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Meerkat

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  1. Jesus knew the end from the beginning. He knew how to direct His disciples to the upper room. He knew Judas would betray Him. Why couldn’t the Romans have just arrested Jesus without Judas’ betrayal? I wonder the Savior wanted to point out that we should be aware that some individuals can do a lot of damage to us individually, and as a society and world, if we let them. “Judas” is a cliche, as is “Benedict Arnold,” “Hitler” and probably many others. I have been tempted in years past to have sympathy for Judas and the role he played in the Atonement, when the Romans could have done it without him. “Poor Judas.” But Jesus said: “24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Matt. 26:24. Woe unto any of us who would be tempted to betray anyone for money (or power, or influence, or anything else.). It’s not worth the money. I’m thinking of the Pharisees who devour widows houses. I believe honor and honesty are the premier virtues.
  2. I get that, and agree that many frameworks influence for the good. I often think of my wonderful Baptist neighbors, that if they don’t make it to Heaven, neither will I. Yet they have let me know they believe Mormons are good people, just “deceived.” Maybe that falls into the “overreach” category you are uncomfortable with in our church. I think, as time goes by, the Church is taking a more ecumenical approach, recognizing that if the Elect don’t embrace the authority and sacred ordinances of the Church while here in mortality, many will embrace the Temple ordinances done for them when they are in the Spirit World. The important thing, in my opinion, is how did we live and treat others? Did we love God? Did we love our fellow man? If we lived right, I think our understanding of what is true will come.
  3. Can a lasting conversion be obtained through reason alone?.
  4. Cognitive dissonance is valuable in our quest for a workable framework for our lives. For many of us, that framework becomes the Gospel. It may not always have been. But as life experience percolates to the surface, some choose to take the Gospel, and table the imperfections until more wisdom is available. Your idea here makes a lot of sense. We should be able to discuss these things without taking offense (or intentionally giving offense.) I believe this cognitive dissonance from Bernard Gui’s thread “Where Will This Lead” pertains to this discussion. (I hope I’m not out of line copying and posting it here): ”...our (Sacrament) speaker gave perhaps the best sermon I have ever heard and felt on repentance. He said at first he worried that his words might not be appropriate, but then he came to the conclusion that what he had to say was what the Lord wanted him to say. He told his story... A life-long member, seminary graduate, returned missionary young man who had made some very poor choices and ended up in many years of inactivity, moral degradation, addiction, depression, homelessness, self-loathing, and despondency. At a point when he was making the decision whether or not to live any longer, he thought of his father. He called him and asked if they could meet. They agreed and at that visit in their home, his father gave him a blessing during which the slate was wiped clean. Embraced by his parents, from that moment he began to take the steps that would restore his spirit, mind, and body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now three years later, he is sealed to a sister from our ward who had earlier suffered at the hands of an abusive ex-husband. They and their little baby boy are now a healthy and whole loving family. God be praised! There were many tearful eyes in the congregation, and some wept openly. We did not know of his journey, only that he had come as a great blessing into the life of our friend. I am sure many were thinking of loved ones they fear have slipped forever away from the path into forbidden areas from which there will be no return. Or perhaps there were those who are having similar feelings of uselessness and despair themselves. As the Spirit bore witness, we were given the hope that “Where will this lead?” does not necessarily have be to tragedy, but rather to deliverance, and redemption, and joy. It is possible for all of us. Thanks to this good brother for sharing his story of repentance, and thanks be to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” It seems to me that this young man had an experience with truth he tested by the practical consequences of his belief. That is the definition of pragmatic from Merriam- Webster. The speaker came through some secular experiences that revealed which behavior he needed to eliminate to remove the dissonance from his mind and life. Stepping out on that limb of faith, he found a pragmatic Atonement revealed by his secular experience. It appears he has found a way of living now that works for him. Sounds like you have one that works for you also.
