Tag Archives: Faith

The New Nazis – Mormons

Something usually happens to me once or twice each time General Conference rolls around. We’ll be a session or two in, and everything will be rolling smoothly. Then, all of the sudden, a speaker says something and I think, “Yep, that’ll get folks riled up.”

It always makes me smile, in a light eye-rolling sort of way. NEWS FLASH – Mormon Leaders Still Believe Mormon-y Stuff!

I had a similar experience just a few weeks ago, when Elder Neil L. Andersen gave a talk in General Conference called, simply, “Joseph Smith”. Sure enough, people heard him talk about Joseph Smith and immediately went here:

A reenactment of a common scene in the basements of Mormon church buildings.

Someone even wrote, in effect, “I’m not saying that Neil L. Andersen is like Hitler, but… he’s kind of like Hitler.”

Totally not even joking. Continue reading The New Nazis – Mormons

I Hope they Call Me on a Mission…

My favorite robot testicle blog (calm down, it’s a metaphor) posted an interesting Q&A with Craig Harline, the author of the book Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary.

(What a title! I haven’t read the book, though I am curious to after reading the Q&A.)

Having as many countries in the world as we have, and having missionaries who served in as many different decades as we have, I don’t doubt that mission experiences are as varied as the number of people who served LDS missions. Add in variables for different mission presidents and companions and backgrounds and expectations and emotional intelligence and…

That’s a lot of variety.

I feel like it would be tremendous fun to get some type of panel together, made up of Latter-day Saint men and women who served missions in different countries and at different times and under different circumstances, just to hear different answers to the same questions. Maybe that’s a fun project for later.

For now, I decided to answer these questions from my own mission experience. Continue reading I Hope they Call Me on a Mission…

“This is for the Record”

Geez Cousin you are super into this whole thing.”

I had posted a link to Kate Kelly’s excommunication letter, released by Ordain Women, on Facebook. I thought that it provided an interesting counter to some of the claims that Kelly has made about the process she has gone through. It wasn’t the first time I’d posted or written about the recent controversy, either: Continue reading “This is for the Record”

Camp. With Girls.

I didn’t have many close Mormon friends in high school. There were a few of us, of course – California is no Utah, but neither is it the Eastern U.S. – but us Latter-day Saints didn’t really hang out in the same circles.

This is by no means a lament – I had wonderful friends, inside and outside the Church, and I’m all the better for them. Being part of a diverse crowd, however, did give me the chance to see how other churches did things. Continue reading Camp. With Girls.

Sugar and Spice and RIGHTEOUS FURY!!!

Kate Kelly published a commentary on her upcoming disciplinary council. I’d like to comment on that commentary, and I decided the best way to do that was within the text itself. You can find it below, along with my thoughts.

I feel sad, because it sounds like Kelly’s resolved to leaving the Church, and using this as a catalyst to maintain media attention for however long her 15 minutes lasts. Too bad. Continue reading Sugar and Spice and RIGHTEOUS FURY!!!

#livingauthentically

Kate Kelly was informed on June 8 that there will be a disciplinary council trying her for apostasy. Holy Bloggernacle explosion!

Holy Kate Kelly, Batman

For my part, I’m saddened by this, just as I would be saddened by any person being potentially deprived of the blessings of Church membership. Neylan McBaine expresses that sentiment quite perfectly, I think. I’ve read her post a number of times, and there’s really nothing I would object to or add my own nuance to. Because of that, I really encourage you to read her post.

Still, I wonder if McBaine’s tears are in vain. Continue reading #livingauthentically

Cherry Blossom Faith

It’s beautiful in Washington state right now. Just last weekend, my family and I visited the Quad at the University of Washington, where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. The winters here are cold and dark – in December, the sun doesn’t rise until 8am and sets as early as 4:30pm – so it’s refreshing to see color and vibrancy return as we meander into spring.

That beauty was offset by some difficult news. I say difficult, because while it doesn’t really affect me directly now, it’s indicative of a culture shift that will impact me in a big way, sooner or later. Continue reading Cherry Blossom Faith

Throwing Out the Tree with the Christmas Lights

With the title, I was trying to make a play on the common saying, “Throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

It’s a stretch, I know. What are you gonna do?

(That reference should make sense by the end, at least.)

A friend posted this article on Facebook, and I thought it went nicely with the news about the recent “mass” exodus. I won’t recap the whole thing – it’s a short article, and an interesting read – but I figured that I can paraphrase enough of Inouye’s argument to wet your appetites.

Inouye contends that there are two ways to think about religious tradition. The first way (and the inaccurate way) is to think of it like a string of Christmas lights –

“If one junction along the string is flawed, then the whole string is dysfunctional. Or, if the whole string is functional, then every single junction must be perfect”

The other way, the more accurate way, is to think of it like the process of baking sourdough bread –

“From start to finish, it’s all a process of fermentation-what we would normally call “food going bad.” It begins with the starter, an unruly colony of wild yeasts and bacteria swimming together in starchy soup. There is nothing lovely or pure about sourdough starter. Its exuberance makes it sour on the verge of stinky, fermented bordering on decayed. Yet, when introduced into a properly balanced supply of flour, water and salt, the starter is a catalyst for building a complex, living community that results in heavenly bread.

“Religious traditions, like sourdough, are complex, living things. They are both organization and organism, created and sustained from many different processes and actors, shaped by time and their environment. They even can be naturally subject to corruption.

