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

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I Figured Out the Problem! They're Disbelieving in a Different Book of Mormon!

There's an interesting debate at Beliefnet on the topic, "Are Mormons Christian?". LDS author Orson Scott Card takes on Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. I enjoyed Brother Card's lucid comments, but I learned the most by reading Dr. Mohler's explanation of why we are not Christian. I'm so glad I read it because I finally understand a big part of the problem that the SBC leaders have had with us Mormons. Look at this quote from Dr. Mohler:
Contemporary Mormonism presents the Book of Mormon as "another testament of Jesus Christ," but the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is not the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or the one through whose death on the cross we can be saved from our sins.
My goodness, it's suddenly clear. The problem, obviously, is not that we believe in a different Jesus, but that Al Mohler and his fellow SBC peers DISBELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT BOOK OF MORMON.

OUR Book of Mormon, the real one, is all about Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One whose death and Atonement provide our only hope of redemption, our Lord and Savior. The one Dr. Mohler's folks have in their elite theological seminary must be a counterfeit, perhaps an early draft of Rushdie's Satanic Verses (yeah, that would explain it!) or some 1960's druggie tract or perhaps a sarcastic atheistic comic book stuffed into an old Book of Mormon dust jacket.

Well, bless their hearts, no wonder they've had trouble accepting us as Christians. With all that LDS talk about the Book of Mormon being scripture and another testament of Jesus Christ, I'd also be confused if I checked out the Book of Mormon from my SBC library and starting reading some warped humanist satire denouncing Christ. In fact, I'd probably make an anti-Mormon DVD myself. Well, now we know that it's all just been a big misunderstanding (and that's really what it is).

And this explains why many of the fine Christians (and I truly mean that) of that denomination don't have trouble with Mormons as Christians - I bet they've seen the real book. The problems is just with a few people at headquarters, relying on some counterfeit in the SBC Seminary. Now it all makes sense.

So let's be more understanding on our end, but also take this opportunity to fix the problem and patch up our relationship with our former theological enemies. Let's buy them a few hundred - maybe even a few thousand - copies of the real Book of Mormon, ship them to SBC headquarters, and let them see that there's really no need for all that time and money being wasted to tell everyone that we aren't Christians. If we can just get them to look at the same book, then I'm sure we'll end up on the same page.

Whew! Glad that's over!!

Hey Bookslinger, ready to help?

57 comments:

Bookslinger said...

I'm trying. But I'm having some struggles right now.

I was on a trip down South a few weeks ago, so I probably did meet some Southern Baptists, and didn't realize it. I gave one English-only-speaking Caucasian lady a customized pass-along card, but should have given/offered her an actual Book of Mormon and Bible. I chickened out.

In the past, when offering material to "regular English-only-speaking people" I usually pair a Bible with a Book of Mormon, and offer them together. (Doing an "Ezekiel".) But this time, I didn't live up to my calling.

Two other times (in addition to the above), I was led by the Spirit to specific places and told to talk to specific people, but again I chickened out. I pretty much did a Jonah.

On the trip as a whole, I did have nine other successful encounters where people accepted material, and I rejoice in those. But I'm still stinging from my fear/disobedience/failure-to-heed in three situations this trip.

Aside from all the above, there was one place I deliberatly stopped at along the way on this year's trip (annual family visit), because last year I chickened out at that place. I asked the cashier if so-and-so still worked there, and he said she moved out West a couple weeks ago. (I remembered her name from her name-tag, and it had a unique spelling.) I can only hope she moves somewhere where she'll come into contact with Mormons, because I blew my opportunity to share the gospel with her last year, even after the Spirit made it obvious I had to say something to her last year.

At another exit this year I was directed to an indoor flea-market. It was almost spooky. I browsed a bit, then the Spirit said, "Walk down this aisle." I did so, and two Caucasian-American women were walking towards me. My eyes met with one of them.

Have you ever had your eyes meet with a stranger's and you look at each other eye-to-eye for just a second or fraction of a second longer than what is customary, and you feel (to the point of knowing) that there's some connection between you, or you're supposed to make some connection? Not neccesarily deja vu, a past encounter, but a "this encounter was meant to be, and for a purpose."

But again, I let fear and awkwardness get in the way, and I didn't stop to strike up a conversation with those two ladies. There were plenty of other people at that flea-market (or "peddlars mall" thing) that I didn't have that feeling about.

It was definitely a lack of confidence on my part, so I guess I need more virtue garnishing my mind.

It's easy to give out books to people who speak foreign languages, because you don't have to talk religion. I always say up-front "it's a Christian book" or "a book from my church", because I don't want to feel surprised when they see the sub-title. But that's the closest I usually get to talking religion, unless the person asks me a direct question.

And I know from past experience that immigrants overwhelming welcome offers of free materials in their native language, "even though" it's religious. So for 95% of them, I know they'll consider my offer as a big favor.

But it is harder to strike up a conversation with a stranger for the sole purpose of "sharing religion." I've been using the language and ESL aspect as a "crutch," and without that crutch, I'm a big chicken.

I have to keep reminding myself that when the Spirit points someone out like that and tells me to start speaking, (the inspiration of exactly what to say doesn't start flowing until after you start talking, the Lord seems to require that little leap-of-faith from us) that that person is supposed hear some kind of message. I seem to forget that these promptings of the Holy Ghost aren't some kind of whims or randomness on his part, they're actually the will of Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost does not and cannot prompt, whisper, command, or inspire anything unless it's the will of Heavenly Father and the Savior.

I realize some of the nay-sayers who visit your blog will likely dismiss such promptings/whisperings/ideas as my imagination. But those who have received of the Spirit will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Bookslinger said...

