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A Mormon Scholarís Journey to Catholic Faith
First Things ^ | August 30, 2012 | Richard Sherlock

Posted on 09/01/2012 2:23:41 AM PDT by iowamark

Early in the evening of May 28, 2010, I am attending Mass in the majestic Basilica di Sant’Apollinare next to the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in Rome. From Utah I have come as a scholar to deliver a paper at an international conference on the work of the great Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and I have come as a tourist to see the Eternal City for the first time. Mass is being celebrated in the basilica for those attending the conference.

I am not Catholic—in fact, I was raised a Mormon, though I have had serious doubts about the Latter-day Saint faith for decades. Yet my journey of the heart—which ultimately ended in the Catholic Church—came long after I had intellectually departed—so I cannot receive Holy Communion. But when Archbishop Raymond Burke places his hand on my head in a blessing, the extraordinary presence of Jesus Christ moves my soul to tears. I now know, in my head and in my heart, that I have come to Rome as a pilgrim. I have finally heard his voice, and I will not turn away.

Of course, I was awestruck by the beauty of Rome. The conference was wonderful, and I made important contacts and great friends. But infinitely more important, I found a priceless gift: the God of truth I had ignored for decades. I found my soul, which had been lost in the fog of my pride and stubbornness. Thus began a journey that took me to the waters of Catholic baptism, the anointing of confirmation, and first Communion at the Easter Vigil of 2012. You do not need to travel thousands of miles to have a real encounter with Christ. But your soul does need to be open in a way mine had not been for years.

Mormon friends ask how I could leave the LDS Church. Catholic friends ask why the pilgrimage to Rome took me so long. My brother, a rabbi, was the first person I told I was converting. When we talked, he said simply, “You were a Catholic thinker when you were a graduate student at Harvard in the 1970s.”

Intellectually, there are two beliefs at the core of the LDS faith that I eventually realized I could not accept. The first is the doctrine of a “great apostasy” afflicting the church. Mormons do not deny that Peter led the church after Jesus’ Ascension. They deny that the Holy Spirit continued to guide it. Mormons believe that after Peter the patristic church lost its way.

And by “losing its way,” Mormons do not mean that the church suffered from human sinfulness or became too wedded to secular power. Christianity supposedly strayed so far that it was no longer Christianity. It did not merely require renewal, as St. Francis preached. It did not merely require a new vocabulary to express timeless truths, as Vatican II proclaimed. Mormons believe that the church—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant visions alike—completely died and that Christianity required a “restoration” by God himself.

My intellectual journey was inspired in large part by my study of patristics. Reading the Church Fathers in my first year at Harvard in 1970–71, I realized that this story was false. Even my meager study of the Fathers allowed me to see what Newman had seen—that there was a development of Christian thought, a deepening of our understanding of such truths as the Incarnation and the Trinity. There simply was no evidence of a fundamental break from the church Jesus established. As one of Mormonism’s most brilliant minds of the last half century, Edwin Firmage, wrote after he left the LDS Church: “The idea that God was sort of snoozing until 1820 now seems to me absurd.”

Two passages from the Gospel of Matthew are particularly difficult to reconcile with the Mormon doctrine of the great apostasy. Jesus promised Peter that “the gates of the netherworld” would not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16) and he promised the Apostles that he would be with the Church until the end of the age (Matthew 28).

The other fundamental Mormon teaching that I cannot accept is the absence of an existential distinction between God and man. In an 1844 sermon, Joseph Smith made a claim that profoundly shapes the way Mormons see the world: “God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man.” Parse this out and God himself becomes a finite, physical being. How, I wondered, can we have absolute confidence in a God whose power and knowledge are limited, not just by the rules of logic, as St. Thomas would have said, but by unknown barriers? A limited God cannot be our anchor in the face of extreme horrors or profound personal loss. In the face of terrible, inexplicable loss, Job did not place his trust in an “exalted man.” The God who spoke to Job did not start out on a world like ours. This God, who comforted Job and comforts millions of others every day, to whom we can truly pray “not my will but yours be done,” cannot be the limited being Mormons call “god.”

The Mormon “god,” who came from a world like ours, cannot be the creator of all worlds, as Scripture and reason tell us he is. The physical god of the Mormons cannot have been present at creation, when there was no matter. Furthermore, if all of us can become “gods,” then Mormonism is incompatible with Christian Trinitarianism and Jewish monotheism. It is polytheism.

Compounding all this, in my experience, is the fact that Mormons generally do not seek for serious answers. In fact, Mormon authorities actively discourage the marriage of faith and reason that we Catholics celebrate. I now profess openly what I always too silently believed: If a faith cannot be sustained in the face of serious questions, it is not a faith worth having.

