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True, truth, truer, truest, or false?


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On 7/28/2021 at 9:16 AM, Kevin Christensen said:

Regarding Navidad's question, 

I've given this a lot of thought over the years, especially regarding the tension between the popular expression "the church is true" and the formal statement of "mine authority and the authority of my servants" in D&C 1.  For instance, I published this in Sophic Box and Mantic Vista.

And this, drawing on how the scriptures use "true" and/or "living" rather than Websters and popular culture.

And as to why so many in LDS culture think the way they do about an expression like "only true church" and "the church is true", I find the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth helpful.  Here are positions 1 and 2 of 9.

I made the case in Sophic Box and Mantic Vista that Joseph Smith by precept and example tries to lead us to Position 9, something that, if it happens at all, happens for individuals as a consequence of personal  "cognitive and ethical growth" rather than to communities by institutional fiat. 

For instance, this, on arriving at Position 6, from further in my essay:

There is more here, going through to Position 9 of the Perry Scheme, with Joseph Smith taking the lead.

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Wow, I sure do like your posts. I am not familiar with the Perry Scheme. Exploring it will keep me busy this weekend. Thanks so much. I wonder how many Christians of all communities are settled into 1 and 2? Thanks so much, Phil

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On 7/28/2021 at 11:15 AM, mfbukowski said:

It's not enough for us. 

Notice your own exclusivity shown right there in differentiating baptized Christians from unbaptized.

What's the difference, seriously?

Could I be a baptized Baptist, and preach in a Baptist congregation believing what I believe and teach?

Could I preach my beliefs in your Mennonite congregation?

Seriously-?

I guess it depends. I really am not sure I understand your beliefs. They seem somewhat idiosyncratic from others on the board. You ask four questions. I am not completely sure on your personal position on faith, love, mercy, and grace. It is more likely you would be allowed to preach in a Mennonite congregation than a Baptist. Baptists are a bit more exclusive. See, I apply that term to lots of folks, not just to LDS. Most fundamentalists in the non-LDS Christian tradition are exclusivists  in that they want to make sure you are against all the right things. Ha!

I also think your questions somewhat miss the point. I have no objections to the LDS having restrictions on who they baptize or allow to preach. I think our bishop had to have some confidence in me that I would not speak in terms contrary to LDS doctrine from his stand. I have spoken in a sacrament three different times and testified a number of times. I don't believe in any case I spoke words that were offensive to any one. I think that for a few, my very presence there was offensive, not my words. It was like the lady who told me "That was a nice prayer, but I wish they wouldn't let non-members pray." I was offensive by my very presence there praying.

I can assure that many holders of oriental and Asian faiths have been invited to speak in Mennonite congregations. That is a certainty. However, much much much more important is eternal destiny. Within mainstream Evangelicalism there are at least five positions on who may eternal glory with the father. We do not have a box within we put everyone in a delimiting sense. I think you think of us too monolithically (is that a word?).

So, knowing you as I know you -which is limited but based on four years of observing you here. I would baptize you if you could publicly share a testimony of the primacy of the atonement. Remember that for both Baptists and Mennonites, baptism has no bearing at all on salvation, sanctification, or receiving the Holy Spirit. I would let you preach when I was in a Baptist congregation. In a Mennonite congregation, I would also let you preach. I would have confidence in your maturity and wisdom not to focus on our points of disagreement, just like the bishop here did with me. I don't think I ever let him down.  I think that will change now with the change of bishopric. We will see.

Seriously -? Absolutely!

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On 7/28/2021 at 11:42 AM, MiserereNobis said:

Sometimes I wonder if you could preach your beliefs in your own sacrament meeting. 
 

“Today’s first talk is by Brother Mark and is about relativism and the lack of objective truth. He is also going to extol the virtues of humanism. Oh, and he’s asked us to set up the projector so you can watch a video clip of some Rorty guy…”

😛

I don't really know you, but having followed you here for some years, of course I would allow you to preach in a church if I were in charge of such things. Absolutely. I have spoken in Catholic retreats and have a wonderful relationship with our local priest. He could preach in my church any day. It would be a privilege to have him. In fact, if I did I would ask you to specifically share your beliefs and how they differ from ours. That would help my congregation grow.

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19 hours ago, Navidad said:

Wow, I sure do like your posts. I am not familiar with the Perry Scheme. Exploring it will keep me busy this weekend. Thanks so much. I wonder how many Christians of all communities are settled into 1 and 2? Thanks so much, Phil

Here is the email from Veda Hale that introduced me to it.  She had used it for a Sunstone presentation analyzing Levi Peterson's LDS novel, Canyons of Grace.  Some posts I did on the LDS literature board some 20 years ago prompted her to sent this to me.  I've been very thankful.  I've seen other summaries of the Perry Schme, but to me, this has the concentration and force of poetry.

Quote

PERRY SCHEME OF COGNITIVE AND ETHICAL GROWTH TABLE OF TRAITS BY POSITION AND TRANSITION


POSITION 1 - Basic Duality.  (Garden of Eden Position: All will be well.) 
The person perceives meaning divided into two realms-Good/Bad, Right/wrong, We/They, Success/Failure, etc. They believe that knowledge and goodness are quantitative, that there are absolute answers for every problem and authorities know them and will teach them to those who will work hard and memorize them. Agency is "Out there". The person is so embedded here that there is no place from which to observe themselves, yet they have a dim sense of there being a boundary to Otherness somewhere that gives their Eden-like world view boundary.
Transition 1-2 - Dualism modified.  (Snake whispers.) The person starts to be aware of others and of differing opinions, even among authorities. This started the feeling of uncertainty.  But they decide it is part of the authority's job to pose problems.  It takes hard work to deny the legitimacy of diversity and to keep the belief in the simplicity of truth.

(It should be kept in mind that in any of the transition states it is easy for the person to become depressed.  It takes time for the "guts to catch up with leaps of mind."  When a sense of loss is accorded the honor of acknowledgement, movement is more rapid and the risk of getting stuck in apathy, alienation, or depression is reduced.  When one steps into new perceptions he is unlikely to take another until he comes to terms with the losses attendant on the first.)

POSITION 2 - Multiplicity Prelegitimate.  (Resisting snake)

Now the person moves to accept that there is diversity, but they still think there are TRUE authorities who are right, that the others are confused by complexities or are just frauds.  They think they are with the true authorities and are right while all others are wrong.  They accept that their good authorities present problems so they can learn to reach right answers independently.  