Okay, back to sharing the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon with Southern Baptists.

As I mentioned in the previous post, in the past (on those occasions when I didn't chicken out) I've had success placing the Book of Mormon by first offering people a free Bible. Then if they accept the Bible, or even if they say they already have a Bible, I asked "Would you like a free Book of Mormon to go along with it. In my church, we believe in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon."

Some say yes, some say no. But the offer and the statement are testimonies which will stay in that person's memory for the Holy Ghost to bring to their remembrance later.

This can get expensive, since the least-expensive Bible published by the LDS church is $7.00

So what I do is buy $2.00 ( plus shipping) paperback Bibles from the International Bible Society.

However, I still have some of those $7.00 LDS edition KJV Bibles in the car for when the inspiration to use those hits.

If you do offer the LDS edition Bible, show them the footnotes, and how we link it to the Book of Mormon.

Show them our "concordance," which we call the Topical Guide.

I've actually given out handful or so "Mormon (KJV) Bibles."

I have found that there are plenty of believing Christians out there, of all faiths and even "un-churched" believers, who don't have a Bible, but want one.

And what better testimony that we believe the Bible than to offer someone one a free copy?

Mormanity said...

Great comments, Bookslinger. I hope more people will prepare themselves for those moments when there is an opportunity to share the Book of Mormon with someone. Step Two is having a copy or other materials ready to give out. Step One is preparing oneself to be in tune with the Spirit. Thank you for your example of kindness toward so many and in so freely sharing of your time and resources to get the good news to so many!

Brian D. said...

Great post, Jeff.

When I was ward mission leader, I kept my vehicles stocked with Books of Mormon and pass along cards. Sadly, I have fallen out of that habit. I do, however, keep my home teaching lists with me at all times since I am now the EQ secretary.

I guess I need to repent and restock the old '76 Levi's Special Gremlin with books. :-)

Bookslinger,

On your worst day, I suspect you are doing better than most of us, myself included. I enjoy reading your blog and the stories you share as you help flood the earth, one drop at a time.

Lars said...

"...there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.(Mosiah 3:17)

Oops, that verse must not have been in his copy of the Book of Mormon. And I think I just invalidated every follow-up post to the article that claimed Mormons do not accept Jesus as our Lord and God!

Latter-Day James said...

I don't get the whole idea why people think you can be saved by grace alone. Does that mean all I have to do is believe that I am going to be saved and then it happens?

nathanielmacrae said...
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Latter-Day James said...

So aren't being baptized and repenting part of the works we should do to be saved?

Russell said...

Latter Day James--

I am an orthodox Latter Day Saint, and I can say with full confidence that if we, to borrow Stephen Robinson's now memorable phrase "believe Christ," then we submit our will to his and are therefore saved unequivically, unabashedly, by grace. The only reason baptism matters is because of the atonement. The only reason mortality ESCAPES MEANINGLESSNESS is because of the atonement. Without it, there is simply no hope. Period. Read 2 Ne. chpt. 9 (you too nat! You might like it--and I promise that reading Mormon literature will not make you turn into a pumpkin nor will all Mormons everywhere laugh as they suck another person into their nefarious cult)

This debate is as old as the hills. Can we, at the very least, actually debate something that we really disagree on? There's enough to keep us occupied without forcing us into these silly word games over "grace" and "works." As C.S. Lewis said, one without the other would be like using one blade on a pair of scissors.

Latter-Day James said...

So am I to understand that you need both grace and works? You said that we are saved by grace then mentioned the CS Lewis quote.

nathanielmacrae said...
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Bookslinger said...

Nathaniel,

Welcome back. I was afraid I scared you off. I may have been a bit confrontational in my last comment to you, and I apologize for that.

You believe in keeping the Lord's commandments. Mormons believe in keeping the Lord's commandments.

I think (I hope) we're in agreement on that part.

I think (I hope) we are also in agreement that if someone _says_ he believes, but doesn't make any effort to keep the commandments, and totally blows them off, that he probably didn't believe in the first place. And if such a man doesn't believe, then he won't be saved.

I see this whole grace-verus-commandment-keeping, or grace-AND-commandment-keeing, largely a semantic deal.

Because by saying that commandment-keeping (or at least sincere efforts too) is a natural byproduct of truely believing, that is more or less saying that they go together. Which, hence, goes back to LDS teachings that believing and commandment-keeping (or at least sincere efforts to) also go together.

After studying the Mormon religion for years and years, I have found no guarantee that commmandment-keeping will bring about one's salvation. There is no Mormon doctrine that could be construed that salvation comes from a vending machine which is operated by the insertion of coins of works and commandment-keeping.

I have found Mormon teachings, and it's in the Bible at John 7:16-17 that commandment-keeping, in the absence of belief, will foster or give birth to belief, or even knowledge.

"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

So if you do God's will (keep his commandments), then you will know (believe.)

And like you say, believing in Christ leads to salvation.

So in essence, for someone who doesn't already believe, Mormons teach: "Try it. Keep the commandsments, and see what happens. See if by doing so whether you develop some belief/faith/knowledge."

But for people who already believe in Christ, like you, we don't have to worry, since like you say, your belief already leads you to make sincere efforts to keep the commandments.

Therefore, in the end, does it really matter if someone believes(on pure faith)-> then obeys(because they believe-> then is saved,

or obeys(as a test)-> then believes(because they learned by obedience)-> then obeys(this time because they truely believe) ??

