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"i've Come To The Conclusion That The Church Is Not True!"


David Bokovoy

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Is there ever a good reason to abandon Mormonism?

Not if one has obtained a spiritual witness from God concerning the truthfulness of the Church. Still, throughout our lives, many of us encounter pieces of doctrinal and/or historical information that appears to indicate that we have been deceived, that in fact Mormonism is not true.

In these moments, perhaps before doubting our spiritual convictions, we should approach our concerns from the perspective of a paradigm shift, meaning a change in the basic assumptions concerning Mormonism that we hold to be true.

In other words, perhaps the only thing that we have encountered that is untrue is our basic assumption concerning the doctrine and/or historical information rather than the Church itself.

Rather than abandoning the Church of Jesus Christ, I believe that every issue that ever troubles our members may simply require a paradigm shift. I could provide many examples that support my view, but the one that comes immediately to mind is an experience that I had with a student who came to the conclusion that the Church cannot be true because of something portrayed in the temple ceremony.

I will not discuss the details of temple worship, but suffice it to say that the student felt troubled over the fact that in D&C 129, the Lord reveals that â??when a messenger comes saying he has a message from God,â? we should offer him our hand and â??request him to shake handsâ? (v. 4). The revelation states that if the messenger is a spirit of a just man that the angel will not move to shake hands with us, â??for it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his messageâ? (v. 7).

Without going into details, the student felt that this revelation contradicts part of the ritual portrayal featured in the endowment. The individual felt troubled enough by this â??contradictionâ? that he/or she had come to the conclusion that the Church is not true.

In this instance, I tied to explain that perhaps what is not true is not the Church itself, but rather the paradigm that the student used to interpret the endowment. The student assumed that the ritual presentation provided in the endowment was a literal portrayal of the events that actually occurred in the Garden of Eden.

I explained that since I do not hold that assumption that I have never found the contradiction troubling. Rather than a literal portrayal of actual events, I view the endowmentâ??and the story of Eden for that matterâ??as a ritual drama intended to covey important doctrine and principles concerning our spiritual journey into the presence of God.

Hence, according to my assumptions the contradiction that troubled the student was simply a symbolic portrayal that the student had misinterpreted.

Of course many other illustrations of paradigm shifts could be provided. I have had to employ a variety of such shifts when faced with new evidence that contradicted my assumptions. Rather than doubting the Church, however, I have always doubted the paradigms I have used to interpret Mormonism.

Speaking personally, I view paradigm shifts as a far superior course of action than abandoning oneâ??s spiritual convictions.

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Excellent points. I have always understood that it is important to have a testimony of the right things in the proper context. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God - but that testimony does not extend to him being perfect or right in everything, for instance.

Most damaging are testimonies of things in Mormon culture. If the Church is true, and members of the Church do these things, then these things must be true. Hence, I believe (with a nod to Calvinism) in "limited" testimony - which is probably most appropriate in our temporal existence here, where we are quite limited in our ability to fully understand things.

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Joseph Smith was a prophet of God - but that testimony does not extend to him being perfect or right in everything, for instance.

As I see it, this is a major paradigm problem that causes far too much concern.

I know of several very good members of the Church who had to stop reading Rough Stone Rolling because the book proved troubling to their paradigm regarding the Prophet. I love the book (I also really enjoyed Dan Vogelâ??s biography).

I think that history suggests that anyone who upholds Joseph Smith to a standard of perfectionâ??a status that Joseph Smith himself did not claimâ??needs a serious paradigm shift.

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Is there ever a good reason to abandon Mormonism?

Not if one has obtained a spiritual witness from God concerning the truthfulness of the Church. Still, throughout our lives, many of us encounter pieces of doctrinal and/or historical information that appears to indicate that we have been deceived, that in fact Mormonism is not true.

In these moments, perhaps before doubting our spiritual convictions, we should approach our concerns from the perspective of a paradigm shift, meaning a change in the basic assumptions concerning Mormonism that we hold to be true.

In other words, perhaps the only thing that we have encountered that is untrue is our basic assumption concerning the doctrine and/or historical information rather than the Church itself.

