Listening to the Spirit

Viktor Frankl was a very important influence on my worldview in my adolescence. I found this clip the other day and it seemed to be a very good explanation of my view of religion as a Mormon. You could quite comfortably be LDS and believe everything Frankl says here.  Toward the end of the clip, he explains that if God is anything, he is not a fossil. (also an important theme in the LDS worldview).

The first part of the interview gives what amounts to a Mormon idea of the Spirit—which he refers to as “intuition”—and a fairly passable view of why the Spirit is so important in the LDS Religion and its spirit-based epistemology.

To those who can’t listen to the video, Frankl’s position is that intuition is the primal source of truth in human situations because cognitive capacities cannot deal with the absolute uniqueness of the situation in front of us, that requires intuition, which also includes conscience and access to a divine nature.  He says in the beginning of the clip:

“Intuition is the only way to arrive at truth, even when rational concepts, or intellectual capacities fail; because you can rationalize into rational terms only what is not absolutely unique.But if you are confronted with a phenomena which is unique, which never will recur, which only once appears and confronts you, you have to resort to intuition, because intuition can handle the unique things that only once and only here and now are confronting you. “

Frankl’s religion and Mormonism bear some characteristics of undifferentiated God-belief that springs up all the time. (see Insane Clown Posse)

The Curious Case of Sean McCraney (and the problem of church history)

Sean McCraney was a Mormon who openly put his faith in an Evangelical brand of Christianity and was born-again by most Evangelical measures. Yet, lately, he sounds like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young when he talks about the extant traditional Christian church.  This seems indicative of both his Mormon and Calvary Chapel roots, and his blatantly contrarian attitude.

Sean McCraney’s approach to theology seems common sense. To a modern liberal who answers to God alone, the church has clearly needed fixing over the years.  It does not represent the “good guys,” just “some guys” who happened to have attracted enough credentials and attention to make policy. Common sense tells people like McCraney that if you can fix something using Biblical interpretation, can’t you fix anything, including the Trinity?  Can’t you reject any doctrine of pagan origin if you can reasonably show it to be such?  McCraney’s refrain is as common as his sense. If “only God can judge us” it is clear to many that “we run things things don’t run we.”

While anarchy is not necessarily an irrational response to the corruption of the world, it is clearly a practically unreasonable one. Tim’s last post pointed out the firm, yet soft-spoken response to McCraney by Pastor Jason Wallace of Christ Presbyterian Church.  For the first time, perhaps, I recognized the complexities of positively explaining the historical church and its necessity for those who believe in the historical theology.

McCraney’s case might show Evangelicals something important about their brand of Christianity strikes people. It is easy for Mormons to pick up Evangelical views of salvation–and these views are also often quite spiritually effective–but it is very difficult to explain and swallow the historical Church. This is one of the seeds that sprouted into Mormonism. It’s far easier to reject the church as fundamentally corrupt or essentially irrelevant than to shoehorn its history  into a neat package that can appeal to modern sensibilities.  In a small way, the McCraney case shows that Evangelical Protestants have as big a problem with church history as do Mormons.

Me & Gentiles: the Existentialists

existentialismAfter reading existentialists, Mormonism seemed like a radically existentialist theology.

Like anything grown in America, Mormonism emerged in a climate of rebellion and turmoil. Springing from a backwoods boy, growing up near the spearhead of the industrial revolution in America, self-educated, proud, visionary, it lashed out against every orthodoxy in sight, it embraced the most dangerous heresies. 

It this way, Mormonism seems a massive existentialist project. ‘Existentialism’ names not a way of thinking, but a group of thinker: some Christian (like Pascal, Dostoevsky, and Kierkegaard) some post-Christian (like Heidegger and Sartre), and some anti-Christ, like Nietzsche.

Walther Kaufmann, described existential philosophers in terms that are easily analogized to how early Mormons viewed themselves as religious thinkers:

Existentialism is not a philosophy, but a label for several widely different revolts against traditional philosophy. . . The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life—that is the heart of existentialism.

