prisonchaplain

Mormons believe . . . WHAT?

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The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth. Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

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2 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth.

I guess this seems so obvious to some of us that it never occurs to us that any reasonable person would think otherwise. Of course the Church doesn't claim to be "the sole container of truth"! Having a "fullness of truth" doesn't mean being the unique source or receptacle of all available truth, or even of having possession of all truth. Indeed, if the larger world (especially the larger world that considers itself Christian) did not possess many truths, our work as a Church would be immensely more difficult, seeing as how we would have no common ground with anyone.

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58 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth. Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

I think I largely agree with the idea you attribute to Lawrence, with this tweak:

As a missionary, I taught that the three defining bases of Mormonism were priesthood/authority (exclusive), living prophets (exclusive), and revelation/inspiration (not exclusive, but superior in both quality and quantity).  So while I would agree that Mormonism is not the exclusive repository of *all* truth and that there are staggering amounts truth and goodness in all Christian denominations—yet, in overall goodness and “truthiness”, I fully expect Mormonism to meet or exceed them all.

It may also be worth noting, in response to the notion that authority is all that separates Christianity versus modern Judaism; that if this truly is a Christian notion then it still hasn’t made for very good Judeo-Christian relations throughout history. ;) 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

IIt may also be worth noting, in response to the notion that authority is all that separates Christianity versus modern Judaism; that if this truly is a Christian notion then it still hasn’t made for very good Judeo-Christian relations throughout history. ;) 

I worked hard at being simple in this string. Historically, much evil has been done in the name of Jesus. Today, open-minded Evangelicals and more-conservative, Torah-observant Jews find much to agree upon (including support of national Israel). A rabbi once told me that Evangelical Christians were the best friends Israel has in America. Still, pogroms, as well as the belief of many Jews that Evangelicals ultimately only treasure them as pawns in End Times prophesy, ans as their #1 target for conversion (Be my witnesses first to the Jews, then to the world . . . ) do point to much distrust, even if Christ's authority is the main doctrinal issue.

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43 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

👍  Sounds like a good book.  

If you are cheap, like me, it'be had for less than $5 delivered. https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0982039123/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1527750533&sr=8-1&keywords=mormons+believe+what 

Of course, the library probably has it for free.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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8 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth. Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

Yes, I would say authority is the key point in the Great Apostasy and in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. This takes nothing away from the faith of people in the light and truth that remained in the earth, nor from their God-given conscience, but authority enabled the restoration of lost and revelation of new truths.

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9 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth. Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

Hey @prisonchaplain-- the bolded part is a "well of course no duh!" thing for LDS, but I feel that sometimes we royally fail at conveying that (to us) simple message.  Would you mind commenting on whether or not we're bad at communicating that, and/or anything that could be done to help improve that communication? 

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10 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority.

Yep.  Jews don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  When He shows up again, He'll probably clear that up for them.   Catholics believe they are Peter's successor, and theirs is the church Christ started.  Protestants reject that notion for all their various reasons.  Evangelicals take their authority from Matthew 18:20 and run with it.  Mormons figure Christ basically pressed a reset button back in the 1830's and started everything up again with our church. 

I might be painting with too broad a brush here, but yes, authority is big. 

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12 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

 However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

If I understand correctly, the authority disagreement includes: 1) the type of authority; 2) what it empowers individuals and groups  to do; 3) how it is conferred and maintained;  and 4) its critical relationship to other aspects of the gospel.

I mention this because we aren't talking about things like scholastic authority, where one' s ardent research, study, and analysis rightly positions them as something of an expert on various subjects.  We LDS freely acknowledge the scholastic authority of many non-LDS across numerous secular and religious fields.

Nor, for that matter, are we talking about things generally granted like the authority to do charitable and loving deeds, or even making such things one's vocation or avocation. We LDS believe that there is an open call to such works, and are pleased to join with other religious denominations, and even non-believers, in doing good..

In other words, we LDS acknowledge your authority to minister as a chaplain unto the souls in prison, and even praise and honor your efforts.

However....well, I will just leave it at that.

