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Interconnectedness in the Christian faith


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I just realized that my post may sound as if I'm failing to recognize the existence and distinctives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And that's not what I intended at all.  In fact, I'm particularly interested in hearing the Latter-day Saint perspective.  

I see us as having a common Christian history, and am writing in that vein, but I don't mean to collapse our differences.  I know they're significant and substantial.  I simply want to see if we do have common ground when it comes to recognizing and appreciating Christian believers who have paved the way for our own faith journeys today.

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1 hour ago, Paloma said:

I just realized that my post may sound as if I'm failing to recognize the existence and distinctives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And that's not what I intended at all.  In fact, I'm particularly interested in hearing the Latter-day Saint perspective.  

I see us as having a common Christian history, and am writing in that vein, but I don't mean to collapse our differences.  I know they're significant and substantial.  I simply want to see if we do have common ground when it comes to recognizing and appreciating Christian believers who have paved the way for our own faith journeys today.

I think this is a good topic to explore, that being the things we can learn from people who found answers to their questions, and not only the answers but the journey to the answers have been a source of comfort and inspiration to me

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1 hour ago, Paloma said:

I’ve been thinking about how we, as Christian believers, have a debt to all who have gone before us in the world of connecting with God and trying to understand what that means in terms of the nature of our relationship with Him re our own past and present and future.

There was a time when I was much more clueless and insular in my thinking and experience.  In fact, as a Protestant, I probably felt rather satisfied and superior  and saw my own faith community as somehow “above” that of Judaism, Islam and Catholicism … and all of the other ‘isms’ out there.

I don’t think and feel that way anymore.  I’ve been on a journey of moving away from ethnocentrism, egocentrism and other unexamined personal assumptions and prejudices for quite awhile.

I’m really thankful for a number of book companions I’ve had along the way like Thomas Cahill’s The Gift of the Jews;  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization; Clark Pinnock’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy etc. 

Studying church history (I like the 2 volume church history texts by Gustavo Gutierrez) and just reflecting on all those who have gone ahead of us including the ‘examples of faith’ in Hebrews 11 and the early Christian martyrs have given me a broad perspective that I value.

I’ve repented of the way that I once thought we Protestants and even beyond that, Anabaptists, were somehow especially enlightened. 

When I think of the more recent Christian martyrs like Tyndale and Wycliffe who helped provide our modern Bibles and paid with their lives, I am humbled.  And then I think of the centuries when the scriptures were preserved and laboriously copied in countless monasteries, and I’m even more convicted of ever failing to see my deep dependence on them and community with them!

And I see this in Christian missions, too.  The reason we have access to different lands and peoples and written materials including Bible translations, is because of many pioneers, many of whom gave their lives for this missionary effort.  Even today missionaries are giving of themselves sacrificially.  And of course, we do gain so much when we give!

I’m just reflecting on how much we are interconnected with those who have gone before us, and wonder if some of you have the same thoughts of what a debt we owe.  I find it both humbling and generosity-inducing as I feel a kinship with those who are different and yet soul- kindred in the furtherance of loving God and loving people.

I only speak for myself in this, but I do acknowledge the works of prior Christian’s, but it is harder to have that admiration knowing that the general populace of their modern day congregations fiercely reject my faith.

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6 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You needn't be concerned with offending anyone here.  There are a number of non-LDS contributors to this board, and they have been very welcome, their perspectives often very helpful to the more insular among us.

What does concern me both in and outside the LDS community is the major blindspot in recognizing the important contributions of the Jews -- past and present.  How odd that, when Latter-day Saints hear the phrase "gathering of Israel," they think only of themselves, as though the Jews did not even exist.

I think unfortunately we've inherited a bit too much from the early American protestant culture that we came out from, and this is one of those things 

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53 minutes ago, Fether said:

I only speak for myself in this, but I do acknowledge the works of prior Christian’s, but it is harder to have that admiration knowing that the general populace of their modern day congregations fiercely reject my faith.