Interesting thoughts...thank you. I like the term "paradigm shift," and offer a different view. Another possible paradigm shift may come when events in one's life creates logical conflict. The person may feel strongly about his/her spiritual witness, but is it possible that the interpretation of what it meant was not true? IOW, one may feel strongly that a particular story gives enlightenment and an intense feeling of love and compassion for others. Is it possible the story, thoughts, and prayers are all very positive events for the person, and because the person was taught/instructed that the feeling meant something more than that, he perceived it into his preconceived paradigm to be true?

In my life I've seen and experienced miraculous spiritual phenomena in Mormonism, Buddhism, and Secular humanism. Each of them have been extremely positive and enlightening. I don't doubt any of them. So my paradigm shift came when I came to believe all people could experience deep spiritual experiences that were no more or less powerful or witnessing than what was/is experienced in Mormonism.

Speaking personally, I view paradigm shifts as a far superior course of action than abandoning oneâ??s spiritual convictions.

Agreed. Consider the possibility that they mean something different than what you've been taught.

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Not if one has obtained a spiritual witness from God concerning the truthfulness of the Church. Still, throughout our lives, many of us encounter pieces of doctrinal and/or historical information that appears to indicate that we have been deceived, that in fact Mormonism is not true.

Why should 'spiritual witnesses' not be put under scrutiny and always held on to?

Speaking personally, I view paradigm shifts as a far superior course of action than abandoning oneâ??s spiritual convictions.

Why?

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Why?

Well, because I have had spiritual confirmation that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that â??truthâ? is relative; truth is simply whatever God declares.

As modern revelation suggests, â??all truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed itâ? (D&C 93: 30).

I suppose that it all comes down to the fact that I feel at peace when I live my life in harmony with the principles of salvation professed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have no doubt that others will encounter this same sense of spiritual harmony.

So given this perspective, perhaps what is not â??trueâ? is simply the assumptions concerning LDS theology/history that the doubter employs.

"Why," because what a shame it would be to abandon the peace of a Gospel-centered life over a faulty paradigm.

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BishopRic writes:

So my paradigm shift came when I came to believe all people could experience deep spiritual experiences that were no more or less powerful or witnessing than what was/is experienced in Mormonism.

Same observations. My very different conclusion, in an essay originally part of my "Paradigms Crossed" in RBBM 7:2, but recently published at the Meridian Magazine:

Like it or not, people within the Mormon tradition can and do enjoy the full range of all the experiential and historic aspects of religion, along with access to rich symbolism. Each aspect becomes like a thread in a rope: awe at the creation, numinous and mystic encounters, moments of reorientation of the mind, and reconciliation of the heart, moral obligation, the likening of scriptures to ourselves, making ancient stories into personal biography, dipping into the common mythic experience of humankind, or any number of individual historic events that define and bind our community. Like it or not, when you look at the Mormon community and the Mormon faith at this level of core experience, all that defines religion anywhere exists here.

Therefore, like it or not, at the outset, any assessment of the religious value of Mormonism should admit that here the fountain of living waters flows briskly. In assessing Mormonism, in dealing with questions raised about any particular thread in what can be a complex bundle of threads of varied strengths, some more significant than others, but no single thread carrying all the weight, keep in mind that the validity of Mormon spiritual life must be accepted as a given.

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/articles/060215model.html

In my reading of D&C 1, LDS claims are expressly non-exlusive with respect to truth, revelation, and human virtue. Hence, the presence of truth, revelation and virtue outside the LDS experience has nothing whatsoever to do LDS truth claims.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Is there ever a good reason to abandon Mormonism?

I would first need to understand what YOU are referring to with the word: "Mormonism".

I believe Mormonism consists of everything pertaining to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, so, No, I don't believe there is a good reason to abandon the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not if one has obtained a spiritual witness from God concerning the truthfulness of the Church.

Again, I would first need to understand what YOU are referring to with the word: "Church".

I believe the Church consists of every person who accepts the true gospel of Jesus Christ, either whole or in part, and I don't believe any person in the Church has a good reason for rejecting any of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Still, throughout our lives, many of us encounter pieces of doctrinal and/or historical information that appears to indicate that we have been deceived, that in fact Mormonism is not true.

