Thanks. Don’t sing sad songs for me, though. Church history, as taught me in Seminary, is akin to flying over a forest and viewing it from a satellite. As taught at BYU or Institute (the Official history) is akin to making the same flight at, say 40,000 feet.
I’m walking on the forest floor, learning the differences between the firs and the pines, the beeches and birches, alders and aspens. It is an interesting ecosystem, full of life and rot. And the life can’t exist without the rot. Some may find it tedious, but I’ve already taken my high-level flights. The few people I meet here in the forest are great companions.
I have my Liahona, and expect to reach my destination. Until then, it is a great journey; I find the woods much more interesting here than they appeared from the plane window.]]>
Thanks for the kind words. I’m very familiar with the distinction between Salvation and Exaltation and I can appreciate what you’re saying. I believe that, yes, there will be some sort of “reward” beyond just getting into Heaven for the works we do here on earth. That’s a fairly accepted Christian principle, I believe. I won’t go into all of the reasons why I don’t think Mormon’s have it exactly right. I realize that this site isn’t for that, although I’ve so enjoyed the opportunity to take part in this discussion. The one thing I’ll say, perhaps it’s really two things, is that #1 Paul (of the NT and not our current posting Paul) reminds us that we are saved by grace and not works, lest any man should boast. It’s man-kind who cannot wrap their mind around the idea that: I only committed 497 sins in my entire life and he committed 9,678 and yet we’re both getting into Heaven? That’s not FAIR!!! (sounds a little bit like explaining to my children why they both get ice cream even though I had to scold one of them three and the other four times before they finally got their rooms clean enough) and #2 that works are the result of faith in and love of God, not the other way around. We serve Him because we love Him and because of what He’s done for us, not because we think we can somehow earn our way up. For those whose works are done for the express purpose of earning a greater reward, I fear they’ll find that they’ve had their reward in the respect and adulation of those around them. As to the ordinances of the temple, etc., I’m sure you’ll be able to discern my thoughts from the comments I’ve already made. Thank you for still referring to me as a sister-in-Christ. Too many LDS have a hard time believing that we’re still all of one family, if our beliefs don’t line up exactly.
And Paul (this time our current Paul and not he of NT fame),
My heart hurts for you. I’ve read your last comment over and over again and I see real anguish over your beliefs and your responsibility for discernment and I just hurt for you. I’ve said before that the most important, really only important, thing is your relationship with your Father in Heaven. I think you’ve chosen an overly complicated and painful path, but you seem to have your focus where it belongs. I wish you much luck in your journey and much happiness in your destination.]]>
I have to make this distinction between necessary, saving gospel truths and all the other stuff that we Mormon’s do. When talking to protestant friends I regularly have to re-explain that we believe that beautifully “simple” plan(just as you outlined it in your post) of SALVATION, but we also believe in this other thing called EXALTATION. “Oh,” they say,”so you guys are the only ones going to this highest Heaven because you’re the only ones with Temples, right?” No. I have always thought of it like we (Mormons who live a Celestial Kingdom-worthy life and received all the proper odinances) have just bought our tickets to the “event” early, while the rest of humanity is going to have to buy theirs at the ticket booth at the stadium. Christ has brought us out of the Parking lot of Hell and gotten us past the Gate of Death through His sacrifice – there’s no ticket we can buy for that trip! Only He could give it to us if we but ask for it. Once inside the Stadium though, some of us will have Skybox tickets in hand and some will be standing in line waiting their turn(already inside the stadium, remember). Most importantly – We are all going to have the opportunity to buy tickets either early on our own or at the booth by proxy!If I’m not careful that will sound elitist, I promise that is not what is in my heart as I type this.
To re-cap, I agree that
“Everything added to this core belief is, I believe, unnecessary and a burden”
, when we are talking about salvation. When, on the other hand, we are talking about exaltation, I think we have to understand that this is a different subject and yes a little more complicated.
Kate, you have a beautiful spirit that shows through in your writing here. Please don’t take any of my ramblings as anything other than a brother-in-Christ adding his two-cents worth to the thoughts of a sister-in-Christ who obviously has her stuff together.]]>
Is it worth it to stay? I think so, at least for me. I am “Mormon in my DNA,” as Mike Quinn says. I haven’t found a better place for me to become a better person than I now am, or where I can serve my neighbor better than I would otherwise.
