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prisonchaplain last won the day on December 1

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About prisonchaplain

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  • Birthday 02/28/1964

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    Assemblies of God

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  1. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    Before we go further I would love some input on this. My understanding is that believing in many gods but worshiping only one is called henotheism. Some LDS scholars accept that the LDS Godhead could be called henotheistic. However, such is not church doctrine. Most here, and I believe the official church stance, is that LDS are monotheistic--that the Godhead is truly one God. So, before I go about defending belief in the one God, can others help and inform us as to whether there is an official church teaching on this (or perhaps utterances from prophets)?
  2. prisonchaplain


    Three times a year my church invites me to speak. I have made some good friends here, and some enjoy hearing what the Gentile moderator sounds like when delivering a gospel message. Here is my latest offering, with a link to the video at the end. THANKFUL FOR HEAVEN The holidays are hard for many. For too many families the death of a significant loved one took place around the holidays. My mother passed away just after New Year’s. For others the pressures of gift-giving and family separations are so painful. Does surprise anyone that this season is especially heart-wrenching at the jail? Beyond our personal sadness, it just does not seem appropriate to call for joy and peace and love in a world full of chaos. Honestly, the closest we get to heaven in this life is when we do church right. The problem is clear. My answer is heaven. Heaven is the what and why of Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for? Heaven. Why am I thankful? Heaven. It is why I resist sin; and it’s why I struggle rather than surrender. Jesus says heaven is the reason we trust God. John 14:1-3 reads: “Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in Me also. 2 There are many rooms in My Father’s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. 3 After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with Me. Then you may be where I am. Jesus wants us to trust Him and the Father. This is the key to heaven. Trust & Obey for There’s No Other Way. But why trust? Why obey? So I can have a happy life today? My best life NOW even? That might work when all I want is a little more. However, when life is really bad, I need more than to be told a frown is just a smile upside down. I need the promise of heaven! When sin tempts me Satan’s trap is binding me to the now. Why shouldn’t I look at porn, as a young person? Why shouldn’t I smoke marijuana? Why shouldn’t I drink socially? Why shouldn’t I go to the fun parties? Why shouldn’t I give myself to the person I feel love for today? Why shouldn’t I decide what’s right and wrong for myself? Some argue that the Christian life is more peaceful and fuller than selfish living is. They say they sleep well and life and feel better. That may be true for some, but that’s a tough sell for most. Consider the spiritual and advice literature that’s out there: The Power of Now, by Echart Tolle; Living in the Now, by Gina Lake; And, of course, a book simply titled, Now, by Morris Gleitzman. And yes, even some Christian ministers are offering our best lives NOW. The answer to the temptation of now is heaven. We do have communion with Jesus today. Revelation 3:20: 20 See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and we will eat together. Nevertheless, it is the promise of heaven that helps me resist sin Revelation 21:3 declares: I heard a loud voice coming from heaven. It said, “See! God’s home is with men. He will live with them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will be their God. When times are tough Satan tempts us to be angry at God. Consider Job: Chaper 3:24 For I cry inside myself in front of my food. My cries pour out like water. 25 What I was afraid of has come upon me. What filled me with fear has happened. 26 I am not at rest, and I am not quiet. I have no rest, but only trouble.” The very heading for this chapter is: Job Speaks Angry Words to God. We know that after all his suffering Job’s life was restored. Yet, however happy his ending was, we find his greatest question in the midst of the suffering. Job 14:14: 14 If a man dies, will he live again? We know the answer is a resounding yes! Why do I trust God in hard times? I know: God is good. God is just. Heaven will make everything right. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55: 54 When this that can be destroyed has been changed into that which cannot be destroyed, and when this that does die has been changed into that which cannot die, then it will happen as the Holy Writings said it would happen. They said, “Death has no more power over life.” 55 O death, where is your power? O death, where are your pains? 