Skip to comments.'Can I Still Go to Heaven?' offers hope (Mormon - OPEN)
Posted on 06/05/2010 2:10:35 PM PDT by Colofornian
Anthony Sweat's honest treatment of the religious teen's insecurities opens with a confession: "When I was a teenager, I was afraid to die."
After all, which kingdom would God deem him worthy of? Terrestrial? Telestial?
Sweat, a veteran LDS educator who currently teaches seminary at West High in Salt Lake City, has seen his share of high school students struggling to make sense of the afterlife, has experienced fear of the unknown himself. But he was troubled when nearly half of Mormon youths he polled in his classes felt they fell tremendously short of celestial criteria; how some even felt they were spiraling toward outer darkness.
Sweat's latest book, "I'm Not Perfect. Can I Still Go to Heaven?" puts life after death front and center...
...Elder Russell M. Nelson's reminder:
"We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy not guilt trips! We also need to remember that the Lord gives us no commandments that are impossible to obey. But sometimes we fail to comprehend them fully."
This tendency to misunderstand scripture or get caught up in gospel lore rather than doctrine is something Sweat handles...
As Sweat says, "Do we really think that God's eternal plan, his perfect plan, is a plan designed to exalt and save only a small handful in the celestial kingdom? God's plan is not a plan of failure; it is a plan of successful salvation!"
Sweat recognizes our inclination to set unreachable standards of perfection for ourselves or for those around us, assuming anything less is unacceptable to a perfect God.
In actuality, there is a plan of grace and mercy in motion detailed in "I'm Not Perfect
" that, when realized and accepted, will not only uplift self-deprecating youths, but any Latter-day Saint looking and longing for hope.
(Excerpt) Read more at mormontimes.com ...
"Outer darkness" is Mormonese for "hell."
"Celestial criteria" = Mormonistic code for "worthiness" ["criteria"] (a huge Mormon word) for becoming a Mormon god ("Celestial" realm of heaven is reserved for temple Mormons who lived worthily enough to become the new gods).
Do you see how Mormon leaders first blame their grassroots' people?
"Oh, this is YOUR fault. You just haven't understood to comprehend all this fully."
Or, "You've misunderstand all this."
Or: "You've gotten caught up in gospel lore...those quotes of old we're always throwing at you from past general authorities."
What's very intriguing about this -- and a Mormon blog article I also came across today -- reveals what ex-Mormons like Greyfoxx39, Reaganaut, ColorCountry, Szonian, and others have repeatedly conveyed on this site and others over the past several years:
It runs along the idea that if someone becomes an ex-Mormon, the assumption by Mormons is automatically: "Well, what's wrong with YOU? YOU must have been...XYZ." (To TBMs, it can't be the Mormon church or its teachings). And so the "blame" for "failure" has to be projected onto the individual that just isn't "cutting it", or just didn't "cut it."
From the article: As Sweat says, "Do we really think that God's eternal plan, his perfect plan, is a plan designed to exalt and save only a small handful in the celestial kingdom? God's plan is not a plan of failure; it is a plan of successful salvation!" Sweat recognizes OUR INCLINATION TO SET UNREACHABLE STANDARDS OF PERFECTION FOR OURSELVES OR FOR THOSE AROUND US, ASSUMING ANYTHING LESS is unacceptable to a perfect God. In actuality, there is a plan of grace and mercy in motion...
The irony is that this article ends talking about "grace and mercy" -- two teachings the Mormon church has NEVER been known for emphasizing...and yet, even upon finally getting around to that at the end of the article, note the book and article still had to pin the blame on these youth!
(a) "FAIL to comprehend...commandments...fully";
(b) "tendency to misunderstand scripture."
(c) "our inclination to set unreachable standards of perfection for ourselves or for those around us..."
No, Mr. Sweat, thank you very much. Too many suicidal Utah teens have understood Mormonism's legalistic perfectionism all too well. And they are not the ones who were drilled with legalistic overfocus on commandment-keeping (And they knew they didn't "measure up"). So all of this is rolled up with Mormonism's legalistic onslaught and reinforces an overly deep sensitivity to attempted perfectionism.
A Mormon blogger (Jared Tanner) came out with this excerpt this week issuing this same kind of blame projection: I am not stating that all negative questions and concerns about the church stem from some conscious or subconscious antipathy towards Joseph Smith but almost all anti-Mormon materials essentially boil down impugning Joseph Smiths character, at least in my experience. This is because the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to His living prophets is Truth; it is sound and without contradiction. This does not mean that our understanding is perfect, nor have we been revealed everything yet (not even remotely) but the gospel is true. Any supposed imperfections are caused by our lack of understanding. (Source: For Anti-Mormons Its All About Joseph Smith )
There you have it: If there's any "contradiction" to Joseph Smith, it's not because Joe wasn't "sound."
"Why, it's...it's...it's YOU!"
"YOU are the one whose 'understanding is [not] perfect.'"
"It's YOUR 'lack of understanding' which leads to 'any supposed imperfections.'"
Now we know why Mormon youth are confused about their landing point in the afterlife!
OK, how does the above "teen catered" presentation sound to actual reality of what is commonly taught them by Mormon leaders???
According to Mormon writings, what makes you "worthy?" Your perfection (3 Nephi 12:48; Mt. 5:48)
[Whereas, in contrast, a good definition of a "Christian" is someone already perfect in the Father's eyes thru Jesus sacrificial death (Heb. 10:14) -- where His perfect righteousness is substituted for our imperfect righteousness. (1 Cor. 1:30). Heb. 10:14 ...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.]
Just to be sure, I looked up "worthiness" (a key Lds concept) in the 1977 "Topical Guide to the Scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" published by church-owned Deseret Publishers.
I found verses like Doctrine & Covenants 59:4: "And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time--they that are faithful and diligent before me."
"Commandments not a few"? -- sounds like a long checklist to me.
I then looked at the 1979 "Topical Guide" in the Lds version of its KJV -- and turned to the "worthiness" entry there: It tells me right up top its related to the concept of "qualifying for" & then proceeds to verses like D&C 31:5: "Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live."
Ah. There it is: The Mormon "strategy." Don't "trust" for your salvation, "thrust in your sickle"
So it sounds like the Mormon god wants plenty of soul labor -- paid labor -- spiritual hirelings -- earned labor for salvation. No free gifts here. No grace here. Just follow the rules, ma'am.
Indeed, the LDS are the "rules oriented" ones: The purity and perfection we seek is unattainable without this subjection of unworthy, ungodlike urges and the corresponding encouragement of their opposites. We certainly cannot expect the rules to be easier for us than for the Son of God... (Lds "prophet" Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 28)
Just look @ all the "rule extensions" Lds have imposed upon their followers in order to make it to the highest degree of afterlife:
(1) You have to be obedient to all the commandments & ordinances of the Mormon god
(2) You have to tithe -- what Lds reference as the "Law of consecration"
(3) You have to obey the "Word of Wisdom" -- not drink coffee, etc.
(4) You have to get married -- sorry, no never-married single people allowed
(5) You have to have as many children as possible
(6) You have to perform temple work for the dead
(7) You have to perform endowments essential for this highest salvation degree
(8) You have to be a member of the right church (Lds)
(9) You have to receive & perform the rites and ordinances established by that church
(10)You have to have Joseph Smith's consent to enter into your highest afterlife
That is 19th-20th-21st century legalism!
All who have accepted the One Jesus Christ of the Holy Bible as their Lord and Savior an repented of their sins will enter the Kingdom.
If this is not you, then do not call yourself Christian for you have no idea of the meaning of the Word.