  5. I agree with your first sentence here. I don’t know why it would be different for other conservative faiths that teach a strict moral code. Why would the implications be different? Looking back at the strictness with which we raised our children, I do believe it would have been better to have loosened the reins at an earlier age. They could have experimented with their agency and learned that choices have consequences on less weighty decisions. As it turned out, three of our five are strong members. Two went overboard with their decisions after leaving home and left the Church. We are on good terms now and love them whether or not they ever decide they want to have anything to do with the Church going forward. 20/20 hindsight, there are many things we should have done differently and known better. Thankfully, I believe God allows for the mistakes we all make. I think He has provided a way to sort things out in the spirit world, if we don’t figure it out here in mortality. (See 1 Peter chapters 3 and 4, and Doctrine and Covenants 138.)
  6. More reasons for Church , centered in a home near you.
  7. I love Doctrine and Covenants 138. It gives me hope for family members and others who have left the faith, rejected it when offered, or rejected the prophets. President Smith expounds on one of the most comforting doctrines in the Bible that is routinely overlooked by other Christian faiths— the doctrine of teaching the plan of Salvation to those in the Spirit world who rejected the Gospel in mortality so all would have equal opportunity the be judged fairly (on equal footing) in the final judgment. He is talking about 1 Peter chapter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6. It is one of those scriptures that lines up with the character of the God I worship better than Alma 34, which states: ”33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. 34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. 36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.” I have reconciled these two scriptures, but forget from time to time how they are reconciled. I would be interested in how you or others reconcile Doctrine and Covenants 138 and Alma 34:33-36.
  8. I pretty much agree with this. It seems to me that with the knowledge of God comes increased responsibility to act on that knowledge, to live according to that knowledge and endure to the end. When we give into temptation after having known what we believe is the right way, it seems logical to me that it would hurt more than if we were not accountable. Christ spoke in parables to avoid making non believers accountable to a life they were not prepared to live.
  9. I believe they afflict us more when we either abandon our faith in Jesus Christ, sin to the point we can no longer hear the still, small voice, or suffer deep depression, grief or malady that exacerbates a mental illness. Then the playing field may be skewed against religious (or formerly religious) people because the understanding of sin and guilt is more ingrained. I can see that, if you are talking about a genuine mistake and not deceit, which should cause guilt in anyone.
  10. I agree with what you are saying here. Unfortunately, I believe their methods of coping with that guilt (which comes to all of us,) is not as effective as religious conversion and may lead to anti-social addictions such as drugs, anti-depressants, and other guilt causing activities that can lead to unhappiness and even suicide. “We can’t break the Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them.” DeMille
  11. You, MFB and Jordan Peterson seem to be on a similar quest to give secularists a rationale to understand how the Savior’s Atonement can work in a person’s life. Maybe secularists could use that rational about justice, sacrifice and forgiveness to pray about what many of us believe actually happened (rather than the myths that, for the most part, point to Christ) and experience a true, humble and lasting forgiveness in their lives. If they accept the myth as a guide for living, the “Hero’s Journey,” their behavior may improve. If so, they may eventually recognize the blessings resulting from their change, and become converted to their actual Savior, Jesus Christ. The reason I believe the focus must eventually become the God/Man/Redeemer is that I believe God cannot lie. His integrity holds existence together, according to laws, in my opinion, just as the elements are governed by law. The great Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides evidence in the lives of the believers, which manifests itself by lifting burdens of guilt and enabling joy to displace despair. “17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 6 Experiencing that consolation is a very personal thing that must eventually happen when “Every knee shall bow, and Every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. I understand how off putting such an absolute statement is to many non religious secularists. Hence, the importance of finding humanistic words and ideas that will communicate the whys and how’s of the Savior’s actual love for them, and His actual atoning sacrifice.
