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On America, Land of Cults
ExileStreet ^ | John Mark Reynolds

Posted on 04/15/2009 6:12:41 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

An American cult is what happens when radical individualism meets religion and philosophy.

A cult becomes cut off from the mainstream of traditional religion and the global community of faith. It begins to converse only with self. This dangerous isolation is an important topic, as American religious communities such as the Episcopal Church drift in this direction. Mainstream global Christians do not delight in this drift as they recognize the temptations of the cult all too well from their own temptations to isolation.

Extreme stories litter the paper every day that show the consequences of isolation. Cults begin to delight in their edgy behaviors and to call what the rest of the world calls “wrong” something good.

Why is America a particular breeding ground for cults?

The root is in a misapplication of good American ideas.

Americans rightly rejoice in their heritage of legal and political equality, but the usefulness of an idea can have limits. Positive political ideas can be toxic when misapplied to other areas. Treating the ideas of individuals equally is excellent for society in the voting booth, but not so good in the laboratory or the parish.

Liberty is a very good thing, but so is excellence, and there is noteworthy tension between these two goods. American society mostly has done a good job allowing for moral excellence, virtue, while being cautious about imposing too much virtue on dissenters.

There is much to fear when culture gets the balance wrong. Liberty can always devolve into the merely libertine while excellence can become the tyranny of the experts. Humane society cannot survive either extreme for long.

Traditional Christianity asserts the importance of both liberty and excellence. Christianity asserts the essential freedom of human to choose his path. God Himself let Adam and Eve choose and face the consequences of that choice. Christianity also asserts that while human beings are created equally in the image of God, all human ideas are not equal. Some ideas are true and some are false.

No king, rich man, or mob can decide what is true, good, and beautiful.

A cult gets the proper tension wrong in two ways. First, in its relationship to the outside world it is radically autonomous, defying dialogue with the broader community in the name of what it claims to know. Second, internally it often demands a rigid suppression of thought and dissent in the name of community standards.

This is dangerous, because religion, like any field of knowledge, is powerful, complex, and fraught with peril for small communities. Cults have at least two characteristics that make them likely to go bad: they refuse to defend their beliefs using reason and they never or rarely change their minds based on external ideas.

All of us are tempted to talk only to a small group of like-minded folk, but, as recent revelations about left-of-center media lists reveal, such conversations become dull and predictable. Fringe members of the community begin to press the envelope and if the community is not careful then dangerous ideas can be “mainstreamed” in the small group.

Too little dissent can create a groupthink that slowly allows genuinely frightening ideas to gradually gain credence. The lazy tolerance for anti-Semitism that manifests itself in certain leftist web sites is one example of how otherwise sane groups can be hijacked by too much conformity.

Much of the “new” atheism presently suffers from the perils of this intellectual inbreeding. Of course, traditional Christians can give this warning, because they have bitter experience of these dangers.

There is another danger in talking about “cults” for more mainstream religious and non-religious people. We can misuse the term by applying it to any person with strong religious beliefs, especially if they are in the minority. If cults are in danger of close-mindedness, some Americans avoid this error by going to the opposite extreme. They associate any strongly held religious opinions with close-mindedness or cultic behavior.

This is a dangerous mistake that can cut off valuable conversations.

For example, while most reasonable Americans believe in God, it would wrong to say that all strong-minded atheists are in a secular cult. A few extreme secularists may fall into the “cult trap,” as the founders of the American Atheist organization did, but their failure is not because they have unpopular views or express them forcefully.

Cult members are very opinionated, but that does not mean every religiously opinionated person is part of a cult. Thinking you are right is normal, having disdain for everyone who disagrees with you is cult-like. My own strong religious views have benefited by being tested by reading scholars who disagree with me, ranging from Pope Benedict XVI to Michael Ruse. Both the Pope and Ruse hold their views strongly, but reasonably, and are not isolated from a global conversation.

Overuse of the term “cult” in the public square sometimes substitutes for actual arguments with thoughtful dissenting groups. As a traditional Christian I have serious theological disagreements with my friends in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), but it is wrong to label them a cult.* Any quick search will show LDS are willing to defend their views using arguments accessible to non-LDS. These arguments have changed under pressure from counter-arguments from non-LDS scholars and improved. I am not persuaded, to say the least, by these arguments, but LDS willingness to produce careful and responsive scholarship is a nearly infallible sign that they are no cult.

America has long operated with hazy, but generally Christian, moral consensus. America has typically tried to provide maximum liberty to those who dissent in a way that is consistent with social order. For example, the government would not allow polygamous marriages, but would tolerate some types of religious dissent from forced government schooling.

Hopefully, if this consensus changes over time, the tension between religious liberty and social order will be maintained and continue to tip ever so slightly in favor of dissenting views. Today’s cult, after all, might be tomorrow’s received wisdom. The humility to recognize that this is true is also an important part of a good and reasonable society.

*The word “cult” has popular, technical philosophic and theological uses. Some technical theological uses of the word “cult” might apply to LDS, but I am speaking of the use of the term in newspapers like the Washington Post. ExileStreet


TOPICS: Apologetics; Other Christian; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: antimormonthread; christian; cults; lds; mormon
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Overuse of the term “cult” in the public square sometimes substitutes for actual arguments with thoughtful dissenting groups. As a traditional Christian I have serious theological disagreements with my friends in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), but it is wrong to label them a cult.* Any quick search will show LDS are willing to defend their views using arguments accessible to non-LDS. These arguments have changed under pressure from counter-arguments from non-LDS scholars and improved. I am not persuaded, to say the least, by these arguments, but LDS willingness to produce careful and responsive scholarship is a nearly infallible sign that they are no cult.
1 posted on 04/15/2009 6:12:42 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

He said — Some technical theological uses of the word “cult” might apply to LDS, but I am speaking of the use of the term in newspapers like the Washington Post.

