Tuesday, December 6, 2011

YouTube Response

Dear Readers,
This next Post is in response to a YouTube video posted about why a certain young woman left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I posted a link to this blog in response to the video, and hope and pray that the creator of the video will read the following and have an open mind.  I also encourage others to read the following post as well.  I will go through the concerns that she expressed in her video.
Her first concern was that the “Mormon” church (LDS Church) believes that its righteous members will become gods after this life.  She states that the bible says there is only one God, and will never be any other gods.  There are many scriptures (I would list them all, but there are too many) that make reference to the fact that God is the only God and there are none other beside Him.  Let us properly understand, however, the LDS concept of righteous members becoming gods.  In this definition, god means that they will have power to create and have eternal increase.  Do they believe that this will replace God the Father? No, in fact He will stay God over all and there truly will not be any beside him.  This doctrine is commonly misunderstood.  To become a god does not mean to replace or dethrone God.  Just as the word love has different meanings and connotations, the word god can imply different things as well.  It may mean a lesser god under the one and only true God.  The LDS church believes the doctrine that there is one God, and that God the Father will not be replaced and there is none other than Him that is the Father God of all.
Her second concern involves a prophecy by Joseph Smith that did not come to pass.  She reads Doctrine and Covenants Section 84 Verses 4-5. She states that this prophecy never came true.  Well there are a few things at play here that require consideration.  First is that the Lord has plans for all of His children, but because He allows us to have our agency, we may choose not to do those things He would like us to do.  This revelation refers to Jackson County Missouri, and it is true that there is still no temple built there.  There are multiple reasons that there is not temple there, and the Lord acknowledges that in later scripture.  It is later revealed that the Lord accepts the efforts of the saints at that time who tried to build the temple, and instructs them that they will not finish building it at that time.  He makes this clear in D&C 124:49-51.  He also chastises the members at that time who were disobedient, and says that they are somewhat to blame for Zion not being built at that time.  This is recorded in D&C 105:1-9.  It is not uncommon for God to give commandments and prophecies that He then has to take back because of the poor use of agency from His people.  Think of Moses and the children of Israel.  They were promised that they would receive a land of inheritance (a promised land), but because of unrighteousness, they wandered in the wilderness until the first generation died off.  Should they have not trusted Moses because they never saw the promised land?
Her third concern is about another prophecy, this time by John, in the book of Revelation.  In chapter 21 of Revelation we are told of a “New Jerusalem” that will come down out of heaven.  This young woman is mistaken when she assumes that this is the same city that Joseph called the “New Jerusalem” in Missouri.  Well, it is not.  The LDS church has never believed that the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21 is the New Jerusalem or “Zion” that Joseph Smith wanted in Missouri.  The LDS church believes that this prophecy will happen.  The important thing to notice, that was passed over in the video, is verse one of this revelation.  Verse one explicitly states that the first earth and heaven will pass away.  This shows that the New Jerusalem will not come upon this earth until this earth undergoes a change.  So this was just a simple mistake made.  Do not assume that since things have the same name, then they are the same thing.  This would definitely cause some heartache in this case.  It is important to remember that the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is not the New Jerusalem in Missouri.  The New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is to be the Celestial Kingdom (heaven), and there will be no temple because Christ will be there Himself.  The earth would have been changed into its perfect state and heaven and Christ will dwell here.
Her next point deals with the scripture in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.  In this statement she argues that if a prophet makes a prophecy that does not happen, then they are a false prophet and we do not have to listen to them.  Indeed, if someone claims to be a prophet but is always wrong, we should believe them to not be a true prophet.  However, she has removed the ability for people to have agency.  God will never force us to do anything, and when we decide to go against His will then sometimes we do not accomplish the things that He wanted us to, and said that we would.  This is pointed out in the above example with Joseph Smith’s prophecy, and commandment, to build the temple in Jackson County, Missouri.  This happens to other prophets as well.  In Exodus 19 Moses lays out a prophecy that states that the Lord will make Israel a blessed nation and a holy nation that is strong and united.  Well, unfortunately that prophecy is not exactly truth right now.  Israel became wicked and intermingled with Canaanites and the Babylonians.  They became a cursed people and were scattered.  That seams the opposite of what Moses prophesied doesn’t it?  If you also look at Israel as a country today, it does not reflect a very unified, glorious, and holy nation.  It does reflect however, conflict, war, and contention.  So, according to the same thinking as our friend in the video, Moses must have been a false prophet and we cannot trust him.  If we believe this, then she cannot use the scripture in Deuteronomy because Moses is the one that wrote that scripture.  However, we will disregard this thinking and subscribe to our higher understanding which allows us to accept Moses as a prophet and therefore, accept the rest of the Old Testament as scripture.  Since Israel rebelled and chose not to obey, which did not fulfill the words of Moses, does that make Moses a false prophet and a liar? No!  When the saints in Jackson County were disobedient and persecuted to the point that they could not fulfill the words of Joseph Smith does that make Joseph a false prophet and a liar? No!
The young woman also says that she found good things elsewhere.  That is wonderful!  We do not discredit other churches for not having good things.  In fact we state in the Articles of Faith (article 11) that we want people to worship as they may.  We acknowledge that other faiths have good things and portions of truth.  We also profess that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only place where you can find all the truth, instead of portions of it.  So I say, good for you for finding good things elsewhere.  I would encourage people to seek for truth and seek for good things, but if you want all of it then you need to seek it in the LDS church.
It is good that she and her husband “gave themselves to Christ” as she states in her video.  She also states that they do not need a religion.  That is a shame.   We only need Christ to be saved, that is true, but we need a religion that carries the authority (priesthood) of Christ to administer His gospel and ordinances to us.  For example, Christ teaches us that we must be baptized in order to inherit the kingdom of God.  We need to be baptized by someone that has authority from God.  We cannot get baptized by the milk man (no offense to any milkmen out there), but we need to be baptized by someone with the proper authority to do so.  The LDS church holds that proper authority and has the Priesthood of God.
Finally she asks if I can believe someone leaving the church over logic.  Sure I can.  It has been prophesied that people would become learned and leave because of their own logic (2 Nephi 9:28).  I can accept that people will do that.  It happens all the time.  But, it is more important for people to understand that faith cannot be replaced.  I consider myself learned and very logical yet I still use my faith.  In fact, sometimes I believe I may be one of the most logical, and critical, thinking people I know.  So “am I brave enough to ask questions?”  Sure I am.  There is one large difference between me and others however.  This difference is that I seek the answers in the same place that the questions arose, instead of looking to the “knowledge” and opinions of others especially those who do not like the church anyway.  Why would I ask if the Utah Jazz is a good team from someone who hates the Jazz and thinks the Lakers are the only true basketball team?  It is ludicrous.
So, at last I tell you that I do not live by blind faith.  I live by faith, yes, but I ask questions and require answers to those questions.  When my understanding does not suffice, then I pray about it and expect that God will reveal those things to me eventually.  Whether He reveals it to me now, or sometime in the eternities it does not matter.
Last word:
My goal in writing this is to show that there are answers in the church and that all things make sense and truth can be found.  I am not in any way trying to cause any offense or be aggressive whatsoever in my comments.  I would encourage all people to read the scriptures and pray about them with an open heart.  If you have biases in your heart when you pray, then you will not receive the answer mostly because you are the one unwilling to receive it.  I have a testimony of Joseph Smith, and tell you that he truly was a prophet of God just as Moses in ancient days.  Jesus Christ called Joseph to restore the simple truths that were lost and to bring the church of Christ to the earth again.  Jesus Christ is our savior and only He can save us from sin and allow us to return to Him and the Father.   I testify of these things and exhort you all to seek truth.
(No comments made here are official statements from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Begin with the end in mind

I will begin this blog with the end in mind.  The end that I desire for all of the readers is to gain a greater understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to have a testimony of Him.  With this in mind I would like to share with all of you the testimony I have of this "good news".

I believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of all man kind.  I believe that through Him we can return to live with God (our Heavenly Father).  Jesus Christ came into this world to suffer for our transgressions and sins in order to overcome spiritual death, and then to die and be resurrected in order to overcome physical death. I believe that His grace is sufficient to save us from the call of justice.  Only by Him and through Him can we be saved and live with Him and our Eternal Father in Heaven.

I believe that we have scripture available to us that can help us further understand the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. A few scriptures I use are The Holy Bible(KJV), The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and other modern day scripture given to us by apostles and prophets. I also believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to restore the simple truths that were lost after the death of Jesus Christ and his ancient apostles. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only church containing the fullness of the gospel today, and that it is ran by Jesus Christ himself through revelation to His living prophets and apostles.

I believe that some of life's most precious joys come through family relationships.  I believe that as we live the commandments of God, and have faith in him, we will experience our greatest joy in this life and eternal life in the hereafter. I believe that the family is ordained of God and that He is pleased when a man and a woman marry and have children and bring them up as a righteous posterity. As mother and father live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ, they will grow further and further in love with one another.  I believe that families can be eternal through living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He makes all things possible and it is through Him that I draw my strength.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)