Your theology is dumb . . . and blind.

Here are some thoughts that have been rolling around my head for a while. . . finally put them into a halfway coherent post:
Should theology be the focus of inter-faith discussion?
I don’t think you will hear or see the heart of most people through investigating the theology of their religious affiliation.  This sort of theology is dumb because it doesn’t speak for the believer who does not fully understand and participate in a theology, and it is blind because we can’t really understand other beliefs by looking at how they compare to the the approved theology, that we don’t really fully understand.  Plus, its clear that people who get a lot of things wrong about God still have powerful experiences with Him.
You are not going to really understand Mormons even if you understand all of the clever answers to tough theological questions apologists or theologians gin up.  Just as I won’t understand Evangelicals by understanding their theologians’ clever answers to tough theological questions. So Evangelicals and Mormons may be looking in the wrong place if they are out to understand and not just criticize. Even the criticisms are going to miss the mark, you may have biting criticisms of a particular theology that will not apply to those who don’t fully endorse or internalize it.
Looking at theology to criticize examine a group of  religious believers  is like trying to understand American citizens by reading their constitutional law cases.
If you are an educated Evangelical defending/explaining your faith on the internet,  my guess is that you are coming from a Protestant academic perspective where lots of clever people have come up with really clever answers to their tough theological questions for the last thousand years.    I personally think Mormons will catch up, but equally, I don’t think these clever answers will really help “bridge the divide” in understanding (or theology).
From my experience, the non-theologically focused, yet devout evangelicals that I meet interact with God in ways very similar to Mormons, which causes me to look past the some of the nonsensical things found in the standard theological answer clever answers believe about God and try to understand what the heart of their religion.  Which is how they practice it, and what it does to them.  I never really got interested in who they worship God until I decided to forget about the theological problems.   I go over it to the point that most ‘sophisticated’ theological discussion bores me to tears.  Yet individual and group experiences with God are positively fascinating.
Do the religious need to put theology aside to create an environment where we can be interested enough in the non-theological things to begin to really understand each other?   I tend to think so.
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117 thoughts on “Your theology is dumb . . . and blind.

  1. I think Mormons are particularly at a disadvantage when discussing theology because as a group, they have a totally different approach to it.

    The LDS church has an “official” correlated theology that is functionally in the possession of the General Authorities. The rest of Christianity–even the hierarchical denominations–really doesn’t have anything like that. Christian theology is refined by argument. Argument and debate are discouraged in Mormonism. Mormon theology is supposedly revealed, not developed.

    So I think most Mormons are uncomfortable talkign theology because they are afraid they are not “getting it right.” Christians do not have that kind of limitation.

  2. “The rest of Christianity–even the hierarchical denominations–really doesn’t have anything like that.”

    I think the Catholics have their theology a lot more nailed down and correlated than the Mormons.

    Of course I personally don’t see a huge problem with the dearth of sophisticated theology amongst Mormons.

  3. I think the Catholics have their theology a lot more nailed down and correlated than the Mormons.

    I think there’s way more accepted diversity within Catholicism than Mormons and Evangelicals realize.

  4. I don’t mind the Catholic model, it seems to me that their official theology is the most sophisticated, and they do foster all kinds of intellectual discussion. But, I don’t know if you are going to understand Catholics by reading it.

    The Catechism beats the hell out of “Gospel Principles” intellectually/philosophically.

    If you are going to do theology as a Church, that seems to be as good a model as any.

    But, i wouldn’t consider doing theology as a church completely on point with the LDS mission and commission:

    “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation” (D&C 6:9)

  5. Right, but my understanding is that the catechism was developed and refined over a really long time in a process that bears no resemblance at all to LDS correlation. That process is what the LDS church is sorely missing.

  6. Jared,

    Perhaps you can clarify a few confusions I have. When did the LDS church acquire a theology (sophisticated or otherwise) and what is it? When did the LDS church articulate a set of official doctrines and what are they?

    I ask because it seems most arguments or discussions are not about Mormon theology, but about what it might be.

  7. LDS church has all kinds of theologies, maybe not systematic theologies, but there are clear “theological” positions on all kinds of things in the scriptures, bible dictionary, conference talks. Most of it is ad hoc, but its still theology.

    I don’t believe that most discussion is about what Mormon theology is. . .

    I understand your point, that its hard to nail down the official Mormon position on anything, but that only supports my point that theology is the wrong window to look at Mormons,

    If they don’t have “a” theology then it doesn’t make sense to try to understand them by gleaning one from all the various sources if the goal is understanding.

    Of course former Mormons may have different goals than never-mormons.

  8. It just means that theology is not good as the only window to look at Mormons through. Unless your goal is to underdstand Mormon theology or Mormon approaches to theology.

  9. Kullervo, I agree, and the Catholic church developed over centuries through the efforts of tens of thousands of scholars who had big brains and lots of time on their hands.

    The LDS church clearly does not have its man/brain power focused on developing the best catechism. I think it could do a whole lot better if it decided to spend more resources there, but, again, I think that has not been seen as a part of their mission as they understand it, or at least not the highest priority.

    I think there is an argument that a better catechism would help “perfect the saints” better, but I don’t see good theology as the determining factor in creating good Christians. So I can live with that.

  10. Kullervo,

    I agree with your second thought too,

    I suppose the point of my post is that theology is going to be a dead end in understanding people that are not particularly theologically oriented.

    Just like jurisprudence is not going to get you very far in understanding the lay population. What they think the law is is generally not very close to the bizarre reality. ;)

    Even if you really “got” the intricacies of Evangelical theology, you are not going to really get the intricacies of Evangelicals. likewise with Mormons.

    Most of the theology that the average believer (LDS or Evangelical) uses is simplistic and would probably not stand up under philosophical scrutiny (hence the drive toward more sophisticated theology). But it is generally good enough for them because of all the other elements to their religion and religious life and culture.

  11. Just like jurisprudence is not going to get you very far in understanding the lay population. What they think the law is is generally not very close to the bizarre reality.

    A-f*cking-men.

  12. I think examining the elements that make up a person’s worldview are a good way to come to an understanding of who they are. The more developed and thoughtful their worldview, the more they are going to live consistently to that worldview. The more chaotic and inconsistent their worldview might be can be a good explanation for why their practical decisions are inconsistent and chaotic.

    Theology is part of every person’s worldview. Understanding what someone thinks about God can explain a lot of behavior. Having “thoughts about God” is theology. Even thoughts about how well developed our theology should be is a theological thought.

    If Mormons don’t have a deep, systematic theology, knowing that helps the outsider understand what role theology plays in Mormon motivations. Trying to develop a Catholic-style theology for Mormons in order to understand Mormons more deeply is probably a mistake. But understanding that Mormons are part of a church that doesn’t invest their intellectual talent or money into developing that sort of theology is part of understanding who Mormons are in the religious landscape. From that we can probably understand why the LDS church might be more pragmatic and Populistic in its decisions than the Catholic church.

    Since you brought up constitutional law I’ll give you are an example along those lines. Kenya just this week passed a constitution. The United States has been living under a robust constitution for over 230 years. Explaining the nuances of each constitution is not something either country’s citizens are probably capable of. But to see that the U.S. has spent a great deal of time and effort into developing and living out their constitution might explain why the average citizen’s life looks different than it would in Kenya. All of that thought into law and order has a way of trickling down onto the average citizen’s life. Average citizens become tenants and landlords. All of those intricately developed laws have a way of playing themselves out in the way tenants and landlords interact with one another.

    The differences in Catholic and Mormon theology have an impact on what the parishioners can expect to have taught from the pulpit. Things may change radically and unexpectedly for Mormons even if they don’t want them to. Things may never change for Catholics even if they desperately want them to.

  13. Jared C said, “Should theology be the focus of inter-faith discussion?” I think it depends on who is involved in the discussion—on what level of maturity in the Lord they are and that sort of thing—and what kind of theology is proposed.

    I agree with Tim when he said, “Theology is part of every person’s worldview. . . . Having ‘thoughts about God’ is theology.”

    I think an example of dumb and harmful theology is insinuating that someone isn’t a Christian because they think there might be other living gods in other universes. I bet this is the type of thing Jared is thinking of. I agreed with Katyjane that believing there might be other gods in other universes does not affect one’s day to day walk with the Lord unless one tries to follow one of those supposed other gods. First Corinthians 8 talks of Christians (Paul calls them “brothers”) who imagined that idols were real gods. They were wrong but they were still Christians.

    It seems to me that the kind of theology that Jared calls dumb is the theology that is on the fringes, that has little to do with the everyday practical theology like “love your neighbor as yourself,” or, “there is power in Jesus’ name to overcome sin.”

