Book review: “Legacies of Jesus” by Lowell Bennion

Oops, here’s a second one– Bennion’s books tend to be just the right length that you can read one all the way through without even thinking about it. My kind of book, really. No dozing, and you really are fine if it didn’t end.

After reading Bennion’s introduction to the New Testament, his Legacies of Christ is a good companion to the gospels. Similar to his reading of the Old Testament, Bennion pulls out the sayings of Jesus that draw us to others, those that teach mercy and love and responsibility towards our fellow man:

Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Does our discipleship reflect these same priorities of Christ?

Bennion’s reading of the New Testament in many places isn’t novel– it is what he emphasizes that makes it stick out. Yet he occasionally does make a statement that is entirely new for me. For instance, I liked this definition of humility he gives:

I have perhaps a rather unorthodox view of the humble as those who feel no need to continually take their personal pulse, analyze how they feel about a given topic, or develop an express an opinion on every item of conversation.

or his observation that Christ is the sole example in history of an emissary and exemplar merged in one. There are some ideas that make clear that Bennion’s system of values don’t put the Church first in his life, but rather Christ and his emphasis on the two great commandments to love God and neighbor. Statements like this for instance:

The Church is not an end in itself, but a means of making gospel principles like faith and humility functional in the lives of people. Yes, even gospel principles are not the things of ultimate worth. Their value lies in how they bless human lives.

But you can find this like these coming from the likes of Stephen Covey in The Divine Center (where he shows how putting the Church at the center of your life can actually be detrimental, we should seek to center our lives on Christ alone) as well as across the pulpit (for instance, when Elder Hallstrom distinguishes between the gospel and the Church). I like this idea, and I think we can get too invested in the idea that our Church is already Truth Downloaded Directly From Heaven No Questions Asked.

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