Well, it’s good that he knows the difference from “cults” in a theological sense which are “non-Christian” — like the two biggest cults in the United States, Mormon and Jehovahs Witnesses — versus — the popular terminology for “cult” as in the newspapers. They are two different things.

I’m glad he’s able to distinguish from non-Christian *cult groups* (like Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses) and “cults” in a general sense (as in the newspapers).


2 posted on 04/15/2009 6:27:52 AM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: Star Traveler

What will be most awakening is that day of reckoning when those who denied those who were Christians LDS and for those who thought they were Christians and the Lord says I never knew you!


3 posted on 04/15/2009 6:36:17 AM PDT by restornu
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To: restornu

It’s been pretty well established that the teaching of “Mormon” church is not the teaching of historic, basic and foundational Christianity...

In addition to that, I’m absolutely sure that Mormons fully agree with that, too...

They agree with it so well, that they will assert that the “teachings” of historic, basic and foundational Christianity are simply the “teachings of man” and not from God, and that “they” (i.e., “Mormons”) have the true Gospel from God, via Joseph Smith, their so-called prophet, who *also* said that the teachings of Christianity (when he observed the various churches in his day) were *not* the true teachings.

It’s way beyond any dispute that the teachings of Mormonism are not the teachings of Christianity...


4 posted on 04/15/2009 6:43:14 AM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: restornu
What will be most awakening is that day of reckoning when those who denied those who were Christians LDS and for those who thought they were Christians and the Lord says I never knew you!

Can you rephrase that. I'm having difficulty parsing it.

5 posted on 04/15/2009 7:22:17 AM PDT by Lee N. Field (Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.)
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To: Lee N. Field; restornu

I often think restornu is obtuse on purpose. Basically I take her post to mean:

You will rue the day that you called LDS unChristian. For the day will come when you who call yourselves Christian will stand before the Lord and He will say, “I never knew you.”

Is that what you were trying to say, resty?


6 posted on 04/15/2009 7:52:21 AM PDT by colorcountry (A faith without truth is not true faith.)
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To: Star Traveler

It’s been pretty well established that the teaching of “Mormon” church is not the teaching of historic, basic and foundational Christianity...

In addition to that, I’m absolutely sure that Mormons fully agree with that, too...

They agree with it so well, that they will assert that the “teachings” of historic, basic and foundational Christianity are simply the “teachings of man” and not from God, and that “they” (i.e., “Mormons”) have the true Gospel from God, via Joseph Smith, their so-called prophet, who *also* said that the teachings of Christianity (when he observed the various churches in his day) were *not* the true teachings.

It’s way beyond any dispute that the teachings of Mormonism are not the teachings of Christianity...

***

Established by whom the opponents of world towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints?

No one has the right to speak for the Lord but those that Lord calls.

Just because one has a world collection of opinions do not make it so!

Have your opinion but it only your opinion!:)

As I said it should be a day of sobering!


7 posted on 04/15/2009 7:56:28 AM PDT by restornu
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To: colorcountry

Be carefull of what one says about another that it will not come back and bit them!


8 posted on 04/15/2009 7:59:51 AM PDT by restornu
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To: colorcountry
You will rue the day that you called LDS unChristian


"You shall rue this day...well go on, start rueing!!!"

9 posted on 04/15/2009 8:01:54 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Presbyterians often forget that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler.)
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To: restornu

You said and/or asked — Established by whom the opponents of world towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints?

No, that’s established by the Mormons themselves, and by Joseph Smith. They have clearly posted here on this site, that those “doctrines” of Christianity, which are those historic, basic and foundational teachings *are not* the true Gospel according to Mormons and their teachings. It’s been said, right here on Free Republic that these are simply the “doctrines of men” (that’s a favorite phrase of some from Mormonism... it seems... LOL...)

And it’s also established that Joseph Smith, himself, has said that those teachings that he saw in the churches (in his day) and that he had to “restore” the Gospel (since it “obviously” wasn’t there in his time... :-)

So, this is pretty well established by Mormons, themselves...


10 posted on 04/15/2009 8:02:33 AM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: Alex Murphy
 
What Do the Founders
of These Great American Cults
Have in Common?
 
 
Kabbalah - Founded by a former insurance salesman, Phillip Berg
(now known as Rav) - is a Jewish cult, based on "ancient secrets".
 
Scientology - Founded by a former vacuum cleaner salesman,
and frustrated sci-fi writer, L. Ron Hubbard.
 
EST - Founded by a former door-to-door salesman, Werner Erhard
 
"Prophet" Edgar Cayce - a former insurance salesman
 
Mormonism - Founded by a former treasurer-seeker, Joseph Smith
 

11 posted on 04/15/2009 8:08:49 AM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion ("I, El Rushbo -- and I say this happily -- have hijacked Obama's honeymoon.")
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

Apart from theological definitions of a cult, there are sociological definitions also. Foremost among these is mind control. This is detailed in Steven Hassan's BITE model, described below...

Mind Control - The BITE Model Used by Cults

From chapter two of Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves*

*© 2000 by Steven Hassan; published by Freedom of Mind Press, Somerville MA

Destructive mind control can be understood in terms of four basic components, which form the acronym BITE:

I.

