A reference-recipe for well-rounded engagement of Mormonism

Want to do a well-rounded engagement of Mormonism? Study and quote:

  • General Conference talks
  • “Correlated” priesthood and relief society manuals
  • Institute and seminary manuals (what the teens and college students are being taught)

This is what makes Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson so awesome — they work hard to keep abreast of LDS literature, with a special focus on the manuals that are actually being used to teach Mormons.

And then, if possible:

  • 19th century LDS scripture
  • Popular literature found at Deseret Book, etc.
  • Works of LDS neo-orthodoxy (generally BYU professors)
  • “Mormon Doctrine”, by Bruce McConkie
  • Works of James Talmage (pivotal theological figure of the “reconstruction era” of Mormon history)
  • Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

It also helps to be able to summarize the historical development of a particular doctrine (using the term loosely here). A really helpful work on this is This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology, by Charles Harrell. Quoting from the Journal of Discourses (essentially the 19th century “Conference Reports”!) also is relevant when surveying historical LDS teachings.

A sloppy countercultist will overly depend on 19th century quotes of brazen leaders like Brigham Young and Orson Pratt. Conversely, a quasi-ecumenical liberal will tend to only quote from 19th century Mormon scripture and the works of neo-orthodox BYU professors.

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144 Responses to A reference-recipe for well-rounded engagement of Mormonism

  1. MistakenTestimony says:

    Jarron21,

    You can take all the mayonnaise out of a jar, fill the mayo jar up full of mustard, it’s still mustard. Labels don’t mean squat. We can look at our Jesus and see that your Jesus is radically different from ours, and yet you still want to claim that we serve the same Jesus?

  2. Brewed says:

    Cattyjane,
    When I was an Atheist I had absolutely zero interest in any sort of religion. I wanted nothing to do with God, Prayer, Jesus, nothing.
    About a year before I became a Christian I started going to a non denominational church and I just felt good about it. They all seemed nice and there was a good atmosphere.. I wanted to be apart of it. I wanted to belong.

    2 weeks after I was baptized and probably 3 weeks after I started, I stopped going to church and was more convinced of atheism then ever before. I had many atheist friends who ascribed to the militant style religious critics like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. They had so many questions I couldn’t answer and brought up all of these objects and contradictions that they perceived within Christianity. Instead of doing my own research, instead of reading my Bible, instead of prayer I took their word for it and walked away more angry and confused then ever. I based my faith in Jesus on a feeling and when that feeling left I had nothing to stand on. It was horrible. I felt like nothing made sense. I wanted to just not think about any of it. It was painful and frustrating and mentally exhausting.

    A year after this ordeal I packed up and moved to Utah to live with my sister and her family.
    She had 3 boys and she is a devout Christian. Something about that part of her annoyed me.
    She required me to go to Church with them as a condition of living with them. I went along with the family, very reluctantly. The pastor was so real and many of the feelings from before came back. I did not trust these feelings. I just decided to take the first step. I told Jesus in prayer “I’m struggling and I want to know you, help me!”. He did in a big way. I went to a retreat and spent 3 days in prayer and worship and reading my bible. The second to last day we were there I had a vision of Jesus carrying the cross and he told me “I am the Way”. I had never heard the Bible verse “I am the way, the truth, and the life” before and this verse was given to me in the vision. After that I decided Jesus was real and I put my faith in him. From there on out confusion became less and less and Jesus became more and more real to me. My life changed in a big way. I made the first step and I really do feel like he ran to me and carried me. He always meets me and helps me to see things clearly. I trusted him first though.
    I hope this makes sense I am slightly distracted because my family is just coming home. I’ll check it back out tomorrow.

  3. cattyjane says:

    Brewed,
    Thanks for sharing that! I guess that is why im trying to find answers to all my questions. Everyone says that I have to have faith..in every denomination…and I cant do that. I cant base it on a feeling. I cant base it on a few things that I believe in until I build a testimony of the rest of it. I feel like I have to have proof enough to believe enough to have faith on the rest. I have to have enough to stand on.
    You guys have been such an inspiration to me. I hope you guys know that. I just have to get some ground to stand on so everything doesnt fall out from under me because that is how I feel right now.

