Friday, September 18, 2009

Faithful due diligence

What mormon statememts, found on the internet, are not true? —Jess *For Jesus*

I am considering join the church, and I am doing a final "review" before i go to baptism, and alothoug I feel it is right, some of the stuff on the internet scares me. So, can people tell me what is on the internet about mormons that is not true like beliefs,practices etc. And if possible please provide reference.

Jess, it might help if you break down the "information" online into categories. Not all Mormons are afraid of investigating things online, but it's common (as you've seen here) for people to say you should avoid online sources or only go to or whatever. And basically that's good advice, for the category that's foremost in Mormons' minds. What they care about—all they care about in many cases—is the doctrine. Mormons are interested in current Mormon beliefs and culture. They're interested in things like gaining a testimony, changing behaviors, being involved with callings and temple attendence, that sort of thing. The internet is not going to help you here.

So if that's all your "review" is about, I'd say you're already on your way to being a Mormon. But there are other categories of information that relate to Mormonism, even if most Mormons today don't care about them or aren't aware of them. Unfortunately for most of its existence the church has largely been able to tell its own story to its members, without the burden of scholarly review. And after decades of telling and retelling by the home team, you can imagine that what the typical Mormon understands today about Mormon origins and history can vary dramatically from the view of outsiders.

There's also a third area of study that comes to mind here, and that is the relationship between what is commonly taught in LDS churches about the world you live in versus what the rest of the world believes through scientific study. This is where things get messy for the LDS church in my opinion. Of course you could say the same about religions in general. There's literally zero chance, for instance, that the earth was washed clean in a worldwide flood four thousand years ago. That didn't happen. For that matter Adam and Eve didn't start the human race six thousand years ago either. And dead people don't revive on command, and you can't make wine from water, and so on. So really if there's a difference here between the LDS faith and any others it's a matter of degrees only. However, the LDS church's origins are recent, and it makes many testable claims, like Joseph translating Egyptian or ancient Hebrews populating the Americas. Certainly that kind of info can be found, with sources, all over the internet.

But again, if you're just talking LDS doctrine, don't waste your time with evangelical Christians who want to disparage Mormonism online because it contradicts their own view of the Bible or whatever. Those people never subject their own beliefs to the same scrutiny. If they did, we'd call them ex–evangelical Christians.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I know my church is true

What are good questions too ask mormon people? —shelia c
my bestfriend is talking to the missonaries and she needs good question too ask them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously? I take it your friend would like to challenge their beliefs, but it's probably no use. If she wants to Bible bash with them it'll go nowhere. Mormon doctrine is no less sensible than any other church's, and in some ways it's probably more internally consistent. The worst you could say about Mormon doctrine is that it's unorthodox compared to mainstream Christianity. So what?

Of course your friend could ask for evidence for the church's claims, or point out any number of ways the church's view of the world is at odds with modern science. But this won't faze the missionaries either. It's the difference between God's perfect knowledge and man's limited knowledge. Or it's anti-Mormon lies trying to keep you from the truth.

If I were in your friend's shoes and wanted to get these missionaries really talking rather than presenting what they're trained to say, I'd focus on how they came to believe in their church versus all the other possible "truths." They'll explain how they "gained a testimony" through scripture reading and prayer, but that's probably where it ends. What other Christian churches did they study and pray about? How did the feeling compare when they studied Scientology and prayed about it? How about when they studied the Koran and prayed about that? Did answers come more readily when they prayed to Zeus or Thor?

Even if they just want to talk Mormonism, how did they decide to go with the Brighamites and not the FLDS church? Did they pray about both? If you can get them really thinking about their epistemology and the obvious fact that their current faith is mostly an accident of birth just like most other people's on earth, then at least you've opened their eyes. Don't expect to see any overnight changes in their beliefs though. That only happens on its own time, maybe years later, and maybe never.