TRANSITION: 2-3 - Dualism modified

Now the person admits that good authorities can admit to not knowing all the answers yet, but they will teach what they know now and teach the rest when they have it.  They accept that disciplines are divided into the definite and the vague, but that in the end even science fails. Though they have given up dividing meaning into just two realms, they still feel knowledge and goodness are quantitative and that agency is "out there".

POSITION 3 - Multiplicity Legitimate but Subordinate. (Snake's logic considered)

The person still feels that the nature of things naturally produces differing opinions, but it's as it should be, because the Authorities will figure it all out and hand on their conclusions eventually.

ALL OF THE POSITIONS ABOVE FEEL ABANDONMENT IN UNSTRUCTURED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. WHEN CHANGES IN THINKING START TO HAPPEN, IT CAN BE A DANGEROUS TIME.  (The forbidden fruit has been partaken and one is out of the Garden of Eden.)

There are seven ways a person can go.        

Transition 1.  The person can make the transition by modifying dualism  drastically to where one no longer trusts authority to have any answers, and they think it will be a long, long time before they will; therefore, there is really no way to be judged by them.  Bitterness sets in, as it seems as if rewards don't come by hard work and rightness, but by good expression and arbitrary factors.  With an inability to distinguish between abstract thought and "bull", disillusion settles and blinds the person to where they become dangerously cynical and take advantage of any opportunity to get gain.

Transition 2.  The person could decide that, if there are so many different answers a depending on individual perspective, that it is impossible for any true judgment; therefore anything goes.  All is of equal value.  To have an opinion makes it right.

Transition 3.  Same as above, except it dawns that there are some facts that, if known, can make for a better choice among the many.

Transition 4.  Anger and frustration win out. Instead of becoming cynical and opportunistic, person acts out negatively.

Transition 5.  The person is moving closer to accepting relativity.  He trusts authorities to have valid grounds for evaluations.  To get along, one needs to accept that authorities are using reasonable information in making their answers.  So the person tries to discover what it is authorities think and want.

Transition 6.  Person realizes that on some matters, reasonable people  reasonably disagree, that knowledge is qualitative and is context-dependent.  They begin weighing factors and approaches in ways that force comparison of patterns of thought, they think about thinking and this occupies the foreground.  But they still tend to want to conform so much that they have trouble thinking independently.

Transition 7.  This position between multiplicity and relativity is now closer to relativity.  The person sees that thinking relatively isn't just what the authorities he has been dealing have reasoned out and want him to accept, it is the way the world works, in most cases.

NOW UNCERTAINTIES OR DIVERSITIES MULTIPLY UNTIL THEY TIP THE BALANCE AGAINST CERTAINTY AND HOMOGENEITY, PRECIPITATING A CRISIS THAT FORCES THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW VISION OF THE WORLD, BE IT ONE MARKED BY CYNICISM, ANXIETY, OR A NEW SENSE OF FREEDOM.

POSITION 5  Relativism discovered.

The person accepts that all thinking is relative for everyone and are much taken with this new perspective.  It could be a time of profound anxiety as the person struggles to understand how to make right choices.  They decide they can and must do something about this new world view, but they may spend a long time before sensing a need for commitment.  They can take responsibility for a task at hand, but don't yet realize they have a responsibility to choose commitments.

THIS POSITION COULD MAKE FOR A PERSON WHOSE AGENCY FOR MAKING SENSE HAS VANISHED ENTIRELY.  THEY COULD ALSO REACT BY POSTPONING DECISIONS, FALLING INTO APATHY OR GOING INTO A RAGE.  IT COULD GET SO BAD IT COULD APPEAR THE PERSON NEEDS CLINICAL HELP.  THE POTENTIAL FOR CYNICISM COULD BECOME EQUALLY ALARMING EDUCATIONALLY. 

If the person RETREATS, rage takes over and he loses agency to make sense. He survives by avoiding complexity and ambivalence and regresses to Dualism, position 2, (multiplicity prelegitimate).  He becomes moralistic righteous and has "righteous" hatred for otherness.  He complains childlike and demands of authority figures to just tell him what they want.

If the person at this point doesn't retreat, he may go into a state of TEMPORIZING.  His agency for making sense has vanished, but he postpones any movement.  He may reconsign agency to some possible event.  If so, Guilt and shame accompany the uneasiness about a failure of responsibility they feel hopeless to cope with.

Or if not either of the above then the person may try to ESCAPE.  He becomes apathetic.  His agency for making sense has also vanished, but in his feeling of being alienated, he abandons responsibility and uses his understanding of multiplicity and relativism as a way to avoid commitment. He is drifting and has some sense that later he will find himself to be living a hollow life.  This drifting with insecurity about "goodness" of his position can make for such a detachment that precludes any meaningful involvement.  He starts to rely on impulse.  THIS CAN BECOME A SETTLED CONDITION.  "For the students reporting their recovery of care,...their period of alienation appears as a time of transition.  In this time the self is lost through the very effort to hold onto it in the face of inexorable change in the world's appearance.  It is a space of meaninglessness between received belief and creative faith.  In their rebirth they experience in themselves the origin or meanings, which they had previously expected to come to them from outside." (page 92 of the Perry Scheme.)

POSITION 6. Commitment Foreseen.

FROM HERE ON THE PERSON WILL FEEL FRUSTRATION IN TOO-STRUCTURED OF AN ENVIRONMENT. 

Now the person thinks he is alone in an uncertain world, making his own decisions, with no one to say he is right.  He makes choices aware of relativism and accepts that the agency to do so is within the individual. He sees that to move forward he must make commitments coming from within. He foresees the challenge of responsibility and feels he needs to get on with it.  He also senses that the first steps require arbitrary faith or willing suspension of disbelief.  He knows he needs to narrow his focus, center himself and become aware of internal, what could be called, spiritual strength.

He starts to see how he must be embracing and transcending of: certainty/doubt, focus/breadth, idealism/realism, tolerance/contempt, stability/flexibility. He senses need for affirmation and incorporation of existential or logical polarities. He senses need to hold polarities in tension in the interest of Truth.

