prisonchaplain

What's the difference?

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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?

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The gift of the Holy Ghost is a part of the authority of God, and dwells only within his kingdom. All children of God may experience and be led by the Spirit, as a part of their divine inheritance. But only those within God's kingdom may receive the Holy Ghost by right. That is the real, fundamental difference.

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

The gift of the Holy Ghost is a part of the authority of God, and dwells only within his kingdom. All children of God may experience and be led by the Spirit, as a part of their divine inheritance. But only those within God's kingdom may receive the Holy Ghost by right. That is the real, fundamental difference.

People of many faiths report having deeply motive, sometimes 'ecstatic', spiritual experiences. I suspect that some converts discuss this in their testimonies. How do they describe the difference? How did they know that this time (within the LDS faith) was particularly authentic?

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5 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

People of many faiths report having deeply motive, sometimes 'ecstatic', spiritual experiences. I suspect that some converts discuss this in their testimonies. How do they describe the difference? How did they know that this time (within the LDS faith) was particularly authentic?

The Spirit is the Spirit. An authentic testimony of the Spirit is what it is, whether or not the recipient is a member of the kingdom of God. I do not believe there exists a second-class level of spiritual experience. There are greater and lesser manifestations, perhaps, but it's all the Spirit.

I also believe there are many false spirits, and many people who are deceived (perhaps willfully) as to the true source of those spirits. But authentic spiritual revelations from the divine are not limited to those in God's kingdom. But being a member of God's kingdom means having received the divine blessing and commandment to receive the Holy Ghost. The reception of the Holy Ghost in this sense is not possible for someone outside the kingdom, ever. So that is what I see as the difference.

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Part of what I am trying to discern is how the difference looks today. @Vort, if I am reading correctly, there is a subtle but certain sense of authority and rightness that comes with LDS encounters with the Holy Ghost. Perhaps there is somewhat less second-guessing--not as much, "Did I hear/discern that correctly?"

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I don't know. PC. I don't have as much personal experience with the guidance of the Holy Ghost within the kingdom of God as I should, and I have none outside it. My guess is that all of us who are not as mature in spiritual matters as we ought to be have wondered at some point whether what we were feeling was given us from God or self-generated. On the other hand, I have certainly had some few experiences when the voice of God to my heart and the commandment to my spirit was beyond all reasonable doubt. How does that compare with the experiences of non-Latter-day Saints? I can't say. I suspect there might be very substantial similarities.

How does the difference look? Again, I don't know. I have tried to explain what I do know and what I believe, in the hope that readers might draw some useful conclusion or idea. Sadly, I have not taken sufficient advantage of the gifts I have been given. In Elder Uchtdorf's words, I have too often lived beneath my privileges. But I believe there is a real and probably distinct difference in experience. If not, much of the reason for seeking after God's kingdom would be done away with.

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As you know, we do not speak openly of what goes on in the temple, though its contents are available through the scriptures. Others have noted before that we as a Church have little liturgy in the sense that other churches have, at least in our daily activities and Sunday services. But our temple rites, specifically our endowments, have a strongly ritualistic liturgical element. It is jarringly different enough from our norm that many young Latter-day Saints receiving their own endowment, including at least a couple of my own children and one of my brothers, find the experience disorienting and sometimes even disturbing.

I personally never felt that way. On the contrary, the more I attend the temple and participate in temple work, the more profound and amazing I find the ceremonies. I consider that to be the workings of the Spirit in my own spirit. So temple participation has affected my spiritual life and development strongly and, I believe, profoundly. But if I try to explain why, I come up with nothing but weak words. I don't hear voices or behold visions or experience the ministration of angels, but I come away enriched and grateful, often humbled but not in a painful way.

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Thank you, @Vort. I have heard of some newer converts being unsettled by their temple experiences. At the same time, having experienced a shadow of the real thing (public tour, prior to opening), I can easily imagine that many would find temple-related experiences to be special. I have no desire to pry into sacraments and liturgies meant for the faithful. However, reading about the aftermath helps me understand better the power and appeal of your faith.

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3 hours ago, 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?

For quick obvious impacting points, particularly from a sociological focus, my defaults are: LDS stress on continuing personal & public revelation, very strong emphasis on family ties, clean conduct, and a structured global church family.  

