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Monday, April 04, 2011

General Conference: A Great Way to Experience the Real Teachings and Spirit of the Church

The April 2011 LDS General Conference was an inspiring and uplifting time for those who participated. The recorded and written talks are being made available online (Saturday's sessions are already posted and I suppose Sunday's sessions will be up in a few hours). For those who are outside the Church looking in, I highly encourage you to listen to Conference if you wish to understand more about the Church. Conference is where we learn from living apostles and prophets, where we get the direction that will guide our teachings and work, our application of the scriptures, and our service to God. And for those who have been influenced by the flood of hostility from our our critics, a couple hours of Conference will help show that what you've been about us is a far cry from reality.

In Conference, you will learn that our leaders are focused on helping us to draw closer to Christ, to have stronger and healthier families, to serve the poor and the needy more lovingly, and to follow Christ in a covenant relationship. You will not hear constant appeals to donate more, worship of man rather than God, or salvation independent of the Atonement of Christ.

This Conference was a touching reminder of the joy of serving Jesus Christ, of the joy that God wants us to have in our families and personal lives, and of the joy that we can bring to others through Christlike service and sharing of our substance and faith. It was, of course, a truly Christian and Christ-centered event, though those who insist that we are not even Christian have long since stopped their ears toward what we actually teach in their zeal to "save" others. The messengers they deride and ignore are true servants of God, called by Jesus Christ today as in days of old to be the apostles and prophets He has set in His Church (Ephesians 4:11-14). May we listen more carefully to what the Lord inspires His servants to teach us.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
In your 2nd paragraph you mention hearing constant appeals to donate more,worship of man, and salvation independent of the atonement. Are you saying this of local non LDS churches? Without empirical data to support these claims I suggest you are showing contempt for your neighbors that attend other churches.

As you know I attend three or four non-LDS churches per week, and I do not hear constant appeals to donate etc. I do hear ministers invite people to follow Christ, have stronger families, serve the poor, and make covenants to serve Christ.

Jeff, please consider removing your 2nd paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
Churches that consider us non-christian are justified in doing so, if they wish. We do worship a Jesus that is different in basic ways. And I do speak of the Trinity. The Trinity has Jesus being three in one, we have three separate. Therefore we have a plurality of Gods, polytheistic, verses monotheistic.

O Magnum Mysterium

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

You doth protest too much, methinks, to borrow a phrase.

Like certain online commentary/criticism of Elder Christofferson's remarks yesterday afternoon, why do some people take offense where none is justified?

Not everything is about you. Jeff, I hope you keep the paragraph, because appeals for money are an all-too-common element of so-called "Christian" television broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2:

If the worship of a trinitarian Jesus is the dividing line between what constitutes a true or false Christian, then I would submit that Latter-day Saints are the ones on the correct sides of the line.

Given how uncharitable and un-Christlike it would be to denounce Episcopalians, Catholics and Baptists (to name a few) as not Christian because they believe in the heresy of the Trinity, I will refrain from doing so.

I ask the same of them.

Cindy said...

I did listen to conference from the outside looking in and I heard well-intentioned speakers encouraging well-intentioned listeners to work hard at their faith.

When I visit my local congregation each week, I hear self-proclaimed sinners encouraging other self-proclaimed sinners to work hard at trusting in Christ's work on the cross for their faith.

Both may result in goodness and righteousness, but whose is it?

"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."

Jeff Lindsay: said...

No, Anon, the 2nd paragraph mostly alludes to what others sometimes say of us such as the claim that we don't rely on Christ or that we make and honor human gods (no, we're not a sports cult) or that the Church is all about money. But in mentioning funds, I did think of some TV ministries that can be rather annoying in their constant request for funds. No contempt intended--I just find it unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming out and saying it was TV ministries that were unpleasant asking for money. I was in swimming class today with a local priest and a Pentecostal minister. I asked them both if they made appeals for donations, or advocated worship of man rather than God in their Church yesterday.
The answer was no.

Dennis Agle said...

Thanks, Jeff. I hope it's OK, but I'd like to feature this tomorrow on the MormonDaddyBlogs.com website. Looking forward to following your blog.

Rich said...

So you're saying Anon that no ministries ask for money? And I'm pretty sure I've heard several asking for donations, most likely not every single week, but they do ask. Or is that not true of any ministry?

Anonymous said...

Rich,
Tithing is part of the gospel. Of course Churches ask people to give. We need to be careful how we reference other churches. The good Brother who talked at conference regarding missionary work made that clear.

