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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What’s This? Annie, a Mormon? You, a Southern Baptist? » What’s This? Annie, a Mormon? You, a Southern Baptist?

What’s This? Annie, a Mormon? You, a Southern Baptist?

Rusty - May 3, 2005

First off, thanks for the warm welcome, I appreciate it. And thanks for asking me to post, I feel special. I hope you enjoy and that much exciting discussion ensues. Though I’d like to note that I wouldn’t be caught dead at a math & science fair unless there was mucho free food, and that I’m a poor college student, ergo I have about 40 cents, which I’m not giving to anyone, ‘cause I’m saving up for a Coke from the vending machine downstairs. But now, I say on with the post.

Alright, let’s face it. There are two things that every person living in a house fears the most. One is door-to-door salesmen. The other is Mormon missionaries. There’s nothing worse than just sitting down for a nice day of rest and relaxation and being interrupted by two boys trying to convert you from your heathenish ways.

Now perhaps there are a few people who just might go along with the whole idea, there are hundreds of thousands of conversions to the LDS church every year; Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the world, so just maybe someone has opened his door with a sigh of relief and not contempt. Just maybe.

But there are quite a few others who have opened their door, had a look, and slammed the door in the poor boys’ faces. Now we shouldn’t take this to be simple general hatred of any kind, at least not in every case, but instead as a mixture of agitation and fear. Agitation at being interrupted in the day’s activities, and fear of the unknown. The unknown? Yes. The unknown. ‘Cause no one knows exactly what might happen if you sit down and let two Mormons get a hold of you. They just might take you down.

Even a person extremely set in their own beliefs, whatever those may be, has the irrational fear of allowing someone else to make them question those beliefs they think so highly of. Perhaps nothing will happen if you sit down and discuss religion, its perfectly likely, but perhaps something will happen, something that could start a chain reaction that leads you to question, doubt, waver in your own beliefs and begin agreeing with these missionaries. And that, my blogger friends, is a scary thought for anyone.

So the question I’m posing is: what would it take for me, a strong Southern Baptist, to be converted into the LDS church? And what would it take for you, a strong Mormon to be converted into the Southern Baptist church?

It’s a question that many don’t like to answer. It’s that fear of “if I talk about it, it could happen,” the fear that if you give certain points that would make you doubt your own faith, then you’re doubting it already. But just for discussion sake, let’s give it a try.

Ah, the Mormon church. So similar to, yet so different from the SBC. The LDS church has extra scriptures, a differing explanation of Creation, a different idea of the Trinity, a different Heaven and Hell, special lifestyle rules, prophets, revelations… and the list goes on. A mighty leap for anyone. But seeing as how mostly all of these “extras” of the Mormon church are due to a somewhat well-known man, you may have heard of him, named Joseph Smith, I think the first step (in my conversion process at least) would be to believe the big JS was an actual prophet of God, revealing revelations to the world that came directly from the Father Himself. What would it take to make me believe Mr. Smith to be a prophet? Well, we brought that up in the previous post’s comments and I don’t think we ever really got to a conclusion.

I’m not in any way trying or meaning to be offensive at all, but in my opinion Joseph Smith was not a prophet of the Lord. He was simply a man who started his own church. To really believe his claims, to really believe him to be the authentic, real deal, I think I’d have to have Divine intervention. I think nothing short of the voice of God would lead me to see any of Smith’s revelations as true. But I want to make clear that if I did receive a command from God, I would follow it. I’m not one to disobey my Creator so easily in matters so important.

So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I did receive a message from God in some way. So, now I believe Joseph Smith to be a servant of God, sent by Him to deliver messages, translate some scripture, lead the flock, etc. Well, then it’s pretty easy after that to believe everything he says, isn’t it? Joe translated the Book of Mormon, so I’d believe it; he wrote the D&C, I’d go for that too; Word of Wisdom, Pearl of Great Price, idea of Heaven, temples, marriage, salvation, on and on: if he said it, I’d believe it. But the point is, I’d have to believe him first.

So for me, becoming Mormon would rely upon one very important thing: being convinced of the validity of Joseph Smith. After that everything would pretty much fall into place. And what would make me believe Smith is God’s prophet? God Himself. I don’t think I could be convinced by one little meeting in my house with two young missionaries. But if God sent a message, a sign, the Holy Spirit, anything that made me stop and say, “Wait a second, maybe, just maybe we could all be wrong about the whole ‘Joe Smith is a quack’ thing. Maybe he really is who he claimed to be,” and if I knew without a doubt that it was the Almighty speaking to me and not my own skewed misconceptions or misinterpretations, then I’d listen to God; who am I to claim Him wrong?

So now I’ll pose the question outward to all my new Mormon friends, well, my only Mormon friends really: What would it take for you to be convinced that the LDS church got it wrong and that the SBC is the way to go? Would it simply take you considering JS to be a false prophet, would it take a sign from the Most High, would it take my very convincing persuasive writing skills (winkwink), or should the SBC jump on the door-to-door bandwagon and send a pair of strapping young Baptist boys to knock on your door with a Holman Christian Standard Bible? (Seriously, lock up your daughters, there’s something to be said for the Southern Baptist boys.) It’s a tough question that may need a while to think over; I’m asking no simple thing: for you to question everything you’ve been taught about what’s true. But it is interesting to think about, isn’t it?

But maybe you don’t know very much about the SBC (shame on you!)? Well, check out the SBC website: sbc.net and look up the Baptist Faith and Message at the top on a scroll down menu. It gives the overview of the SBC doctrine. Or you can check out the comments of the previous post; I discuss some SBC doctrine there too. Or just ask in a comment and I’ll explain as best I can. It wouldn’t be fair to ask you to answer a question about converting to my faith if you don’t know enough about it to answer fully.

So the question is: what would it take for you good, devout Mormons to cross over to the *ahem*sideof goodandtruthandlight*ahem*, to reject your LDS faith in return for SBC faith? What would you learn, hear, discover that would cause you to question your church and turn to mine?

I hope this sparks a little LDS/SBC discussion (this isn’t an actual conversion attempt, just a curious question) and maybe some new insight into my (yes, that’s right, the SBC? I own it) religion.

1 Comment »

  1. Annie, Glad to see that Rusty has you as a guest Blogger, or is that bloggee?

    We’ve chatted a bit before.

    You are exactly right, infact you almost sound like a Mormon missionary. It does all hinge on whether J.S. is a prophet. And you are right, it does take a direct message from God to have you and your spirit know it to be true. Nothing short of God telling you this will do. That’s the way we became converted too.

    As far as converting to the SBC, here’s some questions I’d need answering. Since I already have faith in Christ and accepted him as my savior, and I’ve taken the step of being baptized what more does the SBC have to offer that I don’t already have? Those seem to be the basic saving doctrines of the SBC.

    Second, I’d like to put the same test to the SBC as I would to the LDS. Who started the SBC church? By what authority? How can I know that what he did was directed by God? Does he have any “fruits” that will help me in this process? What makes his interpretations of the Bible more accurate or better than the Catholics or Methodists?

    Actually is sounds like the SBCs think that the “Born Agains”, the Catholics, Methodists etc. all will go to heaven anyway….so why the SBC?
    Don | Email | Homepage | 05.03.05 – 9:27 pm | #

    I sometimes imagine, I hope not unreasonably, that in 50 or 100 years the Book of Mormon–as an artifact, if not necessarily its particular claims–will have so thoroughly penetrated the spiritual consciousness of the world that you’ll start seeing, here and there, Catholics and Baptists and Methodists and who knows who else picking up the book and paging through it, looking for inspiration, kind of the way people read C.S. Lewis or T.D. Jakes or the Apocrypha. In short, I think it’s possible that one day the Book of Mormon will come to be included in world Christianity, and won’t necessarily be tied to an acceptance of a particular line of priesthood authority extending from Joseph Smith to the present day. When or if that day comes, going from the Mormon church to the SBC would involve a very different spiritual calculation than it would today, because in that case leaving Mormonism wouldn’t necessarily mean leaving behind the BoM, which is really the linchpin of our faith and our self-understanding.

    Of course, present-day Mormon doctrine tends to focus heavily on the questions of “authority” which Don asks–who started your church? did he have the right to do so? what did he have that my guy Smith didn’t have?–and so forth. To the extent that one’s commitment to Mormonism stands or falls on the answer to such questions, then the future change I hypothesize wouldn’t make the distinction between the Mormons and the Southern Baptists any less stark. But for those whose “testimony,” to use the Mormon term, is more a matter of scriptural witness than priesthood authority, or is perhaps at least equal parts both, it’s not impossible to believe that someday a more ecumenical Mormonism may emerge, one that might make a crossing from Southern Baptism to Mormonism or vice versa less extreme to contemplate.
    Russell Arben Fox | Email | Homepage | 05.03.05 – 10:23 pm | #

    Annie,
    Great post. I find it fascinating how right on you are about how to go about finding Truth (and if our message contains the Truth). You’re exactly right, we need to go to God and for the Mormon faith it all hinges on Joseph Smith.

    I suspect my answer would be the same for the SBC as well. It would take divine intervention from God to tell me the error of my ways. However, I think what Don was getting at was that there doesn’t seem to be a SBC Joseph Smith. There isn’t a “if you believe in X, everything else about the SBC is true” kind of an indicator. Is there a specific SBC indicator that excludes the Methodists and Episcopalians?
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 12:34 am | #

    Annie, I think you make the conversion hurdle too high. People will change their beliefs when they want to, that’s all it takes, and many do at some point. It’s amazing how willing God is to manifest his approval or confirmation when one of us becomes deeply convinced it is time for a change in religious orientation.

    Young men or, increasingly, young women who want to be ministers and feel called to the ministry in Christian denominations don’t just decide to be ministers like most of us pick a college major, they really feel called to do so–they feel that God is speaking to them, at some level. I’ve never heard a minister of any denomination say, “No, God had nothing to do with it. I just liked preaching and was pretty good at memorizing scriptures …” Nope, they all want to be in the minstry and feel “called.”

    Likewise, when LDS missionaries teach interested men, women, or children about the LDS Church, the first step in supporting a serious change of heart is having them *want* to have it be true or have them *want* to affiliate with the Church (see Alma 32 for the LDS text that outlines this approach to conversion). If one wants it sincerely and deeply, a sign will come.

    I think there are some sociological reasons why it might be tough to leave some denominations and easier to leave others, but I think the basic personal “conversion process” is pretty simple and straightforward. Any returned Mormon missionary has seen people convert to Mormonism, no small change, in a matter of weeks, even days.
    Dave | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 12:56 am | #

    I think that there are some things that are so integral to my worldview that change would require nothing less than a vision or comparable revelatory experience.

    I currently don’t accept things like inerrancy in scripture and fundamentalist scriptural interpretation. Now, I realize that there are probably Southern Baptists that don’t believe these things either. But then one must ask, as the other commenters have, why the SBC and not the Methodists? Is it not what one “feels” is right and what one “feels” they are called to (like Dave described)?

    I could conceive of leaving the Mormon Church easier than joining any other faith.
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 1:41 am | #

    Well, I’d like to point out a few things if I could.

    No, the SBC doesn’t not have a founder such as JS for the LDS church. We originated in 1845 by breaking away from an already existing Baptist organization. Also, the SBC is a Convention, the churches that are invited to and do go to the Convention are considered to be “Southern Baptist” but every church is autonomous (the SBC doesn’t ordain pastors, or give money to churches) and can remain being considered Southern Baptist as long as they follow the Baptist Faith & Message. So, Southern Baptist churches are simply those who have been invited to and are represented in the Convention.

    So there’s no prophet sent by God to begin our church as there was for Mormonism. We simply gathered together due to simliar beliefs.

    What makes us any better than the other Protestant denoms? Well, we wouldn’t say we are better, we do believe that Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants are going to Heaven because they follow the “rules” we think are necessary for salvation. We simply think that there are lots of little doctrinal differences that we don’t agree with, for example: allow women to be pastors, allowing abortion, allowing same-sex unions, viewing Lord’s Supper as literal instead of symbolic, etc.

    But it’s more complicated than that. If you ask a Southern Baptist who knows the extreme basics of the LDS church, he will say that Mormons aren’t going to Heaven. There are simply too many strong doctrinal differences between us. This isn’t simply a little matter of having wine with Lord’s Supper instead of grape juice, or allowing a woman to preach in a sanctuary, or following worship service out of a book; it’s major differences that contradict with our plan of salvation.

    Now I know I said that belief in Christ is esentially all that’s needed, but the key word is essentially; there are exceptions. Denial of the Trinity and the inerrancy of the Bible, the following of what we claim to be a false prophet, the extremely different views of Heaven and life after death; they all culminate to equal too much in the way of “false doctrine.”

    So, yes, belief in Christ is the main focus of the SBC view of salvation, but of course there are debates over “which Christ?” We believe that all mainline Protestants and Catholics believe in the same Christ. And that Mormons don’t. I know that sounds really harsh, and it probably is, but that’s how the SBC sees things.

    As for an SBC indicator? Well, there really isn’t one, though I think a Baptist will tell you that it’s the Bible. The way we interpret it and follow its teachings. The SBC is very conservative in all areas, including Bible interpretation. I’ve gotten in plenty of debates with a Methodist friend over whether the SBC takes the Bible “literally” or not. Well, I think the word “literally” has been changed a bit from its earliest usage. The SBC views the Bible as literal in the sense that, if it says something, that’s what it means: no hidden layers or meanings to decipher. We also see it as perfect. I’ll let the SBC website help me here: “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.”

    So I would say that we differ from other denoms in the way we view the Bible and the way we use it: everything we do, say, teach comes from the Bible. We have no prayer book, book of revelations; we don’t follow works written by famous church leaders. We follow the Bible, plain and simple. All of our doctrine comes straight from the Word. And that, I believe, is at least one indicator to me of how the SBC is… “above?” all the rest: we follow the Word of God, and not any word of man.

    I hope that somehow answers some of your questions. Feel free to ask more if you’d like. Or, seriously, visit the SBC website, sbc.net, to get more info on our doctrine. But if I may, now that I’ve gotten off my Bible soapbox, could someone explain to me a little better about the Mormon understanding of the Bible? Obviously anyone wanting to look into joing the SBC would need to see the Bible in the way I’ve described above, so it’d be nice to point out exactly what you’d be transitioning from.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 2:33 am | #

    Annie wrote:

    “I think nothing short of the voice of God would lead me to see any of Smith’s revelations as true. But I want to make clear that if I did receive a command from God, I would follow it. I’m not one to disobey my Creator so easily in matters so important…So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I did receive a message from God in some way.”