Behavior Control

II.

Information Control

III.

Thought Control

IV.

Emotional Control

It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mind controlled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.

from http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/articles/BITE.htm

 

The BITE Model Applied Toward Mormonism's
Two-Year Missionary Program

Note: The following information was submitted by a former Mormon

I. Behavior Control

1. Regulation of individual’s physical reality

a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with

Yes. The church first sends the missionary to a specific mission, and then that mission’s president assigns the missionary to a specific geographical area with a specific companion. The pair must seek permission to leave the boundaries of their area, and must be together 24/7. They must always be in the same room as each other, except when going to the bathroom.

b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears

The church gives them detailed instructions on permissible clothing and hairstyles.

c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects

Coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco are forbidden. Whether or not you abstain from caffienated soft drinks is often considered an indication of your level of dedication. Missionaries are sometimes instructed to reject dinner invitations with members of the church, unless the member also invites a non-member to the dinner party.

d. How much sleep the person is able to have

Missionaries must arise by 6:30 A.M. and retire by 10:30 P.M.

e. Financial dependence

The church gives each missionary a small allowance of money on a monthly basis (each missionary is required to give a specific amount--something like $400 to the church per month. It is typically paid by the parents. The church then gives an allowance to each missionary based upon the cost of living in their mission. For example, a missionary in Japan might receive $1000 per month, while a missionary in Honduras might receive $65 per month.)

f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

Missionaries are allowed 8.5 hours per week of “Preparation Time”. In this Preparation Time they are expected to wash clothes, shop, get haircut, clean apartment, write letters home, and if any time is left engage in approved recreational and cultural activities. No entertainment or vacations.

2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals

Missionaries are required to study from the approved material for 2 hours every morning, and have frequent meetings of further training meetings.

3. Need to ask permission for major decisions

Yes, permission must be sought for almost anything.

4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors

Yes. Detailed logs of the missionaries’ activities are kept and sent to the mission president on a weekly basis. They have monthly one-on-one meetings with the mission president, who interrogates them regarding their thoughts, feelings, worthiness, and so forth.

5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).

If you obey the rules, are loyal, and work hard, you will be promoted to be a leader over other missionaries. A District Leader supervises a group of about 6 missionaries, a Zone Leader supervises about 20, and the mission president has 2 Assistants who help him supervise the entire mission. The higher you get in the hierarchy, the more benefits --prestige, automobiles, travel around the mission, and so forth. It is a lot funner to supervise people who are doing missionary work than to actually do it.

6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails

No individualism.

7. Rigid rules and regulations

Extraordinarily rigid.

8. Need for obedience and dependency

One of the primary purposes of life is to test our obedience to God--which in practical terms means obedience to God’s leaders. Financial independence is encouraged. There is a fair amount of talk about spiritual independence, but they are ensured that true answers to their prayers will always be in harmony with the mainstream church.

II. Information Control

1. Use of deception

a. Deliberately holding back information

b. Distorting information to make it acceptable

c. Outright lying

See below

2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged

a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio

The missionary handbook says, “Read only books, magazines, and other material authorized by the Church and your mission president….Avoid watching television, viewing unauthorized videocassettes, and listening to the radio and unauthorized audiocassettes.” (p. 13, 22) Including the scriptures, there are about 10 books that missionaries are allowed to read.

b. Critical information

See above.

c. Former members

Discouraged.

d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

Kept very busy, with detailed instructions on how to spend every hour of every day.

3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

a. Information is not freely accessible

Unauthorized information is forbidden.

b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid

The leaders have more access to mission gossip, but in general the entire mission is governed by the same rules of no unauthorized information.

c. Leadership decides who "needs to know" what

Yes, the leadership decides what books and cassettes to put on the authorized list.

4. Spying on other members is encouraged

a. Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control

According to the missionary handbook, “Never be alone. Companionships generate strength and protection. Working two by two is the Lord’s way, you can protect each other from temptation and from false accusers. You can also support each other in bearing testimony (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)….

“As companions, pray, study, and plan your work together each day. Take time at least once a week for additional planning and companionship inventory. Seek to be one in spirit and purpose, and help each other succeed. Always address your companion by the appropriate title (Elder or Sister).

“You and your companion are to sleep in the same bedroom, but not in the same bed. You should arise and retire together each day; you should not stay up late to be alone.” (p. 24-25)

b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

“If your companion is having difficulties with the work or in personal matters, be sensitive to those problems and seek advice from your mission president. Although you should be loyal to your companion, you must realize that any indiscretion or violation of missionary standards may threaten his or her effectiveness and salvation. Care enough for your companion to ask for the mission president’s help before a problem becomes a crisis.” (p. 24)

5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda

a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.

Yes--only expose yourself to authorized information.

b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

Not applicable.

6. Unethical use of confession

a. Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries

b. Past "sins" used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

Not really--once they declare you are forgiven it is water under the bridge.

III. Thought Control

1. Need to internalize the group’s doctrine as "Truth"

a. Map = Reality

b. Black and White thinking

c. Good vs. evil

d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

Yes. The missionaries are given a very black and white view of the world, “The Lord desires the conversion of each soul.” (p. 3)

2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".

Yes. Must use titles rather than given names. Communication is typically forced into a specific speech pattern called “The commitment pattern”. They frequently “bear their testimonies” which mean assuring each other that they “know the church is true”.

3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.

Absolutely.

4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.

a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking

Absolutely.

b. Chanting

No.

c. Meditating

Not in a formal or rigorous way.

d. Praying

Yes.

e. Speaking in "tongues"

No.

f. Singing or humming

Yes. They are often instructed to sing a hymn to themselves if they have an impure or negative thought.

5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate

Absolutely. One of the solemn covenants of the temple is to never “speak ill of the Lord’s anointed”.

6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

Other belief systems can be good and useful, but the Mormon Church is God’s one and only true church, and that the highest level of salvation is impossible without it.

IV. Emotional Control

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person’s feelings.

Yes. If you are acting righteously then you will feel the spirit. Always strive to feel that particular feeling.

2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader’s or the group’s.

Yes. The members aren’t perfect but the gospel and the organization of the church are perfect. Leaders might make mistakes, but they are given the benefit of the doubt.

3. Excessive use of guilt

Yes. The scriptures promise that you will baptize lots of people if you are righteous, (“The field is white, all ready to harvest”) But you must have faith and be righteous. If you don’t have a lot of success and converting others, the problem must be your lack of faith and disobedience.

a. Identity guilt

1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)

Individual Mormons are given special blessings in which they are invariably informed that in the previous life they were the valiant elect of God, and that that is why their spirits were sent to earth to fight for the cause of righteousness during these last days. The mission is usually a major part of their blessings, and they are often promised to have specific experiences as missionaries, including leadership and conversion experiences. These things will happen if and only if they are faithful and obedient.

2. Your family

Missionaries are promised that if they work hard and are obedient, their family will be blessed, both physically and spiritually.

3. Your past

Sexual “sins” are considered very bad in Mormonism, and it is sometimes taught that in order to be completely forgiven of such sins, you must bring many souls unto Christ.

4. Your affiliations

No affiliations to feel guilty about exist.

5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions

Children in the church are constantly taught that your mission will be “the best 2 years of your life.” If you don’t feel that they are the best 2 years of your life, if you aren’t productively converting people, and aren’t keeping your thoughts focused on righteous, faithful things, immense guilt will usually follow.

b. Social guilt

c. Historical guilt

Probably not.

4. Excessive use of fear

a. Fear of thinking independently

Thomas S. Monson, the number two man in the church, recently said in a church magazine, "Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: 'I propose to stay with my faith... I accept God's word. I wasn't with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it’.” (Ensign, Feb 2001)

b. Fear of the "outside" world

Yes. Simple things such as leaving your area to go down town or going swimming are considered very major sins that will likely cause great evil.

c. Fear of enemies

Possibly--missionaries see themselves in a big fight of good against evil.

d. Fear of losing one’s "salvation"

Yes. You must endure to the end to gain salvation--if you screw up the effect could ripple across generations.

e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group

Quitting your mission is leads to incredibly high stigma.

f. Fear of disapproval

Depends on the individual.

5. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.

Yes. Missionary life is often characterized by a few bursts of inspiration and success surrounded by months and months of drudgery. If you are righteous you should feel the spirit--especially as a missionary--so if you don’t feel wonderful it is your fault for not being worthy.

6. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".

Every month the missionary has a private interview with the mission president where he is encouraged to confess his sins.

7. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader’s authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.

a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group

Absolutely.

b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.

Absolutely. In a particular scene in the temple ceremony, the devil is about to be banished. Before he is, he says, “Aah! You have looked over my kingdom, and my greatness and glory. Now you want to take possession of the whole of it. (He then looks at the people going through the ceremony) I have a word to say concerning these people. If they do not walk up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power! “

c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.

Yes.

d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group’s perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

Absolutely. The group is God’s one and only true church, and the missionary has the unique responsibility and opportunity of helping God save people. A huge responsibility with tremendous opportunity for blessings.

A story that is often repeated among missionaries and prospective missionaries is a scene of two pre-mortal spirits awaiting their “callings” to come to earth. One of the friends is thrilled to be called to a righteous Mormon family, where he will be born “into the covenant” and sealed to his parents upon birth. To both of their horrors, the other friend isn’t being sent to a Mormon family, but rather to a non-Mormon family in a distant land. Right before they are born in their respective circumstances, the one spirit desperately pleads to the other “Find Me!”

The implication is that there is very little value to life without the church, and that you have a friend out there who is desperately waiting for you to bring them the gospel.

An alternate version of the story is after our mortal life, and a spirit who never heard about the gospel learns that he was supposed to hear about it, but the particular missionary who was called to bring the gospel to them wasn’t faithful enough or obedient enough to find them. In utter despair, the spirit approaches the missionary who committed the faux pas and harshly reproaches him for not doing his duty and bringing him the gospel. The fallout of disobedience ripples out as this person’s friends and progeny lose the opportunity to live and spread the gospel.


12 posted on 04/15/2009 8:20:00 AM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion ("I, El Rushbo -- and I say this happily -- have hijacked Obama's honeymoon.")
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To: Star Traveler

You want to assign words of the Lord as though they orginated with the Lord’s prophet Joseph Smith who only relayed it on to his children who have ears to hears their masters voice and eyes to see.

This knowledge is only receive by the power of the Holy Ghost.

many want to denied and dismiss that those they disagree with is not true.

One can denied and dismiss as much as they want it don’t change what is!

What you do have is free will not to accept it as the Lord has given all of His children.

Just like in Lady McBeth, one can grunt all they want “Out Damn Spot!” it sitll will not go a way!:)


13 posted on 04/15/2009 8:32:00 AM PDT by restornu
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

That is a great analysis of the LDS mission program. I have a friend who just left his mission (5 months early). His mother is dying, and only expected to live a few more weeks, he asked permission from his Mission President to go home to say goodbye to his mother and WAS DENIED. The mission president is aware of the mother’s condition as he was the one who told the missionary.

So, he called another friend and had this other friend come and get him to bring him home.

Now this missionary (20 yr old kid) is facing excommunication from the LDS church, all because he wanted to see his mother before she died.


14 posted on 04/15/2009 8:34:39 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: restornu
Be carefull of what one says about another that it will not come back and bit them!

Yes, resty you are so careful about what you say about another, that often you're hard to understand.

15 posted on 04/15/2009 8:34:52 AM PDT by colorcountry (A faith without truth is not true faith.)
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To: restornu

Well, it ain’t me who says that the historic, basic and foundational doctrines of Christianity aren’t true...

It’s Joesph Smith and it’s the Mormons themselves.

I can’t dispute them about their own teachings, because it is the Mormon teachings themselves, that say that the “gospel” had to be restored — it’s not me that said that... I have to take the Mormons at their word that they *had to restore* the gospel and that it was not in existence at the time of Joseph Smith and had not been for hundreds of years (and even a thousand years) or more before Joseph Smith.

And there’s *no denying* that Mormons (*right here* on this board) will deny the doctrines of Christianity that come from the Council of Nicea (one of the “foundational teachings” of Christianity about the Deity of Christ, pertaining to the “Trinity”) — as *not valid* and as only the “teachings of man”... I’ve heard that from too many Mormons here and too many times for it to be denied by Mormons.

As I said — it’s *so obvious* from the Mormons *themselves* when they post here and *deny* those historic, basic and foundational doctrines...

:-)


16 posted on 04/15/2009 8:40:34 AM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: Alex Murphy

One might wonder, if these cults had been formed before the BILL OF RIGHTS was written, whould we have the ...”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”...as it is written today or would it have been written to exclude these weird movements.


17 posted on 04/15/2009 8:47:18 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (14. Guns only have two enemies: rust and politicians.)
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To: Star Traveler

Today is Tea Party day because out constitution is so far removed.

And is the same point that is being made about the Bible it was so far removed from the original word of the Lord.

One is a spititual document Bible and the other is our document that was given from the Lord to our Founding fathers for a free people.

In the Bible the Lord warn many time that his gosple was being changed many are dreamers and want to believe the book the Bible is infallible.

The words of the Lord is infalliable but what men do with the Words of the Lord is not infallible to think that the designs of men could not happen.

You have warnings in various books and also in Galatians the Lord is telling Paul as he speaks the those around him are changing the Lord’s Gospel.

When there was no longer apostles on earth in the early AD’s what a picnic they many must have had.

One of he mission of Joseph Smith was to restore the Plain and Precious Truths that was removed or alterd in the Bible.


18 posted on 04/15/2009 9:03:44 AM PDT by restornu
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To: restornu
And is the same point that is being made about the Bible it was so far removed from the original word of the Lord....In the Bible the Lord warn many time that his gosple was being changed many are dreamers and want to believe the book the Bible is infallible. The words of the Lord is infalliable but what men do with the Words of the Lord is not infallible to think that the designs of men could not happen. You have warnings in various books and also in Galatians the Lord is telling Paul as he speaks the those around him are changing the Lord’s Gospel. When there was no longer apostles on earth in the early AD’s what a picnic they many must have had. One of he mission of Joseph Smith was to restore the Plain and Precious Truths that was removed or alterd in the Bible.

Since the official doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints says that "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly", I was surprised to see that you failed to mention the Bible that the Prophet Joseph Smith himself supposedly translated to restore all these things that you claim were lost. Why wouldn't you want to advocate the most accurate translation known to modern man...

THE JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE

The LDS official website offers free access to this important work, yet Article #8 in your Summary of Beliefs still makes an Official LDS Disclaimer that the LDS should only believe the Bible "as far as it is correctly translated". Since Joseph Smith produced the JST, that means meaning a "correctly translated" version supposedly exists now! But it's my understanding that the website doesn't give access to the entire JST. It gives free access to the entirely of every other scripture held sacred by the LDS (including some not mentioned in the "Summary of Beliefs"), and the JST is similarly expurgated in it's printed form. Why does the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints withhold this important scripture from it's members? Or at least make the appropriate changes to Article 8 to reflect the JST's existence?

For what it's worth, the official website says this about the use of the word "translation" as it applies to the JST:

"Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world. In this sense, the word translation is used in a broader and different way than usual, for Joseph’s translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another."

Even with a supposedly restored and properly translated Bible, the LDS church still insists on offering a disclaimer that they don't know if the Bible (KJV, JST, or otherwise) is translated correctly or not. Not exactly the kind of assuredness I'd expect from an organization led by a prophet.

19 posted on 04/15/2009 9:15:18 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Presbyterians often forget that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

One might wonder, if these cults had been formed before the BILL OF RIGHTS was written, whould we have the ...”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”...as it is written today or would it have been written to exclude these weird movements.

***

This thinking is dense to even ponder such contradictory thoughts it is called the Bill of Rights.

Some have such strong feeling against the LDS which has never been shown against Atheist or Satanist nor did the founding fathers infringe upon these views…

Yet some today if could would recind the same rights to the LDS as was allowed to those who are Atheist or Satanist!


