Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, January 16, 2006

When the Messiah Comes...

Recently spent an enchanting evening with some Jewish friends of ours. My experiences and religious discussion with faithful Jews have almost all been rewarding, often resonating with core parts of my faith, in spite of obvious differences. One brief comment from my friends referred to the wonderful things that will happen after the Messiah comes. They mentioned that their rabbi told them not to expect that everyone will be Jewish after the Messiah comes, for each faith plays a valuable role in God's eyes, and that in that glorious day, we will not just tolerate differences in faith, but find genuine joy in others. A very interesting perspective.

I think it is possible to join with those of other faiths and respect their faith and rejoice in the religious experiences of others, even though we may disagree with their theology. In any case, I look forward to the day when the Messiah comes in His glory to the earth, and if I am still here, expect to rejoice with people of many faiths, including numerous Jewish friends. And as all things begin to be revealed (at last!) in that era, I think we will all be amazed at how little we really new, and at how many things we took as Gospel truth were understood imperfectly at best. Even though I believe God has restored the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth and that we do have the blessing of modern revelation and scripture, it is so clear that this does not give us a monopoly on truth or anything close to a perfect understanding in any area. Our knowledge of truth, the universe and everything is not quite at the embryonic stage, so why not take advantage of our ignorance and find a little more joy in the beliefs and experiences of others? It can be a pretty lonely world otherwise.

32 comments:

Tracy M said...

Lovely, Jeff. Thanks once again for being so astute and eloquent. Your site has helped me through some tough questions, and the above piece is a fine example of why. Thanks.

AlexG said...

I hope that when Christ comes, we'll be able to stand together despite religious denominations and be able to do a lot of service. It will be a wondrous time, when no iniquity will be found on the Earth. Oh what a joy! I guess that in one way or another will be able to 'be ourselves' without covering in formalisms. We will be able to express our most tender feelings without being critised or shot at. I expect to see my faithful Catholics, Baptists, Jews, Muslims friends and sing together praises.

Rebecca said...

Great, great post. So well written. So well expressed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rebecca said...

It is the teachings that Anonymous posted that; being a member of "the Church of the devil, a whore and Mother of Harlots", I worry about those who are LDS.

The Catechism says, "The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.""

That's just one portion, but it's the flavor I see in the Catholic (Catechism) teaching in regards to other religions. That we have a lot to learn from each other and we are all on the same path toward one God and eternal salvation.

Personally, I see it as a matter of respect for other belief systems. Do LDS have this respect, but then teach in private what was posted by anonymous?

ltbugaf said...

I think the Anonymous poster is being unnecessarily inflammatory. I believe anonymous is either misreading or stretching the meaning of many of the scriptures cited. When Nephi talks about the Church of God vs. the Church of the Devil, is he talking about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vs. every other religious organization? I doubt it. It's not that concrete and not that simple. When the Lord told Joseph Smith that all the churches were corrupt and that he should join none, was the Lord telling him that no member of those churches had true faith in Christ? I don't think so. Can we equate the Mother of Harlots with some specific church, or with all other churches as a group? Of course not. When the Doctrine & Covenants describes the heirs of lesser glory as those who "received not the testimony of Jesus in the Flesh, but afterwards received it," is it saying that all those who receive the gospel through temple ordinances after their death are condemned? Of course not.

But I STRONGLY suspect that this anonymous, like so many anonymous cowards, is not a member of the Church at all, but rather an anti-Mormon poseur.

Bookslinger said...

Rebecca,

Anon at 1:03pm quoted portions of the Book of Mormon that mirror passages in the Revelation of St. John in the Bible. Churches other than God's true church being referred to in such strong terms is not unique to Mormonism.

He also put an improper antagonistic spin on them and other scriptures that he quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants.

You can tell from the tone of his post that he's probably not a member in good faith, but rather a bitter ex-member or anti-mormon.

One of the keys to understanding D&C Section 76, and something that is quite often taught in the church, is that to "reject" the gospel in the flesh requires the person to not only hear the FULL gospel in the flesh, but to have the SPIRIT TESTIFY to him/her of its truthfullness.

A common saying in the LDS church, one that I agree with, is that you can hear the LDS missionary lessons a hundred times, but if they are never given with the Spirit, then you haven't really heard the gospel.

Those who die in ignorance of the fullness of the gospel or the true church do not forfeit any blessings.

