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Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Church in a Changing World: Robert Griffiths Answers the Question, "What if I'm Uncomfortable with the Church's Position on Social Issues?

The author of the guest post below, Robert D. Griffiths, is one of the most impressive men I know. I interacted with him frequently while he was serving as the US Consul General for the State Department's Consulate in Shanghai (2011-2014) and continue to learn from him. His profound experience as a diplomatic and his deep knowledge of Asia and humanity in general add depth to his counsel. I should also observe that he and his wife are two of the most genuine and loving Christians I know. Here he shares some important thoughts about dealing with the discomfort that some people face regarding the Church's position on social issues. I think his guidance should be considered by those in and out of the Church. — Jeff L.

The Church in a Changing World

What if I'm uncomfortable with the Church's position on social issues?

By Robert D. Griffiths 

I was struck when someone close to me, in reaction to the Church’s newly launched effort to aid refugees, blurted out, “Finally, something about the Church we can be proud of!”

This got me thinking about the pressures that are put on Church members in a day when society, in an effort to be accommodating to people of all persuasions, becomes distorted by single-issue politics. Social media and a 24-hour news cycle flood us with narrowly-focused information and criticism and it is easy to miss the big picture. In such an environment, it is too easy to either feel embarrassed that the Church is not more responsive to the social issues of the day, or to hunker down in traditional Mormon culture and wait for the Second Coming.

I was born in Utah, but have lived overseas in developed and developing countries for some 30 years, and in the big cities of the U.S. East and West Coasts for another 11. These years have provided rich and perspective-broadening experiences. Yet when I consider what I have seen in the world, and the challenges and changes that pummel societies across the globe, and in “Zion,” it seems to me that the world could really use what the Church has to offer.

Oh, I am well aware that the Church is not perfect. It has made mistakes historically and continues to fall short of its ideals today. And there are those whose personal experiences and circumstances lead them to believe that the Church is not for them. But in a plea to not throw the baby out with the bath water, consider the following:

Belonging.   The refugee crisis in the Middle East reflects a resurgence in hatred among ethno-religious groups such that murder of “the other” is hardly given a thought. In some places in Africa, there is similar strife. The hateful rhetoric between China and Japan and that coming out of North Korea--while not yet having led to blows--is growing uncomfortably harsh. And then there is the anger directed at the United States from many quarters. All of this is disturbingly reminiscent of pre-world War II rhetoric that justified hatred of other peoples as sub-human and deserving of persecution, even death.

Even at home, inter-racial tensions are becoming ever sharper in many of our cities. Many political attitudes reflect not only a zero-sum mentality, but in some quarters “understanding” “empathy” and “compromise” have become vilified. One national political commentator famously declared on national TV that he wanted to kill someone for holding different political views. On a personal level, one result of the disintegration of the nuclear family in many people’s lives is an increase in loneliness and a sense of rootlessness. While friendships can be rich and wonderful, they do not carry the same level of commitment, and sense of belonging, that family relations do.

One of the often overlooked, but profoundly significant, teachings of the Church is that all human beings are brothers and sisters. Not just in some metaphorical sense, or as a warm and fuzzy social attitude, but literally we are all children of Heavenly Parents. That teaching alone, if internalized throughout the world, would significantly mitigate war, hatred and strife and replace them with a sense of common roots and shared interest with all in the human family.

Since the LDS Church was relieved of the burden of discrimination against blacks and the priesthood some 40 years ago, Mormons, for the most part, have readily re-embraced the fundamental LDS doctrine of the human family. In a recent stake leadership meeting I attended, most of the well-informed and well-received discussion was led by Hispanic and black leaders. And more striking, I think, was a sales flyer I received in the mail from an orthodontist in a small Utah town. To make his practice more attractive to conservative Mormons--the majority of his potential patients--he highlighted a picture of his own large family, which includes four well-dressed and smiling (with straight teeth!) children of African descent (presumably adopted) along with four biological children. In dealing with minorities, Mormons may lack the nuance that will come in time from greater exposure, but their hearts, most of the time, are in the right place.

While our numbers are still small, the expansion of the Church with its fundamental teaching of the human family acts as a hatred-absorbing control rod as it expands its presence in communities at home and in nations abroad. And the lonely soul is comforted.

Forgiveness. As imperfect people and nations perpetrate injustices on one another, grudges grow. Revenge can motivate otherwise peaceful people to commit cruelties and even atrocities in an effort to even the score. Justice, it seems, demands it. No one wants to be played for a sap. Without a mechanism to mitigate a desire for revenge and deflate feelings of vengeance, injustices can pile up until enmity replaces humanity. This happens on the international level—witness the ethnic and clan-based violence that undermines Mid-East peace today—and on the personal level when perceived injustices cause friends to backstab or family members stop talking to each other.

In a complex world, it is human nature to try to simplify wherever possible. We want to separate the good guys from the bad guys, despite a more honest recognition that no one is all bad, or all good. Americans are rightly proud of the rule of law and the ability to sue for justice, but we too readily mark for life those who have committed crimes, even after they have paid their debt to society. Just ask anyone who has ever had a felony conviction how easy it is to apply for a job. While there are certain individuals who may always be a danger to society, we create a huge, benighted underclass of our fellow citizens simply because it is easier to pigeon-hole “bad guys” rather than allow for the possibility that people can put past mistakes behind them.

The benefits of forgiveness are widely recognized, at least on a certain level. Putting historical grievances to rest can provide a foundation for peace between previously hostile nations and peoples. Nelson Mandela’s extension of forgiveness to those who had terribly wronged him created a template for an entire nation to move forward in peace. It is also widely recognized, if not widely practiced, that people are psychologically much healthier when they stop carrying burdens of self-pity and revenge. But it is hard for forgiveness to get traction when it seems to undermine justice.

The Church has had its share of injustices perpetrated upon it, and has perpetrated some of its own, but the overwhelming strain in church teaching and practice is to do right and forgive wrongs. The Saints are in fact told to “forgive all men.”   But the real power behind the Church’s doctrine of forgiveness is the understanding that justice is not undermined when we forgive. As we are patient, a just God will right all wrongs. Moreover, we believe that people’s hearts can truly be changed and the ‘natural man’ can be overcome.

Knowing that justice will be served, and hearts can be changed, the Mormon practice of forgiveness provides the world a welcome and powerful tool for the amelioration of ill-will and improved human relations at all levels.

Hope. Traditional values and religion have taken a beating as the scientific revolution reduced the need for Divine explanations of natural phenomena, as greater transparency has revealed hypocrisy in religious institutions, and as almost unrestrained freedom to think and act as individuals has become the norm in many societies. It is good for falsehoods to be exposed and for new and worthwhile ideas to enrich humankind. But in the very imperfect and sometimes cruel process of tearing down traditional institutions, a price is paid. While Karl Marx may have dismissed religion as “the opiate of the masses,” the fact is that religious faith has provided a vital measure of hope to the vast majority of the world’s people throughout the ages, especially those who have not been privileged to enjoy material abundance and a life where things go their way.

It is hard for secular society to provide hope, in an existential sense, because its time horizon is so short. Our material well-being, our health, our reputation, even our lives, can be overturned in moment by a lost job, a hurricane, a diagnosis, a lawsuit, a vengeful social media attack, or a speeding dump truck. And while data for historical comparison are hard to come by, the incidence of depression, loneliness and suicide is high and rising in the world today.

Few, if any, religions provide as much information, from as many sources, regarding the afterlife as does Mormon theology. For anyone with an open-minded interest in the possibility of life after death, affirmations from four separate books of historical and modern scripture, fervent testimonies of modern day prophets, and countless stories from family histories and contemporary accounts among the Saints cannot help but provide food for thought, if not the seeds of hope and faith. Moreover, the picture of the afterlife revealed by Church teaching and testimonies is relatively detailed and wonderfully comforting and reassuring. We will see our loved ones again. We will be made whole. We will enjoy both justice and mercy. We will be happy.

Even in this life, the Church offers a lot of hope of the short-term kind. The Church organization of bishops’ storehouses, social and counseling services, job placement assistance, and home and visiting teaching, and the community of Saints, provide tangible help and hope when life happens. Not to mention the spiritual comfort that believing Saints can tap into through individual prayer and blessings.

Naturally, most of the hope that the Church and its teachings can provide is contingent on some level of faith and commitment. But that does not change the fact that in a world where hope for so many is in short supply, where hopelessness for almost anyone is so easily stumbled into, and where humans continue to yearn for an identity that is more than a bunch of chemical interactions brought together by random chance, the Church and its offers of hope shine like a beacon.

Development. There are religions in the world that aspire to a monastic separation from the world, where an individual ultimately progresses by inner devotions with little connection to other people. There are animal rights advocates--modern-day Taoists--who believe that it is wrong for humans to infringe on the natural world. There are those who seek to fix their societies in a past time, believing that modernity is to be shunned. For better or worse, the Church is not like these, but is “full in” with the use of all resources, especially new technologies, to make the world a better place. And consistent with a rapidly developing world and continuing revelation, the Church’s efforts are changing and increasing.

The Church, understandably, focuses mainly on its core expertise, the spiritual development of the sons and daughters of God, where it is best positioned to make its greatest contribution. As David O. McKay said, in the language of the time, the purpose of the Church is to “make bad men good and good men better.”

However, Church efforts do extend outside the spiritual realm. Regardless of what one might think of what goes on inside LDS chapels and temples, one must admit that the grounds outside are generally quite pretty. LDS facilities visually enhance their communities. Perhaps this is a small thing, but it does reflect consistency in our regard for beauty, inside and outside, without being ostentatious.

In fact, the Church spends a lot of time and resources to make the world a better place. Often working in tandem with other organizations, such as Catholic Charities, the Church has a long history of charitable giving. And charitable service, such as the Helping Hands program, is getting considerable emphasis. The willingness of church members to spring into action after natural disasters has drawn a lot of media attention in recent years—the thousands of members from neighboring states who volunteered to “de-muck” homes of members and non-members alike after the flooding in Louisiana is only the most recent example. Effective charitable giving is not really that easy to do—it is not clear to me that what Syrian refugees need most are the quilts and toothbrushes that our ward is preparing to send them—but the Church works hard to find niches where it can make a difference. Wheelchair donations, digging rural village wells, and providing neo-natal care are three areas where I have seen the Church be particularly effective overseas. All LDS missionaries have charitable service built-in to their routines, and Charitable Service missionaries do charity work full-time. Welfare Square is widely renowned for its model stressing the dignity of work even as the needs of people who cannot work are also met. Charitable giving for all members, in tithing and fast offerings, is a fundamental part of Church membership and develops the soul.