Imagine inviting your neighbor to Church and telling them they will not hear constant appeals to give more, worship of man etc, implying thatnthe neighbors Church does hear that.

Rich said...

Yes, I get all that Anon, it's just that, if you're the same one, you were making it sound as though that never happened. And just because I might say that a friend won't here consant appeals for money doesn't mean I am implying that his church does. I wouldn't say that anyway but I'm saying that i could just be to set his/her mind at ease about hearing that while at my church. It doesn't have to be taken as a put down to other religions. None of that secnd paragraph has to be taken as a punch to other religions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich,
You help me to see the paragraph from a different angle, and I agree. I am very sensitive toward my non-member friends and some of the comments they have endured.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Jeff's explanation count as showing a different angle to the overly negative view you had?

Rich said...

I feel pain anon.

NathanS said...

To the Anon that writes,
"Jeff,
Churches that consider us non-christian are justified in doing so, if they wish. We do worship a Jesus that is different in basic ways. And I do speak of the Trinity. The Trinity has Jesus being three in one, we have three separate. Therefore we have a plurality of Gods, polytheistic, verses monotheistic."

Are you REALLY LDS? I see no way to know but on first reading of your comment, you don't sound it. LDS likely know the origen of the word "Christian" among New Testament saints and that those believers understood that Jesus was neither praying to himself among his apostles, nor standing on the right hand of himself when the first Christian martyr was looking up into heaven. The Holy Bible and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can give historical perspective into what "Christian" historically meant. Historically, it meant people who believe as Latter-day Saints believe. Currently it has so many meanings that it may seem fair to pick any one you want but "seeming" fair does not make it so.

Why should someone be justified in creating or using a new meaning for "Christian" to identify those most properly called Christians as non-Christians? Those that say LDS are not Christians did not invent the term and have no right to improperly inform others about its meaning.

Worshipping a different Christ? Other Christians vary from one another in their understanding of Christ as much as they vary with us. And we share with them the same understanding of his birth, death, resurrection, and mortal ministry. There is no reasonable doubt that we worship the same resurrected King of Kings, Lord of Lords, in terms of identity but as to character traits each two persons know Christ a little bit differently. A billion worshippers theoretically worship a billion different Christs because in mortality we "see through a glass darkly" and cannot yet know him as well as we shall when we shall see him return. But LDS never think of each other as worshipping a different Christ; and protestant don't think of other members of their own congregations as worshipping different Christs, so why such a thought across the LDS/protestant line?

Knowing Christ isn't mostly about head knowledge, anyway. I don't know your views but I don't consider myself authomatically more knowing of Christ than one who has the head knowledge very mixed up. I have seen people with wrong ideas serving him more diligently and courageously than myself. Maybe you are one of them. I wondered if you are nonLDS posing with these ideas to prove a point if not one person calls you to task for it. Just wondering.

NathanS said...

P.S. It was the Roman elite, after having forsaken polytheistic ideas themselves, who first accused (ridiculed) us of polytheism and motivated the creation of the mysticism of the Trinity to defend us against such ridicule. We never thought of ourselves as polytheistic. That accusation is of Rome's doing. If you could see humor in my facial expressions and voice, I might ask if, rather than LDS, you're a Roman with a time machine.

NathanS said...

Cindy, your quote from scripture:

"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."

I think of three ways or places of establishing God's righteousness:
1. To others. Convince (or share with) others things about God's righteousness sufficiently to establish it as settled within them.
2. Establish it firmly within your own mind and heart.
3. Establish God's ways as your own ways.

We all do right things, at least in our own eyes. But because God's ways are above ours, we should be establishing God's ways within ourselves and within others. We should praise God's ways rather than our own.

Part of submitting to God's righteousness is adopting it.

NathanS said...

P.S.
"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God"

Cindy, thank you for this verse. This points to the importance of knowing God's in terms of the righteousness of God. I don't know of any scripture that says you need to know the other stuff like whether God is mysteriously Trinitarian as believed by so many or non-mysteriously Trinitarian as in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as LDS understand. If the head stuff is important, and I think some of it is, the heart stuff is so much more so. I think that among head stuff it is the parts that relate to heart that are most important. Feeling the righteousness of God pulls on the heart. And all the law and the prophets hang on two commandments: love.

Thanks for the reminder.

NathanS said...

oops! "knowing God's in terms of the righteousness of God" ? The 's didn't belong to that statement - must be an artifact from a different statement that got mostly, but not sufficiently, reworded.

Pops said...

Both may result in goodness and righteousness, but whose is it?