Swap out “existentialism” with “Mormonism” and “theology” for “philosophy” and it seems we have an observation as insightful as Kaufmann’s.   As a philosophical term, existentialism is nearly useless for lack of precision, but it points to a frame of mind reminiscent of Joseph Smith’s.

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Evolution vs. Bronze-Age creation Myths

Carlosbyu, believes in a theory of creation that I described as “stupid.”  Gap theory has been an accepted answer to explaining very old bones starting in the 1600s. (And Carlosbyu, my friend, I meant no personal disrespect in describing your theory as “stupid”.  The best people I know have stupid theories about scientific and philosophical subjects.)

I remember reading as a child that Brigham Young’s explanation was that God had, in fact, taken parts of older worlds and put them together as this world, dinosaur bones at all. By that time I fully believed that evolution was the best way of explaining the material cause of human life.  But I knew that it did not explain the efficient cause of existence, nor the final cause, or purpose, of human life.

Brigham’s was a clean way of solving the problem, if laughably implausible. I actually admired it for it’s audacity and simplicity. It was a prophetically audacious way of saying “creation theories don’t matter”.

Tim’s question of Carlosbyu, as I am sure it would be of Brigham Young:

“If God was using pre-existing elements to create the earth we inhabit, why didn’t he break the dinosaur bones down to the most basic and unrecognizable forms? Why leave them in tact at all?”

Tim’s question begs mine: Why did an all-powerful God use the 13-Billion-year process of evolution to create the universe rather than popping it into existence like Bronze-aged creation myths depict? The answer to both of these questions is “strange and inscrutable are the ways of our Lord.”

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Freedom and Friendship

Ravi Zacharias Mormon LDS

Ravi Zacharias will again be speaking in the Mormon Tabernacle. His visit to Utah will also include a stop at BYU. I hope some of my Utah based friends can attend. Live streams of the event are included below for those who can’t be there in person.

BYU Live Stream

Friday, January 17, 2014 – 12:00pm-1:00pm (MST)

Title: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on what it means to be human as he believes faith, family, and society cannot be fully appreciated until this question is first answered.

Mormon Tabernacle Live Stream

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 6:30pm-8:30pm (MST)

Title: Lessons from History: Building A Nation Under God

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on the centrality of the Word of God as the guide for personal conduct, true freedom, and building a nation under God.

What are we doing here? (Part 2)

I got involved in this blog about six years ago.  It’s the only blog I regularly participate in that doesn’t have to do with cage fighting. Over the years many LDS and Evangelicals have challenged whether what goes on here is a good thing.  Some of Seth R.’s comments on Tim’s last post prompted me to give some explanation (to myself at least) of what I am doing on this blog.

In participating in this blog I haven’t thought too much about the greater good. I have always participated for more-or-less selfish reasons, the most identifiable are:

(1) It has been my only place to openly discuss Christianity at all (either the LDS or Evangelical variety), and I have not wanted to divorce myself from that line of thinking; 

(2) I find the differences and similarities between Evangelicals and Mormons fascinating. I think the problems surrounding reconciling different belief system and ideological differences between people who generally have the same values like these come up all the time in life. (See the typical differences between every married couple.)

(3) It’s something to write about when I need a break from writing legal briefs (thinking about that stuff too long is bad for you, trust me). For years I participated mainly as form of entertainment.

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Mormons as Bison

English: Bison bison. Original caption: "...

Over the past several years I think I have finally gotten a pretty good handle on the Evangelical view of salvation. As a Mormon I had thought about it, and I believe I understood it, but I only from the skeptical angle.  I didn’t take the theology seriously. As I endeavored to do that over the years, I can see it’s beauty.  I think more Mormons would do well to take it more seriously.  I don’t think there is anything to fear in doing so.

