The old, ongoing argument…

The argument of whether Mormons are Christians is an old one that will probably continue until Jesus returns.  My thoughts on it are nothing new nor offer any resolution to the debate.  However, it was one of the issues I needed to resolve for myself.  And that is what my blog is about…the struggles I had with Mormon doctrine and the things I learned as I began to question them.

As a Mormon, I resented people telling me that I was not a Christian, and I too was critical of those (mostly Protestant) who made the claim that we were not.  Who did they think they are?  Of course we believe in Jesus…His name is in the name of our church for heaven sake!   I made the same assumption that so many Mormon’s make, and that is the definition of a “Christian” is one who believes  Jesus Christ.

Is it true that everyone who believes in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are Mormons?  The answer is NO.  There are several break-off groups, the most well known is the FLDS (Fundamentalist…Warren Jeffs).  Mormons are very quick to tell people that they are NOT the same church as the LDS (even tho they are more aligned with Joseph Smith’s teaching than mainstream LDS).  It is a good example that you can have similar beliefs, same scripture and shared origins and not be the same religion.

I don’t know of any credible arguments that Jesus did not exist.  All have some belief in Him.  Muslims, Jews, even atheist believe that he existed and most credit Him with being a great man and teacher.  Some say he was a prophet.  But that certainly does not make them Christians.  You can’t believe different things, especially something as fundamental as the nature of God and claim you are of the same religion.

Christians believe that Jesus is God.  That he is part of  a triune God. He is equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is not a created being, He is the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end.  He has always existed and will always exist. He is also the creator of all things.  He came to earth by  divine means for one purpose and that was to provide salvation for mankind by taking on the sins of all and paying the penalty of death.  Christians believe that our hope and salvation is in Him and what He did on our behalf.   That is the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ!

The LDS doctrine is much more complex.  They too will say he is the Son Of God.  Both spiritually and literallly.  They belief in ‘Eternal Progression’ which can be difficult to explain in a simple blog entry, but basically it is the progression of man from sinful mortal to Godhood.  It also includes the belief of a premortal life, in which all mankind lived as spiritual beings with God the Father, who had ‘fathered’ our spirits along with one of his wives, becoming our ‘heavenly parents’.  Jesus was the firstborn of the spiritual children of God the Father, making him our ‘elder brother’.  They believe he came to earth by literal conception between God the Father and Mary, that his purpose was to establish the True Church, and to  atone for the sins of man, making repentance and forgiveness possible, however man will be punished for his own sins as stated in the 2nd Article of Faith.

LDS people and Christians share many similarities.  LDS people are easy to admire with their high standards and devotion to family, church & country.  In some ways, they have higher standards than most evangelical Christians do.  I know many Mormons who truly love God and strive daily to live their lives in a desire to please Him.  However…

“…they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”  Romans 10:2-4

This verse describes how I see the LDS religion, and is the verse I used to name this blog.  Much of what I have learned in my last 12 years of studying the Bible has made it clear to me that what I had been taught in my many years in Mormonism, is not the same as what the Bible teaches and what true Christianity is all about.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Polygamy…was it really from God?

Growing up in the LDS church I had learned that polygamy was a part of the ‘Restored Gospel’ a term often used to refer to the church.  I had been taught that it was a good and necessary thing, for two reasons.  First, all things had to be ‘restored’, and since polygamy had been practiced in Old Testament times, then it needed to be ‘restored’ in ‘latter-days’.  Second, God needed plural marriage to ‘grow’ the church.

I had always heard that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other early church leaders were sorrowful in this commandment.  They resisted it and dreaded having to ‘obey’ it.  However, they were faithful, godly men and accepted this very difficult commandment from God and obeyed.  I had also been taught that this was a type of ‘divine welfare system’.  Because there were so many widows & orphans that needed to be cared for, and this was God’s way of providing for them.

Having believed this, I looked upon polygamy as a charitable, noble thing that had no perversion at all.  Of course as a good and obedient LDS women, I believed what I was told to believe.  Thinking freely and coming to a different viewpoint or opinion from what the church taught was a lack of faith, and an influence of the devil.