If these reasons to reject Mormonism were sound for me over forty years ago, why did I stay? I could say it was culture, friendship, or inertia, and those reasons are accurate in a certain sense. But the full truth is found in Psalm 95: “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” I now know that at least four times in those forty years I specifically heard God calling me to his Church, but I turned away. My oldest and closest friend since 1970 told me twice directly that, like him, I should be a Catholic. I knew he was right. Yet I did nothing.

In one instance, the turning was literal. I had invited a Catholic theologian to speak at Utah State on religion and science, and I arranged a lunch for him with the Newman Club. After lunch, the parish priest and I talked for a long time. As our conversation wound down, I felt strongly that I should go with him to his office and talk about my faith. Yet I turned away and walked back to my office.

In the past two years, my journey towards the Catholic Church has brought me to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ than I have ever had. I have not “given up my faith.” Leaving Mormonism for Catholicism is a journey many others are making, and it has allowed me to experience God’s love in a profoundly richer way.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ecumenism; Other Christian
KEYWORDS: catholic; lds
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Richard Sherlock is a professor of philosophy at Utah State University. He has taught philosophy at Northeastern University and the University of Tennessee and moral theology at Fordham University.

No, this thread has nothing to do with Mitt Romney.

1 posted on 09/01/2012 2:23:54 AM PDT by iowamark
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To: iowamark

Welcome home, Mr. Sherlock.


2 posted on 09/01/2012 3:26:39 AM PDT by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: iowamark

I have never understood how Mormons can keep a straight face when talking about Mormon beliefs. They range from the crackpot ( the 12 tribes in their cork submarines and how Momon men get their own planets after they die) to the offensive (their beliefs about the nature of God).

I think that there are a lot of Mormons who would really just like to be Evangelical Christians, only with a bit more structure. Smith was a sort of quack who dabbled in get rich quick schemes and looked for gold through a crystal in his “magic hat,” but he had been brought up in what was called the Burnt Over District, an area of Upstate New York and bordering states that had had so many wandering preachers and ecstatic revivals that there was nobody left to revive anymore. The nature of Evangelical Christianity is anti-institutional, so there was no way to make the results of the revivals last; people had no church to join, so it would all wear off.

Joseph Smith, who saw himself as a “second Mohammed,” essentially took a combination of formless emotional Arianized Christianity (where Jesus is not the Son of God, but essentially a very important prophet, just as in Islam), his own totally nutty cosmology and some self-serving beliefs, such as his right to several wives, and adopted a structure for them - one that was also present in his 19th century rural world, that of Masonry. Mormon rituals and even a lot of their internal structures are based on Masonry and the secret society model (lodges and secret societies were very popular in the unrooted, isolated world of 19th century and frontier America). Brigham Young, who was even more organizationally minded, consolidated all this.

Eventually, I guess they’ll have to make a choice. It will be either to go whole hog with their nuttiness (the reason they can’t really reject the “primitive” Mormons who practice polygamy and live on welfare in the desert is that these people actually are following pure Mormon beliefs) or their “Presiding Bishop” will have a dream and announce that God sent Joseph Smith just to shake people up and put them on the right footing, and that now the time for his beliefs are over and the Mormon church will make a profession of faith in the Nicene Creed.


3 posted on 09/01/2012 3:47:45 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius

LDS can keep their faces straight for two reasons. One is, they do not understand or care how their beliefs differ significantly from other beliefs, and they are taught from earliest childhood that their beliefs are ‘right’ while all others are ‘wrong’. When they discuss their religion with others outside the faith they are ‘sharing the Gospel’, or having a ‘first discussion’ with them.


4 posted on 09/01/2012 4:31:54 AM PDT by STYRO (Do not accept unconstitutional government as legitimate government.)
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To: iowamark
I'm an "other Christian," and see from his words and witness that Richard Sherlock has been a phony "professor" for many years. He has now made a step backward in time, forward in thinking, an advance toward a genuine faith, but he is not quite there.

He has yet to make one more saving step to make, beyond the "universal church" concept, and into the Company of the Committed (as suggested by Elton Trueblood. another philosopher and prolific writer) by the Blood of The Christ, through the Veil, and into the Most Holy Place to which Peter, and Paul, and John, and Silas, and Timothy, and Mark, and, yes Mary and her children Jacob (James, that is) and Jude, and Cleopas, and his wife Mary, and Cornelius, and Lydia, and Aquila, and Priscilla, and Stephen, and Ananius of Damascus, and many other true confreres of the 120 that gathered together in Jerusalem for the first Pentecost after His Resurrection/Ascension.