  12. The difference is that many Denominationalists believe “once saved, always saved— you can’t take yourself out of God’s hand.” Our view is that Salvation requires a sincere attempt at changing our behavior and enduring to the end. I believe faith in Jesus Christ will come later for many ( “6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” from 1 Peter 4. I believe, if we embrace that idea of repentance (not merely believing, but sincerely attempting to turn away from our sinful behavior and nature, the end of that path (forgiveness) will result in exaltation. The main thing we have over other Christians, faiths and other good people is the required sacred ordinances. I believe changed behavior is the object God wants for us. If we do the thing, belief and desire for the ordinances will eventually come. If the secular approach will take us that far, the joy of testimony will come and we will embrace Jesus Christ and His doctrine and ordinances. Well put. The Prodigal Son is the perfect example. After squandering his inheritance, perhaps estranginging himself from his parents and family, he comes to himself and realizes he deserves nothing. He humbles himself, and tells his father “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” Luke 15:18-19 He didn’t say “I am here to resume my role as couch potato. You, my parents, have a duty to bail me out, take me in, give me a computer and sustain me for the rest of my life.” He said “I know I’ve done wrong. I know I am a great great sinner, and don’t even deserve your name. I’m not asking for anything, other than to work for your Grace, the great privilege of being near you and enjoying your presence. I realize now how much I love you, Dad.” in a reflection of our Father’s Mercy, he runs out to meet his son, giving him full benefit of the doubt that the son had learned his lesson and indeed, been changed for the better. He did kiss him, clothe him, feed him and give him a valuable gold ring. That’s what I call forgiveness. And honestly, I believe the prodigal’s Mother’s heart was probably twice as tender, merciful, forgiving, filled with love and desire to have her son back than his Father was. I believe that is true Grace, accessed by true Repentance (change of behavior— work, effort, sorrow, regret and profound gratitude.)
  13. I wonder if it would help for the bishop to ask members limit their testimonies to three minutes to allow others to strengthen their testimonies by bearing it? If the same people speak month after month, I wonder if the bishop could give a talk or 5th Sunday lesson encouraging those who have born testimony in the last couple months to allow others to speak this month? By the way, I saw the opposite of racism in your comment. I would guess that most US wards are short on diversity and would gratefully welcome people of any racial background. Beginning sentences with “These wonderful people” should clarify to all your desire to avoid negative racial stereotyping. Regardless of race, the issue of monopolizing testimony time should be discussed, in my opinion.
  14. This is a great question, and a very important one. I believe many of us worship God without realizing it. After awhile, God let’s us know that our lives are happy and blessed because we have (sometimes accidentally,) been living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Others of us hit a wall of confusion and despair, and call out to God in our desperation to know if He lives, and if life has a purpose. He answers in a deeply personal way. Persistence, prayer, patience and obedience can ultimately bring us to a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ. For those of us who need help with our unbelief, and don’t obtain that personal knowledge during mortality, God, in His mercy and fairness, has provided at least one more opportunity beyond the veil of death. We learn in 1 Peter 4:6 “6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” One more opportunitÿ to gain that inspiration and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May the Lord answer the prayers of all who seek a deep and personal relationship with Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
  15. I think you are right about many of those who leave the Church. But I would be very surprised if a high percentage of active members regularly view pornography. Having said that, an area authority recently said that pornography is pandemic in America. It would be tragic if “more than 50 percent view Pornography at least quarterly” in the Church, as you suggest. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part. It just seems to me that such behavior would eventually make Church activity impossible. Due to our family experience, my wife and I attend the weekly family support twelve step and have for about five years. It is a wonderful and spiritually fortifying meeting. I am surprised at how few people attend it and forego the help that is available. I have also substituted for the addiction recovery facilitators in our stake, and see the help that meeting brings to those who deal with compulsive behaviors. If what you are saying is accurate, that twelve step meeting is also under attended. Those who don’t take advantage of it suffer needlessly alone. You are a great example of what can happen in a good twelve step program. The shame and despair are replaced with hope, gratitude, happiness, humility and a desire to help others find the way out. It’s the same in the family support side. Pride and embarrassment are soon replaced with gratitude, humility, and a nearly missionary desire to help people experience the healing power of the Savior’s Atonement. That is the silver lining in all this— learning aspects of the Savior’s Atonement we weren’t aware of before. I thank God for that opportunity.
