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Fether

Question on "Faith Crisis"

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What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days? Personally, I crave to hear all the "anti" and "difficult" topics. I enjoy listening to a popular anti Mormon podcast every couple of months just to hear if there is anything new in the world of anti.

However, I realize I am unique in that sense. A good friend of mine told me that he refuses to look anything up cause he knows he won't be able to "take it". His comment struck me as odd. If you are fearful that there is something out there that may "disprove" the church, shouldn't you go after it and figure it out? I am also aware that some will read about these issues and they won't give it a second thought, just pass it by as if it never existed.


Personally, it fascinates me. Though lately, I have been getting more and more bored with it. No matter how deep and earth-shaking it is, it all tends to fall under the same fallacies

How do you guys deal with it? Does it bother you to the point that you avoid it? Does it not even bother you? 

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53 minutes ago, Fether said:

What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days? Personally, I crave to hear all the "anti" and "difficult" topics. I enjoy listening to a popular anti Mormon podcast every couple of months just to hear if there is anything new in the world of anti.

However, I realize I am unique in that sense. A good friend of mine told me that he refuses to look anything up cause he knows he won't be able to "take it". His comment struck me as odd. If you are fearful that there is something out there that may "disprove" the church, shouldn't you go after it and figure it out? I am also aware that some will read about these issues and they won't give it a second thought, just pass it by as if it never existed.


Personally, it fascinates me. Though lately, I have been getting more and more bored with it. No matter how deep and earth-shaking it is, it all tends to fall under the same fallacies

How do you guys deal with it? Does it bother you to the point that you avoid it? Does it not even bother you? 

I thought like you do when I was younger, and when marriage and career and calling and kids and (increasingly) woodworking were far less of a burden on my time.  I believed—and still believe—that the vast majority of anti-type accusations and arguments have perfectly valid explanations, and I didn’t mind spending the time it would take to get to the bottom of things.  Plus, I’m a history nerd; and (if I’m perfectly honest) it also feeds my ego to know things that most other people don’t know.  

But, once I “open the door” to an issue, it tends to gnaw at me for hours/days/weeks until I can work out a solution; and I find myself less willing to get into that sort of thing just because I no longer have that kind of time.  So I’m probably not as open-minded as I once was; but it’s less a matter of protecting my “delicate” testimony, than of me protecting my increasingly scarce time and productivity.

I am also getting a better understanding of just how imperfectly the written record really conveys the full scope of what was going on in the early Church, and I am getting more and more disgusted with the willingness of historians—both critical and even, increasingly, apologetic—to “fill in gaps” and make assertions for the sake of supporting modern political/social agendas that can be neither supported nor debunked by the historical record.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I like to be productive with my time.

So if it's a conversation with somebody, and they have honest that they honestly want to hear answers for, then I'm totally game for talking about pretty much anything.  And giving honest answers, including when the answer is "I don't know".

If somebody isn't really interested and just wants to talk at me, then they aren't worth my time at all.  So I'm not going to crash a site where people aren't interested in talking with me.  Which to be frank is most anti groups.  

 

As to history in particular: I actually get really really annoyed with how much this topic comes up in anti stuff.  We have such limited info on church history stuff, so much is he-said-she-said, and frankly- people are human!  I don't have any acknowledging humans as fallible beings, and get really annoyed when some anti dude wants me to "defend" Joseph Smith (or whomever) as if he were absolutely  perfect and we had absolutely perfect information.  It's a ridiculous straw man.  

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1 hour ago, Fether said:

What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days? Personally, I crave to hear all the "anti" and "difficult" topics.

I avoid "anti" and "difficult" topics like the plague that they are. Or to be more precise, I avoid those who look to promote such topics like the plague that they are.

In my experience, in every case, bar none, the "difficult" topics are either those that are not well-understood by the promoter or that have not been sufficiently revealed at all.

But even when I know the answer to their inquiries, my default is to ignore such baited questions. They are almost always a waste of time, or something much worse.

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1 hour ago, Fether said:

What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days? Personally, I crave to hear all the "anti" and "difficult" topics. I enjoy listening to a popular anti Mormon podcast every couple of months just to hear if there is anything new in the world of anti.
...
Personally, it fascinates me. Though lately, I have been getting more and more bored with it. No matter how deep and earth-shaking it is, it all tends to fall under the same fallacies

Very similar to my experience.  In the late '90's, I lurked on various boards, hearing the criticisms and how they were answered.  I loved the old FARMS book reviews, where they'd take a critical work by a critic, evaluate the arguments, and respond to them.   After a few years of lurking, I started engaging in online apologetics myself.  That was quite satisfying too.  But yeah, after a decade of all that, it started getting repetitive and boring.   High point of my 'apologetic career', was on the Reachout Trust countercult board, where one of their best critics admitted that as far as he could tell, I might very well be a saved Christian.  Of course he still believed that would be in spite of my church and not because of it, but it was still quite cool to hear.  