Until he makes that step of total committed persistent trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and in The Faith of Him of which He is the embodiment in the flesh, not leaning on reasonings, or traditions, or humanoid experiences, Sherlock is still poised for judgment at the final Great White Throne.

So far, all the so-titled Smithite "Elders" appearing on my doorstep have refused instruction regarding it and their culpability. They have insisted that they will stand in that judgment as to their works and final eternal disposition, and that it will be beneficial to themselves. They do not claim, as do I in faith, to have been judged on the Cross, freed of guilt, and of the penalty and power of Sin as a master. What a shame it will be for them.

Sherlock needs to step in faith back past the inception of what is termed catholic, past its Platonic-based philosophy, past its allegories, syllogisms, reasonings, and supererogatic works, and join the company of the humble and meek truly regenerated believer-disciple bondslave-followers of The Anointed One, into the kingdom of His priests, every one, whose assignment is glorifying Him forever.

Sherlock has, so far, missed the main point. He is still blinded. And set to perish. I pray God to save him yet,

IMVHO

5 posted on 09/01/2012 5:40:37 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: imardmd1

You need to do some ocular logging.


6 posted on 09/01/2012 6:09:59 AM PDT by Houghton M.
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To: imardmd1
I think you've missed Sherlock's main point. Mormonism says every man can become a god. Protestantism says that every man can become his own Pope. Both of them say that the church Jesus founded on the apostles couldn't stand the test of time and needed "reformation" or "restoration" through some self-appointed human agency.

Only the Catholic vision is consistent with a church guided to "all truth" through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.

7 posted on 09/01/2012 6:10:07 AM PDT by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: imardmd1

What’s wrong with syllogisms?

Can you answer the question without recourse to syllogisms?


8 posted on 09/01/2012 6:28:58 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: livius
Smith was a sort of quack who dabbled in get rich quick schemes and looked for gold through a crystal in his “magic hat,” but he had been brought up in what was called the Burnt Over District, an area of Upstate New York and bordering states that had had so many wandering preachers and ecstatic revivals that there was nobody left to revive anymore. The nature of Evangelical Christianity is anti-institutional, so there was no way to make the results of the revivals last; people had no church to join, so it would all wear off.

This is a very, very excellent and succinct summary of the heritage of the religious history of the area traversed by the Erie Canal. Its fervence was so stirred by the The Second Great Awakening and the likes of Charles Finney, as well as evangelists and religious sects coursing back and fothe between New England and the midwest, that people got very tired and numbed to the emotional levels and sin-socking preachers.

It was that area in which I was born and grew up, that is only now becoming approachable by sincere and warm Truth-bearers of New Testament Christianity.

9 posted on 09/01/2012 6:42:06 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: imardmd1

It’s a very interesting area and this is a very interesting period in US religious history. I don’t think enough people know about it.


10 posted on 09/01/2012 7:08:15 AM PDT by livius
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To: Mad Dawg
What’s wrong with syllogisms?

Nothing. As a trained scientist, I use deductive reasoning all the time. It's the misuse that is troublesome:

"Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore--
Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second. This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed."
(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary)

Can you answer the question without recourse to syllogisms?

Yes.

11 posted on 09/01/2012 7:10:18 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: Houghton M.
You need to do some ocular logging. You are being a bit Stygian here. What do you mean to say? That you are not blinded?
12 posted on 09/01/2012 7:16:52 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: imardmd1

We agree that syllogisms themselves are okay. It’s their misuse that is the problem.

Bierce’s fencepost is hardly syllogism though ...


13 posted on 09/01/2012 7:38:58 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: imardmd1

this post can only have been written by someone who joins the Mormons in accusing the Universal Church of apostacy in the second century.

question for you, since you can judge whether someone is saved or not:

can you name three people who lived between 100ad and 1500ad who pass your test of being a Christian and therefore saved?


14 posted on 09/01/2012 8:27:39 AM PDT by one Lord one faith one baptism
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To: Vroomfondel

bflr


15 posted on 09/01/2012 9:40:22 AM PDT by Vroomfondel
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To: livius
It’s a very interesting area and this is a very interesting period in US religious history. I don’t think enough people know about it.

I agree. Though Finney was apparently the author of the phase "Burned Over District," he was certainly a part of bringing it to cinders. The area at the time was certainly frontier, full of freedom-lovers, free thinkers, individualism, danger, enterprise, and experimenters. Just reading through the biographies of people who influenced the life there is greatly educational. I used to wonder at the doings of Moses Van Campen and the bloody Iroquois, and Philip Church, son of Angelica Schuyler Church who was sister-in-law to Alexander Hamilton, and many other New York and Pennsylvania wild frontiersmen. Much of that spirit whem I lived in Rushford and Angelica, NY. Miss it now --

16 posted on 09/01/2012 9:49:40 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: iowamark

Yes, do the math. For about every 500,000 Catholics who join the LDS Church, about one converts the other way, to Catholocism. The latter example really IS news!


17 posted on 09/01/2012 10:00:00 AM PDT by JustTheTruth
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To: JustTheTruth

Wow! According to that stat can’t be many Catholics left.


18 posted on 09/01/2012 10:00:57 AM PDT by morphing libertarian
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To: livius
“....the 12 tribes in their cork submarines ...”

That's a good one! I have never heard that one before, is it in their SciFi novel?

19 posted on 09/01/2012 10:17:48 AM PDT by Reily
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To: imardmd1
Those were strange times at the beginning of the “Great Awaking”. My Fathers family is LDS, early LDS, and I can't understand the attraction.

For example my Grandmother Grandfather, a successful businessman dropped every thing to be a missionary, beats the hell out of me.

20 posted on 09/01/2012 10:35:29 AM PDT by Little Bill
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To: Reily

I had a friend (Catholic) who was from the only non-Mormon family in his town in Colorado. This theory was taught in the public schools of that town, at least until the 1970s.

His mother told him just to ignore it and make sure he got through 6th grade...the family then moved out of Mormon territory.

I think one of the reasons there are so many Mormons in computer sciences is that it’s logical, mathematical, not based on any weird theories, and Mormonism has nothing to do with it.


21 posted on 09/01/2012 10:52:16 AM PDT by livius
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To: morphing libertarian

I’ve seen Mormons at work in Catholic countries and among Catholic immigrants. They give the impression that this is nothing but an American version of Christianity, so it has a lot of appeal to people who want to be or emulate Americans.

I read somewhere that they are actually told not to reveal their true beliefs when they are preaching. I saw them once in Spain, singing American Christmas carols and acting as if the were just like the Baptists (who also recruit heavily in Catholic countries, again, because people there regard it is being modern and American).

They also sponsor and host a lot of Nativity scenes and things like that, even though of course they do not believe in the Incarnation. I am very interested in Nativity scenes, and I was a member of a national Nativity scene organization that was essentially taken over by the Mormons for their own purposes.

I’ve also seen them in Miami and many other places where there are Hispanic and Haitian immigrants, and again, they come across just like any Evangelicals. I think there’s a lack of truth in advertising there...


22 posted on 09/01/2012 11:01:06 AM PDT by livius
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To: Mad Dawg
We agree that syllogisms themselves are okay. It’s their misuse that is the problem.
Bierce’s fencepost is hardly syllogism though ...

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." God said it.
That settles it.
By complete total faith I believe it.
By syllogism, angels dance on the head of a pin.
I do not believe in that.

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural (psuchikos) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolish unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually (pneumatikos) discerned. ...
But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2:12-14,16b)

The word "therefore" does not appear in this passage. The 'psuchikos' man who attempts psychological logic to attain dominance, and needs it to stabilize.

The spiritual man leans not on his own understanding, but trusts in the inerrant, infallible, plenary inspired, and preserved Word of The God, which spoken, conquers.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. ..." (Phil. 2:5)

Did it make any sense by humanistic reasonings (logismoi) for Him to come down from His Glory, and be slain as a though a disobedient slave of Satan?

23 posted on 09/01/2012 11:07:29 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: livius
The Missouri Mormons (formerly the RDLS’ers now Community of Christ), those that stayed under the leadership of the Smith family have quietly moved in that direction. They have changed the name of the church so it is much less pretentious, now called Community of Christ.
24 posted on 09/01/2012 11:20:09 AM PDT by Reily
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To: livius; morphing libertarian
I read somewhere that they are actually told not to reveal their true beliefs when they are preaching.

That is true, they are formally taught how to mislead, redirect, and lie, so that they can gradually turn a convert, knowing that a too early slip would turn a cult seduction into an hilarious farce, which even the least knowledgeable Christians would scoff at and mock.

There is a video of one of their professors teaching it, and calling it "milk before meat" one piece of the training is to not answer the question the subject asks, but the question that they should have asked, you will see these techniques used here by Mormons.

25 posted on 09/01/2012 11:52:57 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Aug. 27, 2012-Mitt Romney said his views on abortion are more lenient than the Republican Platform)
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To: JustTheTruth

Source for your statistics please.


26 posted on 09/01/2012 11:56:25 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: imardmd1

Your opinion is not very humble. It’s also not accurate according to the facts.


