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On one of my most recent posts, some LDS and non-LDS christians were having a great discussion about what the definition of scripture is for each of us.  I do not claim to be the expert on this topic for either LDS or non-LDS, but I can definitely share my personal thoughts and also point to what others have said that I agree with on this topic.

My first thought when researching this is to turn directly to the LDS Bible Dictionary.  The definition is:

The word scripture means a writing, and is used to denote a writing recognized by the Church as sacred and inspired. It is so applied to the books of the O.T. by the writers of the N.T. (Matt. 22: 29; John 5: 39; 2 Tim. 3: 15). For an account of the process by which the books of the O.T. and N.T. came to be recognized as scripture, see Canon. Latter-day revelation identifies scripture as that which is spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost (D&C 68: 1-4).
This definition gives us a good start, but it can lead to various interpretations.  According to this, it states that scripture is writing that is recognized by the Church, but also scripture are words spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  Therefore, one could interpret scripture to mean that it is anything shared by inspired men or women prophesying.  This can be confusing for people.  Especially if what one is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost may not reflect one’s personal convictions.  Or worse yet, may not be validated with other scriptures.
I believe that according to this definition, scripture has two parts, or definitions to it.  The first part is scripture for the Church.  The second is prophecy or divine revelation for individuals. 
Scripture for the Church as a Whole (Canon)
Once again, a great first step is to research the Bible Dictionary under “Canon”.  According to the Bible Dictionary, LDS believe Canon is “used to denote the authoritative collection of the sacred books used by the true believers in Christ”.  The dictionary then goes on to attempt to describe how our current Bible became canon and the test of how to decide if writings should be considered scriptural or not.  The test to see if something is scriptural includes these three questions:
Is it claimed that the document was written by a prophet or an apostle?
Is the content of the writing consistent with known and accepted doctrines of the faith?
Is the document already used and accepted in the Church?
Personally, I like the similar definition given by George Cobabe from FAIR.  In his article on The White Horse Prophecy, he describes how the LDS church deems a writing to be considered scripture for the Church as a whole.  First, it needs to be revealed through the prophet.  Next, it needs to be accepted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Finally, it needs to be presented to the members of the Church and accepted.  After all of these steps are met, then a writing is considered to be “scripture”. 
This process shouldn’t be foreign to other non-LDS Christians.  It is similar to the councils held thousands of years ago to determine what should be considered scripture.  The second part of scripture should also be familiar with non-LDS christians.
Scripture as Personal Prophecy
The second definition of scripture for LDS according to the Bible Dictionary is “that which is spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost”, which in my mind is essentially prophecy.  From my experience in the LDS church, one of the main ways one can recieve personal scripture is through a Patriarchal Blessing.  In the LDS church, there are men who are set apart and called as “Patriarchs”.  These men give inspired blessings and through the power of the Holy Ghost, prophecy personal revelation for individuals.   
On rare and special occasions, I’ve also seen people prophecy directly to someone but usually I’ve seen things come to pass through giving blessings.  In either case, by definition, this could be called “scripture” as it is given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Another way people in the LDS church receive “scripture” is through the prophet and apostles speaking.  Typically what I’ve heard is when they speak in general conference and their talks are published you can consider that scripture.  However, I’ve seen people quick to dismiss some things, especially things that were “prophecied” by former prophets such as Brigham Young or Joseph Smith that may have been published but didn’t go through the aforementioned process of canonization.  Therefore, there is some gray area around what to consider as “scripture” or just “inspired”. 
Conclusion
The two parts of defining scripture should be familiar to both LDS and non-LDS christians.  I’m confident that both parties can agree on how the Church as a whole accepts scripture.  The second part, which is less structured, may not be considered to be “scripture” per se for both parties.  A safe way to measure if we can consider what someone prophesies to be deemed as “scripture” is if it lines up with what has been canonized. 

Recently, a fellow friend from another Christian faith asked me to share my thoughts on Jesus Christ with the intention of posting it on his site in order to help other Christians with the concept of Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) being Christians.

I’ll open with a quote taken from C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity.  When defining what a Christian is, Lewis references Acts 11:26 and states: “the original, obvious meaning…Christians was first given at Antioch to the disciples, to those who accepted the teaching of the apostles” (pg XV).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) bible dictionary shares a similar definition of what a Christian is: “A name first given to believers in Jesus Christ at Antioch in Syria, about A.D. 43 (Acts 11: 26).”

Therefore, the heart of what it means to be a Christian is first believing in Jesus Christ and then following Jesus as His disciple.

With this definition in mind, I will move on to share my thoughts on a brief history of Mormonism and what following Jesus Christ as a disciple, or in other words, being a Christian means for me as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Following Jesus Christ was the young boy, Joseph Smith’s most pressing desire.  In the early 1800’s he was seeking truth and struggling in knowing where to find it.  He saw much truth in many Christian faiths, but at that time, the Christian faiths were contending with each other.  In regards to this time he states the following (which can be found in Joseph Smith’s History):

…there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.

He goes on to write:

…so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 
Joseph Smith then decided to act on this scripture.  He went to a nearby forest, knelt down and prayed out loud and in pure sincerety and earnestness.  As he was praying, he received an amazing answer to prayer and saw a vision, similar to the one Stephen has in the new testament.  Joseph Smith says in his own words:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
 
Through a sincere desire to follow Jesus Christ by searching, showing faith, humility, and prayer, Joseph Smith was able to be instructed by Jesus Christ himself as to how He wanted His church and followers to be.  One of these included bringing forth the Book of Mormon, which acts as another witness of Jesus Christ, which the Bible states is necessary for all truth to be established (see 2 Cor 13:1).  It is a collection of writings that are similar to the Bible about the sermons and letters of other prophets that believed in Jesus, but didn’t live in the same area as Jerusulem, where the Bible takes place.  The Book of Mormon is necessary because it confirms and clarifies truths about the gospel of Jesus Christ that are found in the Bible.
For example, we read in the Bible about how to be saved through faith, or confessing the name of Jesus, and we read about people needing to be baptized in order to enter into the kingdom of Jesus.  We read about the Holy Ghost and we read about salvation through the grace of God and being judge for our works after this life.  For someone seeking to follow Jesus Christ, it can be confusing to know how exactly to follow Jesus,  just as it was for Joseph Smith. 
Thankfully, we have the answers in the Book of Mormon.  In the book of 3 Nephi, Jesus appears to a group of his disciples after his resurrection.   This group of disciples was struggling with issues on how to follow Jesus Christ completely.  Some of what Jesus tells them is that the church should be called by His name and that the gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to salvation is: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring in faith until the end (see 3 Nephi chapter 27).
I will conclude by sharing some personal experiences along with my testimony.
At a certain point in my life, I too was struggling with faith and a testimony of Jesus Christ.  Similar to the experience of Joseph Smith, I read scripture found in the Bible and also in the Book of Mormon that testified of Jesus Christ.  I wanted to have my own personal witness that there is a Jesus and how to follow Him.  As I prayed for the first time in sincerety to know, I was filled with a sweet, peaceful feeling that spoke to my soul.  I knew it was God speaking to me through his Holy Spirit.  I decided to embrace the Church of Jesus Christ’s teachings and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. 
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ I have made a commitment to God through being baptized that I will be His disciple.  Baptism was just the beginning though.  Being a disciple of Jesus to me means asking for His Spirit to give me strength in following His example in all things and repenting and asking for His mercy and grace when I fail (daily) and enduring in faith by “taking up the cross and following Him” (Matt 16:24).   Taking up the cross means that I should deny myself of ungodly things and strive to do what Jesus would have me do as a father, neighbor, employee, brother, husband, son, and friend.  As I do this, my life is richly blessed and so are the lives of those around me.  I believe this is the greatest contribution I can make to society to help fight the evils we see around us today.  Through the blessing of the Lord’s atonement, when he suffered for me in the garden of gethsemane and died on the cross,  as I do these things, I have faith and hope that someday I will sit at the feet of Jesus and hear him say “…well done thou good and faithful servant.  Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Belief in God Importance of Religion in One’s Life Church Attendance Religious Affiliation Believe their Religion is One True Faith
71% Absolutely Certain 56% Very Important 39% Once a week 79% Christian 24% Their religion is one true faith leading to Eternal Life
17% Fairly Certain 26% Somewhat Important 33% Once/Twice per month 16% Unaffiliated 70% Many religions lead to Eternal Life
4% Uncertain 16% Not Important 27% Seldom or Never 2% Jewish 3% Neither
      1% Muslim 4% Don’t Know
      1% Buddhist  
A few things I find interesting included:
– Most of the country are Christians, yet most of the country believe in more than one way to eternal life.  I am personally under the impression that most Christians are pretty direct and cut-and-dry with who goes to heaven or not.  I’m suprised by this statistic, but also happy.  I feel God is very merciful and also just and therefore, the many mansions in heaven that await those who accept Him.  I just wasn’t under the impression that this many people were Christians.
– An overwhelming majority of the country believes in God, yet our laws dictate how we are or are not supposed to pray in public schools.  If the overwhelming majority of the country is Christian, wouldn’t you think Christian prayers would be a given for the 1% of other faiths who are in the country as well?  I think it is absurd not to allow prayers and talk of God in public places when the overwhelming majority of the country expresses belief in a Christian God.
– Finally, I’m impressed that so many people still go to church.
What stands out to you about these statistics?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses up 2.12% from the year before.

According to the 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, only four churches reported an increase in converts for the year 2008.  These churches were:

Jehovah’s Witnesses (1,092,169 members, up 2.12 percent )

Church of God of Cleveland (1,053,642 members, up 2.04 percent)

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (5,873,408 members, up  1.63 percent)

Assemblies of God (2,863,265 members, up 0.96 percent)

The LDS church remains the 4th largest denomonation behind the Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic churches but is quickly approaching the number 3 spot and will the Methodist church within the next 2 -3 years.   For the past few years the only churches to consistently gain in membership include the LDS and Jehovah’s Witness churches.  The LDS church maintains around 1.6% growth whereas the Jehovah’s Witnesses gain over 2% on average and have doubled in size in the last 5 years. (However, I’m not sure how accurate these numbers are because according to the 2006 report the LDS church had 5.9 million members and now only reports 5.5 million but the report stated the growth was maintained each year at 1.5%) For a more detailed statistical analysis of the LDS church check out the post over at Times and Seasons that was postes a few weeks ago.

IF these statistics are even close to being accurate this shows an overall decline in Christianity as a whole in the United States.  According to Mormon Metaphysics, there has been a decrease of 10% overall in Christianity.  Also, those churches such as the LDS and J.W. churches show significant gain, but they have a very aggressive missionary effort as well.  It does raise the question though of why those two particular churches are attractive to people.  Even with the missionary efforts if they churches didn’t have something to offer and if there wasn’t a need out there people wouldn’t join their organizations.

So in conclusion I ask the following questions.

1. Why do you think Chrisitanity is on the decline?

2. Why do you feel those religions such as LDS and J.W. see growth each year?

3. What could be done to bring retention and conversion rates up?

Today I was listening to a great sermon delivered by Dr David Jeremiah entitled “Giving in the Grace Zone.”  If you have the time I recommend listening to this excellent sermon.  During the sermon he discusses the term he calls “grace giving.”  Grace giving is giving back to God because of the love that we have for Him.  He discusses how if we’re giving back to God because of the love we have for Him in our hearts we will offer sacrifices and selflessness.

As he delivered this sermon, I thought about the church I attend and the various opportunities it provides for me to give.  I attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a lay ministry.  Due to this fact, I have had the opportunity to serve in many different capacities commonly called “callings” within the organization throughout the years. 

The way callings are issued are through prayerful consideration of the church’s leaders of each congregation.  They then present the opportunity to the members of the church and the members then have the chance to accept or reject a calling.

During Dr Jeremiah’s sermon, he mentioned the scripture in Acts chapter 5 where Annanias and his wife act as if they are giving to the Lord, but then keep back a part of what they said they would give.  He (Dr Jeremiah) says the sin wasn’t that they kept back the part of the Lord, but that they had let the church believe they were selling their land to give to the church and then went back on their word.

During my 20 years of active membership in the LDS church, I’ve heard of people who have chosen to not accept church callings.  My personal feelings are that these people are better off than those who accept a calling grudgingly similar to the example of Annanias in the Bible.

Some may argue that we should accept the calling regardless of how we feel inside and just work at it and it will “grow” on you because when we serve our hearts are opened.  Others will argue that one needs to get their hear right first.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Just to have some fun I’m going to add a poll. 

Feel free to share your comments below as well.

Today in church our bishop and some of his family members shared experiences they had while visiting Uganda, Africa.  It impressed me how he shared his testimony of how the love of God is shown in all people throughout the world and how he was so grateful for his relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

His experiences and testimony reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads:

…for he (the Lord) doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

This scripture reminded me of another statement made by the Baptist Preacher who believes in the Book of Mormon, John Ridenour.  In this statement, he submits that God is non-denomonational and that God doesn’t really care about doctrine as much as he cares about how we treat each other.  A part of his statement is included below:

How does God think?

When He looks down over my city, Kansas City, Missouri, He doesn’t see Baptist churches or Lutheran churches or Catholic churches or Pentecostal churches or Mormon churches. He sees His children. That’s it. God is not “denominational.” We have over 100 denominations in our city but I submit-the Lord recognizes none of them. That is, His Church is built upon the rock of revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 13). I submit-when the Lord looks down upon any city, He sees His Church-and all who have had a personal revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, are members of His Church. I’m saying–I want to view His church as the Lord sees His church–based upon a revelation of His Lordship, not doctrinal agreement. Why wait ‘till we all get to heaven to think like God thinks?

I’m also saying-too often we’re divided by doctrine. That ought not be. He who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior is my brother in the faith. Fellowship is centered around His Lordship, not doctrine. Again–all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, regardless of creed, color, or class, are my brothers and sisters. I like the way C.S. Lewis said it in his classic book “Mere Christianity.” Lewis says, “…it’s not that we Christians disagree; it’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements…” How true! Example…

For some of the brethren, it’s very important that we believe in baptismal regeneration before we will fellowship; for others it’s very important that we believe in irresistible grace (the Calvinist point of view of Salvation) before we can fellowship; with others, the will of man (Armenian point of view) plays a crucial role in one’s salvation. With some of us, we embrace the “second blessing” typically known as “the deeper life experience.” Methodists call it sanctification. Others of us do not believe in the second blessing experience. Some of us believe in the “baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit” with the evidence of glossalalia; others of us don’t. Some of us are pre-millennial regarding our views on the Second Coming; some of us are post-millennial; a few of us are amillennial. A few of us think esoteric temple rites have a role to play in the afterlife.

See what I mean? Fellowship too often is based upon doctrine.

We as mortals will never come close to seeing things the way that God does, but I think that the Book of Mormon scripture along with this statement by John Ridenour are very positive steps in starting to see things the way God does.  One of the beauties and magnificence of God is that he sees all people the same whether they believe or not.  He loves unconditionally in a way that we will never comprehend and His arms are always stretched out ready to receive us.  I believe that God blesses all people, and those who take steps of faith towards Him come to know and love Him.  As a result, we come to love and appreciate all people and see them as God sees them.

Now, I’m sure most people will agree that God loves everyone and is not partial towards one group of people, as the Bible teaches, but it leaves the questions: which doctrines and religions are recognized by God? Which ones are not?  Does it even matter?

All I can speak from is personal experience, and I firmly believe the path I’m on is the correct path.  I believe that God appeared to Joseph Smith and re-established the Church of Jesus Christ.  I believe this as a result of personal study and sincere prayer and many experiences.   However, I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on truth and there are many things which haven’t been revealed to us as to how heaven works. 

I know many people in other faiths who say they’ve had just as personal of experiences and a witness from God that their path is the correct path.  I don’t doubt that God has just as close of a relationship with them as He does with me.  But if we believe there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, etc. how can we say that God is not denominational?

I’m sure most people have heard the news by now about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraging it’s nearly 1million members in California to do “all they can do” to support the initiative in November to over-turn the ruling supporting bay marriage. 

If you haven’t heard about this, you can read the following blogs:

California Saints To Get The Call

Envisioning a Politically Thoughtful Church Culture

California Mormons Won’t Be Cool With Acts of Protest At Their Chapels

Mormons in California Called to Defend Marriage by Top LDS Leaders

The letter from the LDS Prophet and his counselors encourages saints to do “all they can do” to support traditional marriages, especially in California during the upcoming vote in November. 

Someone told me of a friend of theirs who lives in California that contacted them and asked if they were supporting the Church’s call to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriages.  When my friend told the person they were not supporting it, the individual got upset and self-righteously said “aren’t you going to support the Prophet?”  This in my mind is going too far and I feel that “doing all you can do” is objective and depends on the individual.  If certain circumstances cause someone to believe in gay marriage, yet they still are believing Latter-day Saints, maybe doing “all they can do” is different than someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

In addition, last December Elder Ballard said in an address to BYU students that the LDS Church takes a politically neutral stance.  Yet, of all the issues the LDS Church decided to go back on that statement and get politically involved with the ban on gay marriage.  Personally, I think it is fine if the Church encourages members to take a stand on what the Church feels is a moral issue, including gay marriage.  Whether or not I decided to vote for or against it is a personal choice and if it’s a moral issue I can take it to the Lord in prayer and see what I feel. 

Obviously, the two questions are:

1. What is your take on what it means to “do all you can do” to support the ban on gay marriage?

2. Should the church get politically involved?  If it gets involved with this, do you think the Church should get involved with other issues?  Why or why not?

 

For those of you reading this who may not be familiar with LDS meetings, today was what we call “Fast and Testimony Meeting.”  On the first Sunday of each month (called “Fast Sunday”) members of the faith abstain from food and water (a.k.a fast) for 24 hrs. and give the money they would have used in those meals to the needy. 

Today happened to be Fast Sunday.  One thing unique about Fast Sunday is that members of the faith have an opportunity to stand up before the congregation and share their “testimony,” or witness of their faith.  I’m not the best church historian out there so I’m not sure where this concept originated from, but I think it is there to provide the opportunity for members to learn and grow together through sharing personal experiences and sharing how the Lord works in our daily lives. 

Over the years there have been some phrases that are typically repeated over and over again each fast Sunday.  Again, I’m not familiar with where these phrases originated, but some key phrases one will be guaranteed to hear each Sunday are: “I know the Church is true,” “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” “Jesus is the Christ,” “I love my family, parents, etc.”  Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all good phrases, but many times after hearing them over and over again it can be easy to drift off and think of other things.  Plus, in my opinion, one starts to get the feeling that a person is just using these phrases sometimes as a “filler” to say something to fill the space.

Throughout the years I’ve heard members of other faiths mention how this isn’t uplifting to them.  They come to church to learn and to hear a preacher educated and trained in the ways of religion.  They do not want to take the time to go to church to hear other “uneducated” people talk about the same thing over and over again. 

I’ll have to be honest, I was having similar thoughts today as people would get up and share their life history one after the other.  I started getting a tad critical, thinking to myself “they’re not even referencing any scriptures,” or “how many times will I hear I know such and such is true,” etc.  In the beginning of the meeting, the Bishop said the meeting would go as long as necessary and so people lined up one after the other.  Normally the meeting lasts about an hour.  Today at about an hour I noticed there was still a long line.  I notice my bad attitude and said a quick prayer to help me be humbled to learn what the Lord would have me learn.

About this time a sweet little elderly lady got up and shared her experiences and her testimony.  I won’t lie.  It was a long testimony.  However, something she said caught my attention.  It was simple.  She said she had 33 grandkids and went on to describe how the Lord had led her throughout her life and how grateful she was. 

A thought then came to my mind: “Whatever the Lord touches, flourishes and lives…”  Suddenly the meeting was interesting as I thought about this concept and reflected on scriptures of the Lord touching people and healing them.  I thought of people in the scriptures who looked to Him and lived.  I thought of His ministry to both the Jews and in the Book of Mormon and how people’s lives were bless simply by Him touching them.

I looked around the chapel and saw parents lovingly helping their kids and knew the Lord was pleased.  I thought about the stories that were shared during that meeting and about how they were sharing these experiences because the Lord had touched their lives.  I then considered how He had touched my life and how blessed I’ve been because of it.  More people kept coming up and sharing experiences and I focused on the experiences they were sharing about how the Lord had touched their life and they had become more alive from it. 

Almost 2 hours after the meeting began, we had said the closing prayer and were walking out of the chapel.  I looked around at everyone there and felt in a small way what it is to be a part of the body of Christ.  Jesus touches each one of us individually in the best way for us to learn and how open we are to learning. 

Although we didn’t have an experienced and educated pastor sharing a sermon today, I feel that the Holy Spirit was able to educate me in ways I never would have considered and for that I’m grateful.

US MEMBERSHIP CHURCH RANKING: Largest 25 Churches  
Denomination Name Current Ranking (Ranking in 2007 ed.) Inclusive Membership Percentage Increase/Decrease
The Catholic Church 1(1)             67,515,016 0.87%
Southern Baptist Convention 2(2)             16,306,246 0.22%
The United Methodist Church 3(3)                7,995,456 -0.99%
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 4(4)                5,779,316 1.56%
The Church of God in Christ 5(5)                5,499,875 0.00%
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. 6(6)                5,000,000 0.00%
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 7(7)                4,774,203 -1.58%
National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. 8(8)                3,500,000 0.00%
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 9(9)                3,025,740 -2.36%
Assemblies of God 10(10)                2,836,174 0.19%
African Methodist Episcopal Church 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
National Missionary Baptist Convention of America 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
The Lutheran Church– Missouri Synod (LCMS) 14(14)                2,417,997 -0.94%
Episcopal Church 15(15)                2,154,572 -4.15%
Churches of Christ 16(16)                1,639,495 0.00%
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 17(17)                1,500,000 0.00%
Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. 17(17)                1,500,000 0.00%
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 19(19)                1,443,405 0.21%
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. 20(20)                1,371,278 -1.82%
United Church of Christ 21(21)                1,218,541 -0.47%
Baptist Bible Fellowship International 22(22)                1,200,000 0.00%
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 23(23)                1,071,616 0.00%
The Orthodox Church in America 24(24)                1,064,000 0.00%
Jehovah’s Witnesses 25(25)                1,069,530 2.25%
TOTAL       147,382,460 0.24%
Percentage changes in italic/bold signify that membership was not updated from previous reported

(This is taken from a report from the National Council of Churches. Just think if Joseph Smith was looking for a church today!)

P.S. It was brought to my attention that the column on the far left that contains percentage of increase or decrease in conversions isn’t showing up.  I reccomend clicking on this link: http://www.ncccusa.org/news/080215yearbook1.html to view a more indepth study online.

Jehovah’s Witnesses had the best conversion rate last year with 2.25% and LDS had the next with 1.56%.

Episcopal Church had the worst with a -4.15% drop and Presbyterian Church was next with over -2%.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints boldy declares itself as the only true and living church.  Furthermore, Joseph Smith boldly states that God the Father and Jesus Christ declared that the christian churches only had a portion of the truth and that he should join none of them.  Therefore, The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormon) declares that it’s baptism and confirmation is the only valid one in order to receive exhaltation. 

Obviously, a member of the LDS church isn’t following their religion if they judge someone for joining another religion as it states in the Articles of Faith to let everyone worship whatever or whoever they want to

However, in this article it discusses the droves of people that join other churches and many other churches and faiths claim the Holy Spirit told them to start their specific denomonation or join their religion. 

As stated in Bruce Nielson’s blog, some may argue about the definition of what a “church” really is.  However, I think whether a church is a congregation, or an actual building it is irrelevant.

I believe that God answers prayers of people of all faiths and leads them closer to Him if they ask in faith.  However, if they are recieving answers to their prayers and feel led by God to join a certain faith, how is it that God can lead someone to something that he told Joseph Smith was wrong? 

My theory is that God loves all truth no matter where it is and will lead all of us according to what we are willing to receive and that God has revealed much truth in forms of religion, science, and other means as well.  I also believe He has much more to reveal as soon as we are ready to receive it.  What are your thoughts?

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