theoriginalavatar

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  1. You and your wife will never know, unless you know. I am sure that sounds stupid and unhelpful, but it is the only truthful way I know how to say it. It does ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD WHATSOEVER to attend church, read your scriptures, go to the temple, etc. if your heart isn't in it and you don't have a desire to know. I know a lot of people like to hold our hand and tell us that everything will be ok, but this is largely unhelpful. We have church and callings and friends and even our spouse to help us along the way, but at the end of the day, our salvation is our own responsiblility. That probably sounds harsh, and I don't mean to sound uncaring at all, but we each have to figure it out for ourselves. When we were baptised...when we made covenents in the temple...we each, individually, made commitments to stay the course and follow through. No one is going to "force" our way into heaven. It is up to us. God loves us. He wants us to find Him. But he will never force us. To do so is counter to His plan of happiness. Sometimes we have to just "man up," so to speak, and realize our divine potential. I apologize if this sounds harsh, but I have gone through too much and experienced too much despair in my life to tiptoe around the truth. We must each find our own path and way to God. He loves us. He died for us. He, alone, is our ticket to salvation. Nothing we can do or say can take His place. We must want to accept His sacrifice for us.
  2. Great question! I am always trying to find the language flash cards for my mission in Taiwan. I have lost them somewhere, and I greatly desire to have them back. I wish you luck, and I understand your desire!
  3. Let it be known to all...I am a HUGE advocate of gun rights. Perhaps the biggest here. You can call me Mr. 2nd Amendment.
  4. I thank you all for your comments. God bless.
  5. If this topic has been discussed previously, and I have missed it, my apologies to all. What are your thoughts on firearms being brought to church? Of course I refer to someone who is legally entitled to do so and not a criminal.
  6. I just love hearing when men and women on both sides of that divide are willing to have a conversation. I do not suggest that we seek them out, per se, but that we are willing to engage each other critically when needed and do so in a mutually enlightening way. Too often, it seems, conversations begin and end thusly: Evangelical: "You Mormons don't really understand the Bible!" Mormon: "Yes we do!" or Mormon: "You Evangelicals think you can go and murder people once you've been saved and don't have to do anything good any more or repent!" Evangelical: "That's not what we believe at all!" Mormon: "Yes it is!" Evangelical: "No it isn't!" You get the point. Obviously, this is grossly oversimplified. I am always encouraged when I see and hear open dialogue such as that expressed by both books mentioned as well as on forums such as this. Most of the "meat" we could be discussing is covered with a layer of mold that hides the truth beneath. We have to scrape it off so we can really get a taste of what's there. We can travel the road of exegesis together, but we first must get past a lot of the homiletical stuff on both sides. There is plenty good to be discussed without wallowing around in the speculative commentary in which we so often find ourselves hopelessly stuck. Thank you both for your comments.
  7. Thank you, anatess, I agree completely. We spend so much effort arguing with others that we are, in fact, Christian...according to orthodoxy. This simply isn't true. And that's ok! Evangelical notions of the Trinity and other definitions are so often taken from extra-biblical sources. As are ours, I might add. Joseph Smith can rightly be accused of "filling in the blanks" with regard to notions on which the Bible remains silent. He cannot, however, be accused of altering text. True, we often interprete various passages in the Bible differently, but it is well within our right to do so. Some may argue that the JST is evidence of altering pre-existing text, but I have ideas about that as well if anyone wants to explore them.
  8. I have read it, and I love it, and I base much of this on their comments as well as the comments on their comments. It is an older book, but I think it is particulary relevent today. People of other faiths are good people, and the great majority of their teachings is correct. How can we ever hope to share the actual areas in which we differ unless we first come to terms with what it is we actually believe and what we believe that they believe? Thank you for your comments!