I guess a distant 2nd high point, was when I got the zealous antimormons at the Catholic Answers Forum to stop advancing a particularly unimpressive 150 year old garbage criticism.  Because even 12 yr olds can read for 5 minutes and understand why "nephite coinage" isn't a valid criticism.

Despite my best efforts though, people still thought there was a problem with "adieu" in the Book of Mormon.  I guess what looked simple to me, a guy who had worked for a translation company for a few years, just still was too complex for some folks to get.

These days, I still reference my massive knowledge compendium word doc once or twice a year.  Just opened it and found it finally reached 100 full pages - 140,000 words.  Most of it cutting and pasting others' words, but I'd bet a full 20% of it was me saving my own answers.  

Edited by NeuroTypical

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13 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

These days, I still reference my massive knowledge compendium word doc once or twice a year.  Just opened it and found it finally reached 100 full pages - 140,000 words.  Most of it cutting and pasting others' words, but I'd bet a full 20% of it was me saving my own answers.  

I’m actually interested on what is in there. Would you mind pasting the whole 100 pgs in your next comment?

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Recently I came across a BYU Speech by Elder Corbridge of the 70 who addressed this topic. It was a really interesting read. I will share his opening words as an intro: 

"As part of an assignment I had as a General Authority a few years ago, I needed to read through a great deal of material antagonistic to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration. There may not be anything out there of that nature I haven’t read. Since that assignment changed, I have not returned to wallow in that mire again.

Reading that material always left me with a feeling of gloom, and one day that sense of darkness inspired me to write a partial response to all such antagonistic claims. I would like to share with you some of the thoughts I recorded that day, and although what I wrote was for my benefit, I hope it will help you as well."

Here's the link if you want to read the rest:

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/lawrence-e-corbridge/stand-for-ever/

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days? Personally, I crave to hear all the "anti" and "difficult" topics. I enjoy listening to a popular anti Mormon podcast every couple of months just to hear if there is anything new in the world of anti.

However, I realize I am unique in that sense. A good friend of mine told me that he refuses to look anything up cause he knows he won't be able to "take it". His comment struck me as odd. If you are fearful that there is something out there that may "disprove" the church, shouldn't you go after it and figure it out? I am also aware that some will read about these issues and they won't give it a second thought, just pass it by as if it never existed.


Personally, it fascinates me. Though lately, I have been getting more and more bored with it. No matter how deep and earth-shaking it is, it all tends to fall under the same fallacies

How do you guys deal with it? Does it bother you to the point that you avoid it? Does it not even bother you? 

What do you guys do with the potentially difficult topics in church history and in modern days?

I have never craved reading anti-Church literature; I read it because I wanted to be able to answer questions given from the honest seeker of truth. I also, wanted to be able to protect my future children, and to be able to provide accurate responses to well known anti-Church literature.

In time, similar to @Just_A_Guy (if I understood him correctly), the records we have regarding historical issues aren't complete. They do not provide enough detail, and yet, sadly we see people leaving the Church who (like anti-Mormons) want to fill in the blanks in order to justify their desire for the Great and Spacious building.

However, I realize I am unique in that sense. A good friend of mine told me that he refuses to look anything up cause he knows he won't be able to "take it".

This is the thing I find most interesting. When I first started reading anti-Church literature is was to know how to answer questions. I wasn't afraid of it hurting my "testimony"; although, some things were a shock. The returning question has always been, and will always be, did the Lord reveal the truth? It is why I love Jacob 1-7, particularly chapter 7. Jacob is the book to overcoming any "faith crisis." Jacob is the book to overcome any anti-Church material. If the Lord revealed it, then what are you unable to take?

In saying that though, if a person feels not to read because they are unable to "take it," then I would encourage that person to "avoid" it like the plague. The parable of the sower and Lehi's dream are to real.

Personally, it fascinates me. Though lately, I have been getting more and more bored with it.

I found how easily a person could believe a lie, even when truth was plain and clearly taught to be fascinating and disturbing at the same time. One thing that has been true is the experience from my mission where an anti-Church individual said if we could answer the questions proposed from this anti-Church book he would convert (he was of course caught with guile). A member wrote out literally 50 pages answering half of the questions in the book. When the 50 page report was given, he took the 50 pages placed them to his right and said, "This really doesn't change anything."