Mormons don't teach that believing ONLY comes from obeying. A lot of people believe right off the bat. But for a lot of us, we seem to have to go through trial-and-error. I obey a little here, and reap the benefit of having done the right thing, therefore I believe a little more. I disobey a little here, and reap the consequence, and I learn the hard way, therefore I believe a little more.

Russell: Let's debate what happens to the billions of people who lived and died on the earth without a knowledge of the Savior.

Latter-Day James said...

Awesome post Bookslinger. I do not need to say anything else but to refer to Jeff's page

http://www.jefflindsay.com/faith_works.html

Shawn said...

Latter-Day James... come on, it's not like Jesus said "Come follow me" or anything like that. :)

I don't get it either but here's some links to the last couple of thread-discussions on grace;

http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2007/03/church-responds-to-anti-mormon-campaign.html
http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2007/06/patience-of-prodigal-sons-father-always.html
http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2007/06/alma-36-whats-so-special-about-it.html (nat: don't know if you saw my last post)

Notice how the topics relate... oh, nevermind.

...

Hi Nat!

Glad you’re still checking in... :)

I can see that you are inspired by the topic of grace. That's a good thing. Inspiration can lead us to do many great things.

Because of that (or should I say "for you"), I went to the website you specified and watched part of Tim Keller's video (didn't have 52 minutes to devote). I also read the Preamble (sounds like a lot of work) and the Confessional Statement, specifically "The Justification of Sinners".

Maybe you can shed some light on the "justified"... ("Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified".) So, two question;

1) Who is justified and can they be un-justified?
2) What happens to those who are not justified?

If the position is everyone is saved no matter what, that's more "Mormon" than it is traditional 4th century Christian. And without something doctrinally equivalent to the LDS Plan of Salvation / baptisms for the dead, you would have to write off Christ's words that the only way to God is through Him.

If the position is only some of Earth's inhabitants are "justified", then there's not much reason to be joyful since many of our good, self-sacrificing, peace-loving brothers and sisters who haven't found Christ aren't able to take advantage of His Grace. What a sad and unfair thing that would be.

Without being able to qualify the "justified", you'll never be able to convince a Mormon that work and sacrifice are not required when one serves Christ. No matter how many times you bring it up. :)

Who are you serving anyway if you don't serve Christ?

BTW, regarding Tim Keller comments, I don't think I have ever met a single member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who lived in "fear" or serves because of "fear". One of the reasons I joined the Church was because of all of the happy / joyful people I met. Yes, I'll give you peculiar, too. People are serving out of a love of Christ. How else could you have a lay ministry serve 12 million people? That's what I think a gospel centered ministry would look like. :)
...

BookSlinger... you rock.

Thanks for doing the work, being engaged, and spreading the word. Even though you aren't always able to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, you are an inspiration. One can never tell the outcome of an encounter, no matter how much we "think" it through. I had an incredible experience after hanging on to a BoM for three weeks trying to figure out who could benefit from it. Finally, I stopped thinking and prayed for help. Even with my prayer, I had little hope as the only activity I had going on that day was a Muslim wedding reception. Go figure. I ended up having a three hour religious discussion with a Muslim pre-med student who was interested in Christianity but never met a "Mormon" before. He could even quote New Testament scriptures from memory. He was very excited to meet a “Mormon”... I'll never forget that exchange and the lesson I was taught about prayer. :)

-Shawn

Russell said...

James,

I only mentioned the C.S. Lewis quote to demonstrate that grace is really all encompassing--to compartmentalize grace--the scissors into component parts of "faith" (one blade) and "works" (the other) is simplistic. They're just part of the one pair of scissors.

That's all.

And nat, I'm little confused as to why you constantly laugh when I agree with you in any way?

Anonymous said...

Grace is all encompassing and absolute as a free gift for salvation and resurrection. Works, although not a score card demonstrates our commitment to God and His work.

Russell said...

Bookslinger,

I concur. Maybe we can get nat in on the mix. I'm not inclined to think my Hmong friends (the ones who wondered who the bearded man was in our books) are going to burn eternally because they don't understand what they see as the white man's god.

Anonymous said...

I just posted this on a June blog...I think maybe people will see it if it is more current!!!

I have a question...I know that the Mormon church is very proactive about "recruiting" (?? I am not meaning to offend, just don't know the right way to say it). Why is this such an important thing in the Mormon religion? I realize that missionaries of other religions have been around forever, but I have never understood it. Meaning, why do people feel it is so necessary for others to believe the same as they do? Why would the Mormon church want me as a member? Does that make sense? I know that differences of religion matter so greatly to some, that war is a result. I was just wondering if anyone had insight into this phenomenon. Thanks!

nathanielmacrae said...
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nathanielmacrae said...
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Anonymous said...

Grace is all encompassing and absolute as a free gift for salvation and resurrection. Works, although not a score card demonstrates our commitment to God and His work.

Just a quick reminder before I close: In Aug. 1842, Joseph Smith said the following:
"God said, 'thou shalt not kill;' at another time He said, 'Thou shalt utterly destroy.' This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted -- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the chidren of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

nathanielmacrae said...
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Bookslinger said...

Nat: "I think also, through my dialogue with Robert, that even most people who claim to be Evangelical Christians DO NOT HAVE SALVATION."

Um, what makes you think you (or this Robert guy) can judge who is saved and who isn't? Isn't it up to Jesus to judge?

If an evangelical christian says he believes in Christ, and in Christ's atonement, well, isn't that what you've been saying is required for salvation, just believing?

What are all those evangelical christians doing or believing wrong that makes you think they aren't (or won't be) saved?

By the way, Mormons have about 6 different definitions of "salvation". One of our apostles, Dallin Oaks, gave a talk about it once. The word takes on several meanings according to the Bible.