20 posted on 04/15/2009 9:22:25 AM PDT by restornu
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To: restornu; Colofornian; Star Traveler

What will be most awakening is that day of reckoning when those who denied those who were Christians LDS and for those who thought they were Christians and the Lord says I never knew you!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Resty, what will be “most awakening” is the day of reckoning when those who have placed their faith in Christ alone to save them and have done good works for HIS GLORY ALONE are ushered into heaven with “Well done, good and faithful servant;...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” while those who place their trust in the LDS church to save them, and spent their whole lives on the LDS ‘hamster wheel’, doing “good works” for their own glory (exaltation) are told by the Lord, “depart from me, I never knew you”.


21 posted on 04/15/2009 9:26:20 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Alex Murphy
Even with a supposedly restored and properly translated Bible, the LDS church still insists on offering a disclaimer that they don't know if the Bible (KJV, JST, or otherwise) is translated correctly or not. Not exactly the kind of assuredness I'd expect from an organization led by a prophet.

Those who find fault with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints do so out of ignorance for they fail to realized the original copy of the JST was handle by many hands before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints received a copy!

22 posted on 04/15/2009 9:29:56 AM PDT by restornu
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To: restornu
...they fail to realized the original copy of the JST was handle by many hands before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints received a copy!

So the JST is just another "we believe it insofar as it has been correctly translated" work, too?

23 posted on 04/15/2009 9:31:58 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Presbyterians often forget that John Knox had been a Sunday bowler.)
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To: reaganaut

Turning my words and saying things where the LDS place their faith bla bla.

I have stated many times My conversion came by the Power of the Holy Ghost before I ever knew anything about the Church or Joseph Smith etc.

stop spinning my words there is nothing that the main stream religion has has that I want nor need.

It is not the primary source it is secondary


24 posted on 04/15/2009 9:34:57 AM PDT by restornu
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To: Alex Murphy

The spirit of sarcasm is alive and well I see!:)


25 posted on 04/15/2009 9:37:45 AM PDT by restornu
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To: colorcountry

ping to 21


26 posted on 04/15/2009 9:39:33 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

An amazing list. They obviously knew how to SELL (hardsell) their cults. LOL!


27 posted on 04/15/2009 9:39:56 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Alex Murphy

Bumping that comment.


28 posted on 04/15/2009 9:41:23 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: reaganaut; restornu; Star Traveler; Colofornian

C.S. Lewis once said:

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way”

I think the Lord will say to Mormons, “You put your trust in works and ordinances instead of my Grace? All right then, have it your way”


29 posted on 04/15/2009 9:55:10 AM PDT by colorcountry (A faith without truth is not true faith.)
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To: reaganaut
I am guessing there is more to the story than you are letting on. I'd like to see the "policy" you are referring to. Generally it is up to the missionary and his family (and I speak from personal experience on this one).

My mother passed away 3 weeks beofe my mission started. We had the funeral two weeks before. I has the option of delaying my entry date but decided that she would probably want me to go ahead anyway instead of sitting around the next few months feeling badly for myself over our family's loss.

The funeral was before I went into the MTC. But I was able to visit her grave site after I went in the MTC. A wind storm blew through the cemetary after she had been buried, but before the headstone was placed by the company. Subsequently I was not able to see her headstone placed. I was able (by my own choice) to leave the MTC and travel to the cemetary (My grandfather picked me up) to see her gravesite.

I know a personal friend who was sent home two months early (honorably) because his mother contracted cancer and was in the terminal stages, she subsequently passed away. A missionary companion of mine's mom had MS. He made the choice to come on his mission knowing the possiblity she could die at any time, or that she could live 10 more years. It was his choice to go or not.

From my days in the military they do pretty much the same thing. You can go home to see immediate family member funerals (but not grandparents) with emergency leave, which you have to pay for yourself. But you do technically have to have permission from your command.

Emergency leave isn't always granted. What if you are in the South China Sea in an undisclosed location? They don't have to bring in a chopper for you. Also there is the problem of timing. Even with permission you can't always get stateside quickly enough even if you have permission. IOW, there are many cases of military men and women who miss the funeral. Some soldiers make a personal choice to stay in their warfighting capcity and don't take emergency leave. They may reason that "dad" or "mom" would rather have them continue to serve.

As for the difficulty issue. It is a difficulty for Missionaries (and Soldiers) but in my experience both are willing to work with you. I was offered free counseling from a professional in the MTC about the loss (which I chose not to take) and also offered professional counseling from a psychologist while in the field (who I did talk to a few times about losing my mom). Interestingly he had worked for 20 years as a military psychologist before opening his private practice in the area I served. He was LDS as well.

Sometimes parents get divorced while their son is on a mission, or family members die. I'm not trying to minimize the issue or personal pain that can be experienced by a missionary over such family upheavals but if your story is accurate and the mission president did tell him no I assume it is similar to a commander who does not want to grant emergency leave (which can occur as well). My Mission pres. was an old rancher. Some miltary commanders are real bastards (which is why they are such good soldiers and commanders).

Again I'd like to see the official policy you are referring to as my personal experience contradicts your assertion of that policy.

30 posted on 04/15/2009 9:59:52 AM PDT by Rameumptom (Gen X= they killed 1 in 4 of us)
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To: restornu; Alex Murphy
Those who find fault with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints do so out of ignorance for they fail to realized the original copy of the JST was handle by many hands before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints received a copy!

(Oh, and that never happened with the Bible, eh? And so, the KJV Bible is "untrustworthy," too?)

Oh, and what about the "many hands" on the Book of Mormon? Joseph Smith didn't make those almost 3,000 edits. Edits where King names were changed. Edits where "the Son of" was inserted, etc.

