Convert Zeal

Last week the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published the findings of an analysis of religious converts. The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal? reports:

“A common perception about individuals who switch religions is that they are very fervent about their new faith. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life provides quantitative support for this piece of conventional wisdom often referred to as the ‘zeal of the convert.’ The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment.”

The six areas of analysis the Pew Forum employs are:

  • Religion is very important
  • Attend religious services weekly
  • Absolutely certain of belief in God
  • Pray daily
  • Share faith/views on God weekly
  • [Believe theirs is the] One true faith

The findings from the survey generally hold no surprises. In the 12 religions surveyed, there is a consistent but small difference between lifelong members’ commitment to their faith and that of converts, with the converts exhibiting a mildly stronger devotion. Except for one church.

“The analysis reveals only one striking exception to this pattern: Lifelong Mormons are significantly more religious than converts to the faith on two measures. Nonconverts are, for instance, more likely to attend church regularly and to believe that theirs is the one true faith than are converts to the Mormon faith. Outside of Mormonism, however, the analysis finds no instances where lifelong members of a particular faith exhibit significantly higher levels of religious commitment than converts on any of the six measures.”

Indeed, lifelong Mormons show more commitment than converts on five of the six measures. The only area where the commitment levels are reversed is in the sharing of the faith. On this, 19% of lifelong Mormons share their faith weekly as compared to 38% of Mormon converts that do so.

To me it makes some sense that converts–those who choose their religion for themselves–might exhibit a little more zeal than those who have remained in a particular faith initially chosen for them by their parents. It’s puzzling that Mormonism is the other way around.

The Pew Forum publication offers no suggestions regarding the underlying causes for the findings of the analysis. What do you think the reasons for this “striking exception to the pattern” might be?


Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.


About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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55 Responses to Convert Zeal

  1. falcon says:

    I’m guessing that it’s due to the life long indoctrination process that goes on within Mormonism. As a child, these life long Mormons are taught to repeat the basic mantra of Mormonism which includes believing that the Mormon church is the real deal along with Joseph Smith and the current prophet. Most Mormon converts are adults, not impressionable kids. Also, judging from anecdotal evidence, converts aren’t generally given the “you can become a god” pitch, until they are headed off to the temple. The word on the street is that many, after having been through the faux Masonic rituals within the temple, are turned-off to the experience. It’s not seen, by these folks, as super spiritual but strange and weird.
    Finally, the active rate in Mormonism as compared to the inactive rate is very low; any where from 30% active to 70% inactive. I’ve seen numbers for the people that get baptized and never really get into the program and the “drop-out” rate is fairly high. It’s not just finding out about the strange beliefs that turns people off, but the grind of the Mormon experience that is tedious and unrewarding.

  2. setfree says:

    I wonder where this study was done? I would tend to believe that most Utah Mormons go to church culturally… meaning that it has something to do with their friends and neighbors, where ones outside Utah (and neighboring states), like Ralph, maybe, go to church for other reasons.

    I agree with Falcon though. So far, in my experience outside Mormonism, I haven’t run across churches who say “we have all the truth, we are the only ones with the truth”, and teach, as well, that we “already know” before we’ve even studied, and that we can tell our church is true by our “feelings”, like happens in Mormonism.

    Also, from what I know of temple covenants, 1-4 and 6 of the above are, for lack of a better word, “required”.

    But 5 breaks down because people running around basing their faith on feelings, and being taught that they “know” before they even study, don’t have much argument to stand on, and therefore really can’t share.

  3. falcon says:

    setfree hit on one of my favorite hobby horses and that’s the role of “feelings” in religion. Feelings in Mormonism is equated with “truth” or “confirmation”. In-other-words, if a person “feels” something, whether positive or negative, those feelings are claimed to have come from the Holy Spirit and attest to the legitimacy of an issue.
    The researchers really had no way to measure “zeal” in emotional terms. Zeal was measured to a large degree by participation. I suppose they could have framed a question or two about praying and having a positive emotive experience. People are told to convert to Mormonism based on a feeling. Maybe the intensity of the feeling would give some indication the degree to which they buy into the Mormon experience. It would seem, however, from the fact that the over-whelming majority of “Mormons” are inactive, that the feeling-zeal isn’t enough to sustain them.
    I mentioned on another thread that I tuned into and watched the “glory, signs and wonders” conference on GodTV the other day. There was a ton of zeal in the room. Big time positive emotional feelings being expressed. How could a researcher measure it? I don’t know.

  4. liv4jc says:

    I am surrounded by smithians. Like I said in an earlier post, I could throw a rock and hit three meeting buildings from my house. Each of those buildings has several wards meeting in them on Sundays at various times. There are smithian spires everywhere.

    Yet I have never heard the smithian gospel from a smithian. Ever. Everything I know about smithism I learned from books, the web, eavesdropping, or asking innocent questions. When I have asked a question it was to get a conversation started so I could give the Christian gospel. All I get is a vague answer. There is no zeal to share the “restored good news” of redemption taught by Smith. The topic is changed so quickly that I hardly ever get a chance to witness. I have lived in the area for about 13 years. I have been told to read the BoM when I question smithians about their religion. I have had missionaries run out of the house when I brought up inconsistencies in the BoM because they “felt a spirit of contention.” I have never heard a smithian give the “restored gospel” and present it as good news from any adherant to Smith’s teaching, even on MC. I have heard a few of them say that if I want to know the truth, ask a missionary. I have tried that. They can’t answer the hard questions. One of my closest friends is a returned missionary. He never talks about his faith in a positive light.

    I have been a Christian for only about 8 years. I study my faith and the faiths of others. I love it when people ask me about Christianity. I love giving the gospel. I see myself as a missionary to those who surround me in my daily life. Why would I divert questions to some wet-behind-the-ears kid? I would think the lifelong smithian would be way better equipped after a life of study and devotion to their faith, yet they don’t go out of their way to give the truth to those they believe are perishing? Personally, I think they are embarrassed, or just don’t care about anyone else’s salvation but their own.

