Last Sunday (23 September 2007) the Phoenix East Valley Tribune ran a story about Lyndon Lamborn’s excommunication from the LDS Church. The article begins,
“Being excommunicated for apostasy by the Mormon church is one thing, but Lyndon Lamborn is livid that his stake president has ordered bishops in eight Mesa wards to take the rare step of announcing disciplinary action against him to church members today.
“’I thought if he could go public, so can I,’ said Lamborn, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said his research into church history gave him ‘thousands of reasons the church can’t be what it claims to be.’”
Mr. Lamborn has been an active Mormon. He served a mission. He was elders quorum president 4 times and has held several other callings in his local ward. But in 2005 a co-worker asked him a question about Joseph Smith’s wives, which sent Mr. Lamborn on a quest to research LDS history.
According to the article, the historical research “led [Mr. Lamborn] to question many church teachings.” He went to his stake president with questions, “but received no definitive answers.”
“’I was planning to leave the church quietly, but was denied that opportunity, presumably because I was speaking openly to other members about my findings and (was) writing things down,’ Lamborn said.
“Lamborn has compiled his research into a lengthy testament called, ‘Search for Truth 6/07,’ in which he states: ‘There comes a time in the life of many church members when the desire to know the truth about the church becomes stronger than the desire to believe the church is true.’”
In another online article that appeared on Sunday, Scott Tracy wrote “Why they leave” for the Utah State Valley College newspaper. In this opinion piece Mr. Tracy begins,
“Recently on a former-Mormons website, a poll was taken asking the question ‘Why did you leave?’ and the results might be somewhat shocking to most current members of the church.
“Kevin Whitaker, in his recent article on postmormon.org expressed the view that most members who leave the church are sinners, offended, or weak in the faith. This, while may be true for some, fails to cover the reasons that most people leave the faith, and reflects the most common misunderstanding between members of the LDS faith and their former Mormon counterparts…
“The number one reason listed by people who participated in the poll was ‘I found out about Mormon history’. In fact, this was the number one response at 67 percent and might be shocking to most faithful LDS.”
This certainly held true in Mr. Lamborn’s case. It also held true for his friends and family. The East Valley Tribune said,
“[Mr. Lamborn] said he learned that his five brothers ‘were doing the same research and arriving at the same conclusions’ and doubts, he said. The same was true for his best friend since childhood.”
Some might easily dismiss historical issues as unimportant in determining the truth of an organization; history isn’t doctrine and everyone has skeletons in the closet. I suggest that an important issue here is not necessarily the actual history, but rather the dishonesty and manipulation involved in covering up or changing history — keeping the truth hidden in order to deceive.
This makes me think of the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain. He ruled his world by convincing everyone that he was all-powerful; if they knew he was really a mind-mannered man who couldn’t find his own way home, he would lose his position and power.
I believe Mormonism is like that. It succeeds on faith-building historical tales of revelation, persecution and sacrifice. It’s a beautiful and inspiring façade, but don’t look behind the curtain. For if the curtain is pulled back, it becomes clear that the LDS Church has been engaged in some serious commandment-breaking about and throughout its entire history. Then the question arises, “Could this be ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased”? (D&C 1:30)
A majority of former Mormons conclude no, it couldn’t be.
Discussion Questions:• What role did history have in your disillusionment with the Mormon Church?
• Why is it important to give a “warts and all” account of history, if at all?
• Can Mormonism be divorced from its history like other religions can? Is there something particular about Mormonism that makes its history more crucial than church history would be for evangelical Christianity?
At postmormon.org Mr. Lamborn has made this generous offer:
If any of you would like to read my summary of searching for truth, e-mail me at lclamborn58[at]yahoo.com and I will be happy to e-mail you a copy… There is MUCH more to tell, as most of you know. Polyandry and Helen Mar Kimball are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg
-What role did history have in your disillusionment with the Mormon Church?
Well, I’m still here. So I guess you can’t call me disillusioned. But I have become more careful of the Church than I used to be. I don’t think Church history really changed my views all that much. I tend to see both sides of the issue (I might only argue one side, but I do usually see both). I think it was on my mission that I started to see my Priesthood leadership more as peers and less as “superiors.” I started to realize that I was responsible for my own spiritual life and should not expect to be spoon-fed the gospel.
I’d already come to terms with the Church being run by mere mortals, and being a flawed undertaking by the time I started reading excerpts from “Sacred Loneliness,” “No Man Knows My History,” Juanita Brooks, and “Rough Stone Rolling.” I’ve found that the ugly parts of history paint a more complete human picture for me and actually have deepened my respect for Joseph Smith. I prefer a real human being to a whitewashed effigy.
-Why is it important to give a “warts and all” account of history, if at all?
Hiding the ball tends to create fragile commitment to the LDS faith in my opinion. People are raised on a certain story, such as “Joseph Smith wasn’t a polygamist.” Then when they run into hard evidence to the contrary, they tend to feel humiliated and betrayed by the Church who allowed them to look ridiculous and ignorant in front of their friends. I’m also a big advocate of letting the truth speak for itself. Joseph Smith is still a darn inspiring figure, even if you know he was married to a couple VERY young women.
-Can Mormonism be divorced from its history like other religions can? Is there something particular about Mormonism that makes its history more crucial than church history would be for evangelical Christianity?
I don’t think you can separate the two. The primary strength of the LDS Church is its sense of historical narrative. Modern Mormons are living a grand epic that involves restoring God to all corners of the earth and is expected to culminate in the Second Coming of Christ.
Mormons are very similar to the Jews in this respect. We don’t have creeds, we don’t have philosophers. We don’t rest our foundation on a bunch of dry academic debates that no one understands. We rest it instead on a very compelling story of blood, betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice, and passion every bit as compelling as the Biblical narrative. Mormonism is about storytelling. I don’t think you can separate the history without turning the religion into some lame and anemic version of Unitarianism.
I find that some Mormons react to their exposure to history more negatively than others, some rejecting the entire religious system, others settling for a lower view of continuing revelation, inspiration, leadership, and prophets.