So the impact to one's soul if they never "comprehend them fully" is what? Does one get a pass for at least trying, like the telestial or terrestial kingdom for instance if deemed worthy "enough"? Or is it outer darkness because you gave up trying to decipher the code that is mormonism
The use of the words of "comprehend" and "tendency" place the failure squarely on the shoulders of the member mormon.
The mere fact that mormonism is a maze is excluded from their so-called "rationale".
Note, too, the whole impersonality of this legalistic religion.
The focus is "them" (commandments) not Him (the Commandment-Giver).
As we see in this article, the focus isn't even on obeying HIM. Relationally MIA.
(The difference is like a "brown-noser" stuck in the work of dotting every "i" of a work policy vs. relating personally to the boss!)
That’s part of the problem. They have so many things that can trip you up during your journey that it’s impossible.
People become frustrated at the constant need for perfection and when they give up they are the ones blamed.
For me, I’m not that sure I’m god in embryo material anyway...
As you mentioned, the focus is not on Jesus, but the doctrine.
This has been the"attitude of superiority" that is ingrained in the mormon membership from day one.
You wait and see...if the larger Christian community is stupid enough to welcome the mormon church as a Christian one, it won't be long before they are holding "their" brand of "Christianity" up as the standard and expecting all of US to bow at their feet and to their superior "restored gospel".
YUP. Can't have any of that silly ole gospel stuff cluttering up your head. It's just fairy tales and gobbledy-gook that those Christians tinkered around with anyway. Wait, I mean, those OTHER Christians, the NOT REAL Christians, like we are. (/extreme s)
Well, I think you've hit upon the central issue as revealed by the teens this sem teacher polled. Almost half of Mormon teens are thinking exactly like that: "Me? A god (or goddess)? No way"
And so they think the issue is them -- I've even seen several years ago where at a BYU women's conference where one of the speakers referenced the reality that perhaps some of the women out there didn't have husbands who were "celestial material"...
So, in reality they look more to the "natural" -- the "material" -- what Lds "prophet" Spencer W. Kimball referenced as the ability to "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" (and he wasn't the lone Mormon leader to use this term).
What is with this worthiness crap and who decides if you are worthy in the first place?
As a Mason you may be worthy and well qualified but as a human under the dominion of the one true God, we are never worthy.
We are cleansed of our past sins when we accept salvation and our spirit is moved to walk correctly but, it doesn’t mean we will never sin. We will and yet our spiritual conscious should compel us to ask for forgiveness, a correction of thought and intent.
But, you are still saved and there is no man or being who has the imprimatur to define ones salvation, much let it pass into another state or obviate it, as man is always in a flawed state.
One is not perfected until entering that heavenly place where you will, forever, walk with the lord and live with him.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
Well, maybe things have changed a lot...It was quite amusing to go back to the area in which I grew up and see all the men I knew as teens now installed in bishoprics and stake presidencies or councilors to same...the ones whose first baby with their temple-sealed wife was one of those "eight-month" babies, the guys that used to sneak out of Mutual dances for a quick drink in the parking lot...
IMO, the mormon church as become more and more rigid and unforgiving over the years. My garmie-wearimg MIL ALWAYS had a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator, and my ex-husband reached the status as "elder" without, as far as I know, ever paying a dime in tithing. Of course, this was the guy who enjoyed slapping me around as a "rebuke" and his first cousin was first councilor to the bishop..the bishop who called me to a court of love for telling him "I quit the church."...who had quite a few kids, several of whom turned out to be hell-raisers...
I think the Karma ran over his Dogma.
I am SO glad I was able to move my own kids away from that toxic place and raise them as non-mormon...and so are they!
Pride eggs them on...to actually think one could attain godhood. (Can't get more pride-filled than that...I've seen it in the faces and voices of some of their missionaries)
(Webboy, thanks for making our point. Mormons tend to de-contextualize everything, and stress only what fits their pre-conceived Smithian perspective).