Considering the idea that information usually comes from people, and people are often wrong about at least something, I see no reason to put my trust in information from other people... unless, of course, God personally assures me that the information is true.

In these moments, perhaps before doubting our spiritual convictions, we should approach our concerns from the perspective of a paradigm shift, meaning a change in the basic assumptions concerning Mormonism that we hold to be true.

Here's a basic thought that I think we can apply to everything... not just "Mormonism".

Before doubting our spiritual convictions... which I believe should be based on what God has told us, personally, instead of what we, as spirit beings, may be convinced of by the use of only our own reasoning... we should approach our concerns from the perspective of knowing that we should try to avoid making any assumptions and simply trusting what other people tell us, instead going to God for our own answers, personally.

Our paradigm is basically the way that we look at things, and I believe we should ask God to help us see things as God sees them.

In other words, perhaps the only thing that we have encountered that is untrue is our basic assumption concerning the doctrine and/or historical information rather than the Church itself.

There is no "perhaps" about it, in my paradigm... which I believe is also God's paradigm.

When we try to understand true doctrine and true historical information we should try to do so without making assumptions... instead asking God to help us see things from his perspective, until we see things as he does... and if we don't have a personal witness from God to help us understand something we should realize we are relying on only our assumptions about that something.

Rather than abandoning the Church of Jesus Christ, I believe that every issue that ever troubles our members may simply require a paradigm shift.

You're talking about the true church of Jesus Christ, aren't you?

Why should we ever abandon the true church of Jesus Christ? What would be a good reason to do that?

I think we just need to find out which church is the true church of Jesus Christ... from God, personally.

... and once we know what that is, we should then continue to learn from God about everything, personally.

Speaking personally, I view paradigm shifts as a far superior course of action than abandoning oneâ??s spiritual convictions.

Heh, uh, yeah! I'd believe God more than my own opinion or the opinion of other people, anytime!

:P

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Is there ever a good reason to abandon Mormonism?

If anything keeps us from seeking first the kingdom of God then it should be abandoned.

As to misunderstandings and misinterpretations; organized religion is dangerous to some that trust in it as the way, rather than operating within the ordinances and practices as symbolic encouragement to the true way that is given within everyone. For example, the priesthoods are very important to the LDS religion, there are definitions of what attributes and attitudes accompany priesthood holders. There are also scriptures that point out the hypocrites that profess the priesthood are decieving themselves and do not in effect carry any priesthood authority or powers, which make the priesthood in vain to those that do not live true to it. So in reality they are not living the faith and have left it already, even though they may still be in a pattern of pretending, and continuing to participate in the outward forms of the Churches system.

The LDS church has restored lost practices and information, but it is not immune from man's morphing abilities that can lower high spiritual truths to powerless practices and habits.

son

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"For in these post-absolutist days it is better to build upon the shifting sands than the rock which will confound you on the day it shatters."

- Peter J. Carroll,
Liber Kaos

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Is there ever a good reason to abandon Mormonism?

I don't know if there is ever a good reason to abandon mormonism. However, many exmormons do experience a shift in belief patterns. From my experience on the Internet, these exmormons grow comfortable in their new paradigm and they will fight tooth and nail to defend it. No logic will convince them otherwise.

I have often found this amazing since they seem to close their minds to accepting their old paradigm. I have often said on this board that the lds church has not been proven true and yet, even that truth is attacked. And so, what is left is a different interpretation of what is factual evidence and what is speculatorial evidence.

No exmormon has explained to me why JS would need to write a book to create a religion. He would have made a wonderful Methodist minister.

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No, Joseph never consider himself perfect nor righteous:

Joseph Smith Quotes

... I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, and administering to the poor and dividing his substance, than the long smooth faced hypocrites. I don't want you to think I am very righteous, for I am not very righteous. God judgeth men according to the light he gives them.

