prisonchaplain

What's the difference?

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10 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

We have less revelation, so how we will become remains a matter "we see through a dark glass" (loosely from 1 Corinthians 13). However, traditional Christian teaching is that God was/is/will always be all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere-present. So, I do not believe we will ever become what He is now. Nevertheless, we will rule and reign with Him. We will see as He sees. Another lessening of distinction is that God always had our creation in his mind. So, though we do not believe we are eternal intelligence, there is a sense in which we have always existed--at least in the thoughts of Almighty God.

You do realize that G-d having a foreknowledge of us before we existed and then created us according to his thoughts - would mean that G-d alone predetermined our destiny before we were created - which is the essence of the arguments of Calvinism.   There is one logical mitigation to this argument - but I have never encountered it outside of my own devices.  The argument that G-d created us with freewill is problematic in that the scripture tells us that G-d is not respecter of persons - which would mean that he could not create individuals with diverse free will - and without diverse freewill we would all choose the exact same path through whatever circumstance we could encounter.   And we know that is not accurate because of the uniqueness of choices. 

 

The Traveler

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There is a difference between how the Holy Ghost feels and talks to us and other feelings.  It is distinct and yet absolute. 

I can feel excited, or nostalgic about things.  I could go to a highly charged Baptist meeting and see the feelings of enthusiasm and excitement that are found in that meeting.  These may be hard to find elsewhere, and for those who grew up in this type of arena, may even have feelings of nostalgia mixed in. They see this and feel a warm feeling of familiarity and love the feeling found.  They have an excitement coursing through them...but this is NOT the Holy Ghost.

One may go to a more sedate meeting and find a quietness and a peaceful setting.  If they grew up in this, they may even feel it combined with nostalgia.  There IS a peaceful feeling and when mixed with nostalgia can bring powerful feelings to the fore.  This is NOT the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost can be hard to describe when it is faint.  When it is that peaceful feeling of comfort that comes upon you, it can be hard to relate what that feels to others.  The best I could describe it to someone who is not part of our Church but is Christian is to read the New Testament, especially the 4 gospels.  They should feel something when they read those 4 gospels that are not really replicated by a church setting.  It could be FELT in a church setting if one is teaching from those as the Holy Ghost confirms truth, but the church itself does not bring on that feeling that the words of our Lord does.  Reading the teachings of our Savior, to me, often brings about the Holy Ghost to us to testify of the truth of the gospel and our Savior's role and love.

In it's more powerful form, you will then feel this same feeling, but with it come words...and actual VOICE.  It is not a loud voice, but a soft voice that you could easily miss if you are not listening to it.  With this you will feel in your heart (once again, a hard thing to describe, some could call it a burning or a stirring, but not like heartburn, but more of an uplifting) and soul what the voice is telling you or talking to you about.  You not only hear, you feel it.  It is a LITERAL voice that is talking to you, and you can literally hear and understand it.

It is the ability to CONSTANTLY have this feeling and voice there to guide you and help you that the Saints obtain (if they are willing and righteous) that others do not.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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10 hours ago, Traveler said:

You do realize that G-d having a foreknowledge of us before we existed and then created us according to his thoughts - would mean that G-d alone predetermined our destiny before we were created - which is the essence of the arguments of Calvinism.   There is one logical mitigation to this argument - but I have never encountered it outside of my own devices.  The argument that G-d created us with freewill is problematic in that the scripture tells us that G-d is not respecter of persons - which would mean that he could not create individuals with diverse free will - and without diverse freewill we would all choose the exact same path through whatever circumstance we could encounter.   And we know that is not accurate because of the uniqueness of choices.

It's interesting that you start with foreknowledge. Traditionally, the discussion was between pre-destination (Calvin) and free will (Armnius). Calvinists asked how God could be all-powerful if his creation were allowed to defy him. Free will advocates responded that God is all-powerful because he foreknows everything. It was God's will to let us be free. So, the foreknowledge position was a means for free will advocates to defend the doctrine of free will against the accusation that it somehow diminished God's power and authority. If he knows and wills that we be free to disobey then his power is not diminished.