  14. First Corinthians 8 talks of Christians (Paul calls them “brothers”) who imagined that idols were real gods. They were wrong

    I assure you, they were not.

  15. Since you brought up constitutional law I’ll give you are an example along those lines. Kenya just this week passed a constitution. The United States has been living under a robust constitution for over 230 years. Explaining the nuances of each constitution is not something either country’s citizens are probably capable of. But to see that the U.S. has spent a great deal of time and effort into developing and living out their constitution might explain why the average citizen’s life looks different than it would in Kenya. All of that thought into law and order has a way of trickling down onto the average citizen’s life. Average citizens become tenants and landlords. All of those intricately developed laws have a way of playing themselves out in the way tenants and landlords interact with one another.

    Right, because conditions in Kenya are because the Kenyans are insufficiently attentive to civics, and have nothing to do with centuries of exploitation, plunder and oppression by Arab and European empires.

    Kenya has only been an independent nation since 1964, for crying out loud.

  16. No, that’s actually exactly what you said:

    But to see that the U.S. has spent a great deal of time and effort into developing and living out their constitution might explain why the average citizen’s life looks different than it would in Kenya. All of that thought into law and order has a way of trickling down onto the average citizen’s life.

    The average US citizen’s life–life in what is arguably the richest and most prosperous country in the world–looks different from the average Kenyan citizen’s–life in a crushingly poor, undeveloped third world country that was still being plundered by a European empire less than 40 years ago–because Americans have put time and effort into developing and living out their Constitution.

  17. I’m not saying that all of Kenya’s problems are due to the fact that they haven’t had a constitution for the last 40 years. Being exploited for so long is part of the reason they are just now setting one up (that and lion attacks).

    But if not having a constitution was inconsequential to the life of the average Kenyan. . . why did they just vote to establish one?

  18. Cal,
    Do you think that Mormons are Christians? I don’t think I’ve heard you mention this before or explain why you think that way. You would think that such a radically unique viewpoint would have been mentioned 8 – 12 times in the last two weeks. Please tell me more. ;)

    I’ll concede that Paul called those people he wrote to “Christians”. Do you think he thought it was inconsequential that they believed there were other gods? (and would be tempted to return to worshiping them) Would he, in a process of discipleship, not have brought them to an understanding of their only being one true and living God? Was he satisfied that Christians welcomed in false prophets because theology didn’t really matter.

  19. I agree that understanding a person’s understanding of God and their individual world view is critical, my point is that getting to the bottom of something like conceptual difference between Trinity and the Godhead is not going to get you very far down that road.

    Talking theology can also be misleading since you can discuss all kinds of theological points without revealing what you really think and why you really believe what you do.

  20. Talking theology can also be misleading since you can discuss all kinds of theological points without revealing what you really think and why you really believe what you do.

    I think this is especially the case with Mormons, who are often more concerned with presenting “what we believe” than what the individual Mormon actualyl believes.

    In fact, I think many Mormons don’t actually spend a lot of time thinking about complex theological questions on their own; instead, they defer to the authoritative answer, and if they do not know the authoritative answer, they either try to find out what the authoritative answer is, or they sort of leave a mental bookmark on the spot. In any case, I think that Mormons are often uneasy about thinking theological questions through on their own, because of the importance of deference to ecclesiastical authority in matters of doctrine.

    When prompted with a theological question to which they do not know the answer, Mormons typically research to find out what the official doctrine is, as opposed to trying to work it through on their own.

  21. No Mormons and Christians do not “interact” with God “in a very similar way.” No, Mormons do not know God. God is the Almighty Yahweh who was has always existed, never created, and spoke everything into existence by the word of His mouth. He is the Most High, there is no one like Him. Before Him there was no god formed and after Him there will be no god formed (Isaiah 43:10). No, Mormons hate God with all their heart. Mormons are in love with an idol they have created in their own image; the Mormon god is a highly-powerful alien that lives on a star near Kolob, that anyone can become like if they work hard enough. The Mormon god is an ugly abberration. NO, MORMON. YOU AND CHRISTIANS DO NOT WORSHIP THE SAME GOD.

    P.S. Yes, Christians do think of “clever answers” to tough theological questions. These “clever answers” are logical deductions that can be safely inferred from Biblical texts. Mormons come up with stupid answers to questions that have obvious answers. For example, why does Jesus teach that no one “will be married OR GIVEN IN MARRIAGE” in heaven, and the Mormon church teach the opposite? Mormons will say that the Bible is corrupted and has mistakes. That is a stupid answer because the New Testament is the most purely transmitted text in all of history. Mormon, you hate God. Repent and believe the truth.

  22. To Tim:
    Yes, I believe a true Mormon, that is, a Mormon who has done what the LDS says to do: has repented, put his or her faith in Jesus, received the Holy Spirit, and endeavors to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and walk accordingly is a Christian according the Word of God.
    All their errors–and they are many–concern nonessential issues. Therefore, they are covered by the blood of Christ as long as they walk in the light that they do have.

    I know this is earth shatteringly new, Tim. If you check out my website you’ll see that I’m not the only one in the world with this position, though. I would love to hear your reaction to my Fast Facts page because I imagine you as someone who is on the edge of this revelation yourself.

    You asked, “Do you think [Paul] thought it was inconsequential that they believed there were other gods [in 1 Cor. 8]?”

    No, I don’t believe any kind of error is good. It produces bondage.

    You said, “Would [Paul], in a process of discipleship, not have brought them to an understanding of their only being one true and living God?”

    We can see clearly in the Scriptures that he TRIED to steer them to the truth that “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came . . . and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came. . . .” (1 Cor. 8:6).

    You asked, “Was he satisfied that Christians welcomed in false prophets because theology didn’t really matter?”

    Absolutely not. Doctrine matters. Lots of improvement is needed in the Mormon Church. But lots of improvement is needed all over the body of Christ. I know I have a long way to go to get to perfection in Christ!

  23. @Cal:

    If you claim to be a Christian, and are familiar with official Mormon doctrine, I can Biblically tell you that you are not a true Christian. Either that, or you are very new in Christ and have much to learn. The second epistle of John teaches that we should not even allow heretics into our home! Mormons are clearly heretics, and if you claim brotherhood with them, you claim brotherhood with lost damned people and join their sentence of damnation. They DO NOT believe in Christ! They believe in a demi-god who came to earth to achieve his full exaltation and to partially atone for people’s sins. Not only that, he was created a finite time ago and is the brother of satan! THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN CHRIST!!! If you truly are a Christian, how dare you dishonor your Savior by calling these wicked, spiritual fornicators children of God?!! When I was very new to Christianity, and still lost, I thought Mormons were Christian because they say Jesus is their savior. This is a satanic deception. They do not believe such a thing. As Mark 13:22 teaches, there will be many false Christs. The Mormon christ is an idol!!! He is not the Christ of scripture, the Almighty God everlasting to everlasting. To add to their despicable insidious doctrines, they believe in a works-based salvation. All Mormon Apostles have explicitly taught that men are partially justified by works. This is hideous blasphemy!!! You can ONLY be justified by the blood of CHRIST. All our works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). To claim that the Almighty God can be pleased with filthy rags is blasphemy!!! The way you speak makes you sound like you believe in works salvation. You said that Mormons are covered by the blood of Christ if they walk in the light they do have. You are essentially saying that Mormons are saved if they are good enough. If you do not repent of this, you will be damned. Only the faith in Christ justifies, faith itself being a gift (Ephesians 2:8). And no, their errors are not on nonessential issues. Their biggest flaws are on the nature of God. ARE YOU CALLING THE NATURE OF GOD A NON-ESSENTIAL?!! Brigham Young taught God was once a sinner. You call that nonessential?!! Shame on you. Mormons are enemies of God, the worst of idolaters, spiritual whores and murderers. Dear Cal, please, repent and look to Christ alone for salvation. His work is the only work good enough to please God.

  24. @ Cal:

    Forgive me, I made an error. I said: “If you claim you are a Christian, and are familiar with Mormon doctrine, I can Biblically tell you that you are not a true Christian.” What I meant to say is is: if you are familiar with Mormon doctrine and claim that Mormons are Christians, you are not a true Christian.

  25. Richard, you are the absolute example of what I am talking about here. Your approach seems bizarre, blind and dumb.

    Your strange interpretation of Mormon doctrines makes you completely blind to who Mormons are as believers.

    You will never be able to understand them, love them, understand how they experience God.

    This is partly because what you have read about Mormon doctrine does not speak to how LDS really see God and Christ, and partly because you are too interested in being outraged and offended by divergence from your doctrine to even try.

    Now Cal is not a “true Christian” because he doesn’t agree with your theological position?

    Equally, what you are saying is literally dumb, i.e. says nothing. i can tell nothing about your Christianity by the way you are talking. You have pushed those poor deceived LDS even further from understanding the “truth” that you believe you have.

