Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"You're Wrong and We're Right"

In all my blogging interactions, I try to be diplomatic, respectful, and inoffensive. 1 Peter 3:15 says to be ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in you, but to do so with gentleness and respect (NIV). So I usually try to be somewhat gentle and respectful because I feel we can all disagree without being disagreeable.

I genuinely try to set the record straight, while being pretty mainstream and mainline, as well as honest. I'm not afraid of controversy, but I don't seek it out. I have opinions and I share them, no matter what the topic is. I'm not afraid to say things, but I am very conscientious of how I say it. I suppose I try to be more middle-road, because I believe I can say what I need to say without driving people crazy or being offensive. I'm not offended when Evangelicals say that "You're wrong and we're right", and I would assume Evangelicals wouldn't take offense if I were to say (or at least believe) that "I'm right and your wrong". It shouldn't be a surprise to any of us that we both think we're right. But I think there is a more effective means of communication.

For example, I don't believe we should go out and say other churches are all wrong. It's not that clear-cut, not that black and white to me. My paradigm allows other churches to have much truth--just not a fullness of truth. I readily acknowledge that many churches sprung up, not because of the Great Apostasy, but in spite of, to counteract the Great Apostasy. In other words, I think most Christians are doing the best that they know how. This might be a different perception than other Mormons might have, but in this case I deeply believe I'm right. But Mormons actually have a lot of freedom to believe differently in many things, and still be considered faithful and in good standing.

In this case, I believe that most Christian churches have the core of the gospel--they have many pieces of the puzzle. So I have great respect for good Christians everywhere. But why I went on a mission, and what I share when I go out from time to time with the missionaries in my local area, is not to tear other people down and say that their churches are completely wrong, because I just don't believe that. I just think that Mormons happen to have additional pieces of the puzzle--though a fullness of the gospel might be still allusive if the restoration indeed continues.

Nevertheless, this is why the LDS missionaries don't leave your doorstep when you tell them you are a Christian. We deeply believe that we have more to offer you as Christians with a fulness of the gospel. "Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it". Essentially, my take is this: Let's learn from each other, but please be open to seeing if we can't make more sense out of your framework or your puzzle pieces. I think we can all learn something together if we're open minded. I like the synergy that comes from dialogue rather than the abrasiveness that comes from trying to "win" an argument.


Kalola said...

If Mormons have a "fullness of the gospel," how do you interpret the Ninth Article of Faith?

"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

I think the term "fullness" is misleading in light of the fact more will be revealed. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Clean Cut said...

A "fulness of the gospel" most certainly does not mean that we have ALL knowledge and even have ALL pieces of the puzzle. You're absolutely correct in that there is much yet to be revealed. Revelation, however, is a key piece of the puzzle and part of the fulness of the gospel.

DougT said...

Good post. An important subject IMO.

It does say that the fulness of the everlasting gospel is contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. That is that both of them have that fulness individually. That has to be found using the Holy Ghost. But only those 2 books contain it in such pure form.

Yet there are many other things to learn beyond that. And the church presents many of these things. The others require the Holy Ghost also.

Jared W said...

You’re wrong and we’re right - It's not that clear-cut, not that black and white

Great topic! For evangelicals it is black and white, but for LDS it is a million shades of celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. It is an amazing paradox hampering our ability to communicate.

To LDS, the doctrine of different degrees of glory are accepted as true. We believe that members of other faiths will attain a glory in the kingdoms of God even if they are ‘wrong’. We believe that all who are good people, but refuse to receive the fullness of the Gospel, will receive a terrestrial glory. I personally believe that the Terrestrial Kingdom will be everything Evangelicals are expecting. Jesus will be there and they will belong to Him. They will get there, and they’ll know that they were right all along! And they were right … but they also weren’t. There’s that paradox.

As LDS, we say that there is more to heaven than what they envision. There is a celestial glory to be inherited. But that is all from our perspective. We have to acknowledge that their perspective is different. Their universe is much more black and white - right or wrong - Heaven or Hell. This is the truth as they see it, and saying that we are both going to end up being right about heaven hurts their ears.