Anon neglected to point out passages in the Book of Mormon and doctrine and covenenants that make that point: 2 Nephi 9:25, Moroni 8:22, D&C 45:54.

As in the Bible, the Book of Mormon teaches "where there is no law, there is no sin."

I hope no one is fooled by his selective quoting and anti-mormon spin. The LDS church plainly teaches that those who never heard the fullness of the Gospel in the flesh (and those who "heard" it but it was preached to them WITHOUT the convincing power of the Spirit) still have the opportunity to attain the fullness of the Celestial Kingdom.

Other germane scriptures are 1 Peter 4:6, D&C 183:10,34.

Bookslinger said...

Oops, that last should be DC 138, not DC 183.

Walker said...

I would have to agree with probability that Anon is NOT a member of the Church. Most members (Anon could be the exception; I am one myself) do not refer to the CHurch as the Mormon Church. If he is a member, I have a difficult time seeing where his loyalties lie. Indeed, if he is a member, he is ignoring Joseph Smith's teachings about being willing to fight for the rights of the Catholics, Baptists, etc.

In the Millenium (when Christ reigns, mind you), as Brigham Young taught, there will be members of many diff't faiths on the earth. Hard to believe that Christ would a let a bunch of devil-worshippers like that hang around under his watch.

Rebecca said...

Thanks all for your input. It doesn't even occur to me that someone would post with poor intentions. I should have thought of that. I have a clearer understanding of what was happening.

Mormanity said...

I'm convinced that the anon post claiming to be from a member of the Church was from a bitter anti-Mormon. Clearly intended to be inflammatory and deliberately misleading. Foul! The offending comment has been deleted.

AlexG said...

Rebecca:

Though I did not see the post of the anonymous commenter, there are somethings that stood out from the rest of the comments. When someone identifies the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Mormon Church, it is not a Latter-day Saint but someone that has some kind of antagonistic feelings against it. Sadly, some members of the Church identify other religious organisations as the Church of the Devil, though this is NOT what is been taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presented a general conference adress entitled Doctrine of Inclusion in which he stated: "I have never heard the members of this Church urged to be anything but loving, kind, tolerant, and benevolent to our friends and neighbors of other faiths."

I believe that when the Saviour comes, it will be a time of enlightment, of peace, when real worship to a God that gave us life will be practiced. An outpouring on knowledge and spirit will be present to all mankind. It will be a reign of compassion, love and justice. I hope to be counted amongnst the valiant and not among those that were seduced by Satan and be cast out, on the left hand side of the Saviour.

Anonymous said...

Well guys, I'm sincerely sorry that I caused such an uproar. I have just honestly had questions regarding these things for years and Jeff's post made me think more about them.

I'm sorry that everyone is so offended and that you think that I must be some bitter, Anti-Mormon for simply quoting the scriptures and asking for their meaning. Thanks Jeff and everyone for that.

Instead of attacking me, just help me understand their meaning. 1 Ne. 14: 10-12, 17. I know what Mormon Doctrine said but it was later changed and correctly so, as it just singled out the Catholic Church.

We even had things circulating on my mission regarding the Catholic Church, the Pope,etc. I'm sure that some of you are aware of these things and have read them.

I thought that now, it just referred to all other Churches and not just the Catholic Church. The whole reason that we serve missions, is to bring people into Christ's "one and only true Church", meaning that all other Churches are false, right? We taught that in every 1st discussion, did we not?

The other Churches are necessary, but equally false. We have the only complete truth on the planet earth.

I won't say too much, for fear of once again being deleted by Jeff. I guess we aren't allowed to express ourselves or ask questions here? I didn't know that, sorry.

Just help me out someone, what does the Book of Mormon actually mean when it refers to the Church of the Lamb of God and the Church of the Devil? I'm really confused now.

Also, as far as me referring to the Church as the Mormon Church, well, apparently everyone here has forgotten or never read President Hinckley's talk on "Mormon means more good."

Go read it and then tell me that I shouldn't refer to myself or other members as Mormons. What's up? What's the problem? I tell people all the time, when asked, that I'm a Mormon and I'm proud of it.

Those that have served missions, we were the "Mormon Missionaries", right? What about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Is it like a bad word to some of you? If someone asks you if you are Mormon, do you actually say NO, I'm a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

Anyway, I'll stop in hopes of not being deleted and censored again.