Any other lame excuses?

31 posted on 04/15/2009 10:18:59 AM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

I really fine it amazing how those who claim there is no such thing get this up set!

Smile!:)


32 posted on 04/15/2009 10:30:35 AM PDT by restornu
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To: colorcountry
I often think restornu is obtuse on purpose. Basically I take her post to mean:

The syntax and attitude reminds me of someone else.

33 posted on 04/15/2009 10:56:35 AM PDT by Lee N. Field (Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.)
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To: Rameumptom

There is no more to this story than I am letting on. His father passed away 3 years ago, his mother is dying and he wanted to see her. He has no other immediate family to insist he be sent home. And was told NO, that the “Lord wanted him to remain in the mission field” rather than go home for a couple of weeks to see his mom.

I am not sure there is an official policy. That said, the 2006 Handbook of instructions says this about a family member dying:

“If a member of a missionary’s immediate family dies, the Church ENCOURAGES THE MISSIONARY TO REMAIN IN THE FIELD. However, if the FAMILY insists that the missionary return home, the missionary MAY be allowed to return at the family’s expense.” (Page 99, empahsis mine)

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Mormon_Church_Handbook_of_Instructions%2C_full%2C_2006

Also according the the Missionary rules in the The Missionary Handbook (AKA “white bible”), one of the rules is: Do not leave your assigned area without permission (”District leaders must approve travel outside your area within the district; zone leaders must approve travel outside your district within the zone; and the mission president must approve travel outside the zone.”)

http://www.lds4u.com/Missionaries/rules.htm

So, yes this young man did leave his area without permission. He asked permission and was denied. Does this happen to everyone? No. Do mission presidents vary in how they handle these situations? Of course. Are some MPs great guys and some jerks? Yeah.

Nevertheless, that does not change the fact that this young man felt he had to choose between his mission and his mom. And he chose his mom. Now is is considered “dishonored”.


34 posted on 04/15/2009 11:07:34 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: restornu; Star Traveler

One can denied and dismiss as much as they want it don’t change what is!

- - - - - - - - -

What is it?


35 posted on 04/15/2009 11:09:32 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: reaganaut; restornu

You asked — What is it?

A clue here... “They” know..., but they don’t want “you” to know... :-)

[definition: “they” = Mormons; “you” = anyone not Mormon ...]


36 posted on 04/15/2009 11:14:33 AM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: restornu

And is the same point that is being made about the Bible it was so far removed from the original word of the Lord. (snip)
In the Bible the Lord warn many time that his gospel was being changed many are dreamers and want to believe the book the Bible is infallible. (snip)The words of the Lord is infalliable but what men do with the Words of the Lord is not infallible to think that the designs of men could not happen. (snip) One of he mission of Joseph Smith was to restore the Plain and Precious Truths that was removed or alterd in the Bible.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Prove it, Resty. SHOW ME how it is ‘far removed’ from the original word of the Lord. SHOW ME what “plain and precious” truths were removed, SHOW ME what has been corrupted, SHOW ME HOW the bible is not infallible. SHOW ME what JS “restored” in the bible.

You make these claims time and time again, and you never show us. SHOW US. Time to put up, Resty.

Oh and BTW, If you read VERSE 2 of Galatians Chapter 1, you will see Paul is speaking specifically of the local churches in Galatia, not of a total apostasy. The “other gospel” that Paul speaks of is the gospel of the “Judaizers”, those who sought to add WORKS to the gospel of grace, just like the LDS.


37 posted on 04/15/2009 11:24:34 AM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: reaganaut; restornu
One of he mission of Joseph Smith was to restore the Plain and Precious Truths that was removed or alterd in the Bible.

Does that include the un-lds-canonized JST/IV? What about the 3000+ changes to the bom since 1830? How about the changes to Moses after Young died? The infallablity of the word of mormonism is based upon one man -smith. The Bible is based upon God. something to ponder.

38 posted on 04/15/2009 11:34:49 AM PDT by Godzilla (Galatians 4:16 So iz i ur enemi now becz i tellded u teh troof?)
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To: restornu

Some have such strong feeling against the LDS which has never been shown against Atheist or Satanist nor did the founding fathers infringe upon these views…

Yet some today if could would recind the same rights to the LDS as was allowed to those who are Atheist or Satanist!

- - - - - - — - - - - - - - -

I cannot speak for others here, but I have equally strong feelings against atheism and satanism that I do against the LDS. Although, I do think that Satanism is less of a threat than the LDS, because it is so obviously against Christianity, whereas LDS doctrine tries to place itself within Christianity while maintaining contrary beliefs.

Freedom of religion is a good thing, but freedom of religion does not mean I have to agree with you, or that I have to let your beliefs go unchallenged. And you, as an American, have the right to believe as you wish, I also have a right to speak out about your beliefs.

Ain’t America great?


39 posted on 04/15/2009 12:20:42 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Alex Murphy

A good example of a modern cult is The Episcopal Church. They have disavowed the authority of Scripture in favor of supposed new direct revelation from God (”the Spirit is doing a new thing”). They have incorporated all sorts of new age beliefs into their teachings, as well as radical feminism and pagan rituals such as Wicca, shamanism, and nature worship. (Look at videos of the “consecration” of the current Presiding Bishopess as an example, complete with Native American medicine men “smudging” and “vestal virgins” dancing in the service; this Bishopess is also known for intoning prayers to “Mother Jesus.”)

