Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Earning Condemnation

All mankind is fallen. This is a tenet of every Christian religion or denomination of which I am familiar. But the Bible also teaches that through Jesus Christ, all mankind has been made right with God.

When I tell people this, especially non-LDS, they want to argue the point. Because I would rather discuss than argue, I just turn to the scriptures, and let them defend me:

Yes, Adam's one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness makes all people right in God's sight and gives them life.(Romans 5:18, NLT)
This would seem to present a significant problem for folks who believe God doesn't really want to save ALL of his children. Don't misunderstand me, Paul is developing a masterful doctrine of LDS salvation between Romans 1 to Romans 8. Being made right, or justified (as many translations render it) is not of permanent duration, and so Romans 6 teaches that even those who believe in Christ will be condemned if they do not obey Christ.

But that is the rub. How can one "obey" anything, if, as many supposed "Christians" teach, God has set in people, without their choosing, hearts which are totally depraved of righteous desires to follow Christ?

In the Old Testament, God teaches that there is a statute for dealing with accidentally killing someone. It is called "manslaughter", and one who accidentally kills another, that is with no intent of doing harm, cannot be held to the usual penalty, which is death. See Numbers 35:9-34.

God absolutely hates scales or balances which are uneven. (Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, 20:23)

If only God can put a desire or will into a person to exercise faith, to call on Christ for salvation, then it is impossible for him to condemn to death those who lack that desire. To folks who believe "free will" does not really exist in the sense of being truly free to accept or reject the message of Christ, I am struck by the message of Romans. Christ has already set everyone free.

How long we retain freedom is entirely dependent upon our personal wills being turned to God and faith in Christ. And that is a choice.

"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." (Genesis 3:22)
I would welcome someone showing me where this ability to discern Good and Evil was repealed. If such a passage of scripture is not forthcoming, then I must conclude that we each earn our own condemnation, and therefore all of us also have the ability to appeal to Christ and exercise faith unto salvation through the Grace of Jesus Christ. The twisted reading of scripture leading one to conclude we live in total depravity is the work of men, and not God.

Unless, of course, uneven balances are no longer the abomination they once were to God. But that would make him a changeable God, and creates a whole bunch of problems in and of itself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is an "Anti-Mormon"

Is using the term "Anti-Mormon" prejudicial and loaded in attaching negative connotations to a conversation?


It simply explains the activity of the person involved. If someone were truly "Pro-Christ" and loved those involved with Mormonism, they would have the courage of convictions to preach what they believe, and their "Anti-Mormonism" would virtually disappear. They may say something like "We believe temples have been replaced by Christ and the Holy Spirit." They may then say such a relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit is all that is necessary for salvation. Notice how it is unnecessary to mention LDS beliefs about the temple if they tell you about their beliefs about the temple.

Where is the line that crosses over from "Pro-Christian" to "Anti-Mormon"? Is there anyone reading this who really wonders? When invectives are used to characterize the adherents and especially the leaders of any faith as conspiratorial, deceptive and acting in bad faith, or if false recountings of history are told to provide shock value, or especially if one is paid to tell people about how terrible another faith is, they are clearly an "anti-X". So when you read the comments from Aaron from two posts ago where he acknowledges his sole purpose in engaging me was to waste my time to prevent my interaction with others, and he does so under the guise of being interested in the LDS doctrines, he confirms he is not about preaching what he believes in but working against people of other faiths, in this case he is an "Anti-Mormon".

It seems to me Aaron should be significantly less sensitive about being called an "Anti-Mormon" since he writes that is exactly what he DOES. Let's walk through the logic briefly. Did Aaron speak with me because I was seeking him out to attack his faith? No. Did we even discuss my beliefs concerning his faith? No

Did Aaron use this tactic on anyone among the "Christian" apologists? Ask him, but I doubt it. So this is a special tactic he has reserved for me as a Mormon apologist.

This is what puts the lie to the oft repeated statements "We hate Mormonism, but we love the Mormon people."