  26. Examples of your blindness:

    “No, Mormons hate God with all their heart.”

    If you truly are a Christian, how dare you dishonor your Savior by calling these wicked, spiritual fornicators children of God?!!

    Is getting theology correct on these matters is the measure of salvation for you Richard?

    All I learn from these rants is that you are appear to be an extremely narrow minded person who rejects opposing viewpoints out of hand. I know nothing about how God deals with you, what salvation means in your life, or whether or not.

    I may think that your conception of God is preposterous based on reason and what I know of the world and my own spirituality, and those who believe this probably not going to change my mind if you keep shoving your “theology” in my face in such an annoying way.

    Because you base your inquiry on your own theology, you are never going to really understand the LDS and they are never going to understand the “Truth” that you think they desperately miss.

  27. @ Jared:

    I will respond to the first response you made to me and I should, in the the endeavor, also refute your last post.

    1 Corinthians 2:14

    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

    What I say to you is bizarre, blind, and dumb because you are not of God. Everything I say will sound bizarre, blind, and dumb to you because you have a heart of stone that is contrary to God and it will continue to be this way unless God, in His mercy, takes out your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I may sound very harsh but that is only because I am telling you the truth. The truth is hard to accept. The Bible does not ask me to be politically correct but to proclaim the truth without compromising it. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He spoke to them in a manner that was offensive to them. He called them a brood of vipers! What did Jesus say when He saw the anger of the Pharisees at His teaching? John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” You reject what I say because your father is the devil. As Jesus taught, all those who are His sheep listen to His voice and follow. You do not listen and follow His truth that I am proclaiming to you because you are not His sheep.

    Now that I have refuted your first argument I can move on to the next ones. First, and I will be very blunt, don’t give me any of that “strange interpretation of Mormon doctrine” crap. Everything I have said concerning Mormon doctrine is well-documented as being explicitly taught by Mormon apostles and prophets. Next, you say that I am completely blind to who Mormons are as believers. You say I will never be able to understand them, love them, or understand how they experience God. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was once one of the most devout Mormons you could find. I obeyed the Mormon law down to the jot and tittle. I can tell you with a surety that while I was Mormon, I HATED GOD with all my heart. Yes, I was so in love with the god of Mormonism. I loved that he was once a man, just like me, and that I could earn my way to becoming just like him. But the true and living God, I despised. I had many experiences and often had that warm fuzzy feeling telling me that the Mormon church was true. But it was all a satanic deception. I never once experience the Almighty God, the holy, holy, holy, One Who was, and is, and is to come. No, I experienced idolatry and spiritual whoredom with an idol created in my own image. Yes, I said I loved Jesus with all my heart. But the reality was, I saw him as a guy on the sidelines cheering me on to earn my salvation, as Mormon theology only allows. I saw him as a really nice guy who loved me a lot and wanted the best for me. I did not see Him for what He really is, the Almighty God who is everlasting to everlasting, who spoke everything into existence by the word of His mouth. I did not understand that He is the only way to salvation, that only His work was good enough to please God. But then God, because of His mercy, broke the strong illusion I was under. After much study and pondering, I could no longer believe in the Mormon church. I became very disillusioned with religion. I thought that if Mormons are liars, they are all liars. I committed sins that I am ashamed to mention in this time of total unbelief. God used all this to drive me to desperation. He show me what I truly am. I am a vile, despicable, wretch, who has offended the great majesty of God and thus, deserves to be beaten and tortured in hell forever and ever and ever. He drove me to such desperation that I could no longer live unless I could be reconciled to God. I called out to Him! I placed my faith in Christ and Christ alone for my salvation and He saved me! He saved me from the wrath I deserve! Now, I truly love Christ! I desperately cling to Him! He is my bread, my water, my EVERYTHING!. He is the only case I have before the Father. Only by His blood am I declared righteous before the throne of God. I am OBSESSED with Christ because I know what He has saved me from and can see His infinitely great, unconditional love for me! Now, I walk in the way of holiness by the grace of God so that Christ may be glorified in my life and that I may be in holy communion with Him. MORMONS KNOW NOTHING OF CHRIST! To you, he is a mere accessory to help you accomplish your own means of reaching your own happiness. I don’t care how emphatically you declare that you love Christ, it is a lie. I was once there. I emphatically declared I loved Christ and emphatically believed that I did, but the reality was, I knew nothing of Him. Mormonism gives NO GLORY TO GOD! It gives all glory to man. According to Mormonism, the chief end of man is his joy. According to Christianity, the chief end of man is the glory of God. God did not saved me because He was obligated to or saw something in me that deserved it. No, like I said, I deserve His wrath. But God saved me, a despicable sinner, so that He could show the great beauty and majesty of His sovereign and divine mercy. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

    Dear Jared, I LOVE MORMONS! That is why I say the things I say. I want to warn Mormons that they are on the way to hell! I want them to open their eyes and escape the peril they are in! I DO NOT WANT YOU TO GO TO HELL! I WANT YOU TO GO TO HEAVEN AND BE WITH GOD FOREVER!!! That is why I am so desperate. I was once a Mormon and I know the blindness that is in their hearts, in your heart. May God, in His mercy, change your heart and open your eyes so you may see the truth. Repent and place your faith in Christ and Christ alone for your salvation!

    Cal is not a false Christian because of anything I say or believe, Cal is a false Christian because the Word of God condemns him. You sound so much like a relativist on this point, saying that I am criticizing Cal because he disagrees with my own theological perspective. How narrow-minded. There are clearly discernible truths in the Bible. To deny this is to go against the Word of Christ and His apostles. Christ often quoted scripture and said it “cannot be broken.” He held scipture very highly. Paul taught in his letters to Timothy that all scripture is good for edifying and instructing. One of the clearly discernible truths of the Bible is that a man can be justified before God ONLY by faith in the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Romans 3). If Cal does not believe this, I can say by the authority of the Word of God that he is not a Christian. Oh wicked sinner, repent for holding the Word of God in such contempt!

    And finally, I will address your last paragraph. Like I said, everything I say to you will seem dumb because you do not have the Spirit in you. As I have already said, I perfectly understand the LDS, in every way. And yes, I know that what I have said will push many further from accepting the truth (if that were possible). However, God may, if it is His will, use what I have said to plant seeds of doubt into the heart of many Mormons who read this and bring them to faith in the true Christ Who is mighty to save. Everything that happens happens only for the glory of God. That is the end of all existence. He will either be glorified in your eternal damnation, as a demonstration of His perfect execution of penal justice, or He will be glorified in your eternal salvation and praise and worship, as a demonstration of the power of the Blood of Christ. Repent and believe! Christ alone can save you!

  28. Oh God,

    I pray, please have mercy on these pour souls. Their case is truly terrifying. They have offended you so greatly. God, for the sake of Christ, save these people! Show them the meaning of Grace and Mercy! Let them taste the sweetness of salvation! Oh, God, I know at times, I may go too far, and be lacking in love and gentleness, but, oh God, you know my desperation. Mormonism is such a strong delusion, one of the greatest Satan has concocted. Oh God!!! Have mercy on them as you had mercy on me! I am no more deserving than any of them. No, I am worse for I have sinned against light. Oh God, for Christ’s sake, give them salvation. May all the glory go to You, forever, and ever and ever. Amen

  29. Hehe, Tim, your evangelical weirdo’s (a la Richard) are worse than ours.

    LOLOLOLOL

  30. Tim, you said, “Out with it Cal, do you or do you not think Mormons are Christians?”

    Ask Richard. I think he understood!!!!!! :-) LOLO

    P.S. I’m not laughing AT Richard. He’s sincere and I’m not doubting his salvation. He’s just deceived about Mormons, that’s all.

  31. 1 Corinthians 2:14

    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

    Richard said.

    “Everything I say will sound bizarre, blind, and dumb to you because you have a heart of stone that is contrary to God and it will continue to be this way unless God, in His mercy, takes out your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit.”

    Cal is not a false Christian because of anything I say or believe, Cal is a false Christian because the Word of God condemns him.

    As Jesus taught, all those who are His sheep listen to His voice and follow. You do not listen and follow His truth that I am proclaiming to you because you are not His sheep.

    Richard, you talk as if everything YOU say is from the spirit of God. . . or that you simply understand the Spirit perfectly, or even as in the last quote, that yours is the same as the voice of Jesus.

    I am sure its comforting to think you are so right. . . just as it is to many Mormons.

    As to Cal (as well as to all Mormons) you are jumping to some incredible conclusions simply because Cal seems to have a more nuanced theological position that you do.

