This past summer I was in Nauvoo, Illinois to distribute Christian information and answer questions about my faith and how it differs from Mormonism. This I did each evening for a week, standing adjacent to the outdoor Nauvoo Pageant grounds as pageant-goers arrived to enjoy the night’s performance. The majority of people who attended the pageant were Mormons, or investigators flanked by Mormon missionaries.
As I offered my information to pageant-goers (along with a friendly “hello”), they would reach for the paper, and I would tell them that it was from the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center. At this, many would pull back their hands, eyes wide, as if they had almost touched a hot stove. With eyes darting about, they would turn a shoulder toward me and hurry away.
Some folks at first didn’t register the fact that the paper was not Church-produced. When they saw the identifying Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center information on the paper and realized what they had in their hands, they would immediately, and with a posture of great alarm, look about for a trashcan to throw it away.
Certainly not everyone reacted this way. Some seemed genuinely pleased to receive the information, and a few folded and tucked the paper away so their fellow Mormons would not know they had it. Others would just walk by without a glance in my direction.
I admit that I, too, sometimes ignore people on the street who are trying to get information into my hands. I might be annoyed. I might be disgusted. But I can’t think of a time when I’ve been afraid of the information someone has offered; and fear is a reaction that I saw from a lot of Mormons in Nauvoo. Not merely disinterest. Not simply irritation. Fear.
The fear might stem from a member’s commitment to be obedient to Church leaders who tell them to stay away from people and information that are critical of Mormonism, or perhaps it is born out of an apprehension of having their faith challenged. Either way, I find it somewhat paradoxical.
Mormonism is founded on severe criticism of the Christian faith. Joseph Smith’s First Vision story is one of condemnation of Christian “creeds,” “professors,” and “doctrine” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). The Book of Mormon criticizes and ridicules traditional Christianity, saying those who believe that the Bible is sufficient are “fools” (2 Nephi 29:6). The Book of Mormon denounces non-Mormon churches as “the Church of the devil…which is the mother of abominations; and…the whore of all the earth” (1 Nephi 14:10). For decades the Church has sponsored the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, Utah in which Christian doctrines on the nature of God and eternal punishment are scorned, and Christian pastors are mocked.
The interesting thing is that the Mormon Church uses all of these things in its proselytizing efforts. It expects and encourages non-Mormons to read information critical of their own Christian faith, while yet encouraging Mormons to shun information that might be critical of Mormonism.
The Mormon Church tells its own members to “ignore…anti-Mormon literature” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 233), describing it as “theological pornography that is damaging to the spirit” (Vaughn J. Featherstone, “The Last Drop in the Chalice,” a BYU devotional given 9/24/85). The Church implies that material should be discarded if its claims do not “build a person’s faith and strengthen commitment [to Mormonism]. If what a person is claiming weakens faith in Christ or resolve to follow the leaders of the Church…it is not of God” (Ryan Morgenegg, “Five Ways to Detect and Avoid Doctrinal Deception,” Church News (online), 9/17/2013).
The paradox is that the progress of Mormonism depends on non-Mormons being willing and unafraid to have their own faith challenged. If everyone were afraid to look at (or were discouraged from looking at) materials critical of their faith, no one would read the Book of Mormon or allow Mormon missionaries to present the story of the foundation of the Restoration — Joseph Smith’s First Vision. If everyone dismissed out of hand anything that did not strengthen their resolve to follow their current church leaders and their commitment to the faith they already had, no one would convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Why should non-Mormons be encouraged to accept material critical of their faith while Mormons themselves are told to shun it?
I can imagine Mormons saying, “This is different. We have the truth and therefore have no need of examining criticisms of our faith.” If this is truly what Mormons believe, why are they so unwilling to examine critical materials in order to “correct those who are in opposition,” as the Bible instructs (2 Timothy 2:25)? Why do they “answer” questions with nothing more than an assertion that the question is but a clever trap? If Mormons have the truth, why are they so reluctant to confront criticisms, even if they believe (as they’ve been told) that critical material “uses lies or half-truths; it distorts, sensationalizes, or misinterprets Church teachings and history” (“Questions and Answers,” New Era, 7/07)? If Mormons really have the truth, surely they have answers to every lie.