    On both sides, this raises the issue of what kind of communication would actually be accepted as a “message from God”. Would a Baptist accept the Spirit’s voice (i.e. warmth and/or peace imparted to mind and heart) or would it have to be an audible voice from God ? Or could a servant of God receive a revelation from God about something known only by the “seeker” and then communicate that to the seeker as a convincing sign ? If an LDS person had previously been guided by the Spirit’s voice to the LDS faith, would it then take something even stronger (e.g. a vision) to convert him to the SBC ? Wouldn’t there always be detractors on either side claiming that the “revelation” was from a bad source ? How do you get past that ?
    Brent | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 2:43 am | #

    I can’t resist sharing an experience I had as a missionary in Switzerland, wayyy back in 1977. When about halfway through my mission, as part of my efforts to become more effective in my teaching, one day I prayed to the Lord to help me better understand how our “investigators” felt as they went through the conversion process, so that I could be of more support to them.

    Seems like it was the very next day that I read a book and/or had a conversation with someone that planted some huge doubts in my mind about the gospel I had been teaching. For the rest of the day, I struggled with the “what ifs”.. thoughts like..what if I it isn’t really true ? If I need to leave, what am I going to say to the Mission President ? How will I explain this to my friends and family back home ? Could I really be comfortable going to a different church ? If I wasn’t ever really sure about my previous beliefs, then how could I be sure about any new beliefs ?

    At the end of the day, I had a very serious talk with the Lord and laid things out to Him. I had pretty much reached the point of saying I could not continue on my mission without additional assurance from Him.

    As I continued to pray, the Spirit of doubt finally left my heart and I felt at peace again. Not until then did I realize why I had been having this experience. For almost the entire day I had been so absorbed in my doubts that I didn’t realize the Lord was answering my prayer from the previous day. I had been personally experiencing the full range of questions, uncertainties, fears and emotions that our “investigators” typically felt as we helped move them along towards baptism.

    After this experience, I was definitely more supportive of “investigators” who seemed to lack courage or appeared slow in their progress.
    Brent | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 3:37 am | #

    Having had SBCers show up on my doorstep … I thought I might comment.

    First, many of the SBCers I’ve known are monists, not trinitarians. I often wonder if the “your beliefs are too different” means that in the eyes of the SBC they are not saved, though they surely thought so.

    Second, Bloom’s American Religion has an interesting section on the SBC.

    Third, the entire concept of anti-mormon crusades as a fundraising event by various SBC congregations was a significant part of my many years in Wichita Falls, Texas.

    Still interesting post, interesting comments, especially the Bible, inerrancy and such. I’ll note that the SBC rejects the traditional Christian Bible used by the majority of Christians (i.e. the Catholic Bible, complete with apocrapha) and often teaches that Catholics are a minor cult.

    (I attended a children’s grief group at an SBC Church and would wander into the library while waiting for my child).

    There are a lot of wonderful SBC people who would make great members of the Church, and many who do.
    Stephen M (Ethesis) | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 7:00 am | #

    I’ll second Ethesis and add my own doubts to Annie’s statement that Baptists “do believe that Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants are going to Heaven because they follow the ‘rules’ we think are necessary for salvation.”

    I’ve known some Southern Baptists, and while some of them probably met that description, many did not. As one friend from Georgia cheerfully summed it up: “It’s not just Mormons — Catholics are going to hell too. Probably Episcopailans. And I’ve got my suspicions about Lutherans.”
    Kaimi | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 10:38 am | #

    Well, I definately will not disagree with you when you say that some Southern Baptists think that no one but Southern Baptists are getting into Heaven. But I don’t think this is what the SBC teaches at all. At least, I’ve never heard it in my church. But I guess since every church is autonomous, they do things differently everywhere, things can definately be overlooked in a Convention containing more people than any protestant denom in the country.

    Yes, Catholics are also a touchy subject for us. But I think we feel that, while they are “way out of the box” for us when it comes to some things, they still have enough things “right” as people on this blog are prone to say. Sure, they have some extra books that leads them to believe in Purgatory, and they have a skewed concept of Lord’s Supper, but they believe in the same Heaven, Trinity, Christ, Hell, etc. that we do. So I think we see them as having “cultish tendencies” maybe, but not necessarily as being a full on cult.

    I wonder about some of the people that you’ve met. The SBC is really specific about the living, truine God, I’ve never heard a Southern Baptist say He was ever not completely three in one. Maybe if I knew exactly what this person meant by what he said, that would help.

    And yes, I’m sure there are plenty of Baptist churches giving anti-Mormon rallies in the world; we view you as a cult, a full on cult, so it wouldn’t surprise me that people would try to preach against you. Now my pastor has never come out directly and said anything negative about any other Christian group (I can’t say the same for other religions) but it is clear who he does and doesn’t think is getting it all right. The SBC has a pretty low ecunmenical worldview, we’re a very closed off group, which is why we chose to group together in the Convention.

    As far as speaking from God goes, it’s a hard subject to discuss for a Baptist; we obviously don’t take some written acounts as accurate (otherwise we might believe JS). But I can say that first and foremost, we believe God speaks to us through the Bible. If we have a problem, a question, praise, anything, we go first to the Bible, reading and praying for insight or help. We take comfort in God’s Word, and His promise to let the Holy Spirit enter us as we read it so that we may see His Truth in its pages. But we also believe that every person hears God in different ways; He’s loving enough to have a special and unique love relationship with each of us, so the way He speaks to me might be different than the way He speaks to someone else. So it’s hard to discuss what others say on the matter. As for myself, as I said before somewhere in a previous post, I see God always at work around me, I take comfort in His Word, I sometimes do feel His Spirit inside me giving peace and love, and sometimes there can be actual signs as well, though you must be cautious as to what you consider a sign to be.

    If I ever thought I ad received a sign from God, I would first go to His Word, looking up how, why, when, what situation He sent signs to others. If it was probable that He could be sending me a sign as well, I’d pray and most likely have a meeting with my pastor for guidance in the matter; God has chosen Him to help His sheep, so my pastor would know more about what to do than I.

    Does this help? Make sense?
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 11:58 am | #

    Annie:

    How do you define a cult?
    Chris Williams | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 12:16 pm | #

    I’ve heard it explained many times, that the main reasons the Catholics feared the Bible being readily accessable to the masses is that their would be a mass misinterpretations of the Bible causing great strife throughout the church. Hence whey they fought efforts to have the Bible mass produced in common languages (German, English) and why that was the first tool of the Protestants.

    How right they were! There are ways to twist the bible into explaining any belief, hence the many cults, religions, and creeds. I find it very funny when I hear Southern Baptists in the heart of the Bible Belt in Good Old North Carolina tell me they, “just follow the Bible”. Everyone else well you the same thing! Heck, even the Mormons follow the bible. They too can find scriptures to justify all their beliefs.

    As far as “no hidden layers or meanings to decipher. We also see it as perfect.” —- No wonder so many Southern Baptists I knew quickly gave up the faith after going to college. (My former SBA brother-in-law included. He’s currently an atheist.) There are so many contradictions that there’s a whole website, the skeptics annotated bible, that can show them all. Any rational human being quickly relizes that the bible is anything but perfect. The bible was written by imperfect men, some of which were inspired on some subjects, and some who simply gave their opinion. 1st & 2nd Kings is just good old government propaganda with a priest adding a some tidbits latter during the Babylonian captivity.