I am Mormon. This was an act deliberately designed to interfere with me without regard to my feelings or welfare. It was something he did intentionally. His interest was a lie, and he did it strictly to stop a "Mormon".

That creates several issues here:

It affirms Aaron is an Anti-Mormon. If he doesn't like the title, maybe he should consider acting in other ways. Along with his buddy Mr. Bill, who literally SCREAMS at me that I am a deceiver because I challenge the false representations he makes about the Gold Plates (honestly, it is too funny to watch as he explains why we should accept his calculated values for the weight of the Gold Plates instead of the statements by witnesses, including a reliable second hand account from Joseph Smith.), I must say that I don't really feel, see or experience that swelling tide of love for the Mormon people.

Now if they want to preach what they believe will save people, then more power to them. But their main point in teaching is to create doubt in the youth or others whom they think they can shock with descriptions of LDS history, doctrine or practice.

Aaron's attempt to restrict the use of the phrase "Anti-Mormon" on his own website is sort of an "Alice in Wonderland" approach to not calling things as they really are.

Lastly, I believe the Anti-Mormons provide wonderful examples for the members and investigators of Mormonism. So I like them out there, because in defending my faith their attacks always work to the Church's benefit. As the Church's efforts to promote transparency of LDS history and doctrine continue to be manifested in things such as the "Joseph Smith Papers Project" and more engaging of the Church's critics by informed members, the excesses of Anti-Mormons, and their deceitful tactics, make the contrast between being "Pro-Mormon" and "Anti-Mormons" all the clearer. If they could win in the arena of defending their ideas and philosophies, they would logically want to take that approach. But they don't. Keep telling people the plates weighed 100-120 pounds. Ignore the historical first hand accounts of 40-60 pounds. And then let's let people decide who is grasping at straws, and who is providing accurate history.

Just remember, if Anti-Mormons attempt to disrupt my personal activities as they did in Manti when I am neither an official spokesman for the LDS Church or any other organization, they are firmly in "Anti-Mormon" territory. I am a Mormon, and Aaron was Anti-Bob practicing and defending his Mormon beliefs. I am not an "institution". I am Pro-Mormon.

It doesn't get much clearer.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Respecting People and their Faith

Did Jesus or Paul ever attack someone who held a different faith?

No! Not just "NO", emphatically "NO".

Jesus cut loose on hypocrites of his own faith, Judaism. He never says, "Oh you apostate Samaritans, you're going to Heck." Or, "You Romans are messed up." No. And neither did Paul.

In fact, Paul lived 3 years in Ephesus, where the goddess Diana was revered. After 3 years, Paul had converted thousands, and the silversmiths were losing a fortune. So they whip up a posse to go kill him and his companions, and take him to city hall. The town clerk, realizing he has a riot on his hands, calms the crowd by reminding him they are neither "robbers of Churches, nor yet blasphemers", and if they have evidence or witnesses, they need to bring them forward. No one steps up, and the crowd is dismissed. (See Acts 19:21-41)

Think about it: After 3 years, no one among a rioting crowd could step forward to accuse Paul of preaching AGAINST Diana. NONE. Even though the silversmiths claimed to each other that Paul taught idols were not gods, which would have been blasphemy and treason if had Paul done so (Acts 19:26), the mayor notes it is not the case, and there are no witnesses.

Last time I checked the anti-Mormon sites, they were reminding everyone that Mormons are not Christians. We have a different Jesus. We worship a false god.

WWJD? What would Paul do? Well, we know what they wouldn't do.

So I guess we have another way, besides personal revelation, to know which preachers are corrupt. We can just watch and know that no missionary makes attacking another faith the focus of their ministry.

See Acts 5:42, 17:3; 1 Cor 1:17, 23; 2 Cor 4:5; Eph. 3:8; Phil 1:18; Col 1:27-28; 1 Pet 3:15.

Or I guess we could just ignore the Great Commission, and instead of teaching people to observe the things Christ taught, we could teach against every other faith.

Call us silly, but we Mormons are going to go with the Biblical model of preaching.