Thursday, August 28, 2008

If history doesn't matter...

This is a letter that I have wanted to post for a few days now but I did not feel right about using someone else’s work. But, as I read it again, it is just too spot-on to not post. It was written on by a lady named “howdimissthat”. She is the wife of a Bishop and has doubted the church for a while now. She just started to discuss her issues with her husband because it came time to renew her temple recommend and she could not do it unless she lied and she was not willing to do that. I respect her honesty and love reading what she has to say. This letter is in response to her sister’s comments on how the history of the LDS church is not important. It is with her permission that I am using this.

Yes, history is history, but the church is based and exists because of its history. Without the grove, the prayer, we have nothing, no history no church. As Pres. Hinckley said either the first vision happened or it didn't, you can look up the rest of that quote if you would like but it is history so maybe it doesn't matter anymore. The church is based on its history. A testimony is based on truth. If the history has been tampered with, and the church exists because of the history, then what do we base the testimony on? The history is our salvation. Every revelation is based on its history, when it came, how it came, who was told, what was said, that's its history, no history means it never happened. How many times have we been told if we don't know the history of our country we are bound to repeat the same mistakes from the past. History is critical to keep us from repeating the same mistakes. If history doesn't matter then a good portion of the BoM was unnecessary, it is a history of the Lamanites, only the doctrine should have been passed on if the history wasn't important to our salvation. The Bible, a history book, is it unimportant to our salvation too?

I don't expect perfection or a pretty past but I do expect honesty. The history isn't the biggest problem; it's that I have never been told the true history, just the white washed version. If history doesn't matter why change it to make it more palatable? Leave it as it was originally recorded. Changing it changes everything. The lesson manuals are full of history, their version, not the facts. If history doesn't matter why bring it up at all, anywhere? If history doesn't matter why re-enact the pioneer trek. If history doesn't matter why did the church build a museum to contain its history or a new library? If history doesn't matter why repent, it's history and history doesn't matter. If history doesn't matter why are we told to keep a journal, it is a history and of no value and there is nothing to be learned from it. If history doesn't matter why are we continually told to follow those who have gone before us and learn from their history? Or are we to handpick only the best stories and let the rest go as unimportant. Or should we change the history to better reflect what we prefer to believe?

Satan is the father of all lies, we have been told lies, I did not create the lies I only discovered them but I am paying a high price for not accepting the lies, being honest with myself and with my family. I couldn't quote all the scripture about the importance of being honest and the importance of honesty to our salvation; do those scriptures exclude the leaders? Is the beginning of the 13th article of faith still in effect? Are the ordinary members the only ones expected to be honest with our fellow men?

I have only been offended by the lack of honesty in presenting our history. It is shameful we exist because of our history and then deny its importance when it becomes a problem. This has nothing to do with the trust and love I have for my husband. This has nothing to do with the trust I have in the Lord. This has nothing to do with expecting perfection, I do not expect perfection. I do expect honesty; I don't think that is too much to ask from men of God.

I could not agree more!

Irony and Contradictions

I prefer to post original ideas on my blog and try to refrain from posting exact ideas from other people, this list was too good to pass up. A member of made this list of Irony and Contradictions they see in the Mormon church.

-300 pound Mormons, on their way back from the desert bar at the buffet for the second time, who look down their noses at the marathon runner who is finishing off her modest meal with the glass of red wine her doctor has told her will improve her heath.

-About to leave missionaries who are celebrated by the largest crowds of their obscure lives, while simultaneously being told that the rush they feel in the midst of this momentarily adulation is due to the fact that they are finally "keeping their eye single to the Glory of God." The honors of men have nothing to do with what they feel. Ditto for the GAs.

-Feeling confident for years that I was so much better off relying upon the arm of God than the arm of flesh, and then finding that the arm of God was in fact the flabby old arms of Packer, GBH et al.

-Having to go to tithing settlement to "settle" with the lord, yet the church's finances go unchecked.

-Maybe the biggest irony is becoming one of those apostates I thought were all bitter and miserable, but being happier than I ever have in my life.

