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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Change Isn't Just for Politicians

"Change" is not just a campaign issue in politics, it is a frequent topic of religious debate as well. While "change" can be a winning theme in political campaigns, change is often viewed with fear and suspicion in religion. Not only are people naturally reluctant to change what they believe, but in the Bible we we see that change is often associated with apostasy and rebellion against the ways of God. Of course, that means that divine change is often needed to get people back on track. And the coming of Jesus Christ represented huge changes in biblical religion.

For the Latter-day Saints, changes in modern practices or doctrines implemented by LDS prophets are said to be evidence that we are a cult. The argument seems to be that God would never change any commandment or rule, so changes made by LDS prophets must "prove" that the Church is not of God but deserves the negative label "cult." And changes in details of temple worship or other aspects of our practices are often used by our critics to attack our faith.

God's nature does not change, and absolute truth does not change, but the rules and instructions God gives to man are adapted for our time and circumstances, and DO change. This is part of the reason why we need continuing revelation and living prophets.

The early Christians had many changes in their doctrine and practice relative to the "mainstream" practices of Judaism at that time, and had changes relative to Old Testament teachings. Were early Christians therefore cultists, in the negative sense of the word?

Consider a few examples. Should Christians keep the feast of the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, and offer animal sacrifices? Yet the Old Testament tells us that these rites should be kept FOREVER (Exodus 12:14-24). Should we keep the Feast of Firstfruits, which was to be a "statute for ever throughout your generations" (Lev. 23:9-14), or the wave offerings of sacrificed animals, another "statute forever" (Lev. 23:15-21), or the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:33-44, esp. v. 41) or offerings of flour and frankincense (Lev. 24:5-9), also said to be everlasting and perpetual? Do modern Protestants and Catholics strictly observe the Sabbath day as taught in the Old Testament (absolutely no work or shopping and observing the Sabbath on Saturday)? Yet the Old Testament practices were said to be given as "a perpetual covenant" and a sign between God and Israel forever (Exodus 31:16-17). Many of these Old Testament ordinances and observances were changed in the original Church of Jesus Christ - not by men, but by revelation from God.

Further examples include circumcision, which was said to be "an everlasting covenant" in Genesis 17:13, yet this commandment was later changed, making circumcision of no importance at all (1 Corinthians 7:19, Galatians 5:6). The change was made through revelation to living apostles and prophets. A dramatic example of revealed change occurred in the revelation to Peter that showed him the Gospel was now to be preached to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. That revelation in Acts 10:9-18 occurred with the help of a vision in which Peter was commanded to eat "unclean" things. This revelation directly contradicted two previous Biblical revelations. One was the instruction from Christ that the Apostles were sent to preach to the house of Israel, not to the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5; see also Matthew 15:24); the other was the prior strict prohibitions against eating the very things that Peter was commanded to eat (Leviticus 11:2-47). Those changes may have been hard for Peter to accept, but they were from God and he obeyed. (Speaking of food, are Christians today allowed to eat fat? Yet a prohibition against eating fat in Leviticus 3:17 is said to be a perpetual statute.)

How can we account for the changes that occurred in laws and ordinances that were said to be perpetual or forever? God can give a set of laws that are to be ongoing until He issues a change - but He must do it, not man. The changes that took us away from many aspects of the Mosaic law, as with the changes away from the still older rules of Sabbath observance and circumcision, were made under divine inspiration after the Atonement of Christ had been completed, which fulfilled the Mosaic law and required or permitted change of other practices. God did not change, but the rules that we needed were changed. The changes were revealed by those having authority, not by committees. Besides change made through apostles and prophets, Christ also personally reversed, modified, or strengthened several previous teachings of past prophets (e.g., see Matthew 5, esp. v. 21-22, 27-28, and 31-44).

Based on the many changes in laws and commandments documented in the Bible, it is entirely incorrect to say that modern prophets are false if they reveal any changes in practices or rules. The real issue is not whether we agree with them, but whether they are true prophets or not. That question, again, can be answered--or rather, can begin to be answered (that clarification is a recent update)--by determining if the Book of Mormon is true. If it is not, Joseph Smith and all successive prophets in the Church were false. If it is true, then we should be careful not to reject those whom the Lord has called.

100 comments:

nzmagpie said...

A well constructed comment. I'm aware of members who have struggled with changes in policy or practice, which do not represent changes in doctrine. Just as at the time of Christ, people tend to revere the old prophets and reject the very prophets for their own time. i'm sure we will see further changes as the world evolves and the Church confronts it.

JayFlow22 said...

I have noticed that many people I talk with have not only trouble with the fact that we allow latter-day revelation to supersede older revelations, but also that we can accept 21st century latter-day revelation over 19th century latter-day revelations.
A living oracle of God is worth more than a thousand epistles and books from dead ones.

MrFroggie said...

Just part of the "hazards" of belonging to a church that believes in continuing revelation. To paraphrase Russell B. Long, being led by revelation is like being on a raft, you won't sink, but your feet will be wet.

HolyInheritance said...

Great post.

The last sentence says it all!

Blessings.

Kathleen said...

Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5.17?

RWW said...

The real issue is not whether we agree with them, but whether they are true prophets or not. That question, again, can be answered by determining if the Book of Mormon is true.

Not really. Certainly if the BoM is false, then so are the latter-day prophets in all likelihood. But if the BoM is true, nothing can be inferred about the prophets after Joseph Smith.

RWW said...

...and even if the prophets were true, in the sense that they hold the keys and the authority to receive revelation for the Church, that's no guarantee for the truth of their every statement.

jayleenb said...

I liken what happened to Peter in regards to the Gentiles with our 1978 revelation that the Priesthood could now go to the blacks.

What if back in Peter's day, all the Gentiles did was comment 'why only now? Jesus was a bigot!' They didn't. They gratefully accepted the Gospel with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

I'm grateful that most blacks are simply grateful that they too can now hold the Priesthood. We should never question God's ways. While we may never understand the 'whys', He does. And anyone can come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

It seems to me, note that, seems to me, that people who reject living Prophets are those who lack a certain humility to truly be able to accept the Lord's way, instead of their way. They seek our preachers who will say what they want to hear instead of find the truth and conform to it.

I also know there are many, who like I was, are simply being led astray by false teachers, and like me, will come to the knowledge of the truth eventually. The Holy Ghost will reveal it line upon line until they realize the need to pray about it.

NM said...

sssspinnnn....

=P

Jeff, I can see how LDS folks might appreciate this post, but my guess is that for most of us who are non-LDS - we might be slightly aghast by your argument.

NM said...

Well argued though =)

Hedgee said...

NM: I'd like to know exactly which part you are referring too? Why aghast?

NM said...

Hedgee,

I hope that you (and Jeff) know that I mean no harm =) Much of what I say is said in jest...

I admire Jeff's call to both LDS and non-LDS: The real issue is not whether we agree with them, but whether they are true prophets or not. That question, again, can be answered by determining if the Book of Mormon is true. If it is not, Joseph Smith and all successive prophets in the Church were false. If it is true, then we should be careful not to reject those whom the Lord has called.

It all rests upon Mr. J Smith =)

And maybe we also need to add The Pearl of Great Price (as well as The Book of Mormon) to the list?

Mormanity said...

I'd like to reword that: "The answer to that question begins by determining if the Book of Mormon is true."

Hedgee said...

NM thanks for the clarification. What do you think of the main point of this post, which I think, is that change is necessary.

Russtafarian said...

Yes, RWW...

I think it telling you felt an obligation to include that second statement about "every statement" being true...such an argument is KEY, CENTRAL to your overall thrust. Without it, what is a good secular anti-Mormon to do? Nothing left but to maybe grumble a bit about angels and demons along with throwing around some Dan Brown-esque conspiracy allegations...

The problem secular anti-Mormons (and many Mormons tend to accept their premises) have is not so much that we accept continuing revelation but that we accept revelation...they've had their fun w/traditional Christianity, now let's turn to the Mormons...white, rich, patriarchy that they are...

And alas, we Mormons, uneducated (and willingly so) in the ways of the world as we are, at best sit back and let them snipe while they define the terms of the debate for us. Worse yet, we assume that by accepting some element of relativism, we betray the "built on a rock" foundation that carries so much capital in our discourse.

Some precious few allow for change, but do so in a way that sounds so utterly blind to its implications that it likely makes the seculars laugh hysterically.

Latter Day Saints need to craft a cogent way of describing our most beautiful paradox of free-wheeling intellectualism and hard-and-fast obedience...a book has even been written on the subject...but w/o such a model, alas, while the public continues to be confused by us, we'll be happily whistling a tune canning peaches while the media/public thinks we're drinking Kool-Aid...

Anonymous said...

I think what confuses me isn't in necessarily the changes to things that could be explain as God relating to us or us to Him but I am instead confused by when it seems to be changes of absolute truth.
To use the temple as an example, many prophets said that the ritual can't and shouldn't change but it has.

Russtafarian said...

Anon...

Name chpt. and verse on that please...

