicated through email. He told me what and one of the things that he told me was to read the book, “The Christ Who Heals” by Terryl and Fiona Givens, and he said, pay special attention to the last two chapters. So immediately, I went and got the book, and I devoured the book and paid special attention to the last two chapters. And it was so incredibly helpful. So if you’re struggling with trying to understand what’s happening in your family, even if you don’t have a gay son, even if your thing that you are trying to figure out is different than mine, you can still benefit from that book.
And I’m going to second Tom’s recommendation and refer that book to you. And if you want to hear more from Tom, you can go to listen to episode five of this podcast. It aired last summer, but there are lots of great things that he has to say about being gay, and being a member of this church. But that’s really not the book I’m going to talk about today. Because Tom introduced me to the world of Terryl and Fiona givens and I am so so grateful that he did. And now I’ve read all of their books, and I’m currently reading the latest Terrell Givens book called Doors of Faith. And I will have more about that later when I finished that book, still in the middle of it. But the book I’m going to talk about today is their book that came out in 2021, which is “All Things New.”
Now, I was in a class with Fiona Givens a couple of weeks ago, and she was the guest speaker. And she talked about this book that she and her husband wrote, If you don’t know something about Terryl and Fiona Givens I want you to go Google them. They are gospel scholars, they have written books that had been released through desert book and they have, they’re very academic, their books are not easy and quick reads.
So just prepare yourself for that. Prepare yourself to spend some time thinking and pondering as you read their books. As I was in this class with Fiona Givens, she, for sure did not have time to go over everything in this book. In fact, we just pretty much skimmed the surface. And all of us that were in that class are now requesting that she come back into another class because we could have spoken to her for hours, asking her all of our questions.
So I’m gonna recommend this book, if you are struggling at church, or if you know anyone that struggling at church, if you’re wondering why so many people are leaving, or if you think you already know why people are leaving, I want you to go read this book. Because this book has changed the waist so many people see what is happening right now. And especially if you work with the youth, primary or young women’s or young men’s, this is a must read.
And I’m just going to very briefly go over parts of this book. And I’m going to go into another part of it more in depth. But really, the givens go into a very detailed history of how we came to be where we are right now, and how some of those plain and precious truths have been taken from us. And how some of those plainer precious two truths are the meanings of words, and how very damaging that is to us and to our children.
So they wanted to write this book and they had research assistants, who were all members of the LDS church, and they were all at BYU. And they asked them to go out and do some research and gather a list of words, causing people fear and harm things that they’re struggling with the words that they’re struggling with at church. And then they took all of those words and that she said it was very interesting that they all came back with the same group of words. And so the givens wrote this book, in response to that research that was done. And each of those words that people are struggling with, got a different chapter in this book.
And I’m gonna go over those words today. So Fiona really prefaced her address with us acknowledging that God speaks to us in a language that we understand. He speaks to each of us in a language that we each understand. Our scriptures today were written in the language of the time that they were written and in a way that those people could understand.
But we don’t speak that language anymore. We speak the language of trauma of love, inclusion and understanding. And what we’re teaching so often in church is not the language of our children, our children speak the language of trauma. There are so many books that are coming out on trauma, generational trauma, and it’s just increasing exponentially all the time. If you’re wanting to know about more about trauma, I want you to go and listen to the episode I did with Lindsay Poelman just a couple of weeks ago, about trauma at church.
But so often we are speaking a language in church that is not the language of our children. And we are losing them because they speak a different language and they are feeling wounded. And feeling like church is not a safe place for them. So let me just get into a little bit into this book, and share some things with you want to give you some quotes from this book. And then I encourage you to go and read the full text yourself. So they have a chapter called a new language, and they said, what we believe to be true of our deepest nature, and what we believe to be true of God’s nature has real world consequences. How we understand God and the quality of their love, conditions, our own ability to receive and reciprocate love.
Language is fundamental to the possibility of re wonderment for language does not just register experience it produces it. Our language shapes our mind and heart, our church culture, and our world. Our religious language conditions all of our experience, and negates or makes possible our encounter with what is most holy. So language does matter, the meanings of words, the connotations that we have the meanings that we have associated with words, the words that we use, are very, very important. I’m gonna give you a few quotes out of each of the 12 words, the words that were turned into chapters, and just a few quotes that stand out to me.
And the first is Salvation. And they said to be saved does not mean to be rescued, redeemed or otherwise restored, from a position of deficit. It is not a response to a past catastrophe. It is the realization of a future possibility. It is additive not restorative. Our faith tradition aspires us to make us into the likeliness of our heavenly parents. Our sin, as saints may be thinking that such an endeavor could be anything other than wrenching, costly, inconceivably difficult at times, unimaginably painful. We do not become in CS Lewis’s phrase little Christ’s. By a couple of well spent hours ministering to our assigned families and abstaining from tea and coffee. We are still very much in the morning of an eternity of striving.
