What’s This Mormon Thing?

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Archive for July, 2008

Are Non-Christians Lost Forever?

Posted by JLFuller on July 28, 2008

Many a pastor has shouted from the pulpit that non-believers are hell bound and will not be retrieved. But the following verses seem to contradict that notion.

John 5:25: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

1 Peter 3:18‑20: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

1Peter 4:6: The gospel is taught to the dead so that they will be judged “according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

Which makes more sense – a loving God that would create billions of beings knowing they were going to suffer eternal torment for something they had no control over or a loving God who had a plan to redeem all by sacrificing His Son for the salvation of these same children including those who never heard of Him? I suggest God’s plan is self evident by the passages above.

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Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Love, Christian Service, Mormonism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Great Apostasy

Posted by JLFuller on July 26, 2008

Did the ancient Christian church devolve into an apostate religion?   
2 Thesalonians 2 says yes.
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members, and other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Apostles were killed and the priesthood authority —including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church—was taken from the earth ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).  Because the Church was no longer led by priesthood authority and revelation, error crept into Church teachings.  Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost, resulting in a period called the Great Apostasy.

This apostasy led to the formation of many churches with conflicting teachings.  Without the full gospel or the priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  False ideas were taught as truth, and much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost.  The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten.  Each generation inherited a state of apostasy, as people were influenced by what previous generations passed on, including changes to Christ’s gospel.  Some inspired people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, recognized that practices and doctrines had been changed or lost and tried to reform the churches to which they belonged.  Without the priesthood authority, however, Christ’s gospel could not be returned to its original form. 

After centuries of spiritual darkness, a restoration of truth was needed.  Under the Direction of our Heavenly Father, the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored on the earth through the Prophet  Joseph Smith.  God has promised it will never be taken from His children again. www.lds.org.

Intersted readers will want to read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus.  A brief synopsis can be found by following the link. Dr. Ehrman is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus. He is not LDS. 

 

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Love, Mormon, Mormonism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Case Against Joseph Smith

Posted by JLFuller on July 23, 2008

I posted this on Dr. Bill Poole’s blog, http://hottubreligion.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/are-mormons-christians/#comment-1572 this morning but I think the subject matter is sufficently intersting that I would like to post it here too.

Bill

I have read many of your comments. I notice you tend to demonize Mormons rather than discuss theological differences. Demonizing I think plays into Satan’s hand. It drives us apart. I suggest there is a better way. We can discuss doctrine and history without the name calling and still accomplish Christ’s goals of bringing people together. Doing so raises the level of discourse and I think allows us to invite the presence of the Holy Ghost to enhance the experience.

 

The thing you seem to focus on is Joseph Smith. As a life long Mormon and I think somewhat well read, I don’t know enough about Joseph to make the leaps you and others do. Much of the information available is tainted therefore unreliable although many diaries and journals seem straightforward enough when taken en masse. There are as many people speaking on Joseph’s behalf as there are those attacking him. So as I read the record, I don’t yet clearly understand what happened let alone believe I am able to come to an honest conclusion. I acknowledge my bias, but I am not blinded by it. I can be corrected. But I have heard all the arguments pro and con and am not convinced. I doubt you can add anything I haven’t already heard or read.  Even so, given the dark side of Christianity is the base, I wonder if an individual’s personal behavior is sufficient foundation on which to postulate a theory. In other words, does it really matter?

 

When we look back on Catholicism, for example, do the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition bear on today’s Church? Does the Baptist and Presbyterian support of slavery and genocide mean we can’t look to the modern Church for leadership? Does the behavior of current pastors who support the Ku Klux Klan mean Evangelicals have no voice worth listening to? I think if we kick everybody out who has sinned or made a mess of his personal life there would be no one left. I believe in holding leadership to a higher standard of course but the evidence has to be unimpeachable too. The case against Joseph Smith does not rise to that level. When acknowledged scholars on all sides come to a mutual agreement over time I will consider the case sufficiently resolved for me too. Anything short of that is just propaganda. 