I hear you, Fether.  And I can only speak for myself when I say that I'm genuinely sorry for the fierce rejection you've seen and experienced.  I'm convinced that's not the way of Christ, but realize there are all too many who see it differently.

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31 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

...

What does concern me both in and outside the LDS community is the major blindspot in recognizing the important contributions of the Jews -- past and present.  How odd that, when Latter-day Saints hear the phrase "gathering of Israel," they think only of themselves, as though the Jews did not even exist.

I wholeheartedly agree with your first statement here, while not having experience of your second statement.

I know that I've grown to see the contribution of the Jews differently over the years, and feel strongly that we Christians need to examine ourselves and perhaps reassess our own views regarding the Jews.  I can't help but think that the Jewish people are both exceptionally gifted and also eternally precious to God ... good reason for us to see them that way too, I think.

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4 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Same. About half of the 4,000 documents that I used in my PhD research were written by Jesuit missionaries labouring in extraordinarily difficult circumstances (which not infrequently resulted in death and/or disability). Reading their words was an exercise in frustration in the beginning as I worked to hone my ability to understand 16th-century Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, but then it turned into a personal, sacred experience, one characterised by both honour and gratitude. I have lived on one of the islands that these men sometimes visited. Today, the city where I lived is more than 90 per cent Christian. My Jesuits never saw that outcome, but they laid the foundation on which it was built (even though later Protestant missionaries successfully obliterated the communal memory of a Catholic past).

As a Latter-day Saint, I share with my Protestant fellows a genuine belief in apostasy, but I have learnt to temper that belief with an equally strong one that the men and women involved were overwhelmingly good people who were trying their best to preserve and protect the faith. The reality is that, without divine intervention, we would all push Christianity further away from its purity.

Having served my mission in a heavily Jewish corner of America, I have developed great love for my Jewish fellows as well. I think I have posted about this before, but I was in a singles ward for the second Christmas of my mission, and in the week before Christmas, our entire ward disappeared, leaving us alone. Our rescuers were a thoughtful Jewish family, who not only cooked and fed us lunch but even went out and bought their first-ever Christmas tree just to make us feel 'at home'. God bless them!

And whilst I'm at it, I feel a great kinship with the other 'people of the book' whom I know: my Muslim friends, who have preserved some very interesting elements of early Christianity that appear to be found nowhere else until the Restoration.

Really appreciate what you've written here, Hamba!

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3 hours ago, Paloma said:

I’ve been thinking about how we, as Christian believers, have a debt to all who have gone before us in the world of connecting with God and trying to understand what that means in terms of the nature of our relationship with Him re our own past and present and future.

There was a time when I was much more clueless and insular in my thinking and experience.  In fact, as a Protestant, I probably felt rather satisfied and superior  and saw my own faith community as somehow “above” that of Judaism, Islam and Catholicism … and all of the other ‘isms’ out there.

I don’t think and feel that way anymore.  I’ve been on a journey of moving away from ethnocentrism, egocentrism and other unexamined personal assumptions and prejudices for quite awhile.

I’m really thankful for a number of book companions I’ve had along the way like Thomas Cahill’s The Gift of the Jews;  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization; Clark Pinnock’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy etc. 

Studying church history (I like the 2 volume church history texts by Gustavo Gutierrez) and just reflecting on all those who have gone ahead of us including the ‘examples of faith’ in Hebrews 11 and the early Christian martyrs have given me a broad perspective that I value.

I’ve repented of the way that I once thought we Protestants and even beyond that, Anabaptists, were somehow especially enlightened. 

When I think of the more recent Christian martyrs like Tyndale and Wycliffe who helped provide our modern Bibles and paid with their lives, I am humbled.  And then I think of the centuries when the scriptures were preserved and laboriously copied in countless monasteries, and I’m even more convicted of ever failing to see my deep dependence on them and community with them!

And I see this in Christian missions, too.  The reason we have access to different lands and peoples and written materials including Bible translations, is because of many pioneers, many of whom gave their lives for this missionary effort.  Even today missionaries are giving of themselves sacrificially.  And of course, we do gain so much when we give!

