Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Collective Covenants

August 01st, 2017 by G.

“We are a covenant-making people,” said Brother Joseph Andersen at the Sunday morning session of the October 1976 General Conference.

He talked about the national covenant that Israel made with God, and then the individual covenants we make now. Quite a contrast! Are there no more collective covenants outside of marriage? It would be interesting to read the D&C looking for promises made to and expected from the Church as a whole. Does our country have an implied covenant of some kind?

Or is the contrast more apparent than real. The individual covenant of baptism has two witnesses and the baptized individual still have to be confirmed, which for non children of record has to happen in front of their congregation. And then the newly confirmed person has to be presented to their congregation. Perhaps the baptismal covenant is only individual at the center. Or perhaps it is just an individual covenant to enter into God’s covenant with his church.

Update: from ancient times, male honor has consisted of making and keeping promises. What is the connection to the idea of the Saints as a “covenant-keeping people.”

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Comments (5)
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August 01st, 2017 07:05:29

Marilyn Nielson
August 1, 2017

I think you might be right that the individual covenant of baptism is only individual on the surface. After all, it includes so many things about how to act in the collective church. Well, so do many of the temple covenants, now that I think of it. And the marriage covenant (with its determination to multiply and replenish) is so clearly a covenant that strengthens and reaches out to society at large. And even in Ancient Israel–I’m assuming there was still an individual sort of…something. Raising your hand or shouting “aye” or something? Or were you assumed to be part of the covenant if you were part of Israel, without you ever explicitly accepting it?

Also, oops. Sorry. I must have put the wrong URL up for linking. Here’s the right one: https://light-in-leaves.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-restless-anxious-feeling.html

August 1, 2017

By collective covenant, do you mean individuals covenanting simultaneously in a group setting? Or covenanting _to_ the group of fellow covenanters or group members?

Covenants in the endowment are simultaneous as a group, as are “swearing in” ceremonies for new citizens, and military recruits. But I don’t think they are covenants “to” the group of peers.

Though… How you define the country/United States (in the case of new citizens and miltary recuits) could be nuanced as a collection of individuals as opposed to a single over-arching entity.

I see the covenants of Ancient Israel and of King Benjamin’s people as individual but simultaneous. I don’t at the moment recall any “to each other” aspects.

Though the baptism covenant is done individually, Alma’s description/definition of the baptism covenant has a specific commitment _to_ the group, in terms of bearing one another’s burdens. So that seems the most collective of the covenants that I can think of at the moment without further research/re-reading.

John Mansfield
August 1, 2017

A collective aspect of our covenants is that we don’t individually negotiate them. Perhaps Abraham did, but to us is given the invitation to be the seed of Abraham, with the terms of the Abrahamic covenant already settled.

Ugly Mahana
August 1, 2017

I have learned a lot from Lehi’s first vision,recently, that is related to your question. As I understand things, the Jews of Lehi’s day believed that Jerusalem could not be conquered because of the Temple – or, in other words, because of their collective covenant. Lehi learned, in his first vision, that Messiah would come through the David’s lineage, fulfilling not only the mosaic law, but also the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and, indeed, to Adam, notwithstanding the destruction of Jerusalem. In other words, the individual salvation would be made available even though the Israelite nation failed to honor its covenant. Of course, this means that salvation has been made available, wholesale, chiefly through the suffering of Jesus, but also because God honored personal covenants made with the early patriarchs.

I am not certain that individual and national covenants are easily separated. If the covenant of Abraham is renewed individually, do we not become fathers to our own posterity as Abraham is to us?

Also on point, perhaps, is the very concept of patriarchal blessings.

The Shadow of Godhood
August 1, 2017

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