The question "why be LDS" is different- you should join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if that's what God tells you to do.  Just like you should join the Catholic Church if that's what He tells you to do (or whatever other example you will have).

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11 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

For quick obvious impacting points, particularly from a sociological focus, my defaults are: LDS stress on continuing personal & public revelation, very strong emphasis on family ties, clean conduct, and a structured global church family.  

I could be mean and ask for an example of each. :sparklygrin: Instead...of these, which have you personally found important and, do you have an incident/illustration? Thank you!

 

The question "why be LDS" is different- you should join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if that's what God tells you to do.  Just like you should join the Catholic Church if that's what He tells you to do (or whatever other example you will have).

Perhaps I can get at the draw by asking this: What brought you to asking about joining the church in the first place (assuming God did not, unprompted, simply appear to you and directly tell you: JOIN THIS)?

Edited by prisonchaplain

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21 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

I could be mean and ask for an example of each. :sparklygrin: Instead...of these, which have you personally found important and, do you have an incident/illustration? Thank you!

 

The question "why be LDS" is different- you should join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if that's what God tells you to do.  Just like you should join the Catholic Church if that's what He tells you to do (or whatever other example you will have).

Perhaps I can get at the draw by asking this: What brought you to asking about joining the church in the first place (assuming God did not, unprompted, simply appear to you and directly tell you: JOIN THIS)?

Haha- I'm a really thorough investigator whom has checked that out a dozens of different faiths.  Just because I'm a nerd that way.

For me personally: the theology makes logical sense.  LDS Christian version of the Plan of Salvation (the Fall wasn't an 'ooops'), logical consistency of knowing good & evil / experience, individual agency, growth and experience, afterlife, etc.  Also the stress on revelation (personal and public) is a big one for me: if I don't understand something, I just go ask the Father- it's that simple.  If something isn't known at large, Church leaders can speak up on it from God.  Scripture isn't a book form a dead man- it's a gateway to a relationship with a living breathing and approachable God.  Also God Himself- is approachable, feels, understandable etc.  He's not a nebulas unknowable disembodied thing like the Star Wars Force, rather He's my Father.  I love Him, we chat, He guides me.  And He's there and feeling in a really real way for me-- when things are good and when I'm white-knuckled.  Such is important to me, and it's major in the LDS Christian faith and...honestly I don't find it really in other Christian faiths.  

 

Did that  get at the answer you were looking for PC?

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26 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Did that  get at the answer you were looking for PC?

Perfectly. Thank you!

Far too often, interfaith discussions become a debate, or some other version of a dual-missionizing endeavor. LDS are known for bearing testimony. It's one of your more excellent traits. :thumbsup:

Edited by prisonchaplain

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6 hours ago, 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?

I do not believe that there is that much difference; on a person to person basis.  However, @Vort made a reference to authority.  I will draw attention to the authority (power of attorney or the taking up the name of G-d) or in the name of G-d.  Though there is much to say about this notion I will limit it to just a few things.  First I would say that I personally find it interesting (flawed logic) to oppose the notion that man can become a G-d in eternity and yet it is believe that we can use the very name of G-d (pretend in essence that we are G-d) to act for him.  I am not sure that Traditional Christians like yourself appreciate the irony of such thinking or discussion.   I would also point to Christ and his reference to those that are unauthorized to act in his name (or to act as though they are G-d) - when Jesus said that they have done many good things in "His Name" - but that Jesus will say he never knew (authorized) them.

If someone was withdrawing money from my bank account without my authorization - I would not be happy about it - regardless of how sincere they are.  If they are acting without my permission - they have broken the law.

 

The Traveler

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16 hours ago, 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?

Christian churches in general do in fact have much of the truth and I believe that many Christians have spiritual experiences because the Holy Ghost will bear witness of that truth. Their belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ is inspiring. But a major distinction between our faiths derives from the question of: saved to what end? Everything being spoken here leads to what I think is the ultimate distinction we make in our doctrine of salvation vs exaltation. The belief of most Christians about the ultimate state of those who are saved falls well short of our understanding of exaltation. The sealing of families and eternal progression in our quest to become like our Heavenly Father is the driving force behind our beliefs. During the apostasy one of the doctrines Satan attacked most vehemently was the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with Him. With that understanding lost the most man could hope for seems to be a heavenly version of the paradise lost to Adam and Eve, never comprehending the true heights the sons and daughters of God can attain. In short what I think is missing in much of Christianity is a divine discontentment with their notion of being saved.

