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Posts Tagged ‘anti-Mormonism’

1 Nephi 14:9 – The Great and Abominable Church- Which One Is It?

Posted by JLFuller on January 24, 2009

Is there one evil and corrupt church that is the church of the devil and which one do Mormons think it is? The Book of Mormon passage (1st Nephi 14: 9) that many misunderstand and from which many people (a few Mormons too) think seperates Mormons from everyone else really provides a clearer understanding of this doctrine.  It says Behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.” Some cite comments made by a few very early church members and leaders, right after the church was founded, as supporting the notion that this is one particular church. They were in error. The LDS Church does not teach and does not believe that any other established church as we know them is the Great and Abominable Church.  Rather we believe the “church” spoken of is all the people who fight against God. The next verse helps to clarify. 

Verse 10 continues. ” Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.I suppose some used this verse to suggest that there are only two players – Mormons and everyone else. But that just isn’t so and never has been.  

Verse 12 further identifies who the players are. “I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.” 

Just as is said, the number of the people in God’s church is few and they are on all the face of the earth. We interpret that as meaning members of God’s Church are all those that seek after Him and seek to have Him guide their lives. They are many good people who abide by and seek to live their lives according to God’s will in whatever light that has been given them. These can be and are people in every religious denomination. The others, members of the Great and Abominable Church, are those who corrupt, persecute, defame, malign and abuse people with whom they disagree and over whom they seek advantage or dominion. They fight against godliness. They seek to destroy and enslave. In short, they seek the things of this world and reject God.  

We believe  the gospel has always been on the earth, But it was only in its fullness for certain periods of time and then only according to how much the people could accept and live. We believe that to hear, know and understand the gospel but not live it, or abide by it, results in condemnation. In many cases, giving the people everything would just set them up to fail. So as an act of a loving father, God only allowed as much as the people could live.  But it would have been available if the people were ready for it. 

The advent of Jesus Christ restored the full gospel to the earth once again. But because of the wickedness of the people, and the Great and Abominable church, it was lost when the last apostle died. The record of the entire gospel – which we know was under attack even during the time of Christ and the Apostles – was further attacked afterward. Eventually, much of the record of the Gospel was removed or distorted and only a part of it remains in the traditional canon today. God had said it would happen but that He would restore it in the end times. The Book of Mormon is that restored Gospel. It was being kept by a separate group of God’s people on the American continent.   

Within the group of people identified in Nephi as those who are not members of the Great and Abominable Church, you find the Mormons. While we were still in our pre-mortal life, we took upon ourselves the obligation to take this message to the rest of the world. We understand and accept that some will find a certain resonance with what we claim and will want to learn more. Others, for various reasons, will not.  That doesn’t make them part of the other group though. They may have hardened their hearts and been swayed by the craftiness of men. It is expected.

All people learn and are ready to receive in their own time. It may mean those who reject the message in this life will learn of the fullness of the gospel after they pass over to the other side where they will be taught by Christ’s missionaries as it says in 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.”

So, we Mormons are very much a part of the Church of the Lamb of God just as Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics and Jews and all the other good and godly people of the earth. We also accept that membership in any one church or religious group does not exclude a person from membership in the Great and Abominable Church too. Now I understand some people are going say this is too black and white and that there are many shades of gray. That is true. There are many interpretations of scripture that lead to long and deep discussions. But for a short hand version of who Mormons are and how we see ourselves fitting into the world, this I think works – for now.  I invite others to put a finer point on my comments if they wish to do so. I am coachable. 

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The Journal of Discourses – Not an Authorized Source of Mormon Doctrine

Posted by JLFuller on January 12, 2009

Just about everyone who questions LDS doctrine cites the JoD as an authorized source of true Mormon doctrine but is it a reliable source of current Mormon beliefs and practices? No, it is not. So I suggest that people who quote from it refrain from saying it is.  If it is important enough for you to comment on, check with an authoritative organ of the Church for an authentic answer to your questions or response to a statement before you publish what you think we believe.  We understand people make mistakes. We all do. Certainly I err and have to revisit something I said to clarify. But deliberately and knowingly misinforming others is not a mistake.  Don’t get caught up in bearing false witness. 

