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

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mandi's Story: Former Atheist, Now a Bright and Much Happier College Student

A college student contacted me recently about her conversion story and kindly wrote something to share with readers here at Mormanity. Many thanks to Mandi for having a desire to learn, the courage to consider new possibilities, and the humility to change her life.
My story starts two years ago. I was 17, already jaded, and a very unhappy person. I was doing a lot of things that were harmful to me and I was carrying a lot of emotional baggage. I was a staunch atheist, and figured that I would always be that way. One day a friend mentioned one of the beliefs that she held as a Mormon, which sparked an academic interest in the Church. I have always had interests in other cultures and subcultures in America, and Mormonism seemed to be a very interesting and elite group of people. So I went online, looked up all kinds of information about the church, and came away with a very weird feeling. All I was reading about was how awful, racist, cultish, etc. the Church was. None of the Mormons that I knew displayed any of these characteristics. As far as I could tell, they were not involved in some awful brainwashing cult, so I kept looking. Thats when I stumbled across Jeff Lindsay's site in favor of the Church. He presented well thought out arguments...so well that I started thinking that maybe some of what the Church claimed could possibly be true. After reading his site and becoming confident that I would not be kidnapped or served poisoned kool-aid, I asked my friend to take me to church with her.

Something amazing happened to me. I began living the standards of the Church. I started living the law of chastity, the word of wisdom, and I stopped cursing. I didn't know why I was compelled to do these things, sense I still didn't really believe in God...but I did know that my life felt so much better and I had energy and motivation that I had never felt in my life. I started talking about the Church with my friends, talking about Heavenly Father and their beliefs. For the first time in my life, I was listening to people speak about their love for Christ and actually GETTING it. It felt amazing. In time, I learned how to pray and gained a testimony of Heavenly Father and His love for me. When the missionaries asked if I wanted to start taking the discussions, I poured over LDS websites (mostly Jeff's!), reading about the Church and battling any doubts that came to my mind. I decided that I wanted to be baptized, and I have been active in the Church for over a year now.

Since I found the Church, my life is 100 percent better. I wake up every day happy and in love with the world. . . . If it had not been for [Jeff's] website, and others like his, I would have had to accept the lies that anti-Mormons put out there. I probably would never have set foot in a church. I can not imagine living away from this Church now, and I would never ever want to. I am just glad that there are people out there who care enough to dispute the lies. So I just want to say thank you to everyone who has written a blog or video about in favor of the Church. Every single one makes a difference, and I can testify to that.

Love,
Mandi
To those of you who work to share pro-LDS information with others who are seeking for something, experiences like Mandi's remind us that it can make a difference. "LDS Apologetics" is not about converting people with arguments, but helping people to understand that there may be something more to the Church than what they hear from its enemies. It's about helping them to keep searching, thinking, studying, and praying, to be able to get to the point where they can seriously reach out to the Lord for guidance in their lives. But if the mind has been permanently closed by hostile assaults (cult! non-Christian! evil!), the journey that might forever bless the lives of humble seekers never might take place.

May we all keep working to let the truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ be known so that those who are seeking for it may experience the rich blessings it brings. The stories of those who accept the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ are so often lilke this, reporting that they are happier, much happier, with a higher quality life in many ways. I'm personally so grateful for the joy and peace that I've found here, and while I recognize there are many paths that bring peace and happiness to people, I think there is something unique and wonderful that we have to share.

Thanks again, Mandi! May the Lord bless you richly in your studies and throughout the rest of your life.

34 comments:

Roxy said...

Very beautiful story. Poisen kool-aid...hehe.

Mandi you go girl. Woo woo!!

-Also from a former atheist, and now a crazy almost can't restrain my joy, college student too

P.S. Well I do let it out a lot but it can freak people out sometimes. My joy I mean. Hope that makes sense.

Stephen said...

Thanks for sharing the post.

Connor said...

Excellent story! It's so great to see examples like these that show the power of conversion. Thanks for sharing with us, Mandi and Jeff.

WendyP said...