Words of Joseph Smith, p.204 (18 May 1843)

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BishopRic writes:

Same observations. My very different conclusion, in an essay originally part of my "Paradigms Crossed" in RBBM 7:2, but recently published at the Meridian Magazine:

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/articles/060215model.html

In my reading of D&C 1, LDS claims are expressly non-exlusive with respect to truth, revelation, and human virtue. Hence, the presence of truth, revelation and virtue outside the LDS experience has nothing whatsoever to do LDS truth claims.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

It looks like I don't disagree much. I don't question the spiritual experiences of Mormons. I simply believe that others have just as dramatic and witnessing experiences. My basic belief: "No one religion has a corner on the God market."

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Well, because I have had spiritual confirmation that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that â??truthâ? is relative; truth is simply whatever God declares.

David - How do you reconcile those in other faiths who have some sort of similar truth revelation about their respective faith or religion? Is someone wrong? Both churches cannot be true in the matter-of-fact way that religions believe themselves true.

As modern revelation suggests, â??all truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed itâ? (D&C 93: 30).

Then you do not need a religion as the exclusive provider of truth if this scripture is true. The truth is independent and it exists in its "spheres" only to be discovered by the truth seeker, not given exclusively by an organization.

I suppose that it all comes down to the fact that I feel at peace when I live my life in harmony with the principles of salvation professed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have no doubt that others will encounter this same sense of spiritual harmony.

How do you know that the peace you have is not something already independent of the LDS church? The church may direct you to the principals that create this harmony, but per the scripture already cited, the truths that are currently bringing you happiness are independent of the LDS church. If this were not true, then it would be impossible for non-LDS to find similar peace, and harmony that you describe. I think we both know that others outside of Mormonism have found it and some to a very profound degree.

"

Why," because what a shame it would be to abandon the peace of a Gospel-centered life over a faulty paradigm.

The problem with Mormonism, is that the institution does not recognize that others can find it and discover such truths without them. The LDS church believes that the peace, harmony, joy etc, originate only through their rules and rituals of religion. If a person could separate the dogma from these "Christ centered principals", then people could pick and choose the parts or beliefs of Mormonism that resonated with them, and drop the ones that do not (drinking wine, sunday activities, non-church participation, certain doctrinal beliefs, to name a few). Since Mormonism does not work well this way, the rules and dogma of Mormonism actually force people on conviction of conscience to leave the organization altogether.

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It looks like I don't disagree much. I don't question the spiritual experiences of Mormons. I simply believe that others have just as dramatic and witnessing experiences. My basic belief: "No one religion has a corner on the God market."

This is a wonderful rationalization. However, I have a different take on it. I do believe that god guides us in his own way. I am sure that people who live good righteous lives in other faiths receive a witness from god. I certainly would think that god would rather have a good baptist or a good catholic than that person drawn to atheism or to a philosophy that would bring evil into that person's life. And so, I do believe that god is very active in people's lives regardless of faith or belief.

However, the mormons claim to have the fullness of the gospel and in that case more truths. But as long as the person is righteous and following his commandments, I am sure that he is happy with a catholic, a UU, a baptist, methodist, etc.

David - How do you reconcile those in other faiths who have some sort of similar truth revelation about their respective faith or religion? Is someone wrong? Both churches cannot be true in the matter-of-fact way that religions believe themselves true.

See my post above to BishopRic.

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I also believe that life has become very complicated and confused for many people. Too many ideas out there...sort of like a Mall of ideas. People are picking and choosing according to taste and not to substance. The Internet does not help in this regard. Complications in ideas can lead a person out of faith.

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Well, because I have had spiritual confirmation that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true

I think it's possible that you DID have a spiritual experience, and perhaps the LDS church is a tool to help you continue to have important and desired experiences. So I don't doubt it is true for you.

I suppose that it all comes down to the fact that I feel at peace when I live my life in harmony with the principles of salvation professed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Good for you. Then I don't see any reason to change you paradigm!

and have no doubt that others will encounter this same sense of spiritual harmony.

I'm sure there are many that will -- and do.

So given this perspective, perhaps what is not â??trueâ? is simply the assumptions concerning LDS theology/history that the doubter employs.

I don't see that the if/then leads to this.