“And yet they are also susceptible — through this same process of leavening — to producing goodness. Appreciating this goodness, and engaging productively with the complex processes that create it, is a project of intellect, not ignorance.

What do you think? Do we throw an entire religion out with the bathwater if something seems amiss? Or is there something more complex to it?

A Response to “Biblical” Criticism of Spiritual Witnesses Part 10

Go back to Part 1.

1 John 5

In TBC’s third volley, there is more wresting of the scriptures (it’s like they can’t help themselves). They write,

“The Apostle John reaffirms these principles by stating, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. . .” (1 John 5:9). He goes on to identify “the witness of God” to be that which he was writing, New Testament Scripture! The pressing importance of this discussion is also included in his narrative. It is only when feelings and predispositions give way to God’s objective written revelation, the Bible, that the truth about eternal life can be positively known.

” “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in
His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God
hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of
the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life. . .” (1 John 5:11-13).”

1 John 5:9

What does John say about confirming truth?

Like Isaiah, John does not say that the only source of truth is the New Testament or the Bible (the Bible was not even compiled in his day!). He does not say that we must subjugate personal revelation from the Holy Ghost. Instead, he says the Spirit bears witness of truth, and if we believe the witness of man, surely we should believe the witness of God. He says,

“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth….

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son” (1 John 5:6,9).

The “this” of “this is the witness” does not refer to the New Testament, or even to the book of 1 John. Two other translations of 1 John 5:9 make this clear.

  • NIV: We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
  • NLT: Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son.

These verses show that the “this” is simply a reference to what the witness of God is – that Jesus is his Son.

And as verse 6 states, this truth is borne witness of by the Spirit.

Clues from the Context, Again, Again

1 John 5:9 is part of a wonderful close that John gives to his book of 1 John. Let’s look at some contextual clues so that we can appreciate the theme that runs through the chapter. We’ll be looking most closely at verses 6-13.

Yet this will be somewhat more involved than when we looked at Jeremiah because of something called the johannine comma.

The Johannine Comma

In this part of 1 John there is a portion of scripture that isn’t found in any manuscript before the 5th to 7th century. Most scholars believe that Erasmus of Rotterdam inserted it himself, likely to give more credence to the doctrine of the Trinity (which, mind you, was not incorporated into the ancient church until 360 AD, at the Council of Constantinople).

Did you get that? This portion of scripture was not written by John, but was added to the Bible long after his death. The affected verses, with the johannine comma in bold, reads,

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:7-8).

Why is this important to bring up now? This text is right in the middle of John’s closing words, and is important when considering the meaning of the passage as a whole.

John’s Closing Statement

John desperately wants us to believe in Jesus Christ, and thereby inherit eternal life. In fact, that is the very reason that he wrote 1 John, that we “may believe on the name of the Son of God” (vs. 13).

How do Spirit, water, and blood relate to Jesus Christ, and to salvation? We’re taught,

“Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified (Moses 6:59-60).

Being born again, of water and of the Spirit (see John 3:5), and being sanctified by the atonement and blood of Jesus Christ, is the only way to eternal life. How important this is to make known to the world! Lehi writes,

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of  grace and truth.

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah (2 Nephi 2:6-8).

That’s why both the Father and the Holy Ghost bear record of this truth, as John tells us below. John himself also bears that same witness, for it is only though Jesus Christ that we can be born again and receive eternal life.

Without the johannine comma, let’s read 1 John 5:6-13, which has absolutely nothing to do with the sufficiency of the Bible. John says,

“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

“For there are three that bear record,

“The Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

A Response to “Biblical” Criticism of Spiritual Witnesses Part 9

Go back to Part 1.

2 Peter 1:16-21

Remember TBC’s second volley? They write,

“Is there any absolute way to know the truth? Yes!… It is also highly informative to note that though Peter received direct revelation from both the Father and the Son, he emphatically declared the Bible to be “. . .a more sure word of prophecy. . .” (2 Peter 1:16-21).”

Clues from the Context, Again

When Peter speaks of “a more sure word of prophecy”, what is his intent? Let’s look at some contextual clues. Earlier in the chapter, Peter makes his intent clear. He says,

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ….

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:8, 10).

As any good minister, Peter wants those he teaches to be saved through Jesus Christ, and he is going to accomplish this (also as any good minster) by preaching about the Savior.

But he wants to head off a concern he expects from his listeners. Is Christianity just a fancy trick? He tells them,

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16).

If they were not following cunningly devised fables, from where did their testimony come? Peter continues that their testimony is based on their eyewitness accounts (including at the baptism of the Savior and on the Mount of Transfiguration) and the words of the prophets, found in the scriptures, which we should also heed.

But is his intent to promote the written prophecies above personal revelation, or modern revelation, as TBC suggests? No! Look at how Peter continues.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Because scripture is given by the Holy Ghost, it must be interpreted by the Holy Ghost. This includes inspired teachers like Peter, and this is why Peter is so concerned about false teachers in the next chapter who “deny the Lord that bought them” and “with feigned words make merchandise” of parishioners (2 Peter 2:1, 3).

TBC would like us to believe that when Peter says “a more sure word of prophecy” he means the Bible, the closed cannon that most Christians believe it to be today. What evidence do they have to substantiate this? In short, nothing.

As shown above, the scriptures are a vital part of our testimony, and they must be interpreted through revelation from the Holy Ghost, for they were given by the power of God through the Holy Ghost.