Here is the link for the President Hinckley talk on "Mormon means more good", which was given in Conference on October 7th, 1990, for those that even care to read it.

http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1990.htm/ensign%20november%201990.htm/mormon%20should%20mean%20more%20good.htm?fn=document-frameset.htm$f=templates$3.0

Anonymous said...

Anon at 4:02 am: Since the time you left the church, there's been a First Presidency letter urging members and the press to use the full name of the church. And when abbreviations are necessary, "LDS" is preferrable over "Mormon." That's just one thing what gave you away. Your snarky RfM tone and modus-operandi also came through loud and clear.

Mormanity said...

The Book of Mormon describes the Church of the Devil and the associated secret combinations in terms that don't fit the Catholic Church or any other religious organization. More on this later.

annegb said...

wonderful post, Jeff. I agree completely.

AlexG said...

Anon @ 4:02 AM

I think that an apology is at hand. I have read the Conference Address of President Hinckley that you reference. My understanding is that he is commenting that, while you cannot get people to use the correct name of the Church, you can make the term Mormon to have a positive image. Elder Russel M. Nelson gave an adress on the name of the Church called "Thus shall my Church be called" . The Church web site has a policy for journalists to follow when reporting the name of the Church. It is stated: " While the term "Mormon Church" has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use." I am sorry if I offended you.

I too remember the former 1st discussion yet it was stressed that the doctrines where an abomination, not the people. There are many wonderful examples of pious people that were following incorrect principles. And missions were served to teach people that a restoration had occurred and that the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored. What was taught is that the Church acknowledges the truth that many Churches have, i.e., 13th Article of Faith. Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the "one and true Church" ( D&C 1:30) but I believe that there is much to be learnt from other Churches.

The conflict of Churches (Lamb vs. Devil) is not to be understood as conflict of existing organised religions. It is NOT a battle between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the rest. That is a false dicotomy that has circulated. The Church of the Lamb are those who have entered the covenants of the Lord, or those that would accept those covenants if they had the opportunity. The Church of the Devil opposes to the message of the Gospel, i.e., opposes Jesus Christ, denies his divinity, etc. This can be any religious, political or social organisation. It is unfortunate that some members believe, for I have heard this myself, that a particular Church is the Church of the Devil. I believe that, for example, the Catholic Church has played a major role in preserving the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible through out the centuries. The Reformation movement allowed people to read the Bible for themselves. Would you identify any of the Protestant Churches as the Church of the Devil? No, not by far. I think it is a vain (hollow) exercise determining what constitutes the Church of the Devil. Instead, lets concentrate in keeping the covenants we have made with the Lord. It will be the Lord who will judge who is on His church and who is not. Let us try to be on His.

Ryan said...

Every scripture passage I can think of that mentions the "Church of the Devil" is speaking in the "apocalyptic" style.

This is a very black-and-white, symbolic way of talking about things that happen (or will/did happen); it deals with roles and events rather than players and actors.

The Church of the Devil/Lamb cannot be a particular organization because it would have to be perfectly evil/good, which is impossible. There are certainly times where particular people/groups might seem to be good matches, but that doesn't matter in the apocalyptic view -- it ignores the outside appearance in every way.

The church of the devil is all those who fight against the Lamb, regardless of what they might call themselves (LDS, catholic, or otherwise).

BTW, most of this came from a FARMS article a few years back, "Is the Catholic Church the Church of the Devil?" that soundly refuted the claim based on these observations, concluding that we all have our feet in both camps at different times, and should concern ourselves with our own affiliations, rather than trying to make blanket assignments to others.

Rebecca said...

I was confused about the Mormon vs. LDS stand, but thanks to this site, understand it better. My girlfriend and her family are recent converts(@3 years) and always use the term Mormon. Her children are glad to be "Mormon" and often tell me so. So my use of Mormon is positive, not negative. Here, I use LDS with the understanding it's the prefered reference. I wonder if being located far from Utah has an impact on how the term "Mormon" is used and understood.

Walker said...

Anon:

Granted that you are a sincere seeker of truth, I apologize. That being said, I must say that your tone did not sound typical of most members (then again, neither does mine, so we're in the same boat).

See 2 Ne. 10:16 for an interpretation of what the Great and Abominable Church is. Does the Catholic Church actively fight against us? Except for a few pamphlets and other things, they do not. When they do, they are a part of the G and A church. Otherwise, they're good folks trying to do good things.

I'm a Mormon said...