Posted in Anti-Mormon, Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Love, Christian Service, Mormon History, Mormonism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Can Man Become a God?

Posted by JLFuller on July 20, 2008

If you believe what the bible says, yes.   Psalms 82:1,6-71 John 3:1-3, 2 Peter 1:2-4, Phillipians 2:5-6,  Romans 8:15-17, and Revelation 21:7 all talk about it. Genesis 3:22 indicates the belief has been around since before the earth was first populated. Many historical texts talk about it too.  Athanasius of Alexandria  wrote “God became human so humans would become gods” (On the Incarnation 54:3, PG 25:192B).  Maximus the Confessor said “A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God Himself became man.” and “let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods.” 
Many non-Mormon commentators have suggested Mormons believe we become equal to God the Father but that just isn’t quite correct. Mormon theology is a bit circumspect about it. The Maxwell Institute says “The state of man is also explained in Psalms 8:4-5, which asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” The word rendered “angels” in the King James and some other translations is Hebrew Elohim, which actually means “gods. See also Paul’s reasoning in Acts 17:22-29, where he says that humans are of the same species (Greek genos) as God and shouldn’t think of him as being otherwise.”  http://farms.byu.edu/faq.php?id=20&table=questions.
Some may argue that Eloheim actually means ruler or judge but Strong’s #430 says gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative — angels, X exceeding, God (gods)(-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.” It is translated as angels too but not as the first rank order definition so one must look elsewhere for further clarification and usage. The Biblical Heritage Center says the first rank of definitions is god or gods with angels, rulers and judges being second rank meanings. So is this Mormon concoction? Not according to scripture.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Service, Chritian Service, Church Attendance, Mormon polytheism | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Video – Will I Be With My Family After Death?

Posted by JLFuller on July 18, 2008

Has this question ever arisen in your conversations? I suppose it has in just about everybody’s. New Momon Tony speaks about his questions – http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/exhibit#Tony_life_after_death

Posted in Christian bible, Christian Love, Christian Service, Church Attendance, Mormon, Mormonism, testimony | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Video – What If I Never Heard of Jesus Christ?

Posted by JLFuller on July 18, 2008

How many times have you heard that if you died without Christ you were lost forever? Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like what a loving God would do? Watch what new Mormon Jan says about it – http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/exhibit#Jan_never_heard_of_Jesus_Christ

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Love, Christian Service, Mormonism | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Video – What Some New Mormons Said

Posted by JLFuller on July 18, 2008

There is nothing like getting it from the horse’s mouth. You hear one side now see and hear what some others had to say. Click this link http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/exhibit#Isaiah_missing_in_my_life.

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian Love, Christian Service, Church Attendance, Mormon, Mormonism, testimony | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mormon Ministry – Just How Different?

Posted by JLFuller on July 16, 2008

Just in case there are some who read this but know nothing about Mormons, let me take minute to tell you about us and why we are not like any other Christian denominations. First, we believe in Jesus Christ, the same one as in the New Testament. We believe the bible is the word of God, that Christ died to atone for mankind’s sins and by doing so made it possible for every human being to be resurrected after death. This is the salvation we read about in the scriptures. By His sacrifice we are saved from being cast into outer darkness (eternal hell) with Satan and his followers. God has told mankind that He cannot abide sin in the least degree so in our sinful state we would not be able to live with God so what Christ did makes us eligible to attain a heavenly state. We also believe that there is nothing we can do by ourselves that merits what has been given to us so in a very real way, Christ bought us. We are His. We believe in baptism by emersion by one holding the authority to perform that ordinance. We take Holy Communion weekly, we call it the Sacrament. We believe in the laying on of hands to heal the sick and to convey priesthood authority and that marriage between a man and a woman is a Holy ordinance. I could go on. So far, you might say, Mormons are not different from most  other Christian denominations and you would be right.