    A prophet,pope,or other final authority is required to get a decent “understanding” of what the bible “really says”. It is to complex of a book for laymen to simply pick up and figure it out.

    Thats why the SBA lets the churches be autonomous, they have no recognized authority and thus are forced to let almost any fringe belief or interpretation go on.

    I’ve studied many religions, and when it comes to Christianity the Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Catholic, and Mormons are the only ones to have a good claim of being the “only true church”.
    Speaking Up | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 12:57 pm | #

    “Does this help? Make sense?”

    It does in part because it is so similar to the way we approach it. Growing up in the Bible Belt was an interesting experience as a Mormon. The Doctrinal differences were almost always the focus of religious conversations. But if we ever got down to the practicalities of how to live a Christian life, the answers were remarkably the same.

    Referencing Dave’s comment, do you think that there is anything that would make you want to believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet? Is this any different from the original question you asked yourself?

    I don’t know if it is, because the answer to both for me would be the same. As you said, a message from God would have to be the motivator.
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 1:40 pm | #

    Annie, When I asked the question about who started the SBC I also asked by what authority. If you don’t need god’s authority to act in His name then anything goes…and obviously by all the religious sects it it going.

    What gives your pastors the authority to ordain or not ordain other pastors? By who’s authority did the SBC decide it was ok to break off?

    Jesus ordained his apostles, He gave them their authority. There are numerous places in the New Testament where it shows that this authority is necessary to act in the name of God. (the 7 sons of Sceva comes to mind, the healings the apostles did etc).

    If you believe authority is necessary to act in God’s name, where does it come from. If I can get it from merely reading the Bible and feeling that I’m called then why do you ordain pastors…let them call and ordain themselves.

    Also by what authority is the interpretation of the bible made, or for that mater how is the doctrine established? If it isn’t by one who has authority, if it’s by vote of the people then if all the Mormons became SBCs we could vote in our doctrine and it would be true.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 1:56 pm | #

    Annie, excellent post, and excellent comments. Great stuff.
    Steve Evans | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 2:05 pm | #

    Okay, I’ll try as best I can to get to everything.

    Cult: well, the word actually means a group of people who follow beliefs that are considered unorthodox and aren’t practiced by the main body of believers. So, I suppose one could say that anyone who isn’t SBC would be a cult, but we dont’ see it like that, since we think that we share the same doctrinal beliefs with Methodists, yaddayadda. We see cults as Mormons, JWs, Church of Christ, and various fundamentalist groups, but those are our main three. The doctrinal gap is so wide (and again, I bring up the debate over whether the LDS and SBC worship the same God, Jesus, etc.) that we view them as Christian cults.

    Now, like I said before, the SBC doesn’t put such emphasis on church foundation and history, so I really don’t know much about it. We simply see ourselves as a group of churches who worship similarly. But we do feel as though the people who brok away from the existing Baptist church had the “authority” to do so, because they were following the Bible as their reasoning. We see the Bible itself as our “authority” not any person.

    Alright. I know there is a lot of Bible controversy, trust me, I’ve gotten into plenty of debates with my Methodist friend, but this is just the way we view the Bible. We don’t put trust in people, we put trust in God, and we view the Bible as God’s Word to man and Christ as the Word made flesh. So we follow the teachings of the Bible and Christ. We know that giving too much power to the people to interpret the Bible as they will is dangerous, which is one of the reasons we view the Bible literally and perfectly I’m sure. If the Bible is literal and perfect, there’s no for interpretation, only obedience. We feel that God would not allow His Word to be corrupted to the point that if we follow what the Bible teaches than we would be disobeying Him, so we follow the Bible’s teachings as they are God’s words to us, speaking to us through text.

    And we have no “authority” who decided this is how the Bible should be interpretated. We were a group of people who all put our trust in the Lord to present us with an accurate record of His commands, and so we all grouped together to follow it as it was presented to us; in it’s literal form.

    Again, I hope this helps. But, please,please,please don’t view me as the end-all-be-all of SBC doctrine. I may very well get something wrong in my presentation, but I’m trying to describe the SBC as it has been for me and as it presents itself to its members.

    Also, a note on pastors, since I seem to have forgotten them. The SBC doesn’t ordain them, but there are plenty of SBC seminaries where men who have felt the call of the Lord may go and learn from other men who have been called by God to understand, teach, guide, and help those of us who God has called to other things. I don’t feel the call to be a pastor (well, I couldn’t be one anyway, since I’m female) so I put trust in those men who have been called and taught in the ways of SBC doctrine and God’s Word.

    And I would also like to say that since coming to college, I’ve actually gone deeper into my SBC roots than ever before. Seeing the sin and waste of the people around me has made me realize who I really want to be: an obedient and thankful daughter of God.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 4:30 pm | #

    Annie,

    What a great post! I appreciate people like you who are willing to try thinking of themselves in another’s shoes, especially when it comes to religion. You are a brave soul to open yourself for “attack” by all these Mormons. (Well-intentioned Mormons, I think…)

    A quick comment on your definition of a cult (which I don’t dispute): “Well, the word actually means a group of people who follow beliefs that are considered unorthodox and aren’t practiced by the main body of believers.” It would seem that Christ Himself led a cult, then, when He lived on the earth and organized His church… right?
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 5:36 pm | #

    Annie:

    RE: cults

    What about Christian Scientists? Hindus? Muslims? Jews? Cultists too, all of them?

    Also, who gets to decide who is a cult? Has the SBC agreed upon a statement or classification in any formal or official way?

    The word cult is frequently used as a prejorative. Using it is a way not to merely describe, but also to discredit and demean. Do good Southern Baptists realize this when they use the word to describe Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and others?
    Chris Williams | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 6:43 pm | #

    Well, yes, Jesus lead a cult of the Jewish faith. Southern Baptists will admit that too. But He’s a little different. He’s the Son of God. He changed everything when He took human form. But now that He’s come and taught us how to live, worship, pray, etc. we should follow His teachings and example.

    Okay, maybe we should look at it like this: if we look at Catholicism as being the first Christian church, and all Protestant denoms as simply being divisions broken away from Catholicism, then all the churches that we don’t consider cults still follow the church of Christ. But when JS founded the LDS church, he broke away from the church of Christ into a Christian “cult” of his own making. From an outsider’s point of view, it looks like the LDS church focuses so much attention on JS as to take devotion away from Christ and His teachings. I’m not saying that you do, but it can seem that way to an outsider. Many people consider Mormonism a cult because they have a founder who isn’t Christ. The questions I was asked the most are: who is the SBC founder? what authority does he have? Well, we see the SBC “founder” to be Christ Himself in a way I think, since we look to Him alone (through the Trinity and the Bible) for all of our guidance, teachings, beliefs, etc. And since the LDS church follows the teachings of Joseph Smith, we see that as being along the cultish lines. (Yes, yes, I know JS’s teaching were actually revelations from God, but you have to remember that we don’t think that, so to the SBC you’re following the teachings of a man and not God.)

