In an article published last week in The Tennessean (31 October 2011), the journalist interviewed Latter-day Saint Emily Halverson. Emily told the reporter that in middle Tennessee, far outside the so-called Book of Mormon Belt, people are curious about Mormons but reluctant to bring up the subject. Emily and her husband, Jared, have talked about how they might open up the topic for conversation with non-Mormons.
“’We’ve joked about, if you’re meeting someone who is not a member, saying “What’s five things you always wanted to ask a Mormon?”’ she said. ‘We want people to ask questions.’”
As I think about it, the list of questions I’d like to ask Mormons seems to have no end.
Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson once wrote a book (now out of print) filled with “Questions to Ask Your Mormon Friend.” All of them are good and interesting questions, but my personal favorite is “Why does the Mormon Church ignore Jesus’ role as prophet of God’s church?”
McKeever and Johnson point out the bedrock assertion of the LDS Church that modern-day revelation is essential; the true church must be (and according to Mormonism is) guided by a living prophet. Mormons rally around this fundamental claim, and criticize Christians for not being guided by a living prophet today. But they are mistaken.
As McKeever and Johnson detail in their book, the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18 is none other than Jesus (see John 5:46, 6:14, 7:37-40). The apostle Peter repeated Moses’ prophetic and solemn words for his audience in Jerusalem:
“…God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’” (Acts 3:21-23)
McKeever and Johnson write,
“Peter’s message was clear. We must listen to the words of the prophet prophesied by Moses…
“The bodily resurrection of Christ proves that He forever lives. Jesus is the final authority. To disregard His words is to bring destruction upon oneself. This fact, coupled with the aforementioned passages, demonstrates that Christ’s church does have a living prophet guiding it today: His name is Jesus! He is to be our source of truth…
“True followers of Christ readily accept the revealed Word of God which has been a time-tested truth throughout the centuries and which Jesus said ‘would not pass away’ [Mt. 24:35]…
“It is by God’s Word, the Bible, that all things are compared, including the words of those who claim to be modern prophets.” (Questions to Ask Your Mormon Friend, 79-81)
From this question, many others logically follow. But I would like to turn this over to you. Mormon Coffee friends, what are your top questions for Mormons? Ask away–and also, perhaps, explain why the answers really matter.
I have a question I would like to ask Emily Halverson.
First, a little background. The LDS people give the following title to Jesus Christ: “Redeemer.” The LDS church gives itself the following responsibility: “Redeem the dead.”
My question for Emily is: “Who redeems people? The LDS church? Or Jesus Christ?”
I hope that’s a compliment because I’m going to take it as one. I enjoyed the discussion also. Sorry I couldn’t be more traditional for you.
Sorry, I wasn’t trying to play word games. I was just answering the question the way I had read it. Jesus can’t just exalt us all for the same reason Mainstream Christians believe he isn’t powerful enough to save everyone even if they don‘t believe in him (or believe in the wrong him). There are certain things we must do when following Christ, whether that’s believe in him or follow his commandments. It’s not that Jesus doesn’t have the power, it that we have the choose to follow or not to follow. God won’t force us to do or become anything.
I think it wrong to baptize anyone that you can’t A) Prove you’re a direct descendent of and B) will offend any close family members. I’m sure the people that are scouring the obituaries think there doing to right thing, but I don’t think it’s proper. As I said before I’m a pretty sacrilegious fellow and even I don’t think doing Mary or Jesus temple work is funny. Anyone that thinks Jesus needs their help getting into heaven either doesn’t believe he’ll be coming back or doesn’t understand Christianity. I can only hope it’s a misguided attempt at humor from someone.
I would argue most people haven’t had the chance to truly reject Mormonism. I don’t think that just having heard of the Lds church and the BOM would be enough to truly reject it. In fact I believe it would take someone truthfully studying the Lds church and then saying no thanks before I would even consider the idea. But that’s just my opinion, and as stated earlier I may not be the best Mormon.
That was totally meant as a compliment (the not best member, but best seeker/liver of truth statement). I don’t seek to be the best traditional/historical/Bible-believing “Christian” I can be, but to seek and submit every part of my life to God through Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. While I believe this qualifies me as Christian, its not any particular program but that of the Ultimate’s that I am interested in fulfilling. I was just saying that it seems obvious that you are not “traditional” and that I respect that you are working things out for yourself instead of going just by a religion’s description of what you should. So yeah, my compliments.
There’s a difference in Jesus Saving people who follow him and having the power to Save everyone. Yes we have to believe in him and choose to follow, but Mormons are convinced that they have to baptize dead people who aren’t Mormon or they cannot be Saved/exalted. A lot of these dead people were true followers of Jesus in life, they chose to follow him, so by your logic, He could Save/exalt them. Why the “work” then? Jesus has the power to Save/exalt everyone and he certainly doesn’t need the help of Mormons. If He wanted to Save a sinner who never believed in Him, I believe He has the power to do that.
I totally agree with spartacus. I have really enjoyed the conversation. I respect that you have different beliefs than me, and that you aren’t “traditional” in the sense that you can think for yourself and not just regurgitate what you have learned at church. You said that you were once a Protestant and I think that’s why you get where Christians are coming from. I was raised LDS and really had no clue what Christianity teaches or what Christians believe. I have been having a few conversations with a relative lately and she has been asking questions about Christianity, like me, she is amazed that the true teachings of Christianity are far removed from what she has been taught by the LDS church. What amazes me even more is the contempt my family members have for Christianity. That contempt has to have come from somewhere. The LDS church.
There is a difference between what God can do and what he will do. It may be that Christ has the power to save everyone, but he’s said he won’t. Wether he can or can’t becomes a mote point when he’s said he isn’t going to do it. We Mormons don’t think people need baptized to live with Christ forever. We do belive they need baptized to become more like God. It’s not to save therm from hell but to offer them more if they want it. And they have every right to decline if they wish.
I thank you and spartacus for the kind words. I always enjoy a good sparing match with my verbal fencing partner! You must be thinking of someone else though, I was never Protestant. I was born Lds, became a Nietzschean Buddhist (if there is such a thing) then read the Bible and returned to Christ. It did give me the chance to look at Christianity from the outside as I “taught” people about their “bipolar three headed zombie god that’s obsessed with burning babies and punishing mankind for a nature he created them with”. Being able to see the love from my Christian friends let me understand there view. Thank God for Christ and the atonement, and that I could be forgiven for sinning against God in ways few people understand.
Hope that doesn’t count as bearing my testimony, I promise falcon I would never do that here. 😉
Oh sorry for the confusion. I’m going to have to look up Nietzschean Buddhist 🙂 Just curious, what made you decide to become a Buddhist?
Good luck finding “Nietzschean Buddhists” online 🙂 Nietzsche didn’t like any religion and Buddhists didn’t like him. It’s just the closest I ever came to being able to describe my belief system back then.
Nietzsche is where Hitler got a lot of his ideas about the superior man. I want to stress that I was never, ever, any sort of Nazi but to be honest Nietzsche’s ideas can lead to a scary place.
I was never truly Buddhist since I didn’t believe in the Dharma Wheel and reincarnation. What teachings I did find appealing where the simplicity of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Moderation of emotion can and does lead to a lack of suffering, though I found that was only because I came to care less about everything (and if you don’t care how do you suffer?). That’s not Buddhist’s fault but the fact I was really following the philosophies of men, taking things I liked from a few eastern religions and mixing them with western philosophy.