I'm uncomfortable with excessive emphasis on devising ever-more effusive expressions of praise when some of that time and energy could be used in blessing the lives of others.

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

We LDS know and acknowledge appropriately the source of all our blessings. We also know that, as in the parable of talents, we are expected to use what God has given us in productive ways rather than simply returning to him what he has given us.

Faith said...

I just want to say that...

listening to the general conference "from outside looking in", would never result the same view as "from inside looking in."

Before I believed that this church is true, I judged every word the church leaders would say.

People can always find faults when they want to judge.

For LDS, it might be inspiring, for outsiders, it has no value because they do not believe.

I remember when a LDS told me not to read any anti-mormon stuff because their prophets had warned the people not to do so, I thought, how ridiculous, why should I listen to their prophets if I don't even believe.

But now, I've read enough anti-mormon stuff, and proved they are not completely telling the true, and got my own testimony of the truthfulness of the church and its prophets, nothing can pull me away,I can testify the church is true.

Nothing can really help people change their viewpoints except they are willing to, even God can't change those that are not willing to change. I could not get my testimony or personal revelation from God if I refuse to open my heart first.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying Faith. My wife (a non-member) watched small parts of the conference with me and felt nothing when I felt the spirit.

But I have to admit that when I have gone to various churches with her, and people are being moved (most often by the songs) I did not feel that same influance. I know it was mainly because I went into it with my guard up looking for what was wrong not what was right. So on my next visit to a different church I tried to put aside all my proconseptions and fault finding and just listen. And I had to admit that there were times when I felt the spirit (not such much with the singing) more with the words that were spoken.

This helped me to learn that the spirit will bear witness to truth vertually anywhere. And it also helped me learn to listen better to LDS talks outside of conference. Because Sunday talks are not by trained speakers it can be easy to judge style over substance and miss the spirit. But with an open mind the spirit will testify and we can recieve that witness.

Cindy said...

Nathan,

"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."

To that scripture you said..."I think of three ways or places of establishing God's righteousness:" That is the point of the scripture...that men who won't submit to needing God's righteousness will try to establish their own.

Cindy said...

Pops,

I understand what you are saying with this, "I'm uncomfortable with excessive emphasis on devising ever-more effusive expressions of praise when some of that time and energy could be used in blessing the lives of others." and I agree if our energies go to praise instead of blessing others...but isn't true praise when we are so filled with the knowledge of God's love for us that is just oozes out of us to others?

I just struggle with speakers that seem to assume the love of Christ and speak instead of only our response to it. It seems as though "fixing our eyes on Jesus" instead will naturally result in acts of love for others...

Cindy said...

Faith,

I was responding to the comment in Jeff's original post which said, "For those who are outside the Church looking in, I highly encourage you to listen to Conference if you wish to understand more about the Church."

I listened in the hopes of learning more about Christ, not about the church.

But what you are saying, "For LDS, it might be inspiring, for outsiders, it has no value because they do not believe." If we believe in Christ as our Savior, we will believe in Him wherever He appears. It isn't about believing in the church...it is about believing in Christ.

catholic defender said...

Hi Jeff,

I had the opportunity to listen to general conference with my wife this year. What I noted most about that experience, is that we each took something very different away. For my wife, conference was full of divinely inspired words and revelations. For me, I found the talks given to be inspirational and generally uplifting, but did not feel they were divinely inspired.

I have previously gone to general conference with my family, and have heard conference many times, both at my wife's church, and over the internet. Each time I have tried to sit with an open mind and heart to hear the words spoken. And as I said, the words are encouraging, and uplifting, and generally well intentioned. But, I honestly have never felt they were divinely inspired or the result of revelation. That's not to say there is no value in the counsel given; there is value in what is offered, and often times there is good counsel in conference. I just don't find the divinity there.

I will say that I did like Elder Holland's talk at the conclusion of the Sunday afternoon session. What I took from that was the idea that we need to be respectful of others religious beliefs that are not our own. This is good counsel, but I have to say, I don't always see it practised by LDS. I have heard from the pulpit many times in the LDS church members make disparaging statements about other faiths. Sometimes I don't think they even realize they are doing this. This really detracts from any spirituality that might be there. I can only speak from the Catholic perspective here, but I have never heard a priest or deacon say anything disparaging about another faith, whether in or out of church. Frankly when I hear an LDS member do this, I just want to stand up in the service and walk out with as much disturbence as possible. It makes me cringe every time.

I do share your annoyance with TV ministers. Oral Roberts comes to mind when I think about pandering to members for money. That just leaves a bad impression for everyone. Take care.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender