Oct 26 2009

On Covenanting with the Lord

Poor Wayfaring Man

The “Covenanting with the Lord” program, discussed in the previous post, is interesting to me because it puts to the test the promises of the Lord found in LDS scripture, and the beliefs of the mainstream LDS Church regarding those promises. It is anchored in the concept of testimony, relying on a person’s ability to discern the promptings of the Holy Ghost to come up with solutions to a given problem. Once a solution is found, especially if it requires divine intervention, it is presented to the Lord for ratification (and miracles).

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Oct 25 2009

My Testimonies: Example 3

Poor Wayfaring Man

I have had experiences with testimony. Lots of them. Here is Example 3:

When I had been proselyting as a missionary for just about three months, my Mission President (the volunteer LDS clergy supervising the activities of the entire mission) assigned me to work in a new city with a partner (i.e., a “companion”) who was in the final month of his two-year term of missionary service. The Mission President met with me to tell me I was chosen for the assignment because this missionary needed a faithful, enthusiastic companion to try a new method of proselyting that had the potential to usher in a surge of baptisms in the mission. It was called “Covenanting with the Lord”.

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Oct 24 2009

My Testimonies: Example 2

Poor Wayfaring Man

I have had experiences with testimony. Lots of them. Here is Example 2:

When I was 18 years old, I realized that I was mere months away from high school graduation, and that I was expected to follow through on my lifelong plan to go on a two-year mission for the LDS Church, during which time I would work to persuade people to join the Church. I decided that I should prepare for my mission by making an effort to learn more about the Church than I had learned in Sunday school and daily seminary classes.

I found a book on my dad’s bookshelf titled Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon. Continue reading


Oct 23 2009

My Testimonies: Example 1

Poor Wayfaring Man

I have had experiences with testimony. Lots of them. Here is Example 1:

When I was a child, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I thought up the concept of reincarnation. I didn’t know it by name, and I didn’t know that anybody else had ever thought of it. What I did know is that I got a real charge out of contemplating the possibility that my soul could inhabit another body and I could live another life again after this one was over. The feeling I felt as I put the theory together in my mind was something I hadn’t felt before. It was a spine-tingling, euphoric, exciting sensation. Everything seemed to make sense at that moment, and for that moment I felt a sense of clarity, confidence, and peace about my future that overwhelmed my usual petty concerns and fears. I still remember it.

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Oct 22 2009

Testimony

Poor Wayfaring Man

Every member of the LDS Church knows the importance of developing a strong personal or “spiritual” conviction (a “testimony”) regarding certain facts surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.1 A testimony is considered a gift from God, delivered to a person by the Holy Ghost, a spirit-messenger of God, who communicates through a spiritual power that manifests itself in different ways to different people, typically as difficult-to-define sensations and thoughts. Every member is expected to have a testimony of at least the following key facts:
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  1. Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I would like to say to you, that is the strength of this cause, the individual testimony that lies in the hearts of the people. The strength of this church is not in its buildings, in its chapels, in its offices, in its schools; it is not in its programs or its publications. They are important, but they are only a means to an end, and that the end is the building of the testimony – a conviction that will weather every storm and stand up to every crisis in the hearts and lives of the membership.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Area Conference Report, August 1971, Manchester, England, pp. 160-161. As quoted in┬áTestimony, pp. 8-9) []

Oct 20 2009

Criticism Matters

Poor Wayfaring Man

In 1844, in the wake of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s murder at the hands of a mob in a Carthage, Illinois jail, he was eulogized by a very close friend, John Taylor, with the following statement:

“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”

Now, that’s pretty high praise coming from a Christian. Maybe a little too high? Continue reading


Oct 19 2009

Jack Mormons and Apostates

Poor Wayfaring Man

There are basically two kinds of people who leave the LDS Church. I will call them “Jack Mormons” and “Apostates”. Apostates are people who leave (or are excommunicated) because they have stopped believing in some or all of the religious tenets of the LDS faith. Jack Mormons are people who leave (or are excommunicated) for reasons other than non-belief, like being unable or unwilling to follow the rules, or because of interpersonal conflicts with other community members.

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Oct 18 2009

Leaving the Fold is a Big Deal

Poor Wayfaring Man

It is a big deal for a member of the LDS Church to walk away. It’s not like simply changing pastors or switching to a more convenient worship service. The LDS Church is not just a place Mormons go on Sundays. It is the central mechanism by which they regulate, plan, and live their lives. On top of being the place where Mormons go for religious instruction, the Church is also the main source of a Mormon’s social connections; the means by which Mormons perform community service; and even a place where Mormons who are struggling financially can obtain food and monetary assistance.

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Oct 15 2009

The Path from LDS to FLDS

Poor Wayfaring Man

When I was a BYU student, one of my professors was a fundamentalist-leaning member of the LDS Church. He took very seriously everything that LDS prophets have taught, from the beginning of the movement to the present. And LDS prophets have taught a lot, particularly in the beginning. Back then, they were real micromanagers, with an opinion on everything, and the expectation that their directions would be obeyed as the Word of God to His People (see e.g., this 1877 sermon, which is full of prophetic advice on domestic matters, including how to properly bake bread and feed children).

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Oct 8 2009

Camping at the Periphery

Poor Wayfaring Man

I was born and raised a Mormon, in the LDS Church. At 19 years of age, I volunteered to be a missionary for the Church and was sent to a foreign country to spread the Gospel for two years. Upon returning home, I was fully committed to Mormonism. I believed that its doctrines were literally heaven-sent, and that it was the one pure source of philosophical, spiritual, religious, and even secular Truth in this world. I liked Mormon social institutions and the support they provided me as I followed the path of Truth. I felt lucky to have been born a Mormon.

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