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Posts Tagged ‘LDS’

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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“Mormon Prophets are False” Says the Bible. Really? Lets See…

Posted by JLFuller on August 23, 2008

 Luke 16:16 -“There is no need for prophets after John”.  This has been used  by critics of  LDS theology to prove that there was an end to the need for prophets and therefore modern Mormon prophets are false. The KGV version of the passage says

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Luke 16:16. 

What they don’t tell you is that the John talked about is John The Baptist. Matthew 11:12-13 corrects the critics claims.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

The New Centry Version makes it a bit clearer.

12 Since the time John the Baptist came until now, the kingdom of heaven has been going forward in strength, and people have been trying to take it by force.13 All the prophets and the law of Moses told about what would happen until the time John came.”

So what is The Law and The Prophets talked about in this passage? If our critics are going to use the terms as proof of our falseness they should at least know what the passage says. The Law is a book. Galations 3:10 talks about it.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Prophets is a book too. Acts 7:42 tells a bit of it.

42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

The Law and The Prophets are scriptures read in the synagogue.

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

“The Law and The Prophets are two of the three main groups of Jewish scriptures, which over time Christians called the “Old Testament,” and Jews called the “Tanakh” (a.k.a. the Hebrew Bible). The Hebrew Bible is divided into three groups of books: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. During the time of Christ, the third group or division was called “the psalms:  (Raymond Woodworth, www.lightplanet.com)”

 

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Mormons Who Go Bad – Loosing one’s Faith

Posted by JLFuller on August 10, 2008

In a bishops interview we are asked if we are living the principles of the Gospel. That is, praying, paying a full tithing, attending our meetings, living a chaste life if unmarried, observing God sanctioned sexual behavior within the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman, observing the sanctity of the Sabbath, reading the scriptures daily, regular temple worship for those with a recommend and so forth. Yet I have yet to talk with anyone who espouses the former-Mormon-turned-anti-Mormon point of view who kept the vows they made with God when they entered the waters of baptism, received confirmation and took upon themselves Temple covenants.

 

  The very manifestations of the Holy Ghost that we so regularly need are based on how well we live the promises we make to God. When we make these covenants we essentially agree to live by a higher standard than others do. We chose to rise above the normal human understanding of things and seek to understand God by changing the natural man. We acknowledge that the natural man is an enemy to God and promise to work towards being a more holy person and that we desire to be a Son of God in the biblical sense Paul talks about – that is, more Christ like. When we break our covenants we give up the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. In fact I suggest we regress to a point of no promise. In essence we loose our faith.

 

  We lose it for a variety of reasons but I suggest it is mostly due to sexually inappropriate behavior brought on by pornography which in turn leads to other worldly behaviors, adhering to worldly ideas and rejecting the counsel of the prophet and apostles. We kind of go our own way. One really devastating thing I see among some members is a commitment to the “intellectual honesty” meme. My reasoning is based on twenty five years experience working with dysfunctional people on a professional basis. These people got into trouble because they came to a place where they felt entitled to their behavior and believed they could get away with what ever they wanted to do. They bought off on the big lie.      

 

 The purpose in clinging tightly to our covenants is not to force people into a way of thinking but rather to open up the pathway to heavenly communication. The Gospel does not aim to dictate how to live but to make it so God can enter our lives and direct us. But all is hinged on us living the principles of the Gospel and rejecting the worldliness we see all around us. Worldliness is not normal for holy beings but it is normal for the natural man who is God’s enemy.

 

 Some are going to say that they can do all the things I mention above in any other faith. Of course others outside the Church can elevate themselves to a higher level of living and become more Christ like. But they can only go so far. No other faith has the authority to bind on earth and make it binding in heaven too. No one else can prepare people for a celestial existence. No one else has the authority of the priesthood. Only Christ has that authority and only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the Gospel in its fullness. If you reject this after having made the covenants of baptism and the additional covenants found within the temple I suggest you are in deep trouble. You don’t go back to a state of just not knowing as we see in the other non-members who don’t know. You have in fact rejected God. That is different than merely not knowing Him.

 

Some say they left the Church because they found God as a member of something else. But when you examine their lives you see a completely different human being than they portray to the public. More often than not you see a public “Christian” and a worldly real person underneath. I have never found it to be otherwise. But then I have only worked with a few hundred members, former members and their families. I could be wrong. One caveat – being a member in name only does not automatically include a person in the ranks of those I talk about here.

 

So, what does all this mean? Does it mean all good Mormons should reject those who have fallen away? Should we act coolly to them and their families? Certainly not. If anything we are required to show an extra measure of love and kindness to them in hopes of welcoming them back into full fellowship. But the reality is that some of these folks can do a lot misinforming and damage to Christ and the Church. They have placed us in a precarious position. On one hand we are admonished to encourage them and even be anxious for their full fellowship. On the other hand we are encouraged to inform the misinformed of the disinformation some spread about us. And so it is my sense that the honest of heart in the former member ranks make every attempt for re-instatement into the Church. They should call upon God for His guidance and follow it. But by no means should we as members be shy about correcting the damage others inflict on the Church keeping in mind the Saviors words that doing unto the least of our brethren is like doing unto Him.  