We all know that there exists only one truth. Someone is wrong. I guess for Mormons, the penalty for being wrong is not as harsh as it is for Evangelicals, but even that would make them wrong.

We all love a paradox.

Rebecca said...

I just wanted to say that my husband and I spent a lot of time tonight reading your blog entries along with comments and we are very impressed by you and your efforts to share your testimony of various aspects of the Gospel, while seeking to maintain a spirit of love and mutual understanding. When it all come's down to it what matters is that we try to be like God and Jesus Christ and follow Their example. This includes kindness, love, and understanding of one another. I have met and interacted with Sara personally and know this is how she is and now know she has chosen someone equal to her sweet spirit that so many admire and appreciate. Keep up the blogs!

Jason said...

I think there are some significant similarities between many religions...I spent 3 years in Japan when I was growing up and I remember my step-dad teaching me how the layout of the Shinto Temples relate to our Mormon faith. Before you enter the first main gate there is a bamboo water dispenser in which individuals use to "cleanse" themselves, similiar to baptism. After you enter through the first gate you must pass through two more gates before you reach the temple. The three gates similiar to the three levels in heaven. Just after you pass through the last of the three gates and just before you enter the temple, or the place where God resides, they have incense burners. Individuals walk up and inhale the incense to cleanse their spirits, similiar to the purification that comes from the Holy Ghost that we must have before we can enter into Gods presence.
One more cool similiarity. This comes from the two years I was in Taiwan for my mission. Most of the houses that we came across in Taiwan had red strips of paper across the top of the door and down both sides. Occasionaly there would be a branch hanging with the paper. This paper is traditionally hung on one of the last days of the Chinese New Year and people just happen to leave it up afterwards. So here is the story behind why they put the paper up. On the last night of the Chinese New Year there are monsters that come out of the mountain to eat the children and the paper is put up to keep the monsters from coming into their homes. This sounds like a story that came from the passover.
I don't claim to be any expert on Asian religions so please correct/help me understand if I jumped to any conclusion. I just know that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return to live with Him and our families forever. Unforetunately, no one that has ever been on earth has been perfect (except Jesus Christ) and so many of these truths have modified/change based on the interpretations of men. Just think of all the interpretations that exist for one verse of the Bible...the possibilities are endless if we leave them simply to decide amoungst ourselves...hence the thousands upon thousands of different religions. That is why I am grateful for continuing revalation through a living prophet on the earth today, Thomas S. Monson. He is same kind of prophet as Moses, Abraham, or Issac. I know prophets ware our mouth pieces from God so that we can know His truth and use the truth to be happy.
As my wife mentioned in the post before mine...thanks for setting up such a cool blog. I have enjoyed reading and participating.

Clean Cut said...

Thank you all for your comments! It's so nice to have you add to the conversation.

Jared W said...

If Mormons have a "fullness of the gospel," how do you interpret the Ninth Article of Faith?

I'd like to share what I've learned over the years about this. There are three specific terms that have distinct meaning for LDS members.

The Plan of Salvation
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Doctrine of Christ

Without getting too detailed, here are the basics definitions of those terms.

The Plan of Salvation is the grand design of man's progression. It addresses where we came from, why we are here, what will happen after death. What happens between death and the resurrection, how was the earth created, etc. There is a lot to still be revealed about this. Future prophets and valid scientific discoveries can help us learn more about the universe, and thus, more about the plan of salvation. More knowledge in this area is interesting, and faith promoting, but not necessary for salvation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the center of the plan of salvation. It is the good news we can be redeemed from the fall of Adam. The good news that God came down and lived among men, He experience all human suffering and pain, atoned for our sins and died. He rose from the dead the third day and marked the path by which we can follow Him to salvation. Precious truths, ordinances, and authority were lost, but through Joseph Smith they have been restored. We now have a fullness of the Gospel. More details about the life and ministry of Jesus may be revealed but are not necessary for salvation because we currently have the essentials.

The Doctrine of Christ is the center of the Gospel of Christ. It is the specific principles and ordinances needed for salvation. You could say the gospel is what Jesus did, and the doctrine is what we have to do, namely: have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.

This is how I understand the principle of the fullness of the gospel and how it corresponds to receiving more knowledge in the future.