Yes, John 14:21 says, in effect, that by keeping His commandments, we show that we love Him.
And what also does John 14:15 say?
And John 14:23?
And John 14:24?
15"If you love me, you will obey what I command...
23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:15, 23-24)
Notice, Webboy, how Jesus reverses the order in each of those three verses:
* If you first love Jesus [the relationship comes first], then you'll obey Jesus. (paraphrase of 14:15)
* If you first love Jesus [the relationship comes first], then you'll obey His teaching (paraphrase of 14:23)
* And if you don't love Jesus [the relationship comes first], then you won't obey Jesus (paraphrase of 14:24)
Now, it's true, Webboy, that once the relationship is in place, obedience is still expected (John 14:21). But obedience doesn't determine or drive the relationship. It completes and reinforces it! Faith works!
A wife who loves her husband will serve him; a husband who loves his wife will serve her. Neither pull a "Oh, I'll win his/her heart by showing all the good works I can do on their behalf" shenanigans as a courtship maneuver. It's not, "I'm going to change God's mind about who I am by my works." He already knows you perfectly, Webboy! The question always is, "Do we know Him? Do we have a highly communicative, intimate, interactive relationship with Him...that includes and leads to further serving Him?"
So, note the order of your emphasis, Webboy. And for that single order of how Jesus presented that (John 14:21), he highlighted the reverse order three times. Because love and relationship and knowing and communication need to be at the center of our relationship with God -- just like it is to be in the family. Any family that is a drill sargeant orientation; or a chore completion orientation; is a bit off-kilter.
Yet, indeed, if you love your parents, a kid will do their chores! (see the order distinction???)
...Elder Russell M. Nelson’s reminder:
“We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy not guilt trips!
And the women ???
Women are that they ...?????
And the doctrine is never quite in focus...
theyre good people when I see them out and about.
Well, part of Nelson's quote comes from 2 Nephi 2:25 in the Book of Mormon (not the "guilt trip" part). So, to answer your Q, TN, ya just gotta go 2-3 verses before that:
Now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen...And they would have had no children..." (2 Nephi 2:22-23)
So, TN, the women "are" [sinful...that's Smith's implication here] that they might have children...
...and establish more bodies for waiting pre-existent spirits...
...and establish more bodies for waiting pre-existent spirits...
...and establish more bodies for waiting pre-existent spirits...
And, then as a "reward" for this bedroom and birthroom experience, you get to do it for eternity...
...only then be on the other end...
...producing pre-existent spirits by the billions...
...so that a new wave of young Mormon women can start this new cycle all over again...
A cycle of direct rebellion and disobedience against God's command...
...encouraging her husband to "tag along" for the sinful fun of it...
...bringing death and destruction and manifest diverse sin and mayhem and exploitation and abuse and warfare and the like into the world, to be passed down generation by generation...
...only to have some bloke Lds "apostle" pop into the scene and claim that Mormons "celebrate" Eve's fall (and I suppose all it led to)...see Lds "apostle" Dallin Oaks' comments in the Liahona mag...
men are that they might have joy not guilt trips!
BTW, this sounds like a catchy one-liner...except that it misses the context rather badly! 'Cause the initial part of this phrase in 2 Nephi 2:25 is that "Adam fell that men might be" -- might be what?
Smith uses an intransitive verb in v. 25! He doesn't finish the sentence & then goes on to another thought.
Well, allow me to finish it for him: what isn't conveyed in Smith's small mind was that Adam fell that men might be Sinners!!!!
Slaves to sin!!!
Darkened in their hearts!!! and hard-hearted!!!
Enemies of God!!!
Don't you think, Elder Nelson, that men should have had "guilt trips" over sin, over rebellion, or being at enmity with God? No???
Well, maybe momentarily it is...like the ad for a lead car offered by a used car salesman...the ad was once in focus...but it's all a blur by the time you actually converse with anybody on the car campus site...
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