As I have experienced this all too often, I am now bored of anti-Church books and people. The majority of them, like this individual mentioned, aren't interested in answers. So now, I avoid it, unless it is coming from my brother, and depending on what it is I will engage. The majority of time, like this individual above, sadly my brother has become no different. No matter the answer his mind has been made up.

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“when problems come and questions arise do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have. That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have.  Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!” - Jeffery R. Holland, Lord I Believe, April 2013

If I do any religious study its based on one subject - Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith have only brought me more clarity and closer to our Savior.

Over the years I have become pretty adept at identifying lies and mis-information.

And I don’t argue with idiots.  Its a losing battle.  No matter how intelligent and documented your explanations become they can always top it with a more idiotic response.

9EC6426F-9186-4D7D-8FBE-BB68BFEF7E29.thumb.jpeg.d003993963e04ef46231ada73dea6430.jpeg

I like the top picture better.  How about y’all?

Edited by mikbone

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@laronius (side note, until this very moment I thought your name was iaronius) That is a good talk 👍. When reading yours and @Anddenex’s post I realized that one of my motives for reading it is to have answers for these questions.I have a sister and a couple friends that left the church because they couldn’t reconcile some issues they had (there were likely other things going on, but this was what was at the forefront of the conversation).
 

I have had many leaders (including my parents) whose approaches to difficult questions was the ol “we just don’t know and aren’t meant to know”. We may not have any revealed answers to some questions, but that doesn’t mean their aren’t explanations. The more I read the apologetics against the church the more I realize how simple the answers are to virtually all the “difficult” questions. I want so badly to be that guy in my friends life that has seen and read all the anti and has sensible and accurate responses to it all. I do not want any more friends or family leaving on the pretense of “there is just too many in answered questions”. I would much rather either (a) help them through these questions or (b) force them to admit To themselves (at the least) they just want to break the commandments without feeling guilt from the church and their own conscience.

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12 hours ago, Fether said:

How do you guys deal with it? Does it bother you to the point that you avoid it? Does it not even bother you? 

I do not seek it out but sometimes it finds me, or someone I care about has a question or concern over something they came across. Sometimes they have even drawn a conclusion that challenges their commitment even if they maintain they have a testimony. I take each case individually as to how I go about handling it.

As far as historical analyses, one has to have some discipline in understanding what makes good history and evidence. Too many people "connect the dots" which is only a matter of bias and experience, but individual lives and events are messier and more complicated than that. Only history of the highest standard will do, and too many very bright people run with their own agenda or suppose they can put two and two together, case closed.

In contrast, Elder Holland advocates for the role of the "disciple scholar": https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/be-faithful-disciple-scholars-even-in-difficulty-elder-holland-says-at-maxwell-institute?lang=eng

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10 hours ago, Fether said:

I’m actually interested on what is in there. Would you mind pasting the whole 100 pgs in your next comment?

Oh, it's part apologetic database, part personal diary - so I'll have to pass.

You can find everything I have in my compendium, far better explained in the FARMS review of books.  Or maybe the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.

Honestly - anyone who wants a thorough education in most of the scholarly criticisms of our church, and most of the best responses to those criticisms, I wholeheartedly recommend spending 6 months digesting the 39 or so issues of the FARMS book review, published between 1989 and 2011.  It also gives a thorough treatment to all the dumb stuff.

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I haven't gone out of my way to read anti- literature.  But it gets thrown at me all the time.  So, I can't really avoid it.

When I was younger, it gave me some problems because I depended upon my own reasoning and wisdom to combat it.  At some point I realized that we cannot hope to use our mortal wisdom and knowledge against Satan who has maintained his memory of the past 6000 years and more.  He knows every trick in the book and then some.  We cannot fight him using the tools he is THE master of.

I've always had some level of testimony.  But at some point I realized that my testimony was no longer about study and reason.  It was no longer about personal experience with living the gospel.  It was based on the firm witness of the Holy Ghost.  With that knowledge, nothing really phases me.  I admit there are things I don't understand.  Easily admit I don't know everything.

I can do this because I do know the one thing that is most important.  My Heavenly Father is guiding my life, has given me a Savior, and wants me to do XYZ.  All the rest is just a distraction.

All I need to do is keep my eye on the ball.

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For every person who can 'handle' anti-mormon garbage, I'll show you 20 who couldn't. 
I would never advise someone to intentionally seek it out or read it for curiosity/learning purposes.

If someone has spare time, learn where to find faithful and accurate answers from the Church first ex. Gospel Topics

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As one who judges himself in the middle of a faith crisis, here are some things I see through my glass darkly:

1) As with so many things today, it seems so polarized. The shrillest anti voices have nothing good to say about the Church, and the loudest pro voices have nothing bad to say. Here in a middle place, where it seems obvious that the Church has made errors but also contains much that is good, it feels awful lonely. It seems difficult to find people and communities to interact with that are comfortable discussing the good and the bad.