He begins to maintain meaning, coherence, and value while conscious of their partial, limited, and contradictable nature. He begins to understand symbol as symbols and   acknowledges the time-place relativity of them. He begins to affirm and hold absolutes in symbols while still acknowledging them to be relativistic. He begins to embrace viewpoints in conflict with his own. Now the person has a field-independent learning style, has learned to scan for information, accepts that hierarchical and analytic notes are evidence of sharpening of cognition.  He is willing to take risks, is flexible, perceptive, broad, strategy-minded, and analytical.

The TRANSITION position between Position 6, "Commitment Foreseen", and position 7, "Commitments in Relativism developed" is as follows:

Besides the above, the person feels he is lost if he doesn't decide, that if he can once make one decision, everything else will be OK.

POSITION 7.  Commitments in Relativism developed.

The person makes first commitment while being aware of Relativism, and has a vivid sense of CLAIMING AND POWER. He now more fully feels that agency is within him and foresees responsibility with excitement and anticipates more empowering as he makes more commitments and choices. The TRANSITION between Position 7 and Position 8, sees the person having made his first commitment but feeling that everything else is still in limbo and he is foreseeing problems coming from trying to juggling responsibility. He senses need to be: wholehearted--but tentative, to be able to fight for his own values--yet respect others. Now, besides the other ways of studying, the person begins to read not to conciliate Authority, but to learn on his own initiative.

POSITION 8.  Commitments in Relativism developed continues.

The person makes several more Commitments while realizing he must find balance and establish painful priorities of energy, action and time. He starts to experience periodically serenity and well-being in the midst of complexity.  He has a sense of living with trust in the midst of heightened awareness of risk. He accepts fact that order and disorder are fluctuations in experience. He searches for models of knowledgeability and courage to affirm commitment in full awareness of uncertainty. HE STILL NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THAT EVEN  THE MODEL MUST BE TRAN SCENDED, AND HE SENSES HE NEEDS TO DEVELOP IRONY. The TRANSITION between Position 8 and 9 brings trauma.  The person feels everything is contradictory and he just can't make sense out of life's dilemmas.  But he begins to develop sense of irony and sees he must embrace viewpoints in conflict with his own, not in the old multiplistic way of "separate but equal" or "live and let live" but truly embrace them with what might as well be called "love".

POSITION 9.  Commitments in Relativism further developed.

The person now has a developed sense of irony and can more easily embrace  other's viewpoints. He can accept life as just that "life", just the way IT is! Now he holds the commitments he makes in a condition of "PROVISIONAL ULTIMACY", meaning that for him what he chooses to be truth IS his truth, and he acts as if it is ultimate truth, but there is still a "provision" for change. He has no illusions about having "arrived" permanently on top of some heap, he is ready and knows he will have to retrace his journey over and over, but he has hope that he will do it each time more wisely. He is aware that he is developing his IDENTITY through Commitment. He can affirm the inseparable nature of the knower and the known--meaning he knows he as knower contributes to what he calls known. He helps weld a community by sharing realization of aloneness and gains  strength and intimacy through this shared vulnerability. He has discarded obedience in favor of his own agency, and he continues to select, judge, and build. 

I've seen more LDS writers refer to Fowler’s Stages of Faith, but I much prefer Perry's model (he was a Yale Professor who studied the cognitive and ethical development of students coming to Yale). It seems to me that Fowler’s model is concerned more with the conclusions a person comes to, whereas the Perry Scheme deals more with how a person processes information.

Thanks,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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1 hour ago, Rain said:

I have a friend who deeply loves other people.  She does everything she can to help them.  But she has no faith.  She doesn't even believe in God.  

Do you feel you could have the closeness to people like her that you feel you can't have with those of the LDS faith?

I hesitate to answer, saying the wrong thing because I am not 100% sure I understand the question. So, if I don't answer in a way that makes sense, I apologize in advance. Off the top of my head, my answer would be no to your question. I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did.

I also am coming to an acceptance of the fact that my life experience is so very different from the vast majority of folks on this forum that it is no wonder we seem to talk past each other.  I long to be more clear in my heartache, but I don't do well. My wife and I have never been exclusivists in our faith, in terms of only being a member of, fellowship and worshiping with one unique and distinct group. I have also ministered (preached or taught) in at the very least probably 200 churches representing forty different denominational affiliations, including to Islamic groups. There have been differences in the appendages for sure, but no one in any other setting has ever before the last five years or so, asked me to be rebaptized, has ever doubted the core truth of my faith, has indicated I need more ordinances from their group to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, or to look forward to eternity sitting at the feet of Christ. Please keep reading. Please read as if you were looking through my eyes.

In only four of those settings did I fall in love with the people there. Two of those settings were non-denominational churches, one Baptist, and one was Islamic. All others I came and went. Helped and left. Taught or preached and went back home. Got to know folks, but that was it. I have attended and been a member of several Mennonite churches, but never fell in love with the folks in either of them. That is an important point.

Now comes the fifth where my wife and I have fallen in love with the folks. It is our little historic ward in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. We respect the bigger group to which it adheres, but we don't love it. We believe it is fully Christian with some unique (better word than exclusive?) appendages. But it (the church) won't let us love it, because it begins the relationship by assuring us we are less than. In the larger church we have faced various degrees of diminution of our current faith, and of course of us in the process. Many in our little ward (probably less than 100 active) have let us love them and have loved us back in return. They don't consciously or directly lessen us; but there is this huge wall between us on their part. It is not a wall of our making. We are Mexico; they are the US. We didn't build the wall to keep us separate.

I am not sure it is even a wall of their making. It is a wall created by the dogma and certitude that their church teaches them from primary to the grave, and apparently beyond. When one of you says "I know lots of non-members who work with the LDS church on good works" - that tells me that person has no idea what I am talking about. When one says "well you wouldn't let me preach in your church" I know he has no idea what our hurt is about and certainly doesn't understand our polity. Our friends here in the ward seem torn in a way we are not. Nothing in my theology tells me I can't fully accept the spirituality, genuineness, holiness, presence of the Spirit, full Christianity, and assurance of eternal life with the Father and Son of our LDS friends. Nothing in my teaching tells me they lack anything.

Something in theirs allows them to respect our spirituality, genuineness, partial kind of holiness,  sort-of presence of the Spirit in a limited way, partial Christianity, salvation but no sanctification (my word for exaltation).  They can only provide us assurance that we won't have eternal life without their assistance unless we walk their path which involves us denouncing virtually all our prior spiritual experiences as invalid because we, at our core are without any spiritual authority. We simply come from an apostate tradition. Wow! Talk about a classic "go away closer" experience. They are incapable of, not allowed, or choose not to love us back "just as we are." Sometimes I think that bothers a few of them as much as it bothers us. Maybe that is projection on my part. Methinks many if not most have never loved a non-church member.

Of course, I write too much. I have repeatedly failed to help you all here on this forum to understand us (me). Perhaps I have just done so again. Everything I have said may be inconceivable to you. So it is probably much better to stick with question like "What did Joseph Smith mean in his Letters from the Liberty Jail when he called Gov Boggs a "wimbling willow?" Much safer stuff, kind of like working on flood relief together and then heading back to our respective homes and churches. No emotional or spiritual attachment. Did I ever tell you the one about how the pastor and congregation of Gilead Baptist Church helped the men of Zion's Camp? Maybe that is safe enough too. Anyway, if any of you are still reading, thanks for doing so. Phil

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59 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Here is the email from Veda Hale that introduced me to it.  She had used it for a Sunstone presentation analyzing Levi Peterson's LDS novel, Canyons of Grace.  Some posts I did on the LDS literature board some 20 years ago prompted her to sent this to me.  I've been very thankful.  I've seen other summaries of the Perry Schme, but to me, this has the concentration and force of poetry.

I've more LDS writers refer to Fowler’s Stages of Faith, but I much prefer Perry's model (he was a Yale Professor who studied the cognitive and ethical development of students coming to Yale). It seems to me that Fowler’s model is concerned more with the conclusions a person comes to, whereas the Perry Scheme deals more with how a person processes information.

Thanks,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Kevin - BTW did you happen to read or attend the exegesis of D&C 1:30 by the Utah Valley based medical doctor at the Sunstone Conference several years ago? I thought it was excellent, a whole new perspective for me. He approached that section as having been written in the subjunctive mood, giving it a whole different meaning. I thought it was fascinating.

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13 minutes ago, Navidad said:

I hesitate to answer, saying the wrong thing because I am not 100% sure I understand the question. So, if I don't answer in a way that makes sense, I apologize in advance. Off the top of my head, my answer would be no to your question. I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did.

I also am coming to an acceptance of the fact that my life experience is so very different from the vast majority of folks on this forum that it is no wonder we seem to talk past each other.  I long to be more clear in my heartache, but I don't do well. My wife and I have never been exclusivists in our faith, in terms of only being a member of, fellowship and worshiping with one unique and distinct group. I have also ministered (preached or taught) in at the very least probably 200 churches representing forty different denominational affiliations, including to Islamic groups. There have been differences in the appendages for sure, but no one in any other setting has ever before the last five years or so, asked me to be rebaptized, has ever doubted the core truth of my faith, has indicated I need more ordinances from their group to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, or to look forward to eternity sitting at the feet of Christ. Please keep reading. Please read as if you were looking through my eyes.

In only four of those settings did I fall in love with the people there. Two of those settings were non-denominational churches, one Baptist, and one was Islamic. All others I came and went. Helped and left. Taught or preached and went back home. Got to know folks, but that was it. I have attended and been a member of several Mennonite churches, but never fell in love with the folks in either of them. That is an important point.

Now comes the fifth where my wife and I have fallen in love with the folks. It is our little historic ward in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. We respect the bigger group to which it adheres, but we don't love it. We believe it is fully Christian with some unique (better word than exclusive?) appendages. But it (the church) won't let us love it, because it begins the relationship by assuring us we are less than. In the larger church we have faced various degrees of diminution of our current faith, and of course of us in the process. Many in our little ward (probably less than 100 active) have let us love them and have loved us back in return. They don't consciously or directly lessen us; but there is this huge wall between us on their part. It is not a wall of our making. We are Mexico; they are the US. We didn't build the wall to keep us separate.

I am not sure it is even a wall of their making. It is a wall created by the dogma and certitude that their church teaches them from primary to the grave, and apparently beyond. When one of you says "I know lots of non-members who work with the LDS church on good works" - that tells me that person has no idea what I am talking about. When one says "well you wouldn't let me preach in your church" I know he has no idea what our hurt is about and certainly doesn't understand our polity. Our friends here in the ward seem torn in a way we are not. Nothing in my theology tells me I can't fully accept the spirituality, genuineness, holiness, presence of the Spirit, full Christianity, and assurance of eternal life with the Father and Son of our LDS friends. Nothing in my teaching tells me they lack anything.

Something in theirs allows them to respect our spirituality, genuineness, partial kind of holiness,  sort-of presence of the Spirit in a limited way, partial Christianity, salvation but no sanctification (my word for exaltation).  They can only provide us assurance that we won't have eternal life without their assistance unless we walk their path which involves us denouncing virtually all our prior spiritual experiences as invalid because we, at our core are without any spiritual authority. We simply come from an apostate tradition. Wow! Talk about a classic "go away closer" experience. They are incapable of, not allowed, or choose not to love us back "just as we are." Sometimes I think that bothers a few of them as much as it bothers us. Maybe that is projection on my part. Methinks many if not most have never loved a non-church member.

Of course, I write too much. I have repeatedly failed to help you all here on this forum to understand us (me). Perhaps I have just done so again. Everything I have said may be inconceivable to you. So it is probably much better to stick with question like "What did Joseph Smith mean in his Letters from the Liberty Jail when he called Gov Boggs a "wimbling willow?" Much safer stuff, kind of like working on flood relief together and then heading back to our respective homes and churches. No emotional or spiritual attachment. Did I ever tell you the one about how the pastor and congregation of Gilead Baptist Church helped the men of Zion's Camp? Maybe that is safe enough too. Anyway, if any of you are still reading, thanks for doing so. Phil

Feeling like an "other" while immersed in a group of like-minded people is something many of us are familiar with, Phil.  When I joined the Church as a member I was taking a different path than most of my family had taken, all who were all in that church that I had been a member of before I chose to join this one. That automatically made me an "other" in my own family, as we were then split up into 2 different churches.  Both still Christian, and I still knew what it was like to be a member of that church and to be a very active member of it.  But still they regarded me as some "other" type of Christian, and they thought I was lesser by not remaining a member of the church they believed I should have stuck with.  I know it is uncomfortable to feel like an outside even when surrounded by people I love, and people who say they love me. And I think we still do love each other, in our own limited ways.  It would be a lot easier on all of us if we were still part of the same church, but we don't agree on which church should be the one church.  They think their church is the right church, the church of Christ I should join, and I think the church I am in is the right one.  Both churches can't be the right one because both churches are not the same church.  So we just try to get along with each other as well as we can, loving each other as much as we feel we are able.