I used to be a miserable, believing Mormon college student and now I'm happy as an atheist. It's all in how you look at the world and what makes sense to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mandi and Jeff.


You are right some people should be an atheist.

NM said...

Having been an atheist myself, and in my experience of talking to fellow 'atheists', I do think that most DO NOT have a reasoned understanding of their position.

Some people have inadvertently conflated atheism for ignorance... =/

JayFlow22 said...

I like posts like this one. Testimony is pure and can't be argued with. When there are posts about doctrine, they get picked at and argued with. But when someone gives their testimony, no one can argue...they can only say, OK good for you.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Jeff's website I don't think I would have converted.

Happy new convert since 2005

Anonymous said...

NM, thanks - a very wise statement. I know some people who think they are awfully chic and tragically wise in their atheistic creeds, but they are missing so much and so painfully ignorant of reality.

NM said...

Jayflow22,

On the one hand, I do agree with you and I can see that to bear a testimony, in some ways, can mean it is more difficult to argue against.

I guess my only concern is, for now, two fold:

1) what motivates somebody NOT TO argue against a person's testimony?

I say this only because I think for the most part, we do not want to hurt the other person's feelings. For somebody to bear their testimony means they have placed themselves in a very vulnerable situation - and I guess for most of us who are at the receiving end, do not want to say anything to counter it, because it can be considered a little rude...

I guess my first concern is primarily to discern the emotional (if it is emotionally driven) for us NOT TO argue over someone's testimony....

and 2) whilst some people are happy not to question someone's testimony, what does it mean for others who are on a quest for 'truth' (if truth does exist)...

What about the Bhuddist - who has also had equal spiritual experiences? Knowing that a Bhuddist is a pantheist, how can we then who are theists, correlate THEIR AMAZING experiences with OUR AMAZING experiences? =)

'Truth' is at stake here, right? So, how can we determine through personal testimony, which is the truth? Is there just one truth? =)

Dan and Wendy said...

Congrats Mandi. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony with us, Mandi.

And God bless you, Jeff, for all that you do.

Carlie said...

Pretty cool and inspiring thanks for sharing!!!
Curtis

Anonymous said...

"'Truth' is at stake here, right? So, how can we determine through personal testimony, which is the truth? Is there just one truth? "


I would like you to try your argument on Paul. A Bhuddist should remain a Bhuddist untill God tells them other wise. Mindi was guided by God to follow the Holy Spirit. You also must follow the Holy Spirit. Don't argue against a person's testimony but help all to seek the Holy Spirit in prayer for the truth then live it.

Andrew Miller said...

Jeff,

Thanks for the post. It's nice to know that some good is being done! I've often thought that the internet is the best missionary tool that has been most underused.

Anonymous said...

MN, said:

"'Truth' is at stake here, right? So, how can we determine through personal testimony, which is the truth? Is there just one truth?"

Good thing Mandi, Joseph Smith, and Paul were blessed with a testimony before NM got a hold of them. Hold on tight Mandi and may God bless you with a testimony that is unshakable.




"I, Joseph Smith had had a vision. I have thought since that I felt much like Paul when he made his defense
before King Agrippa and related the account of the vision he had when he "saw a light and heard a voice,"
but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and
he was ridiculed, and reviled; but all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. I have actually seen a vision,
and "who am I that I can withstand God," or why does the world think
to make me deny what I have actually seen, for I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew
it, and I could not deny it, neither dare I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God and
come under condemnation. I had now got my mind satisfied..."

NM said...

Anonymous (3:08 AM, March 06, 2008),

I assume that you assume that I don't have my own testimony =)

If so, that's ok. Firstly, don't misconstrue my motivation for asking as to whether there is one truth or not...I am merely playing devil's advocate =)

Anonymous, I am merely trying to find out how people here determine 'truth' other than through testimony, do you see?

If 'truth' was determined only through testimony, how can we account for Islam? More specifically, Muhammad's testimony? As you and I both know, that his message came also through an angel...and you and I both know that Muhammad's message is VERY different to Christianity, what with his denial of Jesus' deity =)

Anonymous, I mean no harm =) Again, I am merely wanting to see how people here determine 'truth'... =)

Anonymous said...