The development of people gets top priority. Education has always been valued among the Saints. The Church’s universities serve several purposes, but providing top-level curricula and facilities reflects the respect that Mormons have for the world’s professions. The grassroots functioning of the Church requires literacy; the rotation of opportunities to serve in a lay ministry is predicated upon members having the needed skill sets. In addition to (sometimes seemingly endless!) training programs, chapels worldwide have long been venues for language classes, and there is a new effort to utilize chapels for a wide range of non-religious education efforts. For example, new programs in peer-counseling to support self-reliance help to create sustainable employment opportunities. Public speaking skills, gained from a very early age among active members, boost confidence. Church meetings provide a life-long venue for the development and practice of musical skills. The Perpetual Education Fund is a remarkable, ultimately self-sustaining, program that enables advanced education and family-supporting vocational skills to expanding thousands of members in developing countries. A fundamental LDS teaching undergirds all these efforts: All honest labor is noble. And because of the education, industry and discipline that members gain in the Church, members of LDS congregations around the world tend to be more productive than their peers outside the Church.

Civility. I smiled when a friend of mine in Washington, D.C., whose lifestyle and values would put him in contrast with most Mormons, commented on a recent trip he had taken through Utah. “The people are so nice!” I know there are exceptions, when members of the Church have been unkind or thoughtless or ideological, but I think they are exceptions. Generally, Mormons treat other people as brothers and sisters, willing to trust and forgive, imbued with the optimism that comes from being rooted in hope for the future. We believe in being nice!

Almost without realizing it, Mormons teach themselves civility by attending church. The geographical delineation of ward units causes us to associate with people we might not otherwise choose as friends, and we learn to get along. It is very different from the practice where a church-going family new to town might visit different congregations until they find where they feel most comfortable. We learn to be patient in fast and testimony meetings when speakers say things that are, well, off the mark. We learn to buoy up and strengthen each other, and the constant practice of being nice would help refine anyone’s character.

Although many Mormons have strong political views, our church meetings are strikingly apolitical. When members do speak in public venues and with those holding different political views, President Hinckley counseled us that if we must disagree, we should do so without being disagreeable. There has to be room for different views.   It would be a dull world if everyone saw everything the same way. The tens of thousands of missionaries who return home annually certainly have had to learn how to cope with disagreement, shunning and rejection and come away smiling.

One of the most oft-quoted scriptures is from Doctrine and Covenants 121, which makes clear that we are to seek to influence others only by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness and love unfeigned. That counsel is a blessing for the rest of the world as well.

The Church, of course, does not have a monopoly on any of these virtues. Some people may practice them better than we do. As Mormons strive, however imperfectly, to live up to the teachings of the gospel and their ideals, even a modicum of the tolerance that Church critics generally extend to those who disagree with the Church should allow for cutting the LDS Church some slack. Even if the gospel message of the Restoration is not wholly believed, the Church should be given credit as a force for good that the world could surely use. And that is something to be proud of.

About Robert D. Griffiths  

Recently retired as a Senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer, rank of Minister Counselor, Mr. Griffiths is currently an instructor in Chinese politics at the University of Utah and at BYU.  He previously taught economics and Chinese studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  As part of his 34-year career with the State Department, he lived and worked in greater China for 14 years, most recently as U.S. Consul General in Shanghai (2011-14).  Previous postings abroad included Beijing, Bangkok, Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Bogota.  He served in the U.S. Senate for a year as foreign policy advisor to Harry Reid, (D-NV), and worked in the Asia Policy shop in the office of the Secretary of Defense.  He has a B.A. in Asian Studies (summa cum laude) from BYU, and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.  He has spoken frequently at universities in the U.S., China and Thailand, and been interviewed on National Public Radio and other programs both in the U.S. and abroad.  He has lived in or visited 35 countries on every continent and speaks Chinese and Thai.  He is married to Jeanne Decker Griffiths and they have three grown children.

97 comments:

JR said...

People are starting to become very negative towards the LDS church, and not because of religious beliefs but because of Politics.

The church Presidency and other top leaders listen to Mormon politicians, wealthy Mormons and wealthy famous Mormons, as well as non Mormons with power.
By doing so the top leadership shows that it is leading the church to becoming Anti American, pro Globalist Communism, even though the leaders give lip service to how wonderful America is. Non Mormons see this as a great betrayal to the country and her citizens. As a church member I agree with the non Mormons who see the church betraying America and her values, laws and freedoms.

The LDS church working with the anti Christian Catholic Charities is one big reason why non Mormons are turning against the LDS church.....once again because of politics.

Harry Reid is an evil, vile person and an embarrassment to the LDS religion. Other prominent so called Mormons are not far behind Reid.

The LDS church leaders have buried their heads in the sand and are moving towards out right Communism, which is anti Biblical and anti Christian. I still defend the doctrine, but I can no longer defend the leaders and their actions and politics. My church is long gone.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I think denigrating Catholic Charities that way is inappropriate. And while I have complaints about Reid and most politicians, frankly, the anger you express is inappropriate and off-topic.

Building international goodwill and cooperation, even with flawed partners, is not a sign of apostasy. I think we should put our political biases on hold and respect the good the Church is seeking to do.

Everything Before Us said...

"Building international goodwill and cooperation, even with flawed partners, is not a sign of apostasy."

It was when the the Twelve Tribes were doing the same with Egypt and Babylon.


Anonymous said...

Nice article, although I don't think it really addressed the original question. I am baffled by JR's comment. Many of our overseas brethern and sisters see the chuch leadership operating in a deeply entrenched US focused (or even Utah focused) focused manner. I am encouraged by the increased efforts to reach out to other religions and nations. We still have a long way to go in preparing the world for His coming and we will need as many allies as we can get to make it happes.

Michaela Stephens said...

I think the article addressed the question with a plea to not throw the baby out with the bathwater by citing values the church teaches that are badly needed in the world today.

I appreciated Robert Griffith's perspective. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ebu, you are right. Joseph never should have worked with the Egyptians, Daniel was way out of line to work with the Persians and Babylonians, Ruth should have been rejected, and Jonah never should have gone to Nineveh. And then there are Paul's missions to the Gentiles. What was he thinking?

Ike Evans said...

"One national political commentator famously declared on national TV that he wanted to kill someone for holding different political views."

Okay, this statement lost me. What is he talking about here?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the Church has not addressed the tragedy of Ecclesiastical Abuse by Bishops, Stake Presidents, and others in leadership positions. I think the Church needs to address their problems within before pretending to be a global influence.

MarkS said...

Discomfort is a gentle term for a feeling of utter sadness, such as I have over the churches punishing policy over members in LGBT marriages.

Anonymous said...

The policy that secretly went into effect of not baptizing or blessing children of gay parents is a HUGE embarrassment to me. I called and asked Church PR how many gay couples attended the LDS Church or were members. The good sister had no idea. I think the policy is disgusting and against Jesus' own words "suffer not, let the children come unto me". Then, if the child wants to be baptized he has to wait until he's 18 and out of his home. Separating families like that is a mark of a CULT. I am totally embarrassed by my Church for this secret policy that was uncovered and now is a "revelation". Bull.

Everything Before Us said...

A mark of a cult, anon 12:24, is also when articles like this have to be written. "What to do if I disagree with the church....?"

Only in a cult do you need to worry about disagreement. In any other organization, you can disagree, because you are an autonomous individual with agency and a soul and a mind and a heart.

Only in a cult do you become nothing more than a satellite of the greater organization, sent out into the world to represent the greater organization, to win more souls into the organization by your "example."

4foster said...

By your definition of a cult, almost every political party falls into that category. Certainly the two main US parties where the levels of extreme dogma and vitriol have is in the rest of the world shaking our heads in disbelief!
This article is actually evidence that there is room for a range of beliefs and simply emphasises some of the positive aspects of the church and it's teachings.

john_doe2 said...

The only sadness and discomfort I feel is for the members that are listening too much to those who reside in the great and spacious building and not enough to those by the Tree of Life.

I mean, seriously? You think that members living in same sex relationships should be exempt from discipline? And what of those that are living in opposite sex relationships but are unmarried? Should we make an exemption for them too? And what about polygamous relationships? Why not just do away with all the commandments and let anyone and everyone into our temples? In fact, lets get rid of the first and great commandment to love the Lord your God and replace it with "Tolerate anything and everything, except of course the intolerant." Just imagine how "inclusive" our Church would become!

People seriously need to reexamine their faith and ask where their loyalty is. Is God really your god or have put other gods and the philosophies of men before Him?

Everything Before Us said...

john doe,

An exemption is made for unmarried members in opposite sex relationships....their kids can be baptized.

Everything Before Us said...

4foster

Yes...the political parties do come very close to being cults. In my opinion, some members of these parties do have a cult-relationship with the party.

And yes...while there is room for a range of beliefs, you can't expect to get the kind of welcome you think you deserve from other groups if your beliefs depart to far from their own.

Anonymous said...

Based off of the very broad and vague definitions that have been outlined, here are some cults some of which I have been a part of:

- the US Government
- Apple
- the US Military
- the Catholic Church
- various evangelical churches
- other companies that I have worked for
- my family
- the church that Jesus established

I'm sure that there are others too. Almost all of the above organizations recruit from outside, all have a distaste for a certain level of criticism, all have a head of the organization that people look up to. In all of them, you are a satellite for the greater organization.

People talk about the LDS Church that it is unique in its "cultish" qualities as if it is to be avoided when in fact, many mainstream organizations share the same "cultish" qualities.

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Steve

Well, there are other examples of cultish behavior that I think would help you to narrow your list down to just a few entries.

Does your organization have definitions for words that are different from the way the word is used in general society?

Yes...Mormonism does define key Christian terms differently.

Does your organization seek to limit or restrict your access to information?

Yes...the LDS church does use subtle methods in order to restrict or limit access to information.

Does your organization have no meaningful disclosure in terms of budget or finances?

No...the LDS church has no meaningful disclosure of its budget. Ask to see the financial records of the LDS Church. Try it. (In contrast, the Episcopal Diocese of WY, for instance, publishes their financial information in their quarterly magazine. And you can see the financial records for the entire Episcopal Church with just two clicks on their main website).

Does your organization promote unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe and persecutions?

Absolutely. The 2nd coming of Christ has been just around the corner since 1830. And that is only the beginning of the fear-mongering in the LDS Church.

Is there every a legitimate reason to leave, and are former members always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil?

Yes...listen to the past three conferences. "Where will you go?" "Stay in the boat..." "Listening to an apostate is like listening to Judas..."

Do former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances?

Oh yes...yes indeed.

Are there records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader?

Yes...but members are discouraged from reading or listening to these sources.

Is the organization lacking in tolerance for questions or critical inquiry?

Ask all those who have been excommunicated for speaking up and declaring or publishing the facts of history.





Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

You have successfully described all the organizations on my list. Try again.

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Steve,

There are records, books, or news articles, or TV programs that document the abuses of your family's leader? Wow! That's too bad.

Your family promotes unusual fear of the outside world? Where does your family live? Some forgotten "holler" in West Virginia?

Your family seeks to limit your access to information? Really?



Everything Before Us said...

Steve is trying the whole "but everyone else is doing it" defense. I was taught as a teenager that this kind of peer pressure could get me into big trouble.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go ahead and summarize the rest of this conversation and save us all some time.