On the contrary, Elder Maxwell even talks about "tactical morality"--moral standards meant mostly to distinguish us as a people. Wearing one pair of earrings, not drinking coffee, a PLETHORA of things...I mean, really, eating two 1 lb. burgers a day is certainly worse for you than drinking coffee...but one will keep you out of the temple and the other will not...

But prophets saying rituals shouldn't change? Heavens, John Taylor changed the endowment ceremony from what BY had in mind...Pres. Hinckley changed it...they didn't wear white clothing back in the day, but we do now. The NT sisters wear head coverings to distinguish them from prostitutes, but it was part of church policy.

All of these things have changed...all of them constitute a ritual...I would need to see some pretty crystal clear evidence (and a preponderance of it) to believe that rituals are etched in time immeorial...

SKB said...

Russtafarian said: "I mean, really, eating two 1 lb. burgers a day is certainly worse for you than drinking coffee...but one will keep you out of the temple and the other will not..."

I have to disagree with this. The word of wisdom actually says to eat meat sparingly... I think if we were all honest about this, none of us would get a temple recommend.

Sorry, that was a bit off-topic.

Russtafarian said...

SKB:

A little quibble now and again doesn't hurt--humor me...

Actually, I have had bishops spell out quite clearly what "Do you keep the Word of Wisdom" means...and they don't mention meat...nor will you find the meat clause in any talk by any general authority...

Elder Packer: "Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It’s well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail." To use another example, you might say that it's unwise to drink liters and liters of soda...more so than it is to drink an occasional beer or cup of coffee. Indeed, I would encourage individuals to ask their priesthood leaders about the issue. But really, we digress...

The central argument still stands: the directives we have received (even if little meat were spelled out as a temple requirement) often have more symbolic than substantive value...and I have the luxury of Elder Maxwell's backing. See his talk ("some thoughts..." given in 1976 to the Behavioral Sciences symposium).

What think y'all?

Anonymous said...

you mormons always have that fall back position. if the BoM is true then it is all true if not then none of it is true. you guys are in a win win place. it is a book of faith and can not be proven false so it will always stand like the Bible reguardless of the proof. if proof is found in support of the BoM then you win again. you mormons don't play fair.

Anonymous said...

"(even if little meat were spelled out as a temple requirement)"

What kind of meat and how many oz.s per day per body size per. female vs. male or adult vs. child. Supper size me.

Rhys said...

How do we know Peter was acting as a prophet when he was "commanded" to eat unclean things? Maybe he was just hungry and wanted some pig on a spit. So called prophets often have self-serving "revelations."

If God really did command us to eat unclean things, does it mean that we must eat pork and shellfish?

There's an assumption here that I don't buy: some people have their own thoughts and ideas, and others are the mouthpieces for God (some of the time).

If we decide that someone is a prophet, but concede that they aren't a prophet all the time, how do we separate their craving for pork or desire for lots of wives from decrees issued by God?

Seems to me that if God wanted to send a message, he wouldn't send it to one person who then has to convince the world that he's not just making something up for his own benefit, he would send it to every mind in the world at once. Then we could all agree it was a divine revelation.

uft36 said...

Great post! I went through a little discussion on my blog that talks about Book of Mormon geography and ancient history. The point of my blog is to present my ideas and theories not to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The discussion went into proving whether scriptures are true based on ancient texts and artifacts. I kept telling the commenter that it is only by the Holy Spirit that I know what is true or not. He was determined to prove me wrong and I gave up on him. I even told him basically the same thing that Jeff said. That we don't practice or teach some of the things from the 1800's that were common among the members of the Church. The basic doctrine is the same but the finer details have changed over time as we continue to receive revelations.

Russtafarian said...

Rhys:

Fortunately for the Latter Day Saints, your question is based on an incorrect premise...

Thank heavens that the prophet does not work in solitude. Revelation is a collective process--I have not yet seen in my lifetime nor over the course of the past century a revelation, decree, declaration that has not involved a collective process...and most of the time, this is not a harmonious process. Disagreement is real...and from my sources, we do not get a declaration until there is unanimity amongst the brethren (though D. Michael Quinn's work, Extensions of Power questions this, his source analysis has been thoroughly skewered, so I'm skeptical of his conclusions).

Finally, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that sustaining the brethren is a one-way street of them telling us what to do after which we, LDS robots that we are, happily do it and sing "Come Come Ye Saints" as we work (though it's a fine hymn and is not bad for background). The brethren have insisted not only that we must find out for ourselves; they've even taken a radical position. That is, we only when the brethren have been moved by the Holy Ghost (and to what extent) when WE are moved by the HOly Ghost. Only the HOly Ghost can tell us how to apply the brethren's teachings. The brethren cannot.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Russtafarian I want to pose a question for your consideration. You've indicated that sustaining the brethren is not a one way street. Yet, in sacrament meetings, when asked to sustain someone's calling, or sustain say President Monson as prophet, no one ever takes the radical position of saying no, I do not sustain this person. Are you saying that in the very short, 3 or 4 second period of time the faithful are given to decide whether to sustain or not, the faithful actually have an opportunity to think, ponder and pray about such matters? I would suggest to you that they do not, and that the unanimous responses of Yea to each of the matters of ward business addressed at the beginnings of sacrament meetings are more the result of peer pressure than they are the result of true guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I do agree with you that the Holy Spirit does guide us. I also agree with you that God still provides revelation to us. I would dare say that most catholics would agree with the proposition that God provides continued guidance and insight and revelation to his children. Over the centuries Christ has appeared to the various saints. And in that same time frame Mary has appeared to various saints as well. In each of those instances, new revelations about faith and the nature of God and prayer have been provided.

Where the true divide lies, and its really the crux of the issue, is whether God actually provided revelation to Joseph Smith or not. If JS made up the whole account of the first vision, then it really wouldn't matter if the BOM was true, or if the LDS church is led by prophets. I say that because if JS made up the whole story, then it stands to reason that none of the rest would be true, because the entire basis of the BOM, and revelation to prophets would be premised upon a lie told by JS. My personal belief about JS is that he made up the whole first vision for his own gain. No one has to agree with me on that point, but it is what I've come to learn through prayer and reflection.

Another thought I would interpose here is that everyone might want to read Romans 12 through 16. In those chapters there's a great dialogue provided by St. Paul on what it really means to be a christian. Also included in those chapters are some great messages about tolerance of others' beliefs and practises. Good lessons for us all to follow.

Catholic Defender

Jesse said...

Russtafarian,
I'm Anonymous above (only the first one, I don't know the other Anonymous).
When I said that the church leaders have stated that the temple ritual can't/shouldn't be changed I was referring to the following:
-The switch from ritual washing to a dab of water on the forehead. As best I can tell that is supposed to be a baptism but I know Brigham Young calls anything other than an total immersion a "transgression of the law." (The Essential Brigham Young, p. 195)
-Joseph Smith said, "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not be to be altered or changed". (Ensign, Aug 2001, p. 22)
-Since the Church insists that the rituals are a restoration of the Old Testament rituals how can they be changed and still the original ceremony?

Sorry it took me awhile to reply. I look forward to your answer.

Russtafarian said...

First Catholic Defender:

I would suggest to you that your concerns would deal more with the imperfection of members than it would with the church...and as we are both members of churches who have had a scandal or two take place in them, I would hope you could relate with that position...

Secondly, there indeed have been individuals who take that radical position...my father was in such a meeting. A ward division was being proposed and half a dozen individuals opposed it. And then there was the famous incident with N. Eldon Tanner in General Conference.

Finally and most importantly, your position is utterly unprovable by empirical evidence. You do not know what kind of struggles these members have gone through, what kind of thought process has racked their minds. You have absolutely no ground to stand on beside that of your largely normative theories that assume Mormons are sheep. In other words (according to your argument), Mormons must be accepting peer pressure b/c they raise their hands to sustain their leaders. Why do they sustain their leaders? Well, because they accept peer pressure...I think you see the problem.

I have been in the faith for many, many years...I have yet to hear a word of blind obedience...no one I know well (others, I can only make superficial assessments as to their motives) has ever just taken the prophet as being the prophet merely b/c he or others say so.

Russtafarian said...

Anon...

Unfortunately, I cannot discuss in detail my specific views on the temple ordinances.

I can say that the rite you speak of is not baptism...otherwise, Brigham Young would have stopped the ordinance of baptism, and yet thousands of baptisms continued during his time as prophet. Therefore, your concern about this rite being a change from washing need not be.

Also, the sacrament might used as an example. Fermented grape juice was used by the early Latter Day Saints...but it was changed to water (or most other liquids) by revelation...yet, we're changing an ordinance are we not? We must understand what Joseph meant by "altered." Except for baptism by immersion, he offered very few specifics on how ordinances should be conducted. So if we begin wearing white clothes to baptism, begin to use water for the sacrament, it is not in contradiction to Joseph's dictum. We are still baptizing by immersion, we are still partaking of bread and water/wine, etc...all according to his revelations.