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On 11/9/2020 at 2:55 PM, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps it is one of the most common questions you are asked:  What's the difference between LDS and Protestants/Catholics?

Once upon a time you had said that you could not bring yourself to be in agreement with any of the articles of faith (though you were teetering on the13th).  I believe therein lie all the differences.

1) Trinity vs Godhead.
2) The fall was part of the plan, not a frustration of God's original design.
3) While we both believe in salvation through Christ, we believe that Christ's grace is free (i.e. costs no money or temporal wealth) but it is not free (i.e. takes no "works").  We've had many discussions on that matter, so, I won't go further into that in this thread.  We could start another to address this more fully.
4) There are some "works" that the Lord commands us to go through.  And for each, we receive a blessing (or gift) to help us endure to the end.  If one thinks so little of the Lord's commandments as to ignore such clear directive, then is one really committed to the Lord?  To us, these are not just public declarations.  They are ordinances of power and authority.
5) Sacerdotalism.  Even the Catholics don't have a valid claim on this.  None of the other faiths tend to claim it as we do.
6) Church Organization:  Kinda the same category as #5.
7) Gifts of the Spirit:  Pentecostals and other charismatics can agree with us on this.  I'm not sure why you had a problem with this one.
8.) Open canon.
9) Continuing revelation.  Again, I thought that you would be on board with this.
10) Literal gathering of Israel.  I honestly don't know how other faiths address this.  It's hardly ever talked about in most discussions.  But it is getting to be more and more important to us in (what appear to be) these final days of the dispensation.
11) Freedom of religion.  Isn't everyone in America on board with this one?  I don't see what the disagreement could be on.
12) Honor the government of the land. Jesus, himself, said "render unto Ceasar..."  I think more sectarians agree with this on a practical level, but gripe and moan about it when govt oversteps its bounds.  But the thing is, that we feel the same way.  We realize that earthly governments have power.  And while in mortality, we are subject to that power just as the Jews of Christ's time under Rome.  It is not the way we'd LIKE it.  But that is the way it is.  It is simply stating that we don't rise up in open rebellion every time government passes laws we don't like.
13) Traits of character.  Yes, I thought these were the common virtues of all Christianity.  But apparently I was wrong.  I don't know what virtues sectarians are striving for, if any.

There are the differences as I see it.

Edited by Carborendum

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Once upon a time you had said that you could not bring yourself to be in agreement with any of the articles of faith (though you were teetering on the13th).  I believe therein lie all the differences.

1) Trinity vs Godhead.
2) The fall was part of the plan, not a frustration of God's original design.
3) While we both believe in salvation through Christ, we believe that Christ's grace is free (i.e. costs no money or temporal wealth) but it is not free (i.e. takes no "works").  We've had many discussions on that matter, so, I won't go further into that in this thread.  We could start another to address this more fully.
4) There are some "works" that the Lord commands us to go through.  And for each, we receive a blessing (or gift) to help us endure to the end.  If one thinks so little of the Lord's commandments as to ignore such clear directive, then is one really committed to the Lord?  To us, these are not just public declarations.  They are ordinances of power and authority.
5) Sacerdotalism.  Even the Catholics don't have a valid claim on this.  None of the other faiths tend to claim it as we do.
6) Gifts of the Spirit:  Pentecostals and other charismatics can agree with us on this.  I'm not sure why you had a problem with this one.
7) Church Organization:  Kinda the same category as #5.
8.) Open canon.
9) Continuing revelation.  Again, I thought that you would be on board with this.
10) Literal gathering of Israel.  I honestly don't know how other faiths address this.  It's hardly ever talked about in most discussions.  But it is getting to be more and more important to us in (what appear to be) these final days of the dispensation.
11) Freedom of religion.  Isn't everyone in America on board with this one?  I don't see what the disagreement could be on.
12) Honor the government of the land. Jesus, himself, said "render unto Ceasar..."  I think more sectarians agree with this on a practical level, but gripe and moan about it when govt oversteps its bounds.  But the thing is, that we feel the same way.  We realize that earthly governments have power.  And while in mortality, we are subject to that power just as the Jews of Christ's time under Rome.  It is not the way we'd LIKE it.  But that is the way it is.  It is simply stating that we don't rise up in open rebellion every time government passes laws we don't like.
13) Traits of character.  Yes, I thought these were the common virtues of all Christianity.  But apparently I was wrong.  I don't know what virtues sectarians are striving for, if any.