As for God not being a respecter of persons, I found a great illustration of this during my tour of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Langley, B.C. The guide showed us the men's locker/changing room, and pointed out that bankers and car mechanics change into the same white clothes. All are made equal in the temple. God is no respecter of persons. That truth does not restrict God from granting us free will. He may look to the banker and the mechanic with the same love and justice. He is not a distinguisher of persons--especially based on human social structures. However, He certainly will judge the just and the unjust, the repentant and the unrepentant. He will do so in pure justice, we believe, because each soul has been allowed the liberty to love or rebel.  

Edited by prisonchaplain

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2 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

I can feel excited, or nostalgic about things.  I could go to a highly charged Baptist meeting and see the feelings of enthusiasm and excitement that are found in that meeting.  These may be hard to find elsewhere, and for those who grew up in this type of arena, may even have feelings of nostalgia mixed in. They see this and feel a warm feeling of familiarity and love the feeling found.  They have an excitement coursing through them...but this is NOT the Holy Ghost.

One may go to a more sedate meeting and find a quietness and a peaceful setting.  If they grew up in this, they may even feel it combined with nostalgia.  There IS a peaceful feeling and when mixed with nostalgia can bring powerful feelings to the fore.  This is NOT the Holy Ghost.

You point out something important. Those who grow up in church come to value certain traditions. When the preacher gets loud, and there are many 'amens' the people will often say, "The Holy Ghost was really present today." For some, who experienced more contemplative traditions, the experience of holy silence may feel like the kiss of God. You suggest that these feelings/sensations are not the Holy Ghost. I wonder. To use an objective example, if a Muslim--raised in the belief that Jesus Christ was a prophet of Allah--has a dream in which Jesus tells him/her that he really is the Messiah--is it not the Holy Ghost that then draws the dreamer to repentance? He's not LDS. He's not even Christian. Yet . . .   Could it not be that the Holy Ghost is presenr in all encounters in which a truth drives us towards Heavenly Father?

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46 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

 I wonder. To use an objective example, if a Muslim--raised in the belief that Jesus Christ was a prophet of Allah--has a dream in which Jesus tells him/her that he really is the Messiah--is it not the Holy Ghost that then draws the dreamer to repentance? He's not LDS. He's not even Christian. Yet . . .   Could it not be that the Holy Ghost is presenr in all encounters in which a truth drives us towards Heavenly Father?

From the LDS Christian standpoint: Yes.   All things that testify of Truth are testaments from God.  

Speaking personally, I have a good friend whom grew up in the USSR without any exposure to faith, except for some light Buddism.  Throughout our friendship, I saw the Holy Ghost witnessing to her about Christ, and celebrated her joining a local Evangelical congregation.  We had so many great conversations, and I felt truly blessed watching this amazing transformation.  

Now, would it have better if she decided to become an LDS Christian instead of a Evangelical Christian?  Obviously.   That would have been the complete package with all of the cherries on top.  But that doesn't take away from the great transformation I did see take place.  

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13 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

It's interesting that you start with foreknowledge. Traditionally, the discussion was between pre-destination (Calvin) and free will (Armnius). Calvinists asked how God could be all-powerful if his creation were allowed to defy him. Free will advocates responded that God is all-powerful because he foreknows everything. It was God's will to let us be free. So, the foreknowledge position was a means for free will advocates to defend the doctrine of free will against the accusation that it somehow diminished God's power and authority. If he knows and wills that we be free to disobey then his power is not diminished.

As for God not being a respecter of persons, I found a great illustration of this during my tour of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Langley, B.C. The guide showed us the men's locker/changing room, and pointed out that bankers and car mechanics change into the same white clothes. All are made equal in the temple. God is no respecter of persons. That truth does not restrict God from granting us free will. He may look to the banker and the mechanic with the same love and justice. He is not a distinguisher of persons--especially based on human social structures. However, He certainly will judge the just and the unjust, the repentant and the unrepentant. He will do so in pure justice, we believe, because each soul has been allowed the liberty to love or rebel.  

My background into this is perhaps different and comes from my work in a branch of artificial intelligence that started with a project I worked on for the military rather than directly from religious considerations.  I do not intend to brag because I believe the solution I provided came directly through prayer and from divine guidance.  Without going into too much detail - the problem was that several (many) competing and compelling (important) functions required and needed the same resources that must be distributed quickly and in a single threaded fashion.   The traditional method was what was called a master - slave solution.  This in essence was placing the power for the decision in a single (all powerful) source that oversaw and mitigated all the resources and needs.  There were a number of problems with this traditional solution that boiled down to multiple possible failures at a single point - plus time constraints to complete important algorithm calculations at the all powerful source.