2) Related, there is a predominant "all or nothing" attitude. Many in the Church have long said something like it is all true or it is all fraud. Then the antis grab onto that, demonstrate one undeniable flaw or error in the all or nothing house of cards and claim that the whole thing comes crashing down. I find myself leaning into a "cafeteria Mormon" space, but that space tends to be maligned from both sides, and, again, you feel lonely. It's nice when you find spaces where people are talking about the things they choose to accept and the things they choose to reject from the Church -- that affirm that one can accept and reject pieces without needing to accept or reject the whole kit and kaboodle.

3) Also related is the frequent fear from the orthodox of "wolves in sheep's clothing". Of course, the antis are fond of calling the faithful mindless sheep. I know that the watchmen on the tower need to be (as Alistair Moody would say) constantly vigilant, but it is sometimes difficult to carve out a space in the Church for yourself when you feel like everyone is suspiciously watching you ready to cast you out as a wolf. It seems like it would help if there were spaces in the Church that were more comfortable with my questions and heresies rather than constantly suspicious of them.

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

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1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

1) As with so many things today, it seems so polarized. The shrillest anti voices have nothing good to say about the Church, and the loudest pro voices have nothing bad to say. Here in a middle place, where it seems obvious that the Church has made errors but also contains much that is good, it feels awful lonely. It seems difficult to find people and communities to interact with that are comfortable discussing the good and the bad.

In all my years of apologetics, I've never heard anything that is "bad" about the Church (that was actually true).  I've heard an awful lot that is taken out of context, or incomplete information, or mischaracterizations, or a symptom of presentism, and often -- just outright lies.

I've heard bad things about people (and a lot of it was untrue, but some was true).  But the conflating of the two is what I find most difficult to accept from "a middle space".  Of all the things i've heard, they are either perfectly fine once we see the whole story, or we understand that there is more to the story that we simply don't know yet.  We can't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The baby is fine.  That is what is "all true".  Just get rid of the bathwater that's all used and dirty.

Quote

2) Related, there is a predominant "all or nothing" attitude. Many in the Church have long said something like it is all true or it is all fraud. Then the antis grab onto that, demonstrate one undeniable flaw or error in the all or nothing house of cards and claim that the whole thing comes crashing down. I find myself leaning into a "cafeteria Mormon" space, but that space tends to be maligned from both sides, and, again, you feel lonely. It's nice when you find spaces where people are talking about the things they choose to accept and the things they choose to reject from the Church -- that affirm that one can accept and reject pieces without needing to accept or reject the whole kit and kaboodle.

Again, this is the conflation of people in the church with the Church itself.

Quote

3) Also related is the frequent fear from the orthodox of "wolves in sheep's clothing". Of course, the antis are fond of calling the faithful mindless sheep. I know that the watchmen on the tower need to be (as Alistair Moody would say) constantly vigilant, but it is sometimes difficult to carve out a space in the Church for yourself when you feel like everyone is suspiciously watching you ready to cast you out as a wolf. It seems like it would help if there were spaces in the Church that were more comfortable with my questions and heresies rather than constantly suspicious of them.

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

The "Cafeteria Mormon" is merely another way of saying, you're depending on your own wisdom.  You're words epistemology, soteirioligy, Christology are all about using man's methods of finding truth.  What about Divine methods?

The pattern I notice from all you've written here is that you're still trusting in the arm of flesh for your testimony.  As a place of beginning, that's fine.  That's all most of us have in the beginning.  But just as Adam, we're not meant to remain in a state of ignorance.

If it never progresses to the point where you're depending on the witness of the Holy Ghost, then you can only go so far.  You will only be so strong.  And you will eventually fall.  And without the witness of the Holy Ghost, man's logic, reason, evidence, knowledge are ignorance -- nothing but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

You cannot stay where you are.  The Lord does not want us to remain luke warm.  We are not supposed to be fence sitters.  Life will eventually force you to choose.  I pray that you will be open to the Lord's guidance on that.

Edited by Carborendum

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16 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

 

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

 

That is were the failure occurs.  It is not up to the Church or any Church member to "deal" with your comfort or uncomfortableness... It is on you.  Both the most Faithful and the most Faithless have questions and things they do not understand or know.  Thus questions and lack of knowledge is not the problem.  Its the lack of faith

Both of these types of people can ask fundamentally the same question but it is the faith or lack thereof that makes the difference.  (For without faith it is impossible to please God)

Take for example the Angel Gabriel announcements of pending births to Zechariah and Mary.  Both had serious questions on how they might have a child given their situations. Yet the angels response to what was basically the same question "How" was very very different.  Mary had faith and Zechariah basically did not and the Angel responded accordingly.