The next chapter is entitled Heaven. And they say, if salvation is about what we are to become as individuals, heaven is the name given to those relationships in which individuals find fullness of joy. It clarifies where neither salvation nor heaven are rewards that God can dispense, or that we can earn. relationships are forged. Life is the school of love and our growing capacity for love constitutes the bricks out of which the heavenly Zion will be constructed. Loneliness is the first thing which Gods I named not good. Heaven is relationship. Looking at that, no wonder we’re told that the first and second commandments are love. Right? Love God love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The next chapter is the Fall and they said God for ordained the fall. in Joseph Smith’s mouth, the fall is no tragic descent. It is fruitful accident Human beings were born into the world by the fall as even Adam’s posterity we fall in a second way, acquiring at conception our individual coat of skins, which some early Christians thought was a metaphor for our spirits embodiment, we become biological organisms inheriting all of those instincts, appetites and tendencies towards self preservation with which nature endowed us. In other words, it is the action of our natural Darwinian selves, that can propel us in a direction contrary to God and godliness. It is that side of our nature, that which comes to us through nature, that if unchecked, we can become the enemy to God, not RNA itself, which is whole from the foundation of the world.
And then we have the chapter on Obedience. And they say, God does not owe us blessings or gratitude and does not insist on punishment or retribution. God experiences joy in our growth and prosperity. And they experience sorrow in our missteps and the pain that follows because they choose to love us. There is no one to one relationship between our actions and our blessedness or suffering, as another prophet will, right and Jesus will affirm, the sun shines and the rain falls equally on those perceived to be good, and on those perceived to be wicked. Obedience drawn out of us from fear is but slavery. The motivation for obedience must be love, and good parents be the eternal or earthly asked obedience for our benefit, not their own. And if this is true, then the point of obedience is not a litmus test of our servitude. We should think of obedience as a response to loving counsel, rather than to divine command. He said, consider that I beg you the difference between counsel and command, the former invites you to do something, the latter threatens you if you fail to do it.
The next chapter on Sin is actually one of my favorites. And it’s one of their longest chapters as they go into the different words that were brought back to them. And they say when Nephi sees the Christ in vision, he sees him not preaching or rebuking or judging. Nephi sees him ministering unto the people. When Christ appears to the Nephites, he ministers to the afflicted, and both they who had been healed and they who were whole did bow down and worship Him. We carry in our bodies in our genetic makeup, the pain and trauma incident to mortality. As agents and as beings of subject to the agency of others, we act and are acted upon in a world of hurt and handicap for the majority of the world’s inhabitants. And for most of us striving to find joy in the Gospel. A great portion of our lives is protracted exercise in pain management. brokenness, not sinfulness is our general condition. Simply put, woundedness is the collateral damage that is essential to our learning process along the path of eternal life. woundedness is our essential and inevitable in the great plans unfolding. It is through our necessary experience of the better that we may learn to prize the sweetness of what is good and pure and beautiful, the sweetness that is in Christ, sin which is in the book of Moses, is associated with the better in what we taste so that we may learn to recognize and avoid it and cleave to the sweetness of Christ and his precepts. The whole point of our participation in sin is to learn to experience and to be personally empirically educated in the beauty of Christ’s way.
By our immersion in a world of choice and consequences, we learned that certain choices we make, and as often consequences we suffer at the hands of others, take us to a place that is contrary to the nature of happiness. In the book of Moses, sin is presented as a misdirection and as employing choice in ways contrary to the nature of happiness. In tea right gives an apt analogy when God looks at sin. What he sees is what a violin maker would see if the player were to use his lovely creation. As a tennis racket. Such missteps are unnecessary part of our education they are to be expected, they do not make us criminals deserving retribution, they reveal us as souls in need of direction. A most important consequence of this reorientation is understanding sin is the effect it can have on the compassion with which we view ourselves and each other. Recognizing the universality of our woundedness is the universal love of God invites community and mutual concern.
Now think about the difference between thoughts about someone else as being a center versus being someone who was wounded. Someone when you think of someone else’s being a center, you really want to have a separation between you and them. You want to have a divide, you don’t want to does not make you want to go out and reach forward to them. But if someone is wounded, your heart goes out to them. You want to go help them, you want to offer them healing and be there to help. It’s a very, very different way of looking at ourselves and other people.
And then we have the chapter on Justice, and they say, while it is true that to choose to indulge a desire is to choose its fruit, bitter or sweet. Accountability depends upon as Lehi taught, they’re being instructed sufficiently to understand what they are choosing. But the crucial caveat is this. Never in this life do we attain perfect understanding, and a will utterly uncontaminated by all kinds of white noise. This is why when we use our agency wrongly, it creates an occasion for God’s mercy to enter in, not because our guilt is excused, but because our guilt is seldom entire in the first place. This is a recognition of seismic significance. As our desires evolve in more righteous directions, our choices become wiser, and more informed by truth and light and love. We become more accountable as our agency grows more refined. Our Heavenly Parents thus assume a very different role in the drama of human choice and consequence. They counsel educate, inform, instruct, guide, and encourage us to make those choices that will eventuate in the sweet rather than the bitter. John assigns this task of guiding and encouraging principally to the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things and serve as our comforter along the journey.