They teach that the Gospel is fulfilled in the UN Millenium Development Goals. They are also looking at getting their first Buddhist bishop. How wacky can you get?


40 posted on 04/15/2009 12:32:05 PM PDT by kaehurowing
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To: restornu; Alex Murphy

Those who find fault with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints do so out of ignorance for they fail to realized the original copy of the JST was handle by many hands before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints received a copy!

- - - - - - - - - - - -

PROVE that the JST was “handled by many hands” before the LDS church got a copy. I do not see how that can possibly be since JS made the changes with his scribes and they had total control and possession.

And IF the JST was corrupted (which I seriously doubt), the how can you trust ANY OF IT, including the parts that are used as footnotes in the LDS KJV and in the Pearl of Great Price? If the JST is unreliable, then it should be thrown out, right?

And I find fault with the LDS church, not from ignorance, but from personal KNOWLEDGE and found the LDS church to be a fraud.

“been there...done that...read the Book...saw the movie...wore the garments”


41 posted on 04/15/2009 12:38:59 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Alex Murphy
How true. Cults of all sort.


42 posted on 04/15/2009 12:44:25 PM PDT by topcat54 (Don't believe in a pre-anything rapture? Join "Naysayers for Jesus")
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To: restornu

stop spinning my words there is nothing that the main stream religion has has that I want nor need.

— — -— — — — — — — —

How am I “turning” your words? Hmm?

Regardless of how your “conversion” took place, you place your faith in the LDS church. If you did not, then there would be no point in belonging to the “only true church”, would there?

Everything the LDS believe hinges on the reliability of Joseph Smith as a prophet. If he is a prophet, then the LDS church is the “restored” church of Christ. If however, he was a false prophet, or a con man, then the ENTIRE LDS church crumbles. There is no middle ground there.

And there is something the mainstream Christian church has, that you may not want, but you DEFINITELY need. That is the Jesus Christ of the Bible. A Christ who is SINLESS (contrary to Orson Pratt), fully God and fully man (not one who had to “earn” his godhood), who has the power to cover ALL sins (contrary to past LDS leaders view that some sins are not covered - like murder), and who doesn’t need our “help” by our works to ensure our place in the presence of God.

You may not want this Christ, but you need Him, you need him badly, for eternity without Him is a VERY, VERY long time.


43 posted on 04/15/2009 12:48:23 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: colorcountry

“You put your trust in works and ordinances instead of my Grace? All right then, have it your way”

- - - - - - - - - -

Very true. Too many people (and not just LDS) add works to the equation because the think Grace is “taking the easy way out”. Salvation by grace alone through faith in NOT easy, it is simple but not easy. It was NOT easy for Christ to go to the Cross, it was NOT easy for Jesus to take upon himself ALL of the sins for ALL of humanity, it was NOT easy for Jesus to have the Father turn His face away from Him.

Being humbled and admitting to myself and God that I could do absolutely NOTHING AT ALL to save myself,that I NEEDED Christ to save me, was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was also the most rewarding.


44 posted on 04/15/2009 1:17:09 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: reaganaut; restornu

Reaganaut,
Please join those of us who have designated thuRsdays as Resty thuRsdays!
ampu


45 posted on 04/15/2009 1:19:20 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion ("I, El Rushbo -- and I say this happily -- have hijacked Obama's honeymoon.")
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To: reaganaut
"Everything the LDS believe hinges on the reliability of Joseph Smith as a prophet. If he is a prophet, then the LDS church is the “restored” church of Christ. If however, he was a false prophet, or a con man, then the ENTIRE LDS church crumbles."

You hit the nail on the head and the truth is this: Joseph Smith failed the two tests outlined in the Bible for a true prophet of God:

1) A true prophets prophecies had to come true 100%, 100% of the time: Deuteronomy 18:20-22

2) Even if the prophets prophecies came true 100%, a false prophet would draw his followers away from worshiping the true and living God as presented in the Word of God to worship "other gods": Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Joseph Smith failed BOTH of these biblical tests. He is therefore a false prophet and the founder of a false "religion" that worships a false christ.

46 posted on 04/15/2009 1:20:39 PM PDT by Jmouse007 (tot)
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To: Godzilla

ping to #41


47 posted on 04/15/2009 1:23:41 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Godzilla

Does that include the un-lds-canonized JST/IV? What about the 3000+ changes to the bom since 1830? How about the changes to Moses after Young died?

- - - - - - - - -
Good point. So if we throw out the BOM, PGP, Bible and JST, then that just leaves the D&C and there are many changes in that from the original “Book of Commandments”. Hmmm, guess that has to go, too. So what are the LDS left with?


48 posted on 04/15/2009 1:27:18 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: aMorePerfectUnion; restornu

Reaganaut,
Please join those of us who have designated thuRsdays as Resty thuRsdays!
ampu

- - - - - - - - -

I would be glad to. I pray for her (and other LDS freepers on a daily basis, but will make thuRsdays a particular day for intercessory prayer for our dear Resty.


49 posted on 04/15/2009 1:30:26 PM PDT by reaganaut (ex-mormon, now Christian. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: reaganaut; restornu

reaganaut,
You got the “dear” part exactly right.
I’m with you, standing in the gap for
dear resty regularly. thuRsdays, I hope
I’m joined by many of the Inmans who realize
that God alone opens hearts and changes lives.
You can’t argue someone into the kingdom.
That takes the Holy Spirit.

ampu


50 posted on 04/15/2009 1:52:24 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion ("I, El Rushbo -- and I say this happily -- have hijacked Obama's honeymoon.")
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