I hope everyone enjoyed their turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving last week. One thing I appreciate about the Puritans, other than their fondness for a good feast, burning witches, cool hats, repression of normal sexual desires, and providing the grist for great dramas like The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible, is the good sense of their descendants in religious matters.
They decided you could be a half-Puritan, which technically sounds like you’re half dirty today, but hear me out. To be a full Puritan, and originally that’s the only religious option you had as a resident of the Bay Colony unless you wanted to be reduced to basic carbon, you were expected to produce evidence of a miraculous, heartfelt conversion to the truth of the Puritan interpretation of the gospel of Christ.
The problem was, you had generations of kids who had been raised in the Puritan community who were not able to provide dramatic testimony of their conversion, which is understandable for sociological reasons. So that generation grew up and had kids and then, what the heck is a good totalizing church-culture to do? The Half-Way Covenant was a way to soften the requirements of membership in order to maintain some sort of control over the members by dropping the expectation of public confession of conversion. One still had to pay dues, or taxes, to support the church and community, in order to live in the community. And I suppose one couldn’t be a raging heretic, although the Congregationalists (the organizational descendants of the Puritans )today are much less dogmatic and more accepting of heretics than their great-great-great-great-grandmothers.
So could Mormons adopt a half-way covenant to stop membership losses in the United States, Canada, and other First World nations, and what would a Mormon half-way covenant look like?