When I sit down to write a blog - 99% of the time, I've already written the blog out in my mind. So I grow through spurts - blogging like crazy then droughts. And once I've got a blog written in my head, I've gotta get it out of there, otherwise it's almost impossible to focus on other things. Since today is my first day at home in weeks, I've got a ton to do. Laundry, deep cleaning, creating some teaching moments with the kids, and more. So I cannot really have this blog bouncing around my head, time to get it out. :)
I've had a few comments in real life on online asking me, why would I return to the LDS church when I don't believe in it. Since I do tend to have the bad habit of not always being clear, I'll take some time to clarify a few things.
First, I'm at a point in my walk and in my life, when I can reflect on doctrines of the LDS church and generally agree with most of them. Even some of the deeper doctrines. Regardless of what mainstream Christians opposed to the LDS church might say, I really don't see them (LDS doctrines) any more or less far fetched or hard to believe than a zombie God who has the power to save people from and even in their sins. I mean absolutely no disrespect by this statement, but if we think about zombies, that's technically what Jesus is. The walking dead. Of course, as a Christian, I believe He's alive - risen from the dead. But to others, we (Christians) are merely following a holy and divine zombie.
For example, after my own study of the Bible, I don't see any reason to not believe in eternal families. I also believe that there is authority - real, important, God given authority. Something, generally I don't see Protestants having - or even really claiming to have. Is there "one true church"? Right now, I dunno. I know that there is a body. But what is the body? Another assumption comment is that the body is the body of believers. But when I've looked at scriptures for this - all I see is people reading "between the lines". Assuming what the Bible must surely be "assuming". Is the body really comprised of all who call on God's name or is it those who are under His authority and the authority of His servants - perhaps a church? If so, that really only leaves two options - the LDS church and the Catholic church. I lean towards the LDS church - out of preference of course. ;)
Is tradition really important? If so, how important? Should it be equal to the Bible? A long time ago, I wrote a short (whoa - short?!) blog about Truth. Where does it come from? Who gives it? Where can we find it? In the children's ministry I volunteer in right now, they refer to the Bible as the "Book of Truth", which I'm not arguing. Certainly, it is a revelation of God. However, is it the ONLY revelation of God? Is God silent in this time?
Many LDS assume (gotta love assumptions) that Protestants believe that God is silent right now, that they (Protestants) don't believe in modern day revelation. Which is quite untrue. We (still a Protestant right now) absolutely believe that God speaks - in modern day revelation, just not in the same way LDS do. What I find very interesting about Protestants is that even though there is no Biblical backing for a closed canon, they assume that the canon is closed. However, we (Protestants) believe that God speaks to us all the time. Through books, songs, people, sermons, the Bible, and many many other avenues. There are whole sermons dedicated to knowing if God is speaking to you (a favorite of mine was in August 2007 from Manna Church). LDS believe similarly - that God speaks to us through various ways, but that He does ultimately still speak to us and answer prayers. Both groups believe that ultimately it is the Holy Spirit speaking God's will into our lives and that it is then up to us to act on it. The biggest difference I see is the canon - closed or open? I see no Biblical evidence for a closed cannon, and if God is still speaking, then why wouldn't modern day leaders' writings, sermons, teachings, etc be just as important? If God is still alive and kicking, then why ignore what He has revealed to others? If the canon is closed and we are to cling to sola scripture, then why did the Bible instruct us to test all things? Do we, people and finite beings, simply assume that this JUST means daily living and not possible pearls of great price from modern day holy men and women? From modern day prophets and apostles? When Ephesians 4:11-15 talks about the Fivefold Ministry which will be in effect until we are all like Christ (anyone thinking that has already occurred?), then where are the apostles, where are the prophets? Where is the authority to act, lead, teach, and speak in God's name?
While Protestants may believe that God still personally speaks into our lives, even to leaders in churches to give them visions, heart beats, and lessons/sermons/teachings - do we simply believe that that is where God ends? Why? What Biblical support do we have?