As with the people of the Old Testiment, Children of Israel, so people are only ready for some truth and others are ready for all truth. As hard as this is to take or believe. That is the truth.

Anonymous said...

"I am merely trying to find out how people here determine 'truth' other than through testimony, do you see?"

Scientific method or legal method.

NM said...

Anonymous, whilst I am not a scientist, I do have some idea of the scientific principle. I don't really know what you meant be 'law'? Would you mind saying a little bit more so I could understand? =)

I am certainly of the mind that truth does exist - and that truth is objective. I am not a post-moderinst. And as someone who works within the mental health services - I work with many individuals who bear weird and wonderful testimonies every day. I am priviliged to work with guys who hear voices, see apparitions and experience all sorts of abnormal sensations. I work with people whose voices tell them to go and kill themselves, and by the same token, I work with guys whose voices constantly tell them that they are wonderful, unique - and sometimes even go as far as telling them that they are the Messiah...

Their experiences (and any other experiences) are all testimonies, right? They are merely an expression of our individual realities. I guess the question is, how are we able to tell which experience (or testimony) correlates with 'truth'?

Again, let's take Islam for example - in comparison with Christianity. Now whilst they are both theistical in their underpinnings, the fundamental difference is in the personhood of Jesus...right?

Muslims do not adhere to Jesus as the begotten Son of God. A sinless prophet maybe, but certainly not deity! Jesus as God's Son in Islam is blasphemy =/

So, how does a Sufist's (a branch - a denomination if you will, within Islam that mainly deal with spirituality) testimony differ from someone who has had a personal experience with Jesus Christ?

If truth does exist, either the Sufist's testimony is true OR the follower of Jesus' testimony is true. They cannot both be true. Would you agree?

Again, I mean no harm to you...I am merely playing devil's advocate =) My point of being a participant in Jeff's blog is to promote 'grace' and also to spice up conversation...

=)

Josh said...

I hesitate to jump in here, but here goes---the only way to tell for yourself if someone's testimony is true is to go to God, and ask him directly if that testimony is true. Then, through the grace of Christ, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, you can know what the truth is, having obtained an answer from the source of all truth. Now what do we do when two people who claim to have done that receive inconsistent or incompatible answers? My inclination is to not argue, but to seek an answer from God for myself and then move on with my life.

Thanks, Jeff, for posting this inspiring story, and thanks, Mandi, for being willing to share!

Clean Cut said...

My favorite quote from this post is that it's "not about converting people with arguments, but helping people to understand that there may be something more to the Church than what they hear from its enemies." This is all I try to do now when I talk to people about the Church. Sometimes I feel like we've made great strides and finally put away some misconceptions, and then I have a moment like today as I was teaching about the "Mormon Trail" in U.S. History and when one of my students found out I was "Mormon" asked "So how many wives do you have"--dead serious! I thought it was a joke at first, but he apparently got the notion from HBO's "Big Love". Big deep breath. Some things never seem to go away completely...

Mormanity said...

NM, I increasingly enjoy the spice you bring. You make this space MUCH more interesting. Would love to meet you sometime.

Anonymous said...

NM, said:

*"Again, I mean no harm to you...I am merely playing devil's advocate ."

I do not feel harmed… but I would be careful playing the devil's advocate!

What I was trying to say, absent any abnormalities of the human mind and absent a person having a true spiritual experience the person must use a method of logic and reason to have some foundation of faith. That is someone teaching a convert relates to the convert of how the gospel makes since. If the convert has had a true spiritual experience such as you have described before, you must follow that as the Holy Spirit directs and this is regardless of what religion or lack of religion you have.

I look at why so few people are exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet God expects all to except Jesus Christ. God gives each person the amount of truth and experiences that they can deal with, then He keeps building on this until they can except Jesus Christ and His fullness of the truths He has for them in this life or the next. This is with the express understanding that they will have the rest of experiences and truths after this life so they can enter into our Heavenly Fathers presents.