What makes us different and riles most other Christian Churches, we call them historic or traditional Christians, is that we believe God restored His original Church in 1830 through a young man named Joseph Smith Jr. It was after Joseph prayed for guidance as to which church he should join, according to Joseph’s account, that he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. He was told that he should join none of the churches of his day because they all had adopted creeds which were an abomination to God. In time Joseph would be given the responsibility of restoring Christ’s original Church along with the many teachings and ordinances which had been lost or removed from scripture over the centuries. Joseph would be given plates upon which were written the records of a people who had lived in the New World centuries before and that those records would testify that Jesus was the Christ and that the Holy Bible was in fact the word of God. Joseph would be able to translate them with the aid of heavenly beings and that this would be the most correct of all the scriptural works of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is that Church today. We are known as Mormons after a prophet named Mormon who lived 1400 years ago. He compiled all the records of the book we call the Book of Mormon, a testament of Jesus Christ. It was Mormon’s records that were given to Joseph to translate. 

As you can image some religious people take serious exception to what Joseph said and the teachings of his new church. Many said then and say today that we are not Christian because of our view that their theology is not what Christ taught in the first century but has become infused with man’s teachings and ideas. Most churches just leave us alone but some have an active campaign against us. Some of what they say is legitimate but wrongly understood, incomplete or misinterpreted. Others are deliberate in their distortions. We, however, do not attack other churches but just proclaim the doctrine we believe was given us to preach. We are a missionary church which means we go into the community to make the message of the gospel, as we understand it, available to others. In fact we have been very successful having grown to the fourth largest church in North America. Most of our membership came from other churches so you can image how we are viewed in some circles. 

But just as we are a missionary church and seek new members, we also have strict guidelines to which members must adhere. Some members leave the church over these things. Being uncompromising rankles some members especially those who want to preach their own views in our Churches while desiring to be considered authoritative and legitimate. But we are a structured Church and all authority concerning doctrine comes from a prophet and 12 apostles just as in Christ’s time. If these people don’t recant and get back to the official Church doctrine they are excommunicated. Personal conduct such as adultery and homosexuality or other sex offenses are cause for excommunication too and a fair number of members are dropped from the roles of the church every year for those reasons. There are those who leave for other reasons too.

 Over the years there has grown up a substantial number of ex-Mormons who have taken severe umbrage with Church disciplinary actions and have become quite vocal if not militant in their condemnation of us. Many of these ex-Mormons have joined other churches and with a few attaining positions of authority. Some make attacks on the Church a tenet of their religious doctrine. You will hear them referred to as anti-Mormons. They are not to be confused with other denominations whose theology is different from ours but refrain from the overtly militant activities of the anti-Mormons. We respect everyone’s right to believe what ever they chose however and respect legitimate dialog with those who are respectful in return.   

There other things about our theology that historic Christianity thinks are heretical too. I disagree of course. Our beliefs are not heretical or orthodox – they are heterodox.  But for our basic beliefs you can go here.

 

Posted in Anti-Mormon, Christian Love, Christian Service, Joseph Smith Jr., Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Taking Offense In The Church

Posted by JLFuller on July 15, 2008

“If you have been offended, recall that while you may have been bumped by an ecclesiastical elbow, the chip was on your shoulder long before the elbow appeared.”

“My brothers and sisters, I should like to speak of and to a particular group of important individuals. These are they who fully intend, someday, to begin to believe and/or to be active in the Church. But not yet! These are not bad individuals, but good individuals who simply do not know how much better they could be. Such individuals often stay proximate to—but do not participate fully in—the Church. They will not come inside the chapel, but neither do they leave its porch. These are they who need and are needed by the Church, but who, in part, ‘live without God in the world.’ There are reasons for your commitment to be made now, for as the rush of hours, days, and months grows stronger, the will to commit grows weaker. Events to transpire soon on this planet will dry up the options for the lukewarm, for the issues raised by Jesus are irrepressible issues!

If, however, you really do not wish to commit now, then let me warn of the following: 

Do not look too deeply into the eyes of the pleasure-seekers about you, for if you do, you will see certain sadness in sensuality, and you will hear artificiality in the laughter of licentiousness.

Do not look too deeply, either, into the motives of those who deny God, for you may notice their doubts of doubt.