What was thought to be the "other" possibility is called the distributed solution.  But the classical implementations of this method resulted in some processes being "locked" out from needed resources.  In short this problem had been around my industry for years without a suitable solution.  The solution that came to me was a modification to the distributed solution using a simple indexed pointer into a variable table based on and modified by previous efforts for competing resources.   I am trying to make this as short and understandable as possible so I will skip over most algorithm specifics but the results were staggering and have gone far beyond the initial military intent into commercial airlines and unmanned orbiting satellites.   In addition I have use the basis of this algorithm in solving automation problems in manufacturing, warehouses and other industrial automated systems.  

How does this apply to our discussion?  I believe this understanding that I was given is similar to the reason G-d has created man in his image and given us all the possibility to become his image and likeness.  But this means that his all powerfulness comes from a distributed trust of divine inspiration which I believe is a basis of our becoming "one" with Him and His Son.  It in essence means that G-d, individually by himself is not "all powerful" but the all powerfulness is the result of many achieving oneness with G-d.

Scripture tells us that we inherit all G-d's power and glory (all He has) through His gift of salvation.  I know that many in the religious community have adverse thoughts about being "one" with G-d as a possibility if we become "equal" to G-d.  Mostly because they think in terms that under such a scenario we would not need G-d.  But from my understanding - to achieve greater things we need each other and all "power" and "glory" is greater with each addition to the oneness.   To be G-d - G-d need to be and entity of love, compassion, justice and mercy and needs to be a G-d of creation - which creation has as it purpose to create the image and likeness of G-d.

 

The Traveler

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On 11/11/2020 at 1:58 PM, prisonchaplain said:

There's an incredible amount of common ground. Just as I look to Judaism as the foundation from which Christianity flourished, I suspect that so much of LDS teaching has its roots in traditional Christian teaching--especially the Arminian branch that we both grew from. It's just that this particular thread is examining those differences that lead some--especially converts--to join your church.

I guess I forgot the impetus behind the thread.  Sorry.

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20 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

You point out something important. Those who grow up in church come to value certain traditions. When the preacher gets loud, and there are many 'amens' the people will often say, "The Holy Ghost was really present today." For some, who experienced more contemplative traditions, the experience of holy silence may feel like the kiss of God. You suggest that these feelings/sensations are not the Holy Ghost. I wonder. To use an objective example, if a Muslim--raised in the belief that Jesus Christ was a prophet of Allah--has a dream in which Jesus tells him/her that he really is the Messiah--is it not the Holy Ghost that then draws the dreamer to repentance? He's not LDS. He's not even Christian. Yet . . .   Could it not be that the Holy Ghost is presenr in all encounters in which a truth drives us towards Heavenly Father?

The Holy Ghost can witness of the Lord to all and any who desire to learn the truth.  This is a reason I say for those who wish to learn to identify the differences between nostalgia or a church experience and the Holy Ghost is to read in the New Testament the words of our Savior.  The Holy Ghost will testify of the truthfulness of the Lord to those who are open to feeling it.

The difference (as I see it) between those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (in the Church) and those who do not is that those who receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost can have it at ALL times, constantly, without it ever leaving them.  Thus they can always be guided in truth and light if they are worthy to retain the Holy Ghost with them.

In addition, I find that the Holy Ghost is exactly as it is described in the Scriptures when you actually hear it.  It does not go to loud and wild rock concerts, nor does it shout in loud exclamations at you, and if you are not listening to it, you can easily miss it.  However, to identify that it is ACTUALLY the Holy Ghost speaking, it will also have that feeling that comes when you hear the Savior's words and hear his voice.  It is a comforting confirmation of who it is.

Too often (and this applies to members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on occasion as well, I've seen many who were raised in the church not be able to identify the spirit or misinterpret nostalgia and memories or feelings of what it should be, rather than being humble and trying to feel what it actually is) I see people mistaking other emotions and feelings for the Holy Ghost.  In some instances, because they mistake these feelings for the Holy Ghost rather than understanding what it actually is, they are led to make bad decisions.  This isn't because the Holy Ghost led them astray, but normally due that they mistook their own emotions and feelings for the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost is NOT their PERSONAL or individual emotions or feelings, but I see many (and this includes members of the Church as well as others) mistake these feelings as the Holy Ghost instead.