*"Again, let's take Islam for example - in comparison with Christianity. Now whilst they are both theistically in their underpinnings, the fundamental difference is in the personhood of Jesus...right?"

Again, let's take Judaism at the time of Christ, they were not ready for Christ the Messiah. They had some of the truth but lack other truths that was required to make this determination. When Christ comes back the truth that He was the Messiah all along will be learned.


*"So, how does a Sufist's (a branch - a denomination if you will, within Islam that mainly deal with spirituality) testimony differ from someone who has had a personal experience with Jesus Christ?" *"If truth does exist, either the Sufist's testimony is true OR the follower of Jesus' testimony is true. They cannot both be true. Would you agree?"


Again you assume from your statement that they do not have any truth to build from to get to a testimony of Jesus Christ. And yes I disagree: they both can be true. They have a truth that there is a God but have not obtained the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You have a testimony of your spiritual experience that brought you to the Grace of Christ, I on the other hand have had spiritual experiences that have brought me to the restored gospel with more truths that you are prepared to except at this time. I also may not be prepared for all the truths that my Heavenly Father has in store for me but if I am filled with the Grace of Humility I hope I will obtain them. Christ learned grace upon grace.

NM said...

Anonymous,

Imagine a court of law, whereby a man stands on trial for the murder of his ex-wife. For the time being, there is no conclusive evidence to point as to whether he really did or not. However, either of the two statements below might give us our needed indication:

1)I was having dinner at the Ritz at 4pm
2)I was having dinner at the Ritz at 10pm

Now, we can certainly see that there are elements of truth with both statements. Both statements involve having had dinner at the Ritz. The one discrepancy involves time. Now, whilst they both have some truth: only one can stand as THE truth - with the other a lie. Do you see where I am going with this?

Sure there might be elements of 'truth' in all religions - and there may be some similarities in general doctrine or whatever. If we take for example the similarity between Bhuddism and Judeo-Christianity: both adhere to the idea that we as human beings have a spiritual dimension, right? And both adhere to the idea that what we put in - is what comes out. Interestingly, Fauerbach (a philosopher) said something not so dissimilar when he said, "We are what we eat" =)

Now as far as I know, I think the similarities between Bhuddism and Judeo-Christianity stop there. Bhuddism is a pantheistical belief and Christianity is theistic. Bhuddism states there is no god - but WE and EVERYTHING around us IS god. Judeo-Christianity states that God is a transcendent and holy being - the first mover and although is separate, is also VERY involved with his creation =)

How can we then say that a Bhuddist has an element of 'truth' when the very idea of 'god' is VERY different to each other? And this isn't even touching the personhood of Jesus, who interestingly claimed to be THE truth!? I think we can safely say that Bhuddism (or Judeo-Christianity) is either TRUE or FALSE. They cannot both be true, because like the suspected murderer-example above, the differences are way too vast.

The same could be said for Islam. Don't you think? Although (as I have said upon previous comments) they are both theistic, one denies the neccesity of Jesus. It's interesting that Islam, which originated 600-odd years afterwards, deny the death and resurrection of Jesus (and even his deity) when there were first-hand witnesses who actually SAW his death AND His ressurection?! Which are we to believe? An account given by a guy, 600 years later, who claims to have received his revelation from an angel of God(?!? and don't forget that I work with people who claim to see angels ALL THE TIME) or accounts which were written that could be verified by many, MANY others who were privy to what was currently written, said, preached (to the point of death) and sung about?

Jesus (who claims to be THE truth) is what stands between Islam and Christianity. And even though both have some similarities, again because the differences are SO VAST, only one can be considered the truth, and the other a lie.

Coming back to the subject of 'testimony': it is imperative that our testimony correlates with 'truth', otherwise the testimony is just a form of functional mysticism, which might sound good, mystical and awe-inspiring at first hand - like when I listen to my clients tell me about their experiences of hearing voices. Do you see?