  16. It isn’t unique to the Church of Jesus Christ. My opinion is that part of it has a lot to do with the internet and it’s attendant temptations (Pornography, dating sites, anti-religion sites, etc.) and liberalization of laws such as marijuana and now mushrooms in Colorado. Experimentation in any, and sometimes all of those areas can result in loss of the Holy Ghost and therefore testimony. Of course there are other reasons for doubt. But I believe those are the big ones. Two of our RM TM children left the Church and their families for such reasons. They estranged themselves from us for about four years. About a year ago they began to reach back. One said “I don’t know if there is a God, but I know there is a hell because I’ve been living in it for the past four years.” He later asked “Do you think the Lord would ever take me back after all I’ve done?” The answer, of course, was “yes— “and He would do so rejoicing. The other son said “Looking back, the happiest times of my life were when I was growing up in our family and active in the Church. I can see the day when both of us will be back in the Church.” Part of his reasoning is that he wants a wife who will be true to him, and he doesn’t know of another place where that is more effectively encouraged than in the Church. By the same token, he would need to embrace identical virtues if he wants a similar happy marriage and family to the one he grew up in. Here is an interesting article about people losing faith and leaving churches across the board: https://www.pewforum.org/2018/06/13/young-adults-around-the-world-are-less-religious-by-several-measures/
  17. This is the challenge— to choose rightly when confronted with temptation. The other day, I read about a school where eighty percent were the majority race, and twenty percent were in the minority. Music preference was along racial lines. Choosing music for the senior prom, the students were asked what kind of music they preferred. Although there was a sizable minority, the majority (in good conscience) was able to override the minority by popular vote. The result did not seem fair to the minority. Indeed, they were not properly represented. Their freedom was a infringed upon by the thoughtless exercise of the majority’s free agency. There is much to learn of charity, mercy, patience and love IF we think about our choices and those impacted by the votes we cast and the decisions we make.
  18. Yes. What a great comment about the value of disobedience. What better teacher is there? “And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” Moses 5:11
  19. “Always let your conscience be your guide!” "What's a conscience! I'll tell ya! A conscience is that still small voice that people won't listen to. That's just the trouble with the world today... " Jiminy Cricket
  20. And this is just the beginning. Imagine where we will be six months from now when people are preparing and participating!
  21. As I have said many times in many places, I have high respect for the Mennonites, and have taught our children from their curriculum. I respect the Mennonite stance on pacifism, and acknowledge their sacrifice providing alternate service in devotion to God. I agree with equal goodness in Mennonites, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS and other faithful Christians. The biggest difference, not to beat a dead horse, is the importance of authority to perform ordinances such as baptism. Not just anyone can do it, but he that was called by authority, as was Aaron. I have no problem with your devotion to The Mennonite faith based on your strong conversion to pacifism. I have no problem with Catholics holding to Peter as their first Pope. I hold to what I believe because I believe that I do know that I am right about the Book of Mormon and therefore that Joseph Smith was a prophet and we have a prophet today as we did ancient. All of us should live according to our faith and share what we do know about it to the best of our ability. You said "So, we still have an assurance about our LDS friends being Christians without needing any conversion or additional ordinances than what they already have. LDS doctrine keeps the faithful from saying the same about us." It's not the doctrine. We believe it is God who has spoken to us and told is personally, this is in fact, right. The doors to salvation are wider than many Christians think. Hence, the restored doctrine of baptism for the dead, baptism by authority, and other doctrines that were confusing, corrupted or missing and needed to be restored and prophesies of the last days that needed to be fulfilled. Bro. Navidad, Lord bless you and your wife to better understand what members of the Restored Church really believe about these things. This isn't meant to be critical of your or any other religion. It is what we believe and why we believe it. We converts are "true believers" in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. This isn't just an opinion we can be persuaded out of. God has spoken to many and I believe most of us, in a way we can't deny, nor would we want to. Plus we have the fruits of living the religion that also testify. Keep up the good work, Bro. Navidad.
  22. I see your point. Members of the Church don't see our identity as an act of self defense, rather the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, foretold in Acts 3 "20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you. 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Rev.14: "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." And several other places. But you know that's what we believe. It has nothing to do with "being content" to be one of many. If that was what I believed God wanted of me, I would accept it. I am a member because God invited me to be, and confirmed my decision. I couldn't get around the authority issue in Hebrews 5: "1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." But you know that also. I agree that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints Are "neither superior to, more favored by God; inferior to, or less favored by God than any other genuine Christian who seeks to live a life of righteousness and exhibit the fruits of the spirit." If we do feel superior, it is to our own condemnation because we are each and all beloved children of God, in my opinion.