So, yes, the Holy Ghost can manifest itself and often does to those who seek and find truth.  It testifies of the Savior and his atonement to those who remain humble and willing to listen.  This applies to all men, if they are humbly seeking.  If they harden their hearts, or try to supplant their own doctrines and opinions (and this I see occur often) and refuse the testimony of the Holy Ghost, in many instances they grow hardened to it and no longer can really tell when it is talking to them and when it is not.  However, all men can feel it (and this is the primary tool that missionaries are supposed to use to convert people to the gospel which is one reason for missionaries to be faithful to their own rules and covenants as well as be able to recognize the Spirit themselves.  Too many times they convert others based on charisma and friendship rather than a testimony of the Spirit, and many of those converts are not really converted and when the missionaries leave, the converts do as well.  I find those converts that have learned to identify the spirit and are converted based upon what it tells them tend to be the stronger converts in the Church...or that could also be personal biased due to my own conversion).

There are probably many Christians in the world that have felt the spirit and been converted to a strong testimony and belief in Jesus Christ.  The question then comes on if they continue to listen to that spirit when more truth is offered, or if they get stuck in what they already think and harden their hearts instead.  The Spirit is there to testify and teach us as well as comfort us in time of need.  I think there are many Christians that recognize the Spirit's ability to comfort and when in time of grief or hardship turn to reading the words of the Lord in the Bible.

The difference I think is the ability for some (not all) of the Saints to actually identify and hear the voice of the Holy Ghost leading them constantly (and if you think about how great a gift that is, how many out there would give all they had if they could have the Holy Ghost constantly talking to them with a literal voice they could hear...it is as if the Lord was always showing you what path to take and what choices could be important or useful).  It is there for them constantly as long as they remain worthy of it.  This is what we receive as members of the Church when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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On 11/11/2020 at 1:58 PM, prisonchaplain said:

There's an incredible amount of common ground. Just as I look to Judaism as the foundation from which Christianity flourished, I suspect that so much of LDS teaching has its roots in traditional Christian teaching--especially the Arminian branch that we both grew from. It's just that this particular thread is examining those differences that lead some--especially converts--to join your church.

OK, now that I've refocused on the gist of your OP, I have some answers.  Please keep in mind that I'm not trying to make arguments or disparage other faiths.  But in an effort to answer the question: What differences do people see that cause them to join your Church as opposed to others?

Return to the Articles of Faith again.

1) First AoF: This was one of the main reasons my parents joined the Church.  They never could get their heads wrapped around the idea of the Trinity.  And no matter how hard they tried and who they asked, all the explanations sounded even more confusing than the ones before.  (They were about 30 years old and my grandparents were about 50 when they joined - for the same reasons -- so they did indeed spend some time searching for an answer.  And my great grandparents were spending their entire lives in search of that answer, and died never hearing anything that rang true).

When they heard the doctrine of the Godhead, they felt so much relief. FInally!  Something they could understand and seemed to fit what they'd read in the Bible all their lives!  Yes, it was a big source of peace for them.

2) Second AoF: There is a sense of responsibility that comes from believing we are not responsible for Adam.  We are responsible for ourselves.  And while we may find some effects from decisions of our predecessors, that is no reason to excuse our own choices and behaviors.  I don't really hear that so loud and clear from other faiths.  In fact, I hear quite the opposite all too often.  And this sense of personal responsibility rings true to many outside of our faith.

3) 4) Third/Fourth AoF: I had an investigator on my mission who specifically talked about the third and fourth articles of faith.  I believe his words were,"I just can't accept the idea that we'll just 'waltz into heaven because we happen to believe something.'  We need to do SOMEthing."  He acknowledged the need for a Savior on some level.  And we explained what our belief was regarding the Atonement, and he was satisfied that this is what he had believed all along.

5) I don't remember which publication this was found in.  I believe it was in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.  The author told of a Catholic Priest saying,"You Mormon's have no idea of the strength of your position.  Either you are right, or we are right.  None of the other faiths has a valid claim on being God's Church.  Either the Catholics maintained the authority to administer God's Church or we have failed.  And if we have failed, then there needed to be a restoration of that authority.  None of the other sects have a valid claim on that."

