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Navidad

Would Love to Hear . . . err . . . read your thoughts on this article

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20 minutes ago, Anakin7 said:

Navidad this may be of interest to you - http://www.evangelicalsandmormonsforjesus.com 

The Atonement It Is The Central Doctrine

Washing My Garment/Robe In His Blood

In His Eternal Debt/Grace

Anakin7

LDS, Saint, Christian, Sentinel, Son Of Thunder, Kryptonian, Warrior

Thanks. I haven't seen that site before. I look forward to digging into it. The authors are Pentecostal. That makes it even more interesting! 

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6 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

I am a big fan of Mouw's and Zacharias' work.  Even though we do things differently, I very much appreciate their honest and Christ-like approach to things.  I actually read this article when it first came out.  It has that same honest and Christ-like approach to things, even if I don't agree with every point.

I have seen every Christian sub-culture evolve over the last 30 years.  Change isn't inherently bad, nor good, it just is.  

As to the first half of the Lorenzo Snow couplet: ironically I think it plays a much larger role in anti-Mormon culture than LDS Christian culture.  From the LDS Christian side-- the quote exists by itself, and we don't know much about it.  It's a speculation, with a lot of big things not known.  Which in a culture that openly acknowledge that God has many great and wonderful things yet to reveal to us, it's totally okay not to know everything right now.     From the anti-Mormon side: oh, the craziness I've heard people say in relation to this...

Anyway, I am happy with Mouw's article acknowledging the fact that this speculation isn't a huge centerpiece of LDS Christian theology.  

This isn’t sufficient?

Quote

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. By His almighty power He organized the earth and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist coeternally with Himself. He formed every plant that grows and every animal that breathes, each after its own kind, spiritually and temporally—“that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal, and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual.” He made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant, but He did not make them in His own image, nor endow them with godlike reason and intelligence. Nevertheless, the whole animal creation will be perfected and perpetuated in the Hereafter, each class in its “distinct order or sphere,” and will enjoy “eternal felicity.” That fact has been made plain in this dispensation (see D&C 77:3).

Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/02/the-origin-of-man?lang=eng&_r=1

 

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5 hours ago, Navidad said:

I think the key to respect is acknowledging that the other side is already ok in God's eyes, just as they are.

Unfortunately it is all over our scriptures that this is not the case.

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12 hours ago, Navidad said:

I have been doing a literature search to look for articles, books, monographs, etc. on the interfaith dialogue between members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Christians who are not. Mouw is a well-known evangelical (in the formal and correct sense) who has met with the Presidency and has preached in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at their request.  You all will know better than me, but I am aware of three certified fundamentalist (in the case of the first) and evangelical (in the case of the second two) Christians who have had that privilege: Dwight L. Moody, Ravi Zacharias, and Richard Mouw. What think ye all of this article? I am not advocating it; just would like to hear your thoughts. 

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/05/mormons-approaching-orthodoxy#print

To the extent that some such as yourself wish to create a sincere dialogue, such theological exploration is good, and I welcome it, rather than posturing and screaming about LDS over the pulpit.

But to think that such dialogue will result in LDS becoming more orthodox is not in the plan. Incidentally, I do personally believe that Hinckley was prevaricating on the Snow couplet, and had a desire to bring the Church more into the mainstream, as I think Mouw suggests. However, I am not privy to his thoughts nor the thoughts of the Apostles at the time, and I do believe that he was sincere in saying "we don't know much about it" despite it being manifest in scripture. He saw what he saw, and no more, and continued the path of the Church away from the last teachings of Joseph Smith on the subject.

Nevertheless, the destiny of this Church is not to become more orthodox nor mainstream. The destiny is for the Gentiles to flow unto this Church when the veil of the temple is again rent for man to see inside. The state Church effectively put the veil back up which Yeshua had rent for us, and man has lived behind that glass "darkly"  as several have said recently on this forum. For your benefit I am willing to discuss these issues, but I don't see a broad dialogue opening up with evangelical Christianity at present. The implications of the Snow couplet are just too wide for orthodoxy to feel comfortable with. It is usually met with charges or at least thoughts of blasphemy. i understand that knee-jerk reaction. If a dialogue does no more than to remove that knee-jerk reaction, however, I believe it will be beneficial, and I stand ready to make the attempt. 

Some do not aspire to learn. Some aspire to nothing beyond  "being saved." However, some do strive to understand God, and to live godly lives, as our Savior taught us. It, I think, is just the way some are wired to be curious and inquisitive. The sum, I think, of a discussion on the topic will rest on the nature of God. Is it provided by tradition or is there more to know? To the extent that some are unwilling to investigate beyond tradition, I don't think such a discussion will be fruitful, but to the extent that "orthodox Christians" are willing to investigate new or unseen scriptural interpretations, I think a discussion on theosis will at least help everyone to better appreciate the alternate views among LDS Christians and traditional Christians, and that I believe is a good start. I am, however, of the opinion that this discussion will not get far amongst evangelicals though, because, to put it bluntly, the time of the sixth seal is finished, and it is time for that era to be sealed  in history. 

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47 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Unfortunately it is all over our scriptures that this is not the case.

It is clear in lds.org that "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians." Mormon.org, another official website says clearly "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." 

So that leaves one question to which there must be an equally clear unequivocal answer, "Do Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirm that Christians who are "of different denominations" are Christians? Are Christians Christians? If not then how does the statement on Mormon.org about sameness at "the core" make any sense?

If both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians and Christians of different denominations are Christians, then they are both positionally "declared righteous"(Romans 5:1 - the Greek dikaiosune) by the authority found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the same verse says we then have "peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is the essence of the atonement -peace towards or with God through Christ. Then in verse 9 of Romans 5 the same word is used to pronounce us "saved." The challenge then is that having been "declared righteous" by God before we actually are, we then through sanctification, exaltation, or the rest of the salvific process (pick your term) over time can become what we have already been declared.  I used the light-weight term "ok" because I was relating it in a simplistic way to Transactional Analysis. Perhaps that was a silly mistake. Also if I was trying to be more theologically precise I should have said 'just as they are declared to be" instead of just as they are.  

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27 minutes ago, Navidad said:

It is clear in lds.org that "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians." Mormon.org, another official website says clearly "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." 

So that leaves one question to which there must be an equally clear unequivocal answer, "Do Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirm that Christians who are "of different denominations" are Christians? Are Christians Christians? If not then how does the statement on Mormon.org about sameness at "the core" make any sense?

