Friday, September 11, 2009

True Religion is...

I went on a tour last night of LDS Welfare Square, and had a chance to be exposed to so many of the wonderful programs carried out by the LDS Church for their fellow men.

Scripture says
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
The work done in Salt Lake City, for example, in finding jobs is mostly for non-LDS people. In fact, about 80% of the people placed in jobs through LDS Employment services are not LDS.

Most of the food stuffs distributed go to non-LDS.

The food bank in Utah gets huge contributions from the LDS Church. Even most of the other churches in Salt Lake City get some or most of their foods for their programs from the LDS Church.

One prominent non-LDS minister toured Welfare Square and after witnessing all that goes on asked the director, "Do you know of any other religion that has a program similar to this?" The director replied, "No, I don't", to which the minister said "Neither do I", and he said he looked away somewhat embarrassed, no doubt for having preached what an evil, unChristlike faith those Mormons are.

It is very true that anyone can be a critic. The criteria for being a Christian may be somewhat intellectual, but a real Christian is working to relieve the suffering of their fellow-men, whether of their faith or not.

As James goes on to note, for someone to tell the hungry or destitute to "Depart, in peace, be ye warmed and filled" and not hand them food is to deny the faith. He uses this as the very example of how faith without works is dead.

The true church of Jesus Christ would work together with its members to make sure no member who ever asked for help would lack for a job, food or shelter, if they were willing to work for it, even if that "work" is nothing more than licking stamps or reading the scriptures to children. And for those unable to help themselves due to mental illness or other problems, then Christian charity would find a way to provide unconditionally for their physical needs.

Sorry, but the LDS Church is the only CHURCH which follows this basic Biblical charge. There are a few good people of all faiths who try to help out in their individual ways, but the fact that all those Evangelicals, Born Again Mormons and other supposed Christians can't find time to spend even 10 hours a year unconditionally working with no expectation of reward or recognition is perhaps the greatest evidence of all of which of all the churches in the world is truly led by He who taught the parable of the Good Samaritan.

You remember that story, right? (Luke 10:25-37) It is the story of a man scorned by "true believers" as being theologically in a false cult of belief, who nevertheless was the only one willing to do God's real work of pastoring for a man unable to help himself, who was not of his own faith.

I am proud to be called a heretic by that modern day incarnation of the same group who excluded those with a living and not just a lip service faith. You know, the one cited by Christ, and James, as pure religion. Remember, the parable of the Good Samaritan was given to answer the question of what it meant to fulfill the two great Commandments: Love God and Love your Neighbor. The question asked, by a person seeking to justify his theological purity as sufficient, was who is our neighbor. Since the lawyers regularly gave offerings and had plenty of community visibility, the question of doing selfless, risky and anonymous service to anyone in need is pretty powerful.

Powerful, because it means that being saved by Grace through faith means you must, in fact, do the good works and not just think about them, for which we are created. As I have pointed out before, Paul says in Ephesians we are saved by grace through faith and not of works, but that we are created to do the good works of God, not those self serving useless attempts at saving ourselves.

Born Agains just don't get it: Loving our neighbors and he who loses his life will save it mean that faith and the good works which God gives us a desire to do, but upon which desire we must act (Phil 2:12-13) is how we work out our own salvation.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Obviously I ought to apologize on behalf of my brothers and sisters who you rub shoulders with for their negative behavior. You're right, a ton of Christians do not do as they should.

However, I have to say that I think you need to get out of Utah for a bit. I fully acknowledge that I do not know you at all personally but it seems that you are unaware of what is happening in the world beyond Utah.

For one thing, there are plenty of who you lovingly refer to as evangelicals out there who do indeed fulfill Jesus' commandment to love our neighbors.

Second, there are plenty of groups you and I both would not agree with that still do many generous deeds. For instance there is the so-called "church" of scientology. I don't know what you see when you look at their record, but in my honest opinion I see scam written all over them. Also, there are Jehovah's Witnesses who do a ton of good works.

And third, you are sadly mistaken to think that your brothers and sisters world-wide participate in what I will admit are generous actions. This point isn't as important, but I think it should be pointed out anyway for continuity's sake.

I truly am sorry if this comes across as harsh, that is honestly contrary to my personality and my faith. This discussion I really doubt is supposed to be the offensive part of the gospel. I just felt that this needs to be written.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Thanks for the comments. I want to point out that I did note that other people of faith are out there doing good. But I believe the standard, so to speak, for those in Christ's kingdom is higher than just acting individually. While individual acts of kindness and charity are important, they are nearly useless in the face of something like the Tsunami or Katrina reclamation projects. Only large scale, organized responses can help.

As for getting out of Utah, I am originally from the Pacific Northwest, and I have traveled extensively in my life. I have worked on Church farms in Oregon, DI projects in Washington state, had dinner with the bishop of a ward in Pennsylvania at his home. I also look at statistics. Mormons are not more generous with money or time in Utah than elsewhere. The largest organizer of Boy Scout troops in the world is the LDS Church, nearly 1/4 of all scout troops. And their projects are everywhere. Likewise relief society projects occur constantly worldwide.