I'll have to go look up the talk, but at least 3 of those definitions match pretty well what most other christian churches call being "saved."

So according to Dallin Oaks, if someone asks a Mormon "Are you saved?" then by several of our definitions, then yes, we are on the same page as you guys in that regard, and can honestly say we're saved.

Now personally, I'm still an ex-member of the Mormon church. I got disaffected, and renounced my membership a years ago. But I've come back, and I hope to apply for readmission (re-baptism) before long.

However, if you were to ask me "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" I believe I can truthfully answer "YES" to that question.

If you were to ask me "Are you saved?" I'd probably say that the only salvation that really counts is "being saved in the kingdom of God at the last day", and that that blessed event is still a future event, it hasn't happened yet. But I look forward with faith towards it.

nathanielmacrae said...
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Anonymous said...

As far as missionary work. We are commanded to share the "Good News" with everyone. My wife who was recently baptized said something to the effect of... "I just want to shout this from the roof tops" This peace spoke of in the scriptures is real, and once you have felt it, it makes you want others to share in the joy.

It is a terrible thing that in the past we have examples of war happening due to religion. This is not how Christ would want it. It is not how believers are created. There are many out there who do want it. Not in a forceful way, but in a peaceful way. These are the people that we seek. Those who are ready to hear that, His glorious gospel has been restored.

Russell said...

"Errm, question: why, if grace is all encompassing (and please excuse me for my ignorance here) does the mormon church have temple recommends endowment ceremonies as a way for man's exaltation?"

It would be erroneous to call the recommend meeting a "ceremony." Everyone I know just calls it an "interview." It just consists of a series of questions and then singing a small piece of paper.

Why an interview at all? We believe that Jesus Christ has commanded us All questions that are asked relate to teachings that are already fundamental to Mormonism--questions on living the law of chastity (no sexual relations outside of marriage), the Word of Wisdom, the law of tithing, honesty, and other basic principles. There is no favoritism--you can't buy your way into the temple (unless someone on ebay TOTALLY disrespects everything about the temple and sells a recommend online).

What happens in the temple? The details of the endowment are too sacred to relate here (a bit like when Paul said that a man was caught up in the third heaven and heard words not lawful to utter--2 Cor. 12:2-4). The basic premise of the endowment, however, is that one learns how to submit oneself more fully to the Savior. The endowment is all about teaching us the central role of Jesus Christ in the plan of salvation. Good evidence can be found that Christ taught much to the apostles during the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension to heaven (see Acts chpt. 1 where the apostles see "infallible proofs" of Christ's divinity).

All of this "doing" is not really "do-it-yourself." If one does not believe Christ to be the Savior, then he's not following him and therefore will not receive the blessings the Savior has promised. The only reason the endowment is relevant is because the Savior has atoned for our sons and that his atonement is so expansive, so deep, that to even get a tablespoon of understanding, one must be taught through symbolic methods (see Matthew 13 for why Christ taught in parables--the rationales have some similarities).

Shawn said...

Hi Anon 1:21

Thanks for your questions! Before I joined the Church, my "opinion" was ALL religions were political tools used for power or control over congregations of people, mingled with some nice ideas. I was very jaded. I don't fully hold that opinion anymore.

Missionary work is very important because we believe we are being given the chance to be active participants in bringing people to Christ. There is much joy to be found in the work and there are many who are willing to listen. Through the conversion process, a life-changing awakening takes place, upon which I believe, people put aside (some of) their selfish desires and begin to make a fulfilling difference in this world. It's not for everyone and, yes, there are people who serve humanity nobly without religious affiliation. Many religions have something wonderful and good to contribute to the world. A healthy relationship with Jesus Christ and God is not a bad thing.

So what can religion offer? The World Health Organization estimates 500 million people will have contracted AIDS by the year 2050. That's a lot of people who don't believe in the Law of Chastity. It doesn't have to be this way. I think the world IS as we collectively choose it to BE... I think people who follow the tenants of service and self-sacrifice (i.e. not smoking, avoiding alcohol and pornography, being chaste, being kind and charitable) heal the world. I believe the Church has the social structure to help people be closer to God. It may sound sappy, but once one has a relationship with Jesus Christ, there are many wounds and heartaches that seem to only be able to be healed by Him.

The flip side... It's when "religious" people twist doctrine to propagate fear and gain power or political control when things go horrible astray. There's a big difference between the missionaries we send out and some young man or woman who straps a bomb to themselves in the name of God. The "war" that results is not a matter of differences in religion so much as it is the result of oppressive and maniacal people who also call themselves "religious".

-Shawn

Anonymous said...

Hello! This is Anon 1:21

Thank you for your replies. I had never thought of actually healing the world through religious conversion...I think that this is an absolute necessity for some people. Also, I wanted to make it clear that I don't think that Mormonism is responsible in any way for violence and wars...and actually, I don't think any religion is "responsible" rather, it is some people who (I believe) misconstrue their holy words.

Anyway...thanks for the insight...I am sure I will be lurking around this blog a bit. :)

Mormanity said...

Nat, as I've explained before - I hope you recall this because it's been several times now - I don't like your use of video links. Links to lengthy videos from unfamiliar sources are likely to just be instantly deleted, especially if they contain or might hostile material. I don't have time to review them.

Lars said...

"Errm, question: why, if grace is all encompassing (and please excuse me for my ignorance here) does the mormon church have temple recommends endowment ceremonies as a way for man's exaltation?"