If both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians and Christians of different denominations are Christians, then they are both positionally "declared righteous"(Romans 5:1 - the Greek dikaiosune) by the authority found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the same verse says we then have "peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is the essence of the atonement -peace towards or with God through Christ. Then in verse 9 of Romans 5 the same word is used to pronounce us "saved." The challenge then is that having been "declared righteous" by God before we actually are, we then through sanctification, exaltation, or the rest of the salvific process (pick your term) over time can become what we have already been declared.  I used the light-weight term "ok" because I was relating it in a simplistic way to Transactional Analysis. Perhaps that was a silly mistake. Also if I was trying to be more theologically precise I should have said 'just as they are declared to be" instead of just as they are.  

Navidad, we don't "same difference" our faith or anyone else's, throwing the differences in the trash because they don't matter.  Such is a HUGE insult and disgrace for all faith involved.  Yes, we acknowledge non-LDS Christians love Christ and strive to follow Him- yes they are Christians.  But we're not going to pretend that Truth doesn't matter, and that we should't continue to share Truth-- while of course being respectful and acknowledging other's love for Christ.  And I love it when Catholics and Baptists likewise continue to strive to share Truth and declare righteousness in such a respectful manner.  

Your campaign of treating everyone with respect-- that I can get behind 100%.

Your campaign to discard all the theological meat of all denominations in favor of milk so diluted it's effectively water-- no.  

Differences matter.  Meat matters. Truth matters.  Please don't advocate throwing it away. 

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8 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Navidad, we don't "same difference" our faith or anyone else's, throwing the differences in the trash because they don't matter.  Such is a HUGE insult and disgrace for all faith involved.  Yes, we acknowledge non-LDS Christians love Christ and strive to follow Him- yes they are Christians.  But we're not going to pretend that Truth doesn't matter, and that we should't continue to share Truth-- while of course being respectful and acknowledging other's love for Christ.  And I love it when Catholics and Baptists likewise continue to strive to share Truth and declare righteousness in such a respectful manner.  

Your campaign of treating everyone with respect-- that I can get behind 100%.

Your campaign to discard all the theological meat of all denominations in favor of milk so diluted it's effectively water-- no.  

Differences matter.  Meat matters. Truth matters.  Please don't advocate throwing it away. 

Hi Jane: I know that you believe I am doing or advocating what you think I am. You have said it before and I respect you so much. I don't know what I said today or tonight that makes you believe I am campaigning to discard meat and truth and annul differences? I can certainly assure you that is not true. I do not see the essence of the atonement as milk. It is the heart, the meat, the core of Christianity. It is, therefore what unites us. It can never be what divides us. I quoted the Church websites because of their acknowledgement that in spite of certain differences we (Christians) remain the same at the core. I think that is the great respect point. The one rallying cry around which we can truly respect each other as fellow Christians - equally the ones who God through Christ has declared to be righteous - the core of Christianity. You said "yes they are Christians." Isn't that then something that powerfully unites us? I simply quoted what the Church website says, "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." I believe we can respect each other to enhance dialogue because we all are at the core of Christ's love and redemptive energy. That is what the LDS Church seems to be saying so very clearly. God's truth matters. We as imperfect vessels must do our very best to understand His truth as he offers it to us. We will have differences, but if I acknowledge my LDS brother and sister as fully Christians, declared righteous by God; if my LDS brother and sister acknowledge me as fully Christian, declared righteous by God, then we have a powerful bond for dialogue. Isn't that the best cut of the meat?

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4 hours ago, Navidad said:

Hi Jane: I know that you believe I am doing or advocating what you think I am. You have said it before and I respect you so much. I don't know what I said today or tonight that makes you believe I am campaigning to discard meat and truth and annul differences? I can certainly assure you that is not true. I do not see the essence of the atonement as milk. It is the heart, the meat, the core of Christianity. It is, therefore what unites us. It can never be what divides us. I quoted the Church websites because of their acknowledgement that in spite of certain differences we (Christians) remain the same at the core. I think that is the great respect point. The one rallying cry around which we can truly respect each other as fellow Christians - equally the ones who God through Christ has declared to be righteous - the core of Christianity. You said "yes they are Christians." Isn't that then something that powerfully unites us? I simply quoted what the Church website says, "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." I believe we can respect each other to enhance dialogue because we all are at the core of Christ's love and redemptive energy. That is what the LDS Church seems to be saying so very clearly. God's truth matters. We as imperfect vessels must do our very best to understand His truth as he offers it to us. We will have differences, but if I acknowledge my LDS brother and sister as fully Christians, declared righteous by God; if my LDS brother and sister acknowledge me as fully Christian, declared righteous by God, then we have a powerful bond for dialogue. Isn't that the best cut of the meat?

You disregard anything that is not the core- including the deeper theologies behind the core.  You advocate that those depths and truths don't matter and it's all "same difference".  It's a shame to all theological traditions.

Your missionary baptism example is directly feeding people not meat, and not really even skin milk.  You're not teaching these people the in-depthness of *why* and *how* a person is baptized (the why and how according to any faith tradition), but this backless meatless nothingness.  There's no depth/meat to it.

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The article quotes this:

"Since Hinckley worried that a clear affirmation would harm LDS proselytizing efforts, he prevaricated."

That that is exactly what happened. We knew it as the time and we know it now.

The the LDS church will never adopt 12th century ontology. 

The the whole notion that any contemporary organization would adopt and 12th century ontology is absurd.

Substance theology never made sense and certainly  makes less sense today than it ever did.

"Consubstantial" is ridiculously undefinable.

If if any form of Christianity is to actually convert the world we have the best chance in our secular HUMANIST society that cannot make sense of such notions as "consubstantial".

It it might have worked for Aristotle and Aquinas but not us.

Mouw's article is pure fantasy.

Christian Humanisim is the only chance we have to convert the world as it is.

Edited by mfbukowski
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8 hours ago, Navidad said:

It is clear in lds.org that "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians." Mormon.org, another official website says clearly "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." 

So that leaves one question to which there must be an equally clear unequivocal answer, "Do Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirm that Christians who are "of different denominations" are Christians? Are Christians Christians? If not then how does the statement on Mormon.org about sameness at "the core" make any sense?