Well, if the word "Mormon" is an issue with some of you, what is the very name of this site derived from? (MORM)ANITY? The book of Mormon? Furthermore, that official statement from the Church, also says,

'When a shortened reference is needed in news reporting or other instances, the terms "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ" are ENCOURAGED. When referring to members, the term Latter-day Saints is PREFERRED, though "Mormons" IS ACCEPTABLE.'

'"Mormon" is correctly used in proper names such as The Book of Mormon, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir or Mormon Trail, or when used as an adjective in such expressions as "Mormon pioneers."'

'The term "MORMONISM" is acceptable in describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.'

Notice that it is simply encouraged or preferred, not demanded. Most people in the press have completely ignored this anyway and still call us Mormons.

Anybody here but me, see the Newsweek cover story in the October 17, 2005 Newsweek magazine? What did it say on the cover in big letters? It said MORMONS! Did they listen? No! Did the Church have a problem with it? No!

In fact, the story was written by a BYU grad, Elise Soukup and the Church immediately, on LDS.ORG, put up a link to the article that included an interview with President Hinckley. That link is still on the Churches website.

Apparently, the stating of MORMONS on the front cover didn't bother anybody but maybe some of you here. Why?

President Hinckley said,

I suppose that regardless of our efforts, we may never convert the world to general use of the full and correct name of the Church. Because of the shortness of the word Mormon and the ease with which it is spoken and written, they will continue to call us the Mormons, the Mormon church, and so forth.

They could do worse. More than fifty years ago, when I was a missionary in England, I said to one of my associates, “How can we get people, including our own members, to speak of the Church by its proper name?”

He replied, “You can’t. The word Mormon is too deeply ingrained and too easy to say.” He went on, “I’ve quit trying. While I’m thankful for the privilege of being a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of the Church which bears His name, I am NOT ASHAMED of the nickname MORMON.”

“Look,” he went on to say, “if there is any name that is TOTALLY HONORABLE in its derivation, it is the name Mormon. And so, when someone asks me about it and what it means, I quietly say—‘Mormon means more good.’ ” (The Prophet Joseph Smith first said this in 1843; see Times and Seasons, 4:194; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 299–300.)

So, I don't see what the big deal is. We are members of The Church Of Jesus Christ and we are Mormons, believe in Mormonism, read the book of MORMON, listen to the Mormon tabernacle choir, talk about and celebrate the MORMON pioneers and every July 24th and so forth.

As clearly stated above, in the official Church statement, that so many of you have referenced, The term "MORMONISM" "is acceptable in describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

From some of the responses on here, you would think that it was a dirty word or something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about?

We are Mormons, Christians, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints, a peculiar people, etc.

If President Hinckley is okay with it and the cornerstone of our Church is The book of MORMON, what are we all so afraid of, to be called MORMONS? I think we are making a big deal out of nothing on this subject.

Mormon means "MORE GOOD" as President Hinckley says, so, neither he, nor I, have or see a problem with it. Why do some of you?

Kimberly said...

Thank you for all the wonderful information and insightful comments.

Kimberly said...

Thank you for all the wonderful information and insightful comments

Walker said...

I think people are taking the "he called us Mormons' complaint a little too seriously. I was simply stating that from my experience, most members of the Church do not refer to the LDS as the "Mormon Church," especially when the possibility that non-members will be reading what they write. Personally, I have called ourselves Mormons on numerous occasions.

Additionally, the Church has to deal with the public and the reality that we are known by a certain appelation. The Mormon Church, Pioneers, and others fit under this reality. It does not mean that "Mormon" is a good or bad name, just a political reality.

I agree with Pres. Hinckley about the honorability of "Mormon." IF we must (emphasis on "if") be called by a name other than what we are, Mormon isn't a bad choice.

Let's drop the issue and get back to the 2nd coming--far more edifying and far less persnickity.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ltbugaf said...

In coming to a belief that Anon was not a sincere seeker, I wasn't persuaded by the use of the word "Mormon" but by the twisted interpretations of carefully selected scriptural passages taken out of context.

I hope Anon knows that a thing does not become revealed doctrine by virtue of "circulating on [his] mission." There are all kinds of falsehoods spread by rumor. Unfortunately, falsehoods and folkloric stories that seem to favor the Church circulate quite frequently among missionaries. There's no reason to waste your attention on them when there's so much to be found in the scriptures.