  5. Ward says:

    I have been mulling over this report all morning. I am certain any thoughts on the Mormon results will be questions by them, but here goes. (My dissertation long ago looked at personal religion and parent/child relationships, so this is an area I have looked at before)… My problem is I can see individual examples of convert and nonconvert people on both sides of this. ANd, I would say, that people go through “seasons” of activity depending on circumstances. I think of our friends, Hank, Saint, and Ralph, to name a few, and they have a powerful testimony which is long term. I can see how the results dovetail them. However, we don’t have kind of a “rank and file” breakdown. Live4jc’s experience of not hearing a gospel from his neighbors, could just as likely come from many other neighborhoods, where the ones who aren’t sharing are the Evs. Wherever we come from, it is hard to stand out right where you live. And, there remains a strong self-interest component in people. “I and my house are taken care of, I am not so sure I care THAT deeply about my neighbor, or anyone else.” Sad to say, this appears to be the standard. ANd yet, some people are willing to stand up and testify and serve, and stand out, which makes the world so much more interesting. Excellent post, Sharon. Thanks. ANd thanks for your words AND actions Live4jc. You are a blessing to me today.

  6. Ralph says:

    Interesting article and results. I would have thought that the LDS results would be the same as other religions with the new converts being happier to share the gospel compared to the ones that grew up in the church.

    I don’t know why those who grew up in the LDS church seem more zealous compared to new converts. I guess some of it is, as Falcon said, indoctrination. But that too can be said about many families in other Christian religions. In fact that is what my athiest friend says she sees happening in any religion – indoctrination and brain washing of the children.

    But I also think that some it has to do with the examples the parents and other members of the church give. If the children have positive experiences and are taught how to identify the truth while they are young, then they will most likely aspire to find the truth and stick with it. We are taught while young that the LDS church is the only true church of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, BUT we are told that we must gain our own testimony of it, not to rely on anyone elses’. So we too must strive to become converted to the LDS church as we grow up and not just follow it for familial or cultural reasons.


    I know of at least one other church that says that they have all the truth and are the one true church – Traditional Christianity does this – Hence MRM and MC, et al. If Traditional Christianity does not claim this then why argue with the LDS or Muslims as to who is correct and who will go to heaven?

  7. liv4jc says:

    Thank you for your kind words Ward, but you know, I’m preaching to myself also. You’re right about seasons. I don’t evangelize as much as I used to, and being surrounded by LDS I should should take greater advantage of the opportunities that I have. But have you noticed this about LDS: they take witnessing as a personal attack. I have often heard a curious person ask my LDS friend a question about the church and, where I would gladly answer the question and use it as a gospel springboard, he says, “Why do people need to attack our religion? If their religion works for them, leave us alone, and we’ll leave them alone.” As if the LDS church doesn’t send missionaries all over the world trying to “attack” other religions.

    Now since LDS tend to associate primarily with other LDS I have often been the only non-LDS person in the gathering and I have never been witnessed to or even asked if I wanted a missionary visit. Not even when my friend was in charge of the missionaries! But I honestly cannot imagine a scenario where I had one or more LDS at my house amongst a group of Christian friends where someone would not give the gospel. Unfortunately my LDS friends avoid my non-work related gatherings like the plague.

    Like I said earlier. I would absolutely love it if I was at an LDS gathering and someone asked me about Christianity. I don’t bring it up because I don’t want to be viewed as a Mormon basher because that’s how questioning LDS doctrine is viewed. I don’t see any reason to burn friendships that might yield opportunities to witness at a later time. Often times I think with personal friends it’s better to live out the gospel in our lives to plant a seed and let someone else water with an out and out gospel presentation.

  8. liv4jc says:

    Ralph, I’m curious, if the children have to gain their own testimony, then why are all the children in the LDS church baptized at 8 years old, which is considered the age of accountability? When a convert comes into your church they have to make a profession of faith before they are baptized, correct? Then why are your children baptized before many of them have obtained a personal (not rehearsed) testimony?

    As for the one true church, I think you are confusing faith with “church”. There are many Christian churches with minor doctrinal differences and cultures, but they all share a common Christian “faith”. Unlike the others that claim to be the “one true church” we don’t have a centralized authority like you, the JW’s, and Roman Catholics for example.

  9. jeffrey b says:

    Ralph mentioned Christians saying they have the whole truth on everything which I tend to disagree with.

    As a Christian I wouldn’t say Christians have “all the truth”. There are many questions that I would like to gain understanding of that I probably just couldn’t understand with my broken humanity and finite mind.

    However, I would say that our gracious Father in heaven has given us the most important truth, the testimony that through his mercy and grace, and the unmerited favor bestowed upon us, showed to us how great a love He has for us by sending His Son Jesus Christ, to save the race of men who in no way were able to save themselves.

    The foreshadowing of this in the old testament couple with the “rubber hitting the road” in the New Testament is purposefully brought together to give us the good message. Not that we can become a God and have multiple women in our lives, but to love one another and give all the praise and glory to the ONE and ONLY who deserves it – GOD.

    If God chooses to reveal other truths to us, He will. I will not put a muzzle on God.. I can’t.

    How much attention does he need to draw to his Son through his Word for the LDS to get it? Instead they gather looking to have their ears tickled by their “men of high standing and power”

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed on this blog is the stark difference of belief in the person and importance that both Christans and Mormons have of Jesus. The very Word of God is discredited by LDS, therefore discrediting the life and purpose Jesus shed his blood for.

    You can have your extra-biblical doctrines, as for me, I need Jesus, that’s it.

  10. Ralph says:


    You are saying something different to most on this site when you say its not a church but a faith. Most here say that the Christian church is made up of all the true believers of Jesus Christ regardless of which denomination they subscribe to. They call it the Catholic Church (not to be mistaken with the Roman Catholic church) – so does the Aposltes’ Creed. So it’s not my word but your fellow Traditional Christian friends’.

    Children are baptised at 8 years old because this is the age of accountability. It is when we believe that God has said the child has an understanding of what is right and what is wrong and can make a choice. Under that age (including mentally handicapped people who are below that age mentally) the child does not have that capability. The ‘sins’ these children do under 8 years old are covered automatically by Jesus’ atonement without repentance necessary. They do not need a perfect testimony of everything to be baptised, neither do adult converts. The main testimony the adult convert needs to have for baptism is of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, then the Scriptures (ie Bible and BoM), then the living prophet (from JS down to today’s), and they need to show they have been taught properly about things like WoW, tithing, chastity, etc. Children are not held to that level of comprehension because of their age. They are asked about their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus and about what they have been taught about the scriptures and prophets and what they think of them. Their understanding of WoW and tithing is also tested, but they do not have to have a testimony like an adult does.