1 Cor 13 says that now we see through a glass darkly--then we shall see clearly, because we shall see Jesus face to face. Consider also that Jesus says He is preparing a place for us. If earth took six days to make, and Jesus has been working on our new place in heaven for 2000 years, how wonderful it will be! Best of all… Jesus says He will be there with us. He loves us! In Revelation 21:1-4 we read: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away. There was no more sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. It was coming down out of heaven from God. It was made ready like a bride is made ready for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice coming from heaven. It said, “See! God’s home is with men. He will live with them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will be their God. 4 God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away.” The first heaven and the first earth pass away. All the injustices. All the pain. All the broken relationships. All our mistakes. This is God’s mercy, and it angers us! However, we must take care. For, while no one can come between us and God. Even those who refuse to forgive us cannot keep us from His mercy. However, our own unwillingness to forgive can. For, when we refuse to forgive, we demonstrate that our faith is deficient. If we believe God will do justice to the unrepentant than we can trust those who hurt us into his righteous care. If the message of peace, joy, mercy and forgiveness seem more like salt on old wounds than like healing, perhaps it is time for us to forgive. Trust God. Forgive. See your own peace, joy, mercy and forgiveness restored! How wonderful that God calls the New Jerusalem a bride. Compare with earth, which he merely called good. Consider also that God will be with us forever! No more separation. No more loneliness. No more desperate searching and waiting. Consider what our enemy offers instead. The devil says I can be my own god. This is eternal separation from THE God. It is hell. Many religions offer commands to obey a God, or gods, but offer no communion—no love from Him. Our God says: John 3:16: 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever. John the Revelator tells us in chapter 21:22-27: 22 I did not see a house of God in the city. The All-powerful Lord God and the Lamb are the house of God in this city. 23 There is no need for the sun and moon to shine in the city. The shining-greatness of God makes it full of light. The Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk by its light. The kings of the earth will bring their greatness into it. 25 The gates are open all day. They will never be shut. There will be no night there. 26 The greatness and honor of all the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing sinful will go into the city. No one who is sinful-minded or tells lies can go in. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can go in. Worship and communion with God will become like breathing. We won’t work at it anymore. Being truly WITH God will simply be our way of life. We no longer depend on nature, or any creation of God, for what we need. God, Himself, is our source. We no longer worry about safety. There is no evil and no danger. We no longer struggle with sin and temptation--there is no evil intent in heaven! relationship with God! Our final passage shows that all doubts are removed, and our lives gain tremendous purpose. Revelation 22:3-5: 3 There will be nothing in the city that is sinful. The place where God and the Lamb sit will be there. The servants He owns will serve Him. 4 They will see His face and His name will be written on their foreheads. 5 There will be no night there. There will be no need for a light or for the sun. Because the Lord God will be their light. They will be leaders forever. The curse of sin (sickness, worry, fear and death) are gone! We will know God personally, and we will clearly belong to Him! No more doubts! God will be our light and we will rule with Him! Heaven will be so wonderful. The promise of it assures me I can trust God. Heaven means all that is bad, and my whole sense of separation from God, will be gone. Heaven is filled with God’s presence. I won’t have to go to him or try to find him. Nothing that would distance me from him will tempt me. This is constant peace. This is constant worship. Heaven is a place where I am never hindered, and where I find tremendous purpose in living. Sin no longer distracts or weakens me. Struggle no longer pains or isolates me. I want to be there. So, I must follow Jesus. He is the only way to heaven. John 14:6: 6 Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me.
  3. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    We have to love the honesty. All I have to do is change the BoM and Restored Gospel to Bible and 'faith in Jesus,' and I would be delighted by this response. It's not acceptance, but the individual knows where they currently stand. So many are angry and choose to blame God and church. Others are currently self-satisfied and do not yet perceive their need. Some, as you suspect of me, just aren't ready. I can appreciate everything you're saying.