What interests me is why they won’t. The main reason is that Evangelicals are often as close-minded, clueless, and defensive as Mormons, and quite often, openly aggressive.   There is smugness on both sides, which generally produces contempt in both sides as well.  They both revel in the strengths of their religions without understanding what their smug adversaries with the bizarre beliefs have to offer.

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Keep Away from Christ-mongers, Right?

Benny HinnThis is a follow-up on the last post regarding the Didache. Some of my least favorite people are those that preach primarily for money, power, or fame. What I termed “money-preachers.”

As recorded in the Didache, the Twelve Apostles gave the following direction to believers:

12 Welcome Anyone Coming in the Name of the Lord

12:1 Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.

12:2 If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be.

12:3 If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living.

12:4 But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst.

12:5 If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler [also translated ["Christ-Monger"]. Watch that you keep away from such people.

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The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles show us how the first Christians were Mormons?

Early Christian Gravestone, Jesus the ShepherdIf you haven’t read the Didache, it’s a fascinating read.  Named after the Greek word for “teaching” this short work purports to contain the teaching of the twelve apostles of Christ.  Written as early as the first century, it was considered by some prominent early Christians as part of the New Testament.  The Didache is intriguing because it was not written to tell a story, or to explain theology, but as a manual for what Mormons would call “living the Gospel.”

The Didache is ostensibly the direction of the Twelve Apostles concerning how to practice Christianity.  It lays out how to live, how not to live, how to baptize, how to prepare the sacrament, how to pray and fast, how to deal with traveling preacher, how to appoint local leaders, and how to prepare for the Second Coming. One reason the book struck me as “Mormon” is that Jesus is not mentioned by name at all. The “way of life” is straightforward– love of God, the golden rule, and shunning immorality. It’s approach to religion is unsophisticated and straightforward, not unlike most LDS conference talks. 

The book is also Mormonesque in the way it directs believers to appoint church leaders from their own congregations. Professional, traveling preachers are to be accepted, but tested. Those that hang around too long, or leach off the membership, were to be rejected.  It also smacks of the Mormon worthiness narrative.  The congregations were told to confess and repent of their sins before Sunday worship so that their sacrifice to God could be pure. They were also directed to resolve all disputes with others. 

It makes me wonder how Christianity would differ today if this guidance was considered the infallible word of God.  Would Evangelical-style money-preachers be rejected more readily? How would the church look if these practical principles were enforceable as scripture?  These are some of the fascinating questions these just-barely-uncanonical works leave me asking.

Me & the Gentiles– Part 1: Mormon roots

English: The Handcart Pioneer Monument, a stat...

In keeping with Tim’s Me & the Mormons series, I thought I would chronicle some of my encounters with Evangelicals and other Gentiles over the years. But before getting into that, I wanted to give some background for the Mormons out there.  (None of them will know where I am coming from if they don’t know something about my background.) Mormonism is a religion of family activity and each family practices their own brand, especially the older Mormon families.  To get where another Mormon was coming from, I had to know something about how active they were, and how deep they were in the culture.   So for the benefit of Mormon readers, and those interested in Mormonism, these are the people that made me the Mormon I was. 

I grew up in what I would call an old-school Mormon family with an intellectual bent.  I was raised in the mission field, in Kansas. My mom was a fifth-generation Mormon, my Dad was a first.  They met when my dad was 12 and my mom was 10.   My mom’s family contains a healthy mix of every wave of Mormon plains-crossing immigrants since the church began.  My only relatives on my mom’s side that weren’t  newly converted immigrants from Europe, were the ones that were baptized in Nauvoo in the 1840s.  (before Joseph Smith’s murder triggered the migration to Utah and the western territories).