I’m just reflecting on how much we are interconnected with those who have gone before us, and wonder if some of you have the same thoughts of what a debt we owe.  I find it both humbling and generosity-inducing as I feel a kinship with those who are different and yet soul- kindred in the furtherance of loving God and loving people.

I think we can see the hand of the Lord operating from the beginning, leading from Eden and the Old Testament prophets into the first and then the second coming of Christ with His attendant prophets and beyond that as seen in the New Testament. Then we have Another Testament, which also prophesies of the victory of Christ. From the perspective of a member of our Church, I am certainly grateful for “how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until [now].”

I am also grateful that “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,” past and present. This includes the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and any other descending peoples of the Old Testament patriarchs. All of this, including the secular and non-Christian, contributes to eventual the victory of Christ.

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5 hours ago, Paloma said:

  I simply want to see if we do have common ground when it comes to recognizing and appreciating Christian believers who have paved the way for our own faith journeys today.

While we do teach about the Apostasy, there is a recognition of the debt we owe as well.  I have heard references in talks speaking about past religious leaders with respect and gratitude.  
 

Occasionally there is a more formal recognition, for example:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/byu-exhibit-examines-life-of-reformer-martin-luther-through-modern-lens?lang=eng

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Focused on our relationship with the Bible, but starts with a recognition of our debt to others that it exists. 
 

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2007/05/the-miracle-of-the-holy-bible?lang=eng

Also

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/01/how-the-lord-prepared-the-world-for-the-restoration?lang=eng

Edited by Calm
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7 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

I think this is a good topic to explore, that being the things we can learn from people who found answers to their questions, and not only the answers but the journey to the answers have been a source of comfort and inspiration to me

Thank you for highlighting the personal aspect of our learning and benefiting from the stories and journeys of others!  It's good to know - and I think important to mention - that we can be comforted and inspired by the faith of others even when their faith is different in some respects from our own.  

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13 hours ago, Paloma said:

I just realized that my post may sound as if I'm failing to recognize the existence and distinctives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And that's not what I intended at all.  In fact, I'm particularly interested in hearing the Latter-day Saint perspective.  

I see us as having a common Christian history, and am writing in that vein, but I don't mean to collapse our differences.  I know they're significant and substantial.  I simply want to see if we do have common ground when it comes to recognizing and appreciating Christian believers who have paved the way for our own faith journeys today.

How do we have a common Christian history? We believe our church and the true priesthood was removed from the earth so it could be protected until the time was right and it could be restored on earth again. Isn’t that the truth?  Brigham Young said “”with a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.”” He also said “” The time came when paganism was engrafted into Christianity, and at last Christianity was converted into paganism rather than converting the pagans. And subsequently the priesthood was taken from among men, this authority was recalled into the heavens, and the world was left without the priesthood, without the power of God, without the church and kingdom of God.”” 

For 1700 some years our Heavenly Parents kept the true gospel protected   and locked away in a storage unit somewhere in the heavens so it couldn’t be corrupted by the “Christianity” found here on earth during that period. That’s why when we knock on doors and find out the person answering the door is a Christian, we still try to convert them to Mormonism, correct? 

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4 hours ago, Mike Drop said:

How do we have a common Christian history? We believe our church and the true priesthood was removed from the earth so it could be protected until the time was right and it could be restored on earth again. Isn’t that the truth?  Brigham Young said “”with a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.”” He also said “” The time came when paganism was engrafted into Christianity, and at last Christianity was converted into paganism rather than converting the pagans. And subsequently the priesthood was taken from among men, this authority was recalled into the heavens, and the world was left without the priesthood, without the power of God, without the church and kingdom of God.”” 

For 1700 some years our Heavenly Parents kept the true gospel protected   and locked away in a storage unit somewhere in the heavens so it couldn’t be corrupted by the “Christianity” found here on earth during that period. That’s why when we knock on doors and find out the person answering the door is a Christian, we still try to convert them to Mormonism, correct? 