Is the Bible the only authority? The only book of truth? Why do Protestants treat it as such? Is science not also a revelation of God? Returning to authority, holy men and women, leaders, and such - do they not also have truth that has been revealed to them by God? Why do we cling to sola scripture when the Bible itself doesn't even support such a narrow minded view? Is this yet another "assumption" that we as Protestants believe the Bible assumes?
Why wouldn't Joseph Smith be a Prophet? I've heard people say, "I'll go with the one who rose from the dead. Joseph Smith is still dead." Well, so is Adam, Noah, Moses, King David, Solomon, Joshua, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, John (unless you're LDS of course), Paul, Peter, Steven, Nicodemus, and Job - all still dead. So um, do we now discount what their stories because they are still dead? Has anyone, LDS or not, ever made the claim that Joseph Smith was the Messiah, the Redeemer of men, the forgiver of sins? Or, are these assumptions that many people outside the LDS church have made because of LDS greatly respect, praise, and even revere Joseph Smith and his sacrifice to bring forth what they believe to be God's work. And why couldn't it be? Have any of you really read the Book of Mormon? I have and I can tell you there are only TWO areas that could be out of unity with the Bible - Moroni chapter 8:
5 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
6 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.
Really, the Bible never makes a case one way or the other that children must be baptized or not. In fact, if one were to stick to sola scripture a better case is actually made to support Moroni's writings here - that Jesus Himself stated we must come to the kingdom of God as little children. Which implies to me at least, that Jesus sees little children as spotless and un-needing of a baptism. But of course, this is debatable and certainly something I'll look more into.
And the ever infamous line from 2 Nephi, "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.". However, if we review the context of this, is it really that far removed from James' own writings?
2 Ne 10:23-25
23 Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.
24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.
25 Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen.
2 Ne 25:22-26
22 Wherefore, these things shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand; and they shall go according to the will and pleasure of God; and the nations who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
Within the actual teachings of the LDS church, and not the assumptions that some (even practicing LDS themselves) make - how different is this from James? I have so many questions like this bouncing around my head - best not to blog them all at once. It'd be the blog that never ends... :)
The overall reason for this particular post is this - I'm not returning to a church whose doctrine I cannot even partially support. During my most intense time on Ravelry, I've found myself screaming at the computer, "If you claim to believe something BELIEVE it!" So if you claim to be a Catholic - BELIEVE what the Pope teaches, if you claim to be a Buddhist - then BELIEVE what the Dali' Lama writes about sexual intercourse, so on and so forth. Now, as someone who cannot 100% support all the major and even essential doctrines of the LDS church wanting to return to my ward family, I find myself fighting on the inside. How can I return when I cannot BELIEVE what is taught whole heartedly? Is what I do believe or accept at the very least as possible enough to support my desire to return?
And of course, the second most popular question - if I believe that God called me OUT of the LDS church, then how can I validate being willfully disobedient to God's call now a year later just to indulge my flesh? I never received any confirmation that my move OUT of the LDS church was permanent, for all I know I needed that time away from the Church to refresh myself and learn something outside my own "box". Who knows, perhaps my actions to remove me name from the rolls of the Church were rash and more fleshly than wanting to return. Am I out of God's will? Am I being disobedient? Is God continuing to call me to Grace Point or as we hear so many times in the Protestant movement, is this season of my life at an end? Was Grace Point a season, a place to grow, to learn, and to meet some pretty amazing people? I own that I am moving back to the LDS church (again for all those behind in 2009 not this year) because I want to, because I prefer being Mormon than I do being Protestant. However, to me - at this point in my life, Protestant, Mormon, Catholic - do not all each love Christ as their Savior? Do they not all acknowledge that they are in need of a Redeemer? Do they not all acknowledge that they are sinners? Are the "essentials" that we build up and exclude others to, are they really essential or are they more assumptions that we assume God cares about, has spoken to?
Last I checked, Romans 10:9 pretty much states the essentials of being a Christ follower:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Can I return to the LDS church supporting a Trinity view vs a Godhead view? Can I return if I do not accept the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ - even if I accept it as possible? Just the other day, while sitting through a movie at the Spring's Preserve I noticed that horses were here in Vegas during the Ice Age. Many critics point to the fact that the BoM mentions horses, it's inaccurate and therefor cannot be from God. Yet, early horses were running around Vegas for awhile, whose to say they didn't run around other places too? On the other end, many of these same Conservative Protestants who follow this line of thought, also reject Evolution - yet the science is pretty sound to support Evolution (no the devil did NOT put circles in tree trunks to through us off - one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard in my life).
The point is - inerrancy is not the same as perfection. Yet so many assume that it is. The Bible isn't perfect - it's been tainted by men, but God is sovereign and has protected the message - He loves us, He hasn't left us alone, and He has provided a way back into intimate fellowship with Him - Jesus. If there was a need for a Reformation in the first place, we can see that God's people went astray. A global apostacy of God's people and their doctrines isn't a far fetched idea. Especially in light of the age old debates between Catholics and Protestants.
Could I believe in LDS doctrines again? I never rejected all of them - many of them are "Biblically sound" - supportable from the Bible. Even right down to a Pre-Existance. I'll close my rambling blog with a copy-cat move. I found this blog entitled, "What I believe, don't believe, and am unsure of". I'm going to copy the blogger's excellent points that I feel resonate with me (only I'll put them in my own categories).
What I Believe:
- The Trinity
- Authority is necessary to perform ordinances like baptism.
- The priesthood is not necessary to heal the sick. The most important thing is faith.
- The Bible is not perfect but is the inspired writings of prophets and disciples of Christ.
- The Mormon Church is not perfect and in some areas has been and may continue to be mislead by the prejudices of its leaders, but on the whole continues to move in a positive direction.
- The Holy Ghost can lead us to truth through prayer and study.
- The Christ of the New Testament is my Savior from sin and death.
- The Word of Wisdom is good advice but drinking beer, coffee or smoking is a personal choice and God isn’t really that preoccupied with it, if done in moderation.
- Abortion, if not murder, is close to it but is justified in very rare circumstances after careful thought and prayer.
- The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants (Mormon scriptures) contain many inspired words that can help people better themselves.
- The LDS Church is lead by men that sincerely seek guidance from God.
- LDS members should be knowledgeable and truthful about all parts of church history.
- God used evolution to create us.
- A prophet can have major character flaws.
What I Don't Believe:
- Native Americans are Lamanites.
- The LDS priesthood ban was instituted by God.
- Blacks were ever or are inferior or more unworthy than other LDS members.
- Brigham Young ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
- Drinking Coke is a sin.
- Tattoos and two sets of earrings (for guys or girls) will keep you out of heaven.
- Polygamy is required to enter the Celestial kingdom (a.k.a. Heaven).
- Christ’s atonement isn’t enough for some sins.
- The earth is 5,000 years old.
- The Holy Spirit can only be felt in Mormon meetings and other Christian denominations can’t have the Spirit of God present.
- That Mormons have any more access to the Holy Spirit than other Christians.
What I am Unsure of or Believe is Possible:
- The Book of Mormon is an actual historical account of Native Americans. (unsure)
- The Pearl of Great Price contains the actual writings of Moses and Abraham. (unsure)
- The manner in which Joseph and subsequent leaders practiced polygamy was appropriate. (totally unsure)
- The current account of the first vision is accurate. (very unsure)
- LDS prophets have actual face to face communication with Christ. (totally reject - not even OT prophets had regular face to face time with God.)
- Joseph Smith literally translated the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price. (very very unsure.)
- The Bible is perfect and should be read literally. (Borderline reject.)
- That Joseph Smith was even a prophet. If OT prophets and NT disciples had some pretty big character flaws, what really do we have to base that Joseph Smith wasn't a prophet?
Enough rambling for now - back to work!