Many relatives on her side were amazingly devoted to the church.  I recognize that this may only have been how they were portrayed in the dozens of accounts of their lives in my mom’s book of remembrance, but most of them had the hard evidence to prove it.  My great-grandfather– one of the 26 children in a polygamist family– was a respected professor at Utah State University, a World War I vet.  He was a missionary in New York in the 1950s. He married his wife’s sister when she died.  For nearly 10 years straight, until his death at 85, he did over 80 endowment sessions a month in the Salt Lake Temple–he spent 50 hours a week watching the temple ceremony.

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Are Mormons and Evangelicals stuck in a Cold War Mentality?

A barnstar

My uncle–an LDS international political consultant-once mentioned to me that he thought the LDS Church today was like the Soviet Union.  He was speaking of problems with having an 80+-year-old leadership base, but I think the analogy goes deeper.

The Soviet Union started with a bold revolutionary, was consolidated by a shrewd, ruthless, pragmatist, and perpetuated by those who were fully indoctrinated into the established order.

Mormonism also began as a bold, revolutionary movement. Joseph Smith was Mormonism’s Lenin, Brigham Young, its Stalin, perhaps Wilford Woodruff was its Khrushchev.Today it is an institutionalized ideology controlled by a small group of older men who are steeped in allegiance to the party line– much like the final Soviet regimes.

Like the Soviets, Mormon centralized authority has allowed the Church to accomplish amazing things that similarly sized religious bodies simply cannot.  Russians and their centralized economy kept up with the U.S. in weaponry, space flight, and world dominance.  Mormons are rich in resources, talent, and good culture, and the leadership focuses these resources relatively successfully on growth.

Just as with the Soviets, the Latter-Day Saints seek to spread their ideology through the world.  It is inimical to the established creeds and religious order.  Just as with Soviet Russia, Mormonism has been in a Cold War since its inception, waged by the established churches–i.e. the “whore of all the earth,” “the very mainspring of all corruption.”

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Making sense of Christian Spirituality

The Sun

I believe spiritual experience is as unique as any other personal experience.  We experience the world through the lens of our minds, our culture, and our past experience.  I think it makes sense to think that spiritual experiences will differ dramatically from one person to the other based on these factors.  If an omnipotent God exists, whose Spirit flows through all things, it seems that experiencing it would be very similar to the human experience of the sun, i.e. it will appear very similar but would be interpreted very differently based on the environmental factors.   The sun in the desert is viewed differently than the sun in the rainy Pacific Northwest.  Typical human experience tells us different things about the sun. It may seem a life-giving force to some, or an oppressive burden to others.  This analogy helps me understand why we cannot prove things about God through our contact with the Spirit.   Before modern physics, the sun was an inscrutable force in the universe, no human experience could explain it properly, but its presence and effects were everywhere.   Theology is no match for modern science in its explanatory power because it does not have experimental tools to rule out interpretations.   Theologians rely on conventional interpretations of Scripture to guide them in nailing down what is the Truth of the matter, and the rest of experience is viewed through this lens.

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With Gentleness and Respect

This strikes me as a way to serve notice that “I am right and you are wrong” rather than an effort to find clarity and understanding for why he views Mormonism as “non-Christian”. It doesn’t in any way engender Mormons to his point of view.

http://townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2013/06/05/my-apology-to-mormon-readers-n1612799/page/full

The last part of 1 Peter 3:15 seems to have been neglected.

Explaining Jesus to a child – How should I indoctrinate my children?

indoctrinate_xlarge_xlargeWhen children are taught religion, they are indoctrinated. As parents we can’t explain how the world really works to them–they won’t understand and nobody has the patience–so we happily give them simple skeletons which they can build on, that they can organize the necessarily limited experience and information they stumble across.  We hope that the skeletons are elegant and strong enough to gird all the good information our children come across and allow them to create a robust, useful picture of how things are. Of course the problem with indoctrination is that it shuts of lines if inquiry, creating intellectual bias.  If the process of education moves people from cocksure confidence to thoughtful uncertainty, indoctrination attempts to stall or abort this process–on a few important areas of thought at least.