27 posted on 09/01/2012 11:56:44 AM PDT by vladimir998
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To: iowamark

God bless him for being open enough to see the truth of Catholicism.


28 posted on 09/01/2012 12:05:53 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: imardmd1
Oh my. Here we go.

First: To defend logismoi in some circumstances is not to say that syllogism provide ALL truth. So to concede that some perception of truth comes through means other than logismoi is not to abandon syllogisms entirely.

Now, syllogisms are about the relationship between assertions. Reasoning in general is pretty much the same. For example:

What God said is reliable.
"In the beginning ...." is a thing God said.
Therefore it is reliable.
That there is a syllogism. Your "God said it... That settles it..." conceals a syllogism.

I would hold that the primary assertions of the Faith are given by the Spirit.
The necessary insight and disposition to see their implication clearly and justly are given by the same Spirit.

I think the difference is that in our view the Spirit usually works with what we have. For example, He doesn't take the sex out of marriage, he sanctifies it and the relationship.

He doesn't take, in our view, the "syllogism" (and here we are using a kind of synedoche) out of faith; he sanctifies and directs it.

In Romans 2:15

οἵτινες ἐνδείκνυνται τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου γραπτὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν τῆς συνειδήσεως καὶ μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων τῶν λογισμῶν κατηγορούντων ἢ καὶ ἀπολογουμένων, ...
Paul does not seem to condemn logismoi, though elsewhere he certainly makes an opposition.

It seems to me to deny the goodness of creation to say that reason is useless. And arguments in favor of the proposition will fail because they appeal to reason, whether they admit it or not.

29 posted on 09/01/2012 12:39:00 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: imardmd1; Mad Dawg
One woman can have a baby in nine months.

So nine women could have a baby in one month.

Something like that.

30 posted on 09/01/2012 4:23:07 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Point of clarification?)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

LOL


31 posted on 09/01/2012 5:20:47 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: one Lord one faith one baptism
this post can only have been written by someone who joins the Mormons in accusing the Universal Church of apostacy in the second century.

And the Donatists, and the Novatans, and Tetullian and the Montanists, and the Numidians, etc. There is no Universal Church with its supra-local polity to have dominion over local churches, recorded in the NT, is there? Well, I ask a rhetorical question, knowing that following that line is a debate that will now only cease when Christ comes to affirm His commands and reject presumptuous ones.

question for you, since you can judge whether someone is saved or not:

You mistakenly credit me with God-like qualities. God has reserved condemnation for himself, I only observe and evaluate as to how I ought to respond according to His counsel.

I think you've got it backward. The equation is being saved (through understanding and subscribing to as much of The Faith of Christ as He foreknows that one has determined to persistently commit trust in and forever follow Christ), to publicly and irreversibly avouch; and thus be titled as "Christian" by conduct as His bond-slave as having that vocation.

can you name three people who lived between 100ad and 1500ad who pass your test of being a Christian and therefore saved?

Not my test. The Holy Spirit witnessing with one's own spirit is the test to pass. But a negative test is failing to meet foundational precepts as delivered to the saints who heard His voice and saw His wounds. Not likely to include Clement of Alexandria (an admirer of Pantanaeus the Gnostic, and his successor as head of the Catechical School there), Origen (one of the greatest corrupting influences of the early churches, as well as upon copies of the Bible documents), or Eusebius of Caesarea, Origen's disciple and emulator.

However, if you are trying to say that the only documentation available is that preserved by the Romanists from 100 to 1500 AD, even that testifies to the flaws introduced, and of the persecutions by which the "universalists" attempted to stamp out those securely preserving and conveying the commandments and culture of Christ. But a few names come up as good candidates for heroes of The Faith: Tertullianus, Donatus, Novation, Salvius, Henry of Lausanne, Peter de Bruis, and Arnold of Brescia -- their names will never be forgotten.

However, in the end, each of us will have to answer only for one's self. Was I faithful to Him? Did I follow him all the way? Or did I follow a will o' the wisp that never really brought me securely Home?

32 posted on 09/01/2012 5:45:15 PM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: Salvation
You are right. I don't have stats. But the growth of the church in Mexico, Central America and South America has been in the millions in recent decades, with a large majority of the new converts coming from those having membership in the Catholic Church.

For a visual of this, watch the linked video clip. A "stake" is a church unit of something like 8 to 10 separate congregations. The graphic visually shows what has happened - especially since the 1960's and '70's with growth of Stakes in those mostly-Catholic countries.

Graphic Showing Growth of LDS Stakes (Collection of 8-10 local congregations)

Church membership in 1963 reached 2 million; today it is about 14.5 million. See this link.

