Thursday, April 17, 2008

Attention Bloggernacle: How would you respond?

For the last couple of weeks I've been wondering how I would respond to someone not of our faith who learns that when Joseph Smith asked the Lord which church to join, he "was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Now I find myself needing to respond, and yet I'm still not quite sure what more to say.

Recently I've engaged in a dialogue with a Presbyterian Pastor in my home state of Oregon. It's really been quite intriguing trying to understand where we each are coming from. See for example some of the back and forth in the comments sections of "Why don't Mormon Elders Answer My Simple Questions?" and "I met an honest Mormon today"--two posts that have provided the opportunity to have a open and honest discussion. I'm glad I came across the conversation and joined in.

However, the only thing that has me "stumped" is the abomination quote above, which appears to be quite a public relations challenge. Especially among those who won't let it drop! Moreover, I recall Elder Marlin K. Jensen admitting that one of the toughest sells we have is the claim to be the "only true church". We're held accountable for these statements (and other harsh/brash statements by past LDS leaders) by other churches who take offense at them, and with good reason. And quite frankly, I feel for them. So I ask for your help. I personally feel humbled, grateful, and blessed by my testimony of the restored Church and the restored Gospel. So naturally I find myself frustrated with trying to reconcile my sincere desire to simply have a christian conversation with those not of our faith, and yet having to account for past quotes that don't really come across as very "neighborly". I know, I know, "The Lord said it--they're his words". Problem is, I feel he would say things a lot differently if he were to sit down with some of his sincere followers no matter what church they belong to today.

So how would you respond? President Hinckley has no doubt tried to reach out and work with other faiths and we definitely teach that we ought to be good neighbors and reach out and treat each other as Christ-like as possible. Yet I can empathize and see how it might come across to them when they learn about this claim, as well as the fact that the Lord in revelation said that this was "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (see Doctrine & Covenants 1:30).

I don't feel the need to prove anything. I just want to be better about how we come across to people who think that they're just encountering a pleasant facade when we try to converse with them but have reason to suspect that we "really" think bad of them (or that we're somehow better than them)--which is, at least in my case--not true. I believe we have much truth to share with each other, and much to learn from each other, so it's my natural reaction to flinch when words like "abomination" are thrown out there. There has to be a better way to address this little dilemna. Any ideas?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reasons Why I Love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There have to be a million reasons to love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here's my feeble attempt to list some that stand out to me, although not necessarily in order of importance. Naturally, the list is not all-inclusive, so please feel free to add your own:
1. Jesus Christ himself restored the Church [Try to top that one! :)]
2. The pure Gospel of Jesus Christ that is taught, leading us to partake of the Atonement, and thus have true joy.
3.. Imperfect people make up the entire membership of the Church, thus providing us with lots of opportunities to practice living Christ's teachings and putting the gospel into practice!
4. The Spirit. The simple, sweet, whisperings of the Holy Ghost confirming the truth of all things.
5. The Scriptures. They never cease to amaze and edify. In addition to the Bible, we have the restoration scriptures known as The Book of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ), the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price--each giving greater light and knowledge and each centered on the Redeemer of Mankind.
6. Prophets and Apostles (past and present)--they bless our lives in ways too many to list.
7. General Conference
8. The fact that the Church's humanitarian efforts reach out and bless the needy of the world regardless of race, politics, and religion.
9. Blessings of the Priesthood
10. We're all volunteer's. Nobody gets paid to preach. That means we each have a contribution to make and can all help "grow the Church" in more ways than one. (Although, now that I think about it, I certainly wouldn't refuse a little cash for teaching seminary every morning at 6am!)
11. Emphasis on eternal families. "Our family can be together forever!"
12. The hymns, the Tabernacle Choir, and other great music.
13. There's something for everyone, and there's always something new to learn and experience--always.
14. And there's something about the controversy, which has always accompanied the Church, that gives us a pretty unique legacy and keeps things interesting. (It's like living in the eye of a storm: calm on the inside and turbulence swirling about). At least we're never at a loss with things to discus!
15. Direct Revelation from God, both personally and for the Church collectively. It guides our personal lives, and it guides the life of the Church too. We can't get too messed up before God turns us in the right direction!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

D. Todd Christofferson: Links to Past Talks

Becoming a Witness of Christ (How ironic is that?)--March 2008 Ensign focussing entirely on the Savior

When Thou Art Converted--April 2004 General Conference

A Sense of the Sacred--Nov. 2004 CES Broadcast

Greatness--2007 BYU Summer Commencement

That They May Be One With Us--October 2002 General Conference

Let Us Be Men--October 2006 General Conference Priesthood Session

Moral Agency--BYU Devotional, Jan. 31st, 2006

Allegiance to God--Oct. 19th, 1999

The Priesthood Quorum--Oct. 1998 Priesthood Session of General Conference

And here's a link to a frank question and answer session with Reuters and Elder Christofferson from this past summer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

There's something special about the Pacific Northwest. We got to go back there for a short vacation and bask in the beautiful, wet, green beauty. So fun to be with family. Then the rest of the trip took us to sunny St. George, Utah were we spent time with family again swimming, playing volleyball, talking, reading, riding a motorcycle (awesome!) and watching some March Madness. Vacations are great. Being at my old "home" and then coming home to our current "home" really made me think about the old cliche-"There's no place like home". I find myself enjoying memories more and more and living with a sense of nostalgia. It's nice to look back and enjoy all over again all the good memories. Reminds me of the memorable quote that Thomas S. Monson loves to share: "God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives". Thanks family for all the fun memories!
PS: The book that I've been reading recently is "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism"--a fascinating look into the inner workings of the Church and its leaders during such an important time period. It's also been enlightening to read about various personalities and problems that you'd never know otherwise. The "Church News" will never quite hold the same interest for me again. :)
PSS: As always, we're looking forward to General Conference weekend coming up right away. It's been fun to speculate who will be called as the next apostle...