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3 hours ago, Navidad said:

Sorry, I am not exactly sure what you are saying. I don't regard all members of Christian churches as "members." One has to have a testimony and witness to be a "member." That testimony however does not come by membership in any church, not the Mennonite or the LDS church. So I think I reject your premise, but I am not exactly sure what you are saying. When I was the English pastor of a Chinese church in LA, we certainly had folks who were of Asian faiths attend our church. That wasn't unusual at all. I certainly would have allowed them to participate, share a message, etc. This is just like our ward does with us. The one thing you are missing, I think in your comment is that I also would not have had a preconceived judgment about their eternal destiny because they were Buddhist, not a Baptist, or not a Southern Baptist. As I have said many times (as recently as three minutes ago) I believe in a Wideness in God's Mercy. I love the old song we sang all the time when I was a boy:

1 There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.

2 There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more keenly felt than heaven:
there is no place where earth's failings
have such gracious judgement given.

3 There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that Christ has shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.

4 For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.

5 If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be illumined,
by the glory of the Lord.

The faithful members of the COJCOLDS provide two options (versions of the same one) for someone to be considered for eternal life and continued growth with Christ and Heavenly Father - accept the LDS faith in this life or the next. Is there another path I am missing? As the song says, my faith is built on the "gracious judgment" given to us at the judgment (bema - mercy) seat of I Cor 3.

Unfortunately we are not even speaking the same language.

Our words do not translate to the same meaning.

We've both tried but it's not working

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

I hesitate to answer, saying the wrong thing because I am not 100% sure I understand the question. So, if I don't answer in a way that makes sense, I apologize in advance. Off the top of my head, my answer would be no to your question. I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did.

I also am coming to an acceptance of the fact that my life experience is so very different from the vast majority of folks on this forum that it is no wonder we seem to talk past each other.  I long to be more clear in my heartache, but I don't do well. My wife and I have never been exclusivists in our faith, in terms of only being a member of, fellowship and worshiping with one unique and distinct group. I have also ministered (preached or taught) in at the very least probably 200 churches representing forty different denominational affiliations, including to Islamic groups. There have been differences in the appendages for sure, but no one in any other setting has ever before the last five years or so, asked me to be rebaptized, has ever doubted the core truth of my faith, has indicated I need more ordinances from their group to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, or to look forward to eternity sitting at the feet of Christ. Please keep reading. Please read as if you were looking through my eyes.

In only four of those settings did I fall in love with the people there. Two of those settings were non-denominational churches, one Baptist, and one was Islamic. All others I came and went. Helped and left. Taught or preached and went back home. Got to know folks, but that was it. I have attended and been a member of several Mennonite churches, but never fell in love with the folks in either of them. That is an important point.

Now comes the fifth where my wife and I have fallen in love with the folks. It is our little historic ward in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. We respect the bigger group to which it adheres, but we don't love it. We believe it is fully Christian with some unique (better word than exclusive?) appendages. But it (the church) won't let us love it, because it begins the relationship by assuring us we are less than. In the larger church we have faced various degrees of diminution of our current faith, and of course of us in the process. Many in our little ward (probably less than 100 active) have let us love them and have loved us back in return. They don't consciously or directly lessen us; but there is this huge wall between us on their part. It is not a wall of our making. We are Mexico; they are the US. We didn't build the wall to keep us separate.

I am not sure it is even a wall of their making. It is a wall created by the dogma and certitude that their church teaches them from primary to the grave, and apparently beyond. When one of you says "I know lots of non-members who work with the LDS church on good works" - that tells me that person has no idea what I am talking about. When one says "well you wouldn't let me preach in your church" I know he has no idea what our hurt is about and certainly doesn't understand our polity. Our friends here in the ward seem torn in a way we are not. Nothing in my theology tells me I can't fully accept the spirituality, genuineness, holiness, presence of the Spirit, full Christianity, and assurance of eternal life with the Father and Son of our LDS friends. Nothing in my teaching tells me they lack anything.

Something in theirs allows them to respect our spirituality, genuineness, partial kind of holiness,  sort-of presence of the Spirit in a limited way, partial Christianity, salvation but no sanctification (my word for exaltation).  They can only provide us assurance that we won't have eternal life without their assistance unless we walk their path which involves us denouncing virtually all our prior spiritual experiences as invalid because we, at our core are without any spiritual authority. We simply come from an apostate tradition. Wow! Talk about a classic "go away closer" experience. They are incapable of, not allowed, or choose not to love us back "just as we are." Sometimes I think that bothers a few of them as much as it bothers us. Maybe that is projection on my part. Methinks many if not most have never loved a non-church member.

Of course, I write too much. I have repeatedly failed to help you all here on this forum to understand us (me). Perhaps I have just done so again. Everything I have said may be inconceivable to you. So it is probably much better to stick with question like "What did Joseph Smith mean in his Letters from the Liberty Jail when he called Gov Boggs a "wimbling willow?" Much safer stuff, kind of like working on flood relief together and then heading back to our respective homes and churches. No emotional or spiritual attachment. Did I ever tell you the one about how the pastor and congregation of Gilead Baptist Church helped the men of Zion's Camp? Maybe that is safe enough too. Anyway, if any of you are still reading, thanks for doing so. Phil

So what I don't understand - it is ok for you to be exclusive of people who don't have faith, but it is not ok for us to be "exclusive" of people who don't have the same faith of specifics things we do. 

I don't for a minute think that I have better or more faith than you do so this isn't a better than you feeling.  It is a different than you thing.  

I served my mission in Houston and Louisiana.  I had a lot of people tell me I was going to hell. Either because we "don't believe in Jesus" or "the same Jesus" or the "Triune God".  I even had one pastor who wouldn't say a prayer with us (with him voicing it), because we don't believe in the same Jesus.