    I don’t think Cal is saying (some) Mormons may be saved because of their different beliefs, but that God, in his Mercy, may forgive their errant views because they call upon the Name of Christ for salvation. Not an entirely unreasonable position and well supported by the Bible in my opinion.

    Furthermore, it seems that all of your radical views of Mormonism are based on the theological positions that you have taken, which rely on man-made reasoning from Scripture. Your view is blind because all you seem to see is the man-made conclusions you draw from scripture.

    Your view is “dumb” meaning vacant, intelligible, or silent, because your unsubstantiated assumptions, and faulty reasoning tell us nothing about what God has done with you. Throwing all kinds of assumed theological positions as your basis for both understanding Mormons and condemning them
    The ALL CAPS and !!!! don’t really make your point more intelligible.

    You are blind, because it seems your entire view of Mormons is formed through your theological understanding. . . and it seems like you miss the mark dramatically.

    One problem some people have with theology is that instead of allowing it to be informed by common sense, they allow their conclusions to overpower their opinions until they actually believe that everything and everyone that doesn’t agree with them must be satanically motivated or controlled.

    Richard- case in point.

  32. Richard, I’m just curious if you would have responded to a Christian like yourself while you were a Mormon?

  33. Hang on, Cal: so you really think Mormons are Christians?

    I’ve got to say, in a discussion like this, you really might want to consider being a bit more up-front about it, so people understand where you are coming from. It would definitely benefit the discussion for you to be more explicit right up front about what you think about the question.

    It’s even one of Tim’s guidelines for discussion here:

    FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Each participant must define himself.

    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/ten-rules/

    Honestly if you are not prepared to follow Tim’s rules in good faith, I question whether you are really bringing any integrity to the table at all.

  34. Richard–it’s people like you that made me never want to be a Christian at all, and that make me hesitate to call myself one for fear of being considered to be like you.

    You have so much anger and hatred coming out of everything that you say that it’s difficult for me to even read. You are not going to convince anyone of anything, and you’re only going to push people away from any good intentions you may have.

    Also, “the New Testament is the most purely transmitted text in all of history. ” Which translation? Just curious, because I’d hate to get a preposition wrong in reading and get a totally wrong idea of Absolute Truth and be screwed out of salvation.

  35. Also, “the New Testament is the most purely transmitted text in all of history. ” Which translation? Just curious, because I’d hate to get a preposition wrong in reading and get a totally wrong idea of Absolute Truth and be screwed out of salvation.

    Plus, hilariously, how is it more purely transmitted than, say, a comment you post on a blog post that appears to readers exactly as typed?

    That would be 100% purely transmitted, no?

  36. I have not forgotten this post. I intend to reply to Jared. I haven’t had time to write an in depth response. But I would quickly like to address katyjane.

    Katyjane, you are seeking to use me as a scapegoat for not accepting Christ. You know that scripture condemns you. Your conscience condemns you. You know God is angry with you because you have disobeyed Him. Because your conscience is so heavy upon you, you will seek to do whatever you can to find fault with the children of God to justify your rejection of Christ. Stop looking at me and look at the Holy One, Jesus Christ! He is perfect and infinitely worthy.

    You say you fear ever becoming associated with people like me. Oh sinner, can you not see your pride? I know people hate me and think I’m a nutjob. But I am willing to look like a fool for the sake of Christ. In addition, I’m not usually so vitriolic. When I read this article, I saw a severe case. With religionless people, and people of cultic religions that don’t claim brotherhood with orthodox religion, I am not so harsh. But when I saw what I see here, Mormons and Christians claiming to be brothers, I get outraged, for darkness has no kinship with the light.

    Katyjane, repent and believe in Christ. When you stand before God on judgment day, you will have no excuse for rejecting the truth. Believe.

  37. Katyjane does believe in Chirst, you f#cking a#shole. [sorry Kullervo, I am blanking this in deference to Tim’s policy- JC]

    I don’t though, so I’m not bound to treat you nicely at all. You can hide behind your religion and play holier-than-thou, but the fact remains you are not being a civil human being. Your behavior stands as a witness against your own religion on its own terms: by your fruits ye shall know them.

    Your fruits, no matter how you want to try to spin them, no matter how you want to excuse unexcusable behavior by an appeal to righteous zeal, simply does not live up to Jesus’s standards.

    Ethical behavior, excellent behavior, means living by rules when you interact with other human beings. You are breaking those rules. There aren’t exceptions for breaking rules of human decency out of zeal for Jesus. all you do is prove your own religion false, and make youself unwelcome. You gain no converts, you change nobody’s opinion. You do not get a cookie.

  38. Richard, when I became born again many, many, years ago, they told me that salvation was by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ alone. I’ve met many Evangelicals like you in my life, probably too many. It’s one reason why I mostly attend an Episcopal church now, and my daughter attends an Episcopal school. I really hate it when some (I’m using some) Evangelicals seem to believe that their interpretation of scripture is the only possible one, and if anyone ever disagrees with them on anything, they call their salvation into question. At least if you’re LDS or RLDS, when you’re baptized and confirmed, that’s it. Sure, people can disagree with you and give you a hard time because you may not be living the Word of Wisdom as much as they think you should be. They may even be really judgemental and make you miserable, but they cannot call your salvation into question. It’s a little different. This is one thing I do not understand about some Ev’s. On the one hand, they talk about Grace, but God forbid if someone makes a mistake or doesn’t believe exactly like how they think you should. I thought the whole point is that we are all sinners. We all have a long way to go before we are perfected in Christ. If salvation depends on always having the right interpretation of scripture, and always doing all the right things and never sinning, even after we are born again, then that is not salvation by grace, in my opinion. You said that, “Cal is a false Christian because the Word of God condemns him” Where does it say this? I’d like to know the book, chapter, and verse. From what I understand, Evangelical thinking is relatively new–a product of the nineteenth century. My understanding is that for many centuries, Christian thought was dominated by the Catholic church and its interpretation of scripture as it was the only Church around. Then there was the split with the Orthodox churches, and later the Protestant Reformation. All of these groups have had different views about the Bible and what it says. What I hear you saying is that no one outside of your small group of very conservative Ev christians can possibly be saved. I find that very sad, and not very good news at all.
    I haven’t checked this blog in months, and Richard’s post was about the second thing I read yesterday after coming back. I’ll say one thing, this blog is never boring.

  39. I would like to apologize. I realize that the manner in which I said what I said was indecent. I don’t retract the verity of what I said, only the manner in which I said it. Please forgive me Jared, Cal, and all the rest of you.

    To answer you, Tim, no, I would not have responded to a Christian like myself when I was Mormon. I would not have been checking blogs like this. I stayed away from anything that might have led me to question my faith.

    Now, there are several points Jared brought up, but I would like to simply address two:

    Two false assertions: 1) God may, in His mercy, forgive those who believe wrongly, and 2) I should not use “man-made” reasoning with the scriptures. These are grave errors.

    1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

    2 Corinthians 11:3-4 “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” Notice what is implied; just because you say you believe in Jesus doesn’t mean you actually do because there are other Jesuses than the true One. Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

    Galatians 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

    Colossians 1:22-23 “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”

    2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.”

    2 John 1:7-11 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” The Mormon church does not suffer from the particular heresy mentioned in this passage. However, this still applies: anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.

    It is clear, if you believe in a false Christ, you are lost. Scripture nowhere supports the notion that God has mercy on those who teach a false Christ. If you do not believe your Christ is different from the Christ of the Bible, watch this video, please. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziULvdFO1Ys&playnext=1&videos=CvmyNylXxn8. From here, all it takes is a little logic to deduce that the Mormon church is false.

    You accuse me of having radical views of Mormonism due to the theological position I have taken. What the Mormon apostles and prophets explicitly teach has nothing to do with my theological position. Then you are accusing me of man-made reasoning from scripture. I just have to ask: are you suggesting I draw illogical inferences from scripture? Are you suggesting I just listen to my heart and draw whatever inference I want no matter how inconsistent, illogical, and uncontextual it is? Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Should a trust a desperately wicked heart? Acts 17:10-12 “As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” Paul commended the Bereans for searching the scripture diligently and using their reason to assess whether what Paul said was true. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Nowhere does scripture say to listen to the feelings in your heart to find out what scripture actually says. Now, yes, a man needs to be enlightened by the Spirit to understand the scriptures. But what the Spirit does is He illumines the reason, not give you a warm fuzzy feeling to know something is true. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.” Notice: What the Spirit does is it enlightens the understanding of a man so that he will accept the things of God. It does not say that we must not use reason when reading the scriptures and should trust the feelings in our hearts. Also, it says: “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things.” It does not say: the spiritual man trusts the feelings in his heart about all things. No, he uses his reason to make a judgment. “There is nothing so deluding as feelings. Christians cannot live by feelings. Let me further tell you that these feelings are the work of Satan, for they are not right feelings. What right have you to set up your feelings against the Word of Christ.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    And last, I would like to address Lisa very quickly:

    There is only one correct interpretation. Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” There are errors one can make that are irrelevant. I will not tell someone that they are not a true Christian because they disagree with me on eschatology or infant baptism or the age of the earth. These are irrelevant things. I will, however, tell someone they are not a true Christian if their very concept of Christ and salvation are wrong. These are core, central issues that have to be thought of rightly in order to salvation. No, I am not teachings works salvation, because you can only believe correct doctrine by grace.