Quite simply, Mormons believe that Christ has asked us to make the covenants found in the endowment to show our willingness to follow him. We can't say "I accept you and will follow you... except for that!" (You might argue that he really hasn't asked us to make these covenants, but at least this may help to understand why we view this belief as consistent with the power of Christ's grace.)

"I don't know much about Mormon living, I have two close friends who are mormons and I have upon two occasions attended a ward meeting...and the thing that was so significant for me were all the songs about J.Smith."

Every week, the "sacrament hymn" (sung before our version of the communion ceremony) is always about Christ, never about J. Smith. Most other hymns are about Christ as well. There are only a few about J. Smith-- probably not even enough to fill a "couple" of meetings without duplicating. There are also some about varying other topics. You can browse them here and see for yourself. We even include several traditional Protestant hymns, like "A Mighty Fortress," "The Lord is My Shepherd," "Nearer My God to Thee," most of our Christmas and Easter hymns... I could go on, but you get the idea. =)

Bookslinger said...

If the sacrament talks were on the theme of prophets or Joseph Smith, I could see how the opening hymn and the intermediate hymn (or opening and closing) could be "Praise to the Man" and "Joseph Smith's First Prayer".

If someone's first visit to the LDS church included both of those hymns in the Sacrament meeting, I can see how Nat might get the impression he did.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I know this is off-topic, but just so you know - I received your e-mail on the 1833 Book of Commandments and prophets revising revelations from last week and responded. Feel free to quote or use it as you wish.

Robert Boylan

nathanielmacrae said...
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Mormanity said...

Excuse me Nat, but just what do you mean in claiming that you are Biblical and Latter-day Saints are not? Seems to me that your problems with us are based on our failure to accept post-Biblical creeds using language and concepts remote from anything in the Bible, and out failure to accept the particular doctrinal developments from 16th-century Northern Europe.

We accept and use the Bible, and feel that our doctrines are much closer to the Bible than our modern competitors. So what do you mean in calling us unbiblical? Is that another way of saying that you don't interpret some passages the same way we do?

nathanielmacrae said...
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Mormanity said...

Nat, out of curiosity, don't you also accept and use at least some of the creeds? Or do you reject them as representing anything authoritative or canonical?

And which Bible do you use? If you or other Christians are using a canon that contains additional books in your Bible relative to earlier canons of historical Christianity, would that be a problem?

These are not especially friendly questions, I suppose, given their potential trick nature, but there may be some instructive points for discussion -- after you've chosen which corner you wish to back into. ;)

Bookslinger said...

Nat, Mormons are actually very close to what you believe about Christ's atonement, and what evangelicals believe about Christ's atonement in case you're not an evangelical. I haven't figured out exactly what denomination or branch you're in, and if it has a label.

We all seem to believe that Christ died for our sins. And that he was the Promised Messiah, and the Son of God.

We all (You, Evangelicals, Mormons) all believe we should keep Christ's commandments as given in the Bible.

I think it's a difference without a distinction to quibble about internal motivations to keep commandments, and what are the expected results of commandment-keeping. The good Mormons who I know feel motivated to keep the commandments in the Bible, just like the good Baptists/Catholics/etc who I know.

The bottom line is that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses all believe that we should keep the 10 commandments and the "Two greatest commandments".

I've read some of your blogs, and it seems you are very sincere in your desire to follow Christ. And I admire that.

I think it's good of you to share with others what you believe about Christ, and to share how you are following Christ.

My meager half-hearted attempts to follow Christ consist mainly of going to church on Sunday, praying daily, reading the scriptures (mostly) daily, and giving away free copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon to people I meet.

If you want to find out how various denominations/religions/etc are following Christ, or what they believe, that is good too.

Jeff (Mormanity) and others here have often been falsely accused in regards to what Mormons believe. People of other Christian faiths, sometimes come to this blog saying "You believe this, you don't believe that" and those accusations often contain falsehoods.

Jeff, has another web site, www.jefflinday.com, where he tries to set the record straight about what most mainstream Mormons believe.

Bookslinger said...

er, that's www.JeffLindsay.com

nathanielmacrae said...
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nathanielmacrae said...
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Anonymous said...

In that day Christ does not present before men the great work He has done for them in giving His life for their redemption. He presents the faithful work they have done for Him. To those whom He sets upon His right hand He will say, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me." But those whom Christ commends know not that they have been ministering unto Him. To their perplexed inquiries He answers, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.

Bookslinger said...

Nat wrote: I'm interested maybe in how you got disaffected,

I say disaffected in the sense of being offended and hurt, getting fed up, and just deciding not to show up any more.

There are two sides to that.

One, is that in any social group, there is going to be friction. There were some people who kept hurting me and wouldn't leave me alone, others were just being offensive, and others were just dumping extra work on me using the excuse that I was unmarried, therefore I must have had the time to do all that stuff. (Some Mormons are prejudiced against singles. Though I've noticed the church has made improvements in that regard. )

But the second part, and actually more important, is that I had lost the Spirit. I had lost the armor or insulation that protects us from being hurt by the normal offenses and friction that goes on. In other words, without the Spirit, all the little offenses get magnified and become unbearable.

The second part is more important because I had control over that. We can't control what others do, but we do have power to do what it takes to obtain and maintain companionship with the Spirit of the Lord (Holy Ghost).

So even though I pointed the finger at others back then (and sometimes still do) the bottom line is that I sinned and didn't want to repent.

how it is that you renounced your membership etc.

I stopped attending church in 1987. Then in 1991 I wrote a letter requesting that my name be taken off the church records. It is also called "name removal."

When you renounced your membership, did you also, at the time, renounce your faith altogether (and not just your membership)?