I used to get hurt over the exclusion.  With that prayer I was definitely excluded! But after awhile I realized that it didn't matter.  These were their beliefs.  Their beliefs had no bearing on Christ's judgment of me.  I didn't have to feel hurt, especially when I thought they were wrong!

Now I Just wave my hand and think, "it's their belief.  So what."

It's been interesting working with the hispanic pastors here as we deal with the needs of asylum seekers.  I have very much felt a unity of faith with these men and women of God.  It's beautiful.  Yet, I'm aware that some probably have beliefs that would condemn me to hell (and I'm ok with that and still feel the unity) even if they would never apply them to me personally.

So for me it comes to being where Jesus wants me to be, love all others as children of God and letting God take care of those differences in beliefs.  I know God loves me.  I know he loves you.  I know he loves all of his children so I just do my best to try to love as he does and let him take care of where we all go wrong.

 

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1 hour ago, Rain said:

So what I don't understand - it is ok for you to be exclusive of people who don't have faith, but it is not ok for us to be "exclusive" of people who don't have the same faith of specifics things we do. 

I have no idea who has faith and who doesn't. I am exclusive of no one - because I am not Christ, the one who will decide that. How or in what way did I communicate that there are those I am exclusive regarding, because I don't think they have faith? I am not a universalist, but I am also not the one who decides anything about anyone's eternal destiny, especially based on a couple of ordinances that I know that many Christian groups interpret in different way. Remember please, baptism is not salvific for me. It is not the key to unlock the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a testimony of a witness of Christ's atonement. I think the Bible is witness to us that many who many think will not be in the kingdom of God, will be. I appreciate your replies. Thanks so much.

Edited by Navidad
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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Unfortunately we are not even speaking the same language.

Our words do not translate to the same meaning.

We've both tried but it's not working

Perchance I am not speaking the language you keep thinking I should be speaking based on your apriori assumptions about Evangelicals? If I say I would let you preach, you don't understand that? If I say I would baptize you, is that contrary to your perceptions about Evangelicals?

I don't understand all your comments because many of them are over my head. I fully admit that. I know that as long as I don't personalize it and get defensive, I enjoy our conversations, even though I too don't understand all of them. Perchance bottom line the difference is I accept you just as you are however philosophical, as being someone I look forward to seeing in heaven as we bow down before the Savior together. And prior to that I would be proud to have you as a member of any church of which I was the pastor - just as you are. You simply don't believe the same way about me, not because you know me personally to be a person of no faith, but because you know me to be a person of the wrong faith.

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13 hours ago, Navidad said:

I have no idea who has faith and who doesn't. I am exclusive of no one - because I am not Christ, the one who will decide that. How or in what way did I communicate that there are those I am exclusive regarding, because I don't think they have faith?

 

Your words, "I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did."

 

Not a rhetorical question: but somehow you expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe baptism to be salvific?

My husband is an engineer.  When he wants to talk he loves talking about engineer things. He will talk to me about them sometimes, but I don't get it.

Now, I on the other hand love to see what makes people tick.  I want to know what they think and why they think that way.  He is glad to run away from this kind of conversation. 

Now we are close.  We love each other.  We get each other.  But my eyes glaze over with the engineering stuff and he gets all sorts of anxiety about the people stuff.  And while this is going on it will be a barrier to us being closer in those two interests.  He will always have a connection with other engineers that I don't have.  And I will always have a connection with others who love learning about people that I won't have with him.

I could get upset with him that he doesn't include me in all of his engineering conversations.  I could look at it and think, "he thinks he is better."

But I don't.   I just focus on other ways we can be close.

I do have an advantage over you.  My husband never talks badly about me. He never says, "she only has a liberal arts degree." There is lots of joking about liberal arts degrees between engineers, but my husband is quick to say how cool it is that I have that degree.

But you, heard the cutting remarks and then no one stood up for you.  That's got to hurt.

But don't let it hurt you.  Don't let the difference in beliefs become a barrier. Look at It instead and find where you can be closer to the members around you who are not being critical.

13 hours ago, Navidad said:

I am not a universalist, but I am also not the one who decides anything about anyone's eternal destiny, especially based on a couple of ordinances that I know that many Christian groups interpret in different way. Remember please, baptism is not salvific for me. It is not the key to unlock the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a testimony of a witness of Christ's atonement. I think the Bible is witness to us that many who many think will not be in the kingdom of God, will be. I appreciate your replies. Thanks so much.

 

Edited by Rain
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21 hours ago, Navidad said:

Kevin - BTW did you happen to read or attend the exegesis of D&C 1:30 by the Utah Valley based medical doctor at the Sunstone Conference several years ago? I thought it was excellent, a whole new perspective for me. He approached that section as having been written in the subjunctive mood, giving it a whole different meaning. I thought it was fascinating.

I do not know that paper.  I once did a Sunstone presentation myself, several decades back, on "True and Living", offering essentially the same reading I published formally in the Interpreter essay.   At the end,  the small audience looked like stunned bunnies, not quite sure of what to make of it.  Paradigm shifting requires the use of a clutch.  When I first noticed the thematic relationship between Biblical True and Living imagery and D&C 1 as a whole, I looked through a number of D&C commentaries for how they read D&C 1, and at that time, they all restated the meaning as "only true true church"; that is, rather than analyzing the 29 words for what they offered, they sculpted away everything that did not look like what the commentators expected to see, strippping away 26 words.  Like the sculpting joke.  How do you make a sculpture of an elephant?  Start with a rock and chip away everything that does not look like an elephant.

I do hear more full quotations of D&C 1:30 that I used to.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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12 hours ago, Rain said:

Your words, "I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did."

 

Not a rhetorical question: but somehow you expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe baptism to be salvific?

My husband is an engineer.  When he wants to talk he loves talking about engineer things. He will talk to me about them sometimes, but I don't get it.

Now, I on the other hand love to see what makes people tick.  I want to know what they think and why they think that way.  He is glad to run away from this kind of conversation. 

Now we are close.  We love each other.  We get each other.  But my eyes glaze over with the engineering stuff and he gets all sorts of anxiety about the people stuff.  And while this is going on it will be a barrier to us being closer in those two interests.  He will always have a connection with other engineers that I don't have.  And I will always have a connection with others who love learning about people that I won't have with him.