    That is all I have to say. Grace and peace to you all.

  40. Lisa said this blog is never boring. I can’t say that myself but it sure has been exciting the past few days!

    I especially appreciate the last two comments by brother Jared—yes, my BROTHER Jared. (Let the demons of hell squeal with anger over that one.)

    @ Tim & Kullervo: I will restate what I said two days ago but trim it down—it was a long and somewhat awkward sentence. I believe a true Mormon is a true Christian. By “true Mormon” I mean someone who obeys LDS instructions to repent, put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (the Jesus of the Bible, the Son of God), receive the Holy Spirit, endeavor to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and walk accordingly. The Word of God says (in all translations, even the Chinese version) that God accepts such people into his kingdom now and forever.
    All their false teachings concern nonessential issues. I’m not saying false teachings aren’t harmful. I’m just saying that my search of the Word of God and the heart of God eventually revealed to me that there are only a few things we need to do and know in order to start our walk with Jesus. I believe it’s simple because it’s a gift of grace, as Lisa indicated.

    @ Richard: I understand where you’re coming from because for a few years of my life I believed almost exactly what you do. It sounds like you’re a man after God’s own heart. I’m guessing that you got into Mormonism because—or partly because—the Holy Spirit told you something was right about it. But like the Bereans of Acts 17:11 you were smart. You examined the Scriptures to see if what the Mormon authorities said was true and God showed you that the LDS wasn’t everything it claimed to be. You left disgruntled; maybe also bitter, confused, discouraged. You fell into sin. But you did not quit permanently. You rose again and found God among another breed of Christians.
    But the pendulum of your life swung too far in the opposite direction from where you were when you were a Mormon.

    Your next assignment from God, if you will accept it, is to search again, fast, pray, go even deeper into the Scriptures and get a revelation beyond what you have ever imagined. I see you doing it. I have already prayed for you.

  41. Richard, I was writing my last comment while you posted your last comment so we “crossed in the mail.”
    I accept your apology.
    Grace and peace back to you as well.

  42. I would like to apologize. I realize that the manner in which I said what I said was indecent. I don’t retract the verity of what I said, only the manner in which I said it.

    Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. It doesn’t work like that. Christianity doesn’t work like that. Your own religion doesn’t work like that.

    Jesus didn’t say “ignore how nasty my followers are; believe in the truth of the message.” He said you’ll know them by their fruits. Done. Over. You’ve brought your fruits to the table and they’re shitty. Don’t let the e-door smack you in the ass on the way out.

  43. Anyone consider that maybe Richard is Rick Hurd? Just sayin’–all those scripture references, seemingly devoid of any semblance of a meaningful contribution… sounds dead-on.

    Also, Richard, stuff like this: “When you stand before God on judgment day, you will have no excuse for rejecting the truth. Believe.” is what made me so reluctant to become a Christian in the first place.

    Any god that is going to send people to hell for not listening to people berating them about how they’re going to go to hell if they don’t listen to this random Truth… not a great god. I’ve been listening to the still, small voice my whole life, and if God has been talking to me that way but sends me to hell for not accepting Richard–a yelling, mean, internet stranger’s–as convincing evidence of how I should relate to God (based on nothing but random scripture references and threats of damnation), well, then, I guess I’ll enjoy my time in hell.

    Which, by the way, I don’t believe in anyway, because it just doesn’t make sense.
    :)

  44. Cal, the demons of hell are not squealing with anger. No, they are laughing. They are very glad.

    Kullervo, yes my religion works that way. It is all about forgiveness. Yes, Jesus did say you shall know them by their fruits. Fruits are determined by lifestyle and by doctrine. All doctrine I have stated is supported by scripture. You have not seen my lifestyle, but it is one of growing in holiness in the Lord, by His grace. You don’t know the meaning of any of Jesus’ teachings. How can you? You hate Him.

    Katyjane, God sends people to hell because they are in rebellion against Him. God is inflexible in His justice. If you are not in Christ, having had your sins punished on the cross, God Himself will cast you into hell. He is angry with the wicked (psalm 5:7). Only in Christ is there safety. You have offended an infinitely great being. You deserve to go to hell forever, just as I do. But I am safe in Christ. Flee to Christ, before your time is up.

  45. Richard says:

    ” I just have to ask: are you suggesting I draw illogical inferences from scripture? “

    Yes, I do.

    Even more often i think you make you are choosing one from a bunch of possible consistent and labeling it the “best” because you have a preference for that that vein of reasoning.

    I think very few things logically follow from scripture, i.e. where the conclusion is compelled by the scriptural premises, because scripture simply cannot, and does not claim to circumscribe human experience.

    As you point out, the Spirit is not strictly subject to the arguments of men’s logic: “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.”

    If the spirit is not subject to man’s judgment, it has to operate, at least in part, outside the province of man’s science and reasoning.

    It does not say that we must not use reason when reading the scriptures and should trust the feelings in our hearts.

    Neither does it say we should replace spiritual understanding with our faulty “logical” influences. Even if it is conceivable that your general position on scripture is correct, there is nothing that says that this MUST be the only conclusion. Logic alone is not going to get you there.

  46. Dear brother Richard,

    I have some sober questions for you to think about. I’m not trying to tease you or provoke you. Sorry if it sounds that way.

    The man on YouTube was full of misleading and therefore slanderous statements. Can you show me in a book published by the LDS, or on an official LDS website, where these teachings are that that guy on YouTube talked about? You are expecting us to rely on secondhand sources such as ex-Mormons. Can you prove to me by going to official sources that the LDS believes anything that disagrees with a doctrine specifically said to be essential for salvation by the Word of God? Hearsay is not admissible in an American court of law. The standards in God’s kingdom are just as high if not higher. “Don’t entertain an accusation against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses.”

    For example, can you show me in the Word of God where it says that you have to believe that God the Father was never a man in order to be saved? The verses you have provided are wonderful but too general. For example, we agree that we have to watch out for deceivers. That’s established.

    Also, can you prove to me that the Word of God is false when it says that “Whoever believes in him [God’s Son] is not condemned”?

    When you say Mormons worship a different God it’s sort of like pro-abortionists saying they are pro choice. It disguises the issue. I don’t believe the Word of God says that you have to get your knowledge of God’s history down pat before he will accept you. The LDS teaches that the Father and Jesus are now eternal—out of the realm of time and death.

    Another question: Could you look in my eyes and tell me with a clear conscience that the Holy Spirit has told you the Mormon Church is not foundationally Christian? I’m sure you know as well as I do that quoting verses isn’t enough. The devil quoted the Word of God when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Until we let the Bible’s author reveal to us what he meant, we are up a creek without a paddle. Knowing the letter of the Word without the Spirit makes one religious—like the Pharisees who killed Jesus. (I’m not saying you are equivalent to the unbelieving Pharisees. But you are manifesting that religious spirit—we all have some religious spirits. Thank God for atonement and forgiveness in Jesus’ blood!)

    It’s so easy to get into a stubborn, prideful, argumentative spirit on this blog. I’m trying to avoid that. We can’t learn when we’re in that mode. I want to learn from you and vise versa. The unteachable one is the loser, or the one who leaves the table of discussion because he’s afraid he might be proven wrong. (I’m going to be busy during the next 5 days so please be patient if takes me time to get back to you.)

    I’m not expecting us to come to agreement overnight. God had to spoon-feed me over a period of years, and I’m still a baby.

    May wisdom, grace, and love be yours in abundance.

  47. Richard (and whoever),

    Although I am not really interested in your theology as you can explain it, because its almost certainly going to disappoint, but I am interested in how God deals with your life, how your life is formed and transformed by the relationship and by what you believe. I am interested in the way your heart and brain works while “on” your religion.

    Kullervo’s point is that if your brain and heart are working badly while you are under firmly under the influence of your religion, that is firm evidence that there is something deficient, that he religion is not transformative enough to overcome the pride that pushes you away from understanding and love of other human beings.

  48. Cal: “When you say Mormons worship a different God it’s sort of like pro-abortionists saying they are pro choice.”

    Totally off topic, but have you ever met someone who is “pro-abortion”? That would imply that they believe that babies should be aborted. As opposed to someone believing that women should have a choice about whether or not they should have to have their bodies be a 10-12 month science experiment?