  4. Silkworm says:

    Old Man said …..”that child abuse in the Mormon church is just as bad as it was in the Catholic Church, the only difference being that the LDS has paid out hundreds of millions to keep it all quiet. That is a fact!”
    Abuse happens in all religions. Religion is not a determining factor as to who is going to abuse someone. Abuse is in all religions, all races, all socio-economic classes. There are ill people and bad people in all religions, unfortunately. Wikipedia has a nice article called “List of scandals involving American Evangelical Christians”. After reading the Wikipedia article about Evangelical scandals it would be easy to conclude that abuse and scandals are rampant in all Evangelical churches and that it is a fact.

    Kate said…..”One thing you may want to think about with your daughter is that when she’s a teenager she will be called in for a bishop ‘s interview every year. You are not allowed in with her and she will be alone in a room with an adult man who will be asking her some pretty inappropriate questions of a sexual nature”.
    My children, male and female, were never asked inappropriate questions of any nature. You had a bad Bishop and you should have gone to someone to help you call the Bishop out on his bad behavior. I was never asked these type of inappropriate questions when I was a teenager, or any time, ever.

  5. Old man says:

    Silkworm

    You said
    “Abuse happens in all religions. Religion is not a determining factor as to who is going to abuse someone. Abuse is in all religions, all races, all socio-economic classes. There are ill people and bad people in all religions, unfortunately. Wikipedia has a nice article called “List of scandals involving American Evangelical Christians”.

    You won’t defend your church by attacking other Churches! I was responding to something that catty said in her post about the LDS being family oriented so I made the point that there is as much child abuse in the Mormon church as there was in the Catholic Church. Notice that I didn’t single out the LDS I also mentioned the Catholic Church, the one that has made all the headlines. It was a comparative statement. I’m well aware of the abuse that occurs in all religions & my point was simply that the LDS makes claims that are not born out by the facts.
    Incidentally I don’t use Wikipedia as a reference source as it can easily be modified by those who are biased in one way or another. What I said in my post was based on actual cases.

    You said
    “My children, male and female, were never asked inappropriate questions of any nature. You had a bad Bishop and you should have gone to someone to help you call the Bishop out on his bad behavior. I was never asked these type of inappropriate questions when I was a teenager, or any time, ever.”

    Because you weren’t asked those things it does not mean they aren’t asked & they are probably asked much more than you are willing to admit, however, that isn’t the point. Those men, your Bishops, are supposed to be appointed on the basis of the ‘discernment’, supposedly found in your leaders. That so called discernment appears to be sadly lacking especially when taking into account the abuse I mentioned previously. Before you come back at me & say it is also lacking in other religions let me just say this, it may well be so but we’re not talking about other religions we’re talking about the LDS Corporation. When men or women in Christian Churches are called to a position of importance it isn’t on the basis of the ‘discernment’ of their superiors it’s on the basis of ability to carry out their duties. There’s a huge difference between callings based on discernment that clearly doesn’t exist in the LDS & callings based on ability.

  6. Jarron21 says:

    Falcon

    I read the articles. I have heard all of this many times before. I understand what your point is, I really do. Mormons believe in things about Jesus that others do not. Like that God and Jesus are seperate beings for example. So lets say all of those things are not true ( which is possible). Does that somehow take away from the facts that are true? Take every bible account of Christ and I can say yes that is true because I believe the bible to be true. Is my belief in his sacrifice negated if other beliefs I have turn out to be false? I hope this is all making sense because it is hard to explain what I mean. I guess one thing I really Like about the LDS faith is that we don’t believe we will be the only people in heaven, in fact more people who are not LDS will probably be there then those who are LDS. But that is a discussion for another time I suppose.

  7. jaxi says:

    Jarron,

    The nature of the LDS God is different. LDS God is not eternally God, not all powerful, not all knowing, progressing, was once a man… It is a totally different God by nature and purpose. LDS Christ’s sacrifice was not enough to save a Mormon. LDS Christs atonement is limited by Mormon law. These things cannot be reconciled between Mormonism and Christianity. The nature of god; who he is is important.

  8. jaxi says:

    Silkworm,
    There have been reports of payoffs from high ups to keep quiet abuse in LDS Church. One of the reasons why the LDS Church hires so many lawyers.

  9. Brewed says:

    Cattyjane,
    I would say if you can learn to trust Jesus, that is most important. Our faith hinges upon wether he was real, really God, and is really resurrected.