  23. This makes sense to me. Diet and body chemistry imbalances can cause behavior that may seem rational to the individual on Monday, and irrational on Tuesday. Remorse over actions or misjudgments done in an altered state can be hard to live with, and difficult to attribute as a cause. Then there are those who have compartalized various kinds of abuse who may have no idea why they rage. Is the problem Church teaching or culture, or is there something else going on that is not as easy to identify? A family member exhibited bizarre behavior, then felt deep guilt and remorse. He couldn't seem to get on top of his emotions and attempted suicide. He has been diagnosed with Hashimotos Disorder and done a wonderful job controlling his diet and is doing remarkably better. He still has periods of sadness, but is high functioning and sel reliant. He wants to be happy. He wishes he could go back and make a fresh start. Rarely is Hashimotos checked. I'm sure there are other causes like that.
  24. That is a beautiful thought, Papa Lee. You have had much influence here. I have felt the sweet Spirit of the Holy Ghost many times in your words, including these. Your words remind me of a poem I am sure you are familiar with. It is titled: A Sonnet on His Blindness When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide, "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?" I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts: who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed And post o'er land and ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait." John Milton
  25. What a beautiful spot you live in. It reminds me of a summer view of a stream not far from my childhood home in Ketchikan, Alaska. I do have some thoughts on your very interesting post. I will only express my opinions. Others may see things differently than I do. What I am giving you is my two cents. 1. I have followed several of your posts, and you are an educated and interesting person. I have found you to be intimidating at times. Your "disturbing the waters" has always been well-intentioned, in my opinion. Your posts are always interesting and worth reading. You have also been a little aggravating to me at times, as I know I have been to you. But you have influenced me for good. I am trying to learn how to communicate in a more thoughtful way than I have in the past. That is valuable, and I feel a debt to you on that point. So please keep contributing. You have some wonderful insights. As far as feeling "less than," I remember attending the Church before we knew we could become members. I felt something special walking into the Church. I believe it was the Holy Ghost. I saw these good people, listened to what they were saying, and I thought that if I could just sit in the pews among them, that would be enough for us. Then the missionaries challenged us to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, which we did. They then challenged us to be baptized. I was excited at the prospect. My wife, not so much. She said she was baptized as a youth into the Presbyterian Church. She felt it would be hypocritical for her to be baptized again. But she supported me, if that's what I really wanted to do. As it turned out, through fasting and prayer, my wife gained the same faith and testimony I had found reading the Book of Mormon. We were baptized together about 45 years ago. The only thing I can relate to feeling "less than" is when we attended as two newlyweds off the street, and felt the love and honesty of the people, and kind of put them on a pedestal. We learned later that most all of them were sinners just like us, and we fit right in. I had felt the influence of the Holy Ghost reading the Book of Mormon, and earlier when Jesus Christ came into my life. As a newly baptized member, I found the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to be real and constant. It helped me appreciate that other members suffered from the same insecurities and misgivings that I did. I grew into a place of assuming that everyone had the best of intentions toward us, and being more concerned about my wife's and my personal relationship with God. I also learned that what I hear is sometimes not what people meant to say, or would have said had they known I would misunderstand. Like the poet said: "These clumsy feet, still in the mire, Go crushing blossoms without end; These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust Among the heart-strings of a friend." (Edward Rowland Sill in "The Fool's Prayer.") 2. Regarding the doctrine of the Church being exclusive and arrogant, I see it in a couple of different ways. First, is it arrogant or exclusive for Jesus to say "Whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God."? It would seem to exclude all those outside that group, such as Moslems, Buddhists, Athiests, and the thousands of others. But if it is His Church, He can do that, right? Is that the kind of arrogance and exclusivity you are talking about? Or is it the arrogance and exclusivity of the people? The Savior said in 3 Nephi 11:29-34 "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he shall visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost." That personal communication from God is what members are talking about when they say "I know God lives, that Jesus is my Savior. I know His Gospel has been restored to the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And I know we are led by a prophet today, Russell M. Nelson." I hope that such statements don't come across as exclusive or arrogant any more that you saying "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Job 19:25 I believe that is your testimony also. It edifies, and uplifts. Why? Because you are expressing what you know, what you have learned from personal revelation from God, and it communicates