    Richard–I think that me and God are cool. Jesus is my homeboy, and all that stuff.

    And when Jared said, “Although I am not really interested in your theology as you can explain it, because its almost certainly going to disappoint, but I am interested in how God deals with your life, how your life is formed and transformed by the relationship and by what you believe. I am interested in the way your heart and brain works while “on” your religion. ”

    I am interested in the same.

  49. Kullervo, yes my religion works that way. It is all about forgiveness. Yes, Jesus did say you shall know them by their fruits. Fruits are determined by lifestyle and by doctrine. All doctrine I have stated is supported by scripture. You have not seen my lifestyle, but it is one of growing in holiness in the Lord, by His grace. You don’t know the meaning of any of Jesus’ teachings. How can you? You hate Him.

    Wrong again, Richard!

    Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”

    I’m sure it would be really convenient for you if your religion really did teach that you could just be as much of a nasty asshole as you wanted and it was okay as long as you preached the right message. Maybe there’s a religion like that, but it clearly is not Christianity.

    And anyway, we do know something about your lifestyle. We’re seeing a snapshot of it right here, Dick.

  50. @Kullervo,

    You would be very useful when talking to an easy-believism “Christian.” However, that is not the case here. I believe in Lordship salvation. You are heaping upon yourself condemnation for trying to put the Savior against one of His children. That is a very dangerous place to be. He already threatens to tear His enemies to pieces in Psalm 50:22. How much worse those who try to make out His beloved children to be His enemy.

    Sometimes love is being harsh. Me telling people that they will go to hell if they refuse Christ is loving, because it is the truth, and I am warning them of their fate so they may escape it. Jesus was righteously angry when He saw men using the temple as a marketplace and made a whip to beat them. Jesus called the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time, a brood of vipers. Sometimes, harshness is necessary. And no, a snapshot is a terrible way to judge someone’s life. Even the most godly men have moments where they blow it, i.e. David, who committed adultery and killed a man. Yet, God called him a “man after My own heart.”

    Kullervo, repent. You are in a very dangerous place. Matthew 10:34 “”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” This sword is the sword of truth. I am to live as peaceably as possible among men without compromising the truth.

  51. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”

    Again, you display none of those things. You cherry-pick theology and scripture to give yourself an excuse to be a nasty asshole. And then you justify your befavior with vague “it’s all about forgiveness” junk.

    If I am to judge by fruits, which Jesus said I should do, then your religion is as nasty as you are. On its own terms, your religion is worthless and vile.

    PS, threatening me with vengeance at the hands of a God I don’t believe in and an afterlife in a hell that doesn’t exist is not going to get you very far.

  52. Your only goal here is to antagonize me and try to put Christ against me. You truly are the worst of mean people. I tell people hard things for a purpose – to escape damnation. You tell people hard, and false, things for the sake of being mean. What a low form of living.

    No, I am not cherry-picking theology. I seek only to see the big picture. You are the one cherry-picking scripture. You agree with the passage that has to do with fruits and blatantly ignore the passages that describe fruit. Like I proved to you from scripture, God’s people can make big mistakes. I also proved to you that love is sometimes harsh. But you will do whatever you can, call me by derogatory terms and twist scripture to try to paint God’s people in a bad light. If anyone here is truly a bad person, it is you.

  53. Richard,

    You can get away with a LOT of things, maybe. But you don’t get to just call my husband a bad person and get away with it. You know nothing about him at all–you don’t know about his military service, about how he is a husband and a father.

    You don’t get to decide he’s a bad person because you don’t like the scripture that he used to show you that the way that you are talking to people isn’t an effective one. You owe him an apology.

    In Kullervo, I have seen and experienced love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith. Maybe not meekness, and maybe only sometimes temperance (he does love beer, after all). I realize that I don’t know you at all except from you lobbing threats and damnation at internet strangers, but from that I have seen nothing of you.

    Your method of trying to bring people to truth isn’t going to work. People can’t be threatened to come to Jesus. Sheesh. Don’t you want people to realize that God loves them and wants them to be better? To come to him because they are broken and want to be healed, and not because if they don’t they will suffer from some punishment?

    Do you have kids? I don’t want my kids to behave because they fear punishment. I want them to grow as people who are capable of independent thinking, who are kind because being kind makes them happy. I want them to live in a world filled with rainbows and unicorns and baby turtles and bunnies, because it’s beautiful and innocent and simple. I don’t want them to live in a world with fear of gnashing of teeth and pits of fiery hell with bum-poking demons.

    Try to teach other people the way you would want your children to be taught. Your Jesus might be mean, but the Christ that I know and worship lives in a world full of rainbows. And when people meet me and see that I am happy and fulfilled and content, when they want to know where it comes from, I get to glorify God. And bum-poking demons aren’t necessary.

  54. Katyjane, let me clarify myself. Kullervo was using a standard against me to judge me as a bad person. I was simply showing that if Kullervo were to apply that same standard to himself, he is also guilty. Even worse, because I at least have a reason for what I am saying. I’m not saying he is *necessarily* a bad person. Regardless, we are all bad people by God’s standard.

    I do intend to stress the anger of God because this culture stresses the love of God. God’s love is holy. He only loves perfect things, like Himself. That is why Christ had to die so our sins could be washed away and we could be loved by Him. People who don’t know what they are saved from tend to be fickle to Christ and backsliding. Not all, but many. That is why 75% of Americans call themselves Christian and so few act like it.

    And to Kullervo,
    go back and read the post I posted before the last one I posted. Read it carefully. That post effectively refutes your argument. Any simpleton who has read through the Bible can see right through to the faultiness of your argument.

  55. Jared, I want to get back to your original question, which was, “Should theology be a part of inter-faith discussion?” I think you raised many good points, which I can agree with. You may remember that I worked for five years in an almost exclusively Islamic environment. I did eventually get into some interfaith discussions. We talked about each other’s theology, but it was more to teach each other what we each believed, not to try to argue which was the true or correct way. If I had gone into my job with the attitude of believers like Richard, I know I wouldn’t have lasted in my job for five minutes, and I also wouldn’t have learned anything. If your objective is to truly save souls, I don’t see how you can have any real success at all if you have this huge wall of animosity built up. Especially if you are face to face with real people, like I was for those five years. That’s the thing that worries me about opinions such as Richard’s, How do you make the leap and begin to break through with Christ’s love when you have established this huge wall between yourself and the nonChristian?
    Your other question, about how God has transformed my life, and how I am while “on” my religion, the best I can answer is this: In my last days as an Evangelical, I was faced with a decision and, in my Evangelical thinking mind at the time–no good choices. I really wanted to be a good Christian, but I knew I had to go against what I was hearing from friends and others in the Ev world if I was going to keep my sanity. It’s ten years later now, and I have found refuge in an Episcopal church. I know full well that there are more than a few Ev’s out there who would condemn the choice I made, and would also condemn me, but the whole experience has strengthened my belief in the basics of the Gospel. I love the liturgy of the Episcopal church where I attend, it’s very simple. Every time when I go, I will recite the same truths, and I feel like God has given me the rest of my life to do better. I feel like God has forgiven me, even though my old Ev “friends” have not.

    I John 1 8-9
    If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unriighteousness.

    also:
    Most merciful God
    we confess that we have sinned against thee
    in thought, word, and deed
    by what we have done
    and by what we have left undone
    we have not loved thee with our whole heart
    we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves
    We are truly sorry and we humbly repent
    For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ
    have mercy on us and forgive us
    that we may delight in thy will
    and walk in thy ways
    to the glory of thy Name. Amen.

    That describes me in a nutshell. It was one thing to leave the RLDS church, and another to leave Evangelicalism. But I think now I realize more how it really is by God’s grace and not your own efforts that we are saved. Finally, in the Episcopal liturgy I take hope and comfort from the words the Priest recites at the end.

    the Almighty and merciful Lord grant you absolution and remission of all your sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.

    I know lots of people probably get bored with the liturgy, but I really love it, because for me it has much meaning. I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions.

  56. Richard,

    Unfortunately I think you’ve kind of thrown salt on your own field here. You alienated and offended just about everyone, and it wasn’t the Gospel that did the offending. It was you. As you stated we can see how the Gospel is working itself out in your lifestyle. Part of your lifestyle includes getting on the internet and blasting strangers without caring for who they are as real people. You forgot about being crafty as a serpent in your presentation, instead you charged in like a bull.

    The good news is that there are LOTS of Mormons on the internet for you to talk with. I recommend you keep after them. But just like in real life, when you enter a new place, take a second to look around and observe where you are and who is around you. Always remember that honey attracts more flies than vinegar.