I think Mormonism is more married to its church history than evangelical Christianity is because of its belief in “continuing revelation” and a continual succession of inspired church leaders. I shake my head at some of the sinful things that Martin Luther and John Calvin said and did, but I can easily move on. For traditional Mormons it isn’t that easy. Their leaders were supposed to be inspired mouthpieces of God, the “Lord’s anointed”, literal prophets, seers, and revelators communicating the will of God. Thus, just as evangelicals would be devastated if they discovered one of their Biblical prophets having lied about what God said or exploited his prophetic office to manipulate young women into marrying him, many Mormons have to reject their religious system when they are exposed to Mormon history. But in varying degrees some have instead settled for a lower view of continuing revelation, inspiration, leadership, and prophets. They are gravitating toward the primacy of canonized scripture, or even philosophy, or academic intellectualism, or postmodernism, or a kind of truth-disinterested whatever-makes-me-a-better-person pluralism… over the wisdom of their inspired prophets. In the end I don’t think that this is a very “Mormon” approach. It goes against the very substance and tone of the theme of “continuing revelation” that it has had for ~175 years. Ironically, this leaves evangelicals as the ones with the higher view of inspiration and prophets. I would rather Mormons keep a high view of prophets and inspiration and reject the legitimacy of Mormon apostles and prophets, for they do not pass the Biblical test for what constitutes a bona fide apostle or prophet.
Of course, no one likes being lied to, and the Mormon Church is trying to cushion the fall many experience. That is why I think the latest church manual on Joseph Smith made the giant step of briefly mentioning Joseph Smith’s polygamy in passing. It’s sad, but this is a huge step for Mormon leadership! An AA-kind of meeting for recovering “faith-promoting” historians would clap. But these are nonetheless small steps and the overall approach of the church is still reflected in whitewashed movies like “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration”.
I really do appreciate your honesty and fairmindedness. You acknowledge Mormon problems/issues as just that, rather than being info that was invented to destroy the church.
I obviously still disagree with you and I think the first 20 years of your church (including Joseph’s life) is far beyond being “warts and all”. Which leads me to these (non-loaded) questions. What kind of behavior, doctine, etc. would you call being more than a wart so to speak? Or to put it another way . . . What would be a problem?
I ask people (not just Mormons) this question and I try to follow it up with what would be a problem for me. Suppose a book, that looked a lot like the Torah, was discovered in the Middle East. It was older than The Law and bore resemblence to it, however, names were changed and Elohim/Jehovah/the God of the Hebrews did not get the glory. Let us suppose further that other texts were found that were later (but still older than the Pentateuch) that looked even more like the Torah so as an textual evolution could be seen. This is the type of thing for me that would be fatal to my faith.
The things I find rather troubling are these, This guy takes an honest look at the history and sees a problem, but the LDS get upset that he thinks for himself and gets mad for looking into the history.
If the LDS church is true, warts or no warts they should not have a problem with looking into the history.
The other thing I have a problem with is, The LDS try and blame people who leave the Church, instead of taking the person at his word when he/she says, I looked into the history and found serious problems, they tend to blame the person saying/thinking this person is angry and hates the church. Rick b
It seems to me that cracks start appearing for LDS members either with the doctrine or the history of the church. If it’s the history that disturbs them, then eventually they may be led to question the doctrine. A person can probably deal with the history and still stay in the system, but once they start questioning the doctrine, it’s pretty tough to stick around. The basis for the restored gospel is the promise of godhood. I don’t think anyone would let the history of the church get in the way of a carrot like that. Also the pull of personal revelation would be very difficult to give-up on the basis of unflattering historical information.
“Mr. Lamborn has been an active Mormon. He served a mission. He was elders quorum president 4 times and has held several other callings in his local ward.”
so? what’s the point of this biographical selection?
There have been many evangelicals who have taken different paths, does this sway any of you away from what you know to be true? Just research any atheist author’s history and see if it was similar to what happened with this LDS apostate man. I’ll give you one example, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” by Bart Ehrman. This man probably knows more about biblical history, and translation history than anyone on this site–yet should that lead you to the same conclusions he has come to? I should hope not. This argument that research and facts denounce faith and religion is a very weak one for evangelicals to make.
Judas was Jesus’ friend– anyone can at any point lose faith. I see this topic as a non-starter. There is so much we don’t know about this situation, it seems prudent to me to reserve our judgment. I realize this is an impossible request to make considering many on this site specialize in it.
Frankly, I don’t know anything about Bart Ehrman or his credentials as a historian or of his expertise in translation history. The facts in the story reviewed here do remain. This man checked into the history of Mormonism and checked-out of the program. Doesn’t seem that he was personally offended by anyone or that he couldn’t cut it morally. After researching Mormon history he concluded that it wasn’t true. It’s his story. It’s one that’s told by others who have had a similar experience.
I see what you mean, Amanda, but I think Mr. Lamborn’s TBM history was shown to indicate that he didn’t leave the church for fornication and general hell-raising. It seems that the desire for a sinful life or the experience of being offended are the two reasons Mormons always give for people becoming inactive/ex-mormon. In reality it was Mr. Lamborn’s delving into LDS history that got him in trouble.
There was something I agreed with you on another thread about faith/works about I guess I can’t talk about it here because it doesn’t fit this discussion.
I have no disillusionment with the LDS church as (and here come the moans) I have a spiritual testimony of its truth, so history has no part to play in my mind because of this. As mentioned in the ‘article’, most Christian/Bible believing religions have skeletons in their closets if one wants to look hard enough.
Is it important to give a warts and all history? I don’t know. History is written and re-written and invented according to the writers’ desire. It’s a common thought that because history was written by the victors of the war, the losers usually are portrayed in history as being ‘evil’ or initiators, etc. Most war crimes are ascribed to the losers, unless otherwise independently shown. So in this regards, what is history? Case in point – The LDS church teaches about Haun’s Mill, while non-LDS focus more on Mountain Meadows. Consider the beginnings of America – there were the pilgrims and there were the English penal colonies. Now most Americans I have met/known focus on the pilgrims as the only colonists, in fact some do not realise that the English had penal colonies. I only know about the penal colonies and not much about the pilgrims because after the Yanks kicked the Poms out Australia was settled by penal colonies.
As for how crucial history is to the LDS church, in some respects it is very crucial because we believe in keeping our own journals, family history, etc. This has been an instruction from our church leaders since near the beginning of the church. As for actual church history, of course the church will give a ‘watered down’ history to its general congregation because some of it is not needful to know, or nor is it uplifting. A ‘nice’ history allows comfort, for instance the colonisation of America (as per 2nd paragraph), which allows patriotism to become a large part of ones’ life.
Since the excommunication is not a topic of discussion I will not address it now, but I do have an answer/reason for it if anyone’s interested.
I had this gentleman send me, by e mail, copies of what he has produced. He writes quite extensively about the spiritual experience…. having that confirmation feeling. I dare say, it’s not a good substitute for rigorous intellectual questioning. Too many people get fooled with the confirming feeling method of determining the truth. That’s a tough thing for Mormons to come to grips with. It’s kind of like that old story of the woman catching her man with another woman. He says, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” What I hear our Mormon friends saying is that they don’t care what the history reveals of the LDS church. They had the real truth confirmed inside of them and they believe, regardless of the evidence. Tough to reason with that logic(?).
I just had him send me that info too, Falcon. I can’t wait to read it! I’m especially excited if he does in fact talk extensively about the spiritual experience (confirmation). I actually read the testimony of an ex-mormon and he included that in there too. He was a bishop for many years, served a 2 year mission, was young mens president, counselor, and a member of the church for quite some time. I appreciated his honesty when he said that he would feel calm and great when he read the BoM and translated that to him as feeling the spirit, but as his life went on, great and wonderful things happened to him and he would feel the same level of joy/assurance/serenity. I’m sure the spirit of God has some part in our lives that allows us to recognize the difference between good and evil and joy and sadness..
However, it’s terribly sad to me that people will completely disregard EVERYTHING, even their own intellect, to follow a “good feeling”. Drugs will lead you down a path to turmoil but you ignore the warnings of friends and family just because the drugs make you feel good. I think its good to trust your feelings, but in the mean time, at least check your step.
When you really think about it, who ever makes a purely intellectual decision about anything?
Should I go to McDonalds today or not? Well, it kind of depends on how much cash I’ve got, whether I’m eating healthy enough, etc.
But mostly it’s just a matter of whether I feel like it or not. And if I feel like it, it’s not hard to come up with justifications. “I deserve a break.” “One Big Mac won’t kill me.” Or “I got that two for one coupon in the newspaper today…”
To relate it to religion, we like what we like and we are familiar with what we are familiar with. We then find logical reasons to justify those preferences. Mormons do it with Brigham Young and polygamy, evangelicals do it with the “myth” of the Noachian Flood and the Canaanite genocides, and atheists do it with their own biases.
All decisions are mostly emotional at the base level. Logic and reason are usually just supplements.
Bear in mind however, I do not consider this a bad thing. I actually find intuition (when properly applied) to be SUPERIOR to reason. Logic is a servant to an informed and practiced intuition. And rightfully so. There is a huge realm of external experience that overt logic simply misses, sometimes with disastrous results.
I just got done reading (a good portion) of Mr. Lamborn’s research. I’m rather speechless! That has to be the best comprehensive study of the Mormon religion that I have ever seen. It’s not like he learned about Joseph Smith marrying a little girl and said “thats sick! I’m leaving!”. It’s glaringly obvious he did his research in scripture and out of scripture. There was hundreds of things he pointed out that I wasn’t even aware of yet. I especially enjoyed his take on “spiritual confirmation”.
I suggest any LDS who read this should get a copy of it and read it, I will even forward it to you if you want. I know you might be thinking “I’m not reading that anti-mormon junk”, but give Mr. Lamborn a benefit of the doubt. In fact he handled everything very objectively and unbiased. I will tell you right now though, it won’t make you feel good about your faith.
In my case, it made me feel wonderful.. Hmm, thats weird. I thought I’m supposed to feel awful when the spirit leaves me for reading evil anti-mormon or “Anti-truth” material.. This is where I understand that just because something agrees with my viewpoints, and makes me feel assured/calm/joyous, doesn’t mean that its the Holy Spirit witnessing truth to me (necessarily). It means that it pleases me psychologically and naturally, and I am STILL supposed to read Mr. Lamborn’s efforts as objective as possible.
Now if only I can get my wife to read it. The “spiritual witness” issue is, I believe, the very CORE problem with the faith of the LDS. But hey, people will still continue to go to McDonalds and eat way too much fatty food because they feel like it, completely ignoring the facts that too much of that stuff will make you fat and possibly mean the death of you. Reminds me of Frank the Tank… “It tastes so good once it hits your lips!”
Here are my answers:
What role did history have in your disillusionment with the Mormon Church?
Not disillusioned and I’ve heard it all.
Why is it important to give a “warts and all” account of history, if at all?
The truth is always a good thing.
Can Mormonism be divorced from its history like other religions can?
Other religions can’t be. If don’t know why you would assume otherwise.
Is there something particular about Mormonism that makes its history more crucial than church history would be for evangelical Christianity?
Nope. The lack of direct revelation and prophets at the roots of Protestantism is preceded by the lack of revelation and prophets at the roots of its mother church — Catholicism (with its man-made creeds and whatnot).
Mormonism has more visible history but our history is not more important than the history of other Christian denominations.
This assumes the question was speaking in a binary fashion. Perhaps it is unclear. It is meant to ask whether Mormonism can divorce itself from history in the same way or to the same degree as other religions can. I think it’s obvious, for example, that Mormons are a whole lot more “married” to their prophets and apostles than evangelicals are to the Reformers. An analogy: It’s a lot harder for Christians to divorce themselves from the public writings of Isaiah or Paul than it is for Mormons to divorce themselves to the writings of Nibley on the Book of Abraham. Evangelicals build on the living foundation of prophets and apostles that have been dead for almost over two millennia. Mormons must account for a foundation that has been continually laid (and not just built upon) for the past 175 years. The stakes are higher with Brigham Young teaching Adam-God then they are with John Calvin teaching the Pope was literally the anti-Christ.
How do you think Christians would react if they found out that Paul the apostle had exploited his role to declare a false prophecy over selling the copyright of his letters and then manipulate multiple young women to marry him? Is that really the kind of thing one should shrug off?
Ezra Taft Benson taught something many Mormons believe:
As I wrote above, to cope with history many Mormons simply have to drop this kind of thinking and adopt a lower view of prophets, apostles, revelation, and inspiration. Others just reject the whole system realizing it can’t hold up to standards it has in its own official literature promoted.
Aaron: An analogy: It’s a lot harder for Christians to divorce themselves from the public writings of Isaiah or Paul than it is for Mormons to divorce themselves to the writings of Nibley on the Book of Abraham.
I think this is an apples and oranges comparison. Nibley is not considered a prophet/apostle by anyone I know of. A prophet commenting on the teachings of an earlier prophet is a different thing entirely.
Mormons are a whole lot more “married” to their prophets and apostles than evangelicals are to the Reformers.
I would say that evangelicals (and all creedal Christians) are as “married” to the theological musings of non-prophets like Augustine as Mormons are to our modern prophets.
Evangelicals build on the living foundation of prophets and apostles that have been dead for almost over two millennia.
As do Mormons. We simply understand their words differently. We use the unified teachings of modern prophets to help us in our comprehension of the Bible, the creedal Christians use the creeds.
How do you think Christians would react if they found out that Paul the apostle had…
My opinion is that evangelicals and other fundamentalist Christians are going to be shocked when they discover that Paul was not nearly as perfect as they have painted him. But God used him and that is enough for me.
You are right that Mormon history requires a mature, eyes open approach spirituality and to prophets in general. But many creedal Christians I know insist on a head-in-the sand approach to the doctrines they inherited not from the Bible but from man-made creeds.
Ummm… isn’t that the whole point of my analogy? 🙂
Imperfection is a euphemism for the kind of thing I gave as a hypothetical. Giving false prophecies and using your apostolic or prophetic office to threaten teens into marrying you points to someone as being fundamentally untrustworthy as a religious figure. I don’t think the apostles, for example, were perfect, but I certainly don’t think any of them gave false prophecies. Apparently your Mormonism, Geoff, allows for a true prophet to nevertheless give false prophecies and publicly and authoritatively teach what is later condemned by apostles as deadly, damnable heresy? Would you still receive Paul’s letters as scripture if you found out that he, as I proposed, “exploited his role to declare a false prophecy over selling the copyright of his letters and then manipulate multiple young women to marry him“?
“Follow the Augustine, Follow the Augustine!”
That’s a hymn I wrote for my church, we sing it every Sunday now.
Heh, sorry, had to add in a little humor.
We know next to nothing about the details of the lives of the ancient prophets. I think it is safe to say that we have 100x more info about the life and words and thoughts and deeds of Joseph Smith than we do about Paul. Perhaps we even have 1000x times the data. So your argument here is one based on the lack of data about ancient prophets. Basically “we have no records of Paul doing X therefore Paul never did X”. That is of course an egregious logical fallacy.
The problem I see is that based on that lack of data most creedal Christians have set up untenable and unreasonable caricatures of what real prophets can be like or do. That is not unusual though — the Jews had a caricature in their minds of what a Messiah must act like and do and as a result they looked beyond the mark when the real Messiah came to them.
BTW – You know as well as I do that there is still significant historical debate surrounding the details of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages so speculating the worst on that is not buying you debate points.
Jeff B — Hehe. That is pretty amusing. (Of course I believe it is closer to the reality of the situation that most people know.)
Geoff, that doesn’t really answer the question. Forget for a moment about the issue of whether Joseph Smith attempted to sell the copyright of the BofM or promised assured Celestial exaltation to some women and their families upon marriage.
If you did somehow discover that Paul “exploited his role to declare a false prophecy over selling the copyright of his letters and then manipulate multiple young women to marry him”, would you still receive his New Testament letters as scripture? Would he still be a bona fide apostle in your view?
Aaron: If you did somehow discover that Paul “exploited his role to declare a false prophecy over selling the copyright of his letters and then manipulate multiple young women to marry him”, would you still receive his New Testament letters as scripture?
Yes I would. Because God has told me personally that the writing of Paul in the NT are scripture. (BTW – I keep trying to figure out how you evangelical claim to know the Bible is true if it is not through personal revelation on the subject. If not revelation what do you rely on for that witness? Tradition? Archeology?)
But because God himself has told me that Paul was one of his chosen mouthpieces I would also want to scrutinize the charges against Paul very closely. History is as much art as it is science and the so-called “facts” on events can often be a matter of perspective — especially when it relates to people interacting with each other. Paradigms can shift tremendously with tiny missing pieces of data in such things.
(Our data set on Joseph is too limited and our data on Paul is a tiny fraction of that.)
Geoff, thanks for your honest answer. I think it shows just how much different of a standard we have for true prophets.
Tradition and archeology certainly helps foster faith in it, but ultimately and decisively I think it is the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of our heart to “see” the scripture as revelation, for what it really is. In other words, the testimony of revelatory scripture is a direct “light”, and the Holy Spirit helps soften our hard hearts to let that light in and receive it for what it is. This, what we might call “illumination of the Holy Spirit”, is different than the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” which helps confirm that we are adopted children of God the Father (Romans 8:15-17). The event of coming to believe the scripture as God’s revelation is an event of coming face to face with the revelation of scripture, not revelation about scripture. A good prayer for such an event would be:
Got the feeling?
Charles Finney lived at the same time and in the same geographic area (roughly) as Joseph Smith. Finney was unsure of his salvation so one day he decided to settle the issue. He went into the woods (seems that must have been standard practice at the time) he knelt by a log and wrestled in prayer with God. Let him describe it: “I then penetrated into the woods, I should think, a quarter of a mile….As I turned to go up into the woods, I recollect to have said, ‘I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there.’ He stayed all day and was converted. Later in life Finney described the experience saying that it was like waves of liquid love throughout his body. What a contrast, Finney comes out of the woods and becomes a great evangelist for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith comes out of the woods and preaches a gospel that is diametrically opposed to what Finney preached. Finney, it seems, had a spiritual feeling that confirms his version of the Gospel was true. Right?
“Frankly, I don’t know anything about Bart Ehrman or his credentials as a historian or of his expertise in translation history. ”
I say, “Frankly, I don’t know anything about Lyndon Lamborn or HIS credentials as a historian or of his expertise in mormon history.”
This is why I referenced his experience with mainstream Christianity as a means to explain my main point- someone turning the other way does not logically denounce what they were turning away from. To use Lamborn as an example in this instance is about as effective as using Bart Ehrman as an example to denounce evangelical theology…You say, “who is Bart Ehrman”– I say, “Who is Lamborn”— (your response was lazy, all you had to do was Google the man)
Furthermore, I never claimed any opinion on his worthiness- both Megan and Falcon seemed to respond with the idea that “just because he left the church doesn’t mean he left it because he was really a fornicator”… never made that point—I made the point that his turning away is simply not adequate evidence to denounce Mormonism, and gave a very valid example with Bart Ehrman…none of you really responded to the meat of my argument. Let me attempt to be more clear.
Lamborn and his “education” and “historical” research = mormonism is false
with this logic, I can then say,
Bart Ehrman and his “education” and “historical” research = Bible is false
Except the only difference between the two is that Dr. Ehrman actually has more secular education in the field of religion…making his “education” and “historical” research more credible. Why should anyone on this site have any concern with who these men are and what they think about God? I am the one who answers to God for my decisions regarding Him. I don’t answer to Lamborn OR Ehrman or any of you, for that matter.
(a side note: why should Lyndon Lamborn be so upset with his stake president?? If he is comfortable in his findings, he should be relieved, not angry. The truth sets you free. The church seems to be okay with their decision.)
Lyndon Lamborn’s story is personal. He did research for himself and came to some conclusions (for himself) regarding the church his family has been members of for four generations. From examining his document, I would say that Lyndon Lamborn did some heavy lifting in his pursuit of historical information regarding the LDS church. Our LDS friends, who frequent this site, need to accept the fact that absent the mysterious burning in the bosom, there is nothing of a historical nature that supports the BOM as being true and also the corresponding doctrine of the Mormon church. Lyndon Lamborn had the courage to draw back the curtain. I would only pray that if he hasn’t done so thus far, he will come to that place in his spiritual life where he will gain a personal assurance of his salvation in Jesus Christ.
And Bart Ehrman was just seeking evidence against the bible and doesn’t have personal experiences? Again, I would ask you to actually google this guy- and read his biography,because you continue to look lazy. Let me make this easier for you
http://www.teach12.com/store/professor.asp?ID=15 (I’m sure you could find more information, like actually reading the book I referenced, “Misquoting Jesus” to understand the weight of my argument)
ALL THE MEMBERS STORIES ARE “personal” as well, Falcon…including mine and I’m sure others on this site–Based on this point, you will then have to pit THEIR experiences against Lamborn’s in order to give a more accurate picture of what we’re really dealing with here.
Falcon, I think you cherry pick historical facts based on talking points you receive from a website somewhere. Even if God provides facts, there will still be those who disbelieve. The reason for this is simple, pride will keep anyone from seeing the truth, even if it’s in the form of so-called “proof”. What about many in the bible who saw miracles, angels, and STILL turned away…and even crucified the Savior. That seems to me to be a major STRIKE against “proof” and reassures me that the burning of the Spirit is the ONLY important measure of truth.
Lamborn had courage? Well, he should be at peace instead of parading his hurt feelings and inadequacies in the press. I believe it takes more courage to believe and have faith in that burning feeling, than rely solely on proof. Lamborn to me, is a coward, touting proverbial pats on the back from the evangelical community. His personal experience is no match for my own.
First of all I don’t let anyone drive the agenda of what I look at or respond to. I’m not going to be driven by other people’s demands that I do something. If I’m interested I do. If I’m not, I don’t.
Second, there’s a tactic some here employ to keep others running in circles wasting valuable time and energy.
Third, I’ve purposed not to take insult bait.
Aaron: but ultimately and decisively I think it is the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of our heart to “see” the scripture as revelation
It sounds like we are on the same page then, with our faith in the veracity of scriptures being founded in revelation from the Holy Spirit. So based on that let me return your question back to you: If you did somehow discover that Paul “exploited his role to declare a false prophecy over selling the copyright of his letters and then manipulate multiple young women to marry him”, would you still receive his New Testament letters as scripture?
The event of coming to believe the scripture as God’s revelation is an event of coming face to face with the revelation of scripture, not revelation about scripture.
Ok… I don’t know what the functional difference between what I said and what you said is though. God tells us truth in both descriptions, right?
Falcon — You seem to be against revelation from God via anything that describable as “feelings”. Is that right? Does that mean you disagree with Aaron above? Also, what do you ultimately base your belief in God upon if not on personal contact with God through his Holy Spirit? What do you ultimately base your faith in the Bible on if not on the direct testimony from the Holy Spirit? As I asked Aaron earlier: If not revelation what do you rely on for that witness? Tradition? Archeology?
Very good question and I appreciate the tenor of your remarks. John Wesley has an interesting testemony along these lines. He struggled mightly as a young man as to the assurance of his salvation. He had “head knowledge” but couldn’t get any peace that he was saved. He wrote, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate-Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” I love this testimony especially the heart being warmed part. Being a person that could be given over to religious excess, I find I have to be really cautious regarding any type of spiritual phenomonon including confirmation from God. I do hear from Him on a regular basis especially regarding what to pray about and how to pray and what His word is saying to me. I’ve learned to check, however, for confirmation because my desire to believe could be used as an instrument to deceive (by the enemy). I walk a brisk but steady walk in the Spirit.
Amanda, you are absolutely right, the fact that Mr. Lamborn has become disillusioned with his faith does not prove or disprove Mormonism. If Billy Graham became an atheist, it would sadden me but it would not prove/disprove anything. I don’t think that was the point of the article. I think the article was merely reporting on a faithful Mormon man who, after discovering unpleasant truths about his faith and asking questions, was treated unfairly by his ward leaders. I wasn’t saying that you had made a point about his potential fornication, I was saying that the article probably highlighted his faithful Mormon history. Often when LDS leave the faith, their friends/family say they must want to fornicate or they were offended. That was all. Okay, have to post this before my computer crashes again.
First of all I don’t let anyone drive the agenda of what I look at or respond to. I’m not going to be driven by other people’s demands that I do something. If I’m interested I do. If I’m not, I don’t.
Second, there’s a tactic some here employ to keep others running in circles wasting valuable time and energy.
Third, I’ve purposed not to take insult bait.”
Those are good rules. I’ve had to use a version of the same thing here.
While “pop culture Mormonism” may be overly wedded to emotionalism in spiritual matters, Mormon doctrine is much less so.
Take the typical “missionary challenge” contained in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4 and 5:
“And when ye shall receive these things [he means the BoM], I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
Those two scriptures are part of a list of key scriptures that LDS youth are asked to commit to memory in the Mormon religious studies program. Taken in isolation, they seem to confirm Falcon’s assertion that Mormonism is mostly about emotionalism. I would imagine there are even a lot of Mormons who draw this conclusion.
But wait, we haven’t read the context of the verses and the surrounding passages.
Here is the preceding verse 3:
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.”
So basically, Moroni is calling upon the reader to have:
1. Studied the Book of Mormon, its stories, its teachings, and its claims
2. To place the Book of Mormon account in the larger context of God’s dealings with mankind. For us this would involve a inquiry of the Bible, and an interested study of human history from both religious and secular sources
3. To spend a lot of time “pondering” the whole thing – thinking about it, debating with yourself about it
Then come the verses I first quoted. Once you have an INFORMED idea of the Book of Mormon, THEN you inquire of God and open yourself to whatever message He wants to send to you.
That is so much more than mere cheap emotionalism.
Then in verse 6, Moroni appeals to our innate sense of good and evil as a measure by which to judge the book. Then in verse 7, he asks that we not close our minds to what God is trying to say, but make a truly honest inquiry. Then in verse 8, he speaks of the “gifts of God” which can be expected to accompany a life in the Gospel and should be expected to be contained in the books pages. Later he asserts the unchangeable nature of God and gets into a discussion of Christian charity that would be perfectly at home in the New Testament.
In short, Moroni is speaking of trying the validity of the Book of Mormon by living a Christian life. You can reference this to the words of the prophet Alma in Alma 32:26-43 (actually the whole chapter is worth reading if you really want a better grasp of how Mormons internally justify their religion). Here Alma compares the word of God to a seed which if planted and nourished, will bear fruit in your life. If bad fruit, then the word was false and not good, but if good fruit then the word was true and good. This is an outright challenge for students of the Book of Mormon to test it in their own lives and observe the results.
Taken together, these verses represent a potent call for the student of the Book of Mormon to subject it to a rigorous analysis using all the tools available to him or her.
Again, the emotionalism you have described simply is not supported by our actual scripture, regardless of how actual lay Mormons or outsiders may misguidedly interpret isolated and a-contextual scriptures. We embrace ALL faculties in seeking God’s truth, including our God-given intuition.
I really need to proofread what I write more. I don’t know why I put the word “probably” in there when referring to the article highlight Lamborn’s moral life. Anyway, Amanda, let’s be more compassionate towards Mr. Lamborn. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than discovering things about your religion were false. I think it would be even worse than discovering a spouse’s unfaithfulness. And the article seems to say that Mr. Lamborn is still a true Mormon, he just discovered some disillusioning truths and was then treated unfairly by his own Mormon brethren.
Apparently the Stake President involved in Lambert’s excommunication has decided that a public announcement wasn’t such a hot idea after all:
Megan, I agree with you for the most part. I imagine that there must be some people out there who left the Church because they were behaving badly and then wanted to justify it. But I don’t think it’s all or even most of those who leave the LDS Church. I think the occasional or common (take your pick) Mormon prejudice of labeling these people as “fornicators” or “spiritually weak” is unfair. We have little way of knowing why a person choses to interface with her religion in the manner she does.
For myself, I am utterly uninterested in macho comparisons of those “sissy people who left” and “those stalwarts saints who stayed.” I find such comparisons unfairly judgmental, uncharitable, misguided, and usually prideful.
Right on, Seth R.! Wow, it feels good to agree about something. Let’s savor this feeling while we can, because I am sure we’ll come to an impasse on the next heavy theological topic.
Thanks for that description. It turns out that we have more spiritual common ground than was readily apparent before I knew you held those opinions. I also love that description from Wesley because it sounds very much like the experiences I have had with God as well.
I think that Seth’s comments were right on the mark as well. Mormonism does not support “cheap emotionalism” in place of real revelatory experiences at all. Rather, we push for the very kind of experiences that Wesley described where God himself sends his Holy Spirit to enlighten and change the hearts and minds of people.
And like you, we also have “learned to check, however, for confirmation because [our] desire to believe could be used as an instrument to deceive (by the enemy).”
Now some will say there is a problem here because God has led you to an Evangelical church and he has led me to Mormonism. That is assuming that God would never do such a thing. But of course to make such an assumption is to assume one knows the mind and will of God fully. I doubt anyone here will claim to have that kind of insight.
Apparently I take issue with your characterizing Lamborn’s actions as faithful. This to me is not a matter of compassion, (however certain you are that I am void of it) Rather, he stands indignant against the church because of his personal “findings”. The church had reason to excommunicate on the basis of apostasy. If you have doubts and concerns in your heart, that is a different matter altogether. What Lamborn did was persuade others in the faith of his “discoveries” that questioned the foundation of the church- now if you fight against the message of the gospel, how can you then expect to be numbered among His sheep? Ok, so he was faithful up unto that point. And???
It seems ridiculous, by his actions, to expect leadership to show compassion when the man was not interested in repenting. This isn’t a matter of his peers ostracizing him or casting him out because he was “struggling”–this is a matter of him apparently offending God and was excommunicated on that basis alone. And if Lamborn is sincerely in a better place today as far as knowledge, he should just move on with his life and be happy, right? Why the sour grapes? I realize you explain his actions by him being saddened and surprised by the truth and mourning the faith he was brought up to believe- that makes sense that you would think that way if you believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be a cult. But that is your bias- and not any more valid than my assessment of him being a coward. We interpret his actions to shore up our own perspective. Which leads me to my original point, his experience is irrelevant to the validity of the gospel. I lean on my own experiences with the Holy Spirit…Period.
(Aaron, where can I ask evangelicals on this site questions involving their positions on Saving/Grace/Works?? I never get a clear answer from anyone with these questions and would like to give you all that opportunity)
Grace is the gift of God. It is the unmerited favor of forgiveness or mercy given to sinners. Grace is an outpouring of God’s love and mercy. (see John 3:16-21)
Saving (redemption) The Latin word is “redemptio”
It means to “buy back again”. It’s the idea that Christ redeemed or bought back mankind by delivering us from sin and its punishment. Therefore salvation is made possible. (see Mark 10:45) We talk about “atonement” that states that Christ’s death atoned for our sins. The atonement is effective because Christ bore the punishment justly due all sinners. Jesus’ death is vicarious or on our behalf. (see Romans 3:9-23)
Works: Salvation is not based upon works-it is a free gift from God. But with the gift of salvation comes certain responsibilities that must be taken seriously. Good works should result from the changed purpose for living that salvation brings.(see 1 Cor. Chp. 3)
Hope this helps!
Just a quick message as I have a beautiful Saturday at home.
I mentioned before about a friend who had a book from an off-shoot of the LDS church called ‘The Second Book of Commandments”. He also did not sustain any of the prophets (including President Hinckley) from Wilford woodruff on. Because of this he had a few ideas that were contrary/different to our mainstream teachings. He was allowed to be a member just as long as in an official church setting and in public he did not espouse these ideas as church doctrine. He could discuss it with friends and family outside of church but again not say that it was doctrine. Ultimately he didn’t do as he was asked. He was warned over a sixth month period that I know of, but from what I understand it was longer. He was excommunicated for apostacy but was allowed to come to church as long as he did not bring up these ideas. His excommunication was also announced to warn other members about his ideology. I actually went to the meeting where they decided to excommunicate him as I was his Elders’ Quorum president at the time.
Mr Lamborn would be in the same boat. I would assume that he would have been given warnings about what he was doing, before it was deigned necessary to excommunicate him. As for announcing his excommunication – thisis only done when someone has been excommunicated for personal apostacy, to warn other members. It doesn’t mean that we keep away from him, it just means that we need to becareful about what we listen to when he talks. the stake president should have assigned an high counsellor to be a ‘liaison’ officer to assist Mr Lamborn in coming back to full membership in the church if he decided to.
So I think there may be more to the story than just Mr Lamborn’s side. What’s the saying? – There are 2 sides to an incident, and somewhere in the middle is the truth.
Amanda, I still think calling someone a coward is a judgmental, unkind thing to do, devoid of any Christian charity.
It seems to me that one of the issues here, as we examine Mr. Lamborn’s spiritual awakening and journey, is the role of head knowledge and heart knowledge. How does someone “know” what they believe is true? When it comes to the subject of “history”, the facts often are known or documented. What those facts “mean” is a matter (it seems) for an individual to interpret. In-other-words, we attach meaning to the facts. We listen, read, research and then, fill it all up with our own meaning. In religious matters (to bring credability to our beliefs) we often employ the “God spoke to me” or some similar expression. What’s interesting, I haven’t heard Mr. Lamborn say that i.e. “God warmed my heart” or some other such expression. Does that negate what he has come to believe or call it into question? Can we operate on “head” knowledge apart from a confirmation from God? Should we always expect that God will provide us with such a feeling (for lack of a better word). And if an individual gets a “feeling” is what they believe true?
For what it’s worth falcon, I do not “know” the LDS Church is true. And I don’t think I ever have unless you count the unshakeable conviction that a child has in the faith of his parents.
I know that this particular phraseology is popular in Mormon testimony meetings. But I haven’t felt comfortable using it for long time now.
I like Mormonism, I’m highly committed to it. I prefer it. I was raised in it. I have confidence in it. I believe it.
But I wouldn’t call what I have sure knowledge. “Belief” is a better word for me.
Megan, First off Amanda is not a Christian. Then Jesus made Judgments and told us when we do Judge to judge in a correct manor, the Apostles made Judgments and we do it every day, we make judgments in the way of how do we decide if a person is telling the truth or not? we make a judgment along with looking at facts.
Then about the name calling saying that is not Christ like, was Jesus or John the baptist not being loving and Christ like when the said, you brood of vipors, you white washed tombs, you Child of the devil, and many other things they said. Rick b
When you put quotations around findings and discoveries in your post, you imply that these two items lack credibility. I have read Mr. Lamborn’s writings and they reinterate many of the historical facts that have been uncovered by other historians. You should never attack the messenger personally–you should spend more of your time researching whether or not what he says is true. If it is true–then it is worth knowing and he is justified in sharing that information with all interested parties. The spreading of knowledge should never be referred to as sour grapes.
I am familiar with the works or Ehrman and feel confident that he is considered on the far extreme of the most liberal christian scholarship. He is up there with Crossan and Spong. When looking at theses authors works–the validity of the their arguments is all that need to be considered–not their personal history. When you research Ehrman’s topics you will find that he doesn’t expose anything that hasn’t been studied before. He does sell a lot of books, I would say that is part to do with the huge market for authors redefining Jesus (leads to success in Gnostic gospels, Jesus tomb, etc.).