Do not risk thinking the unthinkable, lest you find yourself drawn with a deep and powerful pull toward the reality that God does exist, that he loves you, and that finally there is no escaping him or his love!

Do not think too much about what you are teaching your family, for what in you is merely casualness about Christianity may, in your children, become hostility; for what you have not defended, your children may reject angrily.” Read the rest of the article by following the link: Neal A. Maxwell, The Ensign, November, 1974.

 

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Reverence Invites Revelation

Posted by JLFuller on July 14, 2008

The natural man,” Paul told us, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (.)”  “If doctrines and behavior are measured by the intellect alone, the essential spiritual ingredient is missing, and we will be misled. No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’ (; ; ; ; ; ; ; and are examples.)Moses 6:52D&C 4:7Mosiah 4:21Enos 1:151 Ne. 15:111 Jn. 3:22James 4:3Matt. 21:221 Cor. 2:13–14

“While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived. Enos, who was ‘struggling in the spirit’ said, ‘Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.’ (; While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process.Enos 1:10

The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be,” Elder Packer says. Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.”

Read the rest of the article here: Boyd K. Packer, “Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 21.

Posted in Biblical searching, Mormon, Mormonism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Born Again In Order To Understand the Things of God

Posted by JLFuller on July 12, 2008

This post is taken from an article printed in The Ensign, November 1981. It is by a truely inspired man of God. I did not appreciate Elder Romney until after I grew up. He is gone now, but the simplicity of his message is golden. He talks to the question we all face sooner or later: Are we ready to better understand the things of God?

“In the third chapter of John, it is written that Nicodemus, a very wise man, in fact a member of the Sanhedrin, came to see Jesus by night—he did not yet have enough courage to come to see him during the daytime. But he came to Jesus by night, and said:

“Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:2.)

In this statement Nicodemus unwittingly but clearly revealed the fact that he did not know who Jesus was. All he could see in the Son of God was a great teacher. This was all he could be expected to see, however, because he based his knowledge of who Jesus was upon what he had seen and heard of the Master’s miracles. Perceiving this, Jesus informed him that the knowledge of divine things could not be had through man’s normal senses”. Marion G. Romney, “Except a Man Be Born Again,” Ensign, Nov. 1981,

And so it is with the things of God. Our Savior testified that it is so. Without His assistance and the presence of The Holy Ghost human beings have only their own unlearned understanding and that of other men to guide them. But there is another plain where His help can be had in understand the things of God. The Holy Ghost can be at our side whispering of the correctness or lack of it, in our understanding.

Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” 

And so said the Savior in Matthew 16:13-17. In fact this principle is foundational to Christ’s Kingdom for he said in the next verse

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This personal revelation that Peter experienced and Christ remarked could not be had through man’s normal senses was later to be made available to all when He said he would build His Church upon it that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The Savior continued with Nicodemus –

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” said Jesus. (John 3:3.)

Although Nicodemus was wise in the things of the world, he could not understand this simple statement of truth. As a matter of fact, his answer revealed amazement:

“How can a man be born when he is old?” he said. “Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4.)

Jesus, still persisting in his efforts to get him to understand, continued: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.)

Here we have the Savior saying that the kingdom of God can neither be seen nor entered except one be born again.

But Nicodemus still could not understand. Jesus then stated the great law: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” That is, that which we learn through our normal senses has to do with this earth. “And that which is born of the Spirit,” he said, “is spirit.” (John 3:6.) The things that we learn through the process of inspiration are of God, of the Spirit.

Everyone who would know God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, must receive such knowledge by the Spirit. Church members have, of course, been through the process. They have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church and have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through these ordinances the door is unlocked. Submission to this is absolutely essential to rebirth. But to obtain life eternal one must so humble and purify himself that he in fact receives through the power of the Holy Ghost a personal witness that God is his Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and our personal Savior as well as the Redeemer of the world.