So why isn’t it authoritative? The JoD was written and printed in Great Britian between 1854 and 1886.  According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a MacMillian publication edited by religion professors at BYU and some others, “It served as the printed word of the LDS Church for members who had no access to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. It most often published sermons of Church leaders which were not always considered to be official statements of doctrine.”  At best it is an historic resource which often contains authorized doctrine of the times, but not always. 

Former BYU Religion Department Dean Dr. Robert Millet  presented a paper in 2004 to the faculty on Church doctrine. In it he again re-iterated how offical doctrine is determined. In his presentation he said   “…let me affirm at the outset that I understand implicitly that the right and authority to declare, interpret, and clarify doctrine rest with living apostles and prophets.” Dr. Millet re-affirmned what LDS members have been told for decades and in fact longer than that.  The prophet and the Twelve, when acting in concert, are the sole source of doctrine. Other members have no authority to declare what doctrine is. I should emphasize the living part of his statement.  There are no other authoritative sources. Our recently departed President and prophet, Gorden B. Hinckley said that a living prophet was better than a dead one, and so it is.

Authoritative sources are Church published teaching resources such as manuals and other printed documents, pamphlets, letters from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, presentations made at semi annual Conference or statements or proclamations issued by the Church. There are many highly reliable sources to which one can turn to report on Church doctrine such as Church magazines, official Church organ publications and schools such as BYU, presentations by individual General Authorities and other Church leaders. However, unless the message presented originates from one of the sources of authorized doctrine, it cannot be considered authentic. That means personal opinions don’t count even if they come from a high ranking leader. I encourage readers to read Dr. Millet’s paper and read his footnotes as a means of confirming what he said. 

Now, so I don’t mix messages here, counsel from our leaders is important. Guidance from our bishops, stake and branch presidents and others is intended to aid us in understanding gospel principles. We believe in taking their guidance and using it as an aid in our lives. When they provide us with guidance they will refer us to where their guidance comes from. We as members and they as leaders note, or should note,  when we state our opinions or those of others and if our message is not clear we hasten to clarify. Teachers are provided with training and teaching aids and manuals along with authoritative sources, from which their message is taken. In all cases, presenters of the message should have spoken with the aid and presense of The Holy Ghost after sincere prayer and supplication to the Lord. We as receivers of their message are admonished to pray for confirmation by the Holy Ghost of what is  said.

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What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?

Posted by JLFuller on January 9, 2009

Eamonn McCann, an Irish writer, writes in the Belfast Telegraph in August 2008, concerning the Catholic response to The Church of Jesus Christ’s of Latter Day Saints’ doctrine of baptism for the dead. The LDS Church has sought the baptism and other records owned by the Catholic Church to use in doing this vicarious work. This practice and discussion has drawn a wave of comments from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In the article, McCann postulates that baptising babies makes less sense than baptising the dead. Indeeed, the baby is oblivious to the ordinance and requires an adult to act as mouth accepting the ordinance and making lifetime commitments in his stead. The infant has a lifetime to  learn about the complex belief system and then make up his mind as to whether he believes it or not and wishes to continue as a Catholic. The dead however are in a far different situation. I think the reader will find this an interesting article.

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Mormons Retreat Into Thier Testimony…

Posted by JLFuller on June 23, 2008

One fellow accused me and other Mormons of retreating into our testimonies when confronted with what he described as irrefutable evidence that we were wrong or misguided. He said we had no response to the facts of our misguided positions. I have never heard that before, but I suppose to an outsider that might make sense. What we are careful not to do is respond to attacks with attacks.

 

John 10: 27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  When confronted with anger and hostility we bear our testimony because we know the Holy Ghost will bear witness to the honest in heart that what we say is true. If it does not resonate at that time, it might later. It is my experience that the angry person usually does not listen. But later on, as they think about what we said, the Spirit may soften their hearts. 

 

Below I said “If I use the term pro-social, most people understand what that means. If I use the term anti-social, they understand that too. Overt, hostile words are anti-social. Most people understand that is bad and they understand why. But there are some who insist it is a good thing to say what they want in any way they want. To those people I ask “good for whom?” Good for the recipient of your brutish behavior? Is it good for you to just get it off your chest? I don’t see any benefit in alienating people you disagree with. What is it you hope to accomplish? Do you think the other guy is listening? Do you think other readers/listeners are impressed? No my friends, there is a better way. It is more challenging but it works where other methods fail. The other way is Christ’s way. Gal 5:22 ‘“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.’ ”

Now I want to briefly approach a sensitive subject. That is, imputing motive to behavior. First, my bona fides; in college I was an education major but they never taught much about personal growth in that discipline in those days. But the State did. I was a case manager in a government agency for twenty years and managing specialized and mixed caseloads of 100 to 300 adults. The tax payers spent a lot of money teaching and training me to read other people and observe destructive behaviors.