If both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians and Christians of different denominations are Christians, then they are both positionally "declared righteous"(Romans 5:1 - the Greek dikaiosune) by the authority found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the same verse says we then have "peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is the essence of the atonement -peace towards or with God through Christ. Then in verse 9 of Romans 5 the same word is used to pronounce us "saved." The challenge then is that having been "declared righteous" by God before we actually are, we then through sanctification, exaltation, or the rest of the salvific process (pick your term) over time can become what we have already been declared.  I used the light-weight term "ok" because I was relating it in a simplistic way to Transactional Analysis. Perhaps that was a silly mistake. Also if I was trying to be more theologically precise I should have said 'just as they are declared to be" instead of just as they are.  

Yeah, but we have the words of Joseph Smith giving answers to questions he routinely faced:

Will everybody be damned, but Mormons? Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.

Do the Mormons baptize in the name of `Joe' Smith? No, but if they did, it would be as valid as the baptism administered by the sectarian priests.

 

Now, that is not to say that the works of righteousness done by others are useless as we have a very tiered afterlife. We do assert that there is only one way to a fullness of salvation and it is through making and keeping sacred covenants administered in the ordinances of the gospel by authorized Priesthood authority.

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2 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

You disregard anything that is not the core- including the deeper theologies behind the core.  You advocate that those depths and truths don't matter and it's all "same difference".  It's a shame to all theological traditions.

Your missionary baptism example is directly feeding people not meat, and not really even skin milk.  You're not teaching these people the in-depthness of *why* and *how* a person is baptized (the why and how according to any faith tradition), but this backless meatless nothingness.  There's no depth/meat to it.

This is exactly, precisely the point.

Yes the atonement is the core doctrine but how it happened and who did it for us and why was possible that He did what He did immediately becomes the next question, and the question after that is how one God can be three persons.

For the atonement to be the central doctrine , and that one God was responsible for it, one would have to believe that Jesus was that One God OR that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and Heavenly Mother are unified in some way that traditional Christianity has not reasonably explained.

Variants of the Social Trinity are the only explanations that make sense to the modern mind.

The Godhead is essentially a Family, unified by love and purpose, and we can become part of that family. Baptism is the door to becoming part of that family.

Simple, direct, understandable.

If on the other hand Evangelicals could accept social trinitarianism, this conversation could be reversed and we would be trying to think of how we could bring Evangelicals into OUR fold.

But consubstantiality is not intelligible to the modern mind.

That's exactly why I am here.

Is there another way?

There is no other way..  ;)

 

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8 hours ago, Navidad said:

I simply quoted what the Church website says, "Beliefs vary somewhat among the different denominations, but the core of Christianity, which is centered on Jesus Christ, remains the same." I believe we can respect each other to enhance dialogue because we all are at the core of Christ's love and redemptive energy. That is what the LDS Church seems to be saying so very clearly. God's truth matters. We as imperfect vessels must do our very best to understand His truth as he offers it to us. We will have differences, but if I acknowledge my LDS brother and sister as fully Christians, declared righteous by God; if my LDS brother and sister acknowledge me as fully Christian, declared righteous by God, then we have a powerful bond for dialogue. Isn't that the best cut of the meat?

I think there is a lot of shared common ground we can have. Although even within broader Christianity there's a ton of variation on what Jesus Christ is or means. A more fundamentalist literalist Protestant and say a very liberal Protestant skeptical of all divine intervention simply view Christ considerably differently. Even if we move just to the idea of Christ or Atonement as a symbol, how that's conceived of varies. So Tillich, who saw the historical Jesus as a failure and explicitly said his faith wouldn't change if there was no Jesus simply conceives of all this differently than a typical Southern Baptist. Even in that element of symbolism particularly because of how historicity affects the symbolic nature. It's very hard to say Tillich's core is the same as N. T. Wright's for example. (IMO)

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3 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

You disregard anything that is not the core- including the deeper theologies behind the core.  You advocate that those depths and truths don't matter and it's all "same difference".  It's a shame to all theological traditions.

Your missionary baptism example is directly feeding people not meat, and not really even skin milk.  You're not teaching these people the in-depthness of *why* and *how* a person is baptized (the why and how according to any faith tradition), but this backless meatless nothingness.  There's no depth/meat to it.

I am sorry. I just don't understand. That is ok. No mission convert would be baptized without weeks of classes - training in the meaning and significance of it all. I am not sure why you would assume otherwise. We taught them both why and how from our belief perspective. The polygamy issue for converts is a very real issue in Africa. That was an internal discussion that I believe we decided correctly. When I pastored I baptized no one without six weeks of classes and then I had to be content that they understood what they were doing. Ours, is not a baptism for remission of sins. So yes, there is a difference, but you already know that. 

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17 hours ago, Navidad said:

I have to run - but for now, yes I see dialogue between Christians and non-Christians as valuable but very different from dialogues between branches of Christianity as we did in those mission councils. I see dialogue between  a Mennonite and a Mormon (sorry - have to hurry) in the same way I saw those mission councils. But I don't think you would. Am I wrong? I like being wrong - that is how I learn! I am pretty sure in LDS theology my baptism and all those I performed were "dead works, right? They were not saving ordinances. I am pretty sure in LDS theology that the non-LDS gospel is the works of man or of the devil. Am I wrong? As I said I gotta run. Will be back later. So yes, when I say "OK" not perfect as you said, I am speaking about my beliefs regarding those who have accepted the atonement whether LDS or Methodist, or any one of many other Christian branches on the Christian tree.

This whole idea about perceiving others as ok in God's eyes, as if we can sit in his judgment seat and see others as he sees them, is a strange concept to me.  I think it all boils down to a difference in perspective of judgment.  In the restored gospel, this life is a probationary period.  So this idea that we can judge other's as being "ok in God's eyes" based on their condition of baptism is foreign to LDSaints.   It is seen as a premature judgment for sure.    

God waits until the very end (after death, and after the millennium - a LOT can happen in a thousand years!) to review our works and judge our condition to determine if we are ok in His eyes, so why are we so hasty to judge other's and delve out special "respect" for those who are baptized and less respect for those who are not?  The path of each individual in salvation is personal and private.  If their heart is good, then they are ok with God.  That is the most important factor (and that is something that only God can judge).  Any other judgment is premature.  God is not a respecter of persons, and neither should we show partiality and greater respect for those who have been baptized (James 2:9 makes this clear).  We are all still in probation - baptized or not.  Much is still pending for all of us.

The way I see it, if a person has a good heart (Christian or not) they are ok in God's eyes (in one sense).  They are on the right path.  They are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing at this point in their life.  So to assume that I have less respect for those who have not been baptized is to completely misunderstand my perspective. 