What you said regarding Judaism is VERY INTERSTING when you said, "Again, let's take Judaism at the time of Christ, they were not ready for Christ the Messiah. They had some of the truth but lack other truths that was required to make this determination. When Christ comes back the truth that He was the Messiah all along will be learned."

I'd have to agree whole-heartedly with you here =) There are things about the person of Jesus, which Judaism (even today) cannot adhere to. For the pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus' life on earth was hard to compartmentalize. How could Jesus BE the Messiah?! Sure, Jesus claimed to be the 'Son of Man', a title which their prophet Daniel prophecied as someone who would come in COMPLETE authority and EXPLOSIVE power, but the pharisees could not marry Daniel's prophecy with Isaiah's 'bruised for our iniiquities' prophecies...that their MESSIAH was to be slain?! A LEADER who would lead them out of oppression - but like a lamb that has to be slain?! That's just crazy-talk =) They missed it! Paul, in his letter to the Romans (chapter 9) echoes the sentiment, utterly distraught that his fellow-countrymen (the Jews) missed it. They missed the significance of Jesus =)

Jayflow22 wrote a REALLY interesting post entitled, 'Passover' over at his blog telling us (and rightly so) that Jesus IS the archetype of the passover Lamb; the lamb that was slain in Exodus, those thousands of years prior to Jesus' own death, served as a mere picture of the Messiah that was to come =) It's interesting that the tenth and final plague was the only one which served as a judgement to both Egyptian and Israelite. The previous nine were directed only toward the Egyptians, but this final one was on the condition of a lamb being slain and its blood stained on the household's door posts =) Penal substitution all the way baby! Jesus died. He paid the price! And His ressurection served as a guarantee that my sin, which was laid on Him had been dealt with =D

Do you see it? Paul's Jewish contemporaries completely missed the significance of Jesus =) Anyway...I have (as always) digressed. Would it be ok if you (Anonymous) grabbed a handle? There are too many anonymouses about =/

NM said...

Jeff! If I ever get to meet you in person, the pleasure will be all mine! The experience would be nothing short of AMAZING! =)

Anonymous said...

As far as the law, I was thinking more of those that have put Christ on trial. Was the resurrection true by legal standards of today?

Anonymous said...

First we would need to define truth. Then again I disagree on your premises that it is just about finding Jesus. For you this is the only truth and if it is not then you would miss other important truths.

NM said...

Anonymous,

Was the resurrection true by legal standards of today?

Do you mean to say, did the resurrection really happen? Did this event actually happen in history? Is that what you mean? If so, my answer would have to be a RESOUNDING: yes! =D

For evidence, I'd have to point you to a guy called Lee Strobel, who lived over at lee strobel d0t c0m. Also, I could also point to others like William Craig over at Be Thinking d0t 0rg. =)

And again, as you (I think) are hinting: testimonies DO have to correlate with ALL aspects of truth, be it historical too =) Jesus' birth, death and resurrection have to have happened at a point in history, otherwise our life as Christians, like Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians (I think), are to be the MOST PITIED...here are a group of people whose lives have been so TRANSFORMED by the power of the gospel, that they'd willing to go into other countries and be willing to DIE, just so others can hear the message...that if it is NOT TRUE, or there is no way of proving that the resurrection happened - the Christian faith would just be another religion which fills a functional void.

Anonymous said...

NM, said:

"Imagine a court of law, whereby a man stands on trial for the murder of his ex-wife. For the time being, there is no conclusive evidence to point as to whether he really did or not. However, either of the two statements below might give us our needed indication:

1)I was having dinner at the Ritz at 4pm
2)I was having dinner at the Ritz at 10pm

Now, we can certainly see that there are elements of truth with both statements. Both statements involve having had dinner at the Ritz. The one discrepancy involves time. Now, whilst they both have some truth: only one can stand as THE truth - with the other a lie. Do you see where I am going with this?"


Two people believe (know) that Christ has for given them of sin and are full of His Grace. One thinks that He is a spirit and a part of the Trinity the other thinks that Christ is a physical being. Both have part of the truth and one has more truth than the other or both are correct. Truth comes in layers or shades of color until the day we arrive in Heaven then there may be even more shades of truth.