Mormons, if you believe you really have the truth, why are you so afraid? Come — let us reason together. Let’s examine the truth – wherever it is found.
“One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” -Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:499
“Our doctrine and practice is, and I have made it mine through life—to receive truth no matter where it comes from.” –Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 11
I guess you then dont trust or believe the Bible and Call God and Jesus Liars.
Jesus spoke more of Hell and Money than he did of Heaven.
God and Jesus through out the Bible speak of hell being Real and everlasting, as do the apostles and disciples.
So how can you read and see all these verses and reject then as if they are not true?
I am not calling you a heretic . I would like to know what you believe about who God / Jesus
are . Care to share ?
It has been awhile , but as a former member, its nice to be out since Sep 2011, each day is filled with inner peace, the main reason, is i heard this saying ” If you break your leg in 3 places don’t go back to those 3 places” .
I enjoy the articles here, the back and forth not as much, when i left it was my heart was pierced when i read something I had no answer for , when i went to the Bishop he said ” I can’t not and will not allow small minded questions to lead me astray now or ever ”
When i come here it is to learn , grow, not debate or fight , that will simply take my new found peace.
Why do now on this side what I did on that side ? debate?
Life is to short to keep going back and forth no one was debating with me when my heart got pierced , I read and had questions, and got no answers. the more questions with zero answers , made it easy to see the house of cards.
I always prided myself pin on knowing the answer and defending the only true church.
In the Jason Bourne trilogy he says at the end of the movie ” Look at how much they make you give ”
At the start of the trilogy it was said to him.
As long as we engage with Mormons they will take our peace, look at how much they take from us .
Get busy living , or get busy dying
That is an interesting perspective you have. I absolutely hate debating as much as you, I can assure you. However, the Truth is worth fighting for. We have not been commissioned to silence just as much as we have not been commissioned to be jerks either. If someone comes on a Christian blog saying something to the effect of there is no hell, it would be a great err on our part to not speak the truth to that lie. The truth is worth standing up for.
You have encouraged us by sharing your story of how you walked away from the false prophet
led organization that is Mormonism . We’re glad that there is info on MRM that has been a
benefit to you now . So keep being encouraged to by this wonderful ministry and don’t feel
you have to engage in debates with Mormons who visit here , it is’nt necessary for any former
Mormons to do so .
God bless you .
I feel your pain!
I think I’ve been at it here for five years. I have developed a strategy that keeps me going but I can relate to your “stealing peace” sentiment.
I really don’t care much one way or the other what the TBMs who show-up here write. As I’ve explained before, they are just foils. I also understand that they are living in darkness but think they are in the light.
If I were you I’d probably not post the back and forth if it steals your peace. However, I really enjoy your contributions and feel you have much to offer.
One last thing, having done several triathlons myself, I know how important it is to pace yourself. It’s as much mental as it is physical when doing an event. BTW, I still ride my bike avidly but gave up competitions a long time ago. Didn’t need any more tee shirts.
“Ralph knows” … Gee Falcon, you know what I know and how I feel, well why don’t I just give you my log in details and let you do my writing for me.
Yes it does – but it’s not the way you want to interpret the Bible. God is Heavenly Father who is a totally separate being to Jesus, His Son to whom He gave His power and authority making Him (Jesus) also a God under His (Heavenly Father’s) auspices (but not the one we worship as our one true God) – They are not a Trinity as described by the creeds. The Trinity is just one interpretation of the Bible and an INTERPRETATION only. His plan of salvation is to have us be with Him forever and give us everything He has, and this is all through His Son, Jesus (if you didn’t remember) and no other way.