I don't believe in or accept OSAS.  We are all in need of repentance.  We are all on the same playing field.  I don't hold my fellow congregants in any higher regard than I do my brother-in-law who is an atheist.  I don't judge myself to be more righteous and worthy of respect.  We are simply at different places but I feel heading in the same direction.  

The fact that I don't accept any other baptism is not a sign of disrespect.  I make no judgment of you being not ok in God's eyes.  Again, premature.  I simply perceive you as being in need of certain things.  I don't judge you or disrespect you for that as I too am in need of certain things.  We both still have a long way to go before we become equal to the image of God.  Good heart is what matters most.   

Edited by pogi

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Well, I clearly haven't done well in explaining my intent or I wouldn't have created such rancor with a couple of posts. So lets see . . . My posts have elicited replies that include absurd, ridiculous, fantasy, That everybody will be damned but Mormons and to be fair a bunch of them who don't measure up will be too. I got a lecture on the trinity (a subject that I have never brought up); I am a shame to all theological traditions; my thinking isn't even skim milk. let alone meat, I am preaching a backless, meatless, nothingless." Well I now feel pretty good about myself! 

I will try again to do better at explaining my concern and burden. I am deeply disturbed by the special anger, rancor, bitterness, mockery, meanness, disregard, etc etc etc that seems to exist between LDS Christians and members of other Christian traditions. I want to understand it from both sides. I want to understand if it is inevitable, a product of 180 years of tension, a theological difference gone bad, a sociological cultural thing, or what? What I know is I believe it is not of God. I believe that deeply and passionately. It is unkind, it does not honor either tradition, and yes, I believe it makes God cry. I am not talking about theological differences, my goodness those are plentiful in every tradition. I am talking (err.....writing) about the meanness, the anger, the lack of even trying to understand the other that is demonstrated by both Saints and non-Saints towards each other. It is a special rancor. It is different. It is sinful. It seems to me to be a roadblock to exaltation and salvation from the LDS perspective and to sanctification from the evangelical perspective. God, by His very nature must grieve over such expressions as have been aimed at the other over the centuries. When each faction has had the power, have been in the majority, they have used it to hurt the other. It has been mutual. Why? What can be done to break the cycle? What if neither side wants to break the cycle? What are the implications of that for Christianity? How can both factions be helped to see their respective blind spots? How can we all put down the cudgel of culpability and blame? 

Someone assured me that truth matters. I am sure that is true! But I know that profound truths are not singular in nature, especially when talking about things that have not yet come to pass. Is mutual destruction worth it? Why are some proud of the meanness shown on Youtube videos? We thump our theological bosoms and proudly extol the "winner." There are no winners in such conversations. There are only losers. I am sure of that.

Plus, I believe we are at a unique turning point. There has been a small but dedicated group of men and women who have met several times a year for over twenty years in both LDS and evangelical settings. They have written position papers, books, treatises on how to overcome the special bitterness and rancor; how to maintain doctrine differentiation in an atmosphere of respect and dialogue. Mouw is 80, Millet is 71, Robinson passed away. I was told just yesterday that the funding for the conferences has dried up. It no longer exists, so it is likely there will be no more conferences. These folks have worked hard. I think that many in the LDS tradition are not aware of all the work that has gone on. It does not seem to garner the press. However, on the evangelical side it is making a real difference. Magazines, websites, etc. are full of the details of the discussions and material emanating from the meetings. It is making a difference for many evangelicals. I am a living example of that. I am not sure it is having the same effect in the more insular LDS world. I have a file full of work done by those who are now fading from the scene of inter (intra?) faith dialogue. I don't know who is going to carry on the work. It may be all my fault, but I see very little, if any interest in it here. Having my wife and I in the ward is about as much inter-faith dialogue as our folks can handle - and maybe just a little bit more! 🙃  Faithful non-member doesn't seem to be a category to check in a Mormon ward! 

So yes, I am passionate and worried. I want to write some kind of a plea for each side to come to grips with its own anger. What does it own? What can be explained outside of the simplistic blaming of the other? I think this necessitates we examine our own doctrine, practices, and culture. Not all inter-faith work is done with the other. Much of it has to be done via self-examination. That is how families are healed. Self-examination is one of the essences of the Sacrament. One of you especially gets very angry when I talk about LDS "onlyism." I get that. It is better for me to talk about evangelical weaknesses and pray that you will explore your own. I just never see that on this forum unless you are debating some interesting, but perhaps inconsequential (in my opinion) point about how many revelations were written with the help of a seer stone. Everyone jumps in on that discussion. Mormons and Mennonites co-exist here in Chihuahua in a big way. Mennonites are the largest and economically most powerful Anglo group here. We interact daily. But I am unaware, with the exception of one series of exchange concerts (music seems to be safe) that there has ever been any dialogue about beliefs, culture, or practices. I also, interestingly have never known of a LDS missionary being sent to the Mennonite colonies. Maybe that is a sign of respect. I don't know. I will have to ask the bishop about that. The rodeo is the great inter-faith dialogue here in Chihuahua. In team roping every rider must team with every other rider, regardless of economic, cultural, or religious differences. 

I don't want to take away anyone's doctrine. Doctrinal beliefs are a part of the conversation, but only a part. Saints have written apologetic books like "Are Mormons Christians?" The author's answer is a definite yes. Books have been written on "the divide." They are sterile and safe. I think I am going to write Dr. Millet today and ask if he will write a book from the LDS doctrinal perspective entitled  "Are Christians Christians?" I would pay to read that one! Both Saints and Mennonites share a common message in their doctrinal history of being innocently persecuted. It has shaped each of our identities. Perhaps hearing each other's stories would in one tiny way, lower the volume and tension. I don't know. I do know that I am motivated by one powerful truth: that the way it is now makes God sad. We cannot grow spiritually with such a repository of spiritual bitterness towards others who are endeavoring to live lives that honor God. That is a profound truth for me. You have other truths just as important for you. I honor those. Please honor mine.  

Edited by Navidad

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

This whole idea about perceiving others as ok in God's eyes, as if we can sit in his judgment seat and see others as he sees them, is a strange concept to me.  I think it all boils down to a difference in perspective of judgment.  In the restored gospel, this life is a probationary period.  So this idea that we can judge other's as being "ok in God's eyes" based on their condition of baptism is foreign to LDSaints.   It is seen as a premature judgment for sure.    