 

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism, testimony, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mormon Church’s Biggest Problem is

Posted by JLFuller on July 11, 2008

Growth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints takes all of it’s leadership from within the congregation. There is no professional ministry pool from which to draw bishops, counselors, stake presidents and so forth. Usually, leaders have been members for years and have experienced all the various aspects of governing a ward (congregation) or stake (diocese). But phenomenal growth in places where the Church had little or no previous presence has created a dearth of qualified leadership schooled and experienced in administration duties and particularly the ecclesiastical and group leadership positions. Africa has seen explosive growth in the few years as nearly 200,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, South Africans have become members. Three temples have been built to serve the burgeoning Mormon population in black Africa. South America, in particularly Brazil with its six temples, is another area of huge growth.  Fifteen temples are currently open and providing eternal blessings for the Saints of that continent.  
 

 

Posted in Mormon, Mormonism | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Put The Holy Ghost in Your Life

Posted by JLFuller on July 10, 2008

“When we invite the Holy Ghost to fill our minds with light and knowledge, He ‘quickens’ us, that is to say, ‘enlightens and enlivens the inner man or woman.” “Each of us knew that the journey to exaltation would be long, strenuous, and sometimes lonely, but we also knew that we would not travel alone. Heavenly Father provides all who fulfill the prerequisites of faith, repentance, and baptism with a companion and guide, the Holy Ghost.” Elder Keith K. Hilbig of the Seventy http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-14,00.html.

 

 

Elder Hilbig says we notice a measurable difference in our souls. We feel strengthened, filled with peace and joy, spiritual energy and enthusiasm and both enhance our natural abilities. We yearn to become a holier person and accomplish more than we could on our own. But there is a price or contribution to be paid if you will. It isn’t predetermined or fixed but is determined by each of us individually.  If we set our contribution very low we may not be able to avail ourselves of all the Spirit has to offer or we may even quench Him from our life. But if we set the contribution very high there is “an abundant harvest”. So how do we determine our current contribution?

 

 

“We determine the level of our current personal contribution by examining our present choices and priorities against questions such as these:”

 

·     Do I spend more time with sports than Church attendance or callings?

·     If I have a free day, do I choose to attend the temple or to visit the mall?

·     Do I resort to computer games or surfing the Internet rather than offering meaningful service to others in my home and community?

·     Do I read the newspaper religiously but find it difficult to read the scriptures daily?

 

Regardless of where you attend Church, this message works for all. Follow the link above to read the entire piece.

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Give The Lord Equal Time

Posted by JLFuller on July 6, 2008

Taken from a talk delivered at Brigham Young University, March 12, 1996.  Satan wants your destruction. It’s that simple. Your defense is equally simple—live basic gospel principles.

 “When I was a mission president, a fine elder came to me. I asked, “How can I help you?”

“President,” he said, “I think I’m losing my testimony.” I asked him how that could be possible.

“For the first time I have read some anti-Mormon literature,” he said. “I have some questions, and nobody will answer them for me. I am confused, and I think I am losing my testimony.”

I asked him what his questions were, and he told me. They were the standard anti-Church issues, but I wanted a little time to gather materials so I could provide meaningful answers. So we set up an appointment ten days later, at which time I told him I would answer every one of his questions. As he started to leave, I stopped him. “Elder, you’ve asked me several questions here today,” I said. “Now I have one for you.”

“Yes, President?”

“How long has it been since you’ve read from the Book of Mormon?” I asked.

His eyes dropped. He looked at the floor for a while. Then he looked at me. “It’s been a long time, President,” he confessed.

“All right,” I said. “You have given me my assignment. It’s only fair that I give you yours. I want you to promise me that you will read in the Book of Mormon for at least one hour every day between now and our next appointment.” He agreed that he would do that.

Ten days later he returned to my office, and I was ready. I pulled out my papers to start answering his questions. But he stopped me.

“President,” he said, “that isn’t going to be necessary.” Then he explained, “I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.”

“Well, that’s great,” I said. “But you’re going to get answers to your questions anyway. I worked a long time on this, so you just sit there and listen.”