-Whenever I said "I know this church is true" there was always a nagging doubt inside. It was a slight physical twang in my chest. It would have sent the polygraph needle swinging. Now, whenever I say "The church is a fraud." I feel completely confident and comfortable in my answer.

-The boiling frog parable: Sin gets you a little bit at a time, without you realizing it; and before you know it, you are dead.
Contrast that with:
Milk before meat: New members and investigators can't handle the whole truth. They need to be spoon-fed a little bit at a time until they have a testimony.

-On the one hand claiming that gospel principles are "beautiful in their simplicity." On the other hand, when things get messy or don't make sense, "the gospel isn't supposed to be logical.”

-I love the contradiction between the 'plain and precious truths" and "Well, we don't know the answer to that question. It will all make sense in the next life."

-Free agency applies except in the church, then it is all about unquestioning obedience.

-Feelings ("the witness of the HG") but you can only believe those feelings if they tell you that church is true!

-Secret Combinations vs. The Temple Ceremony

-The "Restoration" of the "Apostasy." I mean what other church is better at changing ordinances, teaching false doctrine, pretending prophecy, and modifying their foundation than the good old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?!!!

-While the modern mainstream LDS church abhors and condemns any sexual activity outside of marriage, 19th-century church leaders were having sex with up to dozens of women to whom they were not legally married.

-And while 19th-century church leaders proclaimed for decades that polygamy was God's form of marriage, and that polygamy was necessary for salvation, and that monogamy was concocted by pagan Romans etc.---the modern LDS church is possibly the most anti-polygamous religion on earth.

-We have prophets, seers and revelators up the wazoo but receive no prophecies or revelations.

-Mormons who will NEVER go to see the Passion of the Christ movie because it is rated R. Wouldn’t the Bible be rated R?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Jesus Christ?

One thing that has been on my mind recently is the lack of real focus on Jesus in the everyday Mormon teachings. I’m going to get flamed for that comment but I just call it how I see it and I will show you why. Each year in Sunday School they pick a book of scripture to read and study. It usually goes in order like Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants/Pearl of Great Price, Old Testament, and New Testament. So once every four years they read the New Testament and, if the one leading the class does their job right, they should get a good amount of His teachings but that is not what always happens. In Priesthood/Relief Society Meeting, they talk about selected topics out of a manual. For the past 9 years they have used a series of manuals called “Teachings of Presidents of the Church”. (On a side note, why do they call them “Presidents” now and not “Prophets” like they used to?) Each year, the books have focused on the teachings of a specific “modern prophet”. The prophets they have focused on so far have been Spencer W. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Harold B. Lee, David O. McKay, Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, John Taylor, Brigham Young and for 2008 and 2009 they will be learning about Joseph Smith Jr. If I did my math right, that is 10 years and probably more after that, in which they will spend a full hour each Sunday learning what their “Latter-Day Prophets” have had to say about key Mormon doctrine.

I took a minute and looked at each book and sure enough there are a few lessons in each one about Jesus, but interestingly enough, there is also at least one lesson that focuses entirely on Joseph Smith. The rest of the lessons talk about things like temple work, tithing, the importance of scripture study, following modern day prophets, obedience, missionary work, prayer and service. That is just to name a few.

Obviously, the fact that the LDS church claims to have a living prophet is unique to them so they want to emphasize that belief but in doing that, are they neglecting the most important prophet of them all?

The claim is that the LDS church is the “restored” church that Jesus himself established during his ministry. The merit of that claim is a topic for another blog but if they really believe that, why not put His teachings at the forefront of their Sunday worship? Is it not better to read directly what he taught in the New Testament and really delve into His word? Is it not His word that we will be judged against? With all he taught, I would think there would be enough material to last at least a couple of years. If they can get 2 years out of what Joseph Smith taught, I would hope they could do the same if not more from what Jesus did.

When I left the LDS church I went and got a new Bible. I got a King James Version because that is what I was used to but my new one has a feature that I really like. Any time Jesus speaks, his words are written in red so they stand out. How cool is that! It makes it just that much easier to focus on His teachings which is where our focus should be.