I made no formal written or verbal statements renouncing my faith, but I gradually went back to living as I did before I joined the church. (Like Paul said, a dog returns to his vomit.) So by my actions, yes.

I purposely avoided discussing religion, and made a point not to mention the Mormons, either positively or negatively.

You may not understand this, but the other LDS following the discussion will. I stopped believing what I _believed_, but I didn't and couldn't stop knowing what I _knew_. In other words, the four foundational testimonies that I had stayed with me. I mostly ignored them, but they were still in me: knowing that 1) God lives, 2) Jesus is the Christ/Savior, 3) the Bible and Book of Mormon are true, 4) Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God and Jesus.

So I still _knew_ that the LDS church was God's "official" church, but I just couldn't stand those dang Mormons. And, I wanted to sin, and didn't want to repent. So it was like "Yeah, I know you're there, God. Now just leave me alone."

Also, you said something about being re-baptised? Why do you have to be re-baptised?

Baptism is the doorway to membership. So once you return to NON-member status by becoming an ex-member, it would be necessary to re-do that ordinance/covenant.

Is the act of baptism for to attend church activities?

No. Just about all activities outside the temple are open to the public. Non-members, members, and ex-members are invited to everything. There's a specific verse in one section in the Doctrine and Covenants about allowing non-members in. I can go any place where, say, missionaries could take their investigators: Sunday meetings, dinners, picnics, parties, dances, conferences.

They even let me help out cleaning the chapel, and help people load/unload their moving trucks. :-) I've visited a few people in the hospital, and they didn't seem to care that I was an ex-mormon.

I guess I just don't understand why this is necessary...Is it part of LDS constitution to be baptised first?

To become an official member, yes. As the Lord plainly outlined in all the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants), a properly performed baptism by someone who holds the authority to do so is necessary to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. After baptism, then the person has hands laid upon their head, again by someone who has the authority, and is "confirmed" a member of the church, and is given the "Gift of the Holy Ghost."

NM said...
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Bookslinger said...

NM wrote: So, according to LDS doctrine, do you lose the Holy Spirit when you leave the church?

One loses the companionship of the Holy Spirit, at least to a degree, as soon as one knowingly sins. The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) then usually withdraws even further if we knowingly avoid repenting of that sin.

Repentance and the Lord's forgiveness then allow the Holy Ghost to get closer, and the person may then feel unburdened of that sin. Forgiveness is through Christ's Atonement, and his grace.

Repentance is not a "work" along the lines of Mosaic law. Repentance doesn't "earn" us forgiveness.

But repentance is what brings us to the place where we can be washed in the Lamb's blood, to use one of Paul's popular phrases.

Some other faiths define the word "repentance" differently than Mormons do, so I'll define the term as I know it.

Mormons teach there are 5 general steps to repentance: 1) recognize that we have sinned, 2) feel regret/sorrow for the sin, 3) confession, 4) restitution, 5) forsake the sin.

There is a spiritual gift that members of the LDS church receive right after they are baptized. That is called "The Gift of the Holy Ghost". It is the right to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, as long as one remains worthy (by striving to keep the commandments and repenting of ones sins, maintaining humility, etc).

When one is excommunicated or has their name removed, then they officially lose that gift or right.

What Mormons believe about The Holy Ghost is discussed in chapter 7 of Gospel Principles.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost is discussed in Chapter 21 of Gospel Principles.

If so and with the fact that you are awaiting re-baptism. Does that mean that you are still waiting to re-receive the Holy Spirit?

At points in time over the past few years, I have felt the Holy Ghost comfort me and guide me. But I do miss the constant companionship. I have felt the Holy Ghost and heard/felt his whisperings _at times_, but I realize I do not have the "Gift of the Holy Ghost", nor his constant companionship.

Anonymous said...

Book,
Thanks for sharing your story with NM and thereby the rest of us who read the blogs. I became inactive when I should have gone on my mission. 34 now and am just now coming back to activity - the thing that has been hard is that during my inactivity I married a wonderful woman who unfortunately is of the born again set, and I only say unfortunately because she is vehemently opposed to the LDS church that seems to be so prevelant among the born again community. The painful side affect of this is that she absolutely refuses to allow our children any exposure to the church - that really hurts.

at any rate I totally relate to what you said about willfully leading a 'recreant' life but that can never change what we "know" and I too felt the familiar callings and am now treading that thorny path back to where I absolutely KNOW I should be.

Bookslinger said...

Anon at 8:08 pm,

Actually, you're wife being born-again or Evangelical or Pentecostal works to her and your advantage.

We have a LOT in common with them, especially in our view of how the Holy Ghost operates intimately with us in our daily lives.

I once attended a friend's Korean church, which is pretty evangelical oriented. They had a men's Sunday School class in English, and they invited (hired?) an English-speaking American pastor to teach it. What he taught was about 98.5% LDS, especially when it came to "walking by the Spirit."

You see, Evangelical/Pentecostal faiths DIFFER from the bland "mainstream" Protestant denominations, because the latter pretty much deny that the Holy Ghost is a personal and revelatory force in our lives.

_Personal and continuous revelation_ for _everybody_ who believes in Christ is something that LDS and Pentecostals/Evangelicals have in common that almost NONE of the other mainstream denominations have!

Go over Chapter 7 and 21 of Gospel Fundamentals with your wife, asking her where LDS and her church disagree. There won't be much.

And on the parts where she agrees, use those parts to teach your children.

Build on what you have in common with her, and let it go from there.

When she feels the power of the Holy Ghost as you lead the family in prayer, or when you read from the Bible, or when you bless the children, she's going to recognize that Holy Ghost feeling. Assuming she has felt the Holy Ghost in her church. Anyways, all honest God-seeking people can feel the Spirit.