Now members and the leaders of Church are flawed and imperfect... But it is easy to see how a statement of "I do not believe that" versus "I am not there yet" would be taken differently.  Even though at the fundamental level they say express the same lack of knowledge/testimony.

 

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44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

As one who judges himself in the middle of a faith crisis, here are some things I see through my glass darkly:

I am sincerely sorry to hear that, brother. I hope that you can count on us to be in your corner, and I hope you feel you can so count on us.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

1) As with so many things today, it seems so polarized. The shrillest anti voices have nothing good to say about the Church, and the loudest pro voices have nothing bad to say.

The Lord himself leveled criticisms at his Church, to the point of condemning the Church and naming the curse that will follow:

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

President Benson echoed this condemnation in about 1987. Though our leaders rarely voice explicit condemnation, they haven't been shy about pointing out the shortcomings of the Saints. In my experience, it is much the same within the rank and file of Church membership and leadership. Everyone understands that we are still striving, not yet completely successfully, for Zion. Your mileage may vary, of course, but in my experience, it is only a few who voice the attitude that the kingdom of God is perfectly realized. The "anti voices" you mention seem many orders of magnitude louder, at least to my ears.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

Here in a middle place, where it seems obvious that the Church has made errors but also contains much that is good, it feels awful lonely. It seems difficult to find people and communities to interact with that are comfortable discussing the good and the bad.

I certainly believe the Church has made, now makes, and will continue to make errors. But I'm guessing the errors you see may not be those I see. I have found that what many in the Church consider "errors" are (in my view, anyway) no such thing.

For example, the Church's stance on (picking a few random issues) sexual morality, homosexual activity, and elective abortion are all considered by the world and the worldly to be Neanderthal and unenlightened, even oppressive. They are the opposite. If you have concerns about such matters, then you may find loving souls who will discuss them with you. But you are vastly unlikely to convince anyone that they're wrong. Such things are fundamental to the Restored Church and the gospel it preaches. Similarly, claiming that the Book of Mormon is not literally historically true; that Joseph Smith didn't really see the Father and the Son; that Joseph's institution of polygamy was the result of his own sexual urges rather than of divine command; that the president of the Church is not literally led by God; and all other such claims are simply non-starters. These are fundamental issues. Such issues are always open for discussion to better enlighten you, me, and everyone else in this sphere of ignorance and dim lighting, but they are not put up for majority vote.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

2) Related, there is a predominant "all or nothing" attitude. Many in the Church have long said something like it is all true or it is all fraud. Then the antis grab onto that, demonstrate one undeniable flaw or error in the all or nothing house of cards and claim that the whole thing comes crashing down.

Of course, the "all or nothing" you mention has nothing to do with whether this or that historical point is accurate. It is about the above-mentioned foundational issues. Is the priesthood real, and actually the authority of an all-powerful Father to the children of his kingdom? If the answer is yes, the the Church is true, just as it says it is. If the answer is no, then the Church is not true. Another word for "not true" is "false", at least in this case. That's what the "all-or-nothing" is talking about.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

I find myself leaning into a "cafeteria Mormon" space, but that space tends to be maligned from both sides, and, again, you feel lonely. It's nice when you find spaces where people are talking about the things they choose to accept and the things they choose to reject from the Church -- that affirm that one can accept and reject pieces without needing to accept or reject the whole kit and kaboodle.

Assume for a moment that the Church really, truly is what it claims to be: The literal kingdom of God upon the earth. You, as God's son, have been invited to participate in the activities and growth of that kingdom. Which parts of Church teachings can you safely ignore? Clearly, the answer is "none of them".

Now, assume the Church isn't actually what it claims to be. Which parts of Church teachings must you then accept on the authority of the Church itself? Again, clearly, the answer is "none of them".

This is the problem encountered by the "cafeteria Mormon": If he claims the Church actually possesses the divine authority it claims, then he cannot pick and choose what he wants to believe. And if he claims instead that the Church isn't really what it says it is, then literally nothing the Church teaches about anything is worth the time it takes to hear, much less 10% of your annual increase and the dedication of your entire life. The "cafeteria Mormon" spot is inherently unstable. Those who dwell there eventually find themselves faced with a stark choice that they must make. As Rush (the Canadian rock group) said: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Those who do not consciously choose a life of faith and discipleship will inevitably find themselves on the outside.