    I read an book called “Jesus and The Eyewitnesses” by Richard Baukham. It really helped to equip me with some good hard facts and reasons to trust in Jesus. I found it to be a difficult read but well worth it.
    Also “The Reason For God” by Timothy Keller was helpful too.
    I have many conversations with my Atheist friends to this day. They are still difficult at times, especially because I used to believe the same things they do. But these books helped walk me through them.

    Also as Jaxi has said C.S. Lewis is my all time favorite. Mere Christianity is breath taking. You would do well to give it a read. We got our copy on Amazon for only like 4 bucks.

    This process does not happen over night.
    For my husband to leave Mormonism took about 2-3 years and for him to become a Christian it took 6 months. The LDS church makes true belief seem overwhelmingly confusing, I think thats a tactic of satan and a result of being programmed by the LDS church.
    For me it took a year and a half to fully make a change but I didn’t have any other religious garbage floating around in my head. I grew up Catholic so there was a Christian base there. I had minimal familiarity with the Bible. But I never had to unload any false religion garbage. I was like an infant, everything was brand new. For you this process may be different. It sounds like you have a lot of religious baggage. God can and will deal with that and make himself known to you, thats a promise. Just don’t give up. This is hard.
    It takes time and it takes learning how to trust again.

  10. Brewed says:

    Jarron, you said:
    “Mormons believe in things about Jesus that others do not. Like that God and Jesus are seperate beings for example. So lets say all of those things are not true ( which is possible). Does that somehow take away from the facts that are true? ”

    What’s truth is truth. The problem is that the things that are untrue in the LDS church are vital.
    The nature of God, The role of Christ, Who Christ was/is, the purpose of life, the “plan of salvation”, the fall, Satan, polytheism, polygamy… The list goes on. These are all unbiblical and they are false teachings.
    Most of these teachings are down right blasphemy.
    To think that someday you will be a god. To think you could ever be like God. To say what Jesus did is only enough after all that you can do?! Anyone who knows and believes the Bible would know that is heresy.

    Not to mention all the weirdo stuff taught by the early leaders of the church.
    The racism.
    The inconsistency in LDS teachings/revelations/prophecies.
    The numerous deviations from the LDS church into various other very different sects.

    You have to really love being Mormon to overlook this stuff.
    Mormonism has to become your idol.

  11. Brewed says:

    Cattyjane,
    I remember feeling just like you.
    I didn’t expound enough on how hard it was for me to take the first step towards Jesus.
    I just knew I had always had this urge to pray. I felt silly praying to a God I wasn’t sure existed. I had none of the proof that I wanted. I didn’t want any fake religious garbage. If he was real I wanted him.
    I got an NIV bible from my sister and started reading it. Things popped out that caught my attention in a profound way. The first thing I read that had me floored was how God uses the weak things of this world to humble the proud. I loved that. After some time of just picking up the bible and reading it I just mustered up enough faith to pray. I never got a fuzzy feeling. I still prayed though, it seemed like all I could do. It wasn’t until maybe 3 months later that I received that vision. It was a slow process, I was spiritually crawling.

  12. Kate says:

    “My children, male and female, were never asked inappropriate questions of any nature. You had a bad Bishop and you should have gone to someone to help you call the Bishop out on his bad behavior.”

    Were you in the room with your kids when they were interviewed? Maybe they are embarrassed to tell you about it. As for the bishop you are talking about, he is our neighbor, a very well respected teacher and he would never ask those questions if it weren’t required of him. Everyone here needs to read the story of Kip Eliason. A teenager who killed himself because of his interviews with his bishop. These questions are standard for bishop interviews.

  13. Kate says:

    Here’s a few links that pertain to bishop interviews with kids:

    http://mormoncurtain.com/topic_interviews.html

    http://mormoncurtain.com/topic_interviews.html

  14. cattyjane says:

    Brewed,
    Thx! I know that God is working in my life. I dont ow his plans or his reasons but I pray that I dont screw everything up. I picked up a couple of books to read today by Derek Prince.

  15. rvales says:

    Cattyjane,

    The good news is you can’t screw everything up. God will always accomplish his will…we are just lucky to get to be active players in how he chooses to accomplish his plans.

    Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand (Proverbs 19:21).