God waits until the very end (after death, and after the millennium - a LOT can happen in a thousand years!) to review our works and judge our condition to determine if we are ok in His eyes, so why are we so hasty to judge other's and delve out special "respect" for those who are baptized and less respect for those who are not?  The path of each individual in salvation is personal and private.  If their heart is good, then they are ok with God.  That is the most important factor (and that is something that only God can judge).  Any other judgment is premature.  God is not a respecter of persons, and neither should we show partiality and greater respect for those who have been baptized (James 2:9 makes this clear).  We are all still in probation - baptized or not.  Much is still pending for all of us.

The way I see it, if a person has a good heart (Christian or not) they are ok in God's eyes (in one sense).  They are on the right path.  They are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing at this point in their life.  So to assume that I have less respect for those who have not been baptized is to completely misunderstand my perspective. 

I don't believe in or accept OSAS.  We are all in need of repentance.  We are all on the same playing field.  I don't hold my fellow congregants in any higher regard than I do my brother-in-law who is an atheist.  I don't judge myself to be more righteous and worthy of respect.  We are simply at different places but I feel heading in the same direction.  

The fact that I don't accept any other baptism is not a sign of disrespect.  I make no judgment of you being not ok in God's eyes.  Again, premature.  I simply perceive you as being in need of certain things.  I don't judge you or disrespect you for that as I too am in need of certain things.  We both still have a long way to go before we become equal to the image of God.  Good heart is what matters most.   

Thoughtful post. Thanks. "So this idea that we can judge other's as being "ok in God's eyes" based on their condition of baptism is foreign to LDSaints." This comment is foreign to me; it doesn't match with my experience. Our "condition of baptism" seems to be the single most important attribute for acceptance in our ward. There is not a Sunday that goes by that we are not asked about why we haven't been baptized. When I explain I have been, the eyes roll in frustration and disbelief. Sometimes I think I will wear a sign "Yes, I was baptized when I was 7 by my father. Thanks for asking!" We are foster children living in a home where the biological children look down on us. Yes, they are kind and sweet to us much of the time. It is clear we will not be ok until we are baptized by the "right" kind of authority. So yes, we feel judgment every Sunday. Some Sundays it is less than others, but it is ubiquitous. So, while I value and appreciate your post, it is not the world in which we attend church. Baptism is the key that unlocks the path to salvation. The LDS priesthood holder is the keymaster. Maybe they don't disrespect us for our failure to heed the Holy Spirit's promptings, which they are sure would lead us to salvation, but to us it sure seems that way. On the other hand, to be fair, they have allowed us to pray, sing, speak, and teach on occasion in the ward in sacrament meetings and gospel doctrine classes. I understand that is unusual. I do feel respected by the bishop. He is quite a Godly man. I wouldn't be fair if I didn't point that out. 

Oh, and Mennonites don't believe in OSAS either! 

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

I am sorry. I just don't understand. That is ok. No mission convert would be baptized without weeks of classes - training in the meaning and significance of it all. I am not sure why you would assume otherwise. We taught them both why and how from our belief perspective.

From what I'm seeing (such as your earlier example about baptism), that 5 weeks of being fed milk-flavored water.  You're leaving out SO much of any tradition.  

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I apologize if my post quoting Joseph Smith saying lots of people are damned came across as demeaning. It was not intended in that spirit. It was intended to show that the divide is not bridgeable and that the LDS faith does not accept that any other faith traidition has the power to guide anyone to eternal life. It is baked into the faith.

When some early converts sought to avoid baptism in the Church because they had already been baptized in other faiths the Lord said this through the prophet Joseph Smith:

1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.
3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.
4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.

Bridging the divide and accepting that other Christian faiths can lead to a fullness to salvation is just not an option.

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1 hour ago, Navidad said:

I will try again to do better at explaining my concern and burden. I am deeply disturbed by the special anger, rancor, bitterness, mockery, meanness, disregard, etc etc etc that seems to exist between LDS Christians and members of other Christian traditions. I want to understand it from both sides. I want to understand if it is inevitable, a product of 180 years of tension, a theological difference gone bad, a sociological cultural thing, or what? What I know is I believe it is not of God. I believe that deeply and passionately. It is unkind, it does not honor either tradition, and yes, I believe it makes God cry. I am not talking about theological differences, my goodness those are plentiful in every tradition. I am talking (err.....writing) about the meanness, the anger, the lack of even trying to understand the other that is demonstrated by both Saints and non-Saints towards each other. It is a special rancor. It is different. It is sinful. It seems to me to be a roadblock to exaltation and salvation from the LDS perspective and to sanctification from the evangelical perspective. God, by His very nature must grieve over such expressions as have been aimed at the other over the centuries. When each faction has had the power, have been in the majority, they have used it to hurt the other. It has been mutual. Why? What can be done to break the cycle? What if neither side wants to break the cycle? What are the implications of that for Christianity? How can both factions be made to see their respective blind spots? How can we all put down the cudgel of culpability and blame? 

 

Someone assured me that truth matters. I am sure that is true! But I know that profound truths are not singular in nature, especially when talking about things that have not yet come to pass. Is mutual destruction worth it? Why are some proud of the meanness shown on Youtube videos? We thump our theological bosoms and proudly extol the "winner." There are no winners in such conversations. There are only losers. I am sure of that.

Aiming to teach civilness and respect is a GOOD thing.  Let us teach that.

But let us not teach that the various different truths don't matter.   <- that is also a poison.  Trying to cure one poison (that of the blind hatred) with another (though admittedly not as bad) poison isn't a good solution.  

1 hour ago, Navidad said:

 

Plus, I believe we are at a turning point. There has been a small but dedicated group of men and women who have met several times a year for over twenty years in both LDS and evangelical settings. They have written position papers, books, treatises on how to overcome the special bitterness and rancor; how to maintain doctrine differentiation in an atmosphere of respect and dialogue. Mouw is 80, Millet is 71, Robinson passed away. I was told just yesterday that the funding for the conferences has dried up. It no longer exists, so it is likely there will be no more conferences. These folks have worked hard. I think that many in the LDS tradition are not aware of all the work that has gone one. It does not seem to garner the press. However, on the evangelical side it is making a real difference. Magazines, websites, etc. are full of the details of the discussions and material emanating from the meetings. It is making a difference for many evangelicals. I am a living example of that.

Those written works are aimed at better understanding and behaving with each other.  They don't same-difference the Evangelical or LDS faith.  Your example of your group's baptism teaching does just that.  

1 hour ago, Navidad said:

One of you especially gets very angry when I talk about LDS "onlyism." I get that.

<Jane abridging>

I don't want to take away anyone's doctrine.