Today, a majority of the Church's membership is outside of the USA - again, most of that growth happening in countries that have been primarily Catholic historically (Mexico, Central and South America).

33 posted on 09/01/2012 5:57:43 PM PDT by JustTheTruth
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To: Campion
Only the Catholic vision is consistent with a church guided to "all truth" through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I'm afraid that you are not ready to be honest with that same Holy Ghost who without the Bible is mute. I can show you fifty ways in which Romanism departed from The Faith once delivered to the saints. But I will not wrangle here, since only a Berean mindset will do. Though a Roman caucus was not announced with this topic, getting into a fruitless tiff is something I'd prefer not to engage in here.

With respect --

34 posted on 09/01/2012 6:00:57 PM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: JustTheTruth
P.S., and "500,000 to 1" is clearly a gross exaggeration, not intended by me to be taken literally....

Mea culpa on that....!

But, the big picture is pretty clear in terms of a significant outmigration from Catholicism to Mormonism as illustrated in the brief video clip.

35 posted on 09/01/2012 6:01:00 PM PDT by JustTheTruth
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To: iowamark

“I have come to Rome as a pilgrim” ...

Jesus is not found only in Rome. FWIW.


36 posted on 09/01/2012 6:06:56 PM PDT by Theo (May Christ be exalted above all.)
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To: Campion

“Protestantism says that every man can become his own Pope.”

Your misunderstanding of evangelical Christianity is phenomenal.


37 posted on 09/01/2012 6:08:36 PM PDT by Theo (May Christ be exalted above all.)
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To: imardmd1

Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church and that He would be with us always, even unto the end of the world. the Universal Church has been here for 2,000 years just as Jesus said it would. the reason is the Church is the Body of Christ on earth, it is not a man made institution like the Moose Club or the baptist church. the groups you listed split off from the Church and fell into obscurity.
no Church that has authority over local churches? hmm, i guess you never read Acts 15 unless you think the “local” church of Jerusalem extended all the way to Antioch. i guess Paul was also a member of the local Corithian church?

i didn’t mistakenly credit you with God-like qualities, you claimed these qualities on your own. how else could you write “he has one more saving step to make......” REALLY??
YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE MAN, AND YET YOU KNOW HE IS UNSAVED. GOD-LIKE QUALITY INDEED.

no you have it backwards, salvation is by grace, not anything we do, it is a gift from God.

it’s funny, all the names you listed as “candidates as heroes” all believed in baptismal regeneration. of course, ever since Peter preached in Acts 2:38, the Church has taught baptismal regeneratin, but those who teach the second century apostasy always point to baptismal regeneration as one of the evidences of apostasy. so i congratulate you on at least believing at least this doctrine of historical Christianity.

since you reject a Universal Church, it leads me to wonder if you believe anyone on earth from 95ad on had the authority to declare a canon of Scripture? if yes, who had this authority and where did the authority come from? if no, is everyone supposed to read every book that claims to be Scripture and decide on their own? and do you follow the Catholic Tradition of a 27 book NT?


38 posted on 09/01/2012 6:56:05 PM PDT by one Lord one faith one baptism
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To: iowamark

“The other fundamental Mormon teaching that I cannot accept is the absence of an existential distinction between God and man. In an 1844 sermon, Joseph Smith made a claim that profoundly shapes the way Mormons see the world: “God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man.”

If you follow many leaders of the so-called “faith” movement, there have been many among them who believe this also. Hmmmmm.


39 posted on 09/01/2012 7:10:02 PM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: Mad Dawg
Paul does not seem to condemn logismoi, though elsewhere he certainly makes an opposition.

Genesis 1:1 is not an appeal to reason. It is an opening statement. It demands faith. It is not a logical proposition. It is not part of a debate.

Is the Holy Ghost there speaking to a blank slate? Were that so, as in the Garden. But the intelligent mind is already prejudiced by sin. The Holy Ghost imparts faith to the heart as he speaks, addressing the mind, but quenching and bypassing reasonings.

Romans 12:2, 2 Cor. 10:3-6

My opinion is that acceptance of Genesis 1:1 is spiritual discernment, not a logical conclusion drawn from other facts.

The point was that the Greek-educated Alexandrians brought a lot of philosopical methodology into interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that confounded the hermeneutics of the Apostles and their disciples, laying the ground for apostasy through following the world's rather than honoring, keeping, and transmitting Christ's commands without change.

With respect --

40 posted on 09/01/2012 7:25:43 PM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: one Lord one faith one baptism
Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, ...

He said "My church" -- not just any church. And you have capitalized it. And you have inferred that it is something more than a gathering of members called out from their homes into one local public place for the purpose of deliberating. Your "church" goes beyond a local assembly, which sense is not given by the precise translation of the Koine.