If you're in that unstable spot now, then now is your chance to positively make that decision. I know it's an uncomfortable place. That's inherent in the position.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

3) Also related is the frequent fear from the orthodox of "wolves in sheep's clothing". Of course, the antis are fond of calling the faithful mindless sheep. I know that the watchmen on the tower need to be (as Alistair Moody would say) constantly vigilant, but it is sometimes difficult to carve out a space in the Church for yourself when you feel like everyone is suspiciously watching you ready to cast you out as a wolf. It seems like it would help if there were spaces in the Church that were more comfortable with my questions and heresies rather than constantly suspicious of them.

I'm not sure how to approach this. I recognize what you say as a valid observation. But as one who has encountered a number of sheep-clothed wolves and has had a bellyful of them, enough to last a lifetime, I am also vigorously in favor of protecting the flock from their depredations. I certainly do not believe that everyone who has questions or doubts is a ravening wolf. God forbid; if it were so, none could be saved. I guess it comes down to having the spirit of discernment. Perhaps in such a case, it is incumbent upon the struggling Saint to exercise some tolerance and patience of his own toward the too-zealous flock protectors, who foolishly don't always realize that the "wolf" they think they're attacking is in fact a struggling sheep.

44 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

I'm sure this is all true, brother. But in the end, your salvation is before you. It is your privilege and responsibility to reach out and take it. If the proffered lifebuoy has some sharp edges or smells bad, then I sympathize with your discomfort. But hold to it anyway.

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2 hours ago, MrShorty said:

As one who judges himself in the middle of a faith crisis, here are some things I see through my glass darkly:

1) As with so many things today, it seems so polarized. The shrillest anti voices have nothing good to say about the Church, and the loudest pro voices have nothing bad to say. Here in a middle place, where it seems obvious that the Church has made errors but also contains much that is good, it feels awful lonely. It seems difficult to find people and communities to interact with that are comfortable discussing the good and the bad.

2) Related, there is a predominant "all or nothing" attitude. Many in the Church have long said something like it is all true or it is all fraud. Then the antis grab onto that, demonstrate one undeniable flaw or error in the all or nothing house of cards and claim that the whole thing comes crashing down. I find myself leaning into a "cafeteria Mormon" space, but that space tends to be maligned from both sides, and, again, you feel lonely. It's nice when you find spaces where people are talking about the things they choose to accept and the things they choose to reject from the Church -- that affirm that one can accept and reject pieces without needing to accept or reject the whole kit and kaboodle.

3) Also related is the frequent fear from the orthodox of "wolves in sheep's clothing". Of course, the antis are fond of calling the faithful mindless sheep. I know that the watchmen on the tower need to be (as Alistair Moody would say) constantly vigilant, but it is sometimes difficult to carve out a space in the Church for yourself when you feel like everyone is suspiciously watching you ready to cast you out as a wolf. It seems like it would help if there were spaces in the Church that were more comfortable with my questions and heresies rather than constantly suspicious of them.

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

1.  Errors?  I guess that depends on what you consider an error.  What others I've spoken with in a faith crisis have considered errors I don't particularly consider to be errors as much as a distancing from the Church.   

2.  While ANY participation is better than no participation, all is obviously best.  Follow the Prophet.   If you're rejecting things from the Church, you're rejecting things from God.  That's certainly a personal use of your agency, but it does come with consequences.

3.  Why would you expect Christ's Church to be comfortable with heresies?  Your Bishop's office is likely the space you are looking for.

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3 hours ago, MrShorty said:

As one who judges himself in the middle of a faith crisis, here are some things I see through my glass darkly:

1) As with so many things today, it seems so polarized. The shrillest anti voices have nothing good to say about the Church, and the loudest pro voices have nothing bad to say. Here in a middle place, where it seems obvious that the Church has made errors but also contains much that is good, it feels awful lonely. It seems difficult to find people and communities to interact with that are comfortable discussing the good and the bad.

2) Related, there is a predominant "all or nothing" attitude. Many in the Church have long said something like it is all true or it is all fraud. Then the antis grab onto that, demonstrate one undeniable flaw or error in the all or nothing house of cards and claim that the whole thing comes crashing down. I find myself leaning into a "cafeteria Mormon" space, but that space tends to be maligned from both sides, and, again, you feel lonely. It's nice when you find spaces where people are talking about the things they choose to accept and the things they choose to reject from the Church -- that affirm that one can accept and reject pieces without needing to accept or reject the whole kit and kaboodle.