(This what I'm seeing)

You want the "onlyism" to be taken away and any points of disagreement to be ignored.     You want all those different beliefs to be stripped away.  Like I'm totally ok with Catholics believing that RCC is the one-and-only Christ Church established.  It would be a lost if they surrenderer that Catholic vibrantness for grey "it doesn't matter".

(Stepping back now)

In the very possible event I'm seeing this wrong, please let me know how..  Let me know how you want Catholics to continue teaching  that RCC is Christ's only Church, that infant baptism is the proper way, that the Lord's Supper is literally God's flesh, and that all of those statements are unneigitiable truths.  

Edited by Jane_Doe

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14 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Thoughtful post. Thanks. "So this idea that we can judge other's as being "ok in God's eyes" based on their condition of baptism is foreign to LDSaints." This comment is foreign to me; it doesn't match with my experience. Our "condition of baptism" seems to be the single most important attribute for acceptance in our ward. There is not a Sunday that goes by that we are not asked about why we haven't been baptized. When I explain I have been, the eyes roll in frustration and disbelief. Sometimes I think I will wear a sign "Yes, I was baptized when I was 7 by my father. Thanks for asking!" We are foster children living in a home where the biological children look down on us. Yes, they are kind and sweet to us much of the time. It is clear we will not be ok until we are baptized by the "right" kind of authority. So yes, we feel judgment every Sunday. Some Sundays it is less than others, but it is ubiquitous. So, while I value and appreciate your post, it is not the world in which we attend church. Baptism is the key that unlocks the path to salvation. The LDS priesthood holder is the keymaster. Maybe they don't disrespect us for our failure to heed the Holy Spirit's promptings, which they are sure would lead us to salvation, but to us it sure seems that way. On the other hand, to be fair, they have allowed us to pray, sing, speak, and teach on occasion in the ward in sacrament meetings and gospel doctrine classes. I understand that is unusual. I do feel respected by the bishop. He is quite a Godly man. I wouldn't be fair if I didn't point that out. 

Oh, and Mennonites don't believe in OSAS either! 

Navidad, I understand that it must feel awkward at times as if others are judging you.  I don't think they are judging you to be less then them in God's eyes however.  They are more than likely confused at why you want to attend their ward as if you are trying to be one of them without truly wanting to be one of them.  It is just as awkward for them...I promise. 

I am sure that your ward is getting mixed messages.  On one hand you say that you accept them and seem to want to be a part of their fold, but on the other hand you reject their invitation to be a part of their fold.  It probably feels like you are simultaneously reaching out to embrace them and push them away through rejection at the same time.  Confusing.   You might accept our baptism as valid in your eyes, but you in no way accept our baptism as valid through our eyes.  Your acceptance of our baptism is not really an acceptance of our baptism, it is an acceptance of your baptism which you are projecting onto ours.  But they are NOT the same.  To pretend like they are the same shows an unwillingness to accept us as we perceive ourselves.  In other words, you accept us as you see us but not as we see us.  That is not really an honest and intimate acceptance of who we are.  

If you truly accept us for who we are, then we need to be accepted as we see ourselves and not as you see us.  You want to see us through your interpretation of our baptism rather than our interpretation.  Your version of our baptism is not the same as our version of our baptism, and that is not being fair to either of us - it is not honest.   Until that happens, there will be perpetual awkwardness.  

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48 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I apologize if my post quoting Joseph Smith saying lots of people are damned came across as demeaning. It was not intended in that spirit. It was intended to show that the divide is not bridgeable and that the LDS faith does not accept that any other faith traidition has the power to guide anyone to eternal life. It is baked into the faith.

When some early converts sought to avoid baptism in the Church because they had already been baptized in other faiths the Lord said this through the prophet Joseph Smith:

1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.
3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.
4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.

Bridging the divide and accepting that other Christian faiths can lead to a fullness to salvation is just not an option.

Ok. So, in your thinking is there any way to bridge the divide created by this unusual and vehement conflict between LDS and non-LDS Christians?  Or, do you not agree that such a divide exists? Oh, and there is no question in my mind, heart, or soul that other Christian faiths do indeed lead to a fullness of salvation. Five years ago I would not have said the same for the LDS faith. Today I believe I was wrong about that. See, change is indeed an option, especially to a faith committed to ongoing revelation! 

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41 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Aiming to teach civilness and respect is a GOOD thing.  Let us teach that.

But let us not teach that the various different truths don't matter.   <- that is also a poison.  Trying to cure one poison (that of the blind hatred) with another (though admittedly not as bad) poison isn't a good solution.  

Those written works are aimed at better understanding and behaving with each other.  They don't same-difference the Evangelical or LDS faith.  Your example of your group's baptism teaching does just that.  

(This what I'm seeing)

You want the "onlyism" to be taken away and any points of disagreement to be ignored.     You want all those different beliefs to be stripped away.  Like I'm totally ok with Catholics believing that RCC is the one-and-only Christ Church established.  It would be a lost if they surrenderer that Catholic vibrantness for grey "it doesn't matter".

(Stepping back now)

In the very possible event I'm seeing this wrong, please let me know how..  Let me know how you want Catholics to continue teaching  that RCC is Christ's only Church, that infant baptism is the proper way, that the Lord's Supper is literally God's flesh, and that all of those statements are unneigitiable truths.  

Thanks for replying. I appreciate you so much. I am glad the dialogue continues . . . Let me be very plain; I am not talking about doctrinal differences. I don't agree with and I find personally offensive the LDS doctrine of "onlyness." However, I accept that, outside of some new revelation (which is certainly possible -- not likely, but possible - a lot of things have changed in Mormonism since 1830) that onlyness identity is not going to change, especially when its origin is attributed to God. So I don't in any way shape or form believe that Mormons have to give up that belief for the special and unique toxicity between groups to be lowered. It is certainly an impediment and I have and will continue to point that out. However, as I have said I think it would be much more helpful if you pointed that out. "We don't believe that any other faith leads to full salvation and we understand how that is offensive to sincere believers in other traditions." I would prefer not see a "so get over it" at the end. That is deliberately toxic and unkind. I should be allowed to disagree and perhaps we can further explain our beliefs to each other. That has been happening in my life now for over a year. It happens every day between members of other Christian faiths. The anger and desire to "win" just isn't there like it is between the LDS and other Christians. To use the current vernacular, we seem to "trigger" each other in a unique way. Your illustration of Catholicism is a good one. I mostly understand the Catholic church's positions on things. We disagree, but no longer display the antipathy of centuries ago. There are scores of respectful Catholic-Protestant dialogues going on all the time, admittedly to the chagrin of fundamentalists of both sides. I, even, I am speaking in less than two weeks at a university here on the Roman Catholic Church in Mexican History. I expect officials from the diocese to attend. I don't expect anyone to get upset, storm out, be disrespectful or triggered as I have seen in LDS - non LDS discussions. I don't want any different beliefs to be "stripped away." I am sorry I have given you that opinion. I want the anger, tension, and conflict to be stripped away. I don't believe I have to give up my idiosyncratic beliefs either. 