"How can we then say that a Bhuddist has an element of 'truth' when the very idea of 'god' is VERY different to each other? And this isn't even touching the personhood of Jesus, who interestingly claimed to be THE truth!? I think we can safely say that Bhuddism (or Judeo-Christianity) is either TRUE or FALSE. They cannot both be true, because like the suspected murderer-example above, the differences are way too vast."

I would say that the Bhuddhist is closer to God than a Atheists. Also the Buddist is living a form of worship and discipline which is necessary in the worship of the true God. I know you think that work and discipline is unnecessary, but again you may be missing out on an important truth.

"The same could be said for Islam. Don't you think?"



Islam believes in a God and prophets which is necessary to coming to the truth of the restored true gospel so I would say they may be closer to obtaining the truth than you might be if you refuse to except Gods true prophets. I know of LDS converts from Islam that came to the truth because they believed in prophets. They had this truth which helped them get to more truth, The Christ, Son of our Heavenly Father



"Which are we to believe?"



You are to believe the truth you have. If they have a God and prophets and no Christ then they must follow that truth until the day they are ready for the truth of Christ. You have God and Christ but no prophets, you must live this truth until you come to the truth of God's true prophets on the earth today.



"and don't forget that I work with people who claim to see angels ALL THE TIME"



Again you must exclude those that are abnormal. You must be in control of your mind to be considered part of this discussion of logic or we would need to do a study of what is going on in the mind of the mentally ill.



"Coming back to the subject of 'testimony': it is imperative that our testimony correlates with 'truth', otherwise the testimony is just a form of functional mysticism, which might sound good, mystical and awe-inspiring at first hand - like when I listen to my clients tell me about their experiences of hearing voices. Do you see?"



A testimony of truth is the truth that God gives to the person with the testimony. Again they do not have all the truth just the truth of those things given to them at that time. Later they will gain more. Your progress may have been stopped at Grace but God has more for you. But if you are unwilling then to explore the possibilities then you are stuck on Grace.



Hand el.

NM said...

Hand El,

Ok, so be it =)

Jeff (or anyone else),

Does Hand El's understanding correlate with general LDS belief? - that 'truth' is somehow progressive? So, even say an ardent Bhuddist who has no knowledge nor interest of who Jesus will spend eternity with Jesus?

Anonymous said...

Was the resurrection true by legal standards of today?

Do you mean to say, did the resurrection really happen? Did this event actually happen in history? Is that what you mean? If so, my answer would have to be a RESOUNDING: yes! =D

I was just saying that a testimony can be a spiritual experience or the logic of a test of science by living the gospel to see if the promises are true and your life improves or a logic test of a legal standard which uses other peoples testimonies to use as your testimony in the form of faith. There were those that saw The Christ after the resurrection, others that heard about it an had the Holy Spirit testify to them that it was true, then there were those the heard about it having the gift of faith and proved it true by living it.

Anonymous said...

Hand El,

*"Does Hand El's understanding correlate with general LDS belief? - that 'truth' is somehow progressive?
I don't understand why this is such a hard concept to understand. I know that there are different definitions of truth but for me it is the correct or Godly knowledge. How can knowledge not be progressive? We are not perfect therefore we must always learn more correct knowledge about God.
President Benson said: “The scriptures teach that man was created in the image and likeness of his Creator (Genesis 1: 26–27). Fundamental to the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the belief that the purpose of man's whole existence is to grow into the likeness and image of God. We accept quite literally the Savior's mandate: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, (in knowledge, truth, obedience) even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48; )
Therefore, [says the Savior] I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:47–48
Hebrews 6
1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;
Hebrews 5:8
"Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect,"
Luke 2:52 states that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. The word “increased” implies growth, learning—and how could He grow and learn if he were already perfect.
President Ezra Taft Benson gives us some excellent guidance as to how the process of becoming like Heavenly Father works: “The process of adding one godly attribute to another, as described by Peter, becomes the key. . . . Let our actions be Christ like so that by our diligence and with God's grace we may add to our character faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence. Our objective is to attain such a ‘divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:5–7).