  16. cattyjane says:

    Rvales,
    Thats good to know. 🙂

  17. MistakenTestimony says:

    cattyjane,

    Just to try to encourage you further, one passage that really struck me when I was where you are now was Revelation 5:1-5. Also, we don’t freak out and worry when people come along who distort the Gospel because Proverbs 21:30. We are praying for you and your family

  18. cattyjane says:

    Mist Test,
    Its funny that you use scripture from Rev as encouragement. I usually avoid that book at all costs because its scary and confusing however I read that scripture you posted and I see where the comfort comes in at. What I heard from that scripture is that no matter how long our world goes on or how many people claim worthyness or many good deeds we do….in the end prophesy has already spoken that there is only one that is worthy. So one will speak for all.

  19. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    Well my computer is back now that I am fully moved, So I am back in full swing.
    You said the Book of Rev is scary and you avoid it. Thats to bad since the Book of Revelation claims who ever reads it will be blessed.

    Rev 1:3 Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand.

    Out of all the Books in the Bible, this one should not be avoided since it promises a blessing for reading it. Also thats one reason why people dont understand and know the word of God, they avoid Books and wont read them.

  20. MistakenTestimony says:

    Rick,

    That’s so true. Back in the day I would only read the 4 gospels and revelation and completely ignored the epistles. I wonder how many others here had books they would avoid as well

  21. cattyjane says:

    Rick and Mist Test,
    its just terrifying to me. I refuse to watch end of days movies like those kirk cameron films or read those books he wrote. I just dont like it. I know this is going to sound dumb but I remember having a nightmere about the endtimes when I was only 5 and it scared me horribly. Im sure my mom took me to church and the paster probley talked about it or something..who knows. The thing is its something that I have no control over. I cant stop it or prepare for it. Its just something that will happen and I hope to god when it does that im not stuck here but again only God knows that.

  22. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    You dont have to wonder, will I be here during the end times, give your life to Jesus and you will go up in the rapture. Otherwise you will be here and it wont be fun.

    As to the end times book you mention, I never read them and never will, my wife read everyone, they are not the bible and are stories of fiction. Much about them is not true, some is, but most is not. But the bible is the word of God, not books written by men

    isutheword o

  23. MistakenTestimony says:

    cattyjane, this might help: Isaiah 8.12-13. Romans 8.38-39. John 10.27-30. Matthew 10.37-39. John 14.27. Romans 8.1-8. John 16.33.

  24. cattyjane says:

    Rick B,
    I guess I just have to first wrap my mind around how to do that and how it works and then how do you know when youve done what you were sopposed to? I guess what I mean is that I dont want to.place myself in this cycle of making myxelf belief something just because ive told myself it is so enough times. Do you understand what I mean by that?

  25. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    Just read the Bible for now. Start with the gospel of John, Pray that God will open your eyes, and keep a diary or a journal what ever you want to call it. We all have questions and no one here on earth will ever know everything their is to know about the Bible.

    It has been said about the Bible, that it is so shallow a babe will never drown, but so deep we can never get to the bottom of it. In your Diary/journal when ever you have a question or something comes up that you dont understand, write it down. Dont tell anyone what you wrote in the Book, then pray for an answer, some answers my take years, so dont say to yourself a week later, I did not get an answer, so God must not be listening.

    Sadly when it comes to the Bible, the Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it? No one is Good, no not one, we are also told people like darkness rather than light, lies over truth, and that wolves will come in and try and kill us, and false prophets will lead us astray.

    People can read the Bible and reject it, people can see hard core evidence and still reject it. Were are a fallen people who deal with heart issues. People never reject the gospel for intellectual reasons. I have had many Atheists tell me to my face, Jesus could appear to them right here and now and they will reject him, they have said, we could find noahs ark and put it in the macy day parade and they will reject Him.

    My wife had MS for 10 years, proven my doctors beyond a shadow of a doubt she had it, she had to take shots 3 times a week for years, then she twice had to have a home I.V. in her arm that really messed her up so bad she said she would rather die than go through that again.

    Well over the years we prayed for her to be healed, we planned on going to Israel for two weeks in 2011, were are going back again this year at the end of November. When we went she felt the Lord tell her, go to the dead sea and have your husband pray for your MS, You will be healed. She was so completely healed of MS, their is zero trace she ever had it, we have medical records and medical proof she had MS for 10 plus years, we have the bills to prove it, now she is cured beyond belief and
    it is proven, yet atheist friends and family dont believe us or even care, we even have friends and family that claim to be believers in Jesus and dont believe us.