At the same time I understand that I am less dogmatic about doctrinal differences than are most Saints. Maybe that is what upsets you. I don't understand your displeasure with my baptism example - it wasn't about baptism, it was about different faith groups coming together to reach a decision in a non-denominational setting where a decision had to be reached. That was the only intent I had for bringing that up. We collectively end up deciding, by a vote that we would baptize new converts who already were polygamists. The consequences for the women were too extreme otherwise. Some members of the board agreed, others were not happy. However, I don't remember anyone quitting the board or storming out. All beliefs were shared, discussed and considered. The decision was made and we moved on. We also had great discussions afterwards, almost all night on our doctrinal differences. We agreed they were perhaps as much cultural as doctrinal. I think that is great insight and very helpful. I never hear Saints talk about the cultural etiology or correlations with their doctrine. Revelations don't seem to be given in a vacuum. There is always context. That doesn't negate the revelation, but it helps explain it, especially when it is idiosyncratic. Back to your Catholic example, I have never heard my Catholic priest friend say that the RCC is Christ's only Church. I don't believe in infant baptism, nor do I believe in baptism for remission of sins. I believe in baptizing those old enough to understand what they are doing and I believe that baptism is done because of remission of sins. There is a clear connection between the two, but not the same connection that any baptismal regenerationalist group makes. I have never asked anyone from the Church of Christ to change their beliefs about that. Nor have they ever refused to allow me to preach in their churches because I don't believe the same about baptism. Father Arnulfo and I have never had the need to debate it. I certainly believe that there is such a thing as Catholic vibrantness. I agree with that completely. I am unsure what to think about the vision of the Virgin of Guadalupe anymore than the first vision of Joseph Smith, or the vision of Martin Luther, or the vision of Menno Simons. I am however, very sure I don't want to fight about it. I would never say that any of them didn't happen. Could God have done that? Of course he could have? Did he? I don't know. It seems to me as if I believe in one of them, I would need to believe in all of them. There would be no reason not to. 

Mennonites have responded to their history of innocent persecution in a manner very different from the Saints. I hope that is ok. It is partly doctrinal, personal and perhaps indicative of a Swiss heritage. Mennonites do their best to be invisible, we call ourselves the "silent in the land." It is how we cope. Of course you all know I have lost that trait. I don't do particularly well at being silent. I have a friend here who is a very high ranking Mormon. He explains some of the doctrines, characteristics, and perspectives of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a product of their dominant northern European heritage. It is a kind of Max Weber analysis. I find it fascinating and insightful. Mormon sociologists look to the New England heritage of many of the early leaders to discern how the faith developed. Sorry, I digress. Thanks for continuing the dialogue. 

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

Navidad, I understand that it must feel awkward at times as if others are judging you.  I don't think they are judging you to be less then them in God's eyes however.  They are more than likely confused at why you want to attend their ward as if you are trying to be one of them without truly wanting to be one of them.  It is just as awkward for them...I promise. 

I am sure that your ward is getting mixed messages.  On one hand you say that you accept them and seem to want to be a part of their fold, but on the other hand you reject their invitation to be a part of their fold.  It probably feels like you are simultaneously reaching out to embrace them and push them away through rejection at the same time.  Confusing.   You might accept our baptism as valid in your eyes, but you in no way accept our baptism as valid through our eyes.  Your acceptance of our baptism is not really an acceptance of our baptism, it is an acceptance of your baptism which you are projecting onto ours.  But they are NOT the same.  To pretend like they are the same shows an unwillingness to accept us as we perceive ourselves.  In other words, you accept us as you see us but not as we see us.  That is not really an honest and intimate acceptance of who we are.  

If you truly accept us for who we are, then we need to be accepted as we see ourselves and not as you see us.  You want to see us through your interpretation of our baptism rather than our interpretation.  Your version of our baptism is not the same as our version of our baptism, and that is not being fair to either of us - it is not honest.   Until that happens, there will be perpetual awkwardness.  

Thanks for the post. I understand what you are saying. I understand that the folks are confused, as we are. I tried to address that in my testimony Sunday. It seems to be because the idea of someone coming to the church to worship and fellowship with them and not to join is very rare in their experience. All investigators eventually leave or join. That is their world. We are an anomaly. Most have decided they like it; some are not so sure.  What we are doing is very common in other churches and wouldn't even raise an eyebrow. For example the church I pastored was right next to a large IBM facility. We often had folks who were transferred to that facility come to our church to fellowship and worship with us. There was zero pressure to join and they wanted to keep their membership in their home church, wherever that was. They could have been Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholic, or any other Christian group. It just didn't matter. If we found them to be spiritually minded and knowledgeable they could have taught, prayed, sang, ministered and even played on the church baseball team! Clearly they didn't baptize or lead the sacrament. That wasn't because they weren't members. It was because they weren't ordained to that ministry. Probably at any one time 25% of our congregation of 300 were not members. We were a fellowship of believers; all believers regardless of denomination were welcome. 

Just to clarify a little - I do not believe that any baptism washes away sin, nor is valid for that purpose. Not Mennonite, Catholic, or Mormon. So, no I don't accept any baptism, as valid for that purpose. Baptism is a sign ordinance. It is a sign of previous repentance, identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (hence we immersed adults only). We would have accepted any believer's baptism (as we call it) for church membership. We did not accept infant baptism under any circumstances. Baptism in our understanding has nothing to do with salvation. It is a testimony of salvation. The person receiving it is witnessing to a prior experience. Therefore it is not salvific. When you use the word "valid" that goes over my head. I don't believe any baptism is valid for anything other than what I have described, a public testimony of repentance and identification with Christ. It is confessional, not valid. We only immersed - that was our mode of baptism. The meaning was completely different. So, I have never been baptized for the remission of sins. My sins are covered by the blood of Christ. I am merely trying to respond to your wonderful email. I am not trying to begin a debate on baptism. I don't care to do that. There is no purpose to that. Perhaps Jane Doe wants me to fight for my view, but I will just state it and move on. 