 

The behaviors I saw in those adults are the same behaviors I see in many of the people who publish anti-Mormon comments. Thankfully I have not witnessed it here yet, although I take umbrage with the darkening clouds around some comments. Notice I said anti-Mormon and not historic Christians. There is a difference. I have contemplated this subject for several days now and whether to talk about it given my blog is dedicated to comity and not confrontation. But I think what I have to say here can shed some light on why some people do what they do and how credible their remarks are.  

 

So why do some people who claim to be Christian continue to behave this way even when Christ refuted the practice? I suggest it is because they are addicted to treating others this way. They love the behavior more than their message. It provides what they are seeking – that is, a sense of dominance and power over others. They can say what they want and no one is going to punish them. There is no real sanction. In sociological terms, it works. For adults, this technique is used at home too. It gives the perpetrator a sense of invulnerability and control. It has nothing to do with religion. I suggest when we come across these people we examine the behavior and then decide if we are interested in their message.

 

 

 

 

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Pre-conceived Notions

Posted by JLFuller on June 19, 2008

“We used to have on the front of the Old Testament syllabus at Duke* a cartoon and it showed a young man lying on the floor thumbing through his scriptures and his wife was standing over him and he’s saying to her ‘Go away, leave me alone. I’m looking for a biblical text to support my pre-conceived notion!’ Roger R. Keller, Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU  www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2003_Grace_of_Apologetics.html

 

In his piece, Dr. Keller takes from the Book of Mormon: He quotes 3 Nephi 11: 29-30: “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the Spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine that such things should be done away.”

 

I think refusing to consider the other side of the story is not a doctrinal thing – it is a form of non-verbal violence. Non-verbal violence is similar to passive-aggressive behavior or more accurately sabotage. The perpetrator’s behavior in effect is communicating a willingness to breach the minimum decorum we expect from each other. That is, I will trust and honor you and be trustworthy in return. In our discussions here, refusing to accommodate another persons most sacred beliefs and in fact denigrating them publicly, is defacto aggression. It is an anger response. That is not to say we all have to agree with everyone else, we just have to accommodate the legitimacy of their closely held beliefs. The real world effect of such destructive behavior is the diminution of the bond that makes communities work. Notice again I am not talking about doctrine. The focus is behavioral. We may all have differences of opinion and consider one element of fact as more persuasive than another and come to entirely different positions. That is to be expected. But what we cannot do, and must not do, is reject the other persons right to have his position respected and given due consideration.  

 

If I use the term pro-social, most people understand what that means. If I use the term anti-social, they understand that too. Overt hostile words are anti-social. Most people understand that to be a bad thing and they understand why. But there are some who insist that because they have a right to make such comments that it is a good thing too. To those people I ask “good for whom?” Good for the recipient of your brutish behavior? Is it good for you to just get it off your chest? I don’t see any benefit in alienating people you disagree with. What is it you hope to accomplish? Do you think the other guy is listening? Do you think other readers/listeners are impressed? No my friends, there is a better way. It is more challenging but it works where other methods fail. The other way is Christ’s way. Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..”

 

I came across a fellow writing on his blog recently, lamenting that only 2500 or so of his denomination at any one time ever took a week off to go to another city and witness. Mormons, on the other hand, had 50,000 to 60,000 people serving two year missions and they paid their own way. The difference I suggest is adherents to his denomination and others who follow that example are quite willing and anxious to openly attack other denominations with whom they disagree. I suggest that by their behavior they repel the Holy Spirit when they do so. Notice I said nothing about doctrine – only behavior.

 

Many years ago, four California Highway Patrol Officer were gunned down by two killers. Asked why they killed the officers, one commented “Because they got stupid. They deserved it”. The killers based their behavior on weaknesses they perceived in others. The officers did not intend to use deadly force against the killers unless there was no other way and their thinking dictated how they responded. I have often heard “killer” type comments made by others when they are talking about Mormons and others they disagree with. In essence, “We talk about them this way because…”  You can fill in the rest.

 

* Duke University, Durham North Carolina

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