Steve: Mormonism is not a cult

Ebu: yes it is!

Steve: No it's not!

Ebu: Pbbtthh!!!

Steve: Pbbtthh!

Repeat with some interjections from others until we've reached 100 comments or someone mentions Hitler.

Ok, moving on...

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

My point is that your definition of cult (and most other definitions that I have seen) are so vague and arbitrary that the majority of organizations fall into this category. It doesn't mean that we condone bad behavior.

Yes, I limit information to my family. I don't like my kids to visit random web sites specifically dealing with drugs and pornography. I also have taught my kids to not trust strangers. It's sad to have to do that because the majority of people are good and would not do harm but the flip side could be disastrous.

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Steve,

You are a father. He is a minor, and your son.

What right does a church, an organization with absolutely no legal authority over any other adult human beings, an organization that only has power over someone when that someone grants them that power - what right does such an organization have in behaving the way you have admitted that the "church established by Jesus" behaves?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post. As a former consular officer, I've been upset at the open refusal of the current administration to faithfully execute US immigration law over the past few years. I've been confused at the LDS Church's frequently repeated counsel to welcome illegal immigrants, for that increases the "pull" factor that leads to more such immigration. And then, after the rise of very distressing extremist violence in Syria, President Obama informed the nation that we would be accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees, regardless of their views on human rights, and the Church started talking a lot about being kind to refugees. Being kind is great; permanently bringing in large groups of people, many of whom have much more violent approaches to religious differences, not so much. I'm still trying to figure out what is going on. As a family we are doing kind things for others, including refugees, this month. But I continue to experience misgiving at how the Church seems to be unwilling to speak up for rule of law on immigration-related issues (Is it because they know it's a losing battle, per 3 Nephi 21?) and to call out Islamist extremism as the problem it has become. Isn't adherence to rule of law one of our Articles of Faith? Isn't religious freedom for everyone?
Despite my confusion on this subject, I know the Church's course is ultimately directed by Jesus Christ, and I trust that the apostles try to make all important decisions respecting the Church on the basis of revelation. The Church is much more than a couple of controversial issues, as Bro. Griffith's post illustrates beautifully.

Brian said...

The Church does do good, but so do charities, other churches, and some secular organizations. I expect more from an institution that makes the truth claims the Church does than what the Red Cross provides.

Everything Before Us said...

The Salt Lake Temple Celestial room used to have a statue of Aphrodite standing on her sea shell above the veil.

Yes...the church does a lot of good. But until it is honest about its true doctrines, those that are kept hidden except to those with the "eyes to see" and the "ears to hear," until it truly becomes a church that reveals its truths, rather than conceal them, I don't care how many floods it cleans up after.

Come out into the light. Bring your works out of the secret chambers.

bearyb said...

Does your organization have definitions for words that are different from the way the word is used in general society?

Yes...Mormonism does define key Christian terms differently.


You mean like Marriage, perhaps?

Does your organization seek to limit or restrict your access to information?

Yes...the LDS church does use subtle methods in order to restrict or limit access to information.


I will admit that the WiFi in our chapel is not the best, nor does it offer a consistent signal throughout the building. This is probably what you are talking about, right?

Does your organization have no meaningful disclosure in terms of budget or finances?

No...the LDS church has no meaningful disclosure of its budget. Ask to see the financial records of the LDS Church. Try it. (In contrast, the Episcopal Diocese of WY, for instance, publishes their financial information in their quarterly magazine. And you can see the financial records for the entire Episcopal Church with just two clicks on their main website).


I'll bet there are many expensive governmental operations about which the general population has no clue, even though they are not given the option of choosing whether to contribute to them regardless of individual feelings of how disagreeable they might be.

At least the Church contributions are voluntary. And the rule is pretty simple - if you don't believe it, don't contribute.

Does your organization promote unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe and persecutions?

Absolutely. The 2nd coming of Christ has been just around the corner since 1830. And that is only the beginning of the fear-mongering in the LDS Church.


Correction: The 2nd Coming of Christ has been just around the corner since He left, unless you don't believe the Bible either.

And it has been described as a day both great and dreadful. Please do not focus only on the "dreadful" part, as there are great promises given to the faithful.

From lds.org: "The Second Coming will be a fearful, mournful time for the wicked, but it will be a day of peace for the righteous." Please see D&C 45:57-59.

Is there every a legitimate reason to leave, and are former members always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil?

Yes...listen to the past three conferences. "Where will you go?" "Stay in the boat..." "Listening to an apostate is like listening to Judas..."


Please list some legitimate reasons for leaving the Church that Christ would agree with.

Do former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances?

Oh yes...yes indeed.


Do faithful members often relate stories of abuse or injustice and reflect similar patterns of forgiveness and healing?

Oh yes... yes indeed.

Are there records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader?

Yes...but members are discouraged from reading or listening to these sources.


No doubt there are such records. Why would anyone want to read them?

Is the organization lacking in tolerance for questions or critical inquiry?

Ask all those who have been excommunicated for speaking up and declaring or publishing the facts of history.


The Church is making efforts to be more transparent than ever before. Things change, EBU. Why dwell so much in the past?

It might be good for you to re-read the section on Forgiveness in Bro. Griffiths' article...

bearyb said...

Yes...the church does a lot of good. But until it is honest about its true doctrines, those that are kept hidden except to those with the "eyes to see" and the "ears to hear," until it truly becomes a church that reveals its truths, rather than conceal them, I don't care how many floods it cleans up after.

EBU, it is interesting that you use the very words that Christ used to explain the reason for His use of parables when teaching. What I don't understand is that you seem to be fully aware of the teachings of the Church - even of recent Conference addresses - yet claim that it is hiding something from everyone else, apparently.

What, exactly, do you wish the Church would talk about? And for what purpose?

bearyb said...

The Church does do good, but so do charities, other churches, and some secular organizations. I expect more from an institution that makes the truth claims the Church does than what the Red Cross provides.

Brian, did you read the entire article? Is was not only about the "good" the Church does. In fact, that was only a small portion of it. What about the tempering of the hearts of men toward one another, the very real hope that all will eventually work out the way it's supposed to, the individual development each person can experience as an active member, and the learning of civility by practice?

How much of that do get at the Red Cross?

bearyb said...

What right does a church, an organization with absolutely no legal authority over any other adult human beings, an organization that only has power over someone when that someone grants them that power...

Wow! What church would that be, EBU? Maybe you could be more specific about what power you are talking about.

Everything Before Us said...

Tithing contributions aren't voluntary. Yet another example of how the definition of words change within LDS circles, as I pointed out earlier. Would it be a voluntary contribution if someone held a gun to your head and said, "Pay or I shoot?" Would it be a voluntary contribution if someone says, "Pay or I will take you kid from you?"

No. So how is it voluntary when someone says, "Pay or you burn at the last day and you won't be with your family forever?" Because that is basically what you are told.

It's not a voluntary payment. It is extortion.

You question why anyone would want to read records or accounts of the misdeeds of church leaders. I guess you aren't really interested in truth then. Facts are facts. Why be afraid of them. Why did you choose to vote for the person you voted for? What information did you bring into account? Did you investigate the past misdeeds and possible crimes of the two candidates? Trump's philandering or Hillary's pay-for-play dealing at the State Department?

I'll bet the follower's of David Koresh would've like to have known of his shady past. But they are all dead know.

It's a dangerous road to follow when you intentionally avoid information.

The Church is making greater efforts to be transparent. Oh? But you pooh-poohed my statement about the tendency of cults to withhold information. If they are being transparent now, what was happening in past decades? Lack of transparency.

Bearby...answer my question. Why did the SLC temple formerly have a statue of Aphrodite, who is an age-old symbol of erotic love, complete with the seashell, a common symbol of her mythical birth from the ocean, standing above the veil in the Celestial Room?

You don't know what you are a part of. I am warning you: there is something your church isn't telling you.

bearyb said...

Of course tithing contributions are voluntary, as is any obedience to any of the laws of the gospel. They are certainly not cumpulsory. What is not voluntary or abitrary are the consequences of our willful actions, or our decisions not to act. Of course, some say - and I do not disagree - that tithing is more of a debt owed to the Lord than a willful contribution, but that really depends on your relationship with the Lord, doesn't it?

"Whom say ye that I am?" was the question He asked of His disciples. If you believe Christ, you will pay your tithing, and do much more than that. If you don't believe Him, what difference could it possibly make to you?

As far as the "burning" goes, that is traceable back to Malachi, so don't blame the LDS Church for repeating the warning.

And as for the truth, what kind of truth is the most profitable? For example, there are all kinds of true things about any of the great world wars and present day continuing conflicts that I don't really need to know about beyond the fact that they are happening, people are suffering, and we need to do what we can to help. If I were in a position of more influence there might be more I would need to know, but how would it help me to know the true, grisly details of each example of man's inhumanity to man?

On the other hand, if the truth were made known to me that we are all, in fact, brothers and sisters of an eternal family already, that would likely influence how I might behave toward people in general.

Which truths are important to you, EBU?

By the way, I don't deny that cults withhold information (did I say that somewhere?), but I do disagree with your opinion that the Church is one.

And since this is probably all for fun anyway, just what do you think the significance is/was of the statue in the celestial room?

Oh, and I didn't vote for either Hillary or Trump. In case you didn't know the "truth," there were more than two candidates running...

Mazel said...

Just my two cents, bearyb:

... tithing contributions are voluntary.... Of course, some say - and I do not disagree - that tithing is more of a debt owed to the Lord than a willful contribution, but that really depends on your relationship with the Lord, doesn't it?

Some would say it actually depends on whether it's the Lord cashing the checks, or merely the Church. It depends on whether one thinks the Church is really the Lord's agent here on earth. To equate the Church with the Lord in this way strikes some of us as extremely hubristic.

If you believe Christ, you will pay your tithing, and do much more than that.

There are probably a billion or so Christians out there who believe in Christ without tithing to the LDS Church. Again, equating "belief in Christ" with "belief in LDS dogma" seems hubristic.

-- OK

Everything Before Us said...

Bearby,


By your definition, paying taxes is voluntary. Paying your bills is voluntary. Getting your vehicle registered is voluntary. Having an insurance policy on your car is voluntary. In fact there is nothing at all that is not voluntary.

You've got a rather twisted understanding of the word "voluntary."

When did Christ say, "Pay 10% of your income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" Oh yea...he said that in scripture published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Bearyb, you need to know the truth about man's grisly actions so that when you are asked to follow a man who performs grisly actions, you'll be aware of the type of person you are being asked to follow.

Or let's tone it down a notch. Forget about the grisly actions. When you put your faith in a human being, as you have in Joseph Smith, it is a good idea to know exactly what type of man you are dealing with. So, I would highly recommend you learn all you can about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others. Common sense, I would think.