And so I answered all of those questions, and then asked, ‘Elder, what have you learned from this?’ And he said, ‘Give the Lord equal time.’ “

Follow the link to read the rest of the story.

M. Russell Ballard, “How to Find Safety and Peace,” New Era, Nov 1997, 4 http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=03aa0e2cbc3fb010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

 

 

Posted in Anti-Mormon, Biblical searching, Christian bible, Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism, testimony | 8 Comments »

Why Do Mormons Leave The Church?

Posted by JLFuller on July 5, 2008

It is easy to blame people who loose their testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel as we understand and teach it. Sometimes we say they just didn’t try hard enough or they allowed their weakness to lead them astray or have some other reason for explaining the phenomenon. But it isn’t just Mormons who leave. Certainly the 300,000 former Baptists in the Deep South had their reasons for converting to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I suppose there are about as many reasons as there are people who convert – at least as they see it. In some cases the Holy Ghost provides the confirmation we seek but probably not in each case. 

 

Years ago, a prospective member had to wait a year before being baptized.  Even today members who marry outside the temple have to wait a year before being sealed. It may be a worthiness thing but I have to think most need time to contemplate and thoroughly understand the step they are taking. The implication is people make decisions based on incomplete or erroneous information. That is part of the  human condition. I think there is a higher order of understanding where such judgments are made with Divine help and to get there we have to get better control of the natural man. Not everyone is ready at the same point in their lives. I talk a little about that below.

  

Others say about former Mormon’s they evangelized that when presented with the truth, as they understand it, it resonated. Maybe thier version did resonate for some. But thier story is still just their version of the story we present. They have an opinion just as we our version. It resonates among some too. We humans look outside ourselves when unsatisfied with life. We seek answers to our questions. We want someone to fill in the blanks and be a source of truth. We want someone we can absolutely trust. We want someone to relieve our burden. It goes beyond just looking for greener pastures. We want certainty where uncertaintly exists. Anyone who can convince us he knows the way can have our allegiance. That makes being a Mormon harder – at least until we gain control over the natural man and achieve a plain where we can have the constant presence of the Holy Ghost.

 

No one wants to believe he messed things up, is not good enough or strong enough or, as is the the case with some Mormons, does not believe he will ever receive the Holy Ghost’s confirmation. So he may look at the brighter or more positive things the other guy presents and think it could be better. In one way, that is a positive thing. It makes us willing to try new things in an attempt to live a better life or in some other way improve our lot. 

 

But is it the Holy Ghost telling us to abandon our previous Church and go looking elsewhere or is it just us abandoning our discomfort with what we have become? Maybe it is something else. I suppose we all have to discover the answer ourselves. Anti-Mormons and legitimate critics alike lay claim to having the truth about the our Church and seek to prove we are not what we claim by what they believe is the unseemly behaviors of the founders of our Church. Some claim Brigham Young or others settled doctrinal questions 150 years ago despite what we teach these days. It is a favorite pass time. They protest and parade and make loud pronouncements about what they have found or what someone wrote. 

 

I think most members agree that if the Church is the restoration of the Gospel of Christ in its fullness, it should be able to stand a close inspection of all aspects of its history and leadership. I don’t disagree with that entirely. But I am old enough and well read enough and have sufficient understanding of the human condition to know that not everyone can handle the truth in all its bareness. But just as the truth must stand on its own merits, we may not be able to adequately judge the merits with the information we have.

 

That is where the Divine assistance comes in. Without it all we see is what others see. Without it, members with tender testimonies are challenged beyond their ability to understand the entirety. Without it they are left to make these judgments with only the aid of the understanding of men. I suggest that judgments with eternal significance are too important to make this way. Without Divine assistance we would make the same judgments others make when they rely solely on man’s understanding.

 

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism, testimony | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Can Anti-Mormon Ministries Be Trusted?