There are a lot of things I haven’t yet sorted out. And, the older I get, the more things there are that I once knew “for sure” that I now recognize are more nuanced than I’d considered. Einstein said something about as the circle of light (i.e., knowledge) expands, the circumference of darkness expands more quickly. Every Gospel answer brings up at least one new Gospel question: sort of a “the more I know the less I know,” or “the more I study the less I know” thing.
I also have a dual handicap of being trained in the sciences and in law. The science training tells me to not expect any knowledge to be “eternal,” i.e., unchanging. All science is tentative, in that there is always the possibility of some new data that causes the old theories to be tossed out in favor of a new theory that explains both the old and the new data. And that is the essence of science (he says more dogmatically than he knows – leaving himself open for fair criticism from anyone who claims to be a true scientist). Law training, among other things, lets me not expect everything to fit together in a neat package – with one theory explaining all the data. No “one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them,” as Tolkein would say. Keeping two mutually-exclusive theories in my mind at once without being bothered by it. (Or maybe I’m just being insane and not knowing it – you’d have to ask my wife.)
What do I think of Joseph Smith? That he had some really radical ideas – both at the beginning and at the end of his ministry. That his understanding of what both he and God were all about increased as he aged. That I accept his story that he saw something in the grove – probably “an angel,” as his subsequent writings didn’t include multiple Gods in the Godhead until several years later. That the Book of Mormon’s origins from gold plates is as good an explanation as any. That Rigdon’s and Cowdery’s ideas comprise more of our Doctrine and Covenants than is readily known. That some of his “plural wives” may have just been run-of-the-mill adulterous dalliances, and/or his libido allowed him to be more accepting of revelation regarding plural marriage than someone else may have been. That he did a lousy job of designating his successor (or that he designated too many successors – none of whom included Brigham Young). In other words, that he wasn’t perfect. Subsequent efforts by others to make him appear perfect have resulted in embellishments that perhaps even he wouldn’t recognize.
Does this mean that I don’t think he was a prophet? No. Just that I need to consider and weigh what he (and his successors) have said and decide whether to incorporate them into my own beliefs, rather than, for example, just accepting what Brigham Young said about the relationship between Elohiem, Jehovah, Adam, and Michael as my theology – which can’t really be reconciled with what Joseph F. Smith(?) said about them and is taught by the present Church.
I’m not a believer in the supposed simplicity of the Gospel as taught by the bible. John 3:16 says all I need to do for eternal life is to believe in the Son. Sounds simple, but how do I reconcile that with “if you love me, keep my commandments?” Why should I love or keep commandments if only belief is sufficient? Perhaps belief is necessary, but not sufficient, for eternal life? And, what is eternal life? Does it have something to do with Paul’s 3 heavens or Jesus’ many mansions, or what? And was Jesus just demonstrating his knowledge of Jewish law when he answered the question about “which is the greatest commandment of the Law?” Or did he mean to re-incorporate a necessity to love our neighbor as ourselves into his own Gospel? And, if so, how do we do that? What is the purpose and effect of the Atonement? I don’t think that John meant that we can be whatever jerks we want to be, so long as we’re believing jerks, and inherit eternal life.
I believe that the things I need to believe, and do, for my salvation are a tad more complicated, more nuanced, and that my study of what prophets – ancient and modern – have had to say about things will be instructive for my understanding. What is necessary? What is “fluff?” Can I disregard everything that was preached as doctrine between, say, 1844 and 1906 – none of which is emphasized (and some of which is totally disregarded or denied) by subsequent prophets and apostles and the present correlated public affairs apparatchiks?
And, what I believe now probably won’t be what I believe in a year – or 5 years – from now. I’ll have learned more and will need to have modified my beliefs accordingly.]]>
I can appreciate how difficult it must be to live in the LDS world when you see things differently. I can’t help but wonder if it’s really worth it.
