Recently I’ve been reading the book titled “All Things New, Rethinking Sin, Salvation and Everything In Between” by Fiona and Terryl Givens. Reading this book has changed the way I think about several gospel concepts, and I am very excited to share what I am learning.
Several of my Instagram friends started talking about this book “All Things New”, and I resisted getting on the bandwagon until one day Fiona Givens spoke to the LDS Life Coaches group I below to. I was so excited by what she had to say that I bought the audio book and listened to it. Then I wanted to be able to underline phrases and concepts, so I bought the paperback book too! The book is now underlined in many colors and dogeared.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part is a history of Christianity with a focus on the nature of God. The Givens write about how the view of Christianity changed from the early church through the teachings of Luther, Calvin and Augustine, and how the modern restoration fits in. They discuss how the way we view God, has changed over time, from a loving God to an angry, punitive God, and how these views damage our relationship with Him.
The second part of the book looks at our language and how the distortions that have crept in over time have damaged our language and understanding of basic gospel concepts.
Because I have understood several concepts so differently, I’ve returned again and again to read the chapters on Sin, Repentance, Forgiveness, Salvation and Obedience. I’ve also researched these 5 words in the Gospel Library app, looking in the gospel topics section, topical guide, and the Bible dictionary. I’ve even read recent General Conference talks with this book playing in the back of my mind. I love finding teachings in General Conference talks that support these thoughts. In Elder Christofferson’s talk, “Our Relationship with God”, he said that repentance, obedience, and sacrifice matter because “they are the means by which we collaborate with Him in our own transformation from natural [wo]man to saint.” I love the idea of collaborating with Christ to become a saint.
One of the things that I found so interesting was reframing the concept of “Sin”. When I grew up, I thought sin was terrible and felt I had to be perfect all the time. I didn’t want to do anything that might create sin, and when I did sin, I couldn’t face my own weaknesses or shortcomings. In reality, I was trying to be “my own Savior” by being “good” all the time. I was also rationalizing things that I did as not really sinful, because sin was horrifying. This way of thinking caused pressure on me all the time to always do things the “right” way. It didn’t really bring me closer to Christ, it actually kept me away from Him.
The example the Given’s used to reframe the concept of “sin” was from the new world as Christ did ministering and healing, not preaching, rebuking or judging. They suggest looking at “sin” as being wounded, and wounded so deeply that we are separated from God and that we need to be “healed” of our “wounds” to return to God.
I started asking myself how I had been wounded this week or how I might have been the one to wound others. At church, I approach Sacrament time by thinking about wounds and how God was able to help me heal from my wounds and minister to others that are wounded. I really resonated with this teaching and I found that thinking this way helped me be more willing to see my own hurts and how I hurt others. I really felt changed and I saw myself having more love and compassion for myself and for others. I am seeing things in a more optimistic way and I am more willing to change myself rather than hide away from sin.
So I offer an enthusiastic two thumbs up for this book. I think that it is especially appropriate for mixed-faith families, as I have witnessed people who I love that have been wounded by their association with the church. Seeing them as wounded changes how I view them and our relationship. Now I just want to be better at loving them.
If you read this book, I would love to hear how you felt about the concepts. I would also be interested in hearing about any of your favorite books that have helped you with your mixed-faith family.