 

 (Note: More Mormons are disciplined in the Church for illegal and inappropriate sexual behaviors and financial misdealing than any other reasons according to one source although I am not aware of any publicly available statistics to support my contention. I found that to be the case with the population I supervised as a case manager too. Disciplining means being disfellowshipped or excommunicated.)

 

 

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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 »

Why Can’t I Get an Answer to…?

Posted by JLFuller on June 20, 2008

This post is in response to a question by another poster on http://blog.mrm.org/2008/06/still-no-apology/.

 

His question –

 

“JLF “The LDS perspective is that we present the message and the Holy Ghost confirms it. There is no need to argue. It is not a contest amongst men.”.

 

I wish it was that easy JLF, but it’s not. I had sought to find truth in Mormonism by praying to God multiple times to have the spirit confirm to me the truth of the church, and received nothing. I attended an LDS ward for 5 years, listening to the teachings and not once has the Holy spirit confirmed the message, even when I asked. How does one reconcile not only my situation, but countless others who either don’t receive confirmation from the holy spirit, or receiving confirmation from God/The Holy spirit about their own faith which is not LDS?

 

Many LDS on this board have said “I dont know why they dont get any confirmation, only that I received mine” and just leave it at that.. That doesn’t make any sense in any way though, do you agree? If someone sincerely asks, they are SUPPOSED to receive this confirmation. Does God/Holy spirit just decide not to talk to some people or what?

 

You’re statement was true to the point that it is the LDS perspective, but it does not hold any weight, especially for me personally.. And I truly wanted to believe it was true because my wife at the time was LDS and if there was any chance she would be seperated from me into a different Heaven because we aren’t sealed, I didn’t want that to happen. It was emotional and I cried a lot that night. But it definitely was not because I received “truth” from the Holy spirit.”

 

My reply –

 

“Jeffrey
That is a good question. It is one we all struggle with. The question many of us ask is “why can’t I get an answer to…” When you ask your bishop, he will ask if you are living the gospel principles. That is, are you praying daily, do you have faith you will receive an answer, are you living the principle even though you don’t have a spiritual confirmation yet? We learn by doing. Such is the way human beings learn. We gain a testimony by practicing. Faith precedes the miracle. Faith is built little by little – by putting into practicing those things we want to have a testimony of to see if they really work. The miracle is what happens after you accept the principle and have made it part of your life, not before. Just like reading the B of M daily results in a more Christ-like view of humanity and a closer relationship to God and Christ. Your testimony is dependant on whether you want one.”

 

This is different from a witness that the B of M is true. That is a prompting, a feeling of or understanding of truthfulness. Some people get it right away. It didn’t happen that way for me. I accepted that it is true because rejecting it created a knot in my stomach. My confirmation came from living the principles found in the B of M. One day you just know and you can’t deny it – it kind of sneaks up on you. So it is for the confirmation that The Church of Jesus Christ is true and correct. So it was when I discovered that the power of the Priesthood is real.  I have put it to the test and discovered that it is real and works. It is that way with the power of the Holy Ghost. I use it almost daily. More likely it is daily. I feel it when I write. It is like an editor sitting next to me. He plants the idea in my mind and it is up to me to express it. If I get it right I get the confirmation. If it isn’t I get a strong feeling to make corrections. If I have animus in my heart or I have otherwise driven the Holy Ghost away by my thoughts or deeds I can’t make the connection and feel its absence.  

 

But there is a caveat too. The more you know the more is expected. Fail to follow through and you loose what you had. It comes back but with some effort and humility. The key is rejecting the ways of the world and making sustained progress on the straight and narrow road. You can’t continue to think and behave in the same old ways. For me it meant living the Word of Wisdom, giving up raunchy friends and finding holy places to spend my time in. It means doing the things my Heavenly Father wants me to do.  It does not mean you have to be perfect. It just means changing your life is your priority and you have good days and bad. But you make progress by following the admonitions of the Prophet and Church leadership and that takes faith. The miracle happens after you accept the premise and start doing. You put it to the test.

 

You said you separated from or divorced your LDS wife. Apparently there was something there that was problematic. The things that cause divorce can be the things that drive the Holy Ghost away. Inappropriate sexual behavior, pornography, raunchy pass-times and so forth are definite deal breakers. Constant criticism of others, especially Church leadership, can create a severe break with the Spirit. Expressing real doubts in place of discussing problems with the bishop can deny the Spirit’s help in overcoming many problems. Sometimes you just have give up being right in order to be effective.  (That ought to generate some questions.)

 

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