I can’t remember if I have used this verse before but it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV)

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

If God spoke to us by way of prophets but now speaks to use through Christ, why are we even talking about "modern prophets" anyway? There does not seem to be any need for them because we now have Christ's teachings which those living before him lacked, thus needing the prophets to remind them of what He was going to do for them. Since we live after him we need to follow His teachings above anyone else's because he fulfilled what was said through the prophets.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nooma 001 - Rain

So I have started watching this series of short messaged by Rob Bell called Nooma. I already did a post about one of his videos, but I have decided to start from the beginning and post about each one of them. What is so great about theses messages is that they are short but filled with so many deep messages.

In his first video “Rain” he tells the story of how he was on a walk with his year old son on a beautiful, clear summer morning. All of a sudden, it started to rain. He describes the rain as a “drenching rain”. It was the kind that completely soaks your body and mats your hair to your head.

His main point was that “it always rains”. It is not a matter of “if” it rains, but rather “when” it rains. We might not expect it or plan for it, but at one time or another, it will come.

Now, when it started to rain, he and his son were almost exactly half way around the lake with no shelter. At first his boy did not have a problem because the rain was light but as it intensified, he began to cry. As time when on, his cry turned into a deep, scared and passionate cry that came from deep within. He talks about the power the word “cry” has in the Bible and how God cannot ignore the cries deep cries of need.

Psalm 107:27-29 (King James Version)
27. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

He continues his story by saying that in an effort to comfort his child, he holds him close to his chest and tells him, “I love you buddy, were going make it, dad knows the way home, you’re going make it, I love you.”
He kept repeating those words until he got his son back to safety.

When you cry Jesus is close to the broken hearted and to those who admit they are scared, lost, soaking wet and confused.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. The essence of Salvation is admitting to God that you are lost and that you don’t have it all together and are hurting. Admitting that opens the door for him to enter your life and heal your pain or help you take that extra step when you feel like you cannot go any further.

While in a storm, it is common to not be able to see very far in front of you. You cannot see what lies ahead or if it will end soon. God however, can see from above what we are gong through and knows how to help us get through whatever type of storm we may be experiencing at the time.

For years, I have carried a small piece of laminated paper in my wallet that has a few paragraphs on it that relates to this idea. Until tonight, I did not know where it came from (I love the internet) but apparently it is from a LDS magazine called The Friend back in 1992. Despite my issues with its origin, I still agree with what it says.

“I learned something important that day about my father’s point of view. He could see more than I. He could tell that I would make it—but he let me find out for myself.

I think Heavenly Father is like that. When I’m thrashing along with a bad habit I can’t seem to change, or a goal I can’t seem to reach, thinking I’m not good enough and about to “sink,” I remember that Heavenly Father can see more than I. Perhaps I’m moving in the right direction and don’t know it yet. Perhaps He knows how close I am to safety and success and has the confidence in me that I lack in myself. Perhaps He wants me to learn and grow from a hard experience. Sometimes when I’m struggling the hardest, I wonder why He doesn’t “jump in” and help me. That’s when I remember my dad saying, “You were doing fine.”

I know Father is watching. He’ll help me when I really need Him to. But for now I just need to keep kicking.”

I have not reached the point yet to where I can take that leap of faith and cry out to God but I will admit that there have been many times recently where my desire to do so has been very strong, only to be stopped by my lack of trust/faith in his existence and ability to help.

In the scriptures it talks about how the Lord carries us like a father carries a son. That must be an awesome feeling.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Was that really false doctrine?

Last night I went with my wife to visit some of her friends that she had not seen for a few years. They are all members of the LDS church so a discussion about religion was inevitable. There were a few things that were said that made me raise my eyebrow.

At times they said some really honest/transparent statements which was refreshing. One of the first things mentioned was that Joseph F Smith (I think that is who he said is was) actually took the “History of the Church” that was written and took out all of the embarrassing or negative parts. I must say he is the only one who I have ever heard actually admit that their history has been hidden or whitewashed. The thing that puzzled me though is that it did not seem to bother him. He just passed it off as fact but of no real significance. I don’t understand how they can openly say that the Mormon church is not being truthful but not see that as a red flag.