It's a rough quote from memory because I'm too lazy to look it up at this point.  But you get the idea.  And, again, I recognize that other faiths have their own justification for and/or rejection of the issue of "authority".  But that is still another mindset/argument that is made by people who reject other faiths.

6) Church organization.  If Jesus set up his church a certain way in ancient times, it would only make sense that his modern day system/organization would stay true to it insomuch as is practical.  Some people do believe in prophets who led the people anciently should still be leading the people today.  If there are just "men" leading the churches, how do we really know if what we're hearing is true? 

7) Gifts of the Spirit.  Many people from many faiths want to believe in miracles today.  But the way they see it being portrayed in other faiths,"just don't feel right" to them.  I heard that phrase many times as a missionary and as a lay member of the church.  Many people want to understand that miracles are there to help us where help is needed, but they're not just for show and tell.

8) & 9) Continuing Scripture/Revelation: I've heard only a few who had actually looked for a faith that believed in modern prophets.  What I've seen much more often is that people have read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it.  And they knew it was true.

10) Gathering of Israel:  I believe this is only applicable to some Jewish converts.  One man in particular joined the Church, but he had a funny idea of Christ's Atonement (which was more Messianic Judaism, than Christian.  His main reason for joining was that he really believed in the gathering of Israel.  And this appeared to be the only Church working towards that in any way.

11) Freedom of religion: Not applicable.

12) Separation of Church and state: Proper role of and need for earthly governments.  Not applicable.

13) Common Virtues: While every Christian faith claims these, few actually live them.  What I mean by that is this: One can still be considered a "good Christian" (Just work with me on the verbiage here) while continuing to indulge in pretty grievous sins.  I've also found this in many other faiths.  But the bar for "member in good standing" or "temple recommend holder" in The Church of Jesus Christ requires a certain level of obedience to the commandments of God.  

So, to answer the original question:  I've personally known many who joined the faith because of the example set by members of the faith being such outstanding individuals.

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@Carborendum, thank you. "Excellent recovery," as they say. Of course, I believe there are traditional answers and discussion points to all of these. BUT, there is no doubt that people are finding answers, fulfillment, "Now I get it!" etc. in your church. To use the first AoF as an example, there is no question but that the traditional churches have struggled with describing the nature of God from the time of Christ until now. Indeed, Jesus claim to be the Son of God is a big part of why he was opposed--at least theologically. The appeal of the LDS Godhead on one side, and of modalism on the other (Jesus is God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost--United Pentecostal Church) both attest to the dilemma. Ironically, those that struggle are quite often the ones who are the most hungry to know God in deeper ways. So again, I appreciate your answers!

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On 11/9/2020 at 1:55 PM, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps it is one of the most common questions you are asked:  What's the difference between LDS and Protestants/Catholics? I was asked this just yesterday, by a staff member (chaplains are considered subject matter experts in most matters religious). I mentioned the question of spiritual authority, the three heavenly kingdoms, and the nature of God vs. humanity (especially premortality).

 (What do you say? Why be LDS? What's the difference?

So, I may not be your target audience here—I didn’t “convert” from another religion to LDS; I was born in the faith.  But of course, at some point I had to make a deliberate and informed decision to stay; so I’ll offer my two cents for what it’s worth.

Maybe a parable, of sorts, will help: 

I’ve gotten into woodworking in a small way over the past couple of years.  Nothing really special—a few bookshelves, a couple of boxes for various purposes, that kind of thing; I hope to make more furniture-type items going forward.  I’ve accrued a collection of tools—less than I think I need, though certainly more than my wife thinks I need!  The next tool that I want, is a thickness planer.

The function of a thickness planer is that you feed a board into one end and, in seconds, an electrically-powered rotating blade shaves a layer of wood off the top face of the board.  The result is a perfectly flat face.  You can use a thickness planer for dimensioning lumber to the exact thickness you want it.  You can also use it to take pre-milled wood that was cut sloppily, or that has warped/cupped/bowed since it was cut, and shape it into something that is perfectly flat and straight and ready for precision woodworking.