Reading from the Bible daily as a family will also cement your children in the gospel, and allow opportunities for her to see that the Holy Ghost is with you, too.

Another possibility is for you to go to her church once a month, and for her (and the kids) to go to your church once a month. Promote it as an idea of family unity, inclusiveness, etc. Tell her she's free to point out all the things we do wrong when you get back home.

D360 said...

if only, right now I can't even get her to pray with me, she more or less says since we don't believe in the same God / same Jesus she won't be praying with me.

I bought a book called "how wide the divide: a Mormon and an Evangelical in discussion" by Stephen Robinson and Craig Blomberg which was circulated by a Christian press company and I know that she has read some of Blomberg's work before but she only responded by saying she would not read any propoganda put out by the Church. tried explaining that it was not to no avail...

Right now I read to the kids on my own and have prayer with them - not sure if she knows I do that as it is usually a bed time routine that I have with the kids alone.

I go with her and the kids to her church every Sunday that she decides to go and then I go to my ward in the afternoon (fortunately the times don't clash right now)

Maybe it was unfair to lump the "Born Again" title with the negativity I am experiancing at home but sometimes its hard for me to separate the two.

but I guess my struggle is is that right now she will not even hear any part of it - and will not talk religion with me... because I belong to a "phony works based religion". I have also tried to point out how similar we are in many respects but the response is usually that I am trying to deceive or I have been deceived in trying to make the LDS church look Christian when it is the "wolf in sheeps clothing" that the bible warns about....

don't mean to complain so much but one thing I do know is that I will never turn my back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever again. sometimes I think this is gonna take a saul to paul road to damascus type of miracle.

D360 said...

do want to clarify one thing however, I know that it sounds like a lot of complaining - but I do not want to give the impression that I am bashing my own wife. I love her dearly and she is a wonderful companion and mother, which just makes it that much harder to hear all of the "anti" stuff that she has some how been twisted up with... anyway I think this is where some of the long-suffering and meekness that the Savior wants us to learn and practice might come into play :)

I do appreciate being able to vent some of these feelings however and I really appreciate your insight Book, especially when you invite someone to be critical of something you hold very dear - to me that speaks volumes about humility.

Bookslinger said...

D360, I think she owes it to you to specifically point out, in our LDS literature, what it is that she believes is wrong, not quoting her church's version of what LDS believe, but going directly to the Gospel Principles manual.

As your wife, she needs to know what you believe, "even if it's wrong". I think the card to play is "Honey, you need to understand what I personally believe, even if you don't agree with me, just like I want to understand what you believe, even if I don't agree with your church."

Another angle might be, "Okay, don't pray with me, just listen while I pray. And I'll listen while you pray."

I'm having a hard time conceiving that she won't even pray with you. Wow. That's hard-core.

Some day she'll realize that the wolves in sheep clothing are the anti-mormons who knowingly spread false information.

Rank-and-file members and even most local pastors of evangelical/pentecostal churches just don't realize that the anti-mormon teachings they pass along are deliberate lies made up by those who wrote that material. The rank-and-file and local pastors have implicit trust in those "experts," so it's not the locals' fault.

As demonstrated by many visitors to this blog, the professional antis have planted misrepresentations of what we believe in the minds of members of those other churches.

The battle of ideas isn't about "fixing" what the evangelicals/pentecostals believe about the Bible, because they are pretty close already. The "fix" needs to correct their perceptions of what Mormons believe.

My belief is that when a pentecostal/evangelical comes to a correct understanding of what exactly it is that Mormons believe, and how it is closely aligned to 1st and 2nd century Christianity (as Jeff likes to point out), and how we link our beliefs to the Bible, then they will be a staunch ally, if not an eventual convert.

There are several things that I greatly admire about most Evangelicals/Pentecostals/Fundamentalists:

1. They are usually very zealous for the Lord. They're not ashamed of being "on the Lord's side."

2. Many of them, even rank and file members, are not afraid to "witness" and share what they believe. Do we always stand up for what we believe, and let others know about it whenever and wherever it's appropriate?

3. They are usually courageous to take a stand. Look at the courage of the Jerry Falwells and Pat Buchanans to stand up publicly to the wickedness in our popular culture. You just have to admire someone who's not afraid to say the words "God" and "Jesus Christ", and say "This is what's right, this is what's wrong" in public and in front of all sorts of non-believers!

4. They are not afraid of being mocked by the world and going against the world to maintain their belief in Christ and his standards.

5. And as that one pastor demonstrated to me in that friend's Sunday School class, many _do_ know about the Holy Ghost, and many of them _have_ received of the Spirit to lead them in their lives.

Therefore, they _have_ the key that unlocks truth, they just need to find the right door, insert the key, turn it, and voila', they'll recognize the restored gospel. But so many of them have been deceived about what's behind our door, and they've been "warned off" so that they'll never try it. They'll never "try" their Holy Ghost key in our door.

Some members of other churchs have received such immense blessings from following the parts of the Gospel that they have, that they can't conceive that there are even more blessings and "more Gospel" behind other doors. Their cup runneth over so much, that they can't conceive of getting a bigger cup.

Shawn said...

Hi D360!

You're in my prayers.

It's not my place to offer advise so I hope you are not offended by it, but I caution you in regards to teaching your children without your wife's consent. Children, especially these days, need the life saving lessons of Christ. But, she could end up holding it against you, no matter how just and honorable your intentions are... :(

I hope someday you will be able to talk to your wife about the things that are important to you. Bookslinger'a comments on the "second part" is, IMHO, is a wonderful pearl of wisdom. Especially if your wife's refusal to discuss religion causes you pain. Christ can help us endure many things.