Indoctrination is a big issue in our multi-cultural, increasingly divisive, political and ideological climate. At least one writer – David French– contends that Evangelicals’ failure to properly indoctrinate their children is part of the reason they fall short in church growth compared to moromons.   Citing the Barna Group’s conclusion that of the 84 million Americans who claim to be Evangelical, only about 19 million actually hold orthodox beliefs, French advocates that Evangelicals must follow the LDS lead in teaching their distinctive beliefs and culture early and well.

But indoctrination is an extremely inflammatory concept. It is almost universally condemned by those who don’t want children to be indoctrinated against their positions. But I don’t think indoctrination can or should have the bad rap given it by fervent opponents of religious indoctrination such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Arguably most childhood education in areas of history and even many areas of science smacks of indoctrination in one form or another.

Given its unavoidable necessity, I have started to take indoctrination of my own children more seriously. My kids are indoctrinated Mormons, their skeletons come from church.   They have a surface-level, Sunday-school understanding of the church, salvation, and the righteous life. But because I am no longer what can be fairly called a believing Mormon, I want to temper this indoctrination with indoctrination of my own–one that reflects the understanding I have developed in my spiritual life and education.  I am trying to find a way to explain Christianity differently without closing the lines of inquiry that I find critical.  I want to add a few limbs to my kids’ conceptual skeletons without making their existing frameworks useless.

So, my project is to develop simple, short, easy-to-understand narratives of important historical events and religious principles- sort of like the Gospel Principles Manual in the LDS Church. Something that can give my children a place to start inquiry based roughly on what I think are proper conclusions about history and the world; a different narrative to expand and allow critical evaluation of the narrative they receive in church.

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We Pretenders

When I was a kid, I loved to pretend.  My life was filled with forts, guns, armies, horses, dragons, talking animals, magic swords, and space armadas.  You didn’t have to point out to me that I was pretending, I was doing it on purpose.

Jesus pointed out the pretenders who did not seem to know they were pretending. To the Romans he pointed out that they were merely pretending to be the masters of the world. In fact, the Kingdom of God was in our midst and held sway over what mattered.  To those pretending to be good, he said there is no good but God.  To those pretending to honor the temple of God, he dealt a beating.  To those pretending to be his disciples, he exposed as denyers, betrayers, and court jesters. Jesus was God who pretended to be a man and–in the end–He exposed this pretense as well.

Few would disagree that those who follow Jesus only pretend to.   The Old Testament teaches us that we are foolish and pretending children to a Perfect Father who has given us his law, the New teaches us that we are all fallen and lost, incapable of following the law God gave–we can only pretend. The Book of Mormon teaches that when it comes to obedience, we are less than we are not the dust of the earth, only pretending to be submissive. Joseph Smith taught that our compliance and authority is often–because of our nature and disposition–simply pretense to fulfill our pride and hide our sins. Jesus’ apostles made it clear that Jesus was the Christ, we merely pretend to be Christians. Paul taught that whatever we are of Christ is not us, but Christ in us.

Ironically, Christians also like to point out pretenders.

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Prophet, Priest, Member, and Disciple– A way to understand Mormon life

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Christianity and religion in general lately. I’m trying to figure out what was going on when I was a full-believing Mormon, and how to compare that to the religious lives of others.   I came up with some simple (i.e. over-simplified) categories of roles people play while involved in an organized religion like Mormonism.  I found them helpful in providing a way of understanding my Mormon experience and comparing it with others without worrying too much about theology.   I see four roles people play in organized religion:

Prophet: receiving spiritual guidance from the Spirit of God.

Priest/Clergy: administering teachings within a community. Teaching, preaching, helping, managing, setting policy, etc.

Member: special attachment, loyalty, and duty to particular community or group

Disciple: a devotee seeking to practice the principles taught by the prophets.