    I think the scriptures you presented can inspire a lot of meaningful discussions with Mormons. But there’s little fruit in “serving notice” to Mormons that they are going to hell. The fact that you found your excuse to shake the dust off your sandals does little for their eternal state and nothing to encourage them to even spend a moment finding their reflection in your pearls.

  57. Kullervo was using a standard against me to judge me as a bad person. I was simply showing that if Kullervo were to apply that same standard to himself, he is also guilty.

    No, I am not judging you as a bad person at all. I am using your religion’s own standards to judge your religion. Your Jesus says to judge by fruits. Your fruits are nasty asshole behavior. Your religion is thus a nasty asshole religion.

    go back and read the post I posted before the last one I posted. Read it carefully. That post effectively refutes your argument. Any simpleton who has read through the Bible can see right through to the faultiness of your argument.

    Okay, here it is. I will read it carefully.

    You would be very useful when talking to an easy-believism “Christian.” However, that is not the case here. I believe in Lordship salvation. You are heaping upon yourself condemnation for trying to put the Savior against one of His children. That is a very dangerous place to be. He already threatens to tear His enemies to pieces in Psalm 50:22. How much worse those who try to make out His beloved children to be His enemy.

    How does that refute anything? You start off by threatening me with your god’s wrath, which is ineffectual since I don’t belive that your god exists. It would be like threatening me with the wrath of Superman: no matter how passionately you insist that Superman is going to come down from his fortress of solitude and whoop my ass, he is still a fictional character. So… it doesn’t scare me. But more importantly than that, it has absolutely nothing to do with the “argument” you are supposedly refuting. In fact, it makes you look even more like a nasty asshole, so it actually helps me, not you.

    Sometimes love is being harsh. Me telling people that they will go to hell if they refuse Christ is loving, because it is the truth, and I am warning them of their fate so they may escape it. Jesus was righteously angry when He saw men using the temple as a marketplace and made a whip to beat them. Jesus called the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time, a brood of vipers. Sometimes, harshness is necessary. And no, a snapshot is a terrible way to judge someone’s life. Even the most godly men have moments where they blow it, i.e. David, who committed adultery and killed a man. Yet, God called him a “man after My own heart.”

    Okay, here you assert that love is sometimes harsh, and use Jesus cleansing the temple as an example. If ever a passage in the Bible has been abused by Christians looking for an excuse to not act like Christians, this is it. At no point does Jesus say for you to get out your scourge and start whipping away. You believe that Jesus is God, which means that his wrath is righteous and justified. But you are not God. Yours is not. Jesus has given you some pretty clear and specific instructions on how to act, and nowhere do they include anything remotely resembling an instruction to act like a nasty asshole. If you can show me somewhere where Jesus says “act like a nasty ashole,” maybe you could try to claim you had refuted my “argument.” But even then all you would do would be to show that Jesus gave contradictory instructions, which would again lead me to believe you were picking and choosing which instructions you wanted to follow. Because there are plenty of places where Jesus says not to act like you are acting.

    Because you’re not just lovingly warning people about hell. You are threatening people with hell and wrath, and you are being a nasty asshole about it. There’s nothing loving about that. Love isn’t threats and abraisive assholery: 1 Corinthians 13 says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

    You are being unkind, you are being proud, you are being rude. You are not showing love. You are showing the opposite of love. You are using the word “love” to cover up your nasty asshole behavior and use it like a get-out-of-jail trump card. Like you can be as much of a nasty asshole as you want, but it’s okay because you say you did it out of love. Not only is that obviously bullshit, it contradicts your own Bible, which tells us pretty clearly what love is supposed ot look lie.

    Next, you say I should not judge you by a snapshot of your life, and you use David as an example of a righteous man who fucked up but it’s okay because God forgave him anyway. But it’s also irrelevant, because I’m not judging you. That’s the part you seem to not be understanding. I am not judging you as a person. I am not judging what kind of person you are. I don’t care what kind of person you are. I am applying your religion’s own standard: I am judging your religion based on the fruits it produces. I am judging your religion by your behavior. That’s what Jesus said we should do. Now, I’m not a Christian, so I don’t necessarily believe that I am obligated to follow or even pay attention to the words of Jesus, but I’m more than happy to point out that your shitty religion clearly fails its own test. I can be no more generous than to judge your religion by its own terms, and by its own terms your religion fails.

    Jesus says by their fruits ye shall know them and Paul says what the fruits of the spirit are. You display none of those fruits.

    Kullervo, repent. You are in a very dangerous place. Matthew 10:34 “”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” This sword is the sword of truth. I am to live as peaceably as possible among men without compromising the truth.

    Again, an impotent threat, and a vague scripture that doesn’t really support your position. Jesus says his word will divide people against each other, but he does not say his word will drive people against each other because believers in his word are justified in acting like nasty assholes. He says division willbe the result of his teachings. Not that his followers should act divisively.

  58. I would just like to say that I will be leaving this discussion. I’ve tried both extremes now. I’ve tried both a nice, culturally watered down, politically correct evangelism, and and a totally blunt and merciless evangelism. Both are ineffective. I will have to find the right spot in between. I would like to say that I really admire the maturity of Cal and Jared. They are pleasant debaters, though I profoundly disagree with their views. I am merely a teenage boy new to blogs and debate with adults so forgive me for my immaturity. Cal, if you would still like me to respond to your last post, could you please post your personal email address? I will not be making any further posts here. Every post only seems more and more fruitless. Goodbye to you all.

  59. To Richard,

    You are forgiven, my friend. If you’re only a teenager then that means there’s plenty of time for God to transform you into his image. You’re in the early stages of your exciting journey with the creator of the universe. Don’t let Kullervo bother you. He openly confesses that he doesn’t represent God.

    Even though I have some desire to continue my discussion with you, I think the best thing to do at this point is for me to just leave you with what I’ve said. I said quite a bit. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll be in touch again. If not in this life, definitely in the next!

    Until then, happy trails to you. Keep the faith, my brother!

  60. “I would like to say that I really admire the maturity of Cal and Jared. “

    I wish I would have known you were a teenager earlier, I would have resorted to more immature tactics! ;)

  61. Lisa,

    I appreciate your comments and sharing part of your story. I think yours fits in with my observation that God unfolds himself into our lives differently and our various ways of intellectualizing the Gospel can get in the way. Thanks.

  62. Don’t let Kullervo bother you. He openly confesses that he doesn’t represent God.

    For the record, I also openly confess that you don’t represent God either.

  63. Tim,

    So how come the teenage converts Mormons make from Evangelical Christians tend to be nice and loving?

    Do you have any examples of vociverousness Richard portrayed for us of Mormon converts from Evangelicism? Or is this something unique to Evangelical Christianity in how it converts Mormon teenagers?

    (I’m not saying there aren’t d-bag Mormon adults.) But this whole ardent teenage thing seems to have a patent in Evangelicism…

  64. I’ve had a conversation or two with a Mormon equivalent of Richard. It comes from anyone who feels insecure in their faith, convert or not, teenage or adult.

  65. Just like how hating murderers comes from being insecure with how many people you’ve killed.

  66. Or like how hating child molestors comes from being a child molestor!

    Or like how hating drugs makes you a drug user!!!

  67. So Kullervo.
    Up until the

    Just like how hating gay people comes from feeling insecure in your sexuality.

    comment I was in almost complete agreement with you today.

    When you made that comment, I finally had to disagree, and make the universe seem right again…

  68. I was just thinking something similar.

    And when I first posted it, I actually thought “hmm, I bet I go back to loathing PC real soon after I post this.”

  69. Kullervo
    Thank heaven(s) and (the) G(g)od(s).

    The universe is right, there is nothing but pure, unadulterated loathing between us.

  70. PC,

    Its interesting to see somebody come to the defense of those who hate gay people.

    Where does that impulse fit in your theology?

  71. Jared,
    Perhaps it’s a hatred of bad logic and assumptions.
    Does it offend you that I dislike bad logic?

    Maybe it’s because deep down you have attractions for those who dislike bad logic and assumptions, and you try and confuse people…

    Hm, aren’t these “mind games” interesting and fun…

  72. Perhaps you are right. . .

    But i doubt it since I have never noticed a hatred of bad logic and assumptions in your comments previously. . .
    in fact many of them positively embrace bad logic and bad assumptions!

    That’s why I am puzzled that it was particularly offending in this instance.

  73. Seconds on having seen a few douchebag Mormon teenagers.

    It really is the douchebag Mormon adults that trouble me though—particularly the ones that have advanced degrees and/or are featured speakers at the FAIR Conference and whatnot. Richard may be an ass, but at least no one is handing him the keys to their lectern or letting him write peer-reviewed journal articles or basing their hopes for an entire wing of apologetics on him.

