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Showing posts from March, 2008

Answering critics of the LDS faith

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I have long been torn between two approaches to dealing with critics of our faith. I'm not sure if it is a good idea to answer their allegations or to simply ignore them. I guess it depends on how much their charges bother us. The official response of the Church seems to have changed over the years in direct proportion to the number of articles published in the media that are false or misleading.

At one time we were much quieter and less responsive. Things that I thought were outrageous and slanderous were met with not a peep. Other things that I thought were obvious and petty elicited responses that seemed over-reactive and condemning. Today, things are more even, measured and, in a word, professional. I am no authority on the subject but I like the image Public Affairs presents to the world today.

There are many great websites out there that are doing an excellent job of answering the critics. In reality, you can't provide answers that will satisfy those who don't …

The practice of plural marriage

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How do you respond to the criticism that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can't be Christian because the LDS Church at one time taught and practiced polygamy? I suspect a simple presentation of the facts followed by a few official statements of the Church should suffice. Before I do that, I would like to offer a few personal observations.

I do not have Utah pioneer heritage. I was born and raised in California. Members of my family are converts to the Church. My ancestors were from Tennessee and Missouri and were either Baptists or Presbyterians, including many who were ordained ministers. On the other hand, Carol's family is all from Utah and includes several ancestors who participated in plural marriage.

I have gained an appreciation of the social implications of plural marriage from reading the life histories and journals of some of Carol's great grandparents. Trust me, it was no picnic. They obeyed the counsel of their priesthood leaders…

Why can't I attend a Mormon wedding?

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In a recent post here at Latter-day Commentary, I addressed the question, "Are Mormons Christian?" On that Easter Sunday an anonymous reader responded with several reasons why he felt that we are not Christian. I have addressed most of them already and now turn my attention to a difficult accusation that involves families, weddings and the temple of the Lord.

He wrote that Mormons aren't Christian because no Christian would "keep loving parents from the weddings of their children." The statement was obviously meant for shock value. It certainly gets your attention, doesn't it? You immediately want to know if it can possibly be true and if so, why? It does sound awful when the statement is phrased that way. Let's investigate.

In order to understand this properly, we need to discuss the sacred nature of LDS Temples and the doctrine of Celestial Marriage. We can then address the social difficulties mentioned. The LDS Newsroom has an excellent article …

Authority to act in the name of God

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In point four from my anonymous objector, the issue of authority was raised as a reason why he feels that Mormons aren't Christian. He wrote that Mormons believe "...[other churches] don't have the authority to act in His name." I previously wrote about the importance of authority to act in the name of Christ, but perhaps it deserves another visit to make the response complete.

He pretty much nailed this one. I confess, we do believe that there was an apostasy and that the keys of the priesthood were taken from the earth with the death of the early Apostles. Maybe it's the naive Mormon in me coming out, but I find it hard to believe that this isn't an important issue to other Christians. I would hope that this is important to anyone who believes in baptism or priesthood ordination.

When our missionaries teach the doctrine of the apostasy to those who are investigating our church, they use dialog that is carefully crafted to not offend. I am going to be blunt…

The Book of Mormon brings us closer to Christ

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Objection three out of six raised by anonymous is that Mormons can't be Christian because we believe that Christ visited America as a resurrected being. That argument is weak. If anything, it proves that we are greater followers of Christ because we have an additional witness of His gospel. Perhaps his objection really was that we have additional scripture and thus modern revelation.

This is one of my favorite objections to discuss because it proves one of the most important claims of the Restoration. In fact, almost any objection to our message can be summarized as a reluctance to accept modern revelation. Having been exposed to the idea all my life I have never understood why it is so difficult to understand. The Book of Mormon is the best evidence of Joseph's prophetic calling.

If someone is a sincere follower of Jesus Christ they will benefit by reading the account of His visit to America as a resurrected being as found in the Book of Mormon. I highly recommend it. T…

The doctrine of spiritual brotherhood

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In responding to my recent post, "Are Mormons Christian?" an anonymous commenter objected to my claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians because he said that we believe Jesus and the devil are "literal" brothers. Elder Ballard requested that we become more involved with the dialog on the Internet about the church and our doctrine.