I accept you as a fellow Christian, a full-fledged member of what the LDS website calls the "core of Christianity." The reason for that is because of your belief in, and fealty to the atonement of Christ. I am not quite sure how you see yourself. It seems self evident from everything that I have ever read or heard that you see yourself as a Christian. I agree. If you see yourself as something other than a Christian then we would have to talk about it. For example, if you see yourselves as "the only Christians" you are right, I don't see you that way. If you see yourself as a higher order of Christian, you are right, I don't see it that way because I don't believe there is such a thing! My version of baptism is definitely not your version of baptism. There is no question about that. That is precisely why I reject being baptized in the LDS church. You attach eternal significance to it; I don't. There will be perpetual awkwardness and any day the bishop could ask us not to come back. Any day we could decide not to go back. However, that hasn't happened yet and I hope it doesn't. In Spanish, the lucha vale la pena! The struggle is worth it for what the blessings we get out of it.

Please listen to me; we love attending our ward and we love the people and we love all we learn from attending. After my testimony Sunday the first counselor to the Stake President, who was presiding stood up with tears in his eyes. I didn't know what he was going to say. He looked at my wife and I , fourth pew from the front on the right, where we always sit and said. "Brother Phil and Sister Jeanne, we love you. Please don't stop teaching us. We love learning from you." The Holy Spirit moved in his words. It was a very special time. As we went to Sunday School i can say with great certainty, I have never had so many hugs in a church in my life. La lucha vale la pena! 

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1 hour ago, Navidad said:

Just to clarify a little - I do not believe that any baptism washes away sin, nor is valid for that purpose. Not Mennonite, Catholic, or Mormon. So, no I don't accept any baptism, as valid for that purpose. Baptism is a sign ordinance. It is a sign of previous repentance, identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (hence we immersed adults only). We would have accepted any believer's baptism (as we call it) for church membership. We did not accept infant baptism under any circumstances. Baptism in our understanding has nothing to do with salvation. It is a testimony of salvation. The person receiving it is witnessing to a prior experience. Therefore it is not salvific. When you use the word "valid" that goes over my head. I don't believe any baptism is valid for anything other than what I have described, a public testimony of repentance and identification with Christ. It is confessional, not valid. We only immersed - that was our mode of baptism. The meaning was completely different. So, I have never been baptized for the remission of sins. My sins are covered by the blood of Christ. I am merely trying to respond to your wonderful email. I am not trying to begin a debate on baptism. I don't care to do that. There is no purpose to that. Perhaps Jane Doe wants me to fight for my view, but I will just state it and move on. 

I accept you as a fellow Christian, a full-fledged member of what the LDS website calls the "core of Christianity." The reason for that is because of your belief in, and fealty to the atonement of Christ. I am not quite sure how you see yourself. It seems self evident from everything that I have ever read or heard that you see yourself as a Christian. I agree. If you see yourself as something other than a Christian then we would have to talk about it. For example, if you see yourselves as "the only Christians" you are right, I don't see you that way. If you see yourself as a higher order of Christian, you are right, I don't see it that way because I don't believe there is such a thing! My version of baptism is definitely not your version of baptism. There is no question about that. That is precisely why I reject being baptized in the LDS church. You attach eternal significance to it; I don't. There will be perpetual awkwardness and any day the bishop could ask us not to come back. Any day we could decide not to go back. However, that hasn't happened yet and I hope it doesn't. In Spanish, the lucha vale la pena! The struggle is worth it for what the blessings we get out of it.

Thanks for the clarification on baptism and acknowledging that they are different. 

I hope that an understanding of how we perceive baptism might help you feel flattered instead of annoyed and insulted when a member of your ward asks you when you are going to be baptized.  This means that they love you and care about you, even if they don't fully understand you.     

I accept you as a fellow Christian too.  No doubt about it.  But I think this is perhaps where some misunderstanding is happening as well.  You seem to place Christianity to the level of salvific significance that we place baptism.  You attach eternal significance to it; we don't.  Being a Christian is more important in your view of things then baptism.  For us, it is viewed as a helpful stepping stone towards the gate of baptism.  We don't reject your Christianity in any way.   However, we don't believe that being a Christian with a good heart is any more salvific than being a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist with a good heart, without baptism.  We love and respect you all equally (at least I do).  Because this life is probationary, we are all on the same playing field - brothers and sisters trying to find our way home.   There is a gate, but the gate is not the end. There are people who are moving forward in Christ and there are people who are moving backward.  I have absolute confidence that all of those who continue to move forward in Christ, Christian or not, are equal to me in salvific hope and promise.  

Yes, baptism is important in our view, but even more important is your continuation in the spirit of the Lord.  That is why your bishop will NEVER ask you to stop coming to church.    

 

Edited by pogi

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4 hours ago, Navidad said:

Ok. So, in your thinking is there any way to bridge the divide created by this unusual and vehement conflict between LDS and non-LDS Christians?  Or, do you not agree that such a divide exists? Oh, and there is no question in my mind, heart, or soul that other Christian faiths do indeed lead to a fullness of salvation. Five years ago I would not have said the same for the LDS faith. Today I believe I was wrong about that. See, change is indeed an option, especially to a faith committed to ongoing revelation! 

I wouldn't call the divide vehement. Sharp might be a better word.

The LDS faith is based around the idea that all other faiths fell into apostasy. To suddenly have the prophet declare that we are just one of many paths would destroy the church. There would be little point. Even if we did accept it many of our cherished beliefs would have to be chucked. Whole sections of the D&C would have to be excised. The work for the dead would be largely irrelevant. Our temple ordinances would be unimportant. Missionary work would be far less important if we are only one among many faiths. We would no longer be the Kingdom of God on the Earth waiting for the King to return. The vitality would die.

Also, since I sincerely believe and have a witness that this is the Kingdom of God on the Earth I believe the Holy Ghost would leave us and truly kill our vitality.

It is not the same as your acceptance. You already believed many faith traditions led to salvation. You accepted that one more did. Our entire faith is based on being the only one. Accepting that someone outside the church is good or that a faith tradition is valuable and does good is something we can do. Our scriptures teach though that godliness is only manifest through the Priesthood and its ordinances. We have something unique. We do not all use it particularly well or exemplify it but that has always been the case. I have met rare men and women in the Church though who have the beginnings of this godliness. I have never found it in anyone outside of the faith. I have found abundant goodness but not godliness.

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