Title: An Early Resurrection – Life in Christ before You Die
Author: Adam S. Miller
Publisher: Deseret Book, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Date of Publication: 2018
Every few generations, a writer or small group of theologians become the voice of ideas and theology for the restored gospel. In earlier times, scholars such as B.H. Roberts, John Widtsoe, Sidney Sperry, Joseph Fielding Smith, Neal A. Maxwell and Bruce R. McConkie have helped explore and define theological and soteriological issues with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In this generation, a new bevy of scholars are rising. Voices such as Terryl Givens, Joseph Spencer, Ben Spackman and Adam Miller are looking at the gospel of Jesus with new eyes and through different lenses.
In this latest volume, An Early Resurrection, Adam S. Miller examines grace, salvation and repentance through a reinterpretation of time. Miller presents the thesis that the future is also being experienced and lived now. The hypothesis behind this lies with the premise that Christians live the present time in hope of their future time.
Miller uses various scriptural examples to demonstrate how Christians live various times simultaneously. His first example is found in the Book of Mormon. The Nephites, as stated in Jarom 1:11, looked forward to the arrival of Christ and hoped for exaltation through Christ, all future events, as if Christ had already come. The Nephites lived the law of Moses, as a type pointing them to the Savior in the ultimate hope of his grace. For us in this present time, we live along the same lines, living in the hope of Christ’s second coming. We struggle through lives as though Christ was here, or his arrival was just around the corner.
Next, Miller presents his titular concept that we can experience the gifts of an early resurrection now. The author demonstrates that turning one’s life and will over to Christ not only touches our souls, but through Christ, also redirects our physical actions as we consecrate our life and give up our life for Him. By laying aside ego, conceit, and our reliance on the arm of the flesh, this reliance on Christ opens us up to new avenues of being led by Christ to do God’s will.
The power pushing one forward to live in Christ is the power of love. Not merely our growing love for Christ, but his eternal love for each of us.
One way we demonstrate our surrender of self to Christ is through the ordinances that have been restored. In a similar manner with the Nephites, we live our hope in Christ now as we are baptized, confirmed, endowed and sealed. We observe these ordinances as types of Christ and of eternity. As the Nephites lived the law of Moses with their hope of Christ’s first coming in their hearts, we do the same. We perform the ordinances of the restoration in the hope of the Savior’s second coming.
Now, Miller addresses the concept of God’s law, desire and obedience. With God’s law, time and the law can be burdensome and wearying. To obey out of fear or solely out of a sense of duty does not bring one closer to the love of Christ. It is the nature of our desires that determines one’s perspective on law and God. Miller attests that as we learn the love of God, the burden of guilt, shame and blame from carrying the law merely obedience becomes light. The true meaning of the Savior’s admonition to take upon ourselves his yoke, because his burden is light and easy to carry, gains deeper meaning as we understand that the power of Christ’s love removes the burden of present time and makes it the non-burden of future hope, but now.
Another manifestation of the future melding with the present is found in Malachi’s words of turning the hearts of the children to the father and the father’s hears towards the children. As member of the restored church, as temple ordinances for the dead are performed, we bring the future of those deceased into the present through proxy ordinances. We also unite the past with the present and the present with the future through the completion of ordinances. God’s plan shifts time from a mortal view to an eternal point of view.
Finally, Miller addresses the Lord’s command for us to be perfect. Matthew records, “Be ye therefore perfect…”. Miller points out that only through the grace of Christ can any of us be perfected. Again, our future perfection merges with our present condition, conjoining the eternal with the temporal making God’s time truly one eternal round.
Adam Miller has written an engaging and thought-provoking book. Although not vast in pages, it does contain a depth of thought that invites everyone to read and contemplate time.