  26. Rick B says:

    Cont,
    My pastor of our church was blown up in a gas fire accident and had 4th degree burns on this legs, the skin fell off like a loose sock, he was told he would need skin grafts and his skin buds would never grow back.

    Well they grew back and their is slight traces showing he was burned, but his doctor said it is a medical mystery and nobody with burns that bad have ever in history have had skin buds grow back. This doctor to this day REFUSES to sigh his medical papers claiming it was a miracle, the doctor has no idea what or how it happened, he just knows in his mind it was not a miracle. As a result of this doctor no singing the records, the pastor cannot get his insurance to cover the Bills.

    Now on the other hand, not everyone gets healed, so if someone says, I had an issue and was not healed, well thats not fair, let me say, the apostle Paul prayed 3 times to be healed and God for what ever reason did not do it, the apostle Paul also mentions leaving someone behind sick since they were not healed. I will share other stuff here soon. Rick

  27. cattyjane says:

    Rick B,
    Wow! If what you say is true then that is amazing. It is so hard for me to believe what people say about God right now and sometimes I dont even believe what I say to myself about God. Im not sure about the praying for an answer thing. That just feels way to much like praying to know if the book of mormon is true. I would rather look for proof for an answer of find some research on the issue. I cant pray and trust my feelings anymore. I just need to get my spirit settled and figure out what I believe and why.

  28. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    I did not say to pray if the Bible is true, or pray if God is real. I’m saying, when you read the Bible and you think to yourself, I dont understand this passage, simply write your thoughts down and then pray that God will give you an answer. It could take a day, a week or years. This way you know it is not just you asking some person and they answer you.

    As far as evidence for God and the Bible compared to other religions, it is like This. The Bible it’s self claims to be the Word of God, God Breathed, God spoke to man and man wrote it, but God guided and directed man. Other religions are man writing things and claiming it was inspired of God.

    we read in the Gospel of John, these things were written as evidence we May believe in God. Jesus quoted the OT, Jesus and His apostles never quoted, Joseph Smith, they never mentioned any people or places in the BoM. The only time we might see an account that a Mormon Might say, thats not true, is only in the case of sayings or teachings that were found in the Bible first and as far as I’m concerned were plagiarized and added to the BoM.

    We have over 1,800 prophecies in the Bible, the Bible is roughly 60 percent prophecy. This was done in order that we may be as the Bible says, with out excuse. If we reject and make excuses, those excuses are nothing more than us just wanting to reject God and not believe. Those excuses will be shown when we Die and are judged.

    The Nation of Israel ceased to exist for hundreds of Years, the Bible said, predicted, they would come back together as a nation. That came to pass in May 1948. Now we have the Jews back in their land, and the nation of israel is about the size of New Jersey, yet they are mentioned in the news more than any other people group. Why do they make the news daily? Why are they always being attacked, and people go public on TV calling for them to be fully destroyed and wiped from the face of the earth? Why did Hitler try doing it, yet failed?

    All of this is for told in the Bible, and also as the Bible says, One day every nation will turn their back on Isreal, even our nation is doing that, Obama is not a friend of Israel, and many in our Government our not friends of Israel.

    God in the Bible says, Who ever blesses Israel I will Bless, who ever Curses Israel will be cursed. Go back and do your own research and Homework. The earth Quake in Japan, Our hurricane in New Orleans, the massive earthquake in Hati and many other massive natural Disasters seem to coincide with Israel. These governments Told Israel to Give up land, or they put sanctions upon Israel, then with in a day or two of doing that, the natural disasters struck.

  29. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    Here is a link to a website you can check out, It is a pastor who looks at the Bible, takes the Prophecies predicted in the Bible and compares them to whats going on in the world today. http://www.calvaryprophecy.com/

    It also has a section that tells you what to do if you miss the rapture and are left behind. You can make some excuse and say, I dont want to deal with this, or it’s scary, or what ever, but like it or not, the rapture will happen, people will be left behind and were headed to an ending regardless of if we believe it or not. The Bible says that God will not strive with man forever, and People in the days of noah did not believe, but then when it was to late they were destroyed.