Thanks, -Wade Enlgund-

Edited by wenglund

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14 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth. Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth.

This is what I, at this point, understand pertaining to the statement of "one true church."

1) All necessary and required keys and authority have once again been given to Christ's Church through the restoration. There is no other organization that has the keys of the priesthood nor authority; although, they may act in faith similar to Jesus not stopping people who were showing faith in Christ through blessing them despite some of the apostles request to stop them.

2) All necessary ordinances and covenants have been restored that will allow a person to receive a fullness with the Father, and His Christ. This does not mean if a person is not a Mormon in this life that they will not receive a fullness with the Father. They will have an opportunity (thus the restored ordinances enveloped within redemption of the dead).

3) True. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the sole author of truth. Jesus Christ is the sole author of truth. He is able to inspire anyone who is listening with his truth. Our responsibility is to accept and humble ourselves such that we recognize his truth, not what we want to be true. The simple fact our apostles have quoted C.S. Lewis should nullify that we think we are the sole container of truth.

Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief.

Yes, I believe most of us would understand how this would be disagreeable or not appreciated; although, it does then provide an invitation to all then.

One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

True. This is what definitely separated Jesus from the Pharisees (not calling traditional Christians Pharisees) as certain aspects of authority were lost, which is why the Savior had to correct false teachings (i.e. Who did sin that this boy was born blind notion).

Unfortunately, the scriptures are clear as to Jesus receiving any laying on of hands. I would assume, it is inherent and yet at the same time I can see how it would need to be received by laying on of hands. Honoring his own words, similar to baptism.

 

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I believe the LDS church holds all the truth in regards to salvation.  However, many truth's are found in other religions. You will just not find a truth in another religion that is not found in the LDS church.   All that being said, I have learned many things from those of other religions and that is due to my own limitations and also the grace of God.  One example of this is a current convert in our ward that opened my eyes more to grace.  I then searched the topic of grace more in my studies and what I found was that it was all there and more but without that recent convert I wouldn't have had the desire to gain more knowledge on a subject.  We can all build each other, despite our beliefs.  

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12 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

Hey @prisonchaplain-- the bolded part is a "well of course no duh!" thing for LDS, but I feel that sometimes we royally fail at conveying that (to us) simple message.  Would you mind commenting on whether or not we're bad at communicating that, and/or anything that could be done to help improve that communication? 

I'm not sure LDS are bad at it. It's more that most non-LDS don't know any LDS folk. Of those that do, many may choose not to broach religious topics. So, among traditional Christians, it is known that LDS claim to be the true church and that Joseph Smith said that God said that the rest of us are abominable. That's totally lacking in nuance, but it's probably the general perception. What to do about it? If opportunity presents itself, ask. "Hey, you know I'm Mormon. Have you heard what my church believes about being the true church?" If they respond affirmatively, ask them what they have heard, and then offer the needed nuance. If not, then you can simply say, "Well, yeah, we believe God has given us his authority--that we are his authorized church." When they ask about the others, you might indicate that there is actually a lot of agreement on many issues and beliefs, and that you are thankful for all truth, wherever it may be found.

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A bit more thinking on authority:  Jesus taught as one having authority, not like the teachers of the Law. He conducted himself as the Son of God. His authority was in his identity. Those who did not believe him reacted violently, or with complete dismissal. LDS basically claim what Catholics do--that Christ's authority lies within a single, authorized church. Protestants generally reject the idea of spiritual authority resting in any single human organization. Some speak of the priesthood of all believers. Others may simply say Jesus is the authority, and we move in power in sync with how faithfully we move in Him. Then again, we Protestants, even we Evangelicals, do give a good measure of authority to those 4th century creeds (Yes, Lawrence makes clear his disagreement with us on that point). 🙂

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I would expand on that by saying the authority is through covenant with G-d. It's his authority, for the salvation of his children.

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22 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

The title is actually that of a book by Gary Lawrence, and LDS member, former bishop, and professional analyst. He grapples with the most common accusations, "Anti" attacks, and questions, mostly that would come from traditional Christians. Perhaps the biggest take away from his writing is that the LDS claim to be the one true church is meant to indicate the church's unique authority, not that it is the sole container of truth.

Yes, truth can be found everywhere, and it makes sense that the LDS church would acknowledge that, as I think most religions would! For instance, no matter what walk of life you come from, people generally know murder is bad. Some aspect of goodness and truth can be found in any religion!

22 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

Other Christians, including myself, may not agree or appreciate the belief. However, focusing on authority gets to the heart of LDS vs. traditionalist disagreement. In fact, even between Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox, the real issue is authority. One could even argue that authority is what divides Jews and Christians (does Jesus have authority as Messiah and Son of God or not?).

THOUGHTS?

In that wider sense you refer to, the issue of religion as a whole centers on authority! Whether you're talking about Christianity, Buddhism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hinduism, etc., you can boil down the issue to which has the authority to teach the truth. Which collection of knowledge about the foundations of reality is reliable? You decide whether or not it's reliable based on which authority you believe. The sticking point is making sure you've chosen the true authority!

In a more specific sense, authority was at the heart of the Protestant and Orthodox splits. The LDS Church has a structure similar to the Catholic Church in that it has a hierarchy with one head standing as the primary representative of God. Breaks with the Catholic Church, like the Protestant Reformation or schisms like Eastern Orthodox (around 1050s) and the SSPX (1970), are the rejection of God's having a central, hierarchal authority on Earth found in the Pope. While these groups, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and SSPX, believe in the authority of the Christian God, the Trinity, they disagree with the Catholic Church on the extent to which God established an authority on earth to safeguard His Church.

(As a side note on the SSPX, if you hear about Catholics who are calling themselves "traditional" and placing a large emphasis on that, there is a possibility they are not in full union with the Catholic Church, but are a member of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X or the sedevacantists.)

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" God said that the rest of us are abominable "

" Then again, we Protestants, even we Evangelicals, do give a good measure of authority to those 4th century creeds "

And I think that is why God condemns the creeds (not you). They are extra Biblical authority, established by men, not God through prophets.  And yes, I know there is debate on whether that their role is, but I have heard the reason Mormons are heretical is that we don't accept the creeds.  Again, proving my point.

 

 

Edited by bytebear

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1 hour ago, bytebear said:

" God said that the rest of us are abominable "

" Then again, we Protestants, even we Evangelicals, do give a good measure of authority to those 4th century creeds "

And I think that is why God condemns the creeds (not you). They are extra Biblical authority, established by men, not God through prophets.  And yes, I know there is debate on whether that their role is, but I have heard the reason Mormons are heretical is that we don't accept the creeds.  Again, proving my point.

 

 

I run a risk with this comment, but I'll make it anyway. The chance to argue against Greek philosophical corruption of church teaching and against the Trinitarian explanation for God's nature was about 1,700 years ago. Of course, I say that because I believe that despite some of the politicking that took place, God oversaw and directed the outcome. My statement is dangerous because now @MaryJehanne can suggest that the Roman Catholic church remains dominant after 2,000 years, so isn't it time for me to come home? My answer to that, and my support of the priesthood of all believers (as well as the ultimate authority being scripture) is that my reading of the New Testament is of a Christian movement, mostly gathering in local groups, definitely headed by pastors (shepherds, if you will), but not one in which a powerful, centralized church hierarchy had much leverage. Yes, there was the council in Acts that resolved an attempt at turning Christians back over to the Law of Moses. Yes, the Apostle Paul wrote letters and traveled, to offer instruction and correction for churches. Still, broader leadership seemed mostly intent on vision-casting and offering broad direction, not on managing and overseeing compliant congregations. The call to witness is for all Christians. The calls to holiness are for all Christians. The calls to be knowledgeable of scripture appears to be for all Christians. Leaders coach, members are out on the playing field. I tell the inmates that come to chapel this all the time--I'm just your coach--you are the players.

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3 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

Protestants generally reject the idea of spiritual authority resting in any single human organization. 

By what authority do they reject the idea? 

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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12 hours ago, wenglund said:

By what authority do they reject the idea? 

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

By what we see in scripture. We don't find a centralized structure. The Jerusalem Council gathered to address a specific problem. Paul is the only apostle we see traveling and rendering doctrinal and pragmatic counsel. Much of the instruction happened through letters (which would become our scripture). Even in Pentecostal circles, where we believe God does speak through prophetic words, through the interpretation of tongues, and through dreams and visions, all such declarations are measured against scripture. So, since we say scripture is the final authority, that is the authority by which we say it.

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1 hour ago, wenglund said:

So, it is by man's authority since they are the ones doing the interpretation?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

I believe this is a different question. First, it was who gave the authority not to look to a single human organization. Now, it's who gives the authority to interpret scripture.  And, I suppose this is the crux of the matter. Has it always been intended that all God's people would know his word, his will, his way, or was it meant for go-betweens to mediate? When Jesus told his disciples to go and make more, was he speaking to the leaders, and only the leaders? When Paul tells the Corinthians to discern the spirits as prophetic words are spoken, was it only the leaders who did this?  LDS also most agree with me on this. The priesthood is not for the elite. Approving leaders ordained by God is sustained by all members. So, it's not an arbitrary matter of taken authority meant for another, but rather that faith is both corporate and personal, just as God is both transcendent and intimate.

A friend of mine converted to Catholicism (Byzantine Rite). Recently he posted that when he did so (he's a former minister) he gave up his right to interpret scripture. That now falls on church hierarchy, for him. I do not begrudge him his belief, but my walk with God has always been more direct and accessible than that. I can come to him and his throne of grace boldly. I can embrace and understand his word in like manner.

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1 hour ago, prisonchaplain said:

A friend of mine converted to Catholicism (Byzantine Rite). Recently he posted that when he did so (he's a former minister) he gave up his right to interpret scripture. That now falls on church hierarchy, for him. I do not begrudge him his belief, but my walk with God has always been more direct and accessible than that. I can come to him and his throne of grace boldly. I can embrace and understand his word in like manner.

 

What do you do when your understanding of His word differs from that of your church leaders?

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5 hours ago, Grunt said:

What do you do when your understanding of His word differs from that of your church leaders?

It depends on the import of the matter. If my disagreement concerns one of our 16 Fundamental Truths, I would report that on my annual renewal of ministerial credentials. Ultimately, I may lose those credentials, and would no longer be ordained by the Assemblies of God. If a member of the church disagreed s/he might feel compelled to speak to the pastor about it. Again, the person may lose their membership. However, even as a non-member, if the individual was not contentious about the matter, s/he could probably continue to attend. As an example, we have a person in our congregation who does not believe tithing is a New Testament practice. Nevertheless, her gifts to the church exceed 10%. She has taught classes in our church. However, because part of becoming a member of the church is committing to tithing, she chose to never officially join.

 

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23 hours ago, bytebear said:

" God said that the rest of us are abominable "

" Then again, we Protestants, even we Evangelicals, do give a good measure of authority to those 4th century creeds "

And I think that is why God condemns the creeds (not you). They are extra Biblical authority, established by men, not God through prophets.  And yes, I know there is debate on whether that their role is, but I have heard the reason Mormons are heretical is that we don't accept the creeds.  Again, proving my point.

I was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you make a fair point. Evangelicals, including us Pentecostals/Charismatics, do not directly ascribe to the creeds. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Trinity is in nearly all of our non-negotiable belief statements. A well-known critic of your church (and other non-traditional groups) used the doctrine of the Trinity and of salvation-by-grace as his two main doctrinal measure. So, the question of whether the Nicene Council came up with God-ordained doctrine or whether it was the politically victorious faction of bishops who prevailed is a crucial question. As you can guess, even the most anti-Catholic fundamentalist will say they believe God helped those councils come up with the right teachings, and they have now endured for 1,700 years. No need to debate the subject on this string, but I can say that Bro. Lawrence did a solid layman's job of spelling out the LDS criticisms of Emperor Constantine's political maneuvering, and of the apparent influence of Greek philosophy on the process.

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