Now if you don't want to believe JOseph is a prophet, that is one thing...from there, all kinds of conclusions can be drawn. But at the end of the day, almost all changes can be easily dealt with when you keep in mind the minimalist model that the ancient scriptures and modern revelations lay out. No need to concern yourself...there's wiggle room here :)

NOw can ordinances be changed? Joseph Smith never offered us a definition of what an ordinance was. We do know that he was unsatisfied with how he first gave the endowment; he said it was not in its perfect form but would have to do. Plus, we know JOseph

Mark Hansen LDS music said...

A while ago, I'd thought about the nature of change in the church and I came to some conclusions that I thought were interesting.

http://moboy.blogspot.com/2005/02/gospel-doctrine-administration-culture.html

Mark Hansen LDS music said...

Ooops. Full link:

http://moboy.blogspot.com/2005/02/gospel-doctrine-administration-culture.html

SKB said...

I, too, have witnessed the nay in sustaining - Mormon's are anything but sheep.

Andrew Miller said...

A very apt and useful post, as always. Thanks, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

DC,

"I would suggest to you that they do not, and that the unanimous responses of Yea to each of the matters of ward business addressed at the beginnings of sacrament meetings are more the result of peer pressure than they are the result of true guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I do agree with you that the Holy Spirit does guide us. I also agree with you that God still provides revelation to us."

I must disagree, as a convert of 30 plus years all Mormons that I have met are inspired 100% all the time and on short notice. It is those Catholics that I worry about. Mormons disagree all the time but when it is time to get to work it is time to quit talking and start working.

Anonymous said...

"I would dare say that most catholics would agree with the proposition that God provides continued guidance and insight and revelation to his children. Over the centuries Christ has appeared to the various saints. And in that same time frame Mary has appeared to various saints as well. In each of those instances, new revelations about faith and the nature of God and prayer have been provided."

Where the true divide lies, and its really the crux of the issue, is whether God actually provided revelation to..." Catholics????

Anonymous said...

"If...the Catholics"... made up the whole account of their visions, then it really wouldn't matter if the Pope was true, or if the LDS church is led by Pope. I say that because if the Catholic made up the whole story, then it stands to reason that none of the rest would be true, because the entire basis of the Catholic Church, and revelation to Saints would be premised upon a lie told by those Saints. My personal belief about those Saints is that they made up the whole vision thing for their own gain. No one has to agree with me on that point, but it is what I've come to learn through prayer and reflection." Me too.

Anonymous said...

"Another thought I would interpose here is that everyone might want to read Romans 12 through 16. In those chapters there's a great dialogue provided by St. Paul on what it really means to be a christian. Also included in those chapters are some great messages about tolerance of others' beliefs and practises. Good lessons for us all to follow."

Like all Mormons starting with Joseph Smith only tell lies?

Jesse said...

Russtafarian,
Aren't "Ordinances...for the salvation of men" done in the temple?
If so it seems like the temple rituals are the ordinances that Joseph Smith was talking about.
Point 2, I still don't see how the rituals can change and still be the same ceremony. I mean some of these changes are small but some are very substantial wouldn't you agree?

Anonymous said...

"I still don't see how the rituals can change and still be the same ceremony."


Why do you assume that they did not want the change? As Jeff posted, many changes have been made over time. God or the leaders may not want to bring up todate the rituals to reflect our modern world. So long as we the people of the church do not change them, that the change comes from the leaders, I don't see the problem other than it is always hard for people to change. Then again maybe that is the test. Can you deal with change, or would you quit on God because of some changes in rituals?

Mormanity said...

From Jesse: "I still don't see how the rituals can change and still be the same ceremony." One can go astray with this simple standard. Consider somebody familiar primarily with red Washington apples. Can this person recognize that a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious is also an apple, while a tomato is not? In defining or classifying any thing, there are core elements that are essential and others that are peripheral. A true understanding of the thing must permit a scope of variations among peripheral elements, while understanding what is truly core.

If we wish to practice baptism as it was done in the New Testament, does it require that we perform the ordinance in the River Jordan only, or in other polluted waters from the Near East? Does it require the ceremony be performed in Aramaic? Or that the men have beards and lack the benefits of modern deodorants? Is the use of heated chlorinated water and chemically bleached synthetic fibers a grotesque violation of a sacred principle? If a previously unspecified detail is given a standard specification, or if a commonly practiced detail is identified as unessential or superfluous, is it apostasy or progress? Is it inherently either one?

What is core to the Temple Ceremony? The color of the clothing? The exact words used in instructional segments? The details portrayed in portrayals of events from Genesis? Or is it the covenants that are made under the oversight of proper priesthood authority?

Each ordinance or ritual in the Gospel has core elements as well as peripheral details. Conflating the peripheral with the core has been be a key tactic for critics of the Church, and an unnecessary source of pain for some members.

Anonymous said...

Hi Again,

That was a very interesting use of my own words against me. Here’s the problem though. If the Catholics made it all up, then for the past 2000 years we have all believed in a lie. Surely you can recognize the fact that the Catholic Church has carried Christianity to the masses for centuries and traces its lineage directly to Christ. If that isn’t true, then we are all wrong and none of our churches would be correct. It isn’t until about the 1200’s that you see any division in the faiths. First we see Martin Luther splitting off then some of the other protestant denominations start to surface. Until that point in time, you were either Catholic, if you were a Christian, or you weren’t a Christian at all. But all of those protestant denominations, including yours, have their roots in the work the Catholics did for centuries. So if we’ve been lying all this time, then none of the things we believe in are true, including the alleged restoration of the gospel by JS. I say that because if it’s all a lie to begin with, then JS would have had nothing to restore, other than more lies.

With regard to Rasstafarians comments, I am not out of touch with the scandals of my own church. We Catholics have some of the best scandals over the centuries, ranging from the Crusades, the Inquisition, to some of the more recent clergy scandals in the news. All of those make for great conversations and debates, and often cause people to overlook the good done. Your own church’s scandals have likely resulted in the same thing. I don’t disagree with you that I can not know what has occurred in the minds of those voting to sustain during sacrament meetings. And maybe there are times when folks step up and say “nay” to a particular item on the agenda. I have never seen that happen. The point I was making in my comment though, is that your church members tend to be considered sheep because from an outside perspective, you all seem to be blindly following your prophet. Seems like there’s a primary song called “Follow the Prophet;” with words that pretty much suggest blind obedience to the prophet. Seems like there is also doctrine in your church teachings that indicate that your prophet won’t steer you wrong, therefore you shouldn’t question his guidance. There’s similar doctrine regarding the Pope, though I can’t remember the exact wording.

I do agree that the Holy Spirit can and does give revelation on very short notice. We have to be in tune with those promptings and try to act on them. But there still is a need to think, ponder, and pray on those matters. That praying and pondering is how we put ourselves in tune with the Holy Spirit. It’s very important for our faith to pray often, and be willing to listen during our prayers. To whoever said that they worried about those Catholics and not being inspired by prayer and the Holy Spirit I would suggest to you that you haven't met the right Catholics. We do recieve divine inspiration and we do recieve the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we do know what that guidance feels like when we recieve it.

This topic on changes within the LDS church is very interesting to me. The reality for your church is that it is not going to be able to make doctrinal changes without someone criticizing your leaders for making the changes. That’s because of the history your church has, and because of the claims your church has made. People are going to call you on JS words regarding the BOM being the most correct book. So if there are changes to that book, does that mean JS was wrong about it being correct, or was there a new revelation given? Do you see the point I am making. I’m not actually trying to be insulting or critical. I’m really just trying to point out that because of the extravagant claims JS made at the beginning of your church’s history, people are always going to put new doctrine or revelation under a microscope and question, is this really what God said.

For example, someone here brought up blacks gaining the priesthood in 1978. This doctrinal change after over a century of discrimination against blacks does bring up the question of was this change the result of divine revelation or was it a response to extreme criticism by civil rights groups and the federal government and black church members claiming discrimination. You have to pray about that and draw your own conclusions, but this kind of change after a century of hard line doctrine against such a conclusion by its very nature draws criticism and creates a schism in the people of your church. Ultimately I think this particular change was for the better, but I still question the motives behind it. But then again, I don’t believe the BOM to be true to begin with, so I’m likely to question the motives anyway.

To the person responding about Paul’s teachings in Romans 12 through 16, I actually missed whatever point you were making about JS and Mormons being the only ones to lie. Are you saying St. Paul was lying? Please clarify.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormanity said...

CD: "People are going to call you on JS words regarding the BOM being the most correct book. So if there are changes to that book, does that mean JS was wrong about it being correct, or was there a new revelation given? Do you see the point I am making. I’m not actually trying to be insulting or critical. I’m really just trying to point out that because of the extravagant claims JS made at the beginning of your church’s history, people are always going to put new doctrine or revelation under a microscope and question, is this really what God said."

By "correct" Joseph Smith certainly didn't mean "free of typos and awkward grammar," but doctrinally correct. The doctrines of the Book of Mormon have not been revised or corrected. But punctuation has been added (the original Hebrew lacked that), some awkward structures from the translation process have been made more conventional (e.g. changing the perfectly acceptable Hebraic concept of Moroni waving a "rent" of a garment in the air to a more acceptable "rent part" of a garment in the air), spelling errors have been corrected, printer's errors have been fixed, etc. These changes are perfectly understandable given the translation process and the limitations of technology in Joseph's day, and do not represent attempts to patch up doctrines or redo story lines. The teachings of the Book of Mormon are the same today as they were in 1831.