There are the differences as I see it.

I thought to address your #'s 3 and 4.  I tend to think of terms (such as works) in both specific individual intent and all possible extensions.  Sometimes works are thought of as an exclusive expression of our individual efforts but also should include covenants with G-d, faith in G-d, belief in G-d, worship of G-d and loyalty to G-d as extensions of the possibilities of our efforts and works.   I see the religious debates about saved by grace or works as way two confining of terms to specific human definitions missing the full light of G-d.  

I believe that there is some eternal benefit in discussion of terms of religious importance but I believe almost all religious arguments are based more in ignorance than understanding.  But there is another problem - especially with religious disagreements.  I believe it is the attempt to "justify" individual positions rather than "seeking" eternal truths.  It is "natural" (the natural man) to justify ourselves and condemn or blame others whenever there appears to be disagreement - especially of a religious nature.

There are two things that I would highlight to @prisonchaplain that I believe distinguish Latter-day Saints from the Traditional Christians.  The first - I have already highlighted which is specific to authority or genuine authorization as opposed to counterfeit.  There are obvious symptoms to many counterfeits that every Christian or individual claiming to be Christian ought to agree upon - like in reference to the pagan practice of Baal but many purported Christians miss the subtle counterfeit differences that compartmentalize Traditional Christian sects.

The second profound difference is the justification of all that pass from this life without a "complete" understanding of Christ - this is symbolically expressed in scripture as "How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of those that bring good tidings."  Unique to Latter-day Saint understanding and culture is the inspiration to see beyond our standing of this life to a time that we will all learn directly from G-d (Our Father, His Son - Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost) concerning the Plan of Happiness (Salvation).  This doctrine of salvation for the dead is so beautiful, wonderful and inspiring that I am at a complete loss as to why Traditional Christians make such excuses to reject any consideration of it's validity and great supplement to justify the love of others - especially those that are our enemies in this life because of their ignorance of Christ.  In all my quests for truth in studying other religions - this single doctrine above all others makes clear to me why I am most glad to embrace the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as more Christ-like than any and all other religions I have encountered.

 

The Traveler

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14 hours ago, Traveler said:

… I personally find it interesting (flawed logic) to oppose the notion that man can become a G-d in eternity and yet it is believe that we can use the very name of G-d (pretend in essence that we are G-d) to act for him. 

I've always appreciated that you highlight and defend this doctrine. It is one of the most significant distinctions between our faiths, and if I believed as you do I would emphasize it strongly, as well. Many LDS seem to believe that the possibility of exaltation is a "meat" teaching (scripture says that spiritual babes need milk before meat), and so hesitate to discuss it with investigators, or even with curious chaplains.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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4 hours ago, Carborendum said:

6) Gifts of the Spirit:  Pentecostals and other charismatics can agree with us on this.  I'm not sure why you had a problem with this one.

Here's the text: 6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

We do believe in apostolic gifts. However, the way we see these roles carried out differs. Apostles, ironically, are best seen in our full-time missionaries. They go to foreign lands, convert souls, plant churches, educate pastors, and empower-then-sustain national churches--very much like the New Testament apostles did. Our prophets do not carry that label. Instead, certain souls in local churches have been receptive to the Holy Spirit's impressions, and so speak God's words through the gift of prophecy. I have done this on many occasions. Others might say I am a prophet. I would say I occasionally exercise the gift of prophesy.

So, like most of the articles, Protestants and Catholics would mostly agree, but will find a particular take that is different. Your church has living prophets and apostles who serve as national and international leaders.

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8 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

I've always appreciated that you highlight and defend this doctrine. It is one of the most significant distinctions between our faiths, and if I believed as you do I would emphasize it strongly, as well. Many LDS seem to believe that the possibility of exaltation is a "meat" teaching (scripture says that spiritual babes need milk before meat), and so hesitate to discuss it with investigators, or even with curious chaplains.