    Man, I’m really stepping on some toes here, I know. But I hope I’m doing it all as nicely as I possibly can. Being the one non-Mormon in a group like this is intimidating when we’re debating with each other like we are. I feel like I’m being the worst of all for disagreeing with multiple people who all agree with each other, like I’m only here to attack. But I’m not, I’m just trying to give a new perspective. And please remember that this is simply one church’s and one crazy person’s point of view; a Methodist I’m sure would go about this all very differently.

    And, oooh, yes. We know exactly what is inferred by the word “cult.” As I said before, the SBC is a very conservative bunch, and not very accepting of others’ beliefs. I mean, don’t misunderstand, we’re not mean people. We’re (the good ones anyway) very friendly, and won’t shun you or hate you or tell you you’re going to Hell if you disagree with us (again, I point out that I mean the good ones of us), but that doesn’t mean we don’t think you’re completely wrong and have no clue. We have no problem talking to each other and preaching from the pulpit about how wrong the cults and other religions are. But we in no way harbor hate or condone hatred, violence, rudeness or anything of the kind toward anyone; those who act that way to you (Mormons in general) or to anyone else, whether it be JWs, homosexuals, atheists, whatever should not be taken as representatives of the SBC or its members in any way. We love you, even if we don’t agree with you, and want to share our view (which of course we say is the right one) of the Good News to the world.

    Well… now that I’ve made the SBC and its members look like complete and total snobs and jerks (which we’re not, really!!) I think I’ll go now. (And yes… Christian Scientist? Cult in our opinion. Other religions? Well, they’re not cults, since they don’t have unorthodox views of Christ, since they don’t believe Him to be the Christ; so they’re just simply… wrong I guess.)
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 9:54 pm | #

    http://www.hakesher.org/ hakesher…Frankovic18.htm

    Great essay by an Oral Roberts University graduate.

    BTW, the books I read were pretty full on that Catholics were members of a cult and not subject to salvation.

    As for the monists, read up on traditional trintarian doctrine (Catholic, not Ortho) and historical monism and you will spot a lot of SBCers as monists, not historical trinitarians — which is ok, Paul and Peter in the Bible surely were not historical trinitarians.

    Anyway, interesting visit, hope you enjoy it. I’ve known a lot of very good SBCers, people I loved and who God loved, even the monists.
    Stephen M (Ethesis) | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 10:20 pm | #

    Which, btw, brings me to an interesting question that comes up.

    Just when do LDS kids become damned. When they are 8 or 9, they believe pretty much inchoate things about God like other kids. How old do they have to get before their specific additional beliefs take them from being saved in Jesus to having lost that salvation?
    Stephen M (Ethesis) | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 10:21 pm | #

    Annie,
    I don’t think you’ve made the SBC members look like snobs or jerks. If anything, your kindness and open-mindedness might persuade some of us here to no longer believe that the SBC is a Satan-worshiping, hate-mongering, racist cult like we used to I wouldn’t worry about your stepping on anyone’s toes here. I’m intimidated by all those who post on here and I usually agree with them! You need to be more like Joseph Smith, perservere even when those around you disagree
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 05.04.05 – 11:37 pm | #

    Annie:

    Thanks for such a great dialogue. You have been generous in anwering our questions.
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:17 am | #

    Rusty: my mom always told me subtlety was a virtue; she was talking about you, wasn’t she?

    Stephen: first off, I read that link you provided. Um… it was very well written? After reading it I made another little trip over to the SBC website to read our view of the Scriptures. Every part of the BF&M is backed up with loads of Scripture verses, so I took a look at some of those listed under the Scripture section, and I have to say that although it may sound completely and utterly stupid, I just can’t say that I think the Bible to be all that utterly wrong. I especially like the verses from Psalms and 2 Peter: Psalms 19:7-10, 119:40 and 2 Peter 1:19-21. With these few verses, although there are many others, and with faith in the Most High I believe the Bible to be an accurate account of the Will of God.

    And, as for Catholics. I don’t know. Maybe I should get back to you on that. I personally believe that Catholics could make it into Heaven, but I could be wrong… I’ll have to do more SBC research and let you know. (Is it just me, or does it sound like I have no clue what I’m talking about? Well, as I’ve said before, the SBC focuses more on our own worship of the Lord than on others, except to focus in on incorrectness, so we don’t really have much discussion about others’ opinions on things.)

    And as far as an age to condemnation? What in the world are you asking me to do? I’m not that crazy as to condemn all of your children to Satan! I would like to keep myself from being manhandled and burned at the stake. But, let me see what I can do. The SBC totally teaches the Age of Consent (no baby baptisms here). But I think that perhaps there could be an age older than the typical consenting years for something like this. Perhaps even in the out-of-the-house range. If a child is being taught and essentially forced into a religion (which they all are, come on, you take your children to church, you don’t ask them politely if they’d rather stay home and watch cartoons, none of us were if we had church-goin’ parents) then you can’t hold that child responsible for not receiving another view of things. But when a child moves out on their own, learns, accepts, experiments shall we say, with the SBC for our example, then he or she would be considered having heard the Good News and accountable for his or her decisions. So, there’s not really an age, just whenever the person hears the Good News; at that point, they become accountable.

    And again, let me point out that we are talking different views of Christ here: the Christ of Mormonism is usually not considered to be the same Christ of the SBC, so the child would then not be considered to be “saved in Jesus” in the first place. I don’t know. It’s complicated because the LDS church uses the Bible. But it’s almost as if it’s a different one due to the additions of the BoM and D&C. So, truthfully, I just don’t know.

    And waaay on up to John C.’s comment, which I never responded to: yes, that is basically the same question I asked in my post. What would make me believe JS to be a prophet of the Lord. But as far as actually *wanting* to believe JS to be true? Well, I actually think that’s a good question; if a person is so set in not wanting something to be true, they can just be stubborn to the end, denying every piece of evidence at hand. So would I ever want JS to be God’s prophet? Eh, probably not. I like being Baptist. I like our take on things, and I’ve lived without the BoM this far. But I just can’t see myself believing him even if I wanted to; I’ve seen no good proof to the fact that he is God’s prophet. BoM witnesses? Nah, they could be lying too. For all I know this could all just be a big conspiracy to take down Folgers — sidenote: can you drink decaf coffee/tea, or nay?

    But seriously. God. He’s my final answer in prophet-following. (No cheesy game show pun intended.)
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:55 am | #

    Annie:

    Thanks for your response.

    One point of clarification –

    You refer to Joseph Smith as the “founder” of the Mormon Church. In fact, we recognize him as the first prophet of this dispensation, called to restore Christ’s Church. We, too, believe the Church was established by Christ. Joseph was called to restore that which was lost. It may not be a meaningful distinction to your average Southern Baptist, but it’s an important one for someone who wants to understand Mormons. It also explains why you might find that Mormons get annoyed when you tell us that we focus on Joseph more than Jesus. It just doesn’t square with the reality of Mormon experience — not my Mormon experience, anyway.