... and that He would be with us always, even unto the end of the world. ...

That promise was conditional on obeying five of his commands:

o to journey
o to recruit disciples (not just converts) from all peoples
o to induct the disciples by individually administering the rite of water baptism into discipleship, by the authority of The Father, the authority of The Son, and the authority of The Holy Ghost
o to congregate the inducted baptized disciples for the purpose of public indoctrination
o the topic of the public teaching was to keep watchfully secure without changing, embroidering, or otherwise "improving" every already perfected command that He had committed for them to obey and keep.

Implicitly water baptism is the only baptism the Jews knew of, and that was by immersion in living water, exactly as in a mikvah, of an adult person responsible and accountable for his/her irreversible transformation to becoming a bondslave of Christ from being a bondslave of Satan. Furthermore, even pouring or sprinkling with "stagnant" water (let alone the requisite total body immersion) for ritual purification--as from a font--would be wholly abominable to the Jewish culture.

Furthermore, water baptism is an external testimony as a public declaration of something that is claimed by the disciple to have already occurred internally--the birth of a new spiritual man inside, and confessed by the person claiming salvation by faith, not by works lest any man should boast. Water baptism does not and cannot impart regeneration by a work of man.

This precludes and negates any possible participation of an infant, or person ignorant of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, or one not intending to continue in a process bringing spiritual maturity, as having any beneficial effect on one's eternal destiny.

the Universal Church has been here for 2,000 years ...

The universal invisible church concept never entered any theologian's mind, until it was invented and proclaimed by the Bishop of Hippo, Augustine, somewhere about 400 AD, to deal with the paradox of having an impure visible "Church."

... just as Jesus said it would.

Please give me the verse citation where this happened, eh?

the reason is the Church is the Body of Christ on earth, ...

Each local faithful assembly of saints, obeying the Lord's ordinances, governed according to New Testament principles, and subjecting itself to effective church discipline, is a Body of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for whom the next step in authority is the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Of course, He is not going to wed a hundred thousand Brides. On his return in the air to snatch away both the living ones and those resurrected, they will be joined as the general assembly (festal paneguris) and Church (ekklaysia) of The Firstborn. Here is where His Church will be assembled as one, as he said to Peter and others.

... it is not a man made institution like the Moose Club ...

As would be a religious organization set up by men and governed by traditions of men and following a Nicolaitanism paradigm (clergy ruling over the "lay" constituents), which Christ hates.

... baptist church. the groups you listed split off from the Church and fell into obscurity.

You mean obeyed The Holy Spirit and separated from idolatry to serve the Living God, and for this were persecuted to death (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1) for (1) coming out from them, (2) maintaining separation, and (3) refusing to touch the unclean thing. Their adversary attempted to stamp them and their uncorrupted vernacular Bibles into oblivion, but failed. We know about them, and the price they paid in flesh for Heavenly glory.

no Church that has authority over local churches?

That is correct. At the end of the apostolic age, look at The Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 and see how Christ dealt with the seven local churches. There was no overarching episcopacy external to the local churches and their pastors. With John as his amansuensis (John had no authority over these assemblies) Christ dealt with each pastor individually and firmly. There was no diocese having rule over them. He was/is that great Shepherd of His Own sheep, the Bishop of their souls, the Head of each one.

hmm, i guess you never read Acts 15 unless you think the “local” church of Jerusalem extended all the way to Antioch.

Yeah, I read Acts 15 once or twice. Says nothing about the Jerusalem church having any direct authority over Antioch of Syria. Only says that Jacob (James, Mary's son by Joseph) gave them wise coumsel, and sent two members to explain the decisions of the Jerusalem church for itself, and strongly recommending that their decision was of the Holy Ghost, So what?

i guess Paul was also a member of the local Corithian church?

No, Paul was always a member of the church at Antioch of Syria. They were his, and Barnabas', sending church. The Corinthian church was from his efforts, but he was not a member of it. Of course, he had the apostolic authority, but that passed when he died. There is no Scripture showing that he passed it on, nor put anybody out of the church. In one case, they had to step up and do it, under his advice.

i didn’t mistakenly credit you with God-like qualities, ..."

Don't back off from this and try to shift blame. You did, and that was bad judgment. Either apologize, or shut up on this. I don't do the saving or condemning. But God does, and He has some conditions for walking in His ways. I do not have to know more about Sherlock than he says, to evaluate his likely position.

no you have it backwards, salvation is by grace, not anything we do, it is a gift from God.