One day I was in the public library and I came across a book entitled “The Twenty-seventh Wife” (not sure who the author was).  The book was about Ann Eliza Webb, who was the 27th and apparently the last of Brigham Young’s wives.  She was a 23 year old widow who was pressured into marrying the 66 year old, very powerful church leader.  She was an out-spoken and opinionated young women who was the only women to divorce Brigham Young. The book was written as a historical book, telling a fascinating story.  It did not try to convince the reader of the right or wrong of polygamy nor of the correctness of the LDS faith.  It just told the story with documented facts.  The book really opened my eyes to a different view of polygamy.

A few years later, I purchased the book “In Sacred Loneliness, the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” by Todd Compton. http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Loneliness-Plural-Wives-Joseph/dp/156085085X It is a fantastic, historical, well researched book on Mormon polygamy.  Written by a LDS man who again is just telling a story with documented facts.  It gives as much history as is available for each wife of Joseph Smith.  I, like many Mormons, did not realize Joseph Smith had married so many women, some of which were still married to another man.

Needless to say I view polygamy much different today.  Here are a few facts that influenced my belief:

  • God NEVER commanded polygamy.  Like divorce, it was implemented and practiced according to man’s laws, not God’s.
  • The Bible gives many examples of how polygamy caused problems…Abraham & Sarah, Jacob & Rachel, David, Solomon, etc.
  • If God did NOT give Adam or Noah more than one wife, and they were able to ‘grow’ the population, then why would he ‘need’ LDS to have multiple wives to ‘grow’ the church?
  • Many traditions and commandments of Old Testament times have NOT been ‘restored’ such as animal sacrifices or circumcision.
  • The LDS history of polygamy is full of sexually immoral behavior. There is also abuse & neglect of women & children.
  • Brigham Young married mostly  women 10 -20 years younger than him.  One was 15 and he was 42.
  • Book of Mormon teaches that more than one wife is a sin…Jacob 2:27  (This was a real shocker for me!)
  • Bible teaches godly men should have only one wife…1st Timothy 3:2   That alone is enough of a reason for me!
Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm  Comments (6)  

First seed…Jesus’ conception

Years ago while I was still active in the Mormon Church, I was having a conversation with my Dad.  I don’t remember all we said that led up to this, but he made the statement to me that Jesus was conceived in the same manner that all humans were concieved…by sexual intercourse.   I remember being both astonished and horrified at the thought of it.  It was my first seed of doubt regarding Mormon doctrine.

Two Unique Mormon Beliefs

  1. Mormons believe that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones.  They believe it is a ‘glorified’ body, but still he dwells in a body, not just a spirit as the Bible teaches.
  2. They also believe that all humans are the spiritual children of the Father.  They believe in a pre-existence where we were all ‘born’ in spiritual form to Heavenly Father (God) and a heavenly mother.  So, our spirits are the actual offspring of God, and our physical body is the offspring of our earthly father.

At the time of this conversation with my Dad, I too believe this.  The thought of God having a sexual encounter with the young virgin Mary, seemed incestuous and repulsive.

I refused to believe it.

Of course this doctrine is not spoken of very much.  The majority of Mormons have not heard this and if they had, would adamantly deny it.  I can understand why.  Most LDS members do not question or research any of the controversal or unflattering things that are said about their religion.  They just assume that anything that is uncomplimentary is ‘anti-Mormon’ and needs to be dismissed and rejected.  How sad!

Here are a few things of what church leaders have said:

Brigham Young…

“When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost… Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven… Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost…” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50, 51)

“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115)

Heber C. Kimball…

“…I will say that I was naturally begotten; so was my father, also my Saviour Jesus Christ. According to the Scriptures, he is the first begotten of his father in the flesh, and there was nothing unnatural about it.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:211)

Orson Pratt…

“The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father; we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully. It would have been unlawful for any man to have interfered with Mary, who was already espoused to Joseph; for such a heinous crime would have subjected both the guilty parties to death, according to the law of Moses. But God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure: He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son…” The Seer, pp. 158-9; cf. B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, vol 2, p. 270)

First Presidency Statement

“Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body…” “The Father and The Son; A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve”

There are many websites and blogs to research this, and it would be my hope and prayer than LDS people would have the courage to question this false doctrine and seek out the truth.