    Anyway, I appreciate your participation here. Thanks for getting this discussion started and keeping it going.
    Chris Williams | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:55 am | #

    “I’ve lived without the BoM this far. But I just can’t see myself believing him even if I wanted to; I’ve seen no good proof to the fact that he is God’s prophet.” – Annie

    Most Mormons have lived without reading the BoM too. : )
    I’ve read it 3 times now, and honestly it has the same teachings that are in the bible. They’re a little more clear, but its the same. There are even scriptures in it that make the Trinity creed seem correct.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I have never seen it as a good conversion tool. When the Mormon church had the whole “Flood the Earth with BofM” campaign, I kept wondering, “WHY?!” So we can fill up landfills faster? I’ve seen so many of those things at yardsales, libraries, doorstops, its probably the most popular dust collector on American shelf’s to date. Its almost like the proverbial fruitcake that gets passed around at Christmas. You don’t want to necessarily throw it away, you don’t want to taste it, and you hope you can find a better home for it.

    I’ll give this to the Southern Baptists. Y’all got some good looking women in NC! Growing up in NC, there were FEW Mormon girls to date. And the ones that were here, weren’t very attractive. I told my mom early on, that I was going to marry a Southern Baptist girl and I did. (She ended up converting to Mormonism). Southern Baptists youth programs kick tale here. They have the best Scout Troops (yep, joined one, the Mormon scout troop was a J-O-K-E. What a difference it makes when the scout volunteers want to be there as opposed to being “called” and being “forced” to be a scout leader.) The youth program for Mormons stinks in NC. The wards are split up so much that you’re lucky if you can pull together 6 kids (teenagers) together from a ward. My sister ended up going to all the Southern Baptist activities.

    I guess where I’m getting with all of this: The Southern Baptists here have stronger youth programs, better scouting programs, better looking girls (the Mormon girls here end up going to Utah/Idaho to get married anyway), and most have day care programs and a few religious schools (k-6th grade). The Mormons don’t have day cares, schools (except colleges) and even kicked the home schoolers out of their churches. (Whats up with the home school thing? They want kids to go to those heathen public trash cans schools?)

    The Mormons may have more intelligent doctrines, but if you live in NC, you’re life will be fuller as a Southern Baptist.

    Currently, I have plans to send my boy to the Greek Orthodox Catholic school in town K-4, have him participate in a Southern Baptist scout troop, and allow him to go to Souther Baptist youth activities when he gets older. And I hope he marries a good Southern Baptist woman like I did.

    As a Mormon, I say all of this, because quite frankly I’m disappointed with the way the church has handled those issues mentioned above. I see most of the church leaders as being from Utah/Idaho/strong Mormon California areas, who don’t have a clue of how things are handled outside their little worlds.

    In NC, its very hard to be a Mormon.
    Speaking Up | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 11:34 am | #

    Speaking Up,
    I understand what you’re saying. I am teaching seminary here in Brooklyn where we have three students enrolled and only one shows up with any regularity. The lack of youth programs is a major problem here. There are many other problems as well, but I don’t know if I fault the Church for that. I try to imagine a better way of doing things and I fall short. Of course the SBC is going to have fantastic youth programs when they are the majority of the population, I wouldn’t expect otherwise. I guess the ugly dating prospects is just the fault of their parents, you can’t blame the Church on that one either

    One thing you said I thought was interesting: that we have more intelligent doctrines. I fully agree with you on that one. I sometimes wonder if I had never heard anything about any religion and someone tried to explain Christianity to me it would not make sense whatsoever. Starting at ground zero, the only one that makes sense is the Mormon explanation.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 12:01 pm | #

    This may be slightly tangential, but it has to do with Annie’s assumptions: I grew up questioning mormonism. Mormons tell their kids to question the LDS church. Being taught that we need to find out for ourselves if the Book of Mormon is true implies the possibility it might not be. So questioning our beliefs is something we do from a very young age–I think that may make us much more comfortable discussing hard things than other denom attenders. While I admit it still is a little scary, it’s something i’m quite accustomed to.
    The Mirth | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:20 pm | #

    Also, a question:

    Why is what we believe more important than how we live? Is the judgement meritocratic?
    The Mirth | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:23 pm | #

    Annie,
    Once again it is interesting how close the SBC worldview is to the LDS one. Regarding the issue of authority, the comments you made regarding JS are very similar to the comments that many Mormons would make regarding the pastors and ministers who founded the SBC. In both churches, there is the perception that Christ is the founder and that his word is revealed to individuals through the study of scripture and, occasionally, through other means (feeling the call among pastors, for instance).

    What do you think about these universals of religious existence (if they really are such)? Is it possible that we both might be half-right (not that I have any idea what that might entail)?
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:32 pm | #

    Well… while I don’t think I look at my fellow SBC girls in the same way you do, Speaking Up, I will admit that we’re very pretty, moreso for our wonderful insides than our outside. But it’s nice to have a good balance of both. And I know you probably weren’t lookin’ at the boys, but they ain’t bad either.

    Anyway, obviously I’m going to completely disagree on the subject of Mormonism being the explanation that makes more sense. The SBC explanation I think is pretty simple, simpler than the LDS explanation, I believe, in a lot of ways. I know we’ve discussed Mormonism being very “open” to salvation for all, but I just don’t see it that way, especially since there are certain special requirements for the special degrees of Heaven, the explanation of God as separate entities (though it is difficult for some people to understand the Trinity), the explanations of the different worlds and gods out in the Celestial world, etc. I think the SBC is a lot simpler in a lot of ways.

    I also asked a friend what he thought on the belief vs. lifestyle issue. I liked his explanation, and here’s what I think added on to it. Your lifestyle is a reflection of your beliefs, so to me, beliefs would be more important since it’s what’s being reflected. Lifestyle is empty without the belief of Christ to back it up (there are plenty of very well-lived people in the world who are atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Musilms, etc.) So lifestyle alone is empty. But belief alone can save. It’s just a lot better to have them both.

    But I would like maybe a better explanation of what we’re considering “more intelligent” doctrine here. Maybe we think simpler is stupider? And since I said I thought the SBC was very simple, that might mean it’s not as intelligent? But I don’t think that at all. What doctrines of the LDS church do you consider to be more intelligent than those of the SBC?
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 1:56 pm | #

    I’m pretty convinced that there are a lot of Catholics in Heaven, though I did once get a pamphlet titled “Are the Heathen Nations Damned?” (answer from SBCer, “yes”) that seemed to imply the same for Catholics. Of course I expect to see a lot of SBCers in Heaven too.

    The thing is that we all worship the same Jesus if you look at denotation — we all worship the same person who walked in Jerusalem and was crucified and who rose again — we all fit the declaration of faith from the Book of Acts.

    The only question is what else we believe, with the conclusion, by some, that if we believe too much extra, then we become damned.

    A child doesn’t have sophisticated extras. They believe in a Jesus that is God’s son, who was born of Mary, who died on the cross for us, and who rose again. To insist that the LDS are damned, what you are doing is saying that as the child grows and believes additional things, they are eventually damned.

    Kind of like the group in the Dark Ages that taught that the sacrament had to be bean bread … that as you learned the difference, you then became damned for using the wrong kind. Or the people who claimed that getting the wrong eye color for Christ meant you believed in the wrong one and were excluded.

    I believe that fitting into the declaration of faith in the Book of Acts fits one within the Christianity of the Bible and that going beyond that puts one’s own will over scripture.

    I don’t believe the Bible to be “utterly wrong” (heck, the Oral Roberts U guys who wrote that article don’t believe that either, they are a Bible and God fearing bunch), but that there are issues, especially with some translations. Are people damned if women are not completely silent in their Church?