  30. jaxi says:

    Cattyjane,
    I just wanted to point out that not all mainstream Christianity views the rapture in the same way as some of the sources that have been provided here. I don’t want to start a debate about it here by I just wanted to point out that a lot of the ideas about the rapture that are believed today are rather new developments, originating in the 1800s. But the debate on the rapture isn’t essential. All should be prepared for The Lord whether everyone shares the same doctrinal belief on the end of times or not.

  31. Rick B says:

    Cjane,
    I am of the opinion that we should not overwhelm you with what Jaxi was saying, their are different views among believers. It seems you have enough problems and stating there are different views wont help. So Since Jaxi said something, let me expound upon it.

    There are 3 views to the rapture that I am aware of, if their are more than that is new to me.
    We have the Post view, the Mid view and the pre-view of the rapture.

    In other words, some people believe we will be removed from the earth before the 7 year reign of the anti christ starts, some believe we will be here for the first 3 and a half years, then will be raptured out, others believe we will be here the full 7 years and then we will be raptured. That is a really rough over view of the rapture. Everyone that believe in one of these 3 views believes they can support their view from the Bible. I personally hold to the view that we will be raptured before the anti-christ is revealed, I believe we will be gone before the 7 year period begins.

    The Bible tells us we are not destined for Gods wrath, the other two views would mean, we will face some or all of Gods Wrath, thats why I dont believe them, thats simply one reason of many. But as Jaxi said, these views do not mean we are saved or are not saved if we dont agree. This is another reason why the Bible says in Acts 17:11, search the scriptures to know if these things are true. We are told to search the scriptures, not pray about them. The Bible also tells us, to study to show ourselves approved.

    If we dont study the Bible, then how can we know what it says? How can we believe if we have not heard? If you have questions you can write me a private email at, [email protected]

    Shelli if your wondering is my wife. And if anyone is thinking, he gave me a different email the last time he posted it, well I have 3 different email accounts, 1 is for business it is connected to my website, one is a family account for me and my wife, and one is for a few select friends, or people I want to speak with in a more private manner. Just in case someone was wondering.

  32. jaxi says:

    Sorry, I really wasn’t trying to be overwhelming. I just wanted to point out that there were some differences of opinion on that specifically. I just thought it would be important to be upfront about what things are really non negotiatable in Christianity and which things there isn’t really complete consensus on.

  33. Rick B says:

    Jaxi,
    I’m not saying you cannot say anything, I’m just saying, everyone is different, some people who come here are searching and have some back ground in the Bible, Maybe they read it, or they understand the differences among various denominations. So I felt at least for me, I was not going to split hairs over something like the rapture with someone who admits, she is overwhelmed. Most people I would, but not with Cjane.

    I also believe their are people who claim to be christians, they are pastors, or leaders in church across america, But I believe they are teaching false ideas and really are not Christians. I suspect their are people who post here that sit under some of these people, I know for a fact their was one, because me and this guy got into it a few times, He has since left a long time ago. But I dont say anything because this blog is about Mormonism, Not these pastors who teach false things. Now I have no problem talking about them via email, in person or among believers in other avenues, but just not here, But thats just me. You can say or do what you want. Just stating my thoughts.

  34. cattyjane says:

    Jaxi and Rick B,

    Its ok. I know your just trying to help. I know your heart is in the right place.

  35. falcon says:

    cattyjane,
    Well this is strange. It’s nearly midnight and I just got done running a bear off my back deck. I decided to peak in on MC and for some reason I ended-up at this spot. So here’s my two cents worth.
    Right before I got saved, April 1972, I decided to read the Book of Revelation. Well I didn’t get far. I had no clue what it was about. I kind of laugh about it now, me an unbeliever with zero experience with the Bible starting with the Book of Revelation.
    Anyway about a week later I got saved, bought myself a NT called “Reach Out” which was very popular at the time. It was the Living Bible, not a “real” translation but it helped me get started. I remember thinking, “Where did all of this good stuff come from?”
    I soon “graduated” to a “New American Standard” version of the Bible and believe it or not, I still read it everyday. I’ve had it recovered and it’s so marked up and written in but it demonstrates forty-one years of study.
    I still think I don’t know all that much but it doesn’t matter because I stand on the foundation of Christ and Him crucified. It was through faith in Him that I received my salvation. Quite a journey for an atheist.