I would say the same applies to the King James Bible today versus the first King James edition, in spite of the many changes that have been made over the past 400 hundred years (we recognize that much greater changes, including some doctrinal changes or losses of entire passages and even books, may have been made relative to the original manuscripts, none of which are in existence). We do have a significant doctrinal change in the modern KJV versus the 1631 KJV: "Thou shalt commit adultery" has been amended with a helpful "not."

Russtafarian said...

CD:

In all reality, the faith you have ascribed to me and to many LDS I know is a creation within yours (and others) own minds. To use the "Follow the Prophet" song as evidence of a bunch of prophet hailing robots is a little out there...you almost seem to be hinting at the fascist youth movements (though probably not intentionally). The actual lyrics to that song, while they do of course propose a specific course of action, also direct its listeners to go and find out for themselves ("go and watch the news," as the lyrics say).

Incidentally, when you're not creating strawmen about the Mormons, you actually sound like a good Mormon yourself: "I do agree that the Holy Spirit can and does give revelation on very short notice. We have to be in tune with those promptings and try to act on them. But there still is a need to think, ponder, and pray on those matters."

And you can question motives...but that's so passe...

Jesse said...

I've studied Mormonism for about a year now. One of the things I've noticed is when I bring something to a lds member/missionary/etc that seems like a contradiction/confusion I get an answer that seems to start out answering my question but then go somewhere completely different.

When I try to understand how the temple ceremony can be the same one as OT model I'm not referring to small incidental differences such as your colors of an apple example.
I'm talking about drastic changes to ceremony.

One can go astray with this simple standard. Consider somebody familiar primarily with red Washington apples. Can this person recognize that a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious is also an apple, while a tomato is not? In defining or classifying any thing, there are core elements that are essential and others that are peripheral. A true understanding of the thing must permit a scope of variations among peripheral elements, while understanding what is truly core.

My mission to learn about Mormonism has slowly shifted from simply learning about Mormonism to trying to figure out how someone can earnestly believe this. I realize that it requires faith, but I don't think anyone should be required to give faith to something that goes against reason and logic.

Russtafarian said...

"I don't think anyone should be required to give faith to something that goes against reason and logic."

I wholly sympathize with you...Austin Farrar suggested that reasonable debate created the environment in which faith can flourish...so reason, even intellectualism, definitely has an etched-in-eternity place at my doctrinal table.

That said, I think you are taking a far more literalist position on ceremony than any LDS general authority has taken. And frankly, I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that the ceremony must be identical to the Old Testament model. So you'll have to inform me on the source of that idea before I can really address/contexutalize it...

That said, there are scads of individuals who are fully trained with all the tools of scholarship and who teach at universities OTHER than BYU (I have one in my grad. history dep't) and are quite willing to accept a divine origin for the BOM and can accept the Church as the vessel for the gospel on the earth.

Jesse said...

The issues I see with the LDS church go beyond the temple ceremony. That was just foremost in my mind because I've studied it recently and I also felt it's very straight forward.
I see holes everywhere I look at the church. Everything from the necessity of works for salvation (see Acts 16:30-31 for counter example), to the evolution in theology from BOM to the D&C and Pearl.

I personally don't have a problem with a ritual not being exactly the same as it was in the Old Testament days. What I was trying to point out is that the church has said that it is the same ceremony. If my last birthday party was different then the one before that they are different ceremonies in my opinion.
It also seems that when Joseph Smith says that ordinances for salvation cannot be changed, most if not all the ordinances I know of happen in the temple. So how can they change?
All I'm really looking for is some consistency.

bassooner said...

Let's get some things straight about sustainings here.

A sustaining "vote" is not a motion that we believe the person being called is the best for the job. It is not necessarily a motion that we agree completely with the person call. It is not a "vote" as some may believe -- the Church is not a democracy.

More than anything, a sustaining is a motion of support -- that we will do our best in supporting the person in their call. It is a motion stating that we do not know of any worthiness issues. It is a motion of confidence in those who have called the person to the position.

I, and anybody who can recall general conference sessions in the late 1970's and early 1980's, has witnessed non-sustaining votes during the sustaining of general authorities when people would shout their negative vote because of the churches stand on the ERA. I think that this is the reason, that at least for a time, the session during which sustainings took placed was changed from conference-to-conference.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rasstafarian,

I have often sat in primary with my son wondering if he’s being brainwashed by the well meaning, most likely very believing primary leaders and teachers. That has been, and still is a concern I have. That type of indoctrination isn’t something strictly attributable to the LDS church. My own experiences with CCD as a child in the Catholic Church, and my own observations of other protestant Sunday school programs tells me that all the churches engage in this type of teaching. Such behaviour naturally calls into question whether we are all teaching our children to be little prophet or pope hailing robots. It’s a very fine balance to strike between teaching our children to know and believe in God; and indoctrination and brainwashing. This in turn raises questions about whether our children truly believe because they believe, or are they merely parroting their parents. I think to some extent, all the Christian faiths, including yours, engages in a practise of indoctrination. The real test comes later when our children figure out the path to choose, that’s where the true test of faith comes in.

You may think of me as being a good Mormon, but frankly I am not. I am a tried and true Catholic, married to a tried and true Mormon. The end result of that coupling is that I spend a great deal of time listening to what Mormons say, but disagreeing with most of it. The points where I do agree are those points about the necessity of praying, pondering, and reflecting upon things, and those points about Christ being our saviour and God’s son. You won’t find me switching teams though. I don’t find JS at all credible, and for me it really comes down to “what do I truly believe about the nature of God.” I don’t believe in a God who was once human, and has now become exalted. I don’t believe in three separate personages, and I don’t believe in a God that has the limitations of human form that the LDS church imposes upon him. I don’t believe any form of apostacy ever occurred, or ever could’ve occurred given Christ’s promises to Peter in Matthew 16.

What I do believe is in the Trinity. I believe God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in being. For some that seems a stretch, but I think that’s because non-trinitarians think way too literally. God to me is a spirit who can be, and is, at all places at all times. He is with us in all that we do. I have personally experienced the intercessions of St. Jude, and Mary, and various other saints on my behalf. The communion of saints is very real to me. The Holy Spirits guidance is very real to me, and I have never experienced at time when that spirit wasn’t with me. So from my perspective, the LDS Church can not offer these experiences because it’s limited by the Restored Gospel of the BOM. God is so much more than what the BOM, the Pearl of Great Price, and the D & C make him out to be. These books have some insights and wisdom, but they don’t really capture the essence of what God is calling on us to do as Christians. In my experience from reading those books, they do far more to lead us astray and confuse people than they do to clarify the nature of God and his relation to us.

From my vantage point, I have not been able to reconcile the actual experiences I’ve had as a Catholic, with the teachings of the LDS faith. All the things you Mormons say that I can’t experience because I don’t live and believe in the restored gospel, I have actually experienced my whole life as a Catholic. That to me creates a huge problem with your theology, and strengthens my testimony about my own faith. So don’t be deceived into believing I’d make a good Mormon, I’m actually just a very good listener and a practising Catholic.

That said, I do still put a great deal of stock in what St. Paul tells us about tolerance in the last few chapters of Romans. We are called upon to support each other, not criticize each others faith.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

D360 said...

even if the exact events/details of your birthday parties are a little different, few extra candles here and there :), are you not still celebrating your birthday and all that it signifies?

NM said...

Catholic Defender,

I resonate with the majority of what you have just said....

...however (and it's a BIG HOWEVER)...what you say about Paul (at the end of Romans) when you say that Paul said that ...We are called upon to support each other, not criticize each others faith is not entirely accurate. In fact the end of Romans is where Paul gives a warning to the church in Rome against those who cause divisions and those who preach a different gospel...etc.

Paul very much liked to debate and the whole point of his debates as it clearly demonstrates time and again in the book of Acts, is to establish which position is best. =)

Jesse said...

Yes, but the party is a different ceremony. I have no problem with a ceremony changing but pointing toward the same thing but it seems like Joseph does when he says they "are not be to be altered or changed"

Even if Joseph did just mean no big changes I think there has been large changes and again I fell your counter example (of a few candles being different) is minimizing the difference in the temple ritual changes since the time it began.

D360 said...

"From my vantage point, I have not been able to reconcile the actual experiences I’ve had as a Catholic, with the teachings of the LDS faith. "

what about a LDS who has felt the hand of the Lord in their lives and has had similar experiences. Or a Muslim or any member of another faith, what does that mean for any of us who interpret things from our own personal world views?

This is not meant as any satire/sarcasm but a serious question... how do we reconcile in our minds when someone of a different faith tradition claims to have experiences that we might think are only available in the one we grew up with?

Maybe we ALL really are literally the spiritual offspring of our Heavenly Father and that He does seek to bless the lives of those that love Him and those that seek to follow his will.

I guess that may sound a little universalist but who are we to say who gets the blessings and interventions from our Heavenly Father and who does not?

as someone who has an interfaith/denomination marriage as well, it is something I think about quite a bit...