So you didn't vote for Trump or Hilary. Great. My point still stands? Why didn't you vote for them? Because you learned things about them. You didn't just rely on what the Trump campaign has to say about Trump in order to make up your mind about him. You listened to critical voices. Same deal with Hilary.

So, likewise, listen to critical voices about your church and your leaders. That is how you make informed decisions. All other choices you make in life are made in this way. Why would you make an exception in the case of your spiritual life?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Everything, I'm interested in how you developed your faith in Christ by turning to His critics to learn about His grace, love, and divinity. Was it Richard Dawkins or Karl Marx that provided the foundation of your faith? I trust you weren't relying on His biased band of defenders in the New Testament?

Jeff Lindsay said...

And hello, of course tithing is voluntary. People can come to Church their entire lives without ever coughing up a dime. Now if you want to go to the Temple, you need to tell your leaders that you are a full tithe payer. But tithing status is confidential and is up to the individual. Some pay, some don't. It's not extortion. With that mindset, I suppose you'll be accusing the Lord of extortion when he taught the consequences of not keeping His commandments, or even when God gave the Ten Commandments and when Christ again reiterated their important. Accuse as you will, but any sensible observer will note that tithing and other principles taught in the Church is clearly, obviously voluntary. Your refusal to recognize that tells me much about your stance and your inability to see anything fairly when it comes to our faith. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm anxious to know how you learned of God and Christ from their critics and not from Them or Their supporters. Your path to faith through vitriol will be intriguing, I'm sure, but I don't think I could ever advise that.

Everything Before Us said...

Nope. No Dawkins. No Marx. I am more of a C. S. Lewis and Paul kind of guy. But as for His grace, love, and divinity - I learned all about that through a personal spiritual experience. The LDS Church, in fact, no church at all, had anything to do with it.

I see the point you are trying to make here. But there is a problem with it. You can't learn about Christ's grace, love, and divinity, at least not in any meaningful, deep, personal way through the words of any man or woman. You need to go right to the source itself. You know this, too. I don't doubt it.

The problem is that we aren't really having a discussion about Jesus Christ. We are having a discussion about a church, and the leaders that lead in that church. It's an organization. You seem to be asking me to have the same kind of non-critical approach to the church and its leaders as I appear to have toward Christ. No way! That is spiritual suicide.

We've been warned of false apostles and false prophets. We can't trust anyone when it comes to eternal life. No one. Christ alone is the way to eternal life, and many messengers will come in his name preaching a false gospel, which we have also been warned of. Peter tells us a little of how we can discern whether they are false teachers or not. He says they will have eyes full of adultery. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were adulterers.

Paul tells us that these false leaders will zealously court us, so that we will be zealous for them. The constant emphasis on looking to the prophet, looking to the brethren, stay in the boat, etc etc etc is this warning playing itself out in our day and age. In the Ensign a few years ago, one of the articles even suggested that to be more like Jesus, we should follow the example of Thomas Monson.

Have you ever investigated the Iglesia ni Cristo church? Watch some of their promotional videos. Watch how these people gush over their leader, how they sing praises to their leader, how they teach that there is only safety in following the "church administration."

Watch videos showing the JW's leaders warning their members to stay off the Internet, to stick with the brethren, and only read material published by the church.

The messaging is the same in the LDS church. But the INC and the JWs and the LDS can't all be the one true church. But they all demand devotion. This is devotion that is distracted away from Christ. They will all tell you that it is nothing of the sort, because their church IS the church of Christ, thus devotion to the Church is devotion to Christ.

They are all false teachers.

We've been warned of this kind of behavior from false church leaders. I don't know why you don't take it more seriously.



bearyb said...

Mazel,

Your comment that "It depends on whether one thinks the Church is really the Lord's agent here on earth" when it comes to paying tithing (or any of a number of other things we could talk about) is precisely the point. But even if you do believe it is, you still have choices to make.

Please do not misunderstand though - the Lord is NOT the Church (nor is the gospel the Church). However, if you truly believe the Church is His agent on the earth, and you believe you owe a "tithing" debt to the Lord, it seems pretty straightforward where your payment of that debt should be directed.

I agree that there are at least a billion Christians out there that would never even consider giving tithing to the LDS Church. There are even very many members of the LDS Church who don't do it, either. And guess what? No one is knocking down their door or threatening legal action trying to make them pay it. It is voluntary - like baptism, obedience to the Word of Wisdom, temple attendance, and going to Church meetings.

Once again though, you can choose your actions or inactions, but you don't get to choose the consequences of those choices.

bearyb said...

By your definition, paying taxes is voluntary. Paying your bills is voluntary. Getting your vehicle registered is voluntary. Having an insurance policy on your car is voluntary. In fact there is nothing at all that is not voluntary.

You've got a rather twisted understanding of the word "voluntary."


I disagree. Please think about each of the items you listed above. Does everyone do all those things all the time? I'll bet there are some who choose not to do those things, and they face certain consequences for their choices. There are some who even choose to live "off the grid" to avoid those certain consequences, but they still pay a price for their choices.

Sadly, there are some who even make the choice wether to even keep living or not. Granted, there are those for whom waking up everyday is not considered a "voluntary" action, but once you are awake and conscious, you have choices to make.

bearyb said...

When did Christ say, "Pay 10% of your income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" Oh yea...he said that in scripture published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The principle of tithing was established in Old Testament times. There isn't any evidence I'm aware of that it was ever rescinded. Obviously, if you don't believe the LDS Church is the Lord's agent on the earth (see above discussion), you wouldn't pay it to the LDS Church. So, do you pay tithing - to ANY entity? If so, why? If not, why not?

bearyb said...

Bearyb, you need to know the truth about man's grisly actions so that when you are asked to follow a man who performs grisly actions, you'll be aware of the type of person you are being asked to follow.

Or let's tone it down a notch. Forget about the grisly actions. When you put your faith in a human being, as you have in Joseph Smith, it is a good idea to know exactly what type of man you are dealing with. So, I would highly recommend you learn all you can about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others. Common sense, I would think.


Your words are certainly common, but as spiritual things go they don't make much sense. For example, aren't you a "follower" of Paul? Don't you know his history? Why on earth would you trust such a man?

First of all, let's at least correct your assumption of who I have faith in - it isn't Joseph Smith, but Jesus Christ (maybe you don't know LDS doctrine as well as I thought you did.)

Secondly, how does anyone really know who they're dealing with? When Christ was confronted with disbelievers, what evidence did He offer that He taught the words of God? John 7 is a great chapter about the differing opinions the people had of Him, but most telling was this:

16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.


The test is just as true today as it was then.

bearyb said...

The problem is that we aren't really having a discussion about Jesus Christ. We are having a discussion about a church, and the leaders that lead in that church. It's an organization. You seem to be asking me to have the same kind of non-critical approach to the church and its leaders as I appear to have toward Christ. No way! That is spiritual suicide.

I do think it's a problem to dwell on the frailties and weaknesses of mortals when the message they bear is so much more important than any of them are.

You can find fault with anyone you care to. Many even found/find fault with Jesus Christ (gasp!).

So, once again, you have a choice to make. You can choose to continue to beat your chest and shout about all the "terrible, evil things" done by past - or current - Church leaders (I don't think many of us are listening, by the way), or you can carefully consider the message they gave and continue to give.

The LDS Church claims that its basic organization was/is directed by Jesus Christ, and is the same as His primitve Church was. But guess what! It is populated at every earthly level by mortals. That's right, mere mortals! Why, I'd bet that if you chose to be an active member of the Church you'd even make mistakes, too. We all do.

You would, in fact, have to reject all prophets - ancient and modern - if a prophetic requirement was to be "perfect."

Have you ever heard the notion that we consider the Restoration to be "ongoing?" That's right, we are still learning about stuff! That means that not all of us are doing it the "Lord's way" yet. But we are trying. And I think that's all He wants us to do.

bearyb said...

The constant emphasis on looking to the prophet, looking to the brethren, stay in the boat, etc etc etc is this warning playing itself out in our day and age. In the Ensign a few years ago, one of the articles even suggested that to be more like Jesus, we should follow the example of Thomas Monson.

Ooh, ooh! My favorite is found in Alma 48:17 -

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

You're so right EBU. That was a very terrible, misleading thing to put into the Book of Mormon, wasn't it?

bearyb said...

You can't learn about Christ's grace, love, and divinity, at least not in any meaningful, deep, personal way through the words of any man or woman. You need to go right to the source itself.

Ok, one last post for tonight...

Your statement above, if true, would negate all of the commandments Jesus Christ gave to His disciples to go and preach to all the world. It would set at naught all of those whom He called as prophets, seers and revelators. It would require that everyone ever born wait until he/she could sit at the feet of the Master Himself before they could ever learn anything about Him.

Is that really what you believe? And you judge (how many?) others to be false prophets and teachers?

Please reconsider your position... carefully.

Everything Before Us said...

My statement about learning of Christ's grace, love and divinity is something I thought you'd agree with Bearyb. You are the one in a religion that believes in personal revelation. Yet you tell me that "going right to the source" for information about Christ's grace negates "all of the commandments Jesus Christ gave" about preaching the Gospel.

Really? I am confused now. All my life as a Mormon, I was taught that Protestants like myself rejected the belief in personal revelation. Now that I am a Protestant affirming personal revelation, I have a Mormon tell me that such a belief negates all the commandments of Christ about preaching the Gospel.

I don't feel like I am the one confused here.

Yes, we need people to preach the Gospel, but surely, as a Mormon of all things, you still believe my statement, that there is no truly meaningful and personal understanding of the love of God unless one feels that love straight from the source.

I was raised a Mormon. I was raised as a Christian. But my Mormon Christianity did NOTHING, as far as I can tell, to reveal to me the love of God. I may be wrong. I highly suspect the same situation would've occurred had I been raised Lutheran or a Catholic or an Anglican or a Presbyterian, etc etc etc.

If you haven't felt the love of God apart from your denominational preference, I would have to say you probably haven't felt the love of God in any meaningful way at all.

I would even go so far as to say that you may not have yet been born again.

And that IS a commandment. Be born again.

bearyb said...

I stand by my statement as a response to what you actually said: "You can't learn about Christ's grace, love, and divinity, at least not in any meaningful, deep, personal way through the words of any man or woman."

Of course you have to receive conviction through spiritual revelation, but how will you even know what do in that regard unless you have been taught by someone? How many billions are out there who have never heard the name of Christ at all? Where will they go? What will they do, unless and until they hear about Him from someone else?

bearyb said...

There's something else you said along the same lines that is troubling: "We've been warned of false apostles and false prophets. We can't trust anyone when it comes to eternal life. No one."

Yes, there are and will continue to be false prophets. But your statement above doesn't even allow for true ones. What would be the point of Christ choosing any prophets at all to speak on His behalf if everyone thought as you do about it?

Everything Before Us said...

Bearyb

The difference between the vast majority of Christians and Latter-day Saints is that the Christians believe as the Bible teaches, that there is a distinction between the Old and the New Covenants, that the Old Covenant was a covenant of law, and therefore a ministry of death. It was a ministry that brought condemnation (2 Corinthians 3); whereas, the new covenant is a covenant of grace, and it is a ministry that brings righteousness.