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Decision

Like Nephi of The Book of Mormon, I too was born of goodly parents.  My father is a 4th generation Utah Mormon, and my mother a 3rd, although not from Utah.  They have been devoted, active members of the church.  Though elderly now, they continue to serve in church callings and work several hours a week in the Temple.

I grew up attending church every week, actually several times a week.  In my day, Primary was on Wednesday, MIA on Thursday, and Mom went to Relief Society on Tuesday.  Of course back then, there were two meetings on Sunday, Sunday School in the morning, and Sacrament Meeting in the evening.

I was proud and very excited the day I married in the Temple.  I knew I had done the right thing and wanted to continue to be a good and faithful Mormon wife and hopefully someday very soon, mother.

I never doubted the teachings of the church.  Whatever the leaders said, I accepted and obeyed.  If they had said not to wear blue on Thursday, I would have complied without asking why. It never occurred to me to consider, on my own, if something was right or not, nor to question what I was told. I was proud of my submissiveness and felt the more I obeyed, the more I was pleasing God.

Today, I am no longer a member of the LDS church.  I submitted a letter of resignation in the spring of 2004.  My family all remain in the church.  My parents, siblings, children & grandchildren.  My sons, have served on missions,  and when they married, I had to wait outside in the Temple parking lot.

Why did I leave?  No, nobody said anything mean to hurt my feelings and make me leave.  I didn’t have an affair (or any other major sin) and get excommunicated.  I don’t ‘hate the church’ as I have been accused of many times, especially by my family.  The truth is that I have strong emotions about my Mormon heritage.  A finer, more hard-working, industrious group of people would be hard to find.  For the most part they live good honest lives with strong devotion to God, family and country.  I respect and embrace many aspects of their culture and doctrine.

Obviously much has taken place since my own 1975 Temple marriage and today.  But as I look back on my very full and blessed life, I have made many decisions, some good ones and some awful ones.  But no decision was greater or impacted my life more than the one to leave the LDS church.

This blog is about that decision.

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Twitter reminds me of The Book of Mormon.

I started twittering about 6 months ago and I really enjoy it.  Gives me a place to comment, vent or  just whine.  But whatever I am doing I only have 140 spaces to do it in.  So I have really learned to use my spaces carefully so I can get as much of my message  into a single tweet.  So how in the world does this have anything to do with the Book of Mormon?

When I read passages in the Book of Mormon, I think of when it was originally written by the author(s), and their choice of words.  Just like when I am twitting, they would need to choose words very carefully, for two reasons.  First, The Book of Mormon was not written originally on sheet of paper, or papyrus.  Was not written with the use of any ink.  Instead it was written by carving the words on thin sheets of gold.  Don’t know for sure what kinds of tools were used, but in 600BC, the family of Nephi (first writer) along with a few others had just came to the new world.  I’m sure they brought some tools with them but I don’t doubt that they were limited, and the process of carving was difficult.  Second, I don’t know if they brought the sheets of gold with them or they ‘manufactured’ them in the new land.  However, I would think that there would be a limited amount of these gold plates and great care would be used to get as much written on each sheet as possible. (Questions about how they got those gold plates…well thats another blog).

My point is that it had to be challenging to ‘write’ on gold plates.  If I had to ‘write’ in such a way, I think I would do the same as when I am twitting.  I would choose my words carefully, trying to use as few words as possible.

However, that is not what happened.  Pick up the Book of Mormon and read almost any page and you will quickly note the ‘wordiness’ of it. Many thoughts, passages are drawn out and often repeated.  Why?

Apparently others have noticed the same thing… in the book, The Golden Bible, or The Book of Mormon. Is It From God? by M.T. Lamb (1887, pp.44-47) He quotes 3 Nephi 21:2-7.   He says, “This sentence contains over 340 words.  The words “that” and “which” are repeated twenty times; the words “I”, “my” and “me”, eleven times; the word “Father”, eight times; “Gentiles,” five times; the expression, “shall come forth,” four times.  All this in one sentence.  A very remarkable sentence surely.”

Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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