Said Elder Ballard, "There are conversations going on about the church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the church teaches. There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs." In that spirit I offer this explanation.

This question has been raised and debated many times in the past, especially since Mike Huckabee made it a campaign issue in December 2007. I wrote about it back then but want to offer a more c…

God is a glorified being of flesh and bones

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In my Easter post, I addressed the oft-asked question, "Are Mormons Christian?" I shared my witness of Jesus Christ and included a video clip from an apostle that summarized the answer. An anonymous reader left a comment disagreeing with my declaration that Mormons are indeed Christians. He kindly shared a list of six points with which he disagreed.

I responded briefly to our anonymous friend and promised to reply in greater detail to each of the points he raised. This post addresses the first point that God is a glorified being of flesh and bones. A Google search on the subject reveals several well written articles. An equally useful search on the phrase "Does God Have a Body?" delivers some of the same results and many others.

I am not a Mormon apologist nor am I experienced in apologetics. I am just your basic member of the church. My family joined when I was very young, converting from Presbyterianism. I served a mission, was married in the Temple and have been a…

Are Mormons Christians?

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I guess I should not be surprised by now. I have heard it and read it so many times that I still wonder how it is that some people don't know. Of course Mormons are Christians. We are the Church of Jesus Christ.

It has been asked and answered many times in many ways and in many places by many people over the years. Yet it continues to come up day after day. I read it in forums, on blogs, on websites and in news articles.

Perhaps it is just simple curiosity that causes the question to be asked again. I like to think that the questioner is just repeating what they have heard others say and want to be reassured. Yes, Mormons are Christians.

Resources on the Internet

A Google search of the question brings Jeff Lindsay's FAQ to the top of the list. Read that and you will find that the question is answered affirmatively in several different ways. He links to a great article in the Ensign by Stephen E. Robinson that addresses the topic in great detail.

Brother Robinson even wrote a book a…

Signs of the Times and the Second Coming

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Across from the Los Angeles temple is the Seagull Bookstore. I usually don't stop in because we have been buying most of our LDS books from Deseret Book online. Today, I dropped by to see some of the latest releases firsthand. There's just something about holding a book in your hand and reading the back cover before deciding to buy. I left with four books - three more than I had intended. I confess, I'm a book collector from way book.

I also wanted to take a look at some of the LDS fiction offerings. I have never in my life bought or read an LDS fiction book other than The Work and the Glory series from Gerald Lund. I know those are fictional but they are historically accurate. I saw the latest book from Stephanie Black, Fool me Twice. I even had it in my hand to buy but just could not justify one more book without checking with the mistress of the checkbook. Sorry, Stephanie. I love your blog.

Books about the Last Days

I wanted some more books on the last days as that has be…

The only true and living church

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For some reason, I landed on the forums at MormonApologetics.org the other day. Oh, I remember. I got there from FAIR, which I occasionally visit just to see what's new. There are two major LDS forums which I like to visit: The LDS.net forums, part of the MoreGood Foundation and MormonApologetics. The latter is the more wild and woolly debate board. Be careful if you post there and are expecting to be treated with kid gloves. That won't happen.

Now there are other discussion boards that are frequented by members and ex-members but I won't link to them. I don't know why I even mention them but hey, it's a fact of life that if you are a member of the Church and you use the Internet then you have probably found them before. They are about as unavoidable as your basic anti-Momon site, of which there are hundreds. A popular one is The Foyer and another is PostMormon. There are many others.

The reason I brought this up is because I wanted to respond to one of the recent th…

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

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Back in January I mentioned that Carol and I started reading Elder Lund's new book, Hearing the Voice of the Lord. This is one that we chose to read out loud together at the end of each day. We discuss what we read so we are only halfway through the book even though we have been reading it for over two months. Sometimes a few pages read aloud and discussed together are better than whole chapters read silently alone.

I have come to the conclusion that the book is not just good. I pronounce it a masterpiece. It is destined to become a classic. Obviously Elder Lund knows how to write. Which General Authority other than Elder McConkie and Elder Maxwell has written so many books? Of course, The Work and the Glory series of books are not doctrinal treatises but historical novels. Nevertheless, the man is a skilled writer and this book proves it.