Jesse said...

1 Nephi 14:10:
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save atwo churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the bother is the church of the cdevil; wherefore, dwhoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the ewhore of all the earth.

Jesse said...

1 Nephi 14:10
(without footnotes for easier reading)
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

D360 said...

My candle comment was only meant as an attempt at light heartedness. I guess it just depends on what you're comfortable with then.

my opinion is that if the "party" is different - it does not change what you are there for. you are still there to celebrate your birthday. whether you have chocolate cake, marble cake, have a 2 hour party or make it an all day event - ultimately you are there to celebrate your birthday.

If one of the points of the Temple is to receive ordinance and make solemn vows with our Heavenly Father and learn about our relationship with Him, if it has been determined that some of the ceremony can be modified (it is my understanding that some of them are for instructional/teaching purpose), if the same thing can be accomplished and the same things taught/learned, how is it less or now wrong if the delivery method is a little different. especially if we are still making those solemn vows...

Jesse said...

Points and reasons for rituals aside, Joseph said that they are not be changed or altered, correct?

D360 said...

D&C 10: 56
56 But it is they who do not afear me, neither keep my commandments but build up bchurches unto themselves to get cgain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center.

D&C 18: 20
20 aContend against no church, save it be the bchurch of the devil.

D360 said...

isnt that the thing that is not supposed to be altered/changed..... the points and reasons.... not necessarily the method with which they are carried out.

based on your previous question, which seems to be to be an attempt to lock me into an absolute, i doubt we will see eye to eye on any of this. I was generally responding to your statement of your shift of the study of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from one of curiosity to one of how can anyone believe it..... I, in my apparent limited capacity to express my personal opinions, was trying to state how at least one person can actually believe it.

jayleenb said...

Jesse - Personally, I don't care if Joseph Smith said not to change or alter it, because we believe in ongoing revelation by living Prophets, who always take precedence over past Prophets. If it was changed or altered it was approved by the Lord or instructed by the Lord for His purposes.

I only know that the same Holy Spirit, which testified to me Jesus is the Christ, 20 years later, testified to me that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Restored Church of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I know that there is NOTHING that this Church teaches that would cause me harm in this life or the one to come. Living by its precepts (which are the Lord's) brings me closer to Jesus and my Heavenly Father than in any other church I've ever attended. Does the Spirit touch those in other churches, of course, but they do not have His fullness. I had many wonderful experiences in other churches, but none to compare with what I have now. I know my Savior better than ever. I know who I am and why I'm here and where I'm going.

The Temple ceremonies bring me great peace and joy and again, bring me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and to Heavenly Father. I feel the Spirit while I am there.

I truly don't understand those of you who seem to simply want to tear people down.

Jesse said...

Joseph states it's the ordinances themselves: ", "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not be to be altered or changed". (Ensign, Aug 2001, p. 22)

I don't know what you mean by attempting to lock you into absolutes. I'm honestly just trying to make this picture make sense to me. I can study Islam and understand the thought process of their faith but I can't do that with LDS and that's what I'm attempting to do.

D360 said
"was trying to state how at least one person can actually believe it"
I see that you do believe it and I know many LDS members who I think believe whole heartily I just don't understand how that's possible which is what I'm seeking.

jayleenb said...
"Personally, I don't care if Joseph Smith said not to change or alter it, because we believe in ongoing revelation by living Prophets, who always take precedence over past Prophets."


"The Temple ceremonies bring me great peace and joy and again, bring me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and to Heavenly Father. I feel the Spirit while I am there.

I truly don't understand those of you who seem to simply want to tear people down."

I truly apologize if I'm coming across as tearing people down. That is not my goal whatsoever. I'm interested in the truth and knowledge. I wouldn't dream of ever tearing down an individual on purpose so I hope anyone who felt attacked accepts my apology and hopefully understands my intentions.

Jesse said...

Sorry for posting twice but I was going to comment on this and I thought it was important

jayleenb said...
"Personally, I don't care if Joseph Smith said not to change or alter it, because we believe in ongoing revelation by living Prophets, who always take precedence over past Prophets."

I understand you believe in continuing revelation and I don't have any problem with that but the problem is that is Joseph Smith didn't want it changed and it was changed that's a difference in absolute truth as Jeff was saying in his post. It's an absolute truth because the statement means that ordinances can never change.

l_dog said...

speaking of change. The fact that LDS leaders feel free to revelations themselves has bothered me to great extent. for example. What did God reveal to J. smith at Harmony Penn, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris. What we see in D&C 5:4 is significantly divergent from the revelation as it was orriginally published in the Book of Commandments (4:2). David Whitmer also pointed out that the J. Smith also significantly changed D&C 18:4 (book of Commandments section 15), a revelation that was givein in his presense. Needless to say, he was upset that J. Smith later missrepreseted that revelation and republished it to accomidate new revelation.

I find that more than a bit deceitful.

D360 said...

"I just don't understand how that's possible which is what I'm seeking."

I'm not sure that I, or any other person, would be able to accomplish that for you then. It would seem to me that one would have to accept another's statement at face value - that for some, a change in method is not a change in the meaning/purpose and value of the ordinance.

not sure what else I personally can offer, perhaps others have more articulate insights from a more intellectual perspective.

I didn't take offense and hope I did not offend in return...

Jesse said...

I'm not sure that I, or any other person, would be able to accomplish that for you then.

To clarify myself, what I meant was I'm not trying to see how someone can go from facts to faith but when a religion seems to have so many contradictions in it, it's hard for me to understand how someone could believe it without spiritual blinders on. I think what I'm seeking is to harmonize some of these things that I'm sure you would insist are simply misunderstandings on my part.

not sure what else I personally can offer, perhaps others have more articulate insights from a more intellectual perspective.
I would love to continue this dialog, I'm finding it very insightful.

"I didn't take offense and hope I did not offend in return..."
No, none taken, I was responding to jayleenb who seemed to accuse me of tearing people down which I really hope I wasn't doing with my questions.

D360 said...

I guess at this point I would echo some of the sentiments as expressed by jayleenb. I know that I experience the Spirit at my services, I know that the LDS church teaches and encourages me to love and Worship Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of my salvation, I know that I am taught to and have a multitude of opportunities to serve my fellow man. I also know of the peace and joy available to me there.

having lived it most of my life, but also spending many years away from the LDS church and attending two different Christian denominations, (I also currently go to my wife's church with her in addition to faithfully attending my meetings and services) I feel I have opportunity to see what other beliefs/styles are out there.

I have made my choice accordingly. I can only speculate that from the outside looking in - that there seems to be a whole bunch of change and contradiction, but having lived it and currently living it, I think that members of the Church individually and collectively grow and develop and that policies and certain 'practices' may change over time according to the needs/readiness of the membership; but the core doctrines of salvation and service to God and others remain.

I think to the average LDS church member who worries about paying their bills, worries about their family and are (hopefully) busy serving the Lord and their fellow man, I don't (again my opinion) think that some changes in certain methodologies pose that significant a threat to ones faith or understanding of the purposes and eternal significance of the ordinances. it does not look like a bunch of contradictions from our perspective...

and since we believe the Lord will yet reveal other things, I venture to guess there will be further adjustments and growth in the future as well (again just my opinion)

Halibut said...

I really tried not to comment on this post----but the post is out of line.

I.E. LDS people say that baptism by immersion is the commanded way in the bible. It cannot be changed etc. Yet the Temple ceremony has had numerous changes and that is okay?????

One way of the other-------

jayleenb said...

Jesse - The Bible is full of apparent contradictions, but when the whole picture is viewed, it stands. As long as you base your testimony, or lack thereof on 'facts' or lack of seeming contradictions, you will be standing on very sandy ground indeed.

Even Science is full of apparent contradictions... but that only means many things are not yet understood.

No one can explain Mormon beliefs or any beliefs in short paragraphs. Also, understanding comes only through the Holy Ghost. God's ways cannot be understood with the mortal mind without the influence of the Holy Ghost.

If you truly seek to understand, then find your local LDS Church and invite the missionaries to give you the lessons. Read the Book of Mormon, listen to the missionaries and then apply what you are taught to your life. Reread the New Testament and see if it doesn't make TONS more sense.

But most of all, pray. After you've done what I outlined above, pray and ask if it is true or not. And ask with a sincere heart to follow it if it is.

When I first joined the Church I had some serious questions that weren't as yet answered when I joined. But because I got a real and unmistakable answer that this is Jesus' True Church, I simply accepted those things and continued to learn and eventually all the questions were answered an made sense in light of the whole. And I'm not one to be talked into anything, believe me. I always was a tough nut. Still am. lol

You are taking one sentence, one quote, and not putting it in context with the whole. Ordinances are Baptism, Laying on of hands by one who has the authority to do so for the gift of the Holy Ghost, Temple ordinances in which we make covenants with God. The covenants have not changed. The method of delivery has changed with the times and according to the further light and knowledge that is received. But all the ordinances still stand.