Mormons read the Bible and see a continuity between the Old and the New Covenants. They do not see that the Bible clearly presents a fundamental difference in nature between the two. The New Testament says that the law is the strength of sin, the law works wrath, the law brings condemnation, the law was a ministry of death, that the law is the righteousness of man, but faith is the righteousness of God.

But, Mormons believe that law brings righteousness. Mormons believe that we are justified by law. D&C 88:38,39 "And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified." Even Pres. Hinckley said that "our strength lies in our righteousness."

Sorry, but no...not at all. The New Testament clearly informs us that this is not the case. After all we have done, we are to say that we are unprofitable servants. Mormonism is a doctrine of arrogance.

As for prophets, again Hebrews 1 tells us that God spoke to us in ages past through prophets, but now he speaks through his Son. Once again, there is a fundamental difference in the nature and delivery of the Old and New Covenants. There is still the spirit of prophecy, but the idea of prophets "like unto Moses," in other words, prophets that act as administrators over the people of God, is rendered obsolete in the New Covenant.

Consider the words of the author of Hebrews: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds, and inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.”…

You don't need another person to teach you. Even John says so: "7And as for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you." I John 2:27

You as a Latter-day Saint misunderstand the proper relationship between the two covenants. You believe that the fullness of the Gospel has been preached in every age (Paul says that this is not the case, but the fullness was kept hidden in ages past. Romans, Colossians).

This, I am afraid to tell you, happens to be a Masonic idea. In 1801, a Mason published a book claiming that true Masonry was taught to Adam in the Garden of Eden, and was passed down throughout all ages. Sound familiar? The book is called Antiquities of Freemasonry. You can access the entirety of it online. Read it. You'll be shocked at how closely it aligns with your own doctrines about Priesthood. In fact, in many places, you could substitute the word Priesthood for Masonry, and you'd think it was written by a Mormon leader.

After you finish that book, try reading your New Testament again, and try to see what it is actually saying. If you don't understand the proper relationship between the Old and New Testaments, you will be led astray by those who wish to bring you into the bondage of the law. This is precisely what happened in Mormonism.

bearyb said...

The main continuity Mormons see between the Old and New Testaments is that the first was to establish that Christ would come, and the second was to establish that He did come. Besides that, there are many prophecies contained in the OT that have yet to be fulfilled, so we are anticipating those also. We also hold that the Ten Commandments are still relevant and are at least the minimum that an individual should try to observe when seeking to follow the Lord. Obviously, Christ referred to them (appropriate, since He gave them in the first place) and then raised the expected level of observance to a much higher plane.

You complain about our teachings of the importance of righteousness, when the quote you supplied from Pres. Hinckley reflects the sentiment found in 1 John 2:29.

You cannot read the Book of Mormon and conclude that ours is a doctrine of arrogance. Mosiah 2, especially beginning with verse 21 should be ample evidence of that.

As for prophets, what are we to do with the NEW TESTAMENT information contained in Ephesians 4, clearly stating some of the offices Christ set up for the perfecting of the saints, including apostles and prophets?

Yes, we believe that all the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel were preached in every dispensation, but not necessarily every "age." There were quite a number of generations that passed wherin the fulness of the gospel was not found on the earth. And I know you are aware of our belief that certain things were held back until the current dispensation of the "Fulness of Times." We also believe that there is more coming.

bearyb said...

Consider the words of the author of Hebrews: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put My laws in their minds, and inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.”…

You don't need another person to teach you. Even John says so: "7And as for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you." I John 2:27


Tell me, EBU - do you consider yourself to be of the house of Israel? Which tribe, exactly?

In your above quote it refers to a people for whom the Lord "will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more."

Obviously, they would have to have repented before being included in such a group, because that is a condition the Lord has placed upon such a blessing. So that statement must have been directed to a special group of people, right? I would have to agree with you that if an individual has obtained an assurance of forgivness of their sins, they might not need further mutual instruction from their peers.

Beside all that, what covenant have you made with the Lord EBU? Covenants are two-way agreements, you know.

Everything Before Us said...

No, I am not of the House of Israel. I am a Gentile.



bearyb said...

A Gentile? Then please explain why you cite a reference to a covenant the Lord "will make with the house of Israel" as a reason you reject the need for instruction.

Maybe you have another covenant in mind?

Everything Before Us said...

Bearyb,

You ask me these questions as if you think the rest of the Christian world is confused and without answers to these conundrums the boy prophet solved for us back in the 1800s. The boy prophet didn't have a single original thought. The Christian world had been debating the issues the boy prophet "solved" for centuries! He just cribbed the solutions he preferred from the Christians - a little Calvinism here, a little Universalism here, and little Arminianism here, and then stir in a good helping of the occult, and voila! And for dessert....well, let's not bring up polygamy just yet...

Paul is speaking to the Hebrews in Hebrews, and that is why he quotes Jeremiah. It is relevant to his audience. But to the Ephesians, a group of Gentiles, he tells them that they are brought into the same covenant, the new covenant of grace, and there is no longer any distinction in God's eyes between Jew and Gentile.

So, as a Gentile, Jeremiah's prophecy is just as relevant to me as it is to a Jew. I don't have to be a part of the tribes of Israel for the promises. There is no Jew or Gentile in God's eyes.

Bearyb, I'll tell you the same thing I told Vance...step out of your Mormon paradigm. The Christian world isn't in the dark. You've been taught lies about Christianity, and about what Christians believe, and about what Christians can or cannot answer. You'll find a feast of answers in Christianity. And the beautiful thing is that they satisfy the deepest spiritual longings of your soul.

So, Paul says we are all included in the New Covenant now because of the grace of God. However, if we seek justification by law, we are fallen from that same grace. Yet, you, Bearyb, have entered into a covenant of law in the temple. And Lucifer was there to tell you what Paul and James will tell you: that if you fail to live up to all the law, you will be in his power.



bearyb said...

You ask me these questions as if you think the rest of the Christian world is confused and without answers to these conundrums the boy prophet solved for us back in the 1800s.

Many of the questions I've asked you have little to do with any of Joseph's "solutions," as you call them. Some are an attempt to see how your thoughts (if indeed, they are yours) square with biblical teachings. You state the above as if, by asking them of you, I seek to query the whole of Christendom. And you call us arrogant? Are you somehow the spokesman for all?

And you can bring up polygamy if you want, though there are several reasons why you shouldn't: 1) What could you possibly have to say about it that you (and others) haven't already said?; 2) Jeff would probably shut you down for wandering way off topic, again; 3) You obviously haven't moved the needle of conviction at all through any previous conversations about it; 4) You are falling behind in your scholastic studies of LDS claims and evidences by continuing to harp on old stuff while the rest of the world moves on; 5) I will not engage you on that topic because there are still a substantial amount of unknowns and the conversation would be much less than unproductive.

The boy prophet didn't have a single original thought.

Gee, I wonder how come you've never (as far as I know) said that about Jesus Christ, who by His own admission was simply teaching the words of His Father...

Paul is speaking to the Hebrews in Hebrews, and that is why he quotes Jeremiah. It is relevant to his audience. But to the Ephesians, a group of Gentiles, he tells them that they are brought into the same covenant, the new covenant of grace, and there is no longer any distinction in God's eyes between Jew and Gentile.

So, as a Gentile, Jeremiah's prophecy is just as relevant to me as it is to a Jew. I don't have to be a part of the tribes of Israel for the promises. There is no Jew or Gentile in God's eyes.


Tell me, if Paul can't seem to leave the OT alone (in quoting Jeremiah), what makes you think you should?

Oh, wait! I guess you didn't. You said something in Jeremiah is relevant to you... (is someone confused?)

And aren'the Ephesians the group to which he specifically mentions the establishment by Christ of apostles and prophets? Could it be that such offices were only applicable to the Ephesians? I've never heard or thought of that before(!)

The Christian world isn't in the dark.

No, not completely. But there are a lot of ideas out there that don't seem to square with what I read in the Bible, the only book they claim to believe in.

And Lucifer was there to tell you what Paul and James will tell you: that if you fail to live up to all the law, you will be in his power.

Well, I suppose it's a good thing you are beyond all that. In fact, why do you keep quoting Paul or James or any biblical source at all if, as you said above, "We can't trust anyone when it comes to eternal life. No one." And - "You can't learn about Christ's grace, love, and divinity, at least not in any meaningful, deep, personal way through the words of any man or woman."

After all, I don't think anyone has ever claimed that Jesus actually wrote down anything He said, so according to you all we have are the second-hand claims of others. How can we trust them? (Now that's confusing!)

bearyb said...

Oh, and there may or may not be "Jew or Gentile" in God's eyes, but He certainly knows who He has made a covenant with, and who He hasn't.

You can't simply say you're a part of the covenant group if you haven't actually made a covenant, can you?

Everything Before Us said...

You can't simply say you're a part of the covenant group if you haven't actually made a covenant, can you?

Mormon paradigm speaking. You guys are obsessed with covenants, but you totally miss the point of Biblical covenants. Your covenants are secret pacts you make with some unnamed entity inside the temple. God is a witness to those covenants, along with the officiators at the altar and angels. But who is the other party in the covenant? Using only the words of the temple endowment, who is the party to whom you make your covenant? You can't answer that question. The name of the other party is not referenced in the wording of the covenant or the ritual. Can a witness to a covenant also be a party in the covenant? Think about it.

When Paul mentions building upon the prophets and apostles, he is not talking about what you think he is talking about. If you read that carefully, in the context with the rest of the chapter(s), you might come to understand what he means.

He is talking about the old testament prophets and the apostles of Christ. This is the Jewish heritage that the Gentiles now have access to. That which kept the Gentiles exiled from the promises of God has now been torn down, and the Gentiles come into the household of God, built upon the prophets and the apostles. When Jews talk about "the prophets," they are referring to Old Testament prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, etc. He is not saying the Church is going to be led by prophets and apostles. This is your Mormon paradigm. It might be convincing to you, but it is not convincing to Christians. Not at all.

Now, Paul does talk about apostles and prophets in context of the Christian Church. In Corinthians, Paul talks about how Jesus, after his resurrection, visited the 12 apostles before visiting all of the apostles. Interesting. There were more than 12 apostles.

Apostle is a generic Greek word for "one who is sent forth." Thus Jesus is also called an apostle in the New Testament. An apostle is NOT an office in a Priesthood. It is a personal calling. Thus, Paul claims to be an apostle, but he is never called and set apart as one by another leader in the church. His call was directly from God. He was engaged in his apostolic work prior to even visiting Peter and the rest of the 12. Read Galatians 2. He really wants to make this clear. Why do you think that is?

Prophets are not an office in the Priesthood either. Again, it is a personal calling or ministry.