  36. cattyjane says:

    Falcon,
    Well at least you arent one of those people that walk outside and feed the cute little bear. 🙂
    So did the book of revelation scare you into believing and getting saved? How did you know that you were saved? It amazes me how people can pinpoint a time and date for when they were saved. Everyone seems to have a story. I pray to God and I used to think that my baptism counted for something but now im not sure about that anymore. To me salvation is an ongoing process. I just think that we have to keep striving to please god and keep a right heart to do his will. I have never felt that I can KNOW because I think only god truely knows the intents of my heart and can judge me according to those works and intents. I think that if my intents and motives in seeking God are wrong than I deserve what I get for not doing what I should to humble myself before him. I just cant wrap my mind around how you guys KNOW. These stories just baffle me.

  37. falcon says:

    cattyjane,

    No the Book of Revelation didn’t scare me. I didn’t have a clue what was being talked about in that Book. I didn’t know enough to be scared.

    You wrote:

    “I just think that we have to keep striving to please god and keep a right heart to do his will.”

    Forgive me but you have to let that go. I understand the sentiment but you’ll just end-up being frustrated at your performance gap. You can never do enough to please God. That’s what Jesus is about. He satisfied the requirements of the Law. The Law was given to show us how hopeless our condition is. Now I’m not suggesting that we should go on sinning that grace might increase. I walk in the Spirit in order to crucify the desires of the flesh but I’m a work in progress also. I fall short. That’s what the blood of Christ is all about. If we walk in the Spirit as He is in the Spirit the blood of Christ continually cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Some Christian groups are really into legalism. That is having a list of do(s) and don’t(s) that their members must abide by. I avoid groups like that at all costs. I find the closer I am to the Lord, the more I want to please Him. It’s based on that relationship. Striving is not apart of my program.

    You also wrote:

    “It amazes me how people can pinpoint a time and date for when they were saved.”

    Well most of us had to come to a point where we were either all in or all out when it came to God. I’ll make my story brief. I had been on a spiritual journey for about a year. This included giving my name, address and phone number to a couple of Mormon missionaries. Interestingly enough they never contacted me.
    So someone I knew invited me to a prayer meeting and I went and proceeded to be about as negative and cynical as I could be. I walked out feeling like there was a boulder in my chest and I was on the verge of tears. A night or so latter I was home alone and, of all things, I was sitting on the edge of my bed watching Billy Graham on my little 19″ black and white TV with rabbit ears. I couldn’t stand Billy Graham but it’s testament to how desperate I was that I was watching him.
    Anyway he delivers the sermon and then the invitation. People start coming forward. He turns to the camera and says, “You don’t have to be here to receive Christ today. You can do it right where you are. You sitting there in your bedroom can come to Christ right now.”
    Well call it whatever you want but I felt like he was talking directly to me. I figured that if God wanted me that bad I’d give up. Right then and there I said my own little version of the sinners prayer and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I’ve watched Billy Graham for years after that to see if he’d say again those words that I interpreted were just for me. He never has. I even occasionally now will watch “Billy Graham Classics” on TV. He’s never said it in any era they show.
    And no my life hasn’t been a bed of roses, sea shells and balloons or sunshine, lollypops and rainbows everyday. But I’m saved and I know it.

  38. rvales says:

    CattyJane

    This past Sunday was baptism Sunday at my church. The service I attended I got to see 3 baptisms. Before each is baptized their testimonies are read to the congregation. The thing that stuck out the most was that among all 3 new christians, the young divorcee, the former drug dealer/addict, and the teenage chinese girl who had only lived with her American family for a year, they all had one thing in common (well except for claiming Jesus as Lord of their lives) each of their testimonies cited a change in their heart that slowly manifested itself in new decisions, thoughts and actions and NOT new ‘right’ decisions, thoughts and actions that resulted in a change in their heart. The point being, don’t focus on making sure you do right to try and guarantee your salvation….study your Bible, get to KNOW God, and be willing to let him be in charge of your life.

