Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grrr... Relief Society

I had the chance to attend two of my block meetings today. It's the first Sunday I've had off in months, so I was really excited. My best friend recently informed me that she wanted to read more of what God was doing in my life as opposed to what I am always thinking about. So today was a chance for me to attend GP's first service and then go to my LDS services and sort of compare how I feel and if God was speaking to me (and what He was saying) at both places on the same day.

Grace Point's series right now is about how the Christmas story is for everyone, especially people with a past (or secrets). I didn't feel very interested in the sermon itself, but felt very grateful for the message and the reminder. Now, this isn't a negative point about Grace Point, rather a personal observation, but because Pastor Hudson is always reminding us about God's mercy, grace, and love; it's almost a message that is taken for granted (by me). (Does that make sense? I really appreciate the drastic contrast to "fire and brimstone" preaching that many think of within conservative Christianity.)

A few months ago, I was upset with Grace Point and even considered leaving because one particular sermon briefly mentioned the teachings of other religions. This is a super, perhaps even hyper sensitive area for me. I hate it with a passion when other churches discuss those who believe differently than themselves. You might even say I loose all common sense in my outrage.
So today during Relief Society when the teacher began discussing other churches (she doesn't say in so many words Protestant Christian churches, but it was implied) and another member criticised the Catholic church over their voting directions I was beyond outraged. It makes me wonder if I am blinded by a romantic view of the LDS church and perhaps today's lesson in RS was simply the real application and perhaps even teachings of the LDS church. I have noticed General Conferences become more defensive, more apologetic in nature. Yet, I don't truly believe that the LDS church would encourage it's members to teach or even behave as they did today within the walls of the RS room.

I'll try to explain a little more. Today's lesson was about seeking and gaining knowledge in eternal truths (you can read the lesson here). It was a great lesson and had so much potential to remind us to be in the world but not of it, to be immovable in our beliefs, and to constantly be seeking Heavenly Father, His will, and a more intimate relationship with Him through prayer and study. It could have been an amazing, Spirit filled discussion.

But it was not.

It was about how other churches teach anti-Mormon classes (not sure how exactly she phrased this), how other churches limit their beliefs by creeds, etc (this part is in the lesson but the delivery was far from loving or kind), and how other churches seem to forget the loving kindness and tender mercies of Heavenly Father and are always teaching on the wrath of God. This greatly disturbed me because my Gospel Doctrine class had mentioned this as well - the same line of thought within the space of 2 hours. And just today I had been marveling without any gratitude at how yet again Pastor Hudson was preaching another sermon on God's mercy, grace, and love. So he doesn't use the term, "tender mercies" but the teaching is the same. One member shared her thoughts on the rigid teachings of the Catholic church and how it impaired their members because their members were told how to vote and this could sometimes conflict with their social lives, etc. WHAT?! I remember wanting to scream at this lady, "Yeah and what about Prop. 8 in CA?"

Members discussed how because churches limited themselves to certain ideas, etc. that they were not open minded and that this was a bad thing. WHAT?! I can remember Young Women themes (it's a yearly thing) and even Relief Society themes on being IMMOVABLE. How is this ANY different? If the room had been larger, like Grace Point's main worship area, I would have stood up and left. I was livid. This was the church I was so aching to return to?! What was I thinking?

Even as angry as I was, I tried to think in terms of God speaking to me. What was He saying to me? Since I've written my last blog, I've been asked to do two different things at Grace Point, out of seemingly nowhere. Of course I've been asked to volunteer again there. Of course. Is this a God thing? Not sure. And of course the first time in over a month or two of my last exciting and great visit to the Church, it goes horribly, seethingly, wrong. I couldn't get out of the building, much less the parking lot fast enough.

I'm angry. I really really want to return to the Church. However, I absolutly do not want to return to a ward of people who don't even think non-Mormons would be in spirit PARADISE but rather spirit prision (aka hell). This boggles the mind. More thinking to do. And of course, this was the very center, the very heart, of why I left the LDS church in the first place. I guess I'll be at Grace Point longer than I had planned.

On Saturday a lady from GP said to me (something along these lines), that when we thinking indpenedntly, we are thinking indenpendt from God. Great thoughts, hard application.

1 comment:

Troy Bowman said...

I'm just some guy who came home from work today and happened across your (defunct) blog. This caught my attention: "I'm angry. I really really want to return to the Church. However, I absolutly do not want to return to a ward of people who don't even think non-Mormons would be in spirit PARADISE but rather spirit prision (aka hell). This boggles the mind. More thinking to do. And of course, this was the very center, the very heart, of why I left the LDS church in the first place. I guess I'll be at Grace Point longer than I had planned."

I grew up in the church, and I have never thought that non-mormons go to Spirit Prison. If the people of your ward believe that, they need to study their own doctrine a little more deeply. Basing your understanding of the restored truth by the opinions of the people who try to live it does not get you anywhere, because people are fallible. People can make mistakes, and even offend you, too. Remember, just as you, they're there to learn and grow. Because they're learning, you may encounter opinions expressed in classrooms that may not be correct, even by the teacher. Clearly that class needed your enlightened thoughts to be expressed.

I personally believe that the only requisite to enter into Paradise is a belief in Christ. Remember that Christ told the man on the other cross, a criminal condemned to death, that he'd meet him that day in Paradise. The only people who don't go to Paradise are those who do not want to look to Christ and live, just like the Israelites who, "because of the simpleness of the way" would not look at the silly snake on a stick to be healed of their snake bites.

To back up what I'm saying, please read this page, pay particular attention to the bullet point that talks about not dismissing or diminishing the validity of other people’s religious experiences:

Since many Christian denominations usually only focus on Heaven and Hell (a.k.a. Paradise and Spirit Prison) for life after death, and never go into the depth of what will happen *after* the resurrection, when they talk about simply accepting Christ in one's heart to be saved, they're exactly right. That's indeed all it takes! That's all it takes to be saved from Spirit Prison. Please remember Alma's experience in Alma chapter 36. He went about desrtroying the Church of God, and when the angel visited him and the sons of Mosiah, he had a sort of near-death experience, where he "was tormented with the pains of hell." The only thing that saved him from that state was when he remembered his dad talking about "one Jesus Christ, a Son of God [who would] atone for the sins of the world." And when he called upon Him, he was instantly and completeley removed from his pain and felt marvelous joy (Paradise!). Please read that chapter if you may, it illustrates my point exactly.

Getting baptized by proper authority (i.e., Christ's permission) and striving to live a celestial law is the only way to attain the Celestial Kingdom. But that is not a limitation for many people who do not *want* to live a celestial law. Indeed, the Terrestrial kingdom is also a kingdom of glory! And again, the Telestial kingdom is also a kingdom of glory! Can you suppose that a kingdom of glory is in any way a hell? These are kingdoms of heaven! Revealed doctrine is a doctrine of mercy and love, not of condemnation. Christ will feed you as much glory as you can bear. Don't even think that the Terrestrial kingdom is in any way a bad thing -- those who are just dwell there! Of course, most people in the church set their sights on the highest kingdom of heaven, and it's a good thing they do. But even as five of the ten virgins missed the bridegroom, there will be many members of the Christ's church who will not be prepared to abide in highest glory. Again, that's not a completely bad thing, as they will be perfectly happy in that level of glory which they have chosen.

This comment has become much longer than I intended, but the thougts kept coming and coming. I only hope that I may have helped somewhat with "the very heart" of why you left. My intentions commenting are only good. Forgive me if this came across as anything other than that. I wish you the very best in your search for truth.