The offices that are mentioned in the New Testament are episkopos, presbyter, and diakonos. Bishop, Elder, Deacon. Today, the term Elder isn't really used. The term Priest is used instead. Bishop, Priest, Deacon. The same offices in the Catholic and Anglican churches.

Interesting side note: Priests and Elders are the same thing. In the NT, there is only one Greek word for this office: presbyter. Yet, in the LDS church, Priests and Elders are two different offices. That's wrong, and a misinterpretation of the New Testament church structure.

There is a difference between church offices (bishop, elder/priest, deacon) and callings or ministries (prophet, apostle, teacher, pastor, evangelist). You will notice that Paul never mixes these two groups. He never says anything like, "God gave the church bishops, apostles, pastors, and elders." He never says, "To be an apostle, a man must be the husband of one wife..." This is important to understand.


Everything Before Us said...

In Ephesians 4, Paul gives the list of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.

In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the different kinds of ministries: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helps, governments, tongues.

Interesting list, isn't it? If this is a list of offices, where is bishop? where is Elder? High Priest? Priest? Deacon?

And if this is a list of Priesthood offices, where are the Priesthood holders who are ordained to the office of miracle worker? tongue speaker? government man? helper?

It isn't a list of offices. The offices are described in 1 Timothy. Why does Paul describe the qualifications for bishops and deacons, but not for apostles or prophets?

This idea that the LDS church is patterned after the original church is simply a delusional dream. It isn't the case at all. Not at all. You just use the same words,and you get sloppy with terminology here and there, mixing and matching, and repeatedly harping on this idea that you have the same structure as Jesus set up. But a little in-depth analysis shows this to simply not be the case at all.

Everything Before Us said...

And don't even get started about "High Priest." After the Law of Moses is rendered obsolete, the title is never applied again to anyone at all except Jesus Christ. Not Peter, not Paul, not anyone. It is never mentioned as a ministry or as an office.

Quantumleap42 said...

Just thought I could clarify a small fact. The statue over the veil in the Salt Lake Temple is of the virgin Mary, not Aphrodite. Supposedly it was given to the Church by the Catholic Church, but that story is based on a comment from someone who heard it from a General Authority.

Everything Before Us said...

Virgin Mary? Oh,...that's certainly better than Aphrodite....

I guess that would make sense, though. The LDS Church is far far more Catholic than Protestant. In fact, I would even say that the "Restoration" is actually a protest against Protestantism, specifically Calvinism. It is a return to very Roman Catholic style institution.

The Mormon concept of grace is basically the same as the Catholic concept of grace. It certainly isn't the Pauline or Protestant version of grace.

But no...Quantumleap. I don't think it is the Virgin Mary. The LDS temples are full of strange symbolism, much of it Masonic. Beehives, handshakes, sunstones, inverted pentagrams - Masonic and occultic.

Quantumleap42 said...

Just thought I could clarify a small fact. The pentagram, both upright and inverted, is a traditional Christian symbol representing the five wounds of Christ. It also has symbolism relating to the five senses.

The idea that the inverted pentagram is an occult symbol come from the writings of an Occultist and Frenchman, Eliphas Levi, in the mid 1800's (1851 to be precise). It later got picked up in the very late 1800's (1897-ish) by other occultists. But you can ignore the long history of the pentagram as a Christian symbol and believe the word of occultists if you want.

In fact the inverted pentagram is currently such a terrible symbol of evil that it is used as the basis for the US Medal of Honor. And we all know the US Government is the Great Satan. Facts are facts.

Anonymous said...

There's actually some considerable debate about what that's a statue of. Some say Venus/Aphrodite, some say Mary, some say Heavenly Mother, some say the woman in Revelation, and some say it's an effeminate Christ. This article:

(http://www.templestudies.org/review-of-gaskill-alonzo-l-and-seth-g-soha-the-woman-at-the-veil/)

suggests it was nothing more than a statue that Brigham Young's son thought was neat. Whatever the case, maybe we should stop tossing out random "facts" about the church that are A) irrelevant and B) not nearly as cut-and-dried as some would have you believe.

Quantumleap42 said...

Oh. Thanks Anonymous. I did not know that. Good to know.

Everything Before Us said...

Quantumleap,

The pentagram has quite a few uses. I doubt the Mormons were using it on their temples because they borrowed it from Christianity. The beehive is Masonic. The three knocks are Masonic. The Five Points of Fellowship are Masonic. The blood oaths are Masonic. The handgrips are Masonic. The Q&A format (Has it a name? It has......) is Masonic. The square and compass is Masonic.

But...the pentagram is Christian? Yea...right.

And this statue...she is standing on a half-shell. A common symbol of Aphrodite. Not a common symbol of Mary or of Jesus or of the woman from Revelation.

Those who want to see will see.

Anonymous said...

"Those who want to see will see."

EBU, I'd say you've proven that quite adequately.

Everything Before Us said...

Thank you.

By the way, I am not the one who has to look other people in the eyes and seriously defend a man who lied to his wife while he "married" other women. I don't have say, "God wanted him to do it." I don't have to make an absolute fool of myself and deny what is so obvious to the rest of the world, just to "be a good example" for my church.

And you have the nerve to suggest that I am not seeing things clearly? So funny.



Mormography said...

RE: Tithing and Cults

A cult doesn't care if u give 10% to the Lord, as long as u give 10% to the cult also. People in cults struggle to understand the difference.

bearyb said...

When Paul mentions building upon the prophets and apostles, he is not talking about what you think he is talking about. If you read that carefully, in the context with the rest of the chapter(s), you might come to understand what he means.

He is talking about the old testament prophets and the apostles of Christ.


You assume we do not understand the correct context of their being mentioned, suggesting that it actually refers to ancient times only, when it is abundantly clear that Paul is referring to his own time. (He actually even mentions "we" more than once.) Let's take a look:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

So far, so good. And why were they "given?"

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

We obviously still need them. All those purposes are current.

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Don't know if you've noticed or not, but I don't think all are unified yet, or perfect.

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

And it seems that there is still plenty of "tossing to and fro" going on.

If your interpretation is correct, why is there still so much confusion out there when obviously (to you) all anyone should have to do is refer back to the words of the ancient prophets for needed guidance, correction, and perfection - since that is the reason they were given to us.

Do you realize that not even all agree WHO "gave" us the prophets of old?

Could Paul not be referring to Christ during His earthly ministry as the One Who gave us the apostles and prophets, thereby making them very current in Paul's time and not referring to any of the OT ones necessarily?

And why would Paul mention them all together in such a list if he were supposedly referring to widely differing time frames (again, who is the "He" referred to in the passages)?

The punctuation used in the KJV in verse 11 above could mean different things. When, for example, it says "And he gave some, apostles;" does it mean that He gave apostles to some people, or does it mean that He gave unto some people to be apostles? I think the latter, but what say you?

Everything Before Us said...

bearby, yes. there are prophets in the church. But you assume Paul is referring to prophets as "prophets like unto Moses."

Was Isaiah a prophet the same way as Thomas Monson? Was Jeremiah? Hosea? Ezekiel? Did they have councilors and did they oversee the administrative needs of an organization?

No. They received personal directives from the Lord to go out preaching. These are not prophets in the LDS sense of the word. They are something very different, and the LDS Church does not have prophets like Jeremiah or Isaiah. Actually, the LDS Church might have these kinds of prophets, but the LDS church quickly excommunicates them.

Your LDS concept of prophet is what is wrong, and thus when you read Ephesians, you are wrong to apply your concept of prophet to those verses. Same with "apostle." You are starting with a faulty understanding of what a prophet is. You then retro-fit you current faulty understanding of prophet back into Ephesians.

A perfect example of how the Latter-day Saints redefine the words. Which if you remember is part of what started this conversation in the first place. A cult will redefine words.

And you didn't even address the point I raised about the difference between offices in the church and ministries/callings in the church. Didn't even touch it. You just fell back on the standard Mormon apologetic, the standard Mormon talking points, the usual Mormon proof-texting, which is sad. You are missing the point.



Everything Before Us said...

I agree with the punctuation. But still, that is not how it happens in the LDS church. God doesn't choose the leaders. Your leaders are chosen through the same process any corporation uses to choose its leaders. It has a vetting process. And the president of your church is chosen according to the rules spelled out on the corporation's charter.

Everything Before Us said...

If your interpretation is correct, why is there still so much confusion out there when obviously (to you) all anyone should have to do is refer back to the words of the ancient prophets for needed guidance, correction, and perfection - since that is the reason they were given to us.

Well,...bearyb, ask yourself that question. If your interpretation is correct, and we have apostles and prophets to bring us all into unity, why is there still so much confusion out there?

See, this isn't my problem to solve, this is your problem to solve. You are the one who claims that there are prophets and apostles. Not me (except in the sense I formerly explained). This is your selling point! Not mine.

So why with prophets and apostles are there many different branches of Mormonism? And why with prophets and apostles is there still such a fractured Christianity?

All anyone needs to do is refer back to the words of modern prophets and apostles, right? They were given to us for guidance. So why is the world still so confused?

This is so funny. Don't you even hear what you are writing to me? Don't you see how your criticisms of me are actually criticisms of your own church? Ask yourself these same questions. Better yet! Ask your prophets and apostles...if you can get a letter through to them without it getting sent back down to your Stake President.

I have my answer. It is in Thessalonians. The second coming won't come except after a falling away. The confusion was prophesied by Paul. And then read the rest of that chapter (because I know you know which one I am talking about). Paul gives the order of events. What comes after the falling away? A Restoration? Nope...not at all.

After the falling way, the man of sin will be revealed. Using the tactics of the devil, the man of sin will deceive with signs and lying wonders. Then, the man of sin will be removed from power, and then we'll see the brightness of the coming of the Lord.

No Restoration in that chapter. A clear timeline from the falling away to the second coming, and no Restoration is mentioned.

So all this lack of unity in the Christian world? Not a problem for Christians. We were told this is the way it will be until the second coming.

But you Latter-day Saints are told that the Church will be restored to solve this lack of unity, and you believe this nonsense when all around you the unity is NOT being restored by your so-called prophets and apostles.

If anything, they have just added yet one more denomination to this fractured state of affairs. That is all your Restoration is to the rest of Christianity....just one more sign of the falling away.

And you don't even see it, because you can't see anything except what your leaders have taught you all your life.

bearyb said...

Well,...bearyb, ask yourself that question. If your interpretation is correct, and we have apostles and prophets to bring us all into unity, why is there still so much confusion out there?

See, this isn't my problem to solve, this is your problem to solve. You are the one who claims that there are prophets and apostles. Not me (except in the sense I formerly explained). This is your selling point! Not mine.

So why with prophets and apostles are there many different branches of Mormonism? And why with prophets and apostles is there still such a fractured Christianity?

All anyone needs to do is refer back to the words of modern prophets and apostles, right? They were given to us for guidance. So why is the world still so confused?


Are you actually saying I have a problem because I believe Paul's words about the reason we were given apostles and prophets? They are not my words. All I said about that is that the need is still current (we are not all unified), so the reason we should have them still exists.