to the heart. "Repent, believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized" is the actual doctrine. You probably don't find that offensive either, do you. Is it the authority issue, and that is exclusive and arrogant? We members may want to welcome everyone, regardless of whether they believe God has given His authority to one Church to officiate in His name. For example, when my brothers were married in the Temple, my Lutheran parents remained in the waiting area. We were sad about it, and would have preferred they be allowed in. But we believe it is the Lord's Church. He is the one who makes the rules, and we do our best to follow what He has instructed us to do. The parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1 comes pretty close to explaining our belief that God doesn't let everyone into the wedding feast. He doesn't let everyone into the Celestial Kingdom. There are conditions: Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance and Baptism by one with authority from God. Is it arrogant to have a belief? Is it exclusive when God calls all people to come unto Christ through faith, repentance and baptism? I don't see it as arrogant or exclusive. If you do, I still say you are a good person and smarter than me in many ways. One thing I know is that God will speak to His children when they ask, regardless of their religion. Do we make mistakes? Yes, of course. But I believe God sustains our humble efforts to do what is right. 3. You are absolutely right. It is your choice, under the direction of the Holy Spirit to attend the ward. That was my choice too, and for the same reasons. I felt God's encouragement. It is also your choice, under the direction of the Holy Spirit not to be baptized again. That is one thing we should all agree on. You should not be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints UNLESS the Holy Spirit tells you that those administering the ordinance have authority to baptize, and that God wants you to be baptized. With many members of the Church, we view it as it was presented in the New Testament. John the Baptist was not just another believer who wanted to baptize. Matt. 3:13-15 states: "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." We believe John was given the authority to baptize back then. That is why Jesus went to him. We also believe that the authority to baptize is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. I have many friends outside the Church who are better people than we are. I would be surprised to live where God lives, and they not be there. Doctrine and Covenants 138 explains what happens to people who have died without hearing or receiving the ordinances of the Gospel by one having authority. Our loving Heavenly Father leaves no stone unturned to give all His children the opportunity to hear and receive it. That's my belief. I will lock arms with any good person who does not believe as I do. May the Lord guide them by the Holy Ghost to do His will for them. My faith is between me and God. I am glad to know the same is true for good people like you and your wife. 4. I think we are all "Wimbling Willows," members of the Church, and those who are not members of the Church alike. We all want to do what's right, but we fail in our efforts. We say the wrong things. We do the wrong things. But we all get better over time. God will sort it all out, in my opinion. 5. Regarding disturbing the waters, please continue. You have a gift for it. 😁 (That's a joke.) You get people thinking, and drive them into the scriptures. That's a positive thing because we learn a thing or two that help us follow the Savior more diligently. And that's important. I hope you and your wife stay in the ward and continue to contribute for the same reason. I am sure one of the reasons it is a great ward is because you are there. Sincerely, Meerkat P.S. You said in your response to Rain, " So, we still have an assurance about our LDS friends being Christians without needing any conversion or additional ordinances than what they already have. LDS doctrine keeps the faithful from saying the same about us." The way you have penned that sentence makes it difficult to answer without offending you. You should not be offended. If you are right, all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved in the Kingdom of God. If we are right, and authority is required for baptism, etc., that work will be done for every child who died without hearing the Gospel, or in ignorance that His Church had been restored to the earth and all those who accept it will join with Jesus Christ inheriting all that God has. What could be more fair? I don't see that doctrine or anything like it in any other religion. It is compassionate and merciful. Do you not agree? If Revelation 14:6-7 means what it appears to be saying, the Book of Mormon appears to fulfill that prophecy. Our beliefs do not exclude other Christians. They include them. We see all people as children of God, who has given all a pathway back. They are not condemned to hell fire for eternity because they did not hear about or believe in Jesus Christ during this lifetime. In my Baptist's friend's faith, my Dad, my Exemplar, the best man I have ever known and who I aspire to be like, was condemned to hell at his death because he was agnostic. He didn't know for sure that Jesus Christ was his Savior. But he lived like a Christian. He was good. He was honest. He loved his wife and family. THAT belief, that he would be condemned to hell, is a belief that should make God cry-- not that belief that Mennonites and every other of God's children need to be baptized by one holding authority from God to dwell where God dwells. The Temples dot the earth to make that happen for everyone who will respond to God's invitation.
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