And I apologize for what I said. It just seems that so many come to Jeff’s site and other Mormon sites to attempt to tear down the testimonies of those who are LDS. It never makes sense to me why they do. Sometimes I have a knee-jerk response because I get tired of the constant barrage of attack.

Bookslinger said...

Halibut, I think you failed to get the gist of Jeff's original post.

If God told the Latter-day Saints, through President Monson and the Quorum of the 12, to start baptizing people via sprinkling instead of immersion, then the Latter-day Saints would start baptizing via sprinkling.

If God told the Latter-day Saints, through President Monson and the Quorum of the 12, to start ordaining worthy women to the priesthood, then the Latter-day Saints would start ordaining worthy women to the priesthood.

Jeff pointed out biblical precedents for such changes.

Here's another one. God told Moses to take the children of Israel to the Promised Land. Then after the Israelites rebelled in the desert, God counter-manded the order and told him they couldn't go until everyone over age 20 died off (except a couple or 3 people).

Then God told Joshua that _he_ could take the children of Israel into the promised land.

To the children of Israel who left Egypt under Moses, it looked like Moses lied to them. First they're going, then they're not going. I wonder if they kept a lie chart on Moses.

jayleenb said...

And let's not forget that the Lord commmanded Moses to make a 'fiery serpent' and put it on a pole and then anyone bit by a serpent, if they looked at the one on the pole, they lived. Num 21:6-9

A serpent! Why... that's the devil talking! Clearly Moses must have been a fallen Prophet! lol

Bookslinger said...

Jayleenb:

It just recently dawned on me that that story of looking on the serpent to be healed, may have some connection to the fact that Quetzalcoatl, the white-skinned god (perhaps Jesus Christ) of some American indians, is represented as a serpent.

Moses' serpent represented Christ, whom to look on brought healing. And if Quetzalcoatl is Christ, that could be an interesting connection.

Jayleen said...

Bookslinger, that is a really neat observation. And while I was aware of the Great White God, I did not realize he was represented by a serpent. Thank you!

And just to be sure, I know the serpent Moses made represented Christ. I'm just imagining these Antis back in Moses' day or even Abraham's and what they would have come up with to discredit them.

'A serpent used to represent Christ!?! Eeeeek!''A graven image!! EEeeeek!' 'Sacrifice his son? How demonic!! Eeeeek!' lol

(PS - I hate blogger! If this is posted 4 times... I apologize!)

NM said...

Quetzalcoatl? Who's Quetzalcoatl?

Anonymous said...

"I don't think anyone should be required to give faith to something that goes against reason and logic."


Sounds to me like you are grasping at straws. Or does walking on water and changing water into wine ring any bells. Unless you have a profound spiritual experience that is so telling that you can not deny then it must be faith because there is no other proof for the things that happend in the Bible or the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith and so on.

Anonymous said...

NM,



"Quetzalcoatl? Who's Quetzalcoatl?"


I think it has something to do with the Virgin Mary and the Catholic church in Mexico? If you are asking this NM, you are really comeing late to the came without any knowledge of the game.

Anonymous said...

"This topic on changes within the LDS church is very interesting to me. The reality for your church is that it is not going to be able to make doctrinal changes without someone criticizing your leaders for making the changes."

That is just silly, if you don't mind me saying so. That is like you telling the Pope which doctrine or commandments to follow if the majority or someones logic or reasion is use to show how he is wrong. Criticize your Pope all you want but it is directed from the top down not from the bottom up no matter how much you might disagree with the doctrine.

Anonymous said...

"other than more lies"

The only lie is that I am not a Christian, I was a Mormon and still a Mormon in spirit and will defend it to my death. From what I have experienced from Catholics and Christians I would rather die a Mormon and except Gods punishment for being a Mormon than being a so called Catholic or Christian that spends so much time calling derogatory names of other religions. Besides when I was taught the missionary lessons they told me it is either true or it is the biggest lie ever perpetrated on man. So you are a couple hundred years late on the "O' Joe is a liar thing." They told me the only way to find out if it is true was to study and pray and I don't think name calling was part those directions to seek out the truth. If God tells you to be a Catholic and you don't feel at peace with it, so much so that you need to seek out a place to call you wife's religion a lie then I would think you might need to reexamine if you are defending the Catholic religion or just have some need to stab at others religions. In Jeff's blog I don't recall the name of the Catholics or the Catholic church mentioned. I could be wrong or I could be just a big fat liar

NM said...

Always behind, me...

*googles QuetzleMcdoodle, or whoever it is*

jayleenb said...

NM - You can also read Jeff's links concerning 'The Great White God':

http://www.jefflindsay.com/bme9.shtml

and

http://www.jefflindsay.com/myturn.shtml

He explains it very fairly I think. Better than I can in a paragraph or two.

NM said...

Ta =)

Anonymous said...

"Modern esoteric groups, called "Mexicanistas," have mixed the cult of Quetzalcoatl with modern esoteric practices.

Creationists, in a effort to present ancient myths as literal truth, have suggested that the Quetzalcoatl is a definition or description of a pterodactyl. They believe their idea to have merit due to supposed (unconfirmed) sightings of pterodactyls throughout the Americas, from early European colonization to modern times.

Though not official church doctrine, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Quetzalcoatl was originally Jesus Christ, whom they teach visited the Mesoamerican natives after his resurrection. "


Not really so surprising after all Bookslinger and Jayleenb. You may be slightly more reverent when referring to Jesus, your Saviour.

jayleenb said...

Anon - What I could never give up is the knowledge of being a true child of God, not 'metaphoric' or 'adopted pet' kind of thing.

I've never understood that Christians could call themselves children of God but not understand all that would really mean. It's so simple a child can understand it, but they have been taught to misunderstand it for so many years to the point the concept is totally foreign and smacks of blasphemy to them.

How children with no way to actually become like Him? Partake of His glory how if we don't become like Him? He certainly isn't going to lower Himself... so the only logical alternative is to raise us up to become like Him, just as He says we will. Why is that so hard to grasp? Fortunately for me the first ‘Evangelical’ church I went to at least grasped that much. Although every church after that thought I was satan himself for suggesting such a thing.

Satan... satan would like nothing better than to rob people of their understanding of who they truly are and what they have the potential to become.

As if His children growing up and partaking of all that He is threatens Him somehow. Most parents delight in sharing all they have with their children.

Cats beget cats, dogs beget dogs, but all God can beget is lower forms of life that even through 'adoption' can't grow up anything like Him.

They would believe that Jesus while being baptized was talking to Himself from the sky and landing on Himself in the form of a dove. That when He says His Father is His God, he really didn't mean it... that when He says His Father is greater than He is, He really didn't mean it. And that He was praying to Himself in the Garden and in John 17 and any other place recording prayer by Jesus. Sheesh.

NM would have us believe God created a world of playthings and taps one on the shoulder and says, 'I like you, I'll save you.' and taps the other on the shoulder and says, 'I don't like you so much... you get to burn for all eternity. Now all of you, WORSHIP ME... or else!' Oh happy day! =)

They can call me arrogant all day long if they want, but joining this Church was like going straight from Kindergarten in my understanding of Jesus to College, with the Masters and Doctorate degrees to come! And now they'd like me to give it up and return to Kindergarten. And blaspheme the Holy Ghost in the process. And because the witness was the same, I'd have to give Jesus up altogether along with the Church. No thank you.

What I really wish is that everyone would accept the truths that only this Church has, because it really is the Church set up by Jesus Himself… I want everyone to know and understand who they are and what their divine potential is. What is eternity for if not to learn and grow and progress and forever worship our Father and Christ?

Oh how I love my Father and how much more I want to be like His Son Jesus knowing what I know now. And how it saddens me to see them reject the fullness of what Jesus sacrificed Himself for. It’s as if they only want 1% of what He suffered and died for. Under all my frustration with them (the antis) is sorrow for them. I still hope and pray they will ‘get it’ at some point.

Wow, I didn’t set out to type all this… Oh well, I’m glad I did.

jayleenb said...

My comment was to the Anon above Anon who began his post with ""other than more lies"...

You Anons confuse me. lol

Teranno4x4 said...

I can't speak for NM, but understanding the comments that he has written in previous topics, I would claim that he does not believe in what you are suggesting Jayleenb :
"NM would have us believe God created a world of playthings and taps one on the shoulder and says, 'I like you, I'll save you.' and taps the other on the shoulder and says, 'I don't like you so much... you get to burn for all eternity. Now all of you, WORSHIP ME... or else!' Oh happy day! =)"

The majority of Christians, believe that Jesus has purchased their salvation and given them the assurance of eternal life, through their belief and faith in His loving grace.

You may remember the verse John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

This means that in order not to be saved, you are responsible for losing your own reward of eternal life, by being obedient to sin and by not accepting the sinless sacrifice that Jesus offered on behalf of all our collective sin. There is nothing that we can do in ordinances, practices, rituals, or doctrines to save ourselves. If we try then we will be lost.

That view paints an ever so slightly picture of a very loving God, than the arbitrary God of NM that you were attempting to paint.