The other thing I thought was interesting was that one of the guys there was a seminary teacher for the church. He told a story about how one day he was teaching and he inadvertently taught “false doctrine”. It happened to be on a day when he was being observed and after class, he was called out on it and had to correct his statements the next day. I asked what the false doctrine was and he said that it was the idea that God was once not just a man but a “savior” like Jesus. Oddly enough, I had earlier this week read the King Follet Sermon which was given by Joseph Smith in the Conference of the church in April, 1844 (just 2 months before he died). It is in this sermon that the Mormon belief on the nature of God was defined and the topic he said was a “false doctrine” was addressed. Here are some quotes from the sermon.

It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

The scriptures inform us the Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power – to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious – in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.

I tried to find where Jesus says those things and the closest thing I would find that was in John 10.

17.Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18.No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

If that is what he is talking about then I think it is a bit of a stretch.

Why am I writing about this particular part of the King Follet Sermon? Because it points out not only the outlandish claims of Joseph Smith but it also shows how there is no unity in doctrine amongst the members today. Joseph Smith clearly states that Jesus laid down his life and took it up again “as my Father did”. To me, that cannot be taken any other way but to say that Joseph Smith taught that God was once a savior and that he laid down his life when he was on his earth like Christ did on ours. Somehow, the person who was observing the seminary teacher took it upon himself to correct a teaching that really was not out of line with what Joseph proclaimed. This teacher believes to this day that he was in the wrong, even after going over the quotes again.

The LDS church really has failed to solidify their doctrine and make it clear what they really do believe. That fosters an atmosphere of confusion and really makes conversation hard. I’ve heard it said a lot of times that getting a firm answer on doctrine is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Impossible!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I have been reading a lot lately trying to find my course in life now that my Mormon path lead to a dead-end. I'm still not sure exactly which trail I want/need to travel but I'm starting to enjoy the freedom found in marking my own way. About a month ago I came upon this poem that I had read before; in fact it was hanging in my mom’s home office for years. It is only now, at my current place in life that I can begin to understand the wisdom found in its words. I’ve started to read it each day and it is my hope that as time goes by, I will be able to emulate the ideas expressed in such eloquent terms.


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
however humble;
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

by Max Ehrmann

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mormon Doctrine of Deity

While reading the “Mormon Coffee” blog the other day, I read a quote from Parley P. Pratt that I thought was interesting enough to post about here. For those who don’t know, Parley Pratt was one of the original 12 Apostles in the LDS church. This quote originally appeared in a church paper called “the Prophet” but was also used in a book called Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts who was a member of the First Council of Seventy (a step below the 12 Apostles) for 45 years. On FAIR (a site dedicated to defending Mormonism) they talk about Roberts and this book.

This classic book is by Elder Brigham H. Roberts, a General Authority noted for his doctrinal knowledge and literary skills.

Mormon Doctrine of Deity is one of the most comprehensive statements and scriptural presentations of the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the nature of God in print.

Mormon Doctrine of Deity is highly readable. It is scriptural, it is logical, it is comprehensive.

Here are the main points Parley P. Pratt made about the Mormon belief regarding the nature of Deity.

What is God? He is a material intelligence, possessing both body and parts. He is in the form of man, and is in fact of the same species; and is a model, or standard of perfection to which man is destined to attain: he being the great Father and head of the whole family.

He can go, come, converse, reason, eat, drink, love, hate, rejoice, possesss [sic] and enjoy. He can also travel space with all the ease and intelligence necessary, for moving from planet to planet, and from system to system.

This being cannot occupy two distinct places at once. Therefore, he cannot be (in person) everywhere present….

What is Jesus Christ? He is the son of God, and is in every way like his father,… He is material intelligence, with body, parts and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones. He can…perform all things even as the Father—possessing the same power and attributes. And he, too, can travel space, and go from world to world, and from system to system, precisely like the Father; but cannot occupy two places at once.

