I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Christianity and religion in general lately. I’m trying to figure out what was going on when I was a full-believing Mormon, and how to compare that to the religious lives of others. I came up with some simple (i.e. over-simplified) categories of roles people play while involved in an organized religion like Mormonism. I found them helpful in providing a way of understanding my Mormon experience and comparing it with others without worrying too much about theology. I see four roles people play in organized religion:
Prophet: receiving spiritual guidance from the Spirit of God.
Priest/Clergy: administering teachings within a community. Teaching, preaching, helping, managing, setting policy, etc.
Member: special attachment, loyalty, and duty to particular community or group
Disciple: a devotee seeking to practice the principles taught by the prophets.
I admit it’s an over-simplified model; there are a bunch more roles that come into play: e.g.,Saint, Missionary, Theologian, Convert, Skeptic, Monk, Mystic, etc. And I am probably not using the terms in a completely standard way. But for me it’s a start on trying to grasp all the dynamics involved in living a faith.