On the flip side, there are steps that a Christian will take out of love and to demostrate their love for their Saviour, but they are not arbitrary in any way. A misquoted verse (Mark 16) in terms of baptism is :Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. You see here the emphasis is on either believing (salvation) and not believing (condemned). It says nothing about not being baptized ! (And before you jump on me - yes I do believe in baptism by immersion and what it stands for)

---------

Jeff - news for you - there are Christians today that do keep all the Commandments, including the Sabbath day as institutionalized in Creation. This was not just a commandment given 2nd hand to Moses. It was sanctified at Creation and hallowed in the Commandments.

Also the unclean animals in Peter's vision were not express instructions to entertain himself with an 'unclean meats-fest'. I think that you know very well that he was struggling to come to terms with venturing outside of his comfort zone in preaching to the Gentiles and this Divine message confirmed to him what he needed to hear. Misrepresentation of a very important message from God in terms of personalising it to one's stomach in the vain attempt to introduce and permit snake, camel and vulture is dangerous to the extreme.

jayleenb said...

T 4x4 - I have read many of NM's posts saying that God is the one who chooses who will be saved and who will not. An approach I personally think is one of the more devilish of Christian thought. One of many devilish teachings that the Restoration corrected.

As for the rest of what you wrote, it is misinterpreted. You quote a scripture that includes being baptized as part of the plan of salvation and yet insist that baptism isn't necessary. You would remove a necessary ordinance on your own interpretation and whim. Another devilish practice corrected by the Restoration.

gb said...

Did not the Master say;

Matt 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
• • •
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
• • •
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

????????????

gb said...

Maybe snake, camel and vulture are permitted.

because of course, they taste like chicken!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NM said...

Jayleen,

The difference between who you believe God to be and who I believe God is, might hinge largely upon our perception of what the end point of the gospel is =)

But, hey, maybe that's for another day =)

Unless Jeff could open a new post with an explicit apologia (if merely for the benefit of us non-LDS folk) as to the LDS church's perspective of the end point of the gospel? What do you say Jeff? =)

D360 said...

hey I like chicken!!!!!!!

D360 said...

NM,
this may be a good place to start for that one


http://www.jefflindsay.com/adam.shtml

NM said...

Ah, thanks D360! =)

Bookslinger said...

Anonymous At 10:09 AM, March 28, 2008, implied that I wrote something irreverent about the Savior.

I reviewed my comments and failed to find anything that was irreverent.

If you could please point specifically to something that came across as irreverent, I'll either delete it, correct it, or explain it.

Perhaps it was the comment in which I referred to Quetzalcoatl as a "god" with lower case "g", which I think is correct, because the figure of Quetzalcoatl, even if the figure is a derivation of Christ, was worshipped in a pagan religion and (as far as I know) doesn't quite match the Judeo-Christian concept of God.

My understanding is that the name and figure of Quetzalcoatl does _not_ equate to other alternate names which we would give God (capital G) such as Elohim, Yahweh, YHWH, Jehovah, Adonai, Allah, The Great Spirit, etc. (Again, setting aside for the moment the various beliefs of who the constituent(s) of the Trinity or Godhead is(are), and referring to the Trinity/Godhead, or Father/Son/Holy Ghost collectively as "God." And this "setting aside" is intended to be respectful and inclusive all beliefs.)

I used the lower case "god" to refer to Quetzalcoatl the same as I would to refer to Zeus as a lower case "god". I hope that is correct.

Not all religious scholars and archaeologists acknowledge a connection between Quetzalcoatl and Christ. It seems to me that only Mormons do, since Mormons are the only ones who believe that Christ visited the Americas.

Now, as to supporting points of the theory that Quetzalcoatl was based somehow on Christ, or a Christ-like figure, Jeff handles that on his web site, so I don't want to get into it here.

People can look up Quetzalcoatl at Wikipedia.org or Google the word. I would suggest adding "serpent" and "Christ" into the search terms.

Anonymous said...

""other than more lies".
At 10:58 AM, March 28, 2008, jayleenb said...
My comment was to the Anon above Anon who began his post with ""other than more lies"...

You Anons confuse me. Lol


My comments were directed to Catholic Defender about calling Joseph Smith and basically all LDS members liars. I agree with all your comments on (At 10:54 AM, March 28, 2008,jayleenb said…). Well said as a matter of fact.

Anonymous said...

"You may remember the verse John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

This means that in order not to be saved, you are responsible for losing your own reward of eternal life, by being obedient to sin and by not accepting the sinless sacrifice that Jesus offered on behalf of all our collective sin. There is nothing that we can do in ordinances, practices, rituals, or doctrines to save ourselves. If we try then we will be lost."

This must be one of those make up your own religion concepts. What ever I think it says that is what it says.

Anonymous said...

Jayleenb, said: about T4x4's comments.


"As for the rest of what you wrote, it is misinterpreted. You quote a scripture that includes being baptized as part of the plan of salvation and yet insist that baptism isn't necessary. You would remove a necessary ordinance on your own interpretation and whim. Another devilish practice corrected by the Restoration."

Jayleen,

You will get a lot of this strange logic from T4x4. It's kind of like once you are saved by grace any other commandments are well up to you, if it feels good, or if you want to you can do it if you want. Believe is important but just because there is an "and" between both believe and baptism we will just drop the baptism because.... it is to hard or demanding and not everyone will be able to obtain it. As it relates to change, this is one of the changes that Christians are willing to live with.

Anonymous said...

T4x4, said:


"There is nothing that we can do in ordinances, practices, rituals, or doctrines to save ourselves. If we try then we will be lost."


Quick, I have been doing things the hard way. Where can I order one of those new Bibles again.

Anonymous said...

T4x4, said:

"Jeff - news for you - there are Christians today that do keep all the Commandments, including the Sabbath day as institutionalized in Creation. This was not just a commandment given 2nd hand to Moses. It was sanctified at Creation and hallowed in the Commandments."

Say it aint so. "sanctified at Creation and hallowed in the Commandments." But... if we do keep the Sabath or any of the other commandments we will be lost. Make up your mind T4x4 I could be confuse with the conflict in the two statements and lose my testimony. The commandments were give to us not to save us just to keep us busy. Now that clears things up.


"There is nothing that we can do in ordinances, practices, rituals, or doctrines to save ourselves. If we try then we will be lost."

Mormanity said...

"One way or the other" - Halibut.

Disagree. It's not black and white - there are nuances to consider. Some changes are minor, others really matter. Revelation is needed to chart these waters. Otherwise we all need to head back to the River Jordan.

Anonymous said...

At 5:04 PM, March 27, 2008, Halibut said...

"I.E. LDS people say that baptism by immersion is the commanded way in the bible. It cannot be changed etc. Yet the Temple ceremony has had numerous changes and that is okay?????"

"One way of the other-------"
I do not know if you are LDS and how much you know about the temple but if you just read as Jeff suggested about all the changes in the scriptures you can see many profound changes that have taken place in the bible about doctrine and ordinances. As you brought up the temple if you would take a close look at the Old Testament you will see how the Temple grew into existence from altar building to a tabernacle to a fixed structure. I am always surprised at those that criticize Joseph Smith about where he may have gotten the principles of the temple because most all if it can be found in the Old Testament. With a little creativities and the New Testament he could pretty much put it all together. If you have not been in the temple just reread all the scriptures about the temple and apply them to a New Testament restoration setting and much if it will be there. You may not understand it because this is a back door approach to learning about the temple so not much meaning can be understood as it relates to the LDS temple. Look closely at Deuteronomy 27, even though they had the tabernacle they build an altar out doors put the law upon it then were put under the covenant of curses if they did not keep the commandments and the blessing if they kept the commandments. As today much of the wording is different but the points that are trying to be taught are the same.

It was believed for many years that the temple in Jerusalem was the only one and there should be only this one. Now we know there were some mini Jewish temple in other places around Jerusalem. Once the large temple was destroyed the early Christians may have preformed the ordinances in other places and we know from books found from some splinter Christians groups tried to keep the ordinances going. Much of the wording and practices found in those books parallel the LDS temple. When Joseph Smith first introduced the concept of Baptism for the dead the saints rushed to the Mississippi river and started baptizing for their families. Although, Joseph explained that this was not entirely proper it would do until the Temple was complete. Even Joseph used the upper room of a store to introduce the temple and start some of the ordinances . Then later there was the endowment house years before the first temple was built in Utah as well as other endowment houses. As a convert I got caught up in the idea that all of it could not change but over time I understood that it would change and needed to from time to time. I don't like change any better than anyone else. Like all of us change is coming so get use to it.

Anonymous said...