Yes, salvation is free, and so is grace, but God has condiions. They are knowing the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, of which baptismal regeneration is not a part; of repentance from dead works, turning to God from idols; and concurrenly fully and persistently committing one's trust in Christ for life eternal, salvation never lost.

You don't just wander into Heaven by mistake. It's something you commit to, counting the cost. That's an attitude, not a work.

it’s funny, all the names you listed as “candidates as heroes” all believed in baptismal regeneration.

Wrong. Peter was not regenerated when he was baptized into discipleship by Christ. He was not even converted at the time of the last supper. (Lk. 6:32) Peter denied Christ 6 times before He was crucified. At this point, Jesus would have denied Peter before The Father (Mt. 10:33). And Peter wept bitterly, I supposed that he was worthy of Christ's denial. Also, Peter was not regenerated until the Pentecost Sunday. Forget the baptismal regeneration thing That belief is deeply flawed. All the names I named knew from experience that repentance/salvation/regeneration are in w moment, in the blink of an eye. I do, too.

of course, ever since Peter preached in Acts 2:38, the Church has taught baptismal regeneratin,

A Precise Translation of Acts 2:38 gives this:

"Then Peter expressed to them, 'Repent at once! and be baptized each one of you by using the name of Jesus Christ on the basis* of forgiveness of sins! And you shall receive the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit' " (Ac. 2:38 APT)(my emphasis). It is very tempting here to want to accept the phrase "with a view toward" as representing the preposition "eis"; but his is not so. The correct use here for "eis" is "on the basis* of" the forgiveness of sins. This is not a baptism to cause sins to be remitted, for if you have confessed and intend to abandon your sinful life, God does not hold back until you are wet! They are forgiven and you are immediately saved by Him, and now you may be baptized into a life of discipleship on the basis that your sins are forgiven. The baptism is advancing in the first step of obedience to Christ's ordinance (already discussed). Remember, it is Peter here, and he personally knows and would never give one the idea that water baptism produces forgiveness of sins nor salvation nor regeneration.

It's very late, and I do not wish to deal with the canon issue anymore this AM. Perhaps more later.

41 posted on 09/02/2012 12:08:12 AM PDT by imardmd1 (Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them NOT!)
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To: imardmd1; one Lord one faith one baptism
"candidates for heroes of The Faith: Tertullianus, Donatus, Novation, Salvius, Henry of Lausanne, Peter de Bruis, and Arnold of Brescia"

What would be their distinguishing marks or the criteria you would use in determining that these men were Christians (as you define that term) in faith and practice? What I'm looking for is traits that would distinguish them as members of an identifiably non-Catholic church which is not at the same time one of the obvious heresies (e.g. denying the OT, denying the eternal divinity of Christ, etc.)

These historical questions are of ongoing interest to me, since I do not want to fall into, say, MOrmon-like credulity. See tagline)

This is not some kind of set-up question or gotcha question. I am sincerely interested in the distinguishing criteria. Thank you for your time and care.

42 posted on 09/02/2012 4:34:01 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Credulity is belief with scant evidence, with no evidence, or against evidence.)
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To: imardmd1
The spiritual man leans not on his own understanding, but trusts in the inerrant, infallible, plenary inspired, and preserved Word of The God.....

"Contradiction" anyone?

43 posted on 09/02/2012 5:02:22 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: imardmd1
Not my test. The Holy Spirit witnessing with one's own spirit is the test to pass.

How does one qualify such a "test?"

44 posted on 09/02/2012 5:13:28 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: imardmd1
... that same Holy Ghost who without the Bible is mute.

Why? What changed?

45 posted on 09/02/2012 5:19:10 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: Theo
Your misunderstanding of evangelical Christianity is phenomenal.

Your misunderstanding of evangelical Christianity is typical.

46 posted on 09/02/2012 5:23:13 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: imardmd1
But the intelligent mind is already prejudiced by sin. The Holy Ghost imparts faith to the heart as he speaks, addressing the mind, but quenching and bypassing reasonings.

Then by what faculty did Paul expect the Corinthian Church to discern the sin in 1 Corinthian 5?

47 posted on 09/02/2012 5:32:58 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: papertyger

Snappy come-back, my ignorant friend!


48 posted on 09/02/2012 5:58:10 AM PDT by Theo (May Christ be exalted above all.)
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To: Theo

Ignorant? Hardly.

I had over twenty years as an evangelical to qualify it.


49 posted on 09/02/2012 6:00:48 AM PDT by papertyger ("And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if..."))
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To: papertyger

I’m sorry that during your 20 years as an evangelical, you apparently never came to experience a simple faith in Jesus.


50 posted on 09/02/2012 7:12:42 AM PDT by Theo (May Christ be exalted above all.)
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