    Anyway, read the Book of Mormon, it is only fair as a part of the dialogue. Consider why it is that there is a doctrine that people can lose salvation because their beliefs mature or as they age they get extra details that are wrong — a doctrine that teaches that people are damned for sins of misunderstanding and ask yourself it that really makes sense of the will and grace of God.

    See you (oh, and look at my latest essay at http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ and let me know what you think).
    Stephen M (Ethesis) | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 2:37 pm | #

    Re: intelligent doctrine

    I often need to look at the bigger picture when I evaluate doctrine. In other words, starting with a clean slate (i.e. no Christian doctrine/influence, no Hindu doctrine/influence, no Muslim doctrine/influence, etc.) I like to wonder about the existence of everything. Then I ask some questions: If there is a Supreme Being running the show, what would it be like? Why would this being create stars and planets? Do I somehow take on any characteristics of that being? What is the purpose for his having sent me to this planet? Would he force his “children” to act in a certain way or would he allow them to act with agency? If they have agency what happens if they do something that makes them less like him? Does he have the power to forgive them or do those misdeeds have to be paid for? If this being is going to communicate with these “children”, how is he going to do it? Would he establish an authoritative hierarchy of information dissemination or would he speak to everyone individually?

    And so on.

    These are the kinds of questions I think that those of our faith love to ask and have sound answers (for the most part). I don’t feel like other Christian faiths’ answers measure up. There seems to be too much “trust the Bible” for me. What if all the Bibles in the world were destroyed? These religions would cease to exist. The Mormons would be okay because we have living prophets (just as all those living in Bible times had).
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 2:52 pm | #

    Stephen,

    I guess it’s a lot easier for Mormons to think Catholics, Methodists, SBCers, etc are getting into Heaven since you have more than one kingdom. But I do think that there is such a thing as too much extra information. I know it will sound very simple and stupid, but here is how I example this: let’s say you tell me that the Earth is round. I agree. But then I also say that the Earth is round, made out of solid gold, and completely inhabited with bees. Now, we both agree that the Earth is round, but then you might get suspicious as to whether we’re talking about the same planet. And even if we are, I would be completely wrong, since you know the world isn’t made out of gold or inhabited by bees alone. Now, if I go around telling everyone all my extra info, then people’s view of the Earth will be very confused. This is how too much extra info can be bad. Now, I didn’t mean that to sound mocking or anything, so please don’t take it that way. I’m just trying to describe how an outside may view the LDS extras that y’all follow.

    And that essay on your site is a little long, so I haven’t read it yet, but I will, I promise, and I’ll get back to you. Sorry.

    And I’ll get around to reading the BoM too, but please remember I have to read it online or go out and find one, so it may take me a while to get all the way through. And of course, I might want to read the D&C as well, so it’ll be a while.

    Rusty: ahh! I love my Bible! Leave it alone! I put all my trust in the Bible as being the Word of God. So do you, you follow it too, or there are even more problems here than we thought. I don’t think that the new translations of the Bible go so far as to skew or change the lessons and point of the Bible, though I do admit that I am a fan of KJV or NKJV Bibles, but I also like the HCSB, since it’s Lifeway (SBC store) supported.

    And living prophets. Yes, your presidents are considered prophets, right? Well how are they determined to be prophets, since I thought they were simply elected into the position. Do the voters vote with Divine authority as well?
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 6:19 pm | #

    Growing up in a pretty liberal LDS family,(is there such a thing?) I had the pleasure of being farmed out to pretty much anyone that drove by and asked if they could take us to church activities, or Vacation Bible schools or what have you.

    I have had the pleasure of attending quite regularly, the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist (non SBC type), Seventh Day Adventist, and a few Non-denom churches. I have found some great truths in each one. I have found some great people in all, and I have also found that while primary doctrines of the individual faiths may say one thing, not all members of those faiths particularly agree. I would say (and my assumptions may be WAAAAAY OFF) that 50% of the people I met really had no idea what the fundamental beliefs of the Church really were. In fact, the vast majority attended because they had friends there, or because they really enjoyed the preacher. (again, I could be waaay off, this is just my experience and observation.)

    I was never pushed to do anything in the LDS faith and in fact was given quite open permissions to attend wherever, whenever I wanted. It became such a revolving door, that my parents eventually jsut stayed home. I spent more of my youth Christmas pageants as a wiseman at the Methodist church then I did at the LDS church.

    When it came time for a mission, it was again my choice, and when the Bishop tried to tell me which decision to make, thanks to my mother, he was walking funny for weeks. I have accepted the Christ I found in ALL those churches as my savior. What I did find was that in MY mind, the version I found in the LDS church was the one that made the most sense to me.

    So here is the dillema some others may or may not feel that I face. I have accepted Christ into my heart in more than one Church building not of our faith. I try like heck to live as he would have me live and make sure that my actions are an outward expression of my inner faith.

    If fundamental Christians are correct I am sitting ok, unless a fundamental question asked by the Lord as I knock on the pearly gates is, Am I one, or are we three? For some reason I doubt that is going to tip the scales in one direction or the other.

    However, If I am right, and the path I am taking, which adds temple rites, and other various strange practices is important… well, then what?

    This is absolutely one of the best most objective blogs I have seen and I give 100% credit to the writer for a fantastic job. To answer the initial question, I would have to say I would probably drop religion (as far as institutions are concerned ) all together, before I left to join another faith. I would become one of the “I commune with God in Nature” people.

    I guess the reasons for my staying are too complex just to say that I am here because I belive that JS was a prophet. I do…but it goes alot deeper. My decision is both a spiritual and logical one. I wouldn’t expect that the things I have been through would make sense to everyone, but they do to me, which makes my conversion very unique. I suppose that this one thing is pretty constant as far as anyone looking at any religion. THis is why one strawman argument based on scripture, or one persons view of what a scripture means, doesn’t phase me too much.

    -Jake
    Jake | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 6:56 pm | #

    I doubt that there are many members of Saints Alive! reading here, but they would be very good people to ask, “What would it take?” because that’s exactly what they’ve done.

    Many people who leave the church don’t convert to anything else, though, except perhaps bemused agnosticism and sometimes outright atheism.

    Once you’ve been convinced that you know, really know, and then you don’t believe any more, I think it’s much harder to believe anything with any conviction. I mean if you’ve really believed, and your faith has been uprooted, how can you believe anything?
    Ann | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 9:39 pm | #

    Ok, succession in the church.
    Every calling in the church is made through the authority and power of God through one who has the authority to do so through revelation. (though this is harder to interpret when it comes to the callings made in each ward or branch) the newly called apostles Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar (yea! my former university pres!) were called through the prophet, his counselors and the rest of the quorum of the twelve through revelation from God. When I prophet dies, his counselors go back into the quorum of apostles and the senior member of the quorum becomes the new prophet (he who’s been an apostle the longest) and he chooses two counselors from the apostles and new apostles are called to make a quorum of 12.
    Members are encouraged, really should feel obligated, to find out for themselves whether these men are called of God or not, even if means doing it every time a new appointment is made.
    This is obviously crucial to being a faithful member of the church. God, through his prophets have told us that they will never lead us as members or the church as a whole, astray. Thr church has been restored in these, the latter days His church to never again be taken from the earth.
    I can testify that I have done as prescribed and found out for myself that this is true and that the prophet and the apostles are truly special witnesses of Christ and lead His church today.
    Good question! I’ll have more later.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 9:40 pm | #

    Way on up there to John C: thanks for the comment. qnqice going on the reversal of my questioning JS as a prophet, but there’s one thing to say. SBC pastors don’t claim to be prophets in the sense of giving new info to the masses based on direct revelation from God. I should point out that I’m viewing prophecy as receiving specific info from the Lord to present to the people that hasn’t been heard before. Our pastors don’t do that, they help us understand the Word and how God wants us to live our lives based in it. Now my pastor, Brother Rick, has on a few occasions changed a sermon because God has wanted him to preach on something other than what he has originally planned, but he doesn’t bring new info, Scripture, ways to live into the picture. I guess it all depends on what everyone thinks to be the characteristics of a prophet.