I could get upset with him that he doesn't include me in all of his engineering conversations.  I could look at it and think, "he thinks he is better."

But I don't.   I just focus on other ways we can be close.

I do have an advantage over you.  My husband never talks badly about me. He never says, "she only has a liberal arts degree." There is lots of joking about liberal arts degrees between engineers, but my husband is quick to say how cool it is that I have that degree.

But you, heard the cutting remarks and then no one stood up for you.  That's got to hurt.

But don't let it hurt you.  Don't let the difference in beliefs become a barrier. Look at It instead and find where you can be closer to the members around you who are not being critical.

 

"Not a rhetorical question: but somehow you expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe baptism to be salvific?"  Good question. Yes, I have often experienced closeness and fellowship with someone who believes baptism to be salvific. Many non-LDS Christians in many denominations or groups believe salvation in some way to be salvific. Both Catholics and Lutherans come to mind. If I may rephrase your quote by adding just two words to it, then I guess I might have to answer your question differently. If you asked me this question  - "You expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe only their baptism to be salvific?" I think that would change the level of closeness due to the fact that every time we were interacting it would be with the elephant on my back of them not believing me to be a participant in salvation (salvific). I could never believe that person x or y is not a participant in salvation since that is not now and never will be my decision and I don't believe it is as easily decided as - oops he has the wrong baptism - impossible for him to have experienced the fullness of salvation or the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

I am inconsistent in that I have groused on here many times about unkind things said to me by faithful members. I must acknowledge that I have also had probably more faithful members say to me something like this, "Of course you are saved! Of course you will be in the celestial kingdom with God the Father and Christ. We don't believe only members of the LDS Church will be in the celestial kingdom." Then if I follow-up with "You really believe that? Even if I never become a member of the LDS church in this world or the next?" Then they inevitably backtrack a bit and refer to my ability to realize my earthly error and become reconciled with the LDS church in the spirit world.

I remain confused about what happens at the LDS concept of the judgment seat. I will seek understanding about that in another thread. Best wishes as always.

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7 minutes ago, Navidad said:

remain confused about what happens at the LDS concept of the judgment seat.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he agave five btalents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and areckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou adeliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful aservant: thou hast been bfaithful over a few things, I will make thee cruler over many things: enter thou into the djoy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and afaithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an ahard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was aafraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and aslothful servant, thou knewest that I breap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with ausury.

28 Take therefore the atalent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be agiven, and he shall have babundance: but from him that hath not shall be ctaken away even that which he hath.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/matt/25?lang=eng

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Regarding, 

Quote

I remain confused about what happens at the LDS concept of the judgment seat.

This, from Joseph Smith, I think, is helpful.

Quote

The great designs of God in relation to the salvation of the human family, are very little understood by the professedly wise and intelligent generation in which we live. Various and conflicting are the opinions of men concerning the plan of salvation, the requisitions of the Almighty, the necessary preparations for heaven, the state and condition of departed spirits, and the happiness or misery that is consequent upon the practice of righteousness and iniquity according to their several notions of virtue and vice.
But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of man, causes "His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, "not according to what they have not, but according to what they have," those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will by judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.

Alma 29:8 expresses the same thing.

Quote

For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have.

It is a distinctive aspect of the Book of Mormon on the at-one-ment, that Jesus quite literally takes upon himself our sins "that he may know according to the flesh, how to succor his people according to their infirmaties"  ( See Alma 11:7-13).  Margaret Barker describes the atonement as "a rite of healing".    Even the hard parts of judgment, the life review, the review of deeds, turns out to be, I think, an essential part of that healing.  It works that way in 12 Step work, in NDE accounts of the life review and more.  Jesus becoming at-one-with all of our lives was difficult for him (take this cup from me...) but provided the only means for him to be able to "dry all the tears from their eyes."  I gave a talk at BYU on that a while back.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA 

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6 minutes ago, Navidad said:

"Not a rhetorical question: but somehow you expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe baptism to be salvific?"  Good question. Yes, I have often experienced closeness and fellowship with someone who believes baptism to be salvific. Many non-LDS Christians in many denominations or groups believe salvation in some way to be salvific. Both Catholics and Lutherans come to mind. If I may rephrase your quote by adding just two words to it, then I guess I might have to answer your question differently. If you asked me this question  - "You expect to have the same level of closeness with people who believe only their baptism to be salvific?" I think that would change the level of closeness due to the fact that every time we were interacting it would be with the elephant on my back of them not believing me to be a participant in salvation (salvific). I could never believe that person x or y is not a participant in salvation since that is not now and never will be my decision and I don't believe it is as easily decided as - oops he has the wrong baptism - impossible for him to have experienced the fullness of salvation or the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

I am inconsistent in that I have groused on here many times about unkind things said to me by faithful members. I must acknowledge that I have also had probably more faithful members say to me something like this, "Of course you are saved! Of course you will be in the celestial kingdom with God the Father and Christ. We don't believe only members of the LDS Church will be in the celestial kingdom." Then if I follow-up with "You really believe that? Even if I never become a member of the LDS church in this world or the next?" Then they inevitably backtrack a bit and refer to my ability to realize my earthly error and become reconciled with the LDS church in the spirit world.

I remain confused about what happens at the LDS concept of the judgment seat. I will seek understanding about that in another thread. Best wishes as always.

Not sure what "salvific" means.  Does it mean "baptism is necessary for salvation"?   If so then if someone is not baptized because they don't believe it is necessary, what would you say to them?  We would tell them baptism is necessary for salvation.

And we don't believe the baptism that is necessary is exclusively "ours".  The saints who lived during and shortly after our Lord's mortal ministry were not latter-day saints.  They aren't required to be baptized into "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", as we who are living in these latter days are.  Adam and Enoch and Abraham and Moses and many other saints of former days are not required to be baptized into the Church of these latter days, either, because they have already been baptized into the true church of Christ in their day, by those with the proper authority to do it, which was how they became a member of the Church in their day.  And those who have died and will continue to die without being baptized will have that ordinance administered for them so that they may become joint-heirs with us and all who have been properly baptized by those with the authority to do it, as long as they do everything else that is necessary for their salvation.  A valid baptism administered by somebody with the proper authority to baptize is what everyone needs for full and complete salvation, because our Lord has said so.  It doesn't matter that some people think the baptism they received was good enough or done properly if it wasn't.  If it wasn't administered by someone with the proper authority then the baptism was not good enough and a proper baptism is still necessary.

