Can the missionaries really help you?

Russel M. NelsonIn the last General Conference, Apostle Russell M. Nelson gave a talk titled “Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You!” (Apparently there were lots of exclamation points in this talk!!!)

Earlier on the first day of the conference, President Thomas S. Monson had explained that 18-year-old males and 19-year-old females were now qualified to become missionaries (instead of 19 and 21). The news was very exciting for many Mormons, as the number of applications went up by 471% within just a few weeks. It will not be surprising to me if the church has 100,000 missionaries by next year, especially since so many more females are applying.

Nelson said that “missionaries can help in many ways.” First of all, he said, they can help those who want to do genealogical work. Honestly, I doubt many of the teenaged missionaries have ever looked up their family records. Yes, their parents and grandparents, maybe, but how many 18-year-old boys know much about a science that is largely learned through experience?

Next, Nelson said the missionaries can help members who are not presently participating in church functions. Perhaps with so many missionaries, the teenagers can go around to the less active members’ homes and ring the doorbell a few minutes before the church service to make sure they get there on time. Really, though, can most of these teens know what it’s like to doubt whether “The Church” is true? Most of them have merely parroted their parents’ faith, probably attending seminary classes and going with the flow. Now that the boys will move straight from high school to the mission field, they may have very little time to think through their faith and see if it’s true.

Recently a pair of missionaries came to my house. One was 21 who grew up in the Mormon Church. He became a missionary because, finally, he received a testimony about the church just a few months before. (I wonder if this was not more of an issue that he couldn’t get any dates with nice Mormon girls.) Off, then, he went to the MTC. The other was 19, a more traditional missionary. Neither had any kind of exposure to Evangelical Christianity. By moving the age requirement down, it will be interesting to see the impact upon these younger men and women, some of whom will be seriously challenged in their faith for the first time at a younger age.

A third benefit to talking to the missionaries, Nelson said, is that “some of you may want to know how to conquer an addiction or live longer and enjoy better health.” How many teenagers have conquered an addiction? Honestly, I’ve never met a missionary who I thought had ever imbibed or inhaled, let alone had an addiction. Their lack of experience in these types of matters does not make them experts in conquering addictions. As far as better health, was Nelson serious? I’ve seen the missionaries stuffing themselves at Golden Corral or getting another soda at the fountain at McDonalds. I hear that they eat plenty of Top Ramen and Mac and Cheese during their missions. These are teen-agers, for Pete’s sake! How are they going to teach me how to live longer?

Fourth, if “you feel a gnawing emptiness, without direction or purpose,” Nelson promised that the missionaries can help. Unfortunately, the missionaries have very little practical spiritual experience besides their own faith. Most can’t tell me the different between the Qu’ran and the Tripitaka. They have never looked into Zen or know the fundamentals of Evangelical Christianity. All they know is what they have experienced, which for most of them is TBM (True Blue Mormonism). They know the standard lines (i.e. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, Thomas S. Monson is true, and yes, anything connected to Mormonism is true), but they really don’t know why. Their critical thinking skills are not fully functional yet. How do they really know if what they are believing is true? The pat answer: “I have prayed about it and know it is true.” This just isn’t good enough.

Nelson continued, saying that the missionaries can also help if “you have concerns about your family” by helping with the “strengthening of marriages and families.” However, these young men and women have never been married. How are they qualified to somehow become marriage/family counselors? According to Nelson, they “can also help you with your desire for greater knowledge.” But most missionaries have had no more than a year of college, and as I mentioned before, soon the missionaries will be knocking on our doors right out of high school. I have taught high schoolers, and while many of them are bright, their knowledge is not necessarily higher than those whose doors they are knocking on.

Finally, Nelson said that in a recent study “Latter-day Saints were the most knowledgeable about Christianity and the Bible.” Why is it, then, that missionaries with whom I converse have no idea about the passages in the Bible that say there is only one God? That they think the Trinity means one God in three gods? That they have the idea that salvation by grace is nothing more than resurrection from the dead? That they think the Bible is filled with many contradictions and errors? Honestly, I doubt many of them have ever studied the Bible except for passages that were required reading in seminary and missionary training.

No, Mr. Nelson, the missionaries are of little service to those who have studied their Bibles. My only hope with lowering the age of the missionaries is that I might get more visits from them. Maybe I could help them!

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111 Responses to Can the missionaries really help you?

  1. grindael says:

    As for Woodruff, here is his account of trying to cast a devil out of Edward Tullidge,

    I came home in the Evening of the 16 & found Brother Edward Tullidge raving mad. He was at the City Hall in the hands of the poliece. He had been writing or Compiling my own Autobyography for nearly two years. Of late he had been drinking vary hard & writing Theatrical Plays. He now imagins himself the great Bridegroom & many other foolish things.