As for the reason why disunity still exists, it is because we all have our agency. Even Christ was not able to convince all those around Him to become unified during His ministry. Many followed Him only briefly, until it was going to cost them something.

Do you dispute that if we would all give heed to the guidance and counsel of apostles and prophets we would be more unified?

bearyb said...

As for the Second Coming, there are many places in the scriptures where the signs preceding it are discussed. Thessalonians is one. Matthew is another. In fact, one of the things it says in Matthew is:

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

So, if we are right, we have at least until we can get missionaries into all nations. That will probably happen sooner than any of us think. If you are right, we'll probably have a lot longer since I imagine you haven't sent out many missionaries yet.

bearyb said...

Your LDS concept of prophet is what is wrong, and thus when you read Ephesians, you are wrong to apply your concept of prophet to those verses. Same with "apostle." You are starting with a faulty understanding of what a prophet is. You then retro-fit you current faulty understanding of prophet back into Ephesians.

A perfect example of how the Latter-day Saints redefine the words. Which if you remember is part of what started this conversation in the first place. A cult will redefine words.


Hmmm... the LDS concept of prophets. Let's see, we consider Lehi to be a prophet, as well as many more that followed him. And it says that during his time in Jerusalem "there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent" so we must at least consider those statements when thinking about prophets.

What else should we consider that we might be able to recognize an individual as a prophet? Do they have to build an Ark? Do they have to attempt to sacrifice a son? Do they have to spend 40 years in the wilderness? Do they have to eat locusts and wild honey? Prophets have done all these things, but not all prophets have done these things.

In the time of Moses, the Lord chose only one person to be His spokesman to the people. At other times there were many. Today we sustain 15 as apostles and prophets, but only one as President of the Church.

By your own admission, Christianity is itself fractured, not to mention the multitude of other faith traditions. So, do we currently need prophets and apostles or not? If so, who are yours? If not, what did Paul mean?

Interestingly, Moses said something that is rather intriguing: "would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"

Everything Before Us said...

Do you dispute that if we would all give heed to the guidance and counsel of apostles and prophets we would be more unified?

No I don't dispute it at face value because the definition of unity in this context would be "agreement" or something like that. So yea...if everyone agreed to follow the same person, there would be unity. Would there be Truth? That is a different story. This isn't about finding the right people to follow. It is about finding Truth. You and I have a different way of going about that.

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

So, if we are right, we have at least until we can get missionaries into all nations. That will probably happen sooner than any of us think. If you are right, we'll probably have a lot longer since I imagine you haven't sent out many missionaries yet.


No...I haven't personally sent out any missionaries yet. And I don't plan on it either. Nor have you, I might add. Your church has, but you can't take credit for that, unless you identify yourself with your church and believe that what it does is the same thing as what you do.

But the Gospel, the real Gospel, not the redefined Gospel of Mormonism, has been preached far and wide. I've been preaching it here on this website actually for a few years now.

It isn't about a church, Bearyb. It is about a message. The Gospel is a message. It has been preached far and wide for centuries. Long before Joseph came on the scene. It is still being preached, and it is being preached right now in countries where your Latter-day Saint missionaries won't go.

So, you are missing the train. It's happening right now. The Gospel is going out to all the world right now. And you sit at home waiting for South Korea to open up. You are missing the point.

By your own admission, Christianity is itself fractured, not to mention the multitude of other faith traditions. So, do we currently need prophets and apostles or not? If so, who are yours? If not, what did Paul mean?

I already explained to you what Paul meant. Didn't you read it? Just a few comments upthread. I explained what Paul is talking about in Ephesians and elsewhere. Go back and read it again.

Interestingly, Moses said something that is rather intriguing: "would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!"

Yes...and Paul echoes this too when he says that to prophecy is better than to speak in tongues.

So...bearyb...in your church, does everyone get a chance to be sustained as a prophet? Is that even possible? Why do you quote Moses to me here when he is saying something that you know isn't even a reality in your church?



Everything Before Us said...

Hmmm... the LDS concept of prophets. Let's see, we consider Lehi to be a prophet, as well as many more that followed him. And it says that during his time in Jerusalem "there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent" so we must at least consider those statements when thinking about prophets.

What else should we consider that we might be able to recognize an individual as a prophet? Do they have to build an Ark? Do they have to attempt to sacrifice a son? Do they have to spend 40 years in the wilderness? Do they have to eat locusts and wild honey? Prophets have done all these things, but not all prophets have done these things.

In the time of Moses, the Lord chose only one person to be His spokesman to the people. At other times there were many. Today we sustain 15 as apostles and prophets, but only one as President of the Church.


Okay, show me one person in the LDS Church who is a prophet like Lehi. Lehi wasn't the leader of the church in his day. He wasn't the High Priest officiating in the temple. He was an average "member." Show me one prophet in the LDS church who isn't in the Quorum of the 12 or the First Presidency, or who isn't a General Authority. Show me one LDS member who is preaching that like Lehi that has risen up and is trying to show the church that it is off-track. Because that is what Lehi was doing. He was preaching to the choir. Not to Gentiles, but to members of God's chosen people. And Lehi wasn't a church leader either remember.

So, who do you got?

Anonymous said...

just some random thoughts...

EBU, er...I got me. I receive revelation, but for myself and family. I know I ain't the only one here who has or does. But, I see your point EBU. Hard to convince others what you are saying when they see through a tinted window. I have to admit, I am like that too sometimes.

I see where bearyb is coming from too. Can't you both just agree to disagree, and then agree that we should be following Christ? I have to admit it's hard for me to see members of the Church put the leaders on a pedestal...dare I say..rameumptom, when we are supposed to be worshiping the Savior. It irks me a little, like, when members really believe that taking the sacrament with your right hand is how your supposed to take it. What do you do if you don't have a right hand? Use your right foot? Common sense people...common sense.
Is that statue aphrodite or mary? Do I really care? Not really, although it does pass the time wondering about it. Pentagrams, masonic rituals, sunstones, moonstones, occult magic, etc etc. I should be concerned I know. But I'm not. I just try my darndest to follow Christ. Maybe I'm not a TBM and just ignore those things, explaining them away with flowery words. I'm not ignoring them, just choosing to take my time to review.

You asked if the current apostles and prophets are the same as say Moses and Lehi. Nope. Not going to lie to you, they aren't and you know they aren't, stop playing around. Times are different. We aren't in an exodus, or on an ark, although you could say we are in some precarious times, maybe a little similar to Lehi's, Isaiah's, etc. days? And Paul's right about these last days...lovers of pleasure...
But they, meaning the prophets, aren't the same. I mean come on. It's clear as day. We all know that the most senior apostle usually always get's promoted to prophet. I mean come on. If it was prayer and fasting and such...wouldn't the Lord call someone younger? someone who's going to last a little longer? But I digress.
Church members have a hard time admitting that we generally follow a process like a clock. A gear stops working, we put in the next available gear. Becoming an apostle, kind of the same thing, although there has been some variants in the process, but generally the mobility goes like this, Bishop, Stake President, Area Seventy, and onward. Does it run like a business? Yes, yes it does. But does it run like a church? Well, yes, yes it does. I have seen Bishops and Relief Society presidents and even organists, bring the Spirit into a meeting. I've seen humility and I have seen boastful pride. Again I digress.

And if we are all supposed to be prophet's as Moses wished way back when, then yeah, things would be soo much easier. But isn't that what we are supposed to be? Receiving revelation for ourselves? We could open up the next item in this conversation, "then who's revelation is correct? Mine, yours, bearyb's, the Dalai Lama...all of them?" All I can say is that sometimes i'm a sheeple and other times not. I try not to be. I try to follow Christ. That's all I can do. Am I member of the Church, yep, but that's between me and the Lord.
well, bash me if you want. All I can say is you both have some points and you both have some fervor. Keep it up for the rest of us that watches this from the sidelines, oh and have a Merry Christmas!

bearyb said...

When Paul mentions building upon the prophets and apostles, he is not talking about what you think he is talking about. If you read that carefully, in the context with the rest of the chapter(s), you might come to understand what he means.

He is talking about the old testament prophets and the apostles of Christ. This is the Jewish heritage that the Gentiles now have access to. That which kept the Gentiles exiled from the promises of God has now been torn down, and the Gentiles come into the household of God, built upon the prophets and the apostles. When Jews talk about "the prophets," they are referring to Old Testament prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, etc. He is not saying the Church is going to be led by prophets and apostles.


As you may imagine, I disagree with your statements on the role of prophets. Are we to disregard the declaration in Amos that defines the clear relationship between God and prophets? (Amos 3:7) When did the Lord God change this pattern?

You have said that the LDS concept of what prophets are and do is incorrect. Please take a few minutes to review this article on prophets. I submit that our understanding is much deeper and more comprehensive than those of many.

bearyb said...

Sorry, apparently the link to the article didn't work. Here is the actual link:

http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Prophet

bearyb said...

No...I haven't personally sent out any missionaries yet. And I don't plan on it either. Nor have you, I might add. Your church has, but you can't take credit for that, unless you identify yourself with your church and believe that what it does is the same thing as what you do.

Sorry, that really didn't come out right. I didn't mean to imply that you, personally, were responsible to send out missionaries. And there are a couple I'd like to send out personally, but they don't seem interested. But no, I meant to refer to the churches we claim to belong to (except I can't remember if you make such a claim).

But the Gospel, the real Gospel, not the redefined Gospel of Mormonism, has been preached far and wide. I've been preaching it here on this website actually for a few years now.

What does your version of the Gospel have to say about some of what we understand are basic principles like repentance, baptism, commandments, forgiveness, marriage, family, resurrection, and redemption? Leaving aside the LDS take on these things, how unified on these things is the message that is preached around the world, or even in the United States?

It isn't about a church, Bearyb. It is about a message. The Gospel is a message. It has been preached far and wide for centuries. Long before Joseph came on the scene. It is still being preached, and it is being preached right now in countries where your Latter-day Saint missionaries won't go.

Won't go? Or simply aren't welcome yet? I dare say that our missionaries will go wherever they are sent.

And what drove Joseph Smith to ask God about what he should do? Clarity and unity of the Gospel message he was exposed to? No, precisely the opposite.

Remember, the verse said "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations;" So the message to be preached to all nations is meant to be specific, whichever message you care to conclude it is.

In a world where there are divisions in the same sect over something as simple as whether or not to use instrumental music in worship services, it seems that - even if only in consistency of message - the LDS Church has a distinct advantage.

bearyb said...

And you didn't even address the point I raised about the difference between offices in the church and ministries/callings in the church. Didn't even touch it. You just fell back on the standard Mormon apologetic, the standard Mormon talking points, the usual Mormon proof-texting, which is sad. You are missing the point.