Now, with a bit of skill and the right alternative tools (a workbench with clamps and a selection of hand planes), you could be an absolutely amazing woodworker without ever owning a thickness planer.  It would be absolutely absurd to say that someone who owns a thickness planer is a “better woodworker” than a craftsman who lacks that tool, or that his product will always be qualitatively superior.  Many woodworkers actually enjoy the workpace, or physical exercise, or tradition, or connection to their forbears, or just the extra attention that go into using and sharpening and tuning and maintaining their hand planes. 

But the fact is that a thickness planer just plain lets you work faster.  A woodworker who chooses not to obtain that tool, will eventually find that his choice to dimension or flatten lumber by hand is imposing an artificial limit on the quantity of projects that he is able to undertake and complete.  A woodworker who chooses to invest in a thickness planer, and uses it effectively as he works to improve his own skill set over time, will eventually be able to achieve more than the woodworker who chose not to obtain that tool.

To me, religion is a tool—or, more properly, a set of tools—that helps us to produce the product God wants.  To help us become what He wants us to become, now and in the hereafter.  So in evaluating a religion, my starting point has to be what the religion says about the nature of God, the nature of man, the relationship between those two, what God’s plans are for humankind, and what the potential and fate of humankind actually is. 

If you accept the ideas that:

--mankind was created as a sort of god in embryo

--it is possible for a man to progress to a point where he can have the qualities God has, wield the powers that God wields, and do the things that God does; and

--Jesus Christ’s Atonement was geared towards making it possible for us to do precisely that—

--well, then, Mormonism is pretty much the only game in town.  And frankly, I think as Church members, we should work harder at articulating this vision through our outreach and missionary work.  The simple fact is that, per our theology—observant Christians who sincerely seek after Christ and live a Christlike life will get the Terrestrial Kingdom, which is basically everything their own faith traditions have led them to expect of Heaven.  God didn’t restore the Church to get people into the Terrestrial Kingdom; he restored the Church for the benefit of that subset of humanity that seeks exaltation.  That’s not some obscure “gospel meat” that should be carefully concealed until after the “milk” has been digested; it’s part and parcel of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is offering to Christianity and to the world in general.

But let’s say you reject that particular worldview, while still agreeing that God imposed religion so as to help humans to become better individuals who are more in touch with His greatness and goodness and saving and comforting power.  Even by that measure, Mormonism offers a pretty amazing toolset—one that I believe, properly used, can still take one further than the toolset offered by any other religion or philosophy.  These tools include: 

--A quantitatively and qualitatively superior means of direct communication with God via the Holy Spirit, which in turn offers superior opportunities for education, edification, solace, warning, and instruction/counsel about the various life-decisions we all must make.  Mormonism also promotes the idea that it is possible to commune with the Father even more directly, via visions and/or other direct interactions with corporeal angels or with God Himself.

--I would note, on this issue, that while I am absolutely unqualified to trace the history of charismatic or Pentecostal Christian movements—it seems to me that one of the big selling points in 19th century Mormon missionary work, was the idea of spiritual gifts.  We see this in Mormonism’s own publicized histories of itself and some of its first noteworthy converts, and I see it a lot in private journals of some of my own ancestors.  A theme that I took away from Terryl Givens’s “Wrestling the Angel”, as well as his biography of Parley Pratt (which delves deeply into Pratt’s preaching and writing), leads me to the impression that much of mainline Christianity (certainly the “respectable” institutionalized branches thereof) had pretty much pooh-poohed “spiritual gifts” like tongues, prophecy, revelations, visions, healings, etc—as artifacts of the primitive church that Christianity had outgrown as it matured.  While again acknowledging my relative ignorance of Christian history beyond my own faith tradition—I do wonder if many of the pastors and theologians who saw the way Mormonism appealed to a lot of Christian “seekers” did some soul-searching about whether their own congregations could benefit from the restoration of some of these gifts; and undertook a private and individual re-evaluation of the idea of “spiritual gifts” generally that may have helped “prepare the way” for 20th century pentecostal/evangelical/charismatic Christian movements.

--Divine power, channeled both through the Holy Spirit and through divinely-sanctioned priests, that enables the Saints to make spiritual/psychological progress that they’d never be able to do on their own.  And a power that occasionally, according to the will of God, can even change the material nature of the world around us.

--Sacramental rites and liturgies that reinforce our sense of connectedness to the divine, and challenge and educate us in new and sometimes unexpected ways. 