Mike, I am advocating for a recognition of the objective fact that our modern faith traditions and experiences are dependent on the groundwork and experiences of other people and religious frameworks in the past.  Christianity itself has Judaism as its seedbed. And then Protestantism owes so much to Catholicism though it broke away from that "nest" if you will ... as did Mormonism from Protestantism.

Whatever views and attitudes one has of the faith structures that have existed before and kind of "incubated" the new faith structures, the reality is that they helped pave the way for the very existence of the new structures.  Therefore, they have contributed lifeblood to the believers in the new structures.

I think we can make a choice to appreciate and honour the role of those historic influences and precursors - or to simply disregard and even denigrate them. 

I am curious about how individual people view this.

I think I understand the point you're making, but would really like to know how individuals feel.  I find it helpful to explore my own thoughts, feeling and reactions without being implicated in the wider stance and perception of my own brand of Christianity.  (Even having said that, I realize that I am not bound by anything other than my own understanding of, and faithfulness and commitment to God.  I know that's different from other Christians and perhaps especially Latter Day Saints.)

The links that Calm provided contain attitudes from church leaders that differ greatly from what Brigham Young expressed in your quote above.

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22 minutes ago, Paloma said:

Mike, I am advocating for a recognition of the objective fact that our modern faith traditions and experiences are dependent on the groundwork and experiences of other people and religious frameworks in the past.  Christianity itself has Judaism as its seedbed. And then Protestantism owes so much to Catholicism though it broke away from that "nest" if you will ... as did Mormonism from Protestantism.

Whatever views and attitudes one has of the faith structures that have existed before and kind of "incubated" the new faith structures, the reality is that they helped pave the way for the very existence of the new structures.  Therefore, they have contributed lifeblood to the believers in the new structures.

I think we can make a choice to appreciate and honour the role of those historic influences and precursors - or to simply disregard and even denigrate them. 

I am curious about how individual people view this.

I think I understand the point you're making, but would really like to know how individuals feel.  I find it helpful to explore my own thoughts, feeling and reactions without being implicated in the wider stance and perception of my own brand of Christianity.  (Even having said that, I realize that I am not bound by anything other than my own understanding of, and faithfulness and commitment to God.  I know that's different from other Christians and perhaps especially Latter Day Saints.)

The links that Calm provided contain attitudes from church leaders that differ greatly from what Brigham Young expressed in your quote above.

There are hundreds of Christian denominations including Mormonism. How many of these denominations did our Heavenly Parents decide to give priesthood  authority? How many Christian denominations use priesthood authority from God to baptize their members? The thread is, interconnectedness of the Christian faith. If we’re interconnected like so many here now believe, why doesn’t Heavenly Father share at least a little teeny weeny bit of authority with at least one other Christian denomination?

Edited by Mike Drop
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40 minutes ago, Paloma said:

I... would really like to know how individuals feel. 

"Blessed are the peacemakers".   Thank you for choosing to be one.

"Seek and ye shall find."  I thank you for seeking common ground and kinship and mutual respect and brotherhood and shared discipleship, instead of looking for excuses to take offense.  Either can be found, as you have seen in this thread.  In my opinion when we choose what we seek, we pretty much simultaneously choose what we will find.  

"Ye are the light of the world."  Christ placed no constraints on who that declaration applies to.  

Edited by Olmec Donald
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13 minutes ago, Olmec Donald said:

"Blessed are the peacemakers".   Thank you for choosing to be one.

"Seek and ye shall find."  I thank you for seeking common ground and kinship and mutual respect and brotherhood and shared discipleship, instead of its opposite.  Either can be found, as you have seen in this thread.  In my opinion when we choose what we seek, we pretty much simultaneously choose what we will find.  

"Ye are the light of the world."  Christ placed no constraints on who that declaration applies to.  