    *shudder*

  74. I’ve tried both extremes now. I’ve tried both a nice, culturally watered down, politically correct evangelism, and and a totally blunt and merciless evangelism. Both are ineffective. I will have to find the right spot in between.

    If Richard actually learned this lesson and finds a way to meaningfully apply it to his life, then all of his crazy rantings and ravings over the past few days would have been worth it.

    At least for him.

    Otherwise, he has just left me with the understanding that, if you love someone, it is totally okay to beat the living daylights out of him or her, just so long as the beating is done out of love. And, as long as it is done out of love for that person, like the abusive drunken husband who beats his wife within an inch of her life and then says, “I love you, baby! Don’t leave!” then God is okay with it, too. Right?

    Oh, wait… Yeah, that’s about the worst argument ever.

  75. By the way, Jack, just for clarification: were the Mormon douchebag teenagers former Evangelicals? Or were they just run-of-the-mill BIC douchebags?

    We need examples of the Evangelical-turned-Mormon douchebag to counter the Mormon-turned-Evangelical douchebags. (I don’t know if I actually know any E-t-M teens, though. The few folks I know who joined the LDS church as teens came from non-religious homes.)

  76. Alex, admittedly I do not know any evangelical-turned-Mormon teenagers who were jerks.

    But Richard is the first Mormon-turned-evangelical teenager that I’ve seen in that category as well.

  77. The good thing about Richard is that he seemed to be quick to correct himself—that could be a sign of humility.
    Actually, I see a teenager looking for guidance. I went through a brief period over 20 years ago when I told 4 or 5 fellow-evangelicals that Mormons were hypocrites like the Pharisees because they claimed to be Christians but were not (“hypocrite” means play-actor).
    Then at some point I realized something doesn’t add up. The Pharisees were identified by their bad fruit (Matt. 7:15-20). But Mormons are generally characterized by their moral behavior, as Ms. Jack almost hinted. It’s like I stepped back one step and took two steps forward = one step forward.

    Alex: Hi.

  78. Kullervo, next time you go downtown, buy a hearing aid. LOL.
    Were you a Christian while you were on your Mormon missionary trip? (Sorry, I haven’t read your story on your website yet. I’m still planning to.)

    By the way, thanks for your service to this country. Was it brave service, or just service?
    Either way, I appreciate it. I see that use quite freely the freedom of speech that you helped to preserve. You don’t hesitate to eat the turkey you shot.

  79. Cal, you seem to be teflon coated so I’ll let you in on a secret. . . .We all know you think Mormons are Christians. Every time Kullervo or I ask you for a clarification on this point, it’s because you (sometimes ridiculously) find any excuse to bring the topic up again.

    Your drum is becoming a dead horse.

  80. Cal, please explain this: “By the way, thanks for your service to this country. Was it brave service, or just service?”

    I don’t understand and I’d like to give you a chance to explain before I go all military-wife-nuts on you.

  81. Perhaps Cal is distinguishing between desk jockeys and those who serve overseas? Or maybe he thinks those who serve in Air Force Intelligence in the middle of the Green Zone in Baghdad are simply serving, while those actually flying planes and dropping bombs over enemy targets are the ones who serve bravely?

    Okay, I’m just grasping at straws here. I really don’t know how (or even WHY) one would try to dissect the quality of service done by those in the military.

  82. Thanks for making a stab at it, Alex!
    Actually, my last comments were the result of a decision to try teasing Kullervo the way he teases people. I was trying to set him up the way Ed McMann used to set up Johnny Carson. (If you guys don’t know who Johnny Carson was, I was setting him up to give him an easy opportunity to make a funny response.)
    Unfortunately, text messaging has its drawbacks and they didn’t catch it.
    I’m going back to being serious.
    I’m too tired right now to answer Tim except to say that I’m kind of wondering how serious he is! I did figure Kullervo was probably kidding when he asked, “Are you saying that you believe Mormons are actually true Christians?”
    . . . There, I got the subject in again!—kidding.

  83. For probably the first time ever I deleted a comment from kullervo. Let’s just say he’s been properly discipled by the church of metal and was displaying its fruits.

  84. To Tim:
    Your comment on Aug. 13 was rude, disrespectful, and hurtful. An apology would be nice. I noticed in the statement of your purpose for this website that you wanted to avoid that sort of thing.

    I keep thinking about your Aug. 13 comment because of the request (sort of) that you brought up. You apparently don’t want me to bring up the topic of whether the LDS is a Christian organization. If this is what you want I’d be happy to comply.

    I brought it up repeatedly for several reasons. One was that I consider the question to be very important. I feel that discussions with Mormons can only go so far as long as we are condemning them.

    Another reason is that it is the drum that God has called me to beat—although maybe not on this blog. I’d like to know whether the Mormons on this blog are sick of me finding various angles from which to defend their faith in Jesus. I know that you, Tim, have been running the blog for a long time and I can understand why you might be sick of the topic, especially if you’ve closed your heart to a viewpoint differing from your own.

    Another reason I kept bringing it up was that I was trying to challenge your view and was having a hard time getting you to engage. (It was easy with Richard!) You say in your statement of purpose that you like being challenged because it can be a refiner’s fire, educational, and even edifying at times. I can relate to that and can agree.

    Again though, if you want me to cut the subject, or just let off on it, I’d be happy to comply. As you yourself indicated, making requests with sugar instead of vinegar works better for all of us.

    (I tried hard to stay in the right spirit in my comments above. I hope I did okay. If not, I’ll apologize back.)

  85. Cal – the problem isn’t your stance. The problem is that you bring it up ALL THE TIME.

    It is like a girl in one of my college classes. She started every single sentence with, “Well, I come from a small town, and so…” After saying it once, we all knew she came from a small town. But she kept bringing it up, no matter what the discussion was. Likewise with you. We all know you believe that Mormons are Christians. If it fits into the comment and is relevant to the post, then, by all means, it should be mentioned. But to write comment after comment in the same post explaining the exact same thing over and over and over again…. Well, we are all intelligent people here (at least, most of us are), and we all know how to read. I, for one, would love to know your insights on topics other than the Christian-ness of Mormons.

  86. Cal I’m sorry your feelings were hurt. I just want to be clear on how your feelings were hurt. Was it that I said that you sometimes find ridiculous excuses to bring up the topic? Was it the use of the word “ridiculous” Or was it something else?

    You are more than welcome to challenge me on any topic you desire. I specifically didn’t engage you on the subject because it wasn’t relevant to this post. I do not (in general) engage anyone on the topic because I don’t find it useful. Instead I think it’s much more beneficial to discuss the reasons that some do not consider Mormons to be Christians than to squabble over the semantics of the word.

    You can see these posts for further reading on that:

    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/what-evangelicals-now-need-to-know-about-mormonism/

    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/it-has-finally-been-resolved-sort-of/

    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/what-do-you-want-from-us/

    You are more than welcome to comment to any of the posts here in any way you wish. I think you may get more traction if you try not harangue everyone into your pet issue and hijack the discussion. It’s a general courtesy but the choice is yours.

  87. To Alex:
    Thanks for telling me. I may have been bringing it up more than I thought I was.

    To Tim:
    I’ll accept your sorriness. Part of it was saying I was teflon coated just because I hadn’t recognized that you were being sarcastic when you asked me to clarify my stance. And let’s see . . . let me go back & review it. . . . Oh, yes, the word “ridiculous” and the words “dead horse” didn’t help. You were probably frustrated and it showed. In retrospect, I can understand why you were frustrated.

    And since you asked, I also think part of it was that I had begun to develop some respect for you as a non-contentious, sort of nice guy. When Richard called me a false Christian—which is much worse than being called teflon coated (hard-headed)—it didn’t bother me at all. Kullervo doesn’t bother me much. Funny how these things go. Maybe I sensed some truth in what you were saying about hammering my pet theme—maybe that’s one reason.

    I used to make insensitive comments to my wife during the first few years we were married. Got me into big trouble.

    Anyway, it’s all over now.

    By the way, I think your “What evangelicals need to know about Mormonism” is great. I’ve considered linking to it from my site.

    God bless you. Have a good night!

  88. If you go back and review I included a wink in my first request for “clarification” to let you know I was light heartedly teasing you. You persisted in bringing it up multiple times afterwards.

  89. To Tim: Yes, I remember that wink. That particular comment was a kind one.
    I’ll be more courteous now to stay with the posted subject.

  90. Folks, I hate to make assumptions, over the internet of all places, but it’s possible the Righteous Rambler is dealing with some mental illness. The rants follow a pretty predictable pattern, and lots of other red flags, too..

    Completely serious; not trying to either throw stones or excuse the behavior, and I could be wrong, but I do have a little experience with this stuff.

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