Prior to reading Elder Lund's book on "Principles and Patterns of Personal Revelation," my favorite book on the subject was "T…

Mormons, Darwinism and Evolution

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I know very little about Darwin and Evolution. I didn't pay attention when that was taught in school. I wasn't interested in it then and I'm not sure that I am now. But I am curious to find out why I've been hearing and reading more and more about it lately. What's the big deal? As far as I know Darwinists believe that we evolved from apes or that life was created in primordial slime.

I don't believe that we evolved from apes and frankly, I can't believe that Darwinists believe that either. Tell me I'm wrong. That must be what the people who oppose Darwinism say that Darwinists believe. I'm a Mormon and I believe that God placed Adam and Eve here upon the Earth a long time ago. I believe that Adam and Eve became mortal about 6,000 years ago.

I don't know that it was 6,000 years ago that Adam and Eve were placed here because who knows how long it was before they became mortal? But I don't believe they evolved from apes or slime. They were born …

For the natural man is an enemy to God

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Mosiah 3:19 has long been my favorite scripture. I was pleased to learn many years ago that it was also one of the favorite scriptures of Elder Neal A. Maxwell. I think I have maybe half of Elder Maxwell's nearly thirty books in my library.

Elder Maxwell wrote so much about discipleship. He also was the epitome of humility and submission. The man was an intellectual genius but wrote in such a way that the focus was never on him; it was always on the Savior.

FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) was renamed the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship in honor of Elder Maxwell. It is a fitting tribute. He loved scholarship. Bruce C. Hafen, who has also served in various capacities in church education, wrote a wonderful biography of Elder Maxwell appropriately entitled "A Disciple's Life." It was and is a welcome addition to my library when published in 2002. Elder Maxwell died in 2004.

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has …

There shall be greater signs in heaven

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One of the most popular stories on Yahoo News this morning was "Real Death Star Could Strike Earth." Somehow, we remember in the back of our minds that something like this is prophesied to happen in the last days just before the Savior returns to the earth. I suppose that is why stories like these are so popular.

Space.com has been running these regular Monday morning reports that seem to play on the worries and fears of the Last Days. Aren't there supposed to be signs in the heavens that we should be able to look for as a warning that time is almost up - something about stars falling from the sky? Ah yes, here it is:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. (Matt 24:29). There it is, just as clear as can be. The stars will fall from the sky.

Or, if you prefer a version from modern revelation: "But, behold, …

Working for the LDS church as a blogger

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Larry Richman and I are good friends. We must be. He keeps sending me personal emails giving me clues into what the web team of the church is doing these days. I think he must have told Joel Dehlin, the CIO of the church about me because he also sends me his emails. They are most informative into understanding how the CIO of a large organization thinks. We go way back - to almost five months ago when I signed up to receive their emails. You can too. Anybody can.

I mean no disrespect. Larry and Joel take their work seriously. I think they have some of the hardest jobs in the church. I am convinced that the Internet outreach of the Church is only going to grow in the years to come. That means that the web team needs to grow. I'm sure you've seen their ads on the bulletin board at the church. Larry is so busy he is looking for another manager (posted 28 Feb 08). You can find lots of church tech jobs at tech.lds.org.

I wanted to work for the church once. A long time ago when I still…

Powerful new LDS Church website on Jesus Christ

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I have been meaning to comment on the new church website on the Savior. In a word, I am impressed. No, that word seems too common and almost worldly. From a web design point of view, I am impressed by the style, the content, the layout, the colors and the functionality. They are first class. But for me, the right word to describe the overall web site, including it's purpose, is powerful.

The website makes a bold statement to the world. The church and the web design team have not been hesitant over the years in proclaiming the message of the restoration. The church website on Joseph Smith has long been a great wealth of information about the prophet who ushered in this dispensation. Recently, the web team added great websites on President Hinckley and President Monson that are virtual testaments to these great men.

This website on the Savior stands out to me in a class by itself. It is obvious that the designers worked long and hard to make the site simple yet powerful. It is not ove…