  11. falcon says:

    Back in my official working days, I was the adviser for a Christian group that met on the school’s campus. I had three Mormon students who would regularly attend. The message of the Christian organization was overtly orthodox evangelical Christian and the basic doctrines of Christianity were clearly presented and reinforced.
    All three of these students eventually served missions for the LDS church. I often wondered why they faithfully attended the meetings of the Christian group while they were in school. They are all returning missionaries and I’ve had some contact with one of them. He has never broached the subject of Mormonism with me nor has he with his best friend who’s a Christian. He even spent a weekend at a Christian music festival with this friend and a small group. Never a peep about Mormonism from him.
    He’s a great young man and one I truly enjoy having conversations with. But there is no attempt to broach the topic of religion on his part. There’s something unspoken that I can’t lay my finger on. Might be like liv4jc and his friends. I’m always prepared if the eventuality of a discussion should present itself, but so far it hasn’t.

  12. Enki says:

    “Children are baptised at 8 years old because this is the age of accountability.”

    Shouldn’t that age be when a person requests baptism? I was baptized LDS at 8, and I honestly did not want to be baptized. I was not a willing participant, but I had no say whatsoever, in fact when I tried to bring up the subject I was totally ignored. As if I did not exist at all.

    At a former workplace I met a woman raised a Sikh. I was suprised because she cuts her hair, and Sikhs have a custom of not cutting hair. I learned later that only Khalsa (baptized) Sikhs don’t cut their hair. She is in her 20’s, so I began to wonder why she wasn’t baptized yet. I haven’t found a set age for baptism for sikhs. It appears that its whenever someone is ready. It must mean something different from them than mormons.

    What does baptism mean for non-lds christians?

  13. falcon says:

    Well Enki,
    I’ll give you the standard answer; “baptism is an outward sign of an inner grace”, “baptism means identification with Christ”. The standard Catholic teaching on baptism I was taught all those many years ago when I was still Catholic, was that there are three types of baptism; baptism by water, by desire, or by blood. Water is the conventional form, desire is applied to someone who believes but hasn’t been baptized by water, and finally someone who believes and is martyred without being water baptized.
    Who knows? We’re saved by faith anyway a part from any work or ceremony/ritual that we can participate in. Christ shedding His blood on the cross is sufficient for the cleansing of all of our sins; when accepted by faith. The symbolism of baptism is of death and resurrection; the new birth. I’ve heard of some southern baptists groups that insist that people get rebaptized in their church. I don’t get that!
    As Christians we are called to follow God in a newness of Spirit, not the law. Many groups have a problem with the simplicity of the Gospel and have a need for all sorts of add-ons.

  14. Kevin says:

    Children cannot make a clear decision about such a matter at age 8. I taught in the primary for a year, the kids going from 7 to 8. Of the 12 in my class, not a one understood what they where doing. Any child will do what they think their parents want them to do, in any situation.

    The whole LDS age of accountability is a charade that expresses a pseudo appearance of free agency.

    We have a little group here in Minnesota of Post Mormons, about 14 in total. 11 were born into Mormonism, of the eleven, 9 only got baptized because of family and social pressure. The other 2 said they thought they knew what they were doing but after going on a mission and confronting their past did they regret the decision.

    I like to ask questions~

    Both sides of the fence, “If a person is misled, much like the LDS people have been misled (LDS claims Christians have been misled), will God hold their actions accountable? Pending which side of the goal line you stand on?”

  15. liv4jc says:

    Kevin, without going into a long discourse, Romans chapters 1 through 3 answers your question. Nobody can stand before God and say, “You can’t hold me accountable for worshiping the wrong god because their religion deceived me.” Romans 1:18-20 clearly states,

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

    Ralph, what I meant in regards to the “church” is that it is not an “organization”. The ecclesia is the invisible unseen gathering of every believer worldwide. For instance, even though Falcon and I have different doctrinal beliefs on the nature of some of the gifts, we profess the same faith in Christ. We are of the same catholic (universal) church. I attend “church” weekly in a building with others who hold to beliefs similar to mine, but we share that building with a more liberal gathering of believers. We have a male pastor who teaches from the Bible, but I am not held hostage to all of his doctrines, and we have differences, but they do not separate us form fellowshiping. The other group has a female pastor that preaches mostly topical social messages based upon her focusing on certain passages, but when we compare our beliefs on the nature of salvation we are in agreement. I would not become a “member” of her “church”. Others attend a gathering of believers less frequently, or maybe not all.

    My point is that like the Romanists, JW’s, Seventh Day Adventists, Smith’s church is required to worship and believe in lock-step every doctrine put out by the hierarchy even if it contradicts former “truth” or the Bible.

  16. falcon says:

    OK, I guess it’s time for me to once again produce my list of the essential, foundational beliefs of the orthodox Christian Church.

    1. The Bible is the Word of God. There is no other written “scripture”.
    2. The Trinity, One God, three persons. (as revealed in God’s Word the Bible.
    3. The Deity of Christ; He is God. Not one of a bunch of gods.
    4. The Virgin birth of Jesus. Despite Brigham Young’s blasphemous teachings.
    5. Christ died for us. The blood atonement. On the cross which we are not ashamed of.
    6. Jesus’ resurrection.
    7. Saved by grace a part from works. We can’t do anything to merit eternal life.
    8. Jesus second coming.
    9. The final judgment of God. Sorry folks, there is finality.

    I would say with the exception of two or three of these, Mormons do not hold to the basic tenants of Christianity. Mormons are off on their own, following Joseph Smith’s heretical teachings. And what are the heretical teachings of Smith based on. He had visions and revelations and the faithful Mormon jumps on board based on a “religious” feeling they got supposing it was God confirming Smith’s heresy.
    Every religion can claim the same thing that Mormonism claims regarding spiritual feelings and the confirmation of the “truth”. So that’s really not much of a test of the truth, regardless of how much “zeal” a person has.

  17. Kevin says:

    Liv4jc, You say it, “Clearly States” in Romans 1:18-20. I don’t agree with you.

    “…people who suppress the truth…” I am talking about the suppresses not the suppressors.

    “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen” If they are invisible, how do you claim it is “Clearly Stated” or how is it “Clearly Seen”? Also, if it is SO clear, why the factions, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus… The point being, it is not as clear as you state it is.

    The point is, it is not that clear cut. What if a person has never heard of God or Christ? Say like some Eskimo tribe? How would this tribe differ from a child that is born and raised in a cult that controlled their belief system? Accesses to information does not always guarantee that the information will be consumed and interpreted in the same way.

    If I understand your scripture, we are all judged under the same standard of knowledge and wisdom. That seems a bit lopsided.

    Falcon, Thanks for your last post, I think you hit high with your 1-9. Good Job.