Are there things missing from the Bible? Well we do know of many ‘books’ and epistles that are referenced in the Bible that we do not have copies of. We also know that there are many manuscripts from that era claiming to be scripture/holy books – how do we know that any of these are true/real and should be included in the Bible? We just know that the Bible canon was determined long ago by people. So we don’t know what is missing from the Bible especially what is written in the missing books.
The doctrines (yes plural) of Trinities were in existence before the Nicaea council, which was called to try and unify a doctrine. The Trinity in which you want to believe was formalised at that meeting. Yes I know that, but that does not exclude the fact that before that meeting Christianity had many different beliefs in who, what and how Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost were all about – including some that were close to how we LDS believe. Who knows, there may have been a small group that believed exactly as we do – that they are 3 separate beings as described in the Bible.
If you re-read my original post I did make the very same comment – ”The Bible is corrupted, and many on this site agree with that – but they say that the actual doctrine within it is not, that these corruptions do not detract from the doctrine, just the stories and non-essential parts.” So why are you pulling me up for this?
There are scriptures to indicate that hell has no end and there are those to indicate that there is a reprieve. At any rate I do not care to debate it any further. My faith Is in Christ and Christ alone. And my good works are evidence of my faith. I am nothing and Christ is everything. To him I give praise for ever and ever.
Mike, all my life growing up I understood the father to have a body so obviously it is difficult to switch my thinking on that. I am praying for God to show me what to believe regarding this. It is hard to imagine a God that has no body, parts or passions. That is intangible and unimaginable. I know the scriptures talk about Christ is the image of the invisible God. So I hope I will come to an understanding of this.
Can you provide verses that claim their is a reprieve? Also it seems you pick and choose bible verse you want to believe while rejecting others. So if you pick and choose verses, then how can you trust the ones you choose to believe? And how can you be sure the ones you reject as being true, are really false?
You said, “The doctrines (yes plural) of Trinities were in existence before the Nicaea council, which was called to try and unify a doctrine.” You really have no idea of what you are talking about do you? You must sleep easy at night knowing that you serve 3 gods who are so incompetent that they are unable to keep their church from being destroyed after one of the god’s immediate followers died off. See how post-Christian heresies always use quote mining and distortions to satisfy themselves? It’s a good thing those 3 gods finally restored that church almost 2000 years later; but where is just one Nephite artifact in the new world? I know ears getting itched when I see it.
Thanks for being open to share what you believe . It sounds like you are on the right track to
find out the truth since you mentioned a Biblical reference ( Christ is the image of the
invisible God ) , so I would encourage you to keep studying the Bible , God will meet you there.
I’d like to remind you not to make the mistake of thinking that because something is not
physical ( ” intangible ” ) that therefore it can’t exist , God is so majestic and powerful that
it is unimaginable there could such a Person , yet He is real . However , He certainly did not
learn how to become our unique Almighty Creator , as Mormon prophets have declared .
That’s all I will say to you now . I would encourage you also to avail yourself of the information
that MRM has available concerning what the Bible’s prophets taught about God compared to
what the latter days prophets of Mormonism have taught about Him .
Take care .
C’mon man, you know that this is simply not telling the whole truth. The doctrine of the Trinity was in existence with Jesus Apostles, because they understood the true revelation of Him. (For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form – Colossians 2:9) The “fullness” is the pleroma (πλήρωμα), or GOD, of which Iraneaus and other second century (circa 160) wrote of in rebuttal to the heresies of the day (the ones you mention above).
The other “doctrines” of the Trinity (including the one now espoused by Mormonism – after 70 years of believing a variety of them including the original doctrine of the Trinity which they spoke favorably of, calling it a “wonderful thing” in the Evening and Morning Star) are heresy.
The first was those now identified as the Gnostics, who believed that God did not come in the flesh, and that has been around since the time of the Apostles, because John writes about them. The first “splitting” of God into two separate gods was developed by Marcion of Sinope (around 144 A.D.), who was a Bishop of the Church and had issues much like Inquisitor described in his comments.
It was because of these heretics that apologia was born into the church. The reason there was no definite “doctrine” of the Trinity, was because it was understood and taught by the Apostles that there was only one God and Jesus was God incarnate, the bodily form of the fullness of the Diety. That is exactly what is taught in the Bible.
Not three Gods, but ONE GOD. Always one God. This is what Irenaeus explicitly taught, who was born about 115 A.D. and was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John. His great work, “Against Heresies”, was a denunciation of all who taught there was more than ONE GOD. This was almost two centuries before the Council of Nicaea.
The Trinity was never “formalized” at that Council, (it existed since the time of Jesus); it was declared as the true doctrine of who God is, because heresy was infiltrating the church. The Doctrine of the Trinity can be found being taught since the time of the Apostles, because they taught it. The Bible does not teach three separate beings. It never did. It has been interpreted that way, by those in error. In each case of those who wanted to “split” God up, they reject portions of the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, the same way that Mormons do today, by claiming corruption, apostasy and a boatload of other things.
Both Brigham Young and Jo Smith had to do this to justify their own heresies. That is why Marcion rejected much of the Bible and taught baptism for the dead, another false doctrine mentioned by Paul, who he (Marcion) felt was the only true apostle because he taught the gospel to the Gentiles and can be viewed as rejecting the Jewish Faith (though this is not true). Marcion, like so many others, simply did not understand the scriptures, and could not accept what the apostles taught, but had to do like Jo did, invent a God he could live with.
Like I said, This is nothing new. As Jesus said about another of his “hard” teachings,
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’ 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6)
I wish you well on your journey through life.
I’m quite sure that I’ll be jumped on for what I’m about to say but I knew this time would come eventually so say it I will.
If Inquisitor is claiming that Hell isn’t a place of eternal torment then a little research will be enough to show that he is correct, however, as this is not a matter that affects salvation I’m not going to get deeply involved in any debate about it, at least not right now.
Old man said,
If Inquisitor is claiming that Hell isn’t a place of eternal torment then a little research will be enough to show that he is correct, however, as this is not a matter that affects salvation
I completely agree
It’s a long long way from the FLDS to where Inquisitor is at now and none of us can claim perfection in our knowledge. let’s give the Spirit and Scripture time to finish it’s work
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1 Peter 2:2-3)
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
We also know that there are many manuscripts from that era claiming to be scripture/holy books – how do we know that any of these are true/real and should be included in the Bible? We just know that the Bible canon was determined long ago by people. So we don’t know what is missing from the Bible especially what is written in the missing books.
I think I can help you. Check this free book out.
I used to struggle with the very things you mention like supposed missing books and evil councils but once I understood the amazing self attestation and internal structure of the Bible it became clear and obvious that we have exactly the cannon of books that God intended. Men could not mess it up even if they tried.
I would love to explore this issue with you (perhaps one on one privately) but it will require some effort on your part. If you are interested please read the book and let me know what you think
grindael and others have done an adequate job of answering you as have others in the past when you’ve written basically the same thing; so I won’t go there.
How do I know what you’re thinking? It’s because I’ve read what you’ve written over time and know that you are a naive true believing Mormon. What you write Ralph is eye-rolling stuff. In addition to this you go out and find some obscure piece of information that satisfies your desire to believe in Mormonism. Actually that’s being charitable to you.
Ralph do you ever go deeply into what your prophets have taught, the history of your church, the reason for so many sects of Mormonism, and more importantly the actual history of the first four hundred years of Christianity.
You’re clinging not even to a thin thread. You are floating free without a tether to any sort of solid information or reality. It’s pure emotion and desire and any form of explanation regarding Mormonism will do.
The people here are concerned about your spiritual position before God Ralph. You’re not going to become a god and have your own planetary system to rule.
This isn’t a matter of Biblical interpretation because it isn’t in the Bible. You’ve put the salvation of yourself and your family into the hands of fools Ralph.
My heart aches for you, and them.
Let me say in case there was confusion on my part.
I dont believe Hell is eternal, I do believe the lake of fire is eternal, Hell is just a holding place till they go to the lake of fire after judgment.
Also even though people might say, I dont want to debate this at this time, Thats fine since it is off topic, but to me it is a matter of salvation subject since people will either spend eternity with Jesus, or all of eternity with out Jesus.
If we dont spend it with Him, we will spend it in the lake of fire, and the Bible does not teach a universal salvation, like some believe.
Given the number of comments, responding to them individually in detail would be a bit too onerous, so pardon some general remarks here.
Ralph points out, not wholly unfairly (save for his use of the fact), that there are Christians who are afraid to carefully examine outside (non-Christian or even anti-Christian) literature, and even that there are Christian pastors who admonish their congregations to avoid outside literature. This is, unfortunately, true. But mainstream Christianity does not have this problem to the same systemic extent that contemporary Mormonism does. As someone preparing to enter pastoral ministry, I have no intention of giving any congregation or any congregant a blanket warning that they should somehow fear the writings of those outside the faith, be they Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, atheists, or any other sort of non-Christian ideology. Rather, I’ll say something like the following: “In Christ, you are free to read whatever you want and think critically through whatever ideas you want. If you have concerns that are leading you to want to give a hearing to what that writer is saying, by all means read it. In fact, let’s read it together and talk about it together. Truth is best served when both sides are heard fairly and at their best, and the facts are laid on the table.” Of course, I’ve been known to engage with Dawkins and with the LDS Church in a friendly but reasoned way while preaching. Faith is healthier on the other side when it has reasoned carefully through the arguments of its defenders and its detractors alike. I wish that the LDS Church would embody this attitude better. As I quoted in a comment earlier, they used to at least acknowledge that they ought to view things in that light and act accordingly.
Ralph also made some comments – it doesn’t seem needful to explore how they came to be introduced into the discussion – regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. The simple fact is that, shorn of the philosophical analysis that the Church Fathers rightly used in conceptually translating the doctrine into a scholarly Hellenistic milieu, the doctrine of the Trinity is a thoroughly biblical doctrine. It is the only overall assessment of the biblical statements about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that is capable of taking all the details into consideration. In light of what New Testament scholars in particular are increasingly coming to recognize, the Mormon doctrine of deity is utterly untenable without an overwhelming degree of eisegetical contortions. If you’re ever willing to make a good-faith effort to hear out the other side and understand it on its own terms, just let me know, Ralph, and I’ll be glad to lay out the case in greater detail, whether here or via another preferred venue (even e-mail, although the last time I accepted the invitation to send an e-mail to a commenter here – Shem – I never got a reply).
Ralph, like Falcon said, the way you conduct yourself here in terms of intellectual honesty, and the way you tend to approach theological issues, raises serious questions for us about whether your heart is in the right place, about whether you have any of the religious affections that are naturally formed by the regenerating grace of God. Ralph, we aren’t bringing up these concerns simply to intellectually browbeat you. We’re genuinely concerned for your spiritual state. Mormon theology, internalized and taken even halfway seriously, is overall detrimental to the flourishing of a robustly Christian mind and heart. As much as I prefer to be overly charitable, I’ve seen it time and again. Ralph, God wants more for you. Come out into the light.
Inquisitor, how exciting that God has led you out of an FLDS background and toward Christianity! I’m curious to hear more about your spiritual journey and where you stand now. When it comes to the issue of hell, may I offer some advice? Focus first and foremost on focusing on worshipping the true God, and let him be the one who decides what to do in the end with those who refuse him. You aren’t saved according to whether or not you believe in everlasting punishment or don’t believe in everlasting punishment; you’re saved according to how you respond to the one God’s ultimate self-revelation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and its significance for his kingship. (From the sounds of things, you’re placing your faith in Christ and praying for God to help you accept what he says about himself – and I commend you for taking a courageous and correct course, and I’ll pray for you also.) Please don’t run the risk of rejecting God out of misgivings for a relatively minor possible corollary of what he says.
For my part, I do believe in a doctrine of hell. It seems to me to match the biblical data. Furthermore, it seems to me the most sensible approach. We know that, in this life, there are people who accept God’s offers, and those who reject God’s offers. For those who reject, either God will someday coerce them into accepting (whether by actually making them accept, or simply including them unwillingly in spite of their desires to the contrary), or God will respect their rejection even indefinitely. The former does not seem quite right to me. But if the latter, then either God will respect their rejection through annihilation, or God will respect their rejection through exile. The latter seems more consistent with God’s valuation of the human nature he has created. But in that case, there must always be the possibility that someone will indefinitely, and hence everlastingly, continue to reject God from the margins – and that just is hell, the final exclusion that makes all Christian embrace possible (see discussion toward the end of Yale theologian Miroslav Volf’s book Exclusion and Embrace). I wish that all would accept God’s open arms through Jesus Christ, but the only way we could justifiably expect that to happen is if he had told us clearly in his revelation that it would be the case – and he hasn’t said so. Hence, for my part, I can’t accept the teaching of universal salvation, which seems to me to be overly presumptuous and potentially corrosive of our ability to appreciate the value of serious Christian discipleship.
Hi again , yes i will defend my new found peace, but going on the offensive to attack Mormons i feel takes my inner peace. when i was in the Mormon church i felt like it was the whole ocean, when it was just a bucket of water , very small.
15 million, yet only half are active , i will not have to fight to defend the truth, the truth is strong enough to wear the Mormons down, my effort is to come to this great site and and soak it the whole truth, and simply be ready as a tool for God when the chance comes to me .
To seek Mormons is giving a opinion not asked for .
Yes being here is different , when Mormons come here with closed minds we can hopefully plant seeds in there minds and hearts.
I still pinch myself every day hope wonderful it is to be free of the Mormon church after 36 years, its great to know my 9 & 11 daughters will never endure all of the horrors in the church.
Thanks Sharon and Eric and all of you who have wrote , those like myself are very grateful, I feel like Andy Dufray in the Shawshank redemption, free from the Mormon mental steel trap
The Spirit gives different “gifts” to different people. No one is under any “obligation” to go on the offensive for their faith. It’s just not required. What is required (so to speak) is to live in a way to be guided by the Holy Spirit so he can give you the gifts that God has for you and let your light shine. I was so disgusted with Mormonism that I had nothing to do with it for over 25 years, and that included speaking about it to ANYONE. I did find though, that it found its way into my thoughts on occasion, so I started writing what I call “Lyrical Ballads”, and fantasy fiction. I got a lot of satisfaction in incorporating my former beliefs into some of my fiction, where they will firmly stay. God bless you and your girls, may your journey in this life be filled with joy and love.
I think this comment made by Aaron long ago fits perfectly into this discussion,
I’m sorry I have not been around. I spent all of last week on a family emergency.
After reading Sharon’s latest article on The Last War, I had to bring up a part of Chris Johnson’s presentation that bears on the topic of this article.
Near the end of the YouTube video, 1:16:20, dealing with the “knowing” that LDS have about Mormonism, Chris Johnson plays a clip of a seemingly nice older man talking about how the viewers can know that “these things” are true. [I suspect most of us will immediately recognize him unless we weren’t watching any news for several months back then.] He tells the audience to go into a closet by themselves and basically pray about it. He explicitly tells us to NOT speak to others about our new belief because as soon as we tell someone “they will be used as the instruments to have you not believe.” (about 1:19:00)
This is the LDS position in a nutshell. Not so strict – LDS are supposed to share their beliefs, but then I am pretty sure that members of this group were supposed to too, just carefully and perhaps after they “matured in the basic teachings” first. Or else how did they convert anyone? So, yeah, this is the LDS position – and its not just wrong because this obviously wrong guy used it. It’s just another warning God has provided to LDS and many other religionists – if YOU are afraid, if your teachers have TAUGHT you to be afraid (or if their teachings and the culture of the religion they lead has led you to be afraid), then the stimulus (critical material) may or may not be of God, but the fear and the fear-teaching/leading is surely NOT of God.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear…”