    And on that day when you can proclaim that you were a sinner but Jesus paid for your sins free and clear so you have full access to the Father through Him (not your good works) the comment section here will be one big roar of cheers for you…just like Heaven will be on that day; Luke 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (this is actually one of my favorite parts of baptism Sunday…I know that the hooting and hollaring, clapping, crying and rejoicing for one new brother or sister is NOTHING compared to the celebration party in the heavens on that day and it’s so much fun to get to live out a meek little re-enactment of that party here on earth)

  39. cattyjane says:

    Rvales and Falcon,
    I love that picture of celebration you portreyed. I know that I need to know who god is. I went to church on sunday to a non denominational church…no weird stuff happened. Its a really nice church. I know the feeling of having that weight on your chest. Thats how I always feel in church. I feel like I should be doing something but I dont know if its just the music playing on my emotions. I want it to be an honest understanding of why im doing what im doing. I dont want to get all worked up and teary eyed and say a prayer on a whim and walk outthe doors of the church thinking,.”well that was a waste of time. Now everyone thinks something awesome happened and im going to be some ramped up christian person and I feel just as lost as I did before.” Its probley pointless to keep asking you guys questions. I dont think there is a formula for this. You guys have such amazing stories and honestly im a bit jealous. I dont have major issues like drugs or alcohol or inappropriate relationships. Im a good mother and honest in my dealings with people. But in my heart I have a lot of anger and I can feel that anger directed at god when im at church or with some of the things I read on here. Not that im angry at any of you but im angry because I feel like finding a solution is so far out of my grasp and that I will never have a testimony like you guys. Anyways ive said to much and probley just repeated myself. Im sure guys are so sick of reading my nonsense. Im sorry.

  40. cattyjane says:

    Rvales,
    Thanks..i might take you up on that.
    Everyone,
    Im sure this is beating a dead horse but I was told to read the book of John and thats what im doing. Oops…i just realized I read 1st John and not the book of of John. Oh well its what I read.
    So everyone has been saying that salvatipn is by grace and belief alone but these scriptures contradict.that…at least by my interpretation.
    1 John 2:3-6
    1 John 2:24
    1 John 2:29 [do what is right]
    1 John 3:6-10 [if you sin you do not know him]
    ALSO! 1 John 3:15 Murder is unforgiveable!
    ## 1 John 4:12 [no one has seen God]
    And who is considered my brother because if I have to love my ex..Houston we have a problem! 1 John 4:19-21
    1 John 5:3 [love for god means to obey his commands]
    1 John 5:18 [we dont sin if we are born of god]
    2 John 1:8-9 [dont lose what we worked for]

  41. Mike R says:

    cattyjane ,
    a few thoughts . Have you arrived at the point that you can say that the Mormon church
    is a false prophet led organization ? That it’s leaders are NOT the exclusive channel for
    the revealment of gospel truth necessary to embrace in order to receive eternal life?
    If you can’t say in your heart “yes” to these questions then you are going to continue to be
    confused in what to believe at a level that is unnecessary . It’s vital that you settle the question
    of what spiritual authority in your life do these men have —a lot , some , or none ?
    Now you’re doing the right thing by reading the Gospel of John , but I would offer the thought
    that you should’nt be asking questions of your study on a public blog like this one. Get with
    someone, or two, here privately and ask them . This is because of your particular circumstance.
    This is only my opinion. I am praying for you to find a local church fellowship in which to bless
    others and sing to Jesus .
    Take care.

  42. fifth monarchy man says:

    cattyjane,

    check this out

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    (Ephesians 2:8-10)

    The prepositions are key in this text. We are saved BY grace THROUGH faith FOR good works.

    It not that works are not important just that they are the evidence we are saved and not the grounds for our salvation. Good works in salvation are like a wedding ring in marriage.

    I’m not married because I have a wedding ring, I have a wedding ring because I’m married.
    In the same way
    I’m not saved because I do good works I do good works because I’m saved

    Peace

  43. rvales says:

    FMM hit the nail on the head. Salvation comes before good works. We are saved FOR good works. The good works are a product of our being a new creation IN Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and God lined up specific works for us to do to carry out His will (but don’t let this give you anxiety because God’s will be done we can’t mess that up) Philipians 2:13 and Ephesians 2:8-10 both speak to this.

    I have often used the example of a vegetarian (forgive me if I put this in an earlier post) if someone says they are a vegetarian, but then you see them eat meat all the time you can assume that they aren’t really vegetarian. However, if someone says they are gonna be a vegetarian and then you never see them eat another piece of meat then their actions match their identity. It’s the same with Christians. If my actions match my professed identity as a saved child of God, then you know that I really am a Christian but if my actions never match my identity then you have to really question whether or not I’ve been saved and truly have God leading my life.

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