  4. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    Thank you. This helps. I understand that the LDS teaching is that he will very likely be fully redeemed through his afterlife conversion. He is so close, and once he knows he will likely accept. My best estimation is that I don't know. I do not agree with his understanding, but is the difference enough to damn him? Your proviso is that he is sincere and his error would be unintentional. If so--if God's Spirit had not been wooing him back towards a more traditional understanding--if personal pride were not what steered him--then I suspect he will receive rewards rather than punishment. I do not pretend to know the inner workings of each soul. I don't want to cast aspersions, but I do not want to offer false hope either. This is why, when I was asked how wrong one's doctrine had to be before s/he would be damned I answered that I do not know. I suspect that a primary factor would be how much of the error came from bad teaching and unintentional error and how much was from resisting the Spirit and pridefully clinging to error. Maybe the best theological answer I offer, at least from time to time, is that I do not know.
  5. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    Since I believe in God's justice I believe God will reveal Himself sufficiently to each soul, and they will be judged on their response. Romans 1 says that we are without excuse because we see and know there is a Creator. There are even some who believe that general revelation (i.e. creation itself, the drive in humans to do good amidst so much trouble, etc.) can be enough for a person to be converted. Where these deeper conversations we are having come is among those of us who do have access to scriptures, God's spirit, and significant teaching. We have this blessing and then see others embracing seemingly different understandings. So, we hash out our understandings in places like this. 🙂
  6. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    I suspect that my answer fits LDS thinking--God will reveal himself fully to those willing to receive Him. This is why you baptize the dead. Perhaps this soul did not have a full revelation, but through this sacrament, and through the witnessing this soul will receive, s/he can have the opportunity to fully embrace God and the restored gospel. I may believe God's justice will take place through our choices in mortality, but we still share the understanding that God will give us what we need and judge is righteously. So, it's not important for anyone to agree with me. It is eternally important that we agree with God. Therefore,if God is one, then that's how we teach Him. If another says, "No, it's three...what do you say?" I'll answer. On the other hand, we also share a belief in free will (free agency takes matters further, as I understand), so we would not coerce a one-God faith. We do promote it, though. Right?
  7. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    I'm confused by the challenge, in the first place. The question was why would it matter if the LDS Godhead were polytheistic. My understanding is that nearly all LDS thinkers reject the accusation and defend the Godhead as monotheistic. @Traveler, for example, believes that a socially-unified Godhead would fit the understanding of some Jewish rabbis. The reason a polytheistic understanding of the true God (in other words, a gods understanding) would be wrong is that God is indeed one. If God has revealed Himself as one and we worship Him as three then we are not worshiping Him as He reveals Himself to be. We are not worshiping in Spirit and in truth. Then, we would be wrong. That would be bad. What am I missing?
  8. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    Polytheism would be bad because God is one and I suspect that we all wish to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Why would God punish one who worshipped God(s) other than the one true and living God? If God reveals Himself and if the Spirit witnesses to Him accurately, then those who seek the true God will find the true God. God is just, so He will not punish or damn people in an unjust way. Of course, we do not know how any soul will end, so we do well to recognize the image of God that is in everyone, and to treat each person as a seeker of God. Those that aren't are usually quick to make themselves known. Even then, we do not give up hope.
  9. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    I was asked a great question on this site a few years back: How wrong can one be about God and still go to heaven? This was an LDS question being asked of a Trinitarian. The expected answer might have been along the lines of not at all, or at least believe in the Trinity, or some other appeal to a historic (or even creedal) understanding of the one true God. Then there is the cop-out: the judging of souls is above my pay grade. Ultimately, I would contend that the latter is more true. However, what I did answer was that despite our many shared truths there is not one Article of Faith nor one Fundamental Truth (my church's truth claims) that we could agree on--at least not without explanation.* We both fervently believe that the Holy Ghost guides us. So, one or both sides is missing something. Wise Christians leave the converting and convicting to the Holy Ghost. So we come together when we can, at sites like this, and we share life and thoughts and hopefully some inspirations. * As an example, the LDS Article of Faith that allows for people to worship according to the dictates of the conscience, to me, implies the three kingdoms and pre-mortal existence. In terms of secular law, I agree. However, theologically, I would want to at least clarify. 😎