  9. Ok, I lied (sorry )...final words in 12...11...10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3... There are far too many times in conversations, when confronted by someone telling us that we, as Latter-day Saints, are not, in fact, Christians, our response is immediately one of defense. “We most certainly are!” we emphatically tell them. “It says Jesus Christ right in the name of our Church, so we must be Christians!” True, our Church does bear his name, and for good reason. The Lord himself said that we should call ourselves by such. Prophets, both ancient and modern, have testified that they who follow Christ should do so under the banner of his holy name. And yet, I think that our quick dismissal of our detractors’ accusations does a disservice to ourselves as well as others. If we are to have meaningful progression in the religious community at large, we must open our hearts and our minds to sincere and open dialogue. We must be a community of believers which dares to debate, to argue, to communicate in pursuit of the truth. Do you agree?! Am I crazy? Are you calling my bishop? So often among our members there is a fear of debate. I do not mean that sort of debate that leads to unhappy disagreement and contention! I mean that we should not be afraid to stand for what we believe, not as other Christians define it or what we’d like them to see us, but as things actually are in accordance with our accepted, cannonized doctrine. We should not be afraid to walk down that path of discourse and difficult struggle with one another in which we both seek mutual enlightenment. I speak of that passionate argument in which one fights with the other, in love, precisely because one hopes to learn from them. We take the name of Christ upon us in the waters of baptism. We renew the effect of that baptism each week as we partake of the sacrament, signifying our willingness to take his name upon us and promising always to remember him. We are Christians because we follow the life and teachings of Christ Jesus. We are saints because that is how God and his prophets refer to the Lord’s followers in ancient as well as modern times. It is also how we define our uniqueness. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He atoned for all, and he provided the only way whereby we may undue the chains of death. We follow Jesus Christ. People often get caught up in words for the wrong reasons. It is our responsibility to truly be Christians, in words as well as deeds. We must look outside the comfort of our daily surroundings and take a selfless step into the darkness. In God and his community of believers we find each other.
  10. Ultimately, my point is THIS (and then I'll shut up, I promise...well, for now anyway): The central act of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper was to speak a powerful and transformative phrase: “This is my body which is given for you.” He speaks a series of words. I would say that one of the ways in which we must build a Latter-day Saint community within a diverse religious society, is to rise above that trap of possessive, exclusionary individualism to which we so often succumb. We do this by recovering a reverence for words and their potency to form and sustain community and theological (soteriological, exegetical) narrative. This is SO very important, and, sadly, I see the opposite happening all the time. We have to be honest. Now calm down!! I am not suggesting that we intend to be dishonest, but when we openly discuss theological matters with those who understand the terms in different ways than ourselves, we do harm. We need to understand what THEY mean when they apply meaning to THEIR terms. I do not believe it is the case that Latter-day Saints intentionally seek to deceive other Christians, but the responses we give often give this perception. This has been discussed at other times by other scholars, but I think it is so very critical for us today. As Latter-day Saints, we need veritable transparency if we are to nurture a world-wide view of intellectual acceptance. We need to be, as one BYU scholar described it, “theologically bilingual.” That is to say that we must train ourselves to speak with others accurately and sensitively about their religious convictions as well as our own. We must understand them, and they must understand us in actuality and not undefined notions. Words are the tools we use to bring this to pass. When we sit down with someone of another faith and we exchange ideas of what they believe and what we believe, we need to stop making assumptions that are based on antiquated understandings! For example...I often hear LDS exclaim that ALL Evangelicals believe that, once a person is saved, they are always saved, irregardless of what they do and what sins they commit from that point forward. With only a few exceptions (conversations I've had with proponents of Mid-Acts Dispensationalism come to mind), this simply is not true. And yet, we laugh it off and dismiss fruitful discussions based on our false understanding. Many Evangelicals are equally guilty of doing this with regard to our beliefs. We are human and we belong to each other because we can converse together. A society in disintegration is one in which there is contempt for words. Sometimes it seems we have forgotten that speaking – and speaking correctly – is a moral act, demanding the deepest responsibility. (I am not talking about grammar and syntax, although these, too, are important to crazy grammar geeks such as I am.) We are often accused by others within the Christian community of not being Christian. In fact, this is the crux of Elder Ballard's talk. Their reasons for this accusation are as diverse as the various denominations to which they belong. Think back on the definition that I gave from the dictionary. According to that definition, do you think we are Christians?
  11. In the last general conference, Elder Ballard spoke on the importance of a name...in particular, the name of our Church. It was an excellent talk. Elder Ballard makes the case that we are, and are not, Christians in the classical sense. As I listened to him speak - and later read his words in the Ensign - I couldn't help but consider the question: What is a name? A name, ultimately, a word or a group of words. Before I get to the idea of our being a different brand of Christian (for a different brand of Christian, we certainly are), I’d like to explore for a moment the power of words in our lives. Consider the definition of Christian according to one dictionary (yes, I admit that I read dictionaries for fun) - the American Heritage Dictionary: Is there importance in a name? We who follow the Living Christ claim to live by a remarkable tale, one in which we gather to remember and re-enact every Sunday, the story of the Last Supper, of the Son of God who gathered his friends around him and shared with them a meal, who gave them emblems of himself, his body and his blood. This is a story that should, above all, shape our lives and self-awareness. So the challenge of being a follower of Christ is, for us, not just that of trying to be good. Goodness is evidenced in every group, culture, and creed in religiosity. There is no evidence to suggest that Christians are, on the whole, any better than anyone else, and Jesus Christ certainly did not call the saints but the sinners. The challenge is rather to live by and through a story that some of our contemporaries – even our fellow Christians – may find very odd, and which offers a different vision of the world, of being human, and of our relationship with God and Jesus Christ as we understand them. Have I said anything so far that disagrees with Evangelical teachings and their understanding of Deity?