I'd highly recommend a book called "The Peacegiver" if you have some time.

Peace and love, my brother.
-Shawn

Shawn said...

(for ease of reference)

Bookslinger said:

"The second part is more important because I had control over that. We can't control what others do, but we do have power to do what it takes to obtain and maintain companionship with the Spirit of the Lord (Holy Ghost)."

D360 said...

Book, Shawn,

I really appreciate it and I am always open any input in the hopes that some small gem or small inspiration might come forward. Book I really gotta say that you are exactly right about the Evangelicals and their conviction – so many times I find myself shying away from it though because it is a fervor that when directed against our beliefs can sometimes, and I’ll just speak for myself, sting pretty good. I think that I take it a little more personally than I should only because it’s double hard when it comes from your own spouse – I am really trying to work on that and I am getting a little better but I got a ways to go.

I will also say that it was when she literally had to drag me to church with her some 3 or so years ago that I did notice how similar the message was. I fought that pretty hard too – I wanted nothing to do with any of it. But then I started to listen and that caused reflection on my part, or I dare say a softening in my heart to where I could listen and feel/hear that familiar voice from long ago. So for that I owe much to her persistence in that area.

Most of the stuff she likes to bring up is the common out-of-context quotes that are circulated among the anti circle, by Brigham Young and other 19th century leaders of the church. It’s more or less the same old stuff of you think that Jesus and satan are brothers and that “God and Mary had sex” so therefore its not the same Jesus.

In regards to the kids, I really keep it simple, just read to them out of the Bible and am teaching them to pray (youngest is 7). I will also say there has been significant progress where we are now from where we were when I first told her that I wanted to go back to church … now she is even willing to iron my shirts for church – I tell ya its those little things that mean so much especially given some of the past problems.

But there still is that tension and its almost kinda morphed into a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ situation but I hope given time that too will change. I will say this though, the more I have tried to fill, and (maybe more importantly) allow my heart to be filled with charity, love and service and then act on those things – despite how I perceive any contention directed my way – the better able I am able to cope with it and the conflicts that do arise seem to be resolved much quicker. I think that goes right into what Book was saying as quoted by Shawn.

Book I have to say in reading your “tone” and comparing it to reading my “tone” I realize how far I have yet to go – that I still have much ‘murmuring’ inside… thanks for the example, I am still trying but it sometimes is not easy erasing years of rebellion and bad living.

It truly does show the Wisdom of the Lord though that as I earnestly try to apply Christ’s teachings and let the Atonement work in my life, although not always easy, does tangibly demonstrate and bears witness to me that it is through Him that we can endure and He does lift us up through having the faith in Him to live as He has both spoken and shown, that “His burden is light”.

I have such a long way to go but for the first time in a long time, I am happy and have profound gratitude to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – so much that I get a little impatient for want of having my family to be able to have these blessings as well.

Thanks for the book recommendation I will definitely pick it up. Another book that has been very uplifting is titled “The Infinite Atonement” by Tad McAllister.

Thank you both and I appreciate the insight and the conversation.

Jeff,

Thank you for all of the work you have put into your FAQ site, it has been invaluable especially when the Anti stuff was more frequently directed my way. I have read this blog for quite some time and have very much enjoyed the conversations, so thank you for keeping this going as well… It is very helpful in this journey and I sincerely thank you for all of your work.

JB said...

D360--I believe you're in the prayers of many people at this time, mine included. I feel like I must suggest to you a wonderful article in Meridian Magazine. If you're not familiar with MM, it's at ldsmag.com. Entitled "Safety in the Lord's Hands," the article is located almost halfway down the page, right hand column next to the purple news column. It's been such a huge blessing to me already.
The part that was particularly dignificant to me begins at "Putting Ourselves on the Altar." It gave me insights that helped me immensely, and I do hope they will do so for you as well. Blessings and best wishes.

Mormanity said...

D360 - Thank you for the kind words and for your faith. I think you are setting a great example of patience, faith, love, and tolerance in a complex situation. You are right to love your wife and be respectful and patient. These human relationships are so important - it's so much of what life is all about. I can't help but sense that the religious differences will be smoothed out more easily than we might think later on in the Lord's plan. Keep up the great work and continue to make it a great marriage and family. And be grateful for the faith in Christ that your wife has!

D360 said...

wow, you guys are so wonderful. I cannot adequately convey how much the encouragement means. Thank you for your prayers - it is my ferverent hope and prayer that my wife will be blessed with a testimony of the Gospel. I feel so fortunate to live in a time when we can communicate so easily no matter where we are located.

For me it kind of puts a perspective on the epistles in the New Testament, where Paul and the apostles/disciples were running all over the place just trying to keep the church together under persecution. if they only had the Internet and satalite TV (for Generral Conference of course) :) - and Jeff's FAQ website - to keep teaching the saints and encouraging one another in the faith.

Guess that's one of the reason's the restoration took place when it did...

Thank you for the reading references and I will definately check them out - I cannot get enough.... oh and I got the author's name wrong... it's Tad R. Callister - great book about the Atonement.

Latter-Day James said...

It is the small and simple things that speaks volumes to my heart. I appreciate all of the loving and kind words directed towards d360, I do not know him, but he is my brother as are all of you. (maybe some sisters out there too?) The tone on this blog site is much different then the one on other sites I have been to.

"Stand Ye in Holy Places" comes to mind. When people are kind and loving I can appreciate it and feel it. Yes, even on a blog!

Alison Moore Smith said...

Too good!