I have a sister who has confided in me that she doesn’t know what’s true and what’s not and that she’s decided to just not think about it any more. In her words, “My husband’s a Mormon and I love him and I want to stay married to him. My family is Mormon and I don’t want to make them unhappy. And at the end of the day, the church is a good place/way to raise a family and live your life, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
It doesn’t seem, from what you’ve said, that that’s really your take on it. If I understand you correctly, you “know” that certain things aren’t really the way church says they are, but somehow you feel that the church is still basically “true”, do I have it right? Let me see if I can pose a couple of questions without sounding completely evil or hateful.
Do you think Joseph Smith lied about some things but not others? And how do you know which ones? For instance, if plural marriage was a result of his “tremendous labido”, as you put it, but was “revealed” part and parcel with Eternal Marriage and Temple Work, then is Eternal Marriage real in your opinion? Is the temple and it’s ordinances necessary, in the way the church says they are, for admittance to the Celestial Kingdom and eternal progression?
I can’t help feeling that if someone lies, then they’ve shown themselves capable of lying. And if they’re capable of lying, how do you know when the stuff coming out of their mouth is a lie or the “truth” (“truth” being defined as an eternal gospel principle, necessary to salvation).
I don’t know if I could ever have stayed and tried to sort it all out, or if in the end it would have been worth it. It would have been easier in some ways, but in others so much more difficult than just walking away and finding the basic truths that God puts in front of everyone, every day, in the Bible. The gospel we find there is so simple, and sweet, and pure.
(1) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, (2) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
(3) “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
(4) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: (5) While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (6) Since we have now been justified by his blood, (7) how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom. 5:8-9).
Everything added to this core belief is, I believe, unnecessary and a burden placed by man and for his own glory.
I’d be interested to know, Paul, what addittions that the Church has added are necessary and which are just fluff. Sorry to have been so long winded. I do tend to get carried away.]]>
The most credible evidence I have that the Church isn’t standing by BRM and JFS’s position on evolution is my best friend. He’s a science professor at BYU, no doubt a position where what you teach is monitored. This is what he had to say recently about the Church and evolution:
“Evolution is so well established that it is now more-or-less law. So is the antiquity of the earth. So the question then becomes, does this violate our LDS dogma. The answer is no–the Church has no definitive position–so I’m off the hook. No head butting. There are lots of LDS folks who do think the Church has a position against evolution or an old earth–but they just happen to be wrong.”]]>
Thanks for the encouragement. FWIW, the Church hasn’t repudiated the JFS or BRM anti-evolution stuff, either. And the current BYU official “evolution” packet isn’t particularly encouraging regarding acceptance of evolution. Alas, it omits anything later than a FP 1931 statement on the subject.]]>
I appreciate your perspective and admit the “black and white” position can seem draconian. For what it’s worth the Church doesn’t stand by BRM and JFS’s position on evolution, either (JFS wasn’t a prophet when he wrote it).
And, yes, having the Liahona in my hand certainly complicates life.
This reminds me of an observation that was made of Lord Salisbury: “He sees both sides to any issue; the penalty of a thoughtful man.”]]>
Of course Church authorities are going to force a “true or false” choice, or at least preach that this is the only way: like a fine dining establishment that serves one 8-course meal. Fortunately, I don’t think this is the only analogy; I much prefer the cafeteria approach and believe what I want to believe.
Regarding the temple recommend interview, nowhere does it ask whether I accept the whole “ball of wax.” There are specific questions about specific beliefs and practices. For example, one of the questions is whether I have a testimony of the restoration. It doesn’t ask which of the several versions of the JS story I believe, or whether I accept the Book of Mormon as an historical document, or whether I believe JS’ deification teachings in the King Follet Discourse. Or whether I reject evolution as Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McKonkie would have me do. In fact, I’m probably guilty of each of the “Seven Deadly Heresies” condemned by BRM in a BYU address. It is only recently that my eyes have been opened and I’ve learned that some things I’ve known were “true” since Primary aren’t necessarily true at all. And that some of them are just fables.
Anyway, that is my long-winded answer to why and how I’m a “still-but-don’t-believe-everything” Mormon (sometimes called a “New Order Mormon” on the web. And, yes, having the Liahona in my hand certainly complicates life.]]>