I love this chapter on Repentance, because the subtitle of it is, from looking back to looking forward. And I think if we we can redefine the way that we think about repentance, it will be it’s a beautiful thing rather than a punitive thing.
Our entire relationship with God will change when we are able to recognize that repentance is not the discipline meted out to us when we get it wrong. Repentance is the lifelong venture of accepting Christ willingness to help us shape our hearts in his image. It is a positive engagement with the learning process. In the Gospel of John, the story unfolds of a woman caught in adultery. The crowd gathers intent on executing justice. Christ with one simple gesture repudiates their retributive justice and teaches the meaning of repentance. Neither do I condemn the Jesus continues, go and sin no more. That is repentance, continuation of the journey, picking ourselves up and moving forward, energized and renewed by the certainty of God’s abiding love and encouragement. Christ shows no interest in official church discipline, or forgiving the woman for her past. Rather, he desires change and conversion for the woman. The entire Great plan is predicated on our heavenly parents confidence, that through the process of our mortal experiences, we will learn to choose more wisely and that our desires our yearnings, our affections, will become more and more centered on the good, the true and the beautiful. It is a long process and we are going through it until we are able here or hereafter. To choose Christ with eyes fully opened the bitter rejected in the sweet embraced, we are whole from the foundation of the world. But as we come to live in a sphere where chaos reigns in sold in bodies subject to all that is carnal and sensual. tempted by all the appeals to our biologically inherited natures, we taste the bitter fruit in order to learn to prize the sweet this process of re educating our inclinations is one way to translate very literally repentance, re education of the heart remolding of desires. from God’s perspective, sin is of concern because of the havoc that it wreaks in us. And because of the harm it causes us to do to ourselves and to each other. In God’s vocabulary. Sin is suffering woundedness and brokenness in our relationships.
This chapter on Forgiveness is very eye opening. So they say we are the channels through whom God’s love passes to another. And hence God’s greatest concern is that we do not obstruct the flow. Forgiveness clears the channels for their love to emanate freely.
One of the most astonishing things Joseph said about the celestial kingdom is this. If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser, you will enter heaven. This statement reflects a procurer. The Latter Day Saint version of heaven, someone’s refusal to forgive me impedes our relationship in a way that constrains my heaven as well as hers. This is a hard doctrine. Regardless of my personal sanctity or righteousness, I cannot experience a celestial existence. If Love does not flow without inhibition between myself and all members of that heavenly community, because, as discussed earlier, authentic loving relationships are not the preparation for heaven, they constitute Heaven. In a very real sense, our own willingness to set aside our hurts and injuries has a direct essential bearing on the quality of that heaven enjoyed by others, and vice versa.
The next chapter is on the Atonement. And it’s a very long chapter as you might imagine, going to give you a little sneak peek into this chapter. And it says, notice several implications of this model where at which the saints regrettably generally accept unquestioningly sin is offense against God and demands punishment. It is not a misstep or educative experience of the bitter justice is retribution for that offense. It is vengeance, rather than a principle of restoration that operates in accord with our evolving desires and yearnings. God is angry and wrathful towards our sins, but He is mollified by seeing Jesus suffer in our place. Jesus is our shield against God’s vengeance. In some, the phrase penal substitution reveals the utter dependence of this atonement theory on a model of criminality and punishment. As Rene Girard commented, God feels the need to revenge his honor, which has been tainted by the sins of humanity. Not only does God require a victim, but he requires the victim who was most precious and dear to him, his very own son, no doubt, this line of reasoning, has done more than anything else to discredit Christianity in the eyes of the people of goodwill in the modern world.
Now, that’s just a tiny little glimpse into this chapter on atonement. And I’m going to leave it at that because I want you to go and get this book. And no, I do not have any vested financial interest in you buying this book. Only that I want to share this with you because I want to have you start to understand how you can start helping the people in your life that are struggling, and maybe if you’re struggling, you can start to look at this, and these words in a different way.
Now, there are also chapters on that I will not go over on Grace, Worthiness and Judgment. And then a final section on reframing the narrative. And they give three more words, the first one is Apostasy. And then we have Restoration. And the final one is Church. Language is important.
The meanings that we give to words, the way that we communicate those words and our understandings of them is important. And that’s why I love this book so much. That’s why I’m recommending this book. That’s why I’m dedicating an entire episode of this podcast to this book, because I think it’s just that important. So please, if you’re not familiar with Terryl and Fiona Givens start becoming familiar with them. They have some great work that we need to pay attention to.
My new masterclass will be offered very soon, and you’ll want to get on my email us so you know, when it’s scheduled, I’ll be offering it several different times in April and May so be sure to get sign up for that list so you can attend.
And I want you to remember that your detours and disappointments do not define you, and they do not define your family. Have a great day and I’ll see you next week.