    Jake, thanks for the comment, and I’d like to say a few things. I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t know much about the SBC just as I am sure there are plenty of LDSers (?) who don’t know much about the LDS church. But for discussion sake, when I say “we” or “you” in repsect to SBC/LDS members, I’m assuming these people are active and knowledgeable about thier faiths.

    And also, the SBC thinks the “one or three” question you refer to is extremely important. We see denial of the Trinity as belief in three gods, and we consider this polytheistic. And that, good sir, is a big deal to us.

    Ann, thanks for bringing up the point of turning from religion altogether. That’s very true. If someone’s just had their lifelong belief system ripped to pieces, they might not be so willing to convert to anything else. No one else had brought that up yet.

    And Bret… uuuummmm…. that whole first paragraph you wrote? Right over my head. It’s not that I’m inadequate, please don’t think that, but remember that the SBC doesn’t have a hierarchy like the LDS does, so I’m not used to it. And I don’t know the names of the different positions or what they do/how many there are/how they get the job, etc. so I’m just confused now. I can look it up if you want, but I’m not sure exactly how much I’ll be able to find online. But I’ll look so I understand better, though if someone has time and wants to a simpler explanation would help me out. And I have no clue on this good green Earth who Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar are… sorry!

    But I have a question. You say that the LDS members are active in the prophet process (as in finding out if he’s the real deal or not), so what happens (if it’s ever happened) if the people decide that the newly appointed prophet isn’t really a prophet? Is he fired, burned at the stake, forced to become and SBCer? And how did you decide that the prophet is true? Thanks to all.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.05.05 – 10:51 pm | #

    Annie,
    Re Bret’s first paragraph: what he’s saying is in our church the top (human) is the Prophet (right now is Gordon B. Hinckley) who has two counselors, and then there are 12 Apostles (like Christ’s time). When one of the Apostles die the Prophet along with the remaining Apostles choose (through revelation/Holy Ghost/inspiration) the replacement. When the Prophet dies the two counselors are folded into the 12 (now 14) and the senior Apostle (him who has been an Apostle the longest) becomes the Prophet. When these changes are made there is a vote (initially by the Apostles, then the general membership of the Church). This is not a democratic vote, but rather a vote of sustainment. Our vote is our pledge to follow their counsel. In other words, if I decide the prophet isn’t really a prophet, that’s an issue I will deal with, but my decision doesn’t affect his standing as prophet/president of the Church. And to answer your very last question, the answer to know if the prophet is a true prophet we ask God and expect Him to answer us through the Holy Ghost.

    Does that help?

    Jake,
    It sounds like your experience growing up was quite unique. It’s a very brave approach that seems to have resulted in children who have a very good understanding of agency. And your compliment about this being one of the best most objective blogs you’ve seen, if you’re talking about Nine Moons I say “Thanks!”. But if you’re talking about Annie’s post only I say, “What does she know? She’s just a devil-loving ignorant Southern Baptist!!!”
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 05.06.05 – 1:39 am | #

    Sorry about that. I was heading out the door as I wrote last and probebly abbreviated it!
    Of course, Jesus Christ is the head of the church and the prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, is His mouthpiece on the earth. The prophet has two counselors that help him govern and run everything. Underneath them is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who act and work hat same as the ancient twelve apostles. (they hold the title “Elder” like the missionaries do. So, Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar are the two newest members of the twelve apostles) This body of fifteen men run and govern the church on the earth. Each is considered a prophet, seer, and revelator. They council with each other and the Lord on the affairs of the church. Just like Peter, the ancient head of the twelve governed and led the ancient quorum of twelve apostles. When a prophet/president of the church dies, the apostle who’s been an apostle longest becomes the next prophet.
    Does that clear it up or am I still confusing you?
    As for your next question, no, not quite like that. I guess really what I meant was that each member of the church needs to find out for him/herself if this system is one that God instituted through His prophet. He’s never voted in. God appoints apostles through revelation to his current apostles (like when Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot) who then, becomes a prophet.
    I was trying to emphasize that we highly discourage anyone to accept things without thinking about them. We don’t believe in “blind faith.” Everyone is obligated to find out for themselves by the Holy Ghost if things are true.
    Now, does THAT make sense?
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 05.06.05 – 1:50 am | #

    “But I would like maybe a better explanation of what we’re considering “more intelligent” doctrine here. Maybe we think simpler is stupider? And since I said I thought the SBC was very simple, that might mean it’s not as intelligent? But I don’t think that at all. What doctrines of the LDS church do you consider to be more intelligent than those of the SBC?” – Annie

    To reply to your question Annie, I’m going to give you some things I hear from the local Southern Baptists here in NC.

    “Once saved, always saved.”

    “A sin is a sin” (meaning that a mass Hitler like killing spree sin is the same in the eyes of God as a little white lie when your wife asks you if her skirt makes her look fat.)

    “Say the Sinner’s Prayer and you’ll be saved.” (Some version of this is on all the tracks you find laying around in public places.)

    So based on this, if I say the magic words (the Sinner’s Prayer), I’m saved no matter what I do afterward. I am no free to fornicate, murder, steal, etc. Repentance for murder is just as easy to get as repentance for a little white lie.

    This is what I call DUMB DOCTRINE. And amoung the Southern Baptist, here in NC, I find it all over the place. I’ve talked to many about this, and some even totally agree with my conclusions. They’ll argue a little about the murder/white lie thing.

    To compare, on the LDS side, there is a clear path to being saved. Repentance, Baptism, Recieving Holy Ghost, Endure to the End. To go to the bonus round: Get sealed in the Temple to your spouse. In LDS Theology, you can lose your crown. Once saved does not mean always saved. And there are different degrees of sin in LDS theology. This seems to make a lot more sense to me.

    One other thing, I’d like to single out about Dumb Doctrine: The Trinity Theory. I know most Christians believe this, but its the most convulated, illogical thing on the face of this earth. Reading the New Testament for the first time with this doctrine believed before hand can only lead one to the conclusion that Jesus has a multi-personality disorder with hallincinations. He prays to himself in the Garden of Gethsemene, Gives his Spririt up to himself while on the cross, asks himself to forgive them for they know not what they do, and remembers to do what he did before when he went by the name Father (he only does what the Father had done before). When he prays in John that we may all be one as He and the Father are one, I’ve litterally been told by quite a few Southern Baptists, that this means the saved can join the energy ball that consists of the Trinity and we’ll be one substance/body like they are. I’ve been told energy ball, since the Southern Baptists I’ve talked to say the Father doesn’t have a body and Jesus discards his after the resurrection to become One again with the Energy

    Comment by Comment Restore — November 28, 2005 @ 1:26 am

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