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49 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Regarding, 

This, from Joseph Smith, I think, is helpful.

Alma 29:8 expresses the same thing.

It is a distinctive aspect of the Book of Mormon on the at-one-ment, that Jesus quite literally takes upon himself our sins "that he may know according to the flesh, how to succor his people according to their infirmaties"  ( See Alma 11:7-13).  Margaret Barker describes the atonement as "a rite of healing".    Even the hard parts of judgment, the life review, the review of deeds, turns out to be, I think, an essential part of that healing.  It works that way in 12 Step work, in NDE accounts of the life review and more.  Jesus becoming at-one-with all of our lives was difficult for him (take this cup from me...) but provided the only means for him to be able to "dry all the tears from their eyes."  I gave a talk at BYU on that a while back.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA 

Thanks. I just started a new thread on the subject. As always, i appreciate your wisdom.

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

Then if I follow-up with "You really believe that? Even if I never become a member of the LDS church in this world or the next?" Then they inevitably backtrack a bit and refer to my ability to realize my earthly error and become reconciled with the LDS church in the spirit world.

I remain confused about what happens at the LDS concept of the judgment seat. I will seek understanding about that in another thread. Best wishes as always.

For now- read section 76

It is said that even the worst of us- except " sons of perdition" - probably only far less than 100 people in all history could qualify- will be in a "heaven " (Telestial Kingdom) that it has been said, one would commit suicide to get there, if they could see the peace and glory of that kingdom.

And that would be for criminals and evil people, even murderers, etc.

Yes, we believe that.

Is that "exclusivity" ?

Also, the word "salvific" is highly ambiguous for us, since we have at least 3 levels of "salvation "

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 7/29/2021 at 2:53 PM, Navidad said:

I hesitate to answer, saying the wrong thing because I am not 100% sure I understand the question. So, if I don't answer in a way that makes sense, I apologize in advance. Off the top of my head, my answer would be no to your question. I could not expect or have the same level of closeness and fellowship with someone who has no faith in God of any kind as I would have with someone who did.

I also am coming to an acceptance of the fact that my life experience is so very different from the vast majority of folks on this forum that it is no wonder we seem to talk past each other.  I long to be more clear in my heartache, but I don't do well. My wife and I have never been exclusivists in our faith, in terms of only being a member of, fellowship and worshiping with one unique and distinct group. I have also ministered (preached or taught) in at the very least probably 200 churches representing forty different denominational affiliations, including to Islamic groups. There have been differences in the appendages for sure, but no one in any other setting has ever before the last five years or so, asked me to be rebaptized, has ever doubted the core truth of my faith, has indicated I need more ordinances from their group to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, or to look forward to eternity sitting at the feet of Christ. Please keep reading. Please read as if you were looking through my eyes.

In only four of those settings did I fall in love with the people there. Two of those settings were non-denominational churches, one Baptist, and one was Islamic. All others I came and went. Helped and left. Taught or preached and went back home. Got to know folks, but that was it. I have attended and been a member of several Mennonite churches, but never fell in love with the folks in either of them. That is an important point.

Now comes the fifth where my wife and I have fallen in love with the folks. It is our little historic ward in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. We respect the bigger group to which it adheres, but we don't love it. We believe it is fully Christian with some unique (better word than exclusive?) appendages. But it (the church) won't let us love it, because it begins the relationship by assuring us we are less than. In the larger church we have faced various degrees of diminution of our current faith, and of course of us in the process. Many in our little ward (probably less than 100 active) have let us love them and have loved us back in return. They don't consciously or directly lessen us; but there is this huge wall between us on their part. It is not a wall of our making. We are Mexico; they are the US. We didn't build the wall to keep us separate.

I am not sure it is even a wall of their making. It is a wall created by the dogma and certitude that their church teaches them from primary to the grave, and apparently beyond. When one of you says "I know lots of non-members who work with the LDS church on good works" - that tells me that person has no idea what I am talking about. When one says "well you wouldn't let me preach in your church" I know he has no idea what our hurt is about and certainly doesn't understand our polity. Our friends here in the ward seem torn in a way we are not. Nothing in my theology tells me I can't fully accept the spirituality, genuineness, holiness, presence of the Spirit, full Christianity, and assurance of eternal life with the Father and Son of our LDS friends. Nothing in my teaching tells me they lack anything.

Something in theirs allows them to respect our spirituality, genuineness, partial kind of holiness,  sort-of presence of the Spirit in a limited way, partial Christianity, salvation but no sanctification (my word for exaltation).  They can only provide us assurance that we won't have eternal life without their assistance unless we walk their path which involves us denouncing virtually all our prior spiritual experiences as invalid because we, at our core are without any spiritual authority. We simply come from an apostate tradition. Wow! Talk about a classic "go away closer" experience. They are incapable of, not allowed, or choose not to love us back "just as we are." Sometimes I think that bothers a few of them as much as it bothers us. Maybe that is projection on my part. Methinks many if not most have never loved a non-church member.

Of course, I write too much. I have repeatedly failed to help you all here on this forum to understand us (me). Perhaps I have just done so again. Everything I have said may be inconceivable to you. So it is probably much better to stick with question like "What did Joseph Smith mean in his Letters from the Liberty Jail when he called Gov Boggs a "wimbling willow?" Much safer stuff, kind of like working on flood relief together and then heading back to our respective homes and churches. No emotional or spiritual attachment. Did I ever tell you the one about how the pastor and congregation of Gilead Baptist Church helped the men of Zion's Camp? Maybe that is safe enough too. Anyway, if any of you are still reading, thanks for doing so. Phil

So if I came to your church, and taught virtually universal salvation, even without any understanding of Christ as savior, because that will be taught in the afterlife and virtually all will then understand the Gospel and that we can become like Christ and his Father as Gods, and create universes, and that also applies to all their dead, in our temples, and that there have been new scriptures given that amplify their bibles, and that God still has prophets on earth to give new revelations for all mankind, that would be just peachy keen?

Or would we have to follow your " exclusive doctrine" and not teach what we believe God wants all his children to know?

Would you then exclude us?

I might actually take you up on it the next time I drive from So Cal across Texas to visit my son's family  :)

I am an ordained Christian Bishop by the way

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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