Christ grew in knowledge and truth and we must grow in knowledge and truth.
What does all this have to do with a testimony. A testimony is coming to a knowledge of Christ and that He is the Son of Heavenly Father. That is just the start. Christ is the Gate and the Gate keeper. Once you know who He is then you start learning truths about all the rest of the Gospel that is on the other side of the gate. I would say your problem is you found Christ then looked no further as to the truths of the gospel. I you did look further and learned more truths then you progressed.

* "So, even say an ardent Buddhist who has no knowledge nor interest of who Jesus will spend eternity with Jesus?"
I did not say this. Buddhist are moving closer to God through obedience of spirally than the Atheists that has no interest in seeking out things of the spirit. His Buddhism is more likely to help him seek the truth than a Atheistic that has no interest or distains religions. If you are under the assumption that you must learn about Christ first then learn other truths I would say you are incorrect. I would say you can learn many truths before you learn about Christ. Then when you learn about The Christ all the truths you have learned before this event bring on a new meaning and understanding of who we are. If the Buddhist learns spiritual truths then one day learns of The Christ and excepts this truth then all he has learned up to this point will be all the more to his advantage of understanding.

bassooner said...

Foreword: I hope this post is not too confusing. Also, I have not read the past several posts on this thread so I hope you will be forgiving if I am repeating some points alread expressed. Anyway, here goes...

What is Truth? Why are testimonies important? How is it possible that deep spiritual and converting testimonies can be found among so many different faiths? These are difficult questions and I don’t know that I have any answers but this is how I see things.

First of all, the LDS church has neve claimed to have all the truth -- it only claims to have the fullness of the Gospel. But we do claim to have more complete truth, again not all the truth. Truth is absolute but our experiences always determine how we perceive it. It’s like the story of the blind men who are describing what an elephant is by each touching a different part of it: one has the tail and says the elephant is like a rope, one has a leg and thinks it is a tree, or the trunk makes it seem to be a snake, etc. None of us can see the whole because it is just too big, our experiences determine everything we know, and this is why testimony is so important. The truth cannot be determined from written word alone; the results of relying on such a resource are obvious when we look at how the meanings of the Old Testament are still argued by the Jewish eventhough they have ha thousands of years to argue over them. The New Testament is in the same situation -- if the Truth can be determined from the Bible alone, why are there so many different denominations? To come back to the blind men, if there is a sighted person to explain that all of the men are seeing just a small portion of the elephant and puts all of the experiences together, then they come to a clear understanding of what the elephant is like. In understanding the scriptures and the Gospel, it is the same, we need the Spirit to know the truth. This is the basis of testimony and the reason it cannot be argued against. Also just knowing the Truth does not mean you will have the desire to follow it -- we all know the Devil has a perfect knowledge of the divinity of the Saviour but in spite (or because) of this he will be damned (and this is another topic of why we will not be given a perfect knowledge of things in this life). In this life we walk by faith, and that’s for our own good.

As far as people having great spiritual converting experiences from many different religious backgrounds, I believe that all sincere seekers of Truth and God will find them, even if not in the correct form -- when the time comes to know God in His true form He and his Truth will be accepted in their true form. Referring, again, to the blind men and the elephant, suppose that someone did come to reveal the true nature of the elephant and let’s say that the man who is feeling the side of the elephant, believing it is a wall, refuses to accept this explanation and holds to his view that the elephant is a wall because of his pride or for whatever other reason -- he is wrong and will always be wrong in spite of his knowing a part of the truth. In this same way I believe that, in this life, we will all be given a portion of the truth (some receiving more than others) and when the time comes we will all receive the fullness of the Truth. Some of us will be able to accept it and some will not.

I also want to thank our friends, like NM and Terrano and others, for contributing to this blog. Your views are often insightful and enlightening and I hope that you also receive light and truth in your communications with us.