If you listen to Elder Oaks in this video,  he point blank says there’s not another church on earth that can get you back to God. Here’s what he says in the video about other Christian denominations “”repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances of the temple, and endure to the end, those who do so can be exalted in the celestial kingdom instead of being damned in a lesser status or kingdom. No one else can do this, other churches cannot do it, good Christian living cannot do it, good faith, good desires and good reasoning cannot do it.”” This is what I grew up believing. Is it wrong?

go to the 13:30 mark

Edited by Mike Drop
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8 minutes ago, Olmec Donald said:

"Blessed are the peacemakers".   Thank you for choosing to be one.

"Seek and ye shall find."  I thank you for seeking common ground and kinship and mutual respect and brotherhood and shared discipleship, instead of looking for excuses to take offense.  Either can be found, as you have seen in this thread.  In my opinion when we choose what we seek, we pretty much simultaneously choose what we will find.  

"Ye are the light of the world."  Christ placed no constraints on who that declaration applies to.  

Thank you too!  It's good to be in a community of peacemakers ... certainly, I know I'm not the only one and here you are, along with others who share this spirit!

There's something liberating about choosing peace and celebrating what unity and harmony we can find in ourselves and others.  Goodness knows I've experienced the opposite in myself and others and that's not where I want my own thoughts, attitudes and reactions to live!

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1 hour ago, Paloma said:

The links that Calm provided contain attitudes from church leaders that differ greatly from what Brigham Young expressed in your quote above.

Brigham Young had his own bias, but he saw interconnection as well:

Quote

“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods (DBY, 3).

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-2?lang=eng
 

Quote

belongs to “Mormonism.

I think what he means is belongs in “Mormonism”,  as in we need to learn from others if we are lacking because our faith is meant to embrace all that is good and true, not that we own whatever is good and moral as that doesn’t make sense. 

added:  should have looked a little down the page…

Quote

It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion (DBY, 248).


We believing we have the essential truths needed for salvation and even authority to act for God in regards to priesthood and authority while others lack such authority in no ways prevents other faiths from being good and even magnificent in the good that they do and thus contributing to God’s work. Something I have been taught as long as I can remember at church and in my home. 

Edited by Calm
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20 minutes ago, Mike Drop said:

If you listen to Elder Oaks in this video,  he point blank says there’s not another church on earth that can get you back to God. Here’s what he says in the video about other Christian denominations “”repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and theOrdinances of the temple, and endure to the end, those who do so can be exalted in the celestial kingdom instead of being damned in a lesser status or kingdom. No one else can do this, other churches cannot do it, good Christian living cannot do it, good faith good desires and good reasoning cannot do it.”” This is what I grew up believing. Is it wrong?

It sounds to me like you are no longer comfortable with that paradigm.  

Have you considered becoming a seeker?  That might ultimately be more satisfying than mike-dropping. 

Edited by Olmec Donald
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2 minutes ago, Olmec Donald said:

 

It sounds to me like you are no longer comfortable with that paradigm.  

Have you considered becoming a seeker instead of a mike-dropper?  

I’m not comfortable with my Mormon faith turning into just another Christian denomination. I grew up with President GBH saying MORMON meant more good! Now I’m being told not to use the word Mormon to describe my faith. I’m sorry, it doesn’t make any sense to me. In my opinion, Mormonism will slowly fade away while trying to find a home under the Christian tent. If Mormonism is just another Christian denomination, why be Mormon when you could be a Christian in a faith that’s not so strict?  

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49 minutes ago, Mike Drop said:

I’m not comfortable with my Mormon faith turning into just another Christian denomination. I grew up with President GBH saying MORMON meant more good! Now I’m being told not to use the word Mormon to describe my faith. I’m sorry, it doesn’t make any sense to me. In my opinion, Mormonism will slowly fade away while trying to find a home under the Christian tent. If Mormonism is just another Christian denomination, why be Mormon when you could be a Christian in a faith that’s not so strict?  

Thank you very much for clarifying, I had misunderstood you.  I thought you were trying to make the Mormon church look bad by using its own words, in particular quotes which seem to preclude the kind of brotherhood and kinship that @Paloma perceives.

Edited by Olmec Donald
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