3) Also related is the frequent fear from the orthodox of "wolves in sheep's clothing". Of course, the antis are fond of calling the faithful mindless sheep. I know that the watchmen on the tower need to be (as Alistair Moody would say) constantly vigilant, but it is sometimes difficult to carve out a space in the Church for yourself when you feel like everyone is suspiciously watching you ready to cast you out as a wolf. It seems like it would help if there were spaces in the Church that were more comfortable with my questions and heresies rather than constantly suspicious of them.

My epistemology, soteriology, Christology, and such are strongly LDS, so I am most comfortable in LDS spaces. But the things that feel wrong to me can make those LDS spaces uncomfortable as well. How the Church deals with the comfortable and the uncomfortable will impact how I move forward.

I get some (a lot of) people are polarizing.  

It really annoys me.  REALLY annoys me.  As I stated earlier, I have no problem acknowledging that folks are imperfect humans.  

I also don't like the term "Cafeteria Mormon", mostly due to all of the negative associations I've heard with it.  

Believe what you do believe, listening to Christ and walking with Him (or at least trying to).  That's the most anyone can do.  

 

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I would say a couple of thing about anti doctrines.  It is my personal conclusion that to be a disciple of Christ is to be for something and not really against anything.  Some may think that we (as disciples of Christ) need to be against Satan.  That is not quite true.  The real way to be against Satan is to be for Christ.  Anyone can be a critic but very few will be an example of something good or worthwhile.  Jesus calls us to be examples -- "Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven."

Some years ago I was debating on the internet with a minister in another faith about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We were debating the old argument that Mormons think they will become G-ds.  As we were discussing this topic my opponent wrote something that was almost an exact quote from the Gospel of John (Chapter 10) when the Pharisees  accused Christ (being but a man) intended to make himself G-d.  If that does not look familiar - it ought to.

So here is the bottom line according to Traveler:  The anti arguments have not changed that much over the last 2,000 years.  All one has to do to understand the methods and reasoning of anti's is to read the Gospel of John and consider carefully the arguments the Pharisees against Jesus and you will have the essence of the anti claims against the Latter-day restoration.  But keep in mind that the antis at the time of Jesus did not like his answers - the answers Jesus gave was the reasons that he was crucified.  In all my years - for example - when I have quoted Jesus concerning a man becoming a G-d - not once ever has a Traditional Christian accepted the irony of the accusation from scripter and changed even slightly their thinking.

 

The Traveler

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I appreciate the kind words. A lot of rabbit holes we could go down, but I wanted to respond to one idea:

On 10/21/2020 at 10:38 AM, estradling75 said:

It is not up to the Church or any Church member to "deal" with your comfort or uncomfortableness... It is on you.

I agree. Pres. Nelson's remarks about spiritual self-reliance really resonated with me in the Women's session. However, I am also reminded of something I recently saw from Elder Callister. Observing that when LDS leave their church, they are more likely than other Christians to go agnostic/atheist or -- if I recall his words correctly -- "to become a church unto themselves." Flying solo if you will. I think what I sometimes take away from the "it's not our job to make you comfortable, it's your job" response is that members maybe don't care one way or another whether or not I show up to worship with them. If they don't care whether or not I'm worshiping with them, and I'm uncertain if I want to worship with them, it becomes really easy to just decide to drift away and worship by myself.

I have observed in this group before that it seems like some of the worst debates in the Church are creationism vs. evolutionism debates, and seem to recall once questioning whether creationists and evolutionists could comfortable worship together. Others have observed that some of the worst debates are BoM geography (in particular, certain Heartlanders seem really intolerant of any other geographic model). Can the orthodox and the heretic come to a place where they can worship comfortably together? Maybe as @Fether's question kind of asks, should they?

To @CV75's request for recommendations -- I don't really know. Following from this line of thinking, I might suggest some introspection into how we really feel worshiping with each other. Do I as the heretic really want to worship with the orthodox members of my ward? Does my ward really want to share pews with me on Sunday? I know the knee jerk answer is, " of course they do. We invite all to come and the Savior instructed us to turn no one away." As @Vort says, I as the heretic will likely not convince the Church that I am right, but I don't see the Church convincing me of the error of my ways (unless and until the Spirit chooses to convict me of those errors), but is it still possible to want to worship together even if/when the chasm between our theology/morality seems unbridgeable? Many days it seems like that is the key question I am asking myself (do I want to worship with people I have not come to a unity of faith with?) and I guess the Church seems like it is asking itself the same kind of question. If/When I (speaking as a generic person in faith crisis rather than my personal self) express a willingness and desire to worship with you, will you respond with a similar willingness to worship with me? What "false" beliefs and attitudes and sinful behaviors would make you prefer not to worship with me?

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1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

I think what I sometimes take away from the "it's not our job to make you comfortable, it's your job" response is that members maybe don't care one way or another whether or not I show up to worship with them.