What are angels? They are intelligences of the human species. Many of them are offsprings of Adam and Eve. That is, they are like Enoch or Elijah, been translated; or, like Jesus Christ, been raised from the dead;… They can go or come on foreign missions, in heaven, earth, or hell; and they can travel space, and visit the different worlds, with all the ease and alacrity with which God and Christ do the same,…

What are spirits? They are material intelligences, possessing body and parts in the likeness of the temporal body; but not composed of flesh and bones, but of some substance less tangible to our gross senses in our present life; but tangible to those in the same element as themselves. In short, they are men in embrio [sic] –intelligences waiting to come into the natural world and take upon them flesh and bones, that through birth, death, and the resurrection they may also be perfected in the material organization. Such was Jesus Christ, and such were we before we came into this world, and such we will be again, in the intervening space between death and the resurrection.

What are men? They are the offspring of God, the Father, and brothers of Jesus Christ. They were once intelligent spirits in the presence of God, and were with him before the earth was formed. They are now in disguise as it were, in order to pass through the several changes, and the experience necessary to constitute them perfect beings.

They are capable of receiving intelligence and exaltation to such a degree, as to be raised from the dead with a body like that of Jesus Christ’s, and to… go on missions from planet to planet, or from system to system: being Gods, or sons of God, endowed with the same powers, attributes and capacities that their heavenly Father and Jesus Christ possess.

What are all these beings taken together, or summed up under one head? They are one great family, all of the same species, all related to each other, all bound together by kindred ties, interests, sympathies, and affections. In short they are all Gods; or rather, men are the offspring or children of the Gods, and destined to advance by degrees, and to make their way by a progressive series of changes, till they become like their Father in heaven, and like Jesus Christ their elder brother.

Thus perfected, the whole family will possess the material universe, that is, the earth, and all other planets, and worlds, as “an inheritance incorruptible undefiled and that fadeth not away.” They will also continue to organize, people, redeem, and perfect other systems which are now in the womb of Chaos, and thus go on increasing their several dominions, till the weakest child of God which now exists upon the earth will possess MORE DOMINION, MORE PROPERTY, MORE SUBJECTS, and MORE POWER and GLORY than is possessed by Jesus Christ or by his Father; while at the same time Jesus Christ and his Father, will have dominion, kingdoms, and subjects increased in proportion.

Such are the riches, glories, blessings, honors, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, held out by the system of materialism.

Such the wealth, the dignity, the nobility, the titles and honors to which “Mormons” aspire. Such the promises of him whose word can never fail.

With these hopes and prospects before us, we say to the Christian world, who hold to immateriality, that they are welcome to their God–their life—their heaven, and their all.

They claim nothing but that which we throw away, and we claim nothing but that which they throw away. Therefore, there is no ground for quarrel, or contention between us. (Mormon Doctrine of Deity, pages 255-258 emphasis added)

The article is printed in its entirety in Roberts book.

The bold parts are the one that really stuck out in my mind. I have always understood that churches believe that God is Omnipresent (present in all places at all times) but according to Pratt, this is not the case. It is the LDS belief that God, because he has a real body of flesh and bone, cannot be in more than one place at a time. Now, I vaguely remember being taught that when I was a child, that both God and Jesus can only be in one place but the Holy Ghost can be everywhere at once because he does not have a body. Looking at it now, I see how this is in stark contrast to the normal Christian belief.

The other part that really hit me was where he talks about how even the “weakest child of God” will possess more power, dominion, property, and subjects then God/Jesus. WOW, I have never heard that before and in truth, it baffles me. How can they teach that we will become not just LIKE God but BETTER then God? Is it not taught that God is “Omnipotent” or “Almighty” which means having absolute power over all? According to Pratt, it seems that God is not Omnipresent or Omnipotent and if you look at Mormon doctrine about how God came to be, having once been a normal man himself, later being exalted to the status of a God, he is also not the “Alpha” or “Omega” spoken of in Revelations. So if Mormon doctrine teaches that God is not the Alpha and Omega, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, then what on earth do they believe God is?

Reading things like this really make me wonder how they can even make the argument that they are Christian. These teaching are about as contradictory as you can get with the Trinitarian Christian world.