Despite our differences of opinion - I consider you a GREAT friend.  You may not realize how I respect your opinions.  But I would speak to your reference to milk and meat in reference to doctrines.  When I was quite young I would play "war games" with my friends.  We would choose sides and play cowboys and Indians or US and Japs (very un politically correct)  One being what we thought were the good guys against the bad guys.   Later in life I was deployed and headed into combat in Vietnam (though I never reached combat because of a change of orders) - never-the-less, I believe I developed a different insight into what is milk and meat.  The childhood war games I see as the milk of war doctrine but when faced with combat - I see as the meat of war doctrine.  Thus I do not see milk and meat as different doctrine as much as commitment and depth of doctrine.  

I see the LDS view of exaltation as the meat (commitment and depth) into the doctrine of being Christ like.  Which I believe to be the greater part of our friendship.

 

The Traveler 

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23 hours ago, 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?

You touched on some valid academic points, but the reason people decide to "be LDS" is their subjective experience leading to that decision. That may or may not done by comparing it with Protestant religions, either academically or subjectively.

Edited by CV75

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58 minutes ago, CV75 said:

You touched on some valid academic points, but the reason people decide to "be LDS" is their subjective experience leading to that decision. That may or may not done by comparing it with Protestant religions, either academically or subjectively.

I suppose, indirectly, this response relates to an investigator praying to God for discernment about whether the latter-day prophecies are true, and the prophets are authentic, and the religion has authority. My question is what drives people to pray the prayer? Those who are born into the church will naturally seek spiritual confirmation. However, what of converts? My suspicion is that the living testimony of an LDS member is the primary instrument. In other words, you make a friend and that person is drawn to the way you live and think. They wonder why and how, and when they learn it's primarily the religion, they sometimes turn to investigation.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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43 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

I suppose, indirectly, this response relates to an investigator praying to God for discernment about whether the latter-day prophecies are true, and the prophets are authentic, and the religion has authority. My question is what drives people to pray the prayer? Those who are born into the church will naturally seek spiritual confirmation. However, what of converts? My suspicion is that the living testimony of an LDS member is the primary instrument. In other words, you make a friend and that person is drawn to the way you live and think. They wonder why and how, and when they learn it's primarily the religion, they sometimes turn to investigation.

Statistically speaking, the by far most common first exposure is a friend whom see a LDS Christian acting in such a positive way that Christ's light shines through.  It's the most common spark of curiosity for somebody to come check things out.  Past that exposure, a friend can also help explain things and be a friend -- somebody you already know and are comfortable with discussing things.  But ultimately conversion should indeed b a matter of that individual's change of heart.  

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1 hour ago, prisonchaplain said:

I suppose, indirectly, this response relates to an investigator praying to God for discernment about whether the latter-day prophecies are true, and the prophets are authentic, and the religion has authority. My question is what drives people to pray the prayer? Those who are born into the church will naturally seek spiritual confirmation. However, what of converts? My suspicion is that the living testimony of an LDS member is the primary instrument. In other words, you make a friend and that person is drawn to the way you live and think. They wonder why and how, and when they learn it's primarily the religion, they sometimes turn to investigation.

I think you have discovered a great truth.  That is - that ever person that achieves stands on the shoulders of someone else.  Though my parents both had a great influence on my personal life; I can count many individuals that influenced me.  For example, for me, in high school there was a fellow name Tracy Hall.  He was a brilliant kid and always did better than me in math and science.  We were not hard core friends - more competitors.  Except I competed with him - he hardly noticed me.  His grandfather was the lab assistant that did all the grunt work for Millikan for the Millikan oil drop experiment and his father was the inventor of synthetic diamonds and was the authority in the scientific world for high pressure physics.   

After high school I attended Brigham Young University and took a class from Tracy - the father of the high school acquaintance, Tracy Hall.  If a person is lucky to encounter another person of respected renown and accomplishment on a personal level (because of the son) - it can be life changing.  Dr. Hall had a profound personal belief in Christ and was also strongly tied science.  That influence had an impact on me and my attitude towards science and religion.

I know a person that did some scientific studies for our church - he told me that in his study a person on average would encounter 6 different individuals that were LDS before deciding to seriously commit to investigating our church.  I personally am convinced that it does not matter how often or how brilliant an encounter is - for there to be a life changing event for the good - the spirit of truth (Holy Ghost) must be the primary medium.  Kind of like the parable of the sewer.

 

The Traveler

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