I've had a hard time with this piece, because I don't want to criticize someone's heartfelt testimony, but earlier this month in a ward I visited one of those bearing testimony suggested that the church had one of the best and most consistent brands.
I have to say that comparing the greatest gift to mankind, the Good News, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the organization that embodies the priesthood of God and the ordinances that allow the power of God to be manifest to men and women to a marketing scheme was more than a little disturbing to me.
Yes, I get that we have a consistent message. Yes, I get that our missionaries look the same the world over. Yes, I get that particularly with the present policies of the church there is great homogeneity.
But think of those young missionary elders. Although in silhouette they all look alike (short hair, white shirts and ties), behind each is an individual testimony, and individual set of spiritual experiences that either have matured or are maturing into individual witnesses of the truth of the gospel.
And think of those correlated lessons taught the world over. Each teacher has the right to individual inspiration as she or he teaches those lessons, so Gospel Principles Lesson 5 will be different in each class just because the teachers and members of those classes are in different places in the world and in their eternal walk back to Heavenly Father.
To suggest otherwise cheapens for me the Plan of Salvation and the incredible sacrifice of our elder brother to allow it to happen.
I understand the desire sometimes to equate gospel things to things we know and understand. We liken the scriptures unto ourselves. We take the Savior's parables to heart and tell gospel stories with tools of our day. But to suggest that the Lord's church is somehow the ultimate incarnation of a man-made model misses the mark.
Aristotle suggested that all art imitates an ideal, that anything crafted is an imitation of the ideal. Let us, therefore, not assume the church or the gospel are like creations of men. If any comparison is to be made, it ought to go in the opposite direction.