HI All

I’m going to respond to this post, because I believe that it may be directed at me:

"At 3:04 AM, March 28, 2008, Anonymous said...
"other than more lies"

The only lie is that I am not a Christian, I was a Mormon and still a Mormon in spirit and will defend it to my death. From what I have experienced from Catholics and Christians I would rather die a Mormon and except Gods punishment for being a Mormon than being a so called Catholic or Christian that spends so much time calling derogatory names of other religions. Besides when I was taught the missionary lessons they told me it is either true or it is the biggest lie ever perpetrated on man. So you are a couple hundred years late on the "O' Joe is a liar thing." They told me the only way to find out if it is true was to study and pray and I don't think name calling was part those directions to seek out the truth. If God tells you to be a Catholic and you don't feel at peace with it, so much so that you need to seek out a place to call you wife's religion a lie then I would think you might need to reexamine if you are defending the Catholic religion or just have some need to stab at others religions. In Jeff's blog I don't recall the name of the Catholics or the Catholic church mentioned. I could be wrong or I could be just a big fat liar"

First off, I don’t believe I need to explain too much here, I am actually just trying to enjoy the debate and learn something. Second, my wife and I are both quite comfortable with our respective beliefs, and we try very hard to support each other in those beliefs. I do feel anonymous of March 28, 2008 deserves a response. Here you go:

I do speak about being Catholic a great deal that is the perspective I come from, it’s what I know and understand. You obviously are a mormon, that’s wonderful. From the tenor of the above post, you are a mormon who has experienced some criticism, and possibly some discrimination from some of the other Christian denominations, perhaps even Catholics. I’m sorry if that is the case. I want to tell you though, that I hear more derogatory and offensive comments about Catholics and other Christian denominations sitting in your church’s sacrament meetings and Sunday school sessions than I have ever heard sitting in a Catholic Mass. Perhaps that’s my own individual experience, but the fact is, I have never heard a derogatory comment about the Mormon Church issued from the pulpit of my own church. I hear derogatory comments from the pulpit in the Mormon service virtually every Sunday I attend with my wife. Maybe I am a bit more in tuned to that than most because I am an outsider.

A great deal of what I post is not meant to be disparaging or offensive. I do not come from a long line of tactful and diplomatic people though, so I can be very blunt, challenging, and do come across as being offensive without meaning to be. The most important point I am trying to make by coming here is that there is a great deal to learn from all sides of the debate. For example, this post is about change in the LDS church. Well Catholics would certainly know about the effects doctrinal changes have on church members. In 1963 the Catholic Church drastically shifted its services from the Latin Mass to an English Service. The end result of so dramatic a change in doctrine was that some could not accept it and left the church. That is an example that perhaps the LDS Church can learn from in terms of doctrinal shifts so that perhaps you can avoid the fallout.

This whole posting is about change. Well some folks can not, no matter how you couch it to them, accept any type of change in their religion. I saw one post about changes the LDS Church made in the temple ceremony. What a mess that must have made for you folks. Over a 100 years of doing the service one way, only to change the service into something else in the early 1990’s. I’m sure people left in droves over that issue. I’m also sure people joined because the service was more inclusive and less threatening. But the change occurred, and the questions that such a change raises, is was the change divinely inspired, or was there some other motivation. The folks who left your church over the change, most likely left because they felt the change was not divinely inspired. Those who stayed or later joined likely did so because there was a feeling of divine inspiration.

We can’t really know for sure in either case, but the point here is that change in church services and doctrine, regardless of the particular denomination, won’t come without criticism and sharp questions regarding why the change was implemented. The point where we both do agree is that prayer is paramount for our guidance on these issues. In the end, we have to follow the spirit of what our prayers reveal to us.

I don’t like the fact that there is such a huge counter-Mormon movement among the other Christian denominations. I personally have not seen it in my own church, but I do know that it is there in some circles and areas of the country. I would share with you an experience I had a few years ago. A few years ago, my wife and I attended general conference together. I will tell you that I did not personally feel the spirit present during conference, but I know that my wife did. Overall, it was a pleasant experience; however, there was a marring event. As we entered and left the conference centre, on both sides of the streets in temple square there were protestors displaying the most hateful signs. I can’t tell you if there were any Catholics in those groups, because I do not know. I do know that the protestors were likely from fundamentalist backgrounds judging by the fervor of their comments. Also present, were a fair amount of counter-protestors from the LDS Church. Their comments were less hateful, but just fervent. As an outsider perceiving this whole event, what struck me was how sad it was that people would spend so much time protesting people gathering to pray in the manner they believed best. This was a very ugly few moments to what otherwise was a pleasant experience. At that point in time, I was struck by a few thoughts about the nature of God. The most poignant of those thoughts was that God would not want any of us standing on the steps of each others respective church's protesting the way the people inside prayed. That isn't at all what Christ taught.

All of the Christian faiths preach about free will; you LDS folks call it free agency. Yet when people exercise it, others seem to have to criticize that decision. We all do this, including you LDS folks. This event at conference is why I put a great deal of stock in St. Paul’s teachings in Romans. Perhaps I am reading that section of the bible wrong, but to me, while Paul is giving a great message to the Church of Rome about not preaching divisive gospels, he is the same talking about a bigger picture of trying to tolerate individual differences. It really won’t matter in the end if I don’t eat meat on Friday but you do. All that matters ultimately is whether we lived the teachings of Christ to the best of our abilities as we understand those teachings to be. God will sort out the details in the end.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Latter-Day James said...

Hello CD.

I appreciate your comments. Some things are bothering me though. You said that people in the ward you attend with your wife make disparaging comments from the pulpit quite frequently? This causes me great concern. Any one individual can make comments of their own and have an opinion but those should not be preached from the pulpit and is looked down upon. Once a member I was in Sunday School with made a remark about another faith (not Catholic) that was in poor taste, believing he was humorous but no one laughed. Very awkward. Like I said, it is looked down upon. We are taught to respect all religions. We may forget to follow this teaching just like any other imperfect group of people.

In defense of the Catholic faith, I don't think I remember any specifically that were Mormon bashing, so to speak. I am sure there are somewhere, but I have never heard of any and I have had my share of run ins with some antis. Sounds like you have too :-).

Ok when you mentioned the change in your services from Latin to English , that didn't strike me as a big deal. I am not Catholic so maybe I am too far removed? Sounds almost like some changes to some parts of the Temple ceremony. Same substance, minor changes to teach the same thing. English saying the same thing as Latin doesn't sound too far off. Maybe loss of tradition burned some of your members that left? Anyway, thanks for your comments once again. Nice subject Jeff.

Anonymous said...

HI Latter Day James,

I'll try to answer your question and keep this tied into the original posting about change. I may get some of these facts wrong since I am not old enough to remember Latin Masses. Prior to Vatican 2 though, the Catholic Mass was said almost entirely in Latin. This was good in that anywhere you went, the Mass was pretty much said in the same language. It was bad in that not everyone spoke Latin therefore the general population was somewhat excluded from participation in the service.

Around 1963 Pope John 23rd convened Vatican 2 and instituted this major change. He made the Latin Mass something of the past, and Mass was now said in the language of the people attending. The good aspect of this change was that now everyone could be included in the service; people could now participate. The bad aspect of the change though was a loss of tradition, and a loss of uniformity.

Part of the issue with the change was that prior to this drastic shift in doctrine, the Catholic Church had for centuries been known as the unchanging and universal church. Then all of a sudden, everything is different and long standing members of the Catholic Church were left in the position of not recognizing the church they were attending. For some that caused them to leave; for others it sparked growth and new life in faith. My personal opinion is that there was spiritual aspect of the Latin that has been lost by instituting the change. That spiritual aspect was that part of the service where it didn't matter where you were, you knew that everywhere else people were praying in the same exact manner that you were because all used the same language to pray in. It was truly unifying.

Tying this back in to this post though while there have been a number of small changes over time in LDS practises, those changes can and do have negative and positive impacts on your members. Every change instituted by your leaders, while it may not be a doctrinal shift, has the potential of being interpreted as a doctrinal shift by members and non-members alike. Its that potential for interpretation as a doctrinal shift that lends itself to criticism; and in fact, lends itself to the question of whether the change is truly the result of divine inspiration or was it something else.

We live in a very rapidly changing world. Some of us are adaptable to rapid changes, some of us are not. For many of us in this rapidly changing world, our religion is the one constant that we hold onto. We don't expect our religions to change, or if they do change, we don't expect drastic or quick changes in our religions to occur.

Look at President Kimball's change in the LDS Church's stance on blacks holding the priesthood back in 1978. While this change was a good change for the LDS church, and ended a century of discrimination, it was a change that recieved mixed responses from the people. The way I understand your church's teachings on sustaining this kind of a doctrinal shift, everyone of your members would've been asked to think, ponder, and pray about this change to determine if it was true. This would necessarily have brought the question of was this a divinely inspired change or was it something else.

Those of your members who prayed about this change and stayed, would likely have recieved a testimony that the change was divinely inspired. Those who prayed about it and left, would likely have recieved a testimony that the change was not divinely inspired. In both cases, these people who prayed recieved answers from God, just different answers.

There would also be the groups that didn't pray at all and chose to stay or not. Those who stayed, its hard to say why. Those who left, probably left because of some overt or covert prejudice against blacks. Again its hard to say though. Having grown up in the south, I'm sure there was a significant group of so called christians who left simply because with this change blacks could be equal to whites. That would be unfortunately be intolerable in some areas of our country.

The point of all this though, is that change does not come without good and bad consequences. Take this extreme example. Suppose that your church leaders one day decided all the anti's were right, and instituted the changes the anti's wanted implemented. The debate about your church's nature wouldn't end, in fact the anti's would gain more fuel to work with. Something to think about.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender