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So I was over at Rusty’s Blog and they have a cool website with a timeline of all the youtube videos.  I checked out the “Mormon” timeline and the very first one was Mormon Rap.  I remember when I was a kid and this first came out.  I haven’t heard it for 20 years but it brought back good memories and a smile listening to it again.  There are quite a few YouTube versions, but here’s a good one if you’re up for some reminiscing.  If you’ve never heard it before, be warned…it’s cheesy, but fun if you know the Mormon “lingo.”

Have fun!

06-24-08

I posted this just for fun the other day and who’d of thought it would be mentioned in an article by the Deseret News’ “Mormon Times” online.  If you read at the very end she links my “Mormon Rap” post to her article.

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In my last post I shared how Mormons and Evangelicals can get along.  I read on another blog somewhere about a Baptist preacher a few months ago and thought this was interesting to share.  This Baptist Preacher seems to have found a way to still believe in the Evangelical Jesus and the Book of Mormon Jesus.  The following links are very interesting:

 “The Baptist Version of the Book of Mormon

 Prophesies about the LDS church:

More about his ministry:

Staunch members of the Church of Jesus Christ may wonder how he can have a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and not become one. On the other hand, Christians may wonder why he could believe in the Book of Mormon and still claim to be a Christian.

I can personally understand how he can opt not to become a member of the LDS church because there are many revelations that came after the Book of Mormon that are not included in the Book of Mormon.  Many of the truths found in the Book of Mormon are found in the Bible as well.

This is yet another example of how one can bridge the gap between Mormons and Evangelical Christians.

There are probably thousands of different definitions of the word “Christian.” We have chosen the same inclusive definition as is used by public opinion pollsters and government census offices: A “Christian”  includes any group or individual who seriously, devoutly, prayerfully describes themselves as Christian. Under this definition, Christianity includes: Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, United Church members, even a small minority of Unitarian Universalists, etc. (www.religioustolerance.org

According to this definition there shouldn’t be a divide between the various Christian faiths and Mormonism (LDS).  However, those who follow the LDS faith know they are not included and perhaps do not want to be included in the mainstream Christian faiths.  Recently there has been a push from the LDS leaders to emphasize their belief in Jesus Christ and embrace Christianity and Christians (from my experience) are not eager to welcome Mormonism to their fold.  This is due to some major theological differences and attitudes that I have observed, some of which I will address.

Theological Differences and Attitudes

  • Christians believe in Creeds (that include the Trinity theology and more) Mormons do not believe in Creeds, rather they believe in revelation from modern Prophets and apostles.
  • Christians may or may not believe in baptism as being necessary for salvation.  Mormons believe in ordinances such as baptism, the sacrament, marriage, etc.
  • Christians believe the “church of Christ” or the body of Christ are all the Christian sects who believe in Jesus.  Mormons believe the “one true Church of Christ” is the LDS faith.
  • Christians do not believe in a pre-existance and Jesus being our elder brother.  Mormons do.
  • Both Christians and Mormons are passionate about their belief in Jesus and try to help others “see the light.” However, the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus are not the same person if you ask a Christian. 
  • Mormons believe in universal salvation to a certain extent.  Christians believe those who confess Jesus are going to heaven.  Those who don’t are going to hell.
  • Mormons believe God has revealed scripture and will continue to reveal scripture through his prophets.  Christians believe the Bible to be the only word of God.

Through the years and during the past few months I’ve been reading blogs online, these differences along with other differences tend to be what Christians and Mormons alike tend to focus on.  Focusing on differences, however, causes a big riff between both Christians and Mormons (and any other people who have differences for that matter).  Is there a way to find common ground?  Is there a way to join forces for common good?  I believe there is.  I’ll outline ways I’ve found that we can bridge the Mormon/Evangelical Divide.

Bridging the Divide

  • Build on Common Beliefs

Regardless of who we believe Jesus is one can not argue that whether or not He’s the same Jesus that following His teachings will result in blessings.  Personally I’ve seen miracles happen in the name of Jesus in both Mormon and Evangelical circles.  In addition, I’ve seen God bless the lives of people who follow Jesus’ teachings in both circles.  Love, faith, kindness, service, patience, prayer, etc.  These are all common things both Mormons and Evangelicals can find common ground on. 

  • Don’t debate points of Doctrine

Mormons especially should be the last to argue with their fellow Christian friends about points of Doctrine.  In the Book of Mormon, Jesus clearly states that disputing points of doctrine should be done away with.  Trying to prove a point through scriptural debate will not lead to conversion and personally I’ve found that when I try to prove my point as being right and the other’s as being wrong, the Holy Spirit leaves and then I’m left to my own devises.  Building ourselves up to put others down leads to nowhere fast.

  • Don’t criticize others’ beliefs and religious practices

This ones a huge one.  I’ve heard Mormons criticize other Christians and put themselves on a pedastal by saying they’re in the “one true church,” that their baptism is the only baptism, that miracles can only happen through the priesthood, and much more.  Similarly, I’ve heard Christians mock Mormons for their “boring” religious practices in church and also scoff at their temple practices.  There are many more beliefs I’ve heard both sides criticize, but regardless of what one believes, we need to make sure we don’t condemn another for their belief.

  • Look for the good in every conversation

It is evident that there will be differences in belief, but even if we believe differently, it is very helpful to look for the good in every conversation we engage in.  There will usually be something both parties agree on and can build on.

  • Know when not to talk, or to walk away

I’ve seen both Mormons and Christians who simply do not want to stop arguing and want to prove their point as being right.  This is when it is time to be silent as Jesus was many times when people mocked him.  Sometimes it’s better to simply not respond to an argumentative blog post, or discussion.  Sometimes it’s best to be silent and walk away.

I’ve found personally that when I follow these guidelines I have much more in common with not only other Christians, but people from all faiths and beliefs as well.   I hope this post helps both Evangelical Christians and LDS to engage in uplifting discussions and bridge the divide. 

For some other great posts on this topic I recommend the following blogs:

http://summatheologica.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/the-temptation-to-debate/#comment-358

and

http://mormonmatters.org/2008/05/03/the-nature-of-god-and-bible-bashing-sharing/

 

 

 

A couple months back I was reading the temple study blog and he had an excersize to find temple imagery in 2 Nephi chapter 4

Recently I was reading in Hebrews as well as in Alma in the Book of Mormon and found some significant temple imagery as well.  Here are some verses that stuck out to me:

Alma 13:11,16

Hebrews 10:15-22

These are very beautiful scriptures that are filled with temple imagery (garments washed white, the veil is represents Christ’s flesh, covenants, etc.).  In addition scriptures such as Hebrews 9:5 talk about how there are certain things they can’t talk about regarding sacred things, just as LDS are told not to disclose certain sacred things about the temple.  All throughout Hebrews is excellent temple imagery and is worth a good read.

In Hebrews chapters 6-10, Paul discusses the temple ordinances conducted in the Law of Moses and in chapter ten says that through the blood of Jesus we enter into the holiest and that the veil represents his flesh. 

In Hebrews 9:12 it states that Jesus “entered into the holy place” and therefore obtained eternal redemption for us. 

Having read this, one could argue that there isn’t a need for temple ordinances anymore because Jesus already died and this has replaced the need for a temple.  Furthermore, if it is the blood of Jesus that saves us, what need is there for temple ordinances?

What are your thoughts on this?

Recently I wrote a post asking the question about what being a “Utah Mormon” means.  I was surprised by the amount of visitors and controversy it stirred up.  As stated in my purpose, it isn’t my intention to hurt anyone of any faith so in order to keep things light-hearted I thought I’d do something fun with the Utah Mormon thing to end the discussion on a positive note. 

My father-in-law suggested a top ten list last night and I thought it would be fun.  I’m going to have you help me with a top ten list.  I have taken ten comments from readers of the post on Utah Mormon culture and will list them in random order.  What I ask of you as a reader is to help me rank the top ten comments and in awhile I’ll share the results.  In addition if you’d like to share any experiences or comments on any of these items, feel free to do so. 

I have tons of relatives in Utah and I was born and have lived in Utah as well so for those of you in Utah I hope you realize that the term “Utah Mormon” is simply a stereotype that I’ve heard floating around out there and thought it would be fun to discuss.  It isn’t my intention to hurt anyones feelings because heck, I’m probably a Utah Mormon myself!

O.k……(drum roll)….let’s get started!

What it Means to be a Utah Mormon Top Ten List

– I don’t know how to describe one, but I know one when I see one.

– “Utah Mormons” take Mormonism to the extreme

– “Utah Mormons” are characterized by their explicitives (Gosh!, Darn!, Heck!, and Fetch!)

– “Utah Mormons” think General Authorities are like rock stars (my wife loved this one…she shared with me an experience she had a BYU when some of her friends waited to see Elder Eyring and get their pictures and his autograph.  When they came back they were pumped and going crazy…like you’d see at a rock concert 🙂

– “Utah Mormons” love green Jell-o

– Except for being on a mission, a Utah Mormon has never ventured outside of the “Mormon Corridor”

– “Utah Mormons” are nice, kind, and loving people

– “Utah Mormons” may take for granted what they have

– “Utah Mormons” are innocent in their knowledge of other faiths and/or cultures

– A “Utah Mormon” is someone who would be content living in Utah County all of their days

 

Because of the recent media on the Fundamentalist LDS group that “got busted” in Texas for abuse and polygamy the LDS church has made efforts to distance itself from this sect.  Below is a recent interview with the LDS public affairs representative regarding the churches current stance on polygamy and how it wants the world to view the LDS church:

 

Polygamy is a huge issue and it is a great concern still for members of the LDS church.  Some have concerns with polygamy and say the LDS church still “practices” polygamy in the sense that it is still a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132.  In addition, people are still married in temples for eternity to spouses after one spouse passes away, so polygamy is technically still a part of LDS doctrine. 

Depending on the Christian you speak with, they will either denounce or embrace polygamy.  Generally speaking, the Christian world claims the Bible to be the only word of God.  The Bible contains polygamy all throughout it’s text and depending on which Christian denomonation you speak with, they can argue for or against it.  Here’s a christian website discussing the issue: http://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html.  Here’s another website that has people, including pastors arguing for polygamy and that true Christianity should allow polygamy with other Christians arguing against it: http://www.answering-christianity.com/ntpoly.htm.  As you can see in many cases interpretations of scripture are a matter of semantics as to whether God truly “approved” polygamy in the Bible or not and are up for interpretation.

Those who follow the LDS faith could have an easier time answering the polygamy question than their fellow Christians due to the fact they believe in modern, continuing revelation. 

Joseph Smith stated “I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 324). The LDS website also says polygamy isn’t allowed unless God directs it.  Therefore, God can take away polygamy or ordain it through his prophets as he did through Nathan in the Bible (2 Samuel 12:8).  Currently the LDS church doesn’t practice polygamy on grounds of a reveleation from a prophet named Wilford Woodruff that is contained in the Doctrine and Covenants in the “Official Declaration 1.”

However, there are still some questions that remain for both LDS christians and other Christians who believe in the Bible:

If the LDS church wants to take such a strong stance against polygamy, shouldn’t the church completely take it out of it’s doctrine, since it is still supported in D&C 132?  Why or why not?

Also, if one is to consider himself/herself a true Christian, should they believe in polygamy because it is supported in the Bible?  Why or why not?

 

Recently my wife and I spent some time in the Florida Keys.  It was amazing and nice to get out of the cold Seattle weather.

One evening under a full moon, we decided to walk along the beach and enjoy the amazing smells and sounds of the ocean.  We came upon a pier that went a few hundred yards out into the ocean and decided to venture out there.  Upon arriving, we saw some local fishermen fishing off the dock.  Suddenly one of them shouted “that’s a shark!”  We ran over to the fishermen and sure enough…a little hammer-head looking shark had been reeled in.  We all became instant friends as we talked with the fishermen about amazing stories of crocodiles, sharks, varieties of fish, life on the ocean, and hurricanes.  I was intrigued by their comments…especially about hurricanes.  They told me stories of huge hurricanes where the surge from the ocean was so huge that the island was covered with water and sharks were swimming in the streets. 

Fishermen tend to be good story tellers, so I’m not claiming that everything they said was 100% accurate, but it was fun to listen to non-the-less. 

After their conversation, I thought about the natural disasters we’ve had (flooding, etc.) in our part of the country recently and I thought about the prophet’s admonision to “prepare for a rainy day.”  I wasn’t going to write about this until I read a post on the Millenial Star about the role of prophets.  One of the comments mentioned something about preparing for a rainy day.  I thought I’d share what my wife and I have been doing in order to plan and prepare for a disaster. 

The LDS church is huge on planning and preparing for emergencies, getting finances in order, and many other things necessary for today’s uncertain economy.  This website is great to educate yourself on how to plan and prepare: http://www.providentliving.org/welcome/0,10803,1653-1,00.html

In addition, I’ve found a great website to order food supplies, etc.  We order something each month to add to our food storage.  This website is awesome and has the lowest costs out of any that I’ve seen: www.beprepared.com.  I think it is good to start with basic things like a 72 hour kit (www.code72.net) for each member of the family and then move up to food and water storage, extra clothing, etc.  If you set aside some money each month to spend on this, it could be the best insurance you have.

I know this isn’t the typical post, but I thought I’d share this for those who haven’t started their home storage.  If anyone has any other suggestions or ideas they’ve used in planning, feel free to share!  No one wants to get caught in a crisis with sharks swimming in their front yard!

P.S. I just had a thought that in addition to temporal storage we need to be constantly focusing on spiritual “storage” preparing to be closer to the Lord.  This is a whole post in and of itself so I won’t go into details, but feel free to share your ideas on this…

 

Recently one of the members of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons or LDS) gave an excellent talk entitled “Faith of our Father.”  This talk is excellent for those in the LDS church and all Christians.  I was especially moved by the following remarks:

When my own family contemplates the phrase “faith of our fathers,” often it is the Lutheran faith that comes to mind. For generations our ancestors belonged to that denomination. In fact, my son recently discovered that one of our family lines connects back to Martin Luther himself.

We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fulness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.

We believe that it is a fundamental human right to worship “Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”4

As I reflected on these comments my thoughts turned to my sister and brother-in-law who are members of a non-denominational Christian church.  They are youth ministers and feel called to help youth know Jesus.  I’ve been touched as they’ve shared their experiences with me of miracles they’ve seen with prayer, healings they’ve witnessed, places the Lord has called them to go, etc.  It has been a great example to me of how to turn one’s heart over to the Lord and serve as He would serve.  If you want to check out their website it is under my “Evangelical” section of this blog under “Ignite.”  You can read more about their ministry and how the Lord is working in their lives.

Next, I thought about my mother who is a member of another Christian faith.  She is another great example of following her heart and following the Lord.  She is always calling me with some great scriptures she has read and something she’s heard from one of her favorite pastors on Christian radio.  I also love praying together with her and the sincerity she as a Christian shows for the Lord. She is another great example of a righteous woman who has turned her heart to the Lord.  I’m grateful for her example.

I then thought of some of my friends from other faiths who have helped me throughout my life.  Many of whom have commented on this blog from time to time.  One such friend commented in one of my earlier posts entitled “Receiving and Recognizing Answers to Prayer” when she made a comment on how prayer is a sacred conversation.  Some more of my Christian friends made some good comments and analogies on the “Making our Hearts a Manger” post a couple months ago.

Also, there are many of you who frequent this site who are at varying stages in spirituality…most are Christian and a few do not profess any faith that I have learned from and respect.  Some of you I’ve emailed personally and responded to personally and I appreciate your example of continuing to learn and grow and the desire to be closer to Jesus.  It helps me with my relationship with the Lord. 

I want to thank you personally for sharing what you have learned and continue to learn.  I feel we all are from the same God who created us and that He works through us as we are willing to learn and come to Him through prayer.  Sincere seekers of truth in all religions and faiths sharing their ideas and spiritual growth are what makes us all grow closer to God and Jesus Christ.  I hope we can all continue to learn and grow together.

Today I was at a company and an African-american gentleman visited my table.  We talked politics and of course religion.  We talked about how regardless of religion how God loves us all the same.  We talked about the Spirit we’ve felt in various churches and other situations irregardless to church affiliation.  When he found out I was LDS he was a little suprised.  He then told me he agreed with a lot of LDS teachings but because of past prejudice towards blacks and receiving the priesthood he couldn’t endorse the LDS church.  I told him I could understand his situation and didn’t blame him for feeling that way.  I went on further to say that I disagreed with the statements Brigham Young and many other apostles had said about blacks being an inferior race.  We talked some more and then he said something that I’ve heard in the church, but didn’t realize non-LDS Christians said.  He told me I wasn’t a “Utah Mormon.” 

I thanked him and told him that when I lived in Utah (Provo) I didn’t really feel like I fit in.  However, I later reflected on what is a “Utah Mormon” anyway?  I mean, I was born in Utah…does that make me a Utah Mormon?  I do my home teaching every month, I read scriptures, I pray, attend temple, church…all of it.  So why would he say I’m not a “Utah Mormon”? 

One of my other friends of another faith told me one time I was the coolest Mormon he’d ever met.  Maybe you can help me out…what is your definition of a “Utah Mormon” and why would someone outside of the church think Utah Mormons were “uncool”? 

In General Conference this week one of the Twelve Apostles, Jeffrey Holland said (paraphrased) that many Christians err in the verses in Revelation 22:18-19 that state:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

  19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book 
President Holland goes on to state that the “words of the book of this prophecy” are pertaining to only the book of Revelation and that having additional scripture such as the Book of Mormon is not adding or taking away from the book of Revelation.  He says many Christians err in that they think the “book of this prophecy” is the whole Bible and that many books in the Bible were written well after the book of Revelation was written. 
If this is the case, one could argue that even though Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and other scripture, he did indeed add to the book of Revelation in at least five chapters which you can view here (make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the Book of Revelation translations).  One could argue that the hard life Joseph led and the imprisonments he had to face, the many babies that he and Emma had that died, and ultimately what caused his death were all part of the curses described in the book of Revelation.
The curse in Revelation doesn’t only mention adding to the book, but taking away from the book as well.  One could argue on the other hand that Joseph Smith wasn’t adding anything, but he was restoring the “plain and precious truths” that were taken out of the Bible as the Book of Mormon suggests.  One could argue that the “curses” that came as a result were persecution that has happened to other earlier Christians who translated the Bible or to those who don’t have the “fulness of the gospel.”  One could argue that Joseph Smith was persecuted because Satan was trying to thwart the work from progressing, etc. 
I can see why someone could side on the first option.  Especially those Christians who believe the Bible is all God has revealed and ever will reveal and that further revelation isn’t necessary and that throughout all the years there hasn’t been anything taken out of the Bible.  However I personally disagree with this.  I feel that continuing revelation is necessary and that many truths were indeed taken out of the Bible throughout the years.  In addition, if God had prophets and apostles before why wouldn’t he have them now?
What are your thoughts?

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