  10. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    We have different problems that may not easily compare. We Trinitarians espouse a seeming absurdity--that God is three and one, simultaneously. According to scripture the Father is certainly God, as is the Son, as is the Holy Ghost. Equally true is that God is one. So, how are they three and one at the same time? That is a question the Bible does not address with much precision. We explain to our members using triangles, eggs, states of H2O, etc. All such analogies are extra-biblical, and our detractors can easily point to deficiencies. The LDS Godhead feels polytheistic to us. We're already aware that our monotheism is rejected by Jews and Muslims. We do not want to push any further by accepting a unity-in-purpose understanding of our God. As to this grandfather, well I'm not one to question anyone's Christianity. However, he is not a traditional Trinitarian if he accepts that God's unity is merely of purpose. There are a small number of theologians who suggest something like a social Trinity, but most reject this teaching--again, as too polytheistic. LDS can be magnanimous towards Trinitarians. After all, if we are devoted and not actively opposed to the Church we have the likelihood of entering the Terrestrial Kingdom. We traditionalists, on the other hand, believe in a heaven vs. hell ending. We fear that anyone too far from true doctrine may face eternal punishment. So, we are ever-so-cautious, and can come across as abrasive and judgmental.
  11. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    I have been presuming that you are LDS, so I did not think you were embracing Modalism. Rather, you seemed to suggest that if we say God is the Father (rather than the Father is God) it could lead to a Modalistic understanding. I believe that you and I both would see a problem with that. As for scripture-adherence, sure there are some debates in which both sides claim the Bible supports their side. My point was that if the Bible does not say a thing (or even answer a particular question) then I tend to say so. Too often we (maybe I) treat our conjectures as expressed truth. As you read posts here you will find that most posters are pretty faithful about distinguishing opinion, interpretation, and church-approved doctrine. Enjoy the site, friend!
  12. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    @bytebear You are spot on. The Father's corporeal nature is a real difficulty for Trinitarians. Also, this conversation becomes so much more insightful if the LDS doctrine of humanity's pre-mortal, eternal existence is included.
  13. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    I am suspicious of turning the sentences around. Scripture supports that the Father is God. After all, Jesus commanded us to pray to Him. Jesus also claimed to be God (John 8:58). Further, the Holy Spirit is used interchangeably with God in Acts 5:3-4. He can be grieved, and so clearly has personhood. And, of course, God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). However, I am not so sure I could find passages that showed God being the three persons. Also, if such an understanding leads you to Modalism (most commonly found in Oneness Pentecostal or Apostolic churches), then it seems a troublesome exercise. It's always risky to go beyond scripture.
  14. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    Here's my definition of the Trinity: The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. There is only one God. So... Modalists say God in One in Three--that Jesus is all three, and fills this different 'modes' or roles. Trinitarians say that God is Three in One--that the three are distinct persons, but are one in a substantial way. LDS Godhead says God is three separate personages that are united in purpose. Each view has its opponents, its questions, and its defenses. Modalism believes it solves the argument of the Jews and Muslims--that Christians are polytheists. I suppose that LDS believe their teaching solves the seeming absurdities of God being one and three simultaneously. Trinitarians believe we hold the biblical middle ground. Of necessity; we embrace the difficulty of understanding God's threeness/oneness.
  15. prisonchaplain

    Not believing in the traditional Christ

    It is a difficult matter to define the nuances of this discussion. We Trinitarians struggle against the idea that the Godhead is only united in purpose--insisting that God is one in some substantial way. Then LDS wonder at our seeming Modalism and ask of us the same questions we ask of Oneness folks (who was Jesus talking to when He prayed, etc.). We answer that no, the three beings are distinct--just not separate. Now LDS wonder why we find their belief so different. The bottom line is that Trinitarians believe in the Oneness and the Threeness of God, and we suspect that diverting too far one way or the other leads to serious error.