  18. falcon says:

    Oh boy, the question that eventually gets asked, “Can someone who has never heard the gospel be held responsible for not receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior?” One thing we could say is that if the answer is “No, they can’t be held responsible” then our best strategy is to not send out missionaries.
    If they hear the gospel and then reject it, they are rejecting Christ, therefore they are lost for eternity. Why have people risked their lives and often lost their lives in the process of bringing the gospel to tribes in remote parts of the world?
    I’m thinking of the native tribe in South America that a group from Wheaton College tried to reach back in the mid 1950s. It’s a fascinating story of how the initial group was all killed by the tribe. Those missionaries back at the base camp wouldn’t give up and eventually the tribe was converted. I saw a documentary and interview with the wives and other compatriots of the men that lost their lives. Had they not gone, they wouldn’t have died. Had they not gone, the tribe would have never heard the gospel. Would it have better if the missionaries had stayed home?
    I’ll say this, in watching the documentary it became apparent that these guys had “zeal”.

  19. falcon says:

    Since this thread is about “zeal”, I would encourage our readers to look at:

    It takes about 10 minutes to read and it really makes me feel like a piker, as we say. I don’t know zeal or commitment in comparison to this man and his friends.
    Should they have gone?

  20. Kevin says:

    Falcon said, “If they hear the gospel and then reject it, they are rejecting Christ, therefore they are lost for eternity.”

    What happens if the missionary did a bad job of explaining the gospel?

    I hope you know I am not trying to be argumentative, for me, this is a real concern.

    Based on the topic of the tread, LDS members need to be indoctrinated most of their life to be as zealots, where as Christians find their Zeal when they make their own decision.

    Mormons seem to want an unequivocal alliance to their church, devoid of any contradictions or misgivings, including lies that the church has propagated.

    Christians seem more patient and forgiving in a persons skepticism or questioning of a specific denomination, and they do not require alliance for salvation.

    The zealot Mormons are those who are raised in the faith, they have been trained to act and think in a specific pattern that produces a total alliance to their church.

    Christian Zealots, I would argue, have a greater understanding of the choice that they have made, and comprehend the results of those choice.

    This leads to the issue of accountability, which is a very deep issue, one that I think does not have an age assigned to it; but rather a knowledge of the information, and the wisdom to use that information. Mormons cannot rely on this method when it comes to their children, rather they enlist their kids in a program that starts in nursery.

  21. falcon says:

    Well Andy Watson and I are starting to lean towards becoming Calvinists and that perspective certainly ties things up in a neat little bow.

    1. Total depravity: man is unable to save himself.
    2. Unconditional election: God’s electing purpose was not conditioned by anything in man.
    3. Limited atonement: Christ’s atoning death was sufficient to save all men, but efficient only for the elect.
    4. Irresistible grace: the gift of faith, sovereignly given by God’s Holy Spirit cannot be resisted by the elect.
    5. Perseverance of the saints: those who are regenerated and justified will persevere in the faith.
    I just couldn’t help myself. I know Calvinism drives Mormons into conniption fits. They would really go off the deep end with double predestination. What I’ve seen here on MC is that Mormons seem to think that all Christian denominations are Calvinist in their theology. I don’t think that Mormons understand that within Christianity there are different points of view and that beyond the basic doctrines under which orthodox Christianity falls, there’s a wide variety of thoughts and opinions. I read something once that went something like “What was Calvin thinking when he came up with his thoughts on election? Were his eyes rolled back into his head?” I thought that was pretty funny. But if Mormons really care to do the heavy lifting and get a real grasp on Christianity, they need to go beyond the mottos they are taught down at the wards and get into some serious study. But then, that’s a lot of work and may lead them to some conclusions that conflict with their current mind set. And that wouldn’t feel good!

  22. We’ve had a couple of exchanges on Romans 1:18-20.

    I’d like to weigh in by saying that I’d rather discuss this than some exotic speculation on pre-mortal existences or whatever by a self-qualified “prophet”.

    Without claiming to know the “whole” truth, here are my thoughts.

    The underlying question is “is God self-evident to everybody“? Or “can a person see who God is by simply looking around himself or herself?”, which is usually accompanied by the scenario of the Eskimo who has never heard the Judaeo-Christian traditions.

    On one level Paul answers in the affirmative – the Creation must have come “from” some original cause, and that “original cause” is God (contra LDS doctrine BTW).

    However, Paul’s vision appears to scale down from humankind as a whole to a particular subset; see Romans 1:32 “Although they knew God’s righteous decree…” Now we have a group of people who not only know God in a generic sense, but also know about His Law, and the Law is the particular domain of the people of Israel. In other words, Paul may be addressing those people who had heard the Law, but had rejected it.

    So, is Paul addressing all of humanity, or just the subset that had received the Word but had rejected it? I’m not convinced the passage gives us a clear cut answer in either direction. If it doesn’t, where does that leave us?

    I’m mindful of the dangers of projecting our agenda onto Scripture at the risk of ignoring the central concerns of its authors. Take this passage, for example. What Paul appears to be saying is something like;
    * Those who can deduce a knowledge of God by looking around them have ignored it, and
    * Those who are aware of the Word of God have ignored it too
    * They have exchanged the “immortal God” for created things (plural)
    * Their descent into paganism and polytheism is accompanied by deviant sexual behavior.

    Its funny how polytheism and sexual excess are usually found in bed with each other. Prime example: Joseph Smith Jnr.

  23. falcon says:

    In an article titled “What Did Spurgeon Believe?” by Mark Hopkins The great 19th century English preacher is quoted from one of his sermons:
    “It has been my earnest endeavor ever since I have preached the Word, never to keep back a single doctrine which I believe to be taught of God. It is time that we had done with the old and rusty systems that have so long curbed the freeness of religious speech. The Arminian trembles to go an inch beyond Arminius or Wesley, and many a Calvinist refers to John Gill or John Calvin as any ultimate authority. It is time that the systems were broken up, and that there was sufficient grace in all our hearts to believe everything taught in God’s Word, whether it was taught by either of these men or not…..If God teaches it, it is enough. If it is not in the Word, away with it! Away with it! But if it be in the Word, agreeable or disagreeable, systematic or disorderly, I believe it.”
    It is well known that Spurgeon was a Calvinist. He stood out from the contemporary trend toward abandoning and often denouncing Calvism. What is not widely known, however, is that Spurgeon’s Calvinism was adopted rather than inherited. He said:
    “Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit and did not see the grace of God. I remember sitting one day in the house of God and hearing a sermon as dry as possible, and as worthless as all such sermons are, when a thought struck my mind-How came I to be converted? I prayed, thought I. Then I thought, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? Why-I did read them; and what led me to that? And then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of all, and that he was the author of faith. And then the whole doctrine opened up to me, from which I have not departed.”
    (Christian History, Issue 29)

  24. falcon says:

    Now we’re not told if Spurgeon got a burning in the bosom when he had his revelation regarding the doctrine known as Calvinism. If he had prayed about it and gotten this confirming feeling then we’d have a clear indication that the doctrine is true and he had progressed in knowledge and light, right?
    But wait, he did have that experience! “I was desponding, I was despairing. I dreamed of hell. My life was full of sorrow and wretchedness, believing that I was lost” Because of a snowstorm, the 15 year old’s path to church was diverted down a side street. For shelter, he ducked into the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Artillery Street. An unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text-Isaiah 45:22-“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Spurgeon’s reaction? “He (lay preacher) had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, 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;…and he shouted as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, ‘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. And as the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer, I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found, for I was white as the driven snow through the grace of God.”
    Now using the Mormon test for truth, we can assume that Spurgeonsd’ conversion experience testifies to the truth of what he believed. How could we test this? It should be tested through God’s Word, the Bible. Spurgeion went on to become the greatest preacher of his era.

  25. falcon says:

    If we study Spurgeon’s life we see that he didn’t teach that men could become gods, he wasn’t a polytheist. He didn’t have multiple sex partners and call it marriage nor did he use a magic rock to divine the truth. He didn’t participate in bank fraud and he didn’t try to raise his own army and pretend to be a general.
    Spurgeon’s conversion experience led him to the living God whom he served faithfully through-out his life. Getting a spiritual feeling is pretty worthless if you don’t get the truth. Religious feelings and zeal can be produced through artificial means that have nothing to do with God revealing himself.
    Haven chosen a different spirit, Joseph Smith produced a different gospel, a different god, a different jesus and a pseudo spiritual experience that is the product of a seducing false spirit. It doesn’t matter if there is a form of morality attached to the religion or special feelings that accompany it, if it’s a false spirit it provides followers with a false sense of security that will only end badly.

  26. liv4jc says:

    Kevin, sorry for only reciting Romans 1:18-20, but if you will read the beginning of my post I initially cited Romans chapter 1 through 3. Paul’s point in the first three chapters of Romans is to convict all men of being under the law and therefore under the penalty for sin (read Romans 1:12-16 and Romans 3:19). Notice how the name Jesus Christ is not even mentioned as savior until Romans 3:22, but in Paul’s discourse about all men being under the penalty for sin Jesus Christ is mentioned as judge in Romans 2:16.

    At first I couldn’t believe that God would send someone who had never heard the name Jesus Christ or the gospel to hell without giving them a “choice”. The fact is that the vast majority of humanity has never heard the name Jesus Christ. So do they get a free pass because God cannot hold them accountable for rejecting Him and the gospel? No, because Romans 2:15 tells us the the law (not the Mosaic ceremonial law) is written on our hearts, and we know that lying, stealing, adultery, etc. are wrong because conscience bears witness to that. But in our unregenerate state do we turn to God in repentance, or do we just feel bad about it and maybe turn to the one we have damaged in repentance? In our unregenerate state we don’t feel guilty before God (at least not to the degree that we should) for our sins. It is not until we have heard the truth, that all men are guilty before God and will be judged for their sins by Jesus Christ, that we begin to understand the seriousness of problem. The good news to those who feel the weight of their sin is that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for that sin for us. We then turn to God in repentance for our sins and believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for that sin. That is the nature of salvation.

    The problem in the modern church is that people are told that they will go to hell for not “believing in Jesus”, when in reality people go to hell because their sins have not beeen “covered by Jesus”.

  27. liv4jc says:

    So, did Christ’s death on the cross pay for the sins of all humanity? If it did then there are those who are in hell right now, and those who will go to hell in the future, that have had the penalty for their sin paid for, but God did not honor Christ’s payment. We are told that Jesus Christ is our propitiation and advocate before God who intercedes for us (1 John 1:8-2:2 and Hebrews 7:25). You may say, “In 1 John 2:2 it says that Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” If we take that passage to mean the “whole world” as in everyone, instead of in the sense of Revelation 5:9, then we are stuck with this dilemma: Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all of mankind’s sins and is interceding for all of mankind, yet the Father is denying His propitiation and ignoring His advocacy for those who did not “choose” to “accept” Christ’s sacrifice. That makes Christ’s sacrifice worthless unless man “chooses” to activate it! So Christ really has not power to save anyone, but man ultimately saves himself.

    So whose sin’s are paid for? The answer has to be only the ones who Christ died for, otherwise you place man in a position of power over God. The mistake in our thinking is that God is unfair to those who have not had a chance to “accept Jesus into their hearts”, when in reality God would be justified in sending all men to hell as a penalty for their sins, not just rejecting Christ alone. In His mercy and grace, God chose according to His will and His purpose, to save some out of the mass of sinful humanity (Ephesians 1:3-14).

    Nobody in heaven will be able to say, “boy, I’m glad I was smarter, or more spiritual than the rest of those dummies who didn’t “choose” Jesus.”

    Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to cover all of mankind’s sins, yet efficient to only cover the sins of the elect. Who are the elect? We don’t know. That’s why we preach the gospel to everyone. God knows.

  28. falcon says:

    Man liv4jc, this is tough stuff you present here. No wonder people come up with alternative gospels and embrace universalism. Mormons try to live in both worlds, promoting a works righteousness gospel but at the same time promoting a doctrine of universal salvation; except for apostate Mormons who go directly to outer darkness.
    What people need to do is try and understand what “elect” means. Taking a look at the first chapter of Ephesians is a good place to look.

    Ephesians 1:4-5

  29. liv4jc says:

    Falcon, I struggled with Ephesians 1 for years. It was cloudy to me because I did not want to accept the fact that God had sovereignty over salvation. I had led many in the “sinner’s prayer” and watched them “backslide”, all the while being reassured by my pastor that because they had “said the prayer and accepted Jesus into their hearts” that they were saved. In reality God is the one who does the saving and the keeping. This doesn’t negate the fact that many Christians came to salvation through modern evangelical methods.

    I came to salvation primarily from reading the Left Behind series, but now I wouldn’t say that I adhere to his semi-Arminian theology. Most who are saved by God’s grace will never explore the deeper teachings of the mechanics of salvation, and that’s OK. They are saved never-the-less. God uses many means to bring about the salvation of the elect. So I preach like an Arminian, but pray for the salvation of others like a Calvinist.

    Have you noticed this: Many Christians don’t believe that God would violate anyone’s “free will” by saving them if they don’t want to be saved (Arminianism), but once they make that choice they hold onto the “perseverance of the saints” (Calvinism) with a death grip. It’s like, “I chose you God, but now I can’t reject you, and you can’t take away my salvation.” Pure Arminianism of course teaches that a person can lose their salvation because they “chose” it in the first place (Mormons for instance), which if you hold to that position is only honest. If you want to have power over God in your salvation then you have power over God to reject it again also.

    The doctrines of grace teach that because salvation is not of ourselves, but by the power of God, then it is also secured by the power of God. Hmmmm, I wonder if the Bible says anything about that (Romans 8:28-39, Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 1:3-5)?

  30. Enki says:

    People keep quoting Romans 1:18-20. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If a people haven’t heard anything of the bible, how could anyone accept or reject anything. Are you stating a belief that humans are innately christian?

  31. Enki says:

    “The point is, it is not that clear cut. What if a person has never heard of God or Christ? Say like some Eskimo tribe? …Accesses to information does not always guarantee that the information will be consumed and interpreted in the same way.”

    Here is a video which demonstrates, Inuit take communion. They use the organs of animals for communion. Its not technically scriptural. But for a people who weren’t familiar with bread or wine, what are they supposed to do? It also appears to be an eskimo experiment in summoning the spirit of jesus. take communion&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

    Compare with the live of an Inuit shaman, very interesting. In a christian view its ‘spiritism’, but its much more spiritual and soothing than early inuit christian converts. take communion&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

    Umik’s sermon to inuit take communion&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#q=sermon to inuit&hl=en&view=2&emb=0

  32. falcon says:

    These things are “fun” to discuss but the bottom line is that God is sovereign, man isn’t. The Word says that we are saved, not through our own efforts, but God’s. Some folks can’t seem to accept the fact that they don’t have to “do” anything to be saved but accept God’s gift. I don’t know if it’s an ego thing or what. And then there’s the point of view that we have to “do” something to maintain our salvation. The point is that if we are really converted, we’ll act like it. Back to “zeal”?
    Why would someone who is truly saved think they could continue in willful sin? Point is, they won’t. So there we are with the perseverance of the saints; the grace God gives us to live the Christian life. It’s all about our heart condition. That’s what God wants, our heart. Do we walk by the Spirit or by the flesh?
    Jesus said that we can’t come to God unless we are drawn to Him. He does the drawing. It is God’s initiative.

  33. Enki wrote

    People keep quoting Romans 1:18-20. If a people haven’t heard anything of the bible, how could anyone accept or reject anything.

    …hence my queries on the passage. Just as it seems unfair to condemn “everyone who didn’t hear” because they didn’t hear, it also seems unfair to accuse all pagans/gentiles/non-Christians with sexual deviancy.

    One solution would be to say that Paul was referring only to the sub-set of humanity who had heard the message, but rejected it. However, I wonder if this solution forces the text too far. Whether I like Paul or not, I would not like to “strong-arm” him into saying something he did not mean. After all, I’d be tampering with the Word of God.


    Are you stating a belief that humans are innately christian?

    I would not say so. Human beings are innately human. Some of us follow Christ, which is what makes us “Christian”. However, there are plenty of observed data to suggest that those who call themselves Christian are not significantly morally superior to those who don’t. You can interpret these data however you like, but I take a number of things from them;

    * Non-Christians have a moral compass too, and sometimes it works better than the moral compass of the Christians (PS Christians sometimes need to learn from what Non-Christians have to say).

    * The Gospel of Grace cuts into a representative sample of humanity, which is exactly what it ought to do

    * A functioning moral compass is desirable for a free and meaningful social environment, but of itself it is not sufficient to “save” someone (that’s the perogative of Christ alone). However, Christians should be concerned about fixing the faults with our own moral compasses. If we don’t, then we’re dishonoring the gift of God’s salvation to us, and we’re bringing His Name into disrepute.

  34. Kevin says:

    Martin, Thank you for your post, it hits right at the heart of the matter to which I was pointing.

    If I have learned on thing during my time at MC, is that we need to build connections and relationships. Heaven knows I need to work on this aspect of life.

    Let us please remember, as Martin puts it, “Human beings are innately human”, everyone of us has a moral compass, “A functioning moral compass is desirable for a free and meaningful social environment, but of itself it is not sufficient to “save” someone (that’s the perogative of Christ alone).”


  35. subgenius says:

    Also, judging from anecdotal evidence, converts aren’t generally given the “you can become a god” pitch
    really?, what “anecdotal” evidence have you seen? yet another typical misleading statement to support one’s own (and tiresome) prejudices.

    to answer your question, as a convert i have noticed an interesting “trend” among felow members who are ‘children of record’.
    There is an initial sense of a perpetuation of the “outcast” that has, i suppose, survived from the pioneer days of the Church. The lifelong member has constantly been buttressed by the Church and its organizations. The Church is not considered a Sunday only situation, it is truly a way of life.
    Now the cynical Ev will exclaim “cult” or “isolationist” or blather some other meaningless conclusion about this, but that will fail to address the overwhelming success of the Mormon “system” when compared to other religious systems. I wonder if the Catholic church was included in the study? because thier system of holidays, rituals, schools, comparable, if not exceeding the system of the Mormons. The exception being that Catholics do not have the same social stigma that many Mormons do. However, that is changing for the LDS.
    Many Ev lifelongers lack this “zeal” because a watered-down system or a church structure that inherently lacks will not provide the comprehensive religous experience that merits such. This is the disconnect amny Ev have, their religous experience is limited and often is primarily ‘self-centered’…by design. Most Ev churches are social organizations rather than religous ones.

  36. falcon says:

    There’s a term applied specifically to Mormons called “shaken faith syndrome”. This occurs in the life of a Mormon where they reach a break-through of sorts and realize that the LDS church has not only been less than candid regarding the history of the church and it’s founder, but purposely with holds doctrinal information that might cause a prospect to reject Mormonism. We don’t have to go any further then the Mormon motto “milk before meat”. This is the Mormon psychological strategy of “love bombing” the prospect and sucking them into the cult emotionally. Once this happens the game of approval-disapproval can be played tightening the bonds of dependency.
    Andy Watson was telling me about an exMormon friend of his who didn’t hear about the Mormon “god program” until the bishop paid him a visit right before he was to go through the temple. Jim Spencer writes in his book “Beyond Mormonism” about hearing about the “men to god” program long after he joined the church.
    Mormons know that if they hall that gem out too soon, the prospect will bolt. So the (prospect) is told wonderous stories of a young boy who went off to a grove of trees and had a visitation from God. What a marvelous story. The problem is, it’s one of several different accounts that vary considerably.
    Mormons have a well earned reputation for being dishonest when it comes to the history and doctrines of their religion. I would invite our readers to visit a presentation by Mormon John P. Dehlin titled “Why People Leave the LDS Church” at:

    In this internet age, Mormons can run, but they can no longer hide the sanitized version of their religion they present to the world.

  37. Mike R says:


    What you said about Mormons and how they seem
    to deliberately withhold information to potential
    converts is true.Perhaps not every knowlegeable
    Mormon purposely does this but I certainly
    experienced it. My doctor was trying to invite
    me to his Ward for services,I mentioned that I
    could,nt accept the Mormon doctrine of God,
    specifically, that man could become a God etc.
    He responed,”no,like God”.He would,nt agree with
    me on the terminology I used.That was one such
    episode.While there is some truth behind the
    “milk before meat” position, I personally have
    always felt that there was more to it than that,
    that there was some teachings “gentiles” were’nt
    supposed to know about.Considering the fact how
    LDS would swear not to tell of certain aspects
    of the Temple ritual, only reinforced this.

  38. falcon says:

    Mike R.
    I think our Mormon posters make my point over and over again by protesting that what is charged about Mormonism withholding information is not true. It’s all apart of the Mormon game. Dishonesty is in the DNA of the Mormon religion. Joseph Smith denied repeatedly that he wasn’t practicing polygamy when in fact he was. I could cite several other examples but the point is that this is a religion that is driven by a spirit of deceit. I admit that the rank and file are about as duped as they can be as you cite in your example of the doctor who insisted on a doctrine of becoming “like god” rather than “a god”. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he truly believes that, but that’s not what Mormonism teaches.
    As far as disclosure, up until about 1990, the temple ritual included the Free Masonry throat slashing and bowel dissecting motions until it was realized that this was a real turn-off to the membership. So if there’s this veil of secrecy within the cult with the threat of death hanging over someone, “lying for the Lord” becomes a virtue. Let’s not forget the doctrine of blood atonement that was used by Brigham Young in the early days of the Utah experience. Dare we forget about the cover-up associated with Mountain Meadows?
    This is why when Mormons really get a handle on the truth regarding their religion, they get “shaken faith syndrome”. Why are the over-whelming majority of Mormons inactive and why is there such a low percentage of tithe paying temple worthy members? It’s only the hard-core Mormons who show-up here that would do anything to protect the myth.
    That’s why we labor here. To bring the truth to those members who have sensed that something isn’t right and are seeking information in order to facilitate their exit from Mormonism.

  39. falcon says:

    There’s an excellent article on the Mormon Research Ministry website titled “Ten Lies I Told As a Mormon Missionary”. Number 8 is particularly applicable to this current discussion. The link is:

  40. liv4jc says:

    Sub said, “Most Ev churches are social organizations rather than religous ones.”

    Really, Sub? Last Sunday I encountered a group of my smithian friends at the park. There was some conversation about what the rest of the evening had in store. I mentioned that I had to leave the park shortly because I had to go to Bible study, our Sunday evening service. “Go where? To bible study?” was the disdainful response from one of the wives.

    I’m fully aware of the “talks” your laymembers give at sacrament meetings while your theologically untrained Bishops do not give a sermon from the text of scripture. I remember speaking to one friend who had to give a “talk” on peace, so she had been searching online about “peace”. Hmmmm, that’s pretty religious, but how about looking in oh, um, what’s that called? Oh, yeah. THE BIBLE! for the peace that comes through reconciliation with God. John 14:27 and John 16:33, and Romans 5:1 come to mind. Have you heard of all the smithians who come to find out the fallacy of your “church” while looking online to find information for their “talks”? If I was a mo bishop, I’d suspend that practice immediately. There’s a lot of information online that’s not very faith promoting.

    How ’bout this bit of “religion”? We allow our daughter to attend Tuesday “activity night” with her smithian friends because we know there is no way that anything related to “religion” is going to come up. Our only admonishment to her is not to pray to the false god of smithism prior to crafting, and not to call the ladies who lead the activities “sister” so and so.

    Also our smithian friends are planning Super Saturdy! Yeah! That’s full of religion. Let’s all make crafts and stamp to the glory of Christ our Savior! I’m not saying fellowshiping is wrong, but don’t accuse us of not having spirituality (what you call “religion” because of all of your “religios pomp and circumstance” that goes on), while your church is built around a huge mafia like social structure.

  41. liv4jc says:

    Oh, how about this one? One of my smithian friends has been tasked with teaching the 18 to 20 year olds. This guy has absolutely no interest whatsoever in the things of God, never speaks about his faith (other than to complain about tithing, church, etc.) but has been given that “calling” from his Bishop. God must have been asleep at the wheel when he gave that “calling” because this guy is less than unqualified to speak to religion.

    Anyway, he asks me if this is an appropriate topic to teach on, because the young men in his ward don’t know what they want to do with their lives: The seven “P”,s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents P**s Poor Performance. Now that’s a biblical topic I can really sink my teeth into!

    You are correct in one aspect, though Sub, and I’ll give it to you. There are a lot churches that preach a watered down gospel, never hold their members accountable, have huge campuses, and focus on “activities” just like your church does. Being a Christian in one of those churches may simply mean attending Sunday’s life-application-based sermon service and being on the church softball team. But just like you always tell me: don’t paint with a brush that’s so broad. There are a lot of good Christian churches out there (like mine) that are full of people who attend church to worship God and learn from His word, and there are many good Christians who attend the larger churches also, but are not as theologically minded as the members of my church are. That doesn’t mean they are any less saved by God’s grace.

    You say that our churches don’t offer the “religiou experience” that your church does. That’s true. You are looking for organized, structured, ritualized, religion instead of salvation and faith. It’s not about what Christ has done for you, it’s what you can outwardly do yourself. Just like ancient Judaism and Pharisaism, men will always look for some act they they can do to show the world how “religious” they are.

  42. subgenius says:

    i never said LDS members were not sociable, i simply stated the truth of things, which is that the ORGANIZATION of most Ev churches are social rather than religious. Tuesday activity evening (which obviously has a redeeming value by you encouraging you daughter to attend) is not a “scripture study” but is a form of fellowship and an even deeper it is a ‘know the tree by the fruit it bears’ testimony..obviously you and your daughter enjoy the fruit.

    The layperson talks have as much, if not more, merit than a “theologically trained” pastor. I have given talks and all have reference to OT, NT, and BoM…I can’t think of a talk i have heard that was void of any scriptural foundation and reference.
    But hey, if you prefer your “state certified Gospel”, that is your preference. I was not aware that the Gospel was beholden to academia, alas the Word was lost until Grace passed the admission exam.
    I never accused the Ev of not having spirituality, i was referring to the Organization of the Church in relation to each other, which ii made obvious, please re-read my post…..
    it seems that time and time again, the Ev gets “emotional” over my posts, not over what i say but over an apparent and a supposed “implied” meaning, or tone, that the Ev reader seems to “feel”….interesting for people who supposedly state that their grasp of the Gospel has all but rendered them void of religious emotion (cause emotion is so “misleading”, right?).

  43. setfree says:

    I haven’t been able to read all of the above thread, but I have had additional thoughts about it.

    1- MANY LDS missionaries come back and don’t want to talk religion anymore, ever again.
    2- I cannot imagine that that high of a percentage of Mormons (as the article reports) shares their faith on a weekly basis, unless they just mean that they talk about church with their friends and family. In my experience, once a Mormon knows I’m not one, they avoid me and/or at least avoid ever talking religion with me.

    Again, I think that Mormonism is mostly a culture, and that it is very instilled in a Mormon to personally stand or fall based on their faith in the church. Though many have doubts, they can’t express them for fear of being deemed unworthy. Likewise, they can’t share their religion with outsiders because there’s no Rock to stand on, and pretty soon they’re feeling unworthy again.

  44. subgenius says:

    1 – MANY? wow, i am sure you can support such a definitive qualitative analysis?
    I know MANY missionaries that came back and did talk religion….again….but, hey, thanks for sharing the thought.

    2-So, because Mormons don’t talk to you about religion therefore they must not talk with anyone about religion? Interesting logic but it seems that there is another more obvious conclusion to be drawn from those experiences. (of course you are excluding the Mormons who ‘talk’ to you on this board from your anecdote, right?)

    As for the expression of doubts…my experience has been that ‘doubts’ are welcomed and discussed openly…i know from experience, and i even have a Temple recommend. I actually find it easier to share my religion with others, but obviously sharing with other members doesn’t really make sense…it would be like having this board without any LDS, that is to say, it would be something altogether different from ‘sharing’.

  45. falcon says:

    Andy Watson was telling me about a friend of his who lived up in Utah for several years and this rather unreligious guy (at the time) used to get invited over to Mormons’ homes to eat and just like clock work would come the “knock, knock, knock” on the door and guess what? Well it was the missionaries who “just happened” to drop by. It got pretty comical. I think I would term that the old bushwack method and is more than a little dishonest.
    Well I’m happy to report that Andy’s friend went on to become born again and is very active in Andy’s church.

  46. Enki says:

    what a refreshing commentary! A christian that is humble and listens to non-christians!, although this doesn’t mean agree! I started a discussion with someone on a pro-LDS webpage. At this point I am not sure if I want to continue the discussion, I feel like I am writing to a brick wall. The amount of arrogance is amazing as well.

    I’ve been guilty of that also, but at the time I didn’t see myself as arrogant. But as you say people are inherently human, and I am human also. Anyone can change opinions, accept new ones, reject others etc…based on new information. Of course they can maintain whatever they want to as well. Hopefull its because they honestly see it fitting with reality, and not because its what they were taught to do.

  47. Enki says:

    Very interesting review of Romans 1:18-20. I like how you try to find the context, and apply information as to the time and situation, and not try to make it mean more than what is actually stated.

    Its interesting, sometimes it seems that Paul had a little TOO much first hand knowledge of the orgies. Did any other early christian comment on these?

    Paul at some point preferred to remain unmarried.1 Corinthians 7:8. This statement seems to be a problem for the LDS faith who feel that eternal marriage is necessary for salvation.

    Your observation about sexuality and paganism is pretty right on as far as your perspective goes. Neopagan commentary agrees to a large degree, but the perspective is different. Instead one perspective states the opinion that christianity ‘systematically suppresses sexuality’.

    In particular it condemns groups which adopted celebacy in one form or another. The main criticism is that denying a natural urge doesn’t get rid of the urge, it just distorts it and displaces it, often in unhealthy ways. The cases of child molestation by catholic priests is one example. But, I have heard of other churches which have this problem also. There are a few alleged cases involving LDS bishops as well. LDS bishops aren’t celebate, so that doesn’t really explain that.

  48. LARRY CLARK says:

    Interesting thread…I’ve been slow to read it. In regards to babies that die, people in Africa or wherever 2500 years ago that didn’t hear the Gospel: God is righteous and just and his judgments are pure, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalms 19:9, Psalms 96:10, Psalms 96:13, Psalms 98:9, Isaiah 45:21. Let’s not speculate about God, but, trust his judgment, for He is holy and righteous.

  49. setfree says:

    Amen to that Larry.
    When I come up against something that is difficult for me about God and what He has said, I lean on the fact that the things that He has said that I’ve not understood but given heed to anyway… well, He has always turned out to be the one of the two of us that is RIGHT
    Going by that then, that He has always been right where I have had experience with trusting Him, I can go with the rest of it based on that trust.

  50. liv4jc says:

    Sub, “Tuesday activity evening (which obviously has a redeeming value by you encouraging you daughter to attend) is not a “scripture study” but is a form of fellowship and an even deeper it is a ‘know the tree by the fruit it bears’ testimony..obviously you and your daughter enjoy the fruit.”

    I don’t “encourage my daughter to attend” the Smithian activity night any more than I would “encourage my daughter attend” an activity night at the local recreation center. In my eyes they have the same ends. I know the people she is attending with. They are good people and I know she is safe with them. I don’t worry about her getting any Smithian ideology because the activities have nothing to do with Smithism. If my church had an “activity night” I guarantee the activities would be to reinforce Christian values and teach lessons about Christ. He is the focus of our fellowship.

    My point overall was to show you that it is unfair for you to paint “Ev churches” with such a broad brush as nothing but social organizations. Just like your “church”, many Ev churches have social activities. You don’t like it when I paint all of your churches’ “talks” as nothing but personal opinion without biblical substance, do you? It is nothing but your opinion that Smithian “talks” have more value than a bible based sermon by a trained theologian. Of course you see no value in those things, because the gospel of Jesus Christ and His word properly exegeted is dispicable to you because you get not glory from it. What you would get from a sermon at my church was conviction of your separation from God for rejecting His gospel and His Son by your pursuit of salvation through works and “morality”. This may be the message you got from your “reformed” Ev church that caused you to flee to the safety of an organization that tells you how good you are doing, and how God is going to reward you for your work. Try reading Romans 4.

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