--I would note here that I think most religions have a surfeit of mishnahs and commentaries and sermons that are happy to spoon-feed us the ostensible “meanings” and “right interpretations” of the mysteries we see in scripture, in nature, in human behavior and the problems of life.  Mormonism certainly has this, too.  But Mormonism also has a set of esoteric temple liturgies where—not only do our leaders abstain from telling us what it means; but they give us an injunction not even to publicly speculate about what it might mean!  (Even as they continually reiterate that it does have some very deep meanings, and that it’s tremendously important that we work those meanings out by continued participation in those liturgies, and that they cannot be simply abandoned just because they are mysterious or uncomfortable.)  To participate in temple worship on a prolonged basis, is to repeatedly accept a challenge to get onto the wrestling mat with God Himself—where the religious authority’s role is less about trying to mediate between you and God, and more about just keeping you in the ring even when you want to quit.  I don’t know that any other religion will push you into quite that sort of a struggle with God. 

--Authoritative leadership that can help safeguard against deception and offer meaningful counsel in approaching the vicissitudes of life, especially while we are still growing in the faith and trying to figure out the difference between the whisperings of the Spirit and our own prejudices and predilections.

--Additional scripture that again, helps to safeguard against deception and teaches us to approach God and the Spirit; while also clarifying some of the “holes” and debunking man-made misconceptions about previously-revealed scriptures.

--A strong sense of collective purpose and destiny (“Zion”, and all that), which fosters both a sense of community and opportunities for personal growth through ministering and service.  (The emotional and material "safety net" the Church has developed over the years ain't bad, either!)

I would hasten to note, just like my parable of the thickness planer, that nearly all of the spiritual blessings and opportunities and tools (or alternative tools that serve similar purposes) exist, to some degree, in most variations of Christianity; and many adherents to those sects have used the “tools” in their possession to much greater effect than many adherents of Mormonism (myself, certainly included) have used the tools in our possession.  So I hope that what I’ve written doesn’t seem too smug!  Stunningly beautiful souls can be--have been--crafted within virtually any Christian faith tradition, and a good number of non-Christian traditions as well.

But the underlying issue, to me, is potential and eternal increase.  All other things being equal, I am satisfied through personal experience that the “tools” of Mormonism can take me further towards these ends than the “tools” offered by any other religion or philosophy. 

And so, I stay.  :)

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Thank you, @Just_A_Guy. We Pentecostals use a similar analogy when speaking of the importance of Spirit-baptism. Yes, one is born again--saved--without having experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit (which we believe is accompanied by speaking/praying/praising in tongues). However, it's like a lumber jack choosing between an ax and a chainsaw. Both will do the work, but one is much more effective. So, if we are to witness to the ends of the earth then being baptized with the Holy Spirit empowers us to do so much more proficiently.

So, the analogies are great and clear. Further, it is certainly true that those who practice the LDS faith would almost always make fantastic traditional Christians. 

Edited by prisonchaplain

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On 11/13/2020 at 4:07 PM, Just_A_Guy said:

But the underlying issue, to me, is potential and eternal increase.  All other things being equal, I am satisfied through personal experience that the “tools” of Mormonism can take me further towards these ends than the “tools” offered by any other religion or philosophy. 

And so, I stay.  :)

May I add just a little logic?  By definition G-d is a unbounded being without limits.  Also by definition a being that is bounded and contained within limits is a Damned Soul.  

I liked your parable of tools.  Obviously not having access to tools is a type (type and shadow) of bounds and limits.  But there is another thought.  For example, fighter pilots will use "Trainers" or at times "simulators" to prepare them for "The Real Thing".  Without question, spiritual gifts are "trainers".  Moses placed a brazen serpent on a pool to train Israel to look to Christ for deliverance.  But we all realize that one can learn to look to Christ without a brazen serpent.

We may realize that our spiritual gifts have limits - none of us have all the spiritual gifts afforded to Christ - but we are told in scripture that we are hires with Christ of all spiritual gifts, powers and glory.

@prisonchaplain is quite correct.  Latter-day Saints could easily adjust and become fantastic traditional Christians.  But for a Traditional Christian to become a Latter-day Saint would require somewhat of a change of heart and mind concerning the Traditional view of the relationship between G-d and man - which is the essence of a miracle - there is nothing we can do to convince them.

 

The Traveler

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