Posted by JLFuller on July 4, 2008

In the academic and professional worlds, legitimate researchers submit their work for peer review. This is the process where communities of qualified experts in the same field scrutinize and impartially review submitted research papers.  Publications which have not undergone peer review are generally regarded as suspicious by scholars and professionals. Such is the work of every anti-Mormon “ministry” this writer reads. In fact, I have yet to find an anti-Mormon group who engages in peer review for any of their work at any time. Therefore, those who engage in such activities can not be taken seriously. That doesn’t mean everything originating from a given writer or group must be peer reviewed. But if they never submit papers or research work can they honestly claim it is legitimate? Certainly not. But there are legitimate organizations such as FairLDS.org and The Maxwell Institute that do submit work for review in legitimate publications. I think readers should know who does and who does not follow this practice. All of us need and want resources we can trust to do the hard work of discovery. I need and want informed and educated opinions in order to form my own. Otherwise I have to do all the work myself. We want to know what the experts have discovered and how it relates to us. But we want good information not junk. That is why we go to these sources – they know what they are talking about.  

 

Most anti-Mormon groups seldom if ever ask for a comment from the Church before publishing. You would think they would want to know. But the Church’s comments have no bearing because these people don’t care about truthfulness when it comes to the LDS Church. They are not looking for answers but ammunition. These same groups have used the same old lines for decades despite having current information available – information which disputes and corrects misunderstandings and distortions. One group, Mormon Research Ministries, even rejects the term anti-Mormon as being analogous to a racial slur. They prefer “critic”, a term usually reserved for intellectual or professional reviewers. But MRM, Living Hope Ministries and others never submit their “research” for legitimate peer review. I invite others to correct me if I am wrong.  But yet they claim it to be accurate, fair and honest, none of which is supported by outside reviewers, at least that I can find. Their rhetoric is the same old twaddle that has been addressed by the Church for decades. Their “facts” deliberately misinform and are generally untrustworthy. I am biased, I admit that. But I am not blinded by my bias. I can be corrected.

 

So if these are not legitimate sources of information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, what are they? I suggest they are anti-Mormon propaganda mills. The Oxford English Dictionary says propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.”  http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/propaganda?view=uk I present other sites below where anti-Mormon claims are answered. This is not new information.  The Church has answered the claims and responded to these people’s comments and questions since the restoration but yet our detractors still bring them up as though Church leadership had never addressed them. As readers will find, the Church has not and does not avoid tough questions. Sometimes the Church leadership just doesn’t have an answer. But by the same token, the Church has found that answering the same old questions from the same groups time and time again is without merit. The anti-Mormons keep saying the same things about us no matter what we tell them. And MRM is right in the middle of it. It makes MRM’s claim to be legitimate critics ludicrous. Remember, this has nothing to do with doctrine or theology, it is about behavior.

 

Does having a different point of view about LDS theology make one anti-Mormon? Not to my way of thinking. We all understand things differently. Even eye witnesses have different stories of the same event. Just ask a traffic cop investigating an automobile accident. (I have first hand experience in this area having been a policeman.) Understanding things differently is part of the human experience. It is not offensive. But what determines if one is anti-Mormon is behavior not belief.

 

Reverend Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries in Utah is an example to emulate. He is a Baptist Minister who has profound and fundamental differences in theology and evangelizes among Mormons. But he corrects himself and others when advised he is in error about LDS theology, teaching or belief. He does not march, carry picket signs, drag a book of Mormon on the sidewalk with a string, or parade his congregation in front of temples or other church buildings in protest. He has differences but he is respectful and honest in expressing them which speaks loudly about his character. Do I agree with his understanding of God’s nature and our relationship to him? No. But remember, being anti-Mormon is about behavior not theology.

 

So, in the end, can anti-Mormon ministries be trusted? Not to my way of thinking. But you have to decide that for yourself. You have to ask yourself if you want well researched and documented information or opinion and propaganda masquerading as fact. You have a choice – even among those whose theology differs from ours. 

 

I refer readers to: http://www.lightplanet.com/response/index.html, www.fairlds.org, www.lds.org, http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/, http://farms.byu.edu/, and http://www.byutv.org/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anti-Mormon, Biblical searching, Christian bible, Greg Johnson, Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism, Standing Together Ministries | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »