Lifelong Mormon Lyndon Lamborn went to an LDS “Disciplinary Council” meeting on August 19th 2007. The only thing on the agenda was to determine what should be done with Mr. Lamborn’s membership in the LDS Church. He had lost his faith in Mormonism when he discovered discrepancies between the way LDS history was presented by the Church and actual historical facts (Mormon Coffee discussed Mr. Lamborn’s story in September 2007). The August Disciplinary Council meeting resulted in Mr. Lamborn’s excommunication.
At the Council meeting, President James Molina summarized the concerns of the Church for Mr. Lamborn:
”The overview that I would give from our discussions that you and I talked about last time as we sat in council, based on talks with you, that you no longer believe in the teachings of the church, but also have taken some of your personal beliefs and findings and tried to persuade some members of the church into believing the same things, or that you would maybe be opening their eyes to some of the facts that you had found, and to me that is where the real issue lies. It is one thing for you to believe, you are certainly welcome to believe what you would like, but when you start to take those things to other members of the church and persuade them not to follow the commands of the prophets, requires church discipline.”
This surprised me. Apparently, it was not actually Mr. Lamborn’s apostasy that required church discipline; it was talking to others about it that caused concern.
From what Mr. Molina said, if Mr. Lamborn would have just kept quiet he would have been free to remain a member in good standing — even though he no longer believed “in the teachings of the church.”
This raises questions. Is personal belief irrelevant to LDS Church membership? To become a member certain beliefs must be affirmed, but if a member loses his or her testimony at some point, as long as he doesn’t talk about it, it appears he is welcome to remain a member of the Church. In that case, just what does it mean to be a member of the Mormon Church – to be a Mormon — if beliefs are not part of the equation? And if it doesn’t really matter what a member believes, then why does it matter if one member persuades another to believe differently?
The LDS Church claims to be a restoration of the early Christian church, yet the Bible doesn’t provide any precedent for diminishing the importance of doctrine. On the contrary, the Bible says that believers are not to welcome or receive people who hold to conflicting doctrines (2 John 1:6-11). True believers are to separate themselves from unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). A good servant of Christ follows sound doctrine and has nothing to do with “irreverent, silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:6-7). The description of the fellowship of early believers is that “all who believed were together” and they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42-44).
Jesus said that those who worship God must worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). He said, ““If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Biblically speaking, to be a member of Christ’s church, one must believe in the truth – the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
This is yet one more way in which the LDS Church deviates from biblical Christianity.
My dear Sharon, I just don’t think your being very nice!
If our churches kicked out everyone that believed differently on certain things than the next person – well – we’d all belong to a church of one person!
Being a Christian is not about forcing everyone to think the way that you (or I) happen to think.
Tolerance, my dear!
Donny, I’m not really sure how using the ambiguous term “force” is constructive to the conversation without some qualification. And you are attacking a straw man: Sharon never said everyone in a church should all comprehensively believe the exact same specific things.
I can see tolerating beliefs on peripheral issues, but what about basic things? From what I understand, John Dehlin, president of Sunstone, doesn’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t make a public stink about it, so apparently for that reason the Mormon Church doesn’t excommunicate him.
Of related interest is the 1998 Church Handbook of Instructions:
“Disfellowshipped members are encouraged to pay tithes and offerings…” (>>)
Lots of crazy gems like that. About the only thing a potential member is required to repudiate (if relevant to their upbringing, etc.) is “apostate” teachings on polygamy. Go figure. Once you get in the church you can be an esteemed Mormon apologist and say things like, “I personally do not believe in a virginal conception of Jesus… I would take Joseph as his father before I would accept a miraculous, virginal conception.” (>>)
But Kevin certainly isn’t in danger of disfellowship or excommunication. Mormonism has an odd value system that raises huge red flags in my mind.
There are some country clubs you can join even if you don’t play golf. I think it’s called a “social membership”.
How can I follow the doctrines of the LDS Church when not even its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. would not even do so?
The 12th Article of Faith reads (verbatim): “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Smith Jr. broke the law when he and other LDS leaders at the time established the Kirtland Safety Society. Such endemic problems as “wildcat banking” and counterfeiting became sources of potential illegal banking practices. When confronted with the illegal nature of the KSS, Smith Jr. tried to rectify the letter of the law by making it an “anti-bank.”
Instead of the being a faithful leader and prophet he was supposed to be, Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon ran from the law when it was clear that capture and legal action was upon them.
I have plenty of other examples if this one doesn’t suit you. Regardless, I find it to be a complete hypocrisy for Church leaders to require others to maintain their beliefs when perhaps even THEY themselves are having doubts (or going against them) altogether.
Replys? Rebuttals? Don’t leave a guy hanging.
In my personal situation, I found this to be the case. In ’97 I stopped attending the LDS temple because I told my bishop I could not accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, etc. Over the next decade I found I occasionally got brought in to meet a new bishop or EQ pres who wanted to know why I wouldn’t attend temple. I was always polite but direct in stating I did not accept the foundational doctrines of the church, and while I was not openly antagonistic, I focused on a faith in Christ based on doctrine I could best understand using only the Bible.
Some leaders felt it safer to have me only do callings like scouts or humanitarian services. However, over that decade I also was called thrice to teach sunday school for the youth or adults. Just last year, prior to my wife and I leaving to join a Christian congregation I was teaching New Testament to the youth ages 14-15. My leaders asked me not to be antagonistic to LDS doctrine, but were okay with me focusing on teaching the history behind the NT, the primitive church, and doctrines now embraced by traditional Christianity. It was a challenge, sometimes, not to take opportunity to speak how some LDS teachings aren’t well-founded in the Bible, but I honored my leaders’ trust. The kids seemed to enjoy my class and participated well. I hope they learned more tolerance for trad. Christian perspectives. (Of course most fellow Mormons did not know I’m a Mormon “disbeliever”, so as good as it was, it was still a balancing act.)
So my story is one of general tolerance, similar to Lamborn’s, if I did not preach my differences of belief to others. Nonetheless, we feel better now about worshiping openly in a Christian congregation where our belief and practice is more harmonious. This change helps my convictions be not just intellectual ones, but more fervently ones of faith as well. The tolerance came with terms and that balancing act eventually wore me out where church attendance was greatly non-nurturing to my faith.
Just for Quix, wow, thanks for sharing your story. God is good!
I’m sure this will be dismissed as hist “opinion” and not official church thought, though this is very interesting: “It is one thing for you to believe, you are certainly welcome to believe what you would like, but when you start to take those things to other members of the church and persuade them not to follow the commands of the prophets, requires church discipline.”
Only when you start convincing others that it requires discipline… Before then, no worries, after then, kick em out!
Its as if the church is more important than each individual saved. Who cares what each individual thinks, as long as the church organization is strong.
As Sharon said, this is indeed a very different mentallity.
It’s not his opinion. The LDS church invites all to come unto Christ regardless of their status in life. Once in the church we try to keep them there because we believe that this is the only true church. In doing so, we are tolerant of people who decide to believe slightly differently to what is actual doctrine in hopes that as time goes on they will see the error of their ways and believe in the truth. This is better than just kicking them out straight away and leaving them with no chance of salvation. But these people are given warnings about their abberant beliefs – ie not to disseminate them, nor teach them as true doctrine in church settings – otherwise their membership will be on the line.
In one of the wards I lived in this happened as well. One of the brethren did not believe in any of the prophets after Wilford Woodruff as being true prophets. He would always raise his hand in the negative during conferences, etc. He also had a book called ‘The Second Book of Commandmants’ which is from a splinter group of the LDS church. He was warned and asked many times not to discuss his beliefs in church or official church functions. This had been going on for a couple of years until 2 months in a row he bore his testimony on fast Sunday and over the pulpit he said a few of his beliefs. So the Stake Pres had nothing else to do but take him to council, where he was excommunicated because he did not want to stop communicating his beliefs. I was at the council and so I know that the decision was the right one, despite how sadenning it was. The main point though, and Quix has mentioned it, he had many warnings about what not to do but he just did not listen.
So point – We believe that the LDS church is God’s only true church on this earth and so these people are allowed to believe what they want as long as they do not disseminate their beliefs in the hope that time will allow them to see the error of their belief and remain a full church member.
I sometimes wonder if many of (most of?) the LDS church leaders KNOW that the church is not true, the BoM is not at all inspired, and Joseph Smith was nothing more than a clever (yes, even quite intelligent, definitely charasmatic) con man… but yet even though they know this, they pretend to be True Blue Mormons for the business aspects of the church.
This little theory of mine (surely it’s not original) would make sense in the context of this story. They are saying “you don’t have to believe LDS doctrine, but just don’t go arguing against it with others because that’s bad for our business.” Could it be that a lot of this about the money or am I being naive?
OK, I am a bit surprised, Ralph, and again, thank you for your candor.
Although I understand the rationale to hope they come around, I am still blown away by the concept. You excommunicate them if they try to teach others a belief they may hold on their own? Do you work with them to try to get them to see their error before it gets to that point? Or do you just let them go and hope they come around?
I am reminded of the example of how to deal with problems in the church: one person address the individual on his own, then bring in another, and so on until you bring in the entire church and then act on ridding the problem.
And it is odd that it only becomes a problem when the individual decides to go public? I am sorry Ralph, but it still seems to be about protecting the church and not the individual. If it were otherwise, you’d do all you could to protect the sole of the individual. Three stories now who act only when it becomes apparent the individual will convince others…
Yes, we do work with the person to try and help them see that their belief is wrong, but we cannot force them to change if they don’t want to.
As for your comment “it still seems to be about protecting the church and not the individual”, this is not true. There are 3 points for the councils to take into consideration, whether its Bishop council or Stake council (written in no specific order) – 1) Protecting the innocent; 2) Saving the individual; 3) Protecting the name of the church (Yes I will admit this is one of the things stated in these councils and made clear to all participants – trust me I have been to many). The first priority is protecting the innocent. This means in cases of apostacy the general church membership. So if someone has had countless warnings to keep their ideas/beliefs to themselves, but has not and openly defies these warnings, then something has to be done. Protecting the name of the church only really comes into play if its a public thing. But the salvation of the person is also thoroughly contemplated. Sometimes they need excommunication to allow a ‘cooling of period’ for true repentence to happen. Other times the excommunication is for the benefit of the innocent or the name of the church. But the only time the results of a council are announced to the general congregation is for apostacy – this is to protect the innocent. If someone is disfellowshiped or excommunicated for anything else (eg adultry) it is not announced, its left to the individual if they want to tell others.
Nope, you’re just being naive.
their is a 7 part serious on mr lyndon on you tube, it is him talking about what he went through. the total time is a little over an hour if people want his exact words. rick b
To Aaron: Thanks for the fellowship of faith here.
Re: Ralph’s comments: I also appreciate his candor, and I believe that Mormons believe that these so-called “courts of love” are convened on this principle. I think love has its place within them but I do not think it is the main purpose of this very legalistic ritual that is proscribed to deal with apostates. Now if someone is a mean trouble-maker I can see that a court may be the best remaining option.
But otherwise I’ve known others, like myself, brought in about their heterodox beliefs where the purpose seemed to be anything but love (though a lot of lip service was given), but to ascertain what level of danger they pose. While I never had a court convened on my behalf, I’ve certainly met a couple bishops and EQ presidents whose attitudes were very similar to those that Lamborn encountered. (Thankfully I also have known some tolerant ones as well.) I have had many Mormons speak to me privately about issues of belief, since they knew I have studied this type of material for many years, though most did not know my level of “disbelief” ’cause they figured since I still attended church that I was safe. It put me in a hard position, because I did not want my family shamed or shunned by having a court convened about me. On the other hand, there is very little safe place for Mormons to openly discuss, grapple and debate issues, especially when traditional LDS faith claims are at stake. From my personal experience, those of “heretics/apostates” I know (both ones ex’d and still LDS), plus speaking with John Dehlin, the LDS church needs a much more productive, and less cult-like way, to encourage open dialogue about faith, especially among those with valid intellectual and emotional reasons that lead them to challenge beliefs and subsequently run aground the reefs of inflexible LDS church corporate procedural orthodoxy.
Just for Quix,
You said that you knew others who had been in councils, but you have never had one convened for you. Have you ever been in a council to see how it works? You have received only their side of the story. If they are hurt, angry or otherwise from it, do you think they would give it a good rating? Yes I do believe some bishops and stake pres’s may act unto themselves in convening a council when it was not necessary and these councils would play out as you describe. But all of the dozen or so councils I participated in (ward clerk) they all were very loving and spiritual meetings, even when the person was excommunicated (one) or disfellowshiped (a few). There was only one I disagreed with the outcome, but that was from personal experience and feelings. And yes its difficult to discuss the things brought up by anti-Mormons in an open setting and in most cases private settings. Except for protecting the ones who are weaker spiritually, I don’t understand why someone in the Stake or ward couldn’t have the calling to answer questions like these.
But how does the Ev’s deal with this? If someone claimed to be Evangelical and went to your meetings but believed, for example, that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost were 3 seperate people – do you accept them as Evangelical? From most of the past comments I understand that you would say they do not believe in Jesus Christ so they are not Christian, then you would try to convince them of their error. Which to me means that you are forbiding their faith in Jesus (as you do with us) and not allowing them into your church until they believe the same as you. So in fact you are damning them first before trying to save them. Where as we are trying to save them outright by keeping them in the church, then trying to change their ways. Am I wrong?
We’re dealing with two entirely different religious cultures when we compare LDS to say Ev. Christianity. My view is that the LDS religion is much more controlling than your standard issue Ev. Church. Most denominational churches (Lutheran, Methodist,etc.)don’t even have issues like those being discussed here about the LDS church. There are some legalistic type churches (regarding behavior)to be sure, but I don’t think they get into the whole excommunication program. Christians don’t typically get into doctrinal arguments because people gravitate to a church that fits their personal doctrinal system. Mormonism has a whole set of issues peculiar to their history doctrine and culture and credibility that Christian churches don’t have.
You bring up some good points. I am, true, heterodox by Mormon standards. And those “non-believers/apostates” I’ve known who have been thru courts found them less-loving (not absent of love) than you describe. Yes, that is only their perspective. My wife was ex’d, though not for heresy, and while she thought they loved her there was no formal advocate on her behalf–which I thought was required– and in the sum she felt probed, violated, and less-loved than she had hoped. The result was to deny her any involvement within the community of faith, even as a musician for our ward talent show, and her walk to repentance was a list (literally a 2-pg written list) of things she needed to do in order to be forgiven. While I recognize the church’s right for choosing what it wants to do with sinners/excommunicants, it was a very different atmosphere than the counsel we sought with a Christian marriage counselor, and eventually with our pastor. It was a motivational point for us to make a change in faith as a family.
But you are right, even in our Ev congregation there are some beliefs that would be of grave concern, so it is not a “free for all” atmosphere, for sure. But it _is_ a different atmosphere than what we knew as LDS. Diversity in worship, dress, practice and belief is welcomed. (WIDER diversity is encouraged, because it is faith in God that unites us.) But, true, not a free-4-all. Our pastor always tells us to not take his word authoritatively, but to seek the scripture for truth. (I know LDS teaches we should ultimately turn to God and scripture, but leaders do NOT encourage congregants to question them.) The staff does teach the inerrancy of the Bible, but they don’t teach infallibility, and are quite historical and open to how inerrancy is defined. But they do preach that we find the big picture: faith, doctrine and God’s search for a relationship with man solely thru the Bible. But they stop short of claiming it is a thorough cosmogony.
Falcon, I think you are right on.
Our experience is that we found a total, I mean total, cultural difference (in a good way) in Christian churches compared to LDS in issues of freedom and control. Obviously, Christianity isn’t exempt from poorly handling the sinners among the body. The Wall Street Journal had a great cover article back in January on this. (Here’s the link: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120061470848399079-yroutLlKBwF3MzxS2afA5ZaVWFw_20090117.html )
We’ve found Christian churches very united (and inflexible) on creedal doctrine, but style of ministry, cultural practices, worship, how alms/donations are collected, etc., varies a lot. It does make it easy to shop around for a fit, and thus, probably does result in more harmony. (Though I will say in our Men’s Bible study group there is a healthy culture of analysis, discussion and friendly debate, which I would have died to have found in a LDS Elders Quorum class.)
This culture is more “nomadic” so you still have a core of dedicated congregants, and those for whom Sunday worship is all they desire. But you know? We’re cool with that for we know God can lead others to practice on a different level than ourselves. And we always find money and volunteers to make things happen. (Plus, we actually get reports about how our money is spent.) So we do have levels of activity like a LDS ward, but no one is giving anyone any grief and guilt for not going about it all the same way. I don’t want that to sound bitter. We’re not, mostly 🙂 We’ve just found choice, autonomy and worship differences more respected, boundaries of personal space inviolate by leadership, a greater sense of personal say and ownership, more safety with how kids/youth groups are operated, more accountability, and a sense of greater expertise in doctrine and leadership by our shepherds. Yet we have a great time getting many good things done! I really don’t get (really I don’t) why our families gives us such grief for changing.
This is some great dialog on the different perspectives of “councils.” I would add to the comments here stating that it is one thing to have a different belief. It is something else completely to teach it as doctrine of the church to other members.
Could you imagine what would happen to ANY church that would subject itself to that level of tolerance? Nobody in the world or in the church would know what the core beliefs of the church were. So the action taken is for good reason and any church would do the same. To hold a belief that you don’t quite understand and are still learning about, with time, can align itself with the doctrine of the church where the member resides. However, when the “false” (meaning doesn’t correspond to the same doctrine) belief is held firm as doctrine and is taught to someone else, that becomes a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” situation. Besides, what purpose would you have to be a member of church you did not share beliefs with if not to attempt to convert others to your beliefs?
So the results are valid. They do not prevent you from speaking to the members, they simply remove your membership and explain to others that you are no longer “part of the flock.” This does two things:
1) Other members see you as who you are.
2) Eliminates the person from using church settings for proselyting other doctrines.
If I were to attend another church to get “members” information and teach doctrine contrary to what they believe, you don’t think they would do the same?
That being said, What does this topic have to do with Mormon’s believing in Christ? The tabloid headlines need to stop. I would ask the moderators to conform to their same rules and keep the titles in context of the content of the post. Or, does that mean we can start submitting posts defending our belief in Christ?
Sorry you don’t like the title of this post. However, it actually does reflect the topic in that the focus of the post (which is not the same as the focus of the continuing conversation) is that one can apparently be a Mormon yet not believe the teachings of the LDS Church. So, do all Mormons believe in the First Vision? Do they all believe in baptism for the dead? Do they all believe in Christ? Not necessarily…
Lyndon is still free to persuade anyone he choses to his position, as a non-mormon. When one would persuade many to things that are untrue, he can no longer receive the blessings of membership in Christs’ church. He is still a child of God, and is still welcome back anytime He choses.
Evangelicals like to distance themselves from a lot of doctrine that is taught in the old and new testament. Their application of the bible is very generic– so any disciplinary action, or any kind of “organization” of Christ’s church is very confusing to them. Hypothetical, to prove my point: If Christ actually did restore His gospel through Joseph Smith, would anyone object to this action taken on behalf of Lyndon and his personal decisions regarding Christs’ servants and doctrine? Surely we are taught in the bible that those who work against His church are DAMNED! Heresy is the word I believe evangelicals will relate to here. Man, this harsh action against Lyndon (note sarcasm) is so much worse than the burning and killing and raping of heretics in the early Christian church!
“Bible says that believers are not to welcome or receive people who hold to conflicting doctrines”
I should look up these references more often, Sharon, because the scripture you referenced does not substantiate this claim. I would like you to further clarify what you think 2 John 1:1-6 is saying, before I assume incorrectly of your position.
Sharon, you are confusing a person’s personal journey regarding LEARNING with a person adamantly opposing what is being taught. There is a difference between personal belief and testimony, and publicly teaching in direct opposition to what the church is teaching. When you directly oppose Christs’ restored gospel, what is the purpose in numbering yourself among His sheep? I don’t see the conflict here? If you cannot understand this difference, this debate is pointless.
Actually, Amanda, it could have huge repurcussions. I also understand how you can view as a small issue, not worthy of anyone’s time; after all, it is about your seemingly solid church procedure. To you, it is logical and necessary, so what’s the point?
To us, though, (remember, we do not view the church or doctrine through the same lens as you– right or wrong, its reality) your choice to act only when the culprit tells someone else is a bit baffling. To be truthful, its as if you are punishing them for being a whistleblower or for exposing the lie. Its as if your church is scared of being exposed.
Now, I also know that you will say that this is not the case. Maybe, but it certainly appears that way to us.
Now, let me also expand on why it looks this way, despite that which is directly connected. We see that (again, rightly or wrongly, I’m talking perception) when witnessing you a) encourage people to convert based on a gut feeling b) do not give all the facts about your faith to new/prospective members c) strongly (and I do believe there are some banned books) discourage members to read critical material d) are encouraged to believe everything that comes out of SLC e) react harshly and very defensively when someone does criticize your faith it (Sharon’s piece) is a natural conclusion for us to make.
Further, how would my church deal with someone actively teachng against it? I’m not sure. I am certain they would take action, but that would depend on the severity of what the individual was doing. My church is actually quite open to who can come (mcleanbible.org– check it out) but very conservative, too. I know for certain they would not kick someone out of it for simply teaching against it. They’d probably just let the person leave on their own.
It’s good to hear from you.
I think we are experiencing a failure to communicate on this. At least, I’m not sure I understand what you are saying, and perhaps I haven’t made my position clear.
I found it odd that, according to the council quoted in the post, people are free to remain members of the LDS Church even if they do not believe the teachings of the Church. In my Evangelical church, if it is known that a member rejects the essential doctrines of the church, that is, those that must be believed and sustained to become a member of the church in the first place, he may not retain his membership. After counseling, if he continues to reject the essentials of the Christian faith, he would be asked to resign, and if unwilling to do that, his membership would be revoked. That is because being a member of the church carries certain responsibilities, implies agreement with specific beliefs, and reflects one’s reconciled standing before God. This fictional person who doesn’t believe would still be welcome to attend the church and all church activities, but membership would not be an option under those circumstances.
This is what strikes me as so strange with the statement of President Molina as quoted above. Mr. Lamborn could reject Joseph Smith as a prophet, reject the Book of Mormon as the word of God, reject the restoration of the Church, and in fact believe that the Church was willfully deceiving its members (sinning through lying), yet he was welcome to remain a member if he so desired. If this is the way it works in the LDS Church, claiming to be a Latter-day Saint is a virtually meaningless and empty statement when it comes to the tenets of one’s beliefs. It cannot be said that “Mormons believe in Christ,” or that “Mormons believe the 13 Articles of Faith,” for people who do not believe these things, as long as they are not trying to persuade others to disbelieve, are welcome to retain their LDS Church membership. So what does it actually mean to be a member of the LDS Church? That’s the question I’m wondering about.
[P.S. Sorry about the 2 John reference. It should have been 2 John 1:6-11. I’ve corrected it in the post.]
I think this discussion is interesting, though it seems to be emphasizing a difference between general norms of EV practice and those of LDS to perhaps too great a degree.
In our church the only public statement of faith we formally & individually make is at baptism. (We do not recite the creed in worship like some liturgical churches.) There are no “priesthood interviews” or other such intrusions to ascertain the belief level of congregants. So, it would take someone to be VERY OPENLY preaching against core Christian doctrine for there to be an intervention by the pastoral staff to see what is up. It would not be so formal an action as an LDS court, but the outcome I think would be similar: a request to cease.
At our church, when we discuss beliefs re: what’s considered non-core doctrine or practice there is more tolerance for open diversity of thought. The Mormon way of going about it may not achieve exactly the same cultural result –for ex, you won’t see Mormons openly at church discussing whether alcohol abstinence (not drunkenness) is really core or not– but I think the intent to accommodate believers on different levels is there. It is just less openly tolerant and orthodoxy more rigid. LDS may or may not only tolerate with intent to persuade. Yes the emphasis is different in our church, which results in more open diversity, but both traditions still have “non-negotiables” at core. I find EV culture more healthy and bible-based but that doesn’t mean LDS culture is all bad.
What I’ve seen with most ex’d or disciplined LDS “apostates,” however, is rather than caring too little, they have been more like Lamborn, urging toward more openness about problems, more emphasis on Christ-centeredness. Even recognizing Christian history is not without controversy, this seems to me an odd reason to take “court” action if such members talk openly. At the same time I can see the perspective of orthodox LDS who object. Rather than fight, I decided to change.
Sharon, I can see your point, which seems to advocate a stricter standard of “membership by belief” than what seems evident from Lamborn’s LDS experience. While I differed many years as a Mormon on matters of belief, it was eventually finding a more healthy environment of our Christian church that motivated me to leave. Yes, biblical Christian doctrine is important to me, yet I felt more connected to faith and God’s love in a place where there is more open tolerance in practice. _That_ motivated me to change, to live and grow more in harmony to my faith.
What I object to in Mormonism is authoritarian practices such as intrusive interviews asking me why I would not attend temple, with some leaders just not very content to accept it was a matter of integrity to my beliefs, and not a matter of grave sins. (However I eventually learned not to allow such intrusiveness.) I object where rigid orthodoxy leads in most matters to become more often issues of conformity in cultural practice rather than matters of belief. I don’t object as strongly to Mormons setting their standard of “non-negotiable” orthodox doctrines of belief different than I believe the Bible advocates, per se; I object more when they go about maintaining undue rigidity and control in practice, which I think is unhealthy.
I don’t think you are advocating intrusiveness among EV churches in order to ascertain how foundationally committed to core doctrines congregants are. I think it is more useful to have a healthy, open atmosphere where the love of God can prevail, people can feel truly accepted of God (and among the flock), and more liberated to allow God’s grace to bring about a changed heart and good fruits that glorify Him. In this atmosphere I think it becomes easier to discern true doctrine from teachings that may benignly enforce conformity, or, at worst, in the case of some LDS doctrine, lead to unproductive or emotionally unhealthy practices.
If Joseph Smith were alive today he would be excommunicated from the Mormon Church. People in the Mormon Church that start to read church history and have access to diaries and such, see how many things have changed and they want to talk about it but they are asked to stifle themselves! So you check out the EV community. It’s welcoming, different and interesting at first. You then realize you get fed the same canned sermon once a year. There’s nice little study groups as well, but it’s all canned and everyone is instructed on what the scriptures mean. No meat all very basic! You start to long for the truly amazing things you have been taught in the Mormon Church, but you know there is not point! To all apply Isaiah 28:7-9 and all apply Mormon 8: 33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that you might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled…36 and I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying,and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy Church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies because of the praise of the world?
There is a two millennia history of Christian scholarship that is anything but “no meat”. If one doesn’t find kindred spirits to delve in and feast on the Word at a Christian congregation, I say, start a study group of your own, speak to your pastor about setting up a more advanced pre- or post-worship service class, or seek out a congregation where you can. I know the “basic” “no meat” criticism can apply to Christian worship as well as modern LDS worship. If one loves challenging, deeper study one often can’t find it in a weekly experience at the local Mormon Ward boundaries, and when one does, it usually is not at church functions, as study groups are discouraged. And woe be if one finds it at a nearby Ward and then encounters the hassle that comes if one chooses not to attend regularly at one’s home Ward.
In sum, the Woenigma’s criticism is fair but I think with Christianity, Protestantism especially, you have much more freedom to seek out the style of worship, faith community and study style that suits your personal faith walk while still remaining centered in Christ. I think it is short-sighted to paint the speculative, if colorful, theology of early Mormonism as “amazing” to the neglect of portraying Christian study (or Evangelical Christianity in particular) as merely “canned”. Dig in. It can be everything but.
It’s unfortunate that your experience with EV churches has been so unrewarding. It is a real problem and that is one of the things that also disappoint me. I do think it is unfair though to categorize all EV churches as this way. I will readily admit that some churches exhibit what Jesus was referring to in Revelation chapters 2 & 3. Just because we say we’re EV doesn’t mean that we’re not without our problems. It is however vital that we’re rooted in sound biblical doctrine. That way you can discern when something is not right. There isn’t going to ever be the perfect church (until Jesus returns) because of course we’re not perfect and besides the church really isn’t a place or an organization but is actually the body of believers. The Bible refers to the church as “The Bride of Christ.”
My main goal is to have a closer walk with God. I looked at the LDS because of the message and thought maybe these guys have it figured out. As I started to look closer at it there were some real red flags. They didn’t tell me everything that the church was all about. When I attended the EV church I heard the simple gospel message and that was it! The EV church doesn’t have anything to hide and I like that. We’re more than willing to share our shortcomings. I’m pretty sure that most of the EVs that contribute to these threads have a love for the truth and have experienced the freedom that this gospel can give.
I’m sure there are some great EV churches (body of believers) out there that are truly on fire for the Lord. Keep looking.
Here is my 2 cents.
No organization should be made to allow detractors teach contrary to their own teachings in the organizations own forum.
We do not simply excommunicate people because they have different ideas on points of doctrine or the history of the church. This is because there is hope to bring that person to an understanding of the situation.
If that person sees fit to try to teach his contrary doctrine using the church’s are we simply supposed to allow it. Is the church pulpit the proper place to have open debate about the beliefs of the church?
Please read D&C 43.
Our church is not some political organization where people are free to sway members to their way of thinking all the time, it is a religion the same as any other where people go to develop and grow there faith in the church. To do otherwise is to allow a spirit of contention.
To discuss such things on a personal level is fine, because then you are allowing a proper situation for others to express their opinion in return in order to allow for enlightening and uplifting discussion.
Woenigma, there are some churches out there that do indeed keep the message very simple. Their called “seeker” churches. And as others have said, each church has its own problems. I know mine is not perfect. But what you have done is categorize all Evangelical Churches in this one vein. That’s a mistake, because seeker churches primary goal is to bring people to Christ, hence the simple messages. There are other churches that offer more forums (and I’d bet the majority of the seeker churches do to) to dig deeper.
Churches are rarely, if ever, made alike, especially in Evangelical churches. I’d encourage you to find one that does dig deeper so, if at the least, you can experience what they offer, so you can see they exist.
When we twist and turn we cam make anthing look good or bad. The Gentleman did not have a complete testimony of the Gospel. That is ok in and of itself, and he was and is intitled to leave the church and stay home and go to another faith. His records would have stayed and if he requested would and could have been disolved or have no longer been a memeber. There would have been no reason or ryhme to stay and try to diswade others, sounds like another following we hear about that finds it there duty to “SAVE” me! Well if he was not happpy with the COFFEE thing then maybe he could not have lived by the Word of Wisdom and it had control over him and not he over it. But all in all if I dont like a movie i watch i would get up and leave not go from chair to chair telling everyone there what i did not like about it and make sure tehy leave with me so as to “Feel Better about Myself”. The Manager of the movie would have kicked me out. WOuld I see a blog about it too!
Interesting comments above. first time here, but to read a comment like a simple Gospel! Well the Bible and the spoken word is not simple, it takes work and when the Good Book says things like ” Narrow is the way to heaven” and One faith , One God and One religion it goes against the statement the the church is just a body. There was a church establinshed in the early days The Church of Christ. And it had structure and authority and it was clear. I have a comment that one may try to answer for me. If Jesus (not god) came to earth and died and after he was resurrected told mary to touch him no for he has not accended to heaven. then he left for 3 days and came back and then the apostles touched him(he was of substance-flesh) and then said I am perfect even as my father in heaven is perfect. Why is it that there is still comments that God and jesus are the same personanges and that they do not have Bodies!
It’s not much of a tribute to the vitality of Mormon theology to liken it to a bad or boring movie, really no more important than something one should be able to easily walk away from 😉 Now, who do I talk about getting a refund on my tens-of-thousands-of-dollar-cost movie ticket?
I do grow weary of the presentist attitudes that shape many LDS members’ ignorant comprehension of the primitive church (including their own early LDS history). One only has to read the NT itself, leaving aside all the extra-biblical history and scholarship, to know that the LDS heirarchical notion of the primitive church’s composition and leadership is nonsense. The church was a body of believers, composed of fractured churches each working with the unique strengths, weaknesses and challenges that came because of the culture that made up each congregation. It’s probably good, because we get epistles on many doctrinal and practical matters emanating from the unique needs among each group addressed. One only needs to know the story behind the atmosphere at the Council of Jerusalem to truly appreciate the feat of Peter and Paul preserving some unity of the faith with other leaders who felt differently. It it were not such a colorful history, the NT may look today more like the generalized pablum that is most talks in LDS General Conference 😉 Sorry, that was mean…
…Now back to the discussion at hand…
Quix and others
Then you do not understand history! It repeats itself. People get the gospel and all it’s ordinances and then they sin against it and loose it (Noah, Jews-several times, gentiles). The gate is narrow it doesn’t widen so you can be unique. Do we, in this generation, think we are above it when the scriptures clearly state that all churches go astray. What of the story of Jesus and brides, the brides are in the church yet half of them are not prepared for what is to come. To many EV churches preach what feels good and change the doctrine to keep the income flowing. I watched almost an entire congregation move from one EV church to another because of ONE sermon. I have visited many Christian churches and I find no substance other then the basics (tithing, baptism, example to others, share your belief in Christ…) I had a testimony of Christ before I went to the EV church, I know there is more see John 21:25. JACOB5 in D&C 43 5-6 so we are not deceived go to 7 to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed. WHAT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN HAS CHANGED, THEREFORE THEY FAIL THE TEST OF v5 and 6. Isaiah 28:8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean v20 for the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
Are we gathered to the barn?
Thank you Woenigma for your further comment. I was beginning the feel lonely.
It is clear that we differ on our beliefs of the differences of the early church compared to today.
It may seem that there is a great deal of discrepency between the early church and today. I will ascent to that. However, I believe that even though the church at the beginning is not exactly the same as today, that does not disuade me from my belief in it. The same basic structure is still there. We have a prophet with two counselors, 12 apostles. I say as long as that authority still exists then you still do have the church. I would find it actually very archaic if we stuck with the same exact structure as we did with those handful of members. Such leadership could not cover today’s membership.
Some may say that the doctrines of the church have changed as well. We still do hold to the basic principles and ordinances (faith in Christ, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, receiving of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). The principles of the family are still in place (marry for time and all eternity, raise up children to the Lord in righteousness). We still have the same believes of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We are all sons and daughters of God. Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother who volunteered to sacrifice Himself after living a perfect sinless life. We are here to take the test to see that after given the choice of good and evil that we will follow the good.
And that when we do evil, we must repent of it. And, after this life is over, all will receive resurrected bodies that will no longer suffer the pains and sorrows of mortality. We will also be judged of our thoughts (Christ also did mention that for a person to lust in his heart was also sinning) and deeds. Those sins we have truly repented of were to be erased from the book of life.
We still teach that we do have a prophet to lead us, just as before. We have scriptures to show us the lives of those who have witness the greatness of God and the wickedness of man. And hopefully from these we can learn our lessons the easier way and not follow the paths of others to find out the hard way.
Now there has been much discussion on this forum as to many particulars that have been spoken in the past and the present, as well as changes to the Book of Mormon, appearant abberant behaviour of members and leaders. But I say now that none of that changes the doctrine I just spoke.
What difference does it make what past leaders may have said about the color of peoples skin when the 1978 revelation is retroactive. And that can happen in Christ’s church. For what good would it be if we say that those of our faith are saved when we damn all those who never had a chance to learn of or participate in our faith. Christ made His sacrifice for all mankind.
So leaders have spoken in the use of the most final of punishments (capital punishment) for those who have created great sins. Did these people not also live at a time when former members cried out for the blood of the prophet and actually took it. That was truly a dangerous time to be an LDS. Not only did outsiders want to kill you, but so did apostates.
But all of that is pointless. The church is not that of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. This is not the church of Bruce R. McConkie or Hugh Nibley. This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization at large may change, the purpose is the same
Jacob, you say this: “We still have the same believes of where we came from”. So we came from Adam as our God?
I think our Mormon friends need to be careful when they start expounding on first century Christian history, practice and culture. These things are pretty easy to check out as to there accuracy. I see a lot of creativity and no citation of sources to substantiate claims. The practice of Mormons finding historic “facts” in revelation and confirmed by “spiritual feelings” lacks credibility. Way too many historic and spiritual urban legends that pass as fact among the Mormon faithful.
Sharon, I think I can lend to clarifying the differences you do not understand about membership. Membership in the LDS Church is designated by those who have been baptized. You, as most Christians know, conversion is a process. It does happen instantly some times. Other times it’s a gradual “finding Christ” process one goes through. If someone is openly against the doctrines of Jesus Christ, then action is taken. But if someone is still “gaining” their testimony of His doctrines, they need time to grow and learn, “line upon line.”
Are you claiming to know everything there is to know about God and the doctrines of the Gospel? Are you saying that all members of your church believe it’s doctrine in the same way? If not, then why are you trying to hold the LDS church to a different standard?
Just for Quick, you said, “study groups are discouraged”. Actually, that is untrue. I attend a bible study once a month, on the first Thursday that is lead by Christians… not even members of the LDS Church. My bishop knows, my stake president knows. Not once have they suggested I stop. I also teach the Gospel Doctrine class at church every week. I lead the discussion is a better description as I encourage the wholse class to share their thoughts.
Micheal P., you reference to “seeker churches” is very interesting. Thanks for the honesty. This is exactly why when the LDS Missionaries teach the gospel, they keep it simple. Once you become a member, you dig deeper into the discussion of the gospel. So the only difference between Christians and the LDS church, is in the LDS Church, you can get both from the same church.
As for the topic of this post, Alma gives a clear example in Mosiah 26:
35 And whosoever repented of their sins and did confess them, them he did number among the people of the church;
36 And those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out.