I have worked with many Mormons and initially they would reject historical facts and biblical issues by calling the sources anti-Mormon or finding strength in their personal testimony. Once they were able to objectively look at information and see that Mormonism is a 19th century creation they were able to realize that what they thought was a testimony was simply self reassurance. They Holy Spirit is there to help confirm what is true not be a source for defending what is made up.
I put the same challenge to Christians, many of whom act the same was as Mormons. They have no interest in the historical accuracy of the bible and rely on how Jesus is helping them (a feeling that is just as subjective and can cause anguish when life doesn’t work out how you like it), some of you may remember the song “Ask me how I know He lives–He lives within my heart”. This is the theme song of perpetuating ignorance. They should look at the historical record. They will find that scholarships confirms the existance of Jesus and confirms the teachings of the Christian church. The song should say I know he lives because historical information supports the accuracy of the biblical record.
When looking for the truth–there is only one absolute truth.
Head Knowledge/Heart Knowledge
The great 19th century English preacher Charles Spurgeon was converted at the age of 15. He had dispared of his salvation and had a great need for deliverance. By mistake(?) a snowstorm had him duck into a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Spurgeon’s initial reaction to the lay preacher there: “He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text (Isaiah 45:22), and there was nothing needed-by me, at any rate-except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, ‘that young man there looks very miserable….Look! Look, young man! Look now!’ Then I had this vision-not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was….Now I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment. For the next months Spurgeon searched the scriptures “to know more fully the value of the jewel which God had given me..”
Paul was addressing those who were already a part of the religious tradition he considered himself a part of – namely the Jewish hierarchy.
Jesus saved his harshest words for the Pharisees, a group of people already of his faith.
Contrast that with how both Paul and Jesus spoke to people outside of their faith – such as the Athenians, or the Samaritans. Certainly these people were misguided and adhering to false beliefs. In the case of the Samaritans, they even claimed to be part of Judaism while believing their false beliefs (sound familiar to you?).
So how then, should you be treating Mormons whom you consider outside the faith?
Sorry, the bible provides almost no justification for your behavior. It’s not enough to assert that Jesus used harsh words – you now have to explain why the same considerations that Jesus made apply to your situation.
Salvation & Lyndon Lamborn
The result of Lyndon Lamborn’s historical research into Mormonism resulted in his rejection of the religion. He was subsequently excommunicated from the LDS church. It is my understanding that, in the view of the LDS church, he’s heading for outer darkness. So if he receives Jesus as his personal Savior by faith, is he, in LDS view, saved?
That’s actually not accurate Falcon. Getting excommunicated is not considered the same a the unpardonable sin and the unpardonable sin is generally taught that the only thing that would merit outer darkness. Here is what D&C 76 says about those who will inherit an eternal hell:
Becoming disillusioned and leaving the church is a far cry from turning against Christ to such a degree that one would happily crucify Christ again unto themselves (which is a major part of the unpardonable sin as I read this passage).
So he is almost surely already saved from an eternal hell. Section 76 indicates that if he remains a “good and honorable” man throughout his life the he would at least be receive terrestrial glory, and since there is such a thing as work for the dead there is no telling what opportunities he will have to draw even closer to Christ in the spirit world prior to judgment and resurrection.
That almost sounds like a legal term of some sort. Like something you’d hear in the military i.e. “He got discharged after a section 76 was filed against him.” Actually then, getting excommunicated from the LDS church doesn’t sound like that big a deal. Besides, if he get’s himself born again, he won’t have to be concerned with terrestrial or celestial kingdoms et al. He’ll be in a whole different program. Kind of like me no longer being a Catholic. I don’t have to be concerned about purgatory. That was one of the side benefits of leaving forty years ago. I could never figure out why anyone would want to be in a religion that had something like purgatory.
“Actually then, getting excommunicated from the LDS church doesn’t sound like that big a deal.”
Our Church is rather forgiving that way.
This has certainly been a traditional, popular Mormon understanding, even if it doesn’t accord with “official” Mormon doctrine (whatever that is!). The requirements for going to outer darkness seem to be getting stricter and stricter.
If you somehow think this means Christians can’t speak harsh criticism at all to idolaters, I’d be careful here for a few reasons. First, Jesus is Yahweh, and Yahweh issued very harsh criticism through Isaiah of the false gods, even mocking them and sarcastically belittling them (cf. also Elijah’s encounter with the the priests of Baal). I don’t say this to mean that any Christian’s character should be characterized as habitually sarcastic and condescending and critical, but can be completely precluded from the Christian life. Also, Paul told Gentiles in Acts 14 to turn from “vain/worthiness things”, and in Acts 17 spoke critically of their idols (while at the same time endorsing nuggets of truth affirmed in their literature) and told them to repent. In Galatians, he spoke extremely harsh of the Galatian Judaizers, obviously not considering them part of the true Christian church, yet taking into consideration that they claimed to be. In John 4, Jesus corrected the Samaritan woman’s theology and exposed her sin. The Samaritans were a theological cult of Judaism, a great parallel with Mormonism today. Christ’s interaction with her is a great example of how evangelical Christians should often turn a 5 minute conversation with a Mormon from something natural to something supernatural, lovingly addressing sin and heart issues, correcting bad theology, promoting good theology, and pointing to the true Messiah. These are only a few threads, of course, that belong in a larger fabric of the Christian life and the narrative of the Bible. But there isn’t Biblical justification for Mormons to essentially tell Christians to shut up with their criticism of non-Christian idolatry because the idolaters are considered outside of Christendom and the Christian faith. In fact, this particularly doesn’t work well with Mormonism, because it claims to be part of Christendom and the Christian faith (something that intensified the rhetoric of Paul regarding the Galatian Judaizers)!
I’d address other issues right now on this discussion thread, but I suddenly have to replace the keyboard on my broken laptop! (I’m barely able to post this without going bonkers!)