I realize there are those who engage in "good deeds" to garner publicity. The fact is most people don't know what projects the LDS Church does because they don't publicize them, they just do them.

Thanks again for the comments.
Bob

John said...

Hey bob what you cant reply to what I said to you

John

Anonymous said...

Bob
When you say that LDS are Christians, do you include the argument that because the name Jesus Christ is in the name of the church then LDS must be true Christians?

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Mormons are Christians because they believe in Jesus Christ and attempt to follow after his doctrines, therefore showing themselves to be true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Having Jesus' name in the name of the Church is simply incidental, so far as justification goes. Since I don't believe doctrinally that people who actually believe the doctrine know as Calvinism are actually Christian, it is irrelevant to me they call themselves "Christians", wear crosses or plaster his name all over things. The fact is that Reformed theology is neither Biblical nor from Christ, and has at its core an unBiblical teaching about the relationship of God and Jesus, and especially of God and Jesus toward humanity. On the other hand, I know very, very few people who actually can explain reformed theology, and choose, rather, to try to follow the simple teachings of Christ in the Bible. Thus to me they are Christians.

I served my mission in Austria, and met people on several occasions who pointed out Hitler built apartments, provided jobs or engaged in other public works they found useful. If only Hitler hadn't had that whole genocide thing going on, he could have had real potential. My feeling is that people who actually, really, fully believe in a set of doctrines which believes contrary to the explicit words of the Bible that Jesus did not savingly die for all mankind and the entire world, that God damns some of his children to hell for his own deep reasons without any reference to any actions they take, or, worse, demonatrates his partiality by damning some and saving others who engage in exactly those same actions, and then forces those he chooses to irresistibly be drawn to salvation even though they were at some point in the past identical and deserving of damnation, but God for his reasons loved them savingly and not those other equally sinful individuals; this is a damnable set of heresies which in no way reflects the majority nor even the context of the thread bare twisting of statements from scripture which they have compiled into what I find wholly repugnant to the word of God, and in its effect to be a form of spiritual genocide.

Judgment based purely on whim and not merit is necessarily unjust.

Mormonism may be seen as a distortion because of its belief in living prophets, or its teaching of salvation for the dead or exaltation for the saved, or its belief that men can become like God, but at least all of these doctrines have very close, Biblical and historical roots. No one in the Bible believed in Reformed theology. Especially the Old Testament is a wasteland for Reformed doctrine, because it is impossible to find anything about a god so partial he means to only save the elect and not give the opportunity with the real possibility of repentance unto salvation to all mankind.

So I believe Mormons are Christians because we believe in Christ and can align our teachings with EVERYTHING taught in the Bible. Mormons don't carefully parse a chapter or verse of the Bible to ignore those messy parts about works when grace is mentioned, or choice when election is discussed. We don't have to deny that baptism is essential to salvation, or ignore hundreds of references to the need and role of our own good works in influencing our salvation.

PEW research last year published a report indicating that Mormons, not mainstream "Christians", were more likely to have read the Bible in the past week, and to consider it as God's word. So while all those Christians are told Mormons are not Christians, Mormons are checking the text which should be used to actually judge such a position.

Mormons are Christians because they believe in and follow the Jesus Christ presented in the Bible.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonderful Lie said...

The LDs do not follow the Bible Jesus if you read the bible I mean really read the Bible Jeusu and the LDS Jesus are different. The Bible Jesus Saves you from eternal damnation and the Lds Jesus clevery makes you work your way straight to hell

Anonymous said...

Bob,
I just wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for all of your research and the untold time you put into tending to your blog. It is much appreciated and admired.
From Mosul, Iraq
"Inactive but Hopeful"

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

First, to Anonymous in Mosul, thank you, your words are appreciated and give me encouragement.

To a Marvelous Lie, well, what can we say? When you say to "really read the Bible", I guess there is a standard you have in mind somewhere you think I must be missing. Is dozens of times enough? Is reading it topically good enough? Is reading the New Testament in Greek good enough? Is reading it and comparing controversial readings in the 30 or 40 translations I own adequate? Is cross referencing it to the non-LDS commentaries good enough?

Or do you mean, if I really, really read it the way your teachers explained it to you, and ignore the things I have studied, then the light bulbs will go on?

Maybe you think I should ignore such 'faith and works' oriented idiots such as Paul the apostle? I mean, Paul is the one who explicitly teaches works are necessary and the basis, mixed with faith, for how we are judged. Remember these "horrible" teachings by him?

Philip 2:12 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Yes, Paul is one tricky dude, with by your definition guiding people to hell. Of course, I assume that in "really reading" the Bible, you know this was Paul's doctrine, and you really have some explanation which negates this. Yep, parsing and ignoring the word of God. Don't forget,

Gal 6:9
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

I think people should be careful about what it means to be blissfully ignorant of what is in the Bible, don't you?