  12. Hi jayanna, I know you were responding. The larger issue of what is and is not cannonized doctrine has been very much on my mind of late, and I take exception to anything that detracts from this. My humble apologies. I haven't read many of your posts, but those I have read have left me delighted at your enthusiasm! You have a great spirit about you, and I enjoy your comments. I agree with you when you say that, when a prophet of the Lord gives us counsel, we do well to listen! How true that is.
  13. Hello Everyone. God bless you! I have missed being here, but my emotions at the loss of my wife have kept me from visiting these hallowed halls. For those of you who do not know me, I am a faithful Latter-day Saint who resides in Sin City with my two beautiful children. I grew up Catholic and explored a great many religions and theological views before finding may way to the LDS church. I couldn't be happier to be here, but I am FAR from your typical, orthodox Mormon. This year is an interesting one for LDS. With Mitt Romney in the political spotlight, we find our beliefs, once again, questioned and dissected. This, in my opinion, is a GOOD thing. We have nothing to hide! Some of the greatest conversations we have is with our fellow brothers and sisters in the Evangelical community. Let me state this first and foremost. WE, AS LATTER-DAY SAINTS, DO NOT UNDERSTAND EVANGELICAL BELIEFS. Furthermore, EVANGELICALS DO NOT UNDERSTAND LDS DOCTRINE. Members of both sides, even well-meaning members, think they understand, when, in fact, they don't really. There are so many misunderstandings and myths that have been perpetuated that it is exceedingly difficult to sort through the resultant pile of nonsense. It has become a person goal for me to attempt to do just that. I won't post everything I have to say in this first post, but I open up this thread to those who wish to discuss in a courteous and OPEN manner what, in fact, each party believes and does not believe. Let me say this to begin (and I challenge anyone on either side to substantiate any disagreement they may have): 99 percent of what LDS and Evangelicals believe is EXACTLY THE SAME. It is. We spend so much time arguing with each other in a disgusting display of ignorance about what we are convinced the other side believes that we never have time to approach the important 1 percent difference that makes all the difference. Obviously, as a LDS, I am partial to LDS teachings. I believe that the 1 percent of which I spoke is the important 1 percent with regard to soteriological matters, but I love and respect people of all faiths. I mean that. So...let's begin an ernest discussion, shall we?
  14. With all due respect, jayanna (and I say this because I respect you greatly and I love your enthusiasm for the Gospel!), just because someone makes a statement in general conference, even if that someone is the prophet, does not make it doctrine. Quite often every word uttered at general conference becomes normative, when, in fact, it is homiletical at best. There are established criteria for what is or is not cannonized. I do not wish to derail this thread, so I will create a new one dealing with this, but I think that you hint at a huge issue the Church is facing today. In fact, I gave a talk on this very subject (what is or is not doctrine) a few weeks ago in sacrament meeting. Please know that I mean you no disrespect, and I am not saying that we should NOT follow what is advised in general conference, but I think we should be careful to note what is docrine and what is not. This is so critical if we are to converse with members of other faiths.
  15. I have tattoos...7 to be exact... Do I regret having gotten them? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I have always been a bit of a rebel. I am laughing at having said that, because many people you ask who know me would say that simply isn't true. I don't act the rebel. The rebellion of which I speak, however, is the spiritual kind. I have never taken things at face value. I fight with God to know the truth. I kick and I scream and I gnash my terrible teeth and I roll my terrible eyes every time God asks something of me. It's because I want to know. I want to know with all my heart. Matters of faith have never come easily to me. But when I KNOW them to be true after the struggle...trust me, I KNOW them to be true. I grew up Catholic and went to an all LDS high school. I wanted to be a priest. I, like Joseph Smith (and trust me, that's where the likeness ends), wanted to know the truth of what I observed in the world around me. I wanted to know if God existed and, if so, what did he want me to do. I made no assumptions and I had no expectations. I never have, and I doubt I ever will. What does this have to do with tattoos? I rebelled against the truth that was becoming clear to me. I fought against what I knew, deep down inside, was true but didn't want to believe. Will I ever have my tattoos removed? Probably not. They are a reminder to me of the power of rebellion. Do tattoos preclude someone from Celestial glory? It is only my opinion, but I doubt it. There are more important issues. I am not ashamed of my faith, and I am certainly not ashamed of my doubt.