"Why," because what a shame it would be to abandon the peace of a Gospel-centered life over a faulty paradigm.

Only faulty in your mind. You shouldn't abandon any working, successful paradigm.

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I am sure that people who live good righteous lives in other faiths receive a witness from god.

If one is living a good and righteous life then I believe the Holy Spirit would provide all the education one would need, even unto the perfect day of their graduation.

However, the mormons claim to have the fullness of the gospel and in that case more truths.

Any church that had the fullness of the gospel of Christ would be caught up into heaven, as was the city of Enoch.

son

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Why must I bend my will to conform to the ideals that aren't as they're presented? :P

Well, hereâ??s the problem as I see it. The Church is made up of imperfect men and women who are all trying to make the most sense out of their spiritual experiences within the context of their various assignments and/or stewardships.

In this situation, sometimes well-meaning members may present their paradigms as â??truth,â? leaving those of us who disagree with their assumptions in a crisis of faith. For example, I for one do not accept a universal flood as portrayed in the book of Genesis as an historical occurrence.

I also believe that God uses evolution as a means of creation and I stand in reverential awe when I consider the evolutionary development of a species such as the whale, which moves according to the fossil record from a land-dwelling mammal to a highly specialized fully aquatic species.

Now, sometimes well-meaning members will present their paradigm, which rejects evolutionary science, and/or insist upon a literal flood as Godâ??s truth. In a recent conversation, for example, a good Brother tried to convince me that the flood must have not only literally occurred but must have immersed the entire earth since Jesus was baptized to fulfill the necessary ordinance and that the earth itself is a living being.

I simply thanked my friend for his spiritual convictions and expressed appreciation for his commitment to the Gospel. But given the information I possess, I simply canâ??t accept this Brotherâ??s paradigm as correct.

We donâ??t have to baptize all living things. A dog seems much more in need of a literal cleansing than the earth, but I canâ??t imagine anyone ever insisting upon providing a dog with a ritual immersion.

I appreciate the story of the flood for its doctrinal implications and the wonderful principles it portrays. I have a testimony of its truthfulness, albeit not as a literal event. I donâ??t need for a universal flood to have actually occurred in order to appreciate the symbol that a fully immersed earth provides.

Iâ??ll admit that while I respect the views of fellow Latter-day Saints who hold a different paradigm, I do get a bit frustrated with those on either side who present their paradigm as the only possible truth.

Given the fact that we are all imperfect, this unfortunately has always happened, and I suspect that it always will.

Perhaps when faced with a situation in which peopleâ??s assumptions that we do not accept are presented as the correct paradigm, we should simply appreciate the personâ??s spiritual convictions while recognizing that he or she is but a mere mortal trying to make sense of the world in which we live.

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As I see it, this is a major paradigm problem that causes far too much concern.

I know of several very good members of the Church who had to stop reading Rough Stone Rolling because the book proved troubling to their paradigm regarding the Prophet. I love the book (I also really enjoyed Dan Vogel's biography).

I think that history suggests that anyone who upholds Joseph Smith to a standard of perfectionâ??a status that Joseph Smith himself did not claimâ??needs a serious paradigm shift.

I loved RSR - and it increased my testimony of Joseph, because of the new perspective it gave me on him. The fact that I have no testimony of him being perfect kept me very open to the new things I could learn from Bushman.

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If one is living a good and righteous life then I believe the Holy Spirit would provide all the education one would need, even unto the perfect day of their graduation.

Any church that had the fullness of the gospel of Christ would be caught up into heaven, as was the city of Enoch.

son

I think that god would rather have a 'good' catholic than a catholic that would make a 'bad' mormon. What I am trying to say is that god knows us quite well. And a catholic can feel the spirit and god's pressence in their lives because he is in their lives. He is not abandoning people according to faith. Howewver, since mormonism does have the fullness of the gospel, he may expect more from the lds and satan may spend just a little extra time with the lds.

I have also heard this rational put forth about catholic priests. Because the catholic priesthood is god's priesthood, satan spends just a little extra time with priests and nuns. Perhaps so. Both the lds and catholic church still teach pure moral values.

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