I hope this is not the case. I have tried hard to teach my children that they cannot hold me responsible for their own failings. Maybe I wasn't a good enough parent, and maybe I still am not, but in the end, they have to live their lives. Not me. And they have to decide what they will and will not do, what they will and will not believe, how they will and will not choose to feel. Yet after all that, I am still very much invested in their happiness and success. It matters to me a whole lot, perhaps as much as anything else in this life matters to me. My telling them that their fate is in their own hands is not to wash my hands of them; it's to empower them, to make them realize that only they can forge their paths.

Similarly, I take the "it's not our job to make you comfortable" (which applies to me in my ward just as much as it does to you in yours) not as a challenge or rebuke or declaration of not really caring very much, but as a statement of the nature of reality. I hope and believe that my fellow ward members value me and care about me and my family. But their caring and good wishes won't actually do anything for me if I turn away.  God reaching for me with outstretched hand to grasp me won't be of any benefit if I don't take his hand. The choice is mine. That's what I think it means, and I hope that's eventually what comes across to you.

1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

I have observed in this group before that it seems like some of the worst debates in the Church are creationism vs. evolutionism debates, and seem to recall once questioning whether creationists and evolutionists could comfortable worship together. Others have observed that some of the worst debates are BoM geography (in particular, certain Heartlanders seem really intolerant of any other geographic model).

I, too, have seen both of these things. I suppose I fall on what some would consider the heretical side of the organic evolution topic, and I remain pretty unconvinced by the heartland argument. But if there is deep division from such issues, perhaps it's a reflection of a deeper cultural malaise that we see in stark relief in our American political circles. Middle ground has been soundly rejected; one side has done so, vociferously, for decades, and the other side appears to have resigned itself to that division and no longer makes much attempt to bridge the gap. I wish I knew the solution. I suppose it must be Godly love, for what else could it be? What else can heal such wounds and divisions?

1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

I as the heretic will likely not convince the Church that I am right, but I don't see the Church convincing me of the error of my ways (unless and until the Spirit chooses to convict me of those errors), but is it still possible to want to worship together even if/when the chasm between our theology/morality seems unbridgeable? Many days it seems like that is the key question I am asking myself (do I want to worship with people I have not come to a unity of faith with?) and I guess the Church seems like it is asking itself the same kind of question. If/When I (speaking as a generic person in faith crisis rather than my personal self) express a willingness and desire to worship with you, will you respond with a similar willingness to worship with me? What "false" beliefs and attitudes and sinful behaviors would make you prefer not to worship with me?

These seem like hard questions. I want to say that of course we can put aside differences and worship together. When I say or think such things, it makes me feel warm, so I think it's probably true. But where the rubber meets the road, I'm no so sure. I have numerous cousins, nieces, and  nephews who have distanced themselves to various degrees from the teachings and practices of the Church. Some still consider themselves faithful members, while some don't consider themselves even so much as Christians any more. Others fall at various stages between those. If I'm brutally honest, I will admit that at times it's hard even to hold a philosophical conversation with them. When the harsh words start flying from their side, I have to fight back the urge to respond with a Sterling Rebuke of Diamond Truth, gutting their laughable arguments and showing with devastating accuracy just how wrong their apostasy is and how it cannot possibly hold up to careful, reasoned inspection.

Because that kind of thing does no good. I can't think of any examples of Jesus busting heads with scriptural citations and logical beatdowns to prove his brilliant point.

Somehow, love must prevail over such foolish hostility and bad feelings. I have met people who can perform this magic. But I am not one of them, not yet, not to the degree I have witnessed from them. I'm still plugging along, far behind the curve, preparing to meet my God and knowing that, when I do, I will be woefully underprepared and utterly without excuse. Nothing to do at that point but kneel quietly before my Lord and accept whatever judgment he has to render.

But I do hope that, traveling further down this path, I eventually manage to grow up enough to become useful to God's kingdom. Maybe even in this lifetime. Then I'll know how to deal with people  like you and me, people who strive for the truth and who want it, but who haven't yet figured out exactly what they're supposed to be doing and how they are to come to the knowledge they seek but don't yet have. Because right now, I feel like the blind leading the blind. And were I to stand before God tonight and give an accounting of myself, I would have no excuse for my current blindness but my own stubborn refusal to act in the way I've been told for my whole life that I should act.

Have patience with us, MrShorty. We're not there yet, either. I'll try to reciprocate. I'm at best a pale, distorted reflection of the Savior. But I'm a brother, and I try to remember to act like one. I often forget, and I'm ashamed of that. But I like to think my failures and deficiencies don't define me, and that yours don't define you.

Edited by Vort

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