I hope Anon also understands that when we say one church is true and the others are false, that doesn't equate to saying that one church has ALL truth on earth (which we obviously don't yet) and that other churches are utterly corrupt and worthless. Rather, we mean that one church has true Priesthood authority and continuing revelation while others lack these.

The great majority of what people believe about Jesus Christ in the great majority of Christian churches is good doctrine, and will help lead them to salvation. The great majority of principles taught by nonchristian religions is likewise wholesome.

Yes, it's true that the Catholic Church, like other churches, is false. But that doesn't mean that all of its teachings and all its members are fighting for Satan.

I also hope Anon will stop the pathetic whining about being allowed to express himself. If he wants to express himself about Church teachings he should become better informed about them before circulating a version that only detracts from the truth.

Rebecca said...

"Yes, it's true that the Catholic Church, like other churches, is false."

This is exactly the opposite of what I heard in Jeff's original post. What I heard was that we all believe what we believe, but we really can't be sure that we are right and other faiths are wrong, because we don't begin to know everything. Maybe I mis-read, mis-understood what was being expressed.

I personally am turned off by the idea of anyone saying another faith is false and his faith is true. I could never say the LDS Church is false. I can say it's not what I believe, but I really have no way of knowing if it's false. If you are talking on a personal level, as in false to my belief system, that would be different.

ltbugaf said...

Rebecca:

I only hope you will interpret my statement that a church is false in the full light and context of all else I said. When I say a church is false I am saying that it lacks true Priesthood authority and leadership by a true Prophet. I say this with genuine respect for the members and leaders of those churches. I say it with respect for most of the teachings of those churches.

I also say it in light of what the Lord told Joseph Smith when He appeared to him in 1820: that Joseph should join none of the churches but that Joseph would be an instrument in restoring God's church to the earth.

Finally, I say it in light of the great truth that no one from any age will be denied the opportunity to accept all of the truths and Priesthood ordinances necessary for them to become like their Father in heaven, receive Eternal Life.

AlexG said...

Rebecca:

Latter-day Saints sometimes have phrases that would seem unfortunate. Stating that a particular church is false is one of those. It sounds quite appalling to be told Your church is false. False is sometimes associated with bad or wrong. The way we see it, is that its incomplete. Some truths, ordinances and the authority to perform those ordinances were changed. Therefore it strayed from the original 'truth'. But there are some great truths in most churches that have to be appreciated. I have great respect for the Catholic Church, for the contributions that it did to the Gospel. Two of my favorites are the preservation of the Bible and the continuation of ordinances through out the centuries. Without the RCC, we would not know about Jesus Christ. It would have faded. The missionary efforts that it has done, i.e., Africa and China, have been tremendous. There are some wonderful people, i.e., Mother Theresa, John Paul II. Though I disagree with some of the Catholic doctrines, I consider it to have played a major role in preserving Christianity.

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the necessary ordinances that enable us to return to the presence of the Father and become joint heirs with Christ ( Rom 8:17). But we do not hold the monopoly of the truth. There is something that Kirsten Stendall, a Lutheran bishop in Denmark, refered as 'holy envy', i.e., those things that you find in other religions that would enrich yours. I believe that the choirs in heaven would sound like a gospel choir. I have great respect for the Muslims and their testimony of Muhammad (I think that LDS could benefit of having a testimony of Joseph Smith akin to that of the Muslims have of Muhammad). I hope that all my very good friend, regardless of their denomination, will be able to be when the Millenium comes. Then we will all be taught in a perfect manner.

Copedi said...

Anonymous said:

"We have the only complete truth on the planet earth."

I don't know any scripture that says that! In fact, I think Paul said quite the opposite (see 1 Corinthians 13:9, 12).

Anonymous said...

Wow what an amazing read. And what a waste of time. People argue over the dumbest things.
Thomas C

Ruth said...

If you look for it, you can find truth in most places. We don't have ALL the truth yet. Truths are revealed as the need arises. If we don't study other beliefs and listen to the wise and inspired (no matter what their denomination is), how can we expect the Lord to reveal additional truths? Joseph Smith had his revelation AFTER he studied other faiths. Jeff's original comments were correct. We should learn from each other's differences and rejoice in our similarities. Having been raised an Israeli Jew, I embraced the Gosple when I heard it. I recognized truth and saw joining the Church as simply an extension to my beliefs. I've been called a Jew, a Mormon, LDS, and so on, but in the end we are all divine children of our God. We do not want to leave our brothers and sisters behind and neither does our God.