There are several reasons why we believe a Restoration was necessary, not the least of which is the correct understanding of these offices and callings. As Joseph Smith put it, “for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

So, forgive me if I am unable to convince you of any of our points of view by limiting my reference points to only the Bible. If the Bible presents such a clear and compelling message as you seem to think it does, the problem is actually yours to explain why unity has not yet happened among the world's faith traditions - or even specifically the Christian ones - especially when, as you say, it has been preached around the world for centuries.

bearyb said...

@ Anonymous 7:15

I appreciated your comments. You seem pretty down-to-earth. But this comment of yours was interesting:

We all know that the most senior apostle usually always get's promoted to prophet. I mean come on. If it was prayer and fasting and such...wouldn't the Lord call someone younger? someone who's going to last a little longer?

That has been an oft-voiced sentiment. Still, how can you be sure that the Lord didn't place those people in those places at those times in order for them to later fulfill a prophetic role? We recently had three apostles called in one Conference. Their seniority is/was determined by the order of their settings apart, even if on the same day, in the same hour. Later, that small detail may determine which of them ultimately will or will not serve as prophet. Likewise, the apostles who's seats were vacated never got to serve as prophet. Who but the Lord can say how it will turn out? He is at the head of His Kingdom, and His purposes will all be fulfilled.

Still, there is a place for prayer and fasting when trying to arrive at or confirm total unity, which in the end is the only way the position is filled.

bearyb said...

EBU,

Though I don't agree (probably because of my "Mormon paradigm") with many of your interpretations of biblical teachings, I think it is important to say that we do revere and love the Bible. Some of its passages are difficult to understand, but I'm glad we have it. It has been the foundation of many good things in the lives of millions for generations.

While reading about the Bible this morning, I happened upon this article about the difficulty inherent in biblical translation and the accurate conveyance of meaning. It is very interesting!

Everything Before Us said...

In a world where there are divisions in the same sect over something as simple as whether or not to use instrumental music in worship services, it seems that - even if only in consistency of message - the LDS Church has a distinct advantage.

Does Christianity NEED to be unified around whether or not to use instruments in worship services? How much unity are you advocating for? Should lay members be wearing uniforms?

Sounds more like religious tyranny than religious unity.

If the Bible presents such a clear and compelling message as you seem to think it does, the problem is actually yours to explain why unity has not yet happened among the world's faith traditions - or even specifically the Christian ones - especially when, as you say, it has been preached around the world for centuries.

If the Book of Mormon presents such a clear and compelling message, why are there so many different sects within Mormonism? Have you even bothered to find out just how many different "Mormonisms" there are?

Oh, but yea...when the Book of Mormon fails to unite, it is just because of agency. But when the Bible fails to unite, it is a sign that the Christian world is in a state of apostasy.

Good old Mormon double standard.

What does your version of the Gospel have to say about some of what we understand are basic principles like repentance, baptism, commandments, forgiveness, marriage, family, resurrection, and redemption? Leaving aside the LDS take on these things, how unified on these things is the message that is preached around the world, or even in the United States?

How unified is Mormonism on the nature of God? There are some Mormons who believe that God was once a man. There are some Mormons who have moved away from that and have come to understand that God has eternally been God. There are some Mormons (CES people) who speculate that Joseph Smith was toying with the idea of reincarnation, based upon some of his writings. There are some Mormons waiting for polygamy again, while others reject it entirely as an example of Smith's misguidedness.

This unity that you think exists within Mormonism is an illusion. I will not answer any more of your attempts to paint the Christian world as a fractured apostate wreck, so just drop it. The Mormonism you present here as this undivided, doctrinally-unified front is an illusion. It simply does not exist. It never did. Joseph Smith wasn't even able to convince his own wife, whose real name is Emma Smith Bidamon. Why don't Mormons ever refer to her by her real name in Sunday School? Because they want to forget the fact that after hubby died, she bolted. She left the sect and married a Lutheran. In fact, yesterday was the anniversary of her marriage to Mr. Bidamon. Yesterday was also Joseph's birthday. How funny....She married a Lutheran man on the birthday of her dead polygamist husband.





bearyb said...

If any of you are interested, this article outlines a number of things including some substantial differences in translation and meaning found in different versions of the Bible.

Also pointed out is yet another evidence that Joseph Smith translated from an ancient record rather than simply copying from the KJV Bible, found in the text of Matt 5:22 (search the article for "without a cause").

Gee, I sure wish there were prophets around to guide us to the truth...

bearyb said...

If the Book of Mormon presents such a clear and compelling message, why are there so many different sects within Mormonism? Have you even bothered to find out just how many different "Mormonisms" there are?

No doubt there are many brands of "Mormonism," but only one Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Try again, please.

Oh, but yea...when the Book of Mormon fails to unite, it is just because of agency. But when the Bible fails to unite, it is a sign that the Christian world is in a state of apostasy.

Ok then, let's just use the Bible. Which Bible should be used, EBU, to unify all of Christendom to the same understanding of the doctrine of the gospel? They do not all teach the same things, nor is the interpretation of even one of them consistent. That is why there are so many sects, is it not?

bearyb said...

Does Christianity NEED to be unified around whether or not to use instruments in worship services? How much unity are you advocating for? Should lay members be wearing uniforms?

Sounds more like religious tyranny than religious unity.


My point was simply that if congregations are divided over this one, simple point, what else are they divided over? I'm sure the Lord doesn't care whether instruments are used or not, but He does care what the message is.

bearyb said...

How unified is Mormonism on the nature of God? There are some Mormons who believe that God was once a man. There are some Mormons who have moved away from that and have come to understand that God has eternally been God. There are some Mormons (CES people) who speculate that Joseph Smith was toying with the idea of reincarnation, based upon some of his writings. There are some Mormons waiting for polygamy again, while others reject it entirely as an example of Smith's misguidedness.

This unity that you think exists within Mormonism is an illusion.


Obviously, what the Church teaches and what people think can be very different things. People are individuals and can think the way they want.

As you said, it is about the message. The message should be clear, consistent, and obviously the truth. Surely we can agree on all these points, even if we do not agree on the substance of the last one.

bearyb said...

The Mormonism you present here as this undivided, doctrinally-unified front is an illusion. It simply does not exist. It never did. Joseph Smith wasn't even able to convince his own wife, whose real name is Emma Smith Bidamon.

You seem to have a real bitterness toward Joseph Smith for some reason (or perhaps many reasons). I guess at least it helps to fulfill at least one half of the prophecy that "[Joseph Smith's] name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." (JSH 1:33)

For those open to the Church's version of what happened with plural marriage, it can be found here.

I was just reading an article about the long, drawn out process by which the Church finally settled on the KJV to be the official bible it would use.

It never occurred to me how much opinions differed about it among not only the early Saints, but continuing well into the 20th century.

Of note, the article ends with this statement: "Since its inception, Mormonism has time and again proved its resilience and dynamism by creatively adapting to the developments of the modern world. As they look toward the future, informed Saints may be justified in having faith that the present state of affairs is but a way station, not a final resting place."

Like I said - the Restoration is ongoing.

*****
Update: Wow. I'm very glad for this whole discussion. It has led me to understand even more about the Bible and its different versions. I have just spent the last little while reading <a href="https://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/king-james-bible-and-missionary-work.pdf>another article</a> about the value of being familiar with many of the more modern biblical translations.

Very valuable stuff!

bearyb said...

Let's try that last link again: KJV and Missionary Work

Everything Before Us said...

The really cool thing about Bible translations is that there are actually authentic ancient documents that can be consulted when considering which translation is the most accurate. That is because they are legitimate translations, in the true and accepted sense of that word.

By the way: "translation" ...another word which has been redefined by Mormonism.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I agree on the value of looking at alternative translations. Let me put in a plug for my favorite Blue Letter Bible app as well as their useful webpage at https://www.blueletterbible.org/. With their tools, you can examine multiple translations and look directly at the Greek and Hebrew and get a feel for the range of meanings for the actual words used.

Anonymous said...

"What if I'm uncomfortable with the Church's position on social issues?"

Then repent of your sins and leave Babylon behind. "social issues" merely means Marxism, an ideology of absolute evil that exists only to corrupt and destroy. "Social issues" means worshiping sodomites and feminists and Mohammedans instead of the Lord your God.

Quantumleap42 said...

Wow, I go away for a few days and I miss a whole lot of nothing.

On Dec. 21 Anonymous said,

""Those who want to see will see."

"EBU, I'd say you've proven that quite adequately."

That and the response reminded me of that scene from the Sound of Music when Captain von Trapp is talking to Herr Zeller and they say:

Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.
Captain von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me - I meant to accuse you.

Quantumleap42 said...

I wonder how useful it is to debate some of these things because the whole point is moot if those involved are unwilling to be humbly lead to greater understanding. Well did Christ say that we must become as a little child or we can in nowise receive these things. If we aren't willing to be corrected in our understanding, even in simple things, there is no reason for God to give us greater understanding. And I think a number of comments here perfectly demonstrate why God is unwilling to give greater wisdom to men. They disregard even the simple things and make a mockery of that which he has already given. I find it slightly ironic that the great philosophers of the world are so sure that they know the nature and power of God. They think they have fully defined him (or that they absolutely know for certain that he is incomprehensible). Heaven forbid that God would reveal himself and we find out that there are many Gods (see D&C 121:28). Heaven forbid we find out that God is grander and more majestic than anything we thought possible.

I know I don't understand everything, and I have learned long ago that the is little point in exploring the edges of understanding unless everyone involved is fully committed to new ideas and willing to be humbly lead to greater understanding. Until then it is just fruitless bickering about commas, whether the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, or just from the Father, and the exact definition of "is". All debates and proofs become irrelevant when God reveals himself.

Quantumleap42 said...

bearyb,

In case you haven't seen it, Jeff had a post a couple months ago with some recommendations for books and articles that are excellent for becoming familiar with the field of Biblical Scholarship. I would recommend those books if you are interested in some more interesting stuff about the Bible beyond just translation issues.

https://mormanity.blogspot.com/2016/03/recommended-resources-for-dealing-with.html

Also I would recommend Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–-Deuteronomy by David E. Bokovoy. It was written for an LDS audience.

Everything Before Us said...

Quantum,

That is disingenuous. You think we need to be open to explore the edges of understanding? But you only want to start on your own edge. You and I have different edges. Your own extends far beyond mine, as Mormonism does to Christianity. I am saying you've gone too far and in too wrong of a direction! You don't really mean we all need to be open. You mean, "You need to be open to make it over to my edge. And then together we need to be open to go further."

Don't fool yourself into thinking you are the enlightened one. Don't fool yourself into thinking you have moved past Level 2. (Aren't you the one who brought up those levels of understanding? Can't remember.) Those who think they know anything, as Paul said, don't yet know what they should.

And the same words can be turned around on myself, too. Trust me...I am reminded of it every day just about.

We all see through a glass darkly. Don't fool yourself into believing that your glass has a little more polish on it.

We are debating ideas of a religious nature. You take a position of confidence. I take a position of confidence. Such is the nature of debate. But since we are debating anything that can be objectively verified and prove, we are on equal ground here.

Don't forget it.