    17 I spent the fore part of the day in the Endowment House. We gave Endowments to 29 persons. H. C. Kimball sealed 2 Couple, G Q Cannon 11, and W Woodruff 6 Couple.

    [p.279] I received a good letter from Ensign Stockings. He spent a week in London & spoke of the Corruption of the City & the wickedness of the people.

    In the Evening I Called at the City Hall to see Edward Tullidge who had became insane. I was left alone with him. I laid hands upon him & rebuke the devels & they Came out of him & he beged of me to take him home. He promised me faithfully to obey me in all things if I would take him to his family who were in my house. Upon this promise I took him by the arm & led him home in his right mind.

    I spent the Evening with him reading the news of the day. He went to bed with his Brother John, & slept untill about 1 oclok. Then the devil entered into him & he raged Badly. I arose & went to him & again laid hands upon him & Cast the Devel out of him in the name of Jesus Christ. And he remained quiet untill about day light when the Devil again Entered into him & he raged in a dredful manner. We gave him his breakfast & I took him by the arm & walked with him back to the City Hall & left him in the hands of the poliece. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.279, March 16-17 1866).

  2. grindael says:

    He wrote in 1897:

    A Bro Hansen & his wife called and wished me to administer to their child as they had come the consequence of having had a dream to that effect. I told them I did not administer to anybody, & they had better call on some of the Elders. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 9, p. 476, May 6, 1897).

  3. grindael says:

    Here is some more from Woodruff’s Journal,

    12th I crossed the river with Brother Taylor in a canoe to upper Commerce. Assisted in looking over the proof sheet of the first number of the Times & seasons. We then had an interview with the Presidency & also with Elder Kimble. We went into the River & had a bathe.

    We was Called upon to visit the sick & administer unto them by the laying on of hands. We found quite a number that were sick. Several received a blessings & while administering in spiritual things Joseph Called upon the Twelve to call & visit father Smith /is 68 years of age this day/ & lay hands upon him that he might be healed for he was sick & nigh unto death. We lade hands upon him & he received /[6 sick?]/ a blessing. The thought struck me that the Lord would add unto his life fifteen years, & to Close the scenes of this day, we received the glorious intelligence of the happy deliverence of PARLEY P. PRATT from Prision whare he had been Confined seven months for the cause of God. Brother Morris Phelps was also delivered with Parley. They [p.347] delivered themselves on the fourth day of July above the setting of the Sun by running over the Jailor & esscaping out of thir hands by mounting some horses that were prepared for that purpose by Orson Pratt, Sister Phelps & others. They were closely persued by the mob & narrowly escaped by leaving behind them their horses Saddles bridles & hats & arived in Quincy on the 10th of July making six days on the road. road. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.347, July 12, 1839).

    Smith Sr. continued to be sick died a little over a year later. The “mob” above was the duly appointed law of the State of Illinois.

    Gee, if you are going to quote from someone’s journals, please use the ORIGINAL SOURCE. Here it is:

    22 Joseph was in Montrose & it was a day of Gods power. There was many Sick among the Saints on [p.348] both sides of the river & Joseph went through the midst of them taking them by the hand & in a loud voice Commanding them in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from their beds & be made whole & they leaped from their beds made whole by the power of God. Elder Eligah Fordham was one among the number & he with the rest of the sick rose from his bed & followed Joseph from house to house & it was truly a time of rejoicing.

    25th On this day for the first time in my life I have an attack’d of the chills & fefer & I find it a distressing dissease. A number of the quorum of the Twelve are taken Ill. The enemy is striving to bind us down that we shall not go into the vineyard.

    29 My chills & fever still Continues. I took a course of Thompsonian medicine to clens my System. I took 3 emetics & steamed 15 minutes. I thought this would do for one day. I was vary sick. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.348, July 22-29, 1839).

    Apparently the healing didn’t work for Woodruff, who had to take medicine that also didn’t work. Why didn’t Smith heal him and the other 12 who were still sick? This is hit and miss, and so can’t really be called a “miracle”. There always seems to be a lot of additions to the account years after the fact.

    Also, when Smith tried to heal the Camp of Zion (on the Fishing River in 1834) of cholera, he couldn’t, but got cholera himself. He blames it on others, of course. I never heard of this happening to Jesus.

  4. shematwater says:


    You truly have no clue. You have ignored most of what I said, twisted what you did read, and then created false conclusions based on this warped idea of my faith. Truly nothing in your last post was accurate. It honestly seems like a waste of time to continue with this.


    Personally, I couldn’t care less about your opinions concerning these events. The Apostles of Christ had difficulties at times in healing the sick and other acts that require faith, including faith in the person receiving the blessing. Christ himself had to heal a man twice because the man had insufficient faith for a full healing the first time (Mark 8: 22-25). Just because all attempts at healing don’t work is proof of nothing.
    Now, I am not surprised that you have to come up with any reason you can to dismiss what actually happened. Miracles have not produced faith, and that has not changed in these last days. Those without faith will always find some way to rationalize away the power of God when it is manifest to them. I am sure many Jews found ways to dismiss the works of Christ even.

    Now, you say “There are no other first hand accounts of this “miracle”, even though it was supposed to have taken place in Joseph Knight Sr.’s house with a bunch of people.”

    What first hand accounts do we have of the miracles of Christ? There are the four testimonies recorded in the four Gospels. However, Luke was present, and thus his is not an eyewitness account. Mark was also not present, and thus not an eye witness. Matthew was an eye witness to some of the events, as was John, but they give a testimony of different events.
    So, taking the event of feeding four thousand, the only first hand account that exists is that of Matthew. While Mark talks about it, he was not actually present, or cannot be proven to have been there.
    Matthew is also the only eye witness account of Christ calming the storm.
    Of course there are events for which we have no eye witness account at all. Such is the case of Christ’s birth. None of the three men that record the event were witnesses to it. Matthew is the only one that records the wise men, but he was not present at the time. Luke is the only one that records the shepherds, or the visits of the angel Gabriel, but he was not present at the time. So for the entire account of Christ’s birth, and his early life up until the twelve the called to the ministry, we have no eyewitness accounts.
    For the works and miracles of the twelve and of Paul we have only the witness of Luke, and he was not present on all occasions.
    Almost every act of Christ and the early saints is testified to by no more than one eyewitness, with a rare event having two eyewitness accounts. How is this any greater evidence than what I have given of the miracles of Joseph Smith?
    (and your opinion does not count)

  5. grindael says:

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about your opinions concerning these events. The Apostles of Christ had difficulties at times in healing the sick and other acts that require faith, including faith in the person receiving the blessing. Christ himself had to heal a man twice because the man had insufficient faith for a full healing the first time (Mark 8: 22-25). Just because all attempts at healing don’t work is proof of nothing. Now, I am not surprised that you have to come up with any reason you can to dismiss what actually happened. Miracles have not produced faith, and that has not changed in these last days. Those without faith will always find some way to rationalize away the power of God when it is manifest to them. I am sure many Jews found ways to dismiss the works of Christ even.

    It’s not just any REASON. It’s a whole lot of them, from THEIR OWN HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS. I’m only quoting their words, the REAL words that were written at the time, not the exaggerated stories told in later years. Also, it was hit and miss with them. Those are the facts. It’s hard when your lauded “prophets” don’t live up to the hype, but for you it isn’t because you have the safety of your Mormon bubble. I have the facts, and the evidence, and the actual historical accounts that show that these men were liars. And there you go, not dealing with the evidence, but trying to divert the issue with another one, that the Jews disbelieved. This is not disbelieving what actually happened, this is showing that those that claimed these things LIED by their own words. BIG DIFFERENCE. And I have faith, just not in Jo Smith and his lying apostles.

  6. shematwater says:


    You have very few facts, but a whole lot of subjective interpretation to go along with them.

    I love your use of an obviously antagonistic source. Of course, the hear-say that is rampant within this source doesn’t seem to bother you, since it is agreeing with what you believe anyway.

    You honestly have nothing in the way of actual evidence for anything you say. You may quote their words, but your conclusions are not supported by them.

  7. Rick B says:

    Shem said

    You may quote their words, but your conclusions are not supported by them.

    You forgot to add, I dont care what the prophets said, I believe they said what I want to believe.

    So what IF JS said people live on the Moon or BY tried to ONE UP Joseph Smith and claim People lived in/on the sun, I believe what I want, Dont confuse me with the facts.

    Thats what you should say Shem, If you were really honest you would.

  8. grindael says:

    I love your use of an obviously antagonistic source. Of course, the hear-say that is rampant within this source doesn’t seem to bother you, since it is agreeing with what you believe anyway.

    The source was Wilford Woodruff. LOL. It’s the ORIGINAL ACCOUNT. You quoted an account made YEARS LATER which was embellished. If Woodruff is antagonistic to you then who isn’t? Shem, you need comprehension lessons. You can read, can’t you? And yes, that is my point. That is why those sources can’t be trusted. All Smith’s “miracles” are based on heresay.

  9. shematwater says:


    “A. W. B. S. Bainbridge, Chen[ango]. co., March, 1831.”

    This is not Wilford Woodruff.

    The account of Wilford Woodruff is not hearsay, as he was an eyewitness to the event to which he testifies. The account of Newel Night is not hearsay, and he was an eyewitness to the event to which he testifies.
    However, the source that you give as references “A. W. B. S. Bainbridge, Chen[ango]. co., March, 1831.” is giving only hearsay, as it is not from an eyewitness, but is reportedly saying what an eyewitness said, without having the eyewitness account to corroborate the facts.

    Now, I couldn’t care less that Wilford Woodruff got sick again and took medicine for the illness. It is not proof of anything, other than he got sick and took medicine. The fact that he cast out a devil more than once and then gave up proves nothing, other than this basic fact. You draw whatever conclusions you want, but don’t claim that these accounts prove your conclusions to be true, because they don’t. That is my point.
    God heals and God afflicts as He chooses. It is not place to judge His actions or his reasons. It was a miracle that healed many people along the banks of the Mississippi river, and whether they later contracted an illness does not negate the fact that they were healed at that time.

  10. grindael says:

    Of course Shem, you didn’t mention who the “antagonistic source” was. This is typical of you. I quoted multiple sources on this thread, but you can’t be specific. People who give replies, give the persons quote first, so that it is clear what they are talking about, and as everyone else here is doing, but not Shem. I guess that must be too hard for you to do. Abraham W. Benton swore out the warrant against Smith, so he was there. He had to be. He wrote his account right after the trial occurred. And Benton is not inaccurate, Knight didn’t describe Satan at all. He uses an old ploy: “You wouldn’t understand it if I told you.” This was obviously elaborated on after the fact, years after, since Smith & Knight wrote up the account some nine years after it happened. Dan Vogel writes about Smith’s 1826 examination,

    Bainbridge resident Abram W. Benton claimed in 1831 that Smith was “condemned,” but “considering his youth, (he then being a minor) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape.” It is unclear if Benton had attended the 1826 proceedings, but in bringing a warrant against Smith on the same charge in July 1830 Benton demonstrated that he was familiar with issues of the first prosecution.

    The only reason Smith got off in 1830 was that the statute of limitations ran out. Once again you do not bother to look up the facts, but just make up whatever you like as you go along.

    You may not care that Smith’s healing didn’t work, but I do. And Woodruff’s account at the time it happened is far different from the one you quoted years after the fact. If Smith was such a great healer, why when he tried to heal his followers of cholera in 1834 was he struck down himself? Like I said, that didn’t happen to Jesus.

  11. grindael says:

    The Justice of the Peace Joel K. Noble who presided over the 1830 trials wrote

    Newel Knights, sworn, saith, “prisoner could see in a stone as stated by Stowel; that formerly he looked for money, &c., but latterly he had become holy, was a true preacher of the Gospel of Christ, possessed the power of casting out devils; he knew it to be a fact, that he, (Smith, the prisoner,) had cast a devil from him, (witness,) in manner following, viz. witness was in mind impressed; he and Smith did conclude and knew the devil was in witness; they joined hands, their faith became united, the devil went out of witness; witness knew it to be a fact, for he saw the devil as he departed; Smith did it by the power of God. etc.

    A true copy from minutes taken by me on the trial.
    JOEL K. NOBLE, J. Peace.
    Dated, Colesville, Aug. 28, 1832.

    This is far different from the account that Knight gives. It is just Knights word that it happened. And if you believe this, you also have to believe that angels were running around putting books under his doorstep, which Knight also said happened to him:

    Personally came before me, Broome County, } Joel K. Noble, justice of the Town of Colesville, ss. } peace of said town of Colesville, Preston T. Wilkins, known by me to be the same person, and being by me duly sworn, saith, that Newel Knights did style himself a prophet of the Lord, and was ordained by Joseph Smith, Jr., the pretended author of the book of Mormon, as the said Newel told him, this deponent, and this deponent understood so by others, that the said Newel was so ordained; that the said Newel told this deponent he knew past, present and future; that in order to ascertain the prophetic ability of the said Newel, the deponent went and took from the father of said Newel, a Mormon Bible, (so called) unbeknown to any one, as this deponent believes, and buried it under his own door-step (witnesses); in the morning the book was found; this deponent went to the aforesaid Newel, told him the mystery that had happened; the said Newel and father told this deponent it did not come from this package of books; they counted them and were certain, as they said; the aforesaid Newel told this deponent that God told him, the said Newel, that he had sent his angel to put the book on the door-step, to convince him, this deponent, of the truth of the Mormon book, as also to warn him to flee from the impending wrath.
    Subscribed and sworn before me, this 28th day of August, 1832.
    JOEL K. NOBLE, J. P.
    A true copy from the original affidavit on file in my office. J. K. NOBLE.
    Colesville, Aug. 28, 1832.
    Joseph Smith, jr. was discharged; he had not looked in the glass for two years to find money; &c.,-hence it was outlawed. (statute of limitations ran out on the crime)

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