Quest for Passage said...

Bob,

I decided to come back to read what you had posted again, I just want to tell you I have been a member for 12 years and I have loved every minute of being a member, I have always done what was required of me to be a good Mormon I have served in the Bishopric as a Ward clerk and have been in the elders quorum presidency several times. I did not go searching for reasons not to believe I did not go seeking for any anti stuff about the church. I only began to write a book a book that has nothing to do with church and nothing to do with reality, but as a did my research for the book, I began to see how a person can build an idea from nothing and how this idea continues to grow until it begins to take on a life of it own. When this took place I started viewing life differently. I started seeing the people around me at church that were sad. They would put on the Mormon happy face but their eyes would speak sadness to me. In Bishopric meetings I started to realize that the focus on reactivating members were based on getting them to the temple or it was based on getting them to come to Sunday school. One thing I have never heard any leader say is that we need to help them come closer to Jesus. If Jesus really is the Cornerstone of our religion then why is he always in last place. When people bare their testimonies, most begin with I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and Thomas S Monson is the prophet in these latter days, I know this church is true and the book of Mormon is the words of god and then sometimes you may hear a person say, and I know that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we can return to live with him some day.

Bob,
With all my heart I want to believe the church is true, so tell me and give me an honest answer why is Jesus last in the church, even in the new Gospel Principles book he is not talked about until the third chapter. I truly hope that you can help because if the church is true I would like to know. And if it is true how can there be so many things that tear its history apart.

John

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

John,
I deeply respect the tone of your note. First and foremost, Jesus Christ must be the center of one's religious life. His grace in granting us life must be appreciated and used fully to help and care for others. His gift of atonement must be appreciated and employed by each of us to lift the burden of guilt and sin. His gift of the Spirit must be used to seek out truth, and then employed to provide the courage to live the truth.

I have lived in a lot of wards in my time in the Church. Each has a different personality. Likewise the members of the wards. My current ward is the most Christlike group of people as a whole that I have ever had the privilege to live among. And even here there are people incorrectly focused on secondary issues. But that is not surprising, as we are a church of converts.

My wife and I have been the Temple Preparation teachers in our ward for about 8 years now. We use the manuals for formal classes, but a wise bishop called us to teach the Gospel to people being prepared for the Temple. The center of this is applying the atonement. Most people don't understand how to actually apply the atonement, because they don't understand how their pain causes them to continue to sin. They sin when they feel they are owed an apology. They sin when they feel they must protect others from the natural consequences of life. They sin trying to fix the relationships between fathers or mothers and children or siblings. They sin as they feel inadequate and a failure, not just healthy awe and humility at loving God and Christ, and striving, and failing, to keep the commandments. They sin as they keep score against their spouse.

All of these things are the result of "stinkin thinkin". Your best thinking will never get you healthy or forgiven. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Only recognition that Christ lives and is real. Grace to forgive others, and recognizing the forgiveness that comes to us in doing so, is, in my opinion, the greatest secret to happy living in the world. His Church is an administrative beast, and should not be the center of worship. Profound worship belongs in our private life.

If you wonder if the Church is true, I would tell you to take those doubts to your bishop and your quorum presidents. Give them a chance to help you by the Spirit. But I would also tell you to consider this: There is no other Church on the planet which teaches that God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever believes might be saved, whether living or dead. Living or dead. What does that say about the love of Jesus Christ and God the Father for all their children. To me, because it is a clearly taught and missed doctrine in the Bible, it whispers something wonderful about God's real love for all of his children.
I hope this helps.
Bob

Quest for Passage said...

Yhank you Bob for your comments and advice, I do not know if at this point going to the Bishop will help me or not. I really love my calling and want to try and work through all this doubt without having human influence in my decision, I have been really studying the bible and Praying trying to figure it out, and know from doing all this studying I am not even sure if their is a god. I absoulutely hate being at this point in my life but this is where I find myself.

Markadrian said...

Quest for Passage
It is actually okay to be where you are, all it means is that you are thinking, which isn't a bad thing at all. However, if you are unsure of the very existence of God then that needs to be your starting point. Don't worry about churches until you are able to "figure Him out". God first, church second. Always. If you want to look at some stuff that might help lead you to God to certain extent then look up the teleological, ontological, cosmological, and moral arguments. It's worth the effort. My primary recommendation is www.reasons.org

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

John,
I appreciate Markadrian's comments, and I think he is correct that you need to get your relationship with God figured out. As the Book of Mormon says, Mosiah 4:9 "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."

Unlike Markadrian, however, I think he is flatly incorrect about looking at the Church first. The reason is simple: The only "proof" that is tangible and will be testified by God as coming from him is the Book of Mormon. It is either an absolute truth come from God, or it is a fraud. So let me provide you my list of evidences for the Book of Mormon which I find persuasive to get one to the point of exercising faith to ask God if it is true. Since this is a rather lengthy list, I will do this as a new blog post.