I admit it’s an over-simplified model;  there are a bunch more roles that come into play: e.g.,Saint, Missionary, Theologian, Convert, Skeptic, Monk, Mystic, etc.  And I am probably not using the terms in a  completely standard way.  But for me it’s a start on trying to grasp all the dynamics involved in living a faith.

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Mormons & Evangelicals: What can I learn from you?

Over several months so I have had a born-again sort of experience of sorts– one of those times in life where perspective shifts dramatically and you feel like you are seeing the world for the first time.  One of the biggest difficulties in experience was recognizing that I had lost faith in the LDS Church. It has been coming for quite a while, and it feels like the core meaning of my life was yanked from me. Losing faith has been very difficult for me even to acknowledge. But for complex reasons, I can’t now honestly claim to believe in the Mormon Church and this reality has stung me hard.  My participation in this blog has been a big part of the process of figuring out where I am and what to do next.

Over the years the blog has been a place for me to vent a lot of the deep thoughts and patent nonsense that bubbled up during this process. (Regulars here will recognize I write far more of the latter than the former.)  But lately I have been thinking about what attracted me to this blog– and how it might help me in the new spiritual life that I face.

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A Higher Law

In a comment on another post, Garth stated

Christ RAISED the bar for Christians, not lowered it. Christ said that now it wasn’t only murder–but even being angry was a sin. Not only was it adultery–but even lusting in your heart was a sin. Not only was it being circumcised in the flesh–but being circumcised of the heart which Christ would now require. Christ’s law emphasized what you DO–how you act–what you think–how you live–who you minister unto.

and in another comment stated:

I’m just trying to respond, from the LDS perspective, to your comment about “if St. paul were alive today he might request that the Book of Galatians be directed at the Mormons…” Frankly, I’ve always felt that he’d be directing it to the evangelicals with a little rebuke–that he was only talking about giving up the law of Moses. Not the higher law of Christ.

This is not the first time that I’ve heard a Mormon refer to the Sermon on the Mount and suggest that Jesus was instituting an new, “higher” law than the law of Moses.

I’ve always felt this argument to be a significant misreading of Matthew 5.

. . . For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

. . . “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

I think first off, anyone who heard Jesus speaking knew the reputation of the Pharisees as rigid keepers of the law. When he stated that a person’s adherence to the law would have to surpass the Pharisees’ it would have caused almost everyone to lose hope. They would have thought it would have been impossible to surpass the Pharisess’ “righteousness”. It simply could not have been done.

When Jesus informed people that holding anger and lust in their hearts was the same as murder and adultery. He was not raising the bar with a “higher” law. Instead he was pointing at the defiecency in the law. Anger and lust were not suddenly new found sins because Jesus declared them to be, rather they had always been sins that had always been seperating man from God and from one another. One could hold to all the outward rules of the law and still develop a corrupt heart. Mere adherence to the law was insufficient at transforming the individual. Jesus didn’t raise the bar. The bar had always been higher than what adherence to the law could meet.

When later in the sermon he told his followers to clean the inside of the cup, he was not giving a new law. Rather, he was instructing us to give up the law and focus on our hearts, and by doing so we would become people who could surpass even the Pharisees’ righteousness.

My thinking on these passages was significantly deepened by Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy”. I maintain that it is a must read for all serious followers of Jesus. He states that our legalistic bent encourages us to fall for the “Gospel of Sin Management.” we become convinced that the law makes us righteous, when in fact we live in an upside down world where law can only condemn us and only grace can save us.

He states:

And here also lies the fundamental mistake of the scribe and the Pharisse. They focus on the actions that the law requires and make elaborate specifications of exactly what those actions are and of the manner in which they are to be done. They also generate immense social pressure to force conformity of action to the law as they intepret it. they are intensely self-conscious about doing the right thing and about being thought to have done the right thing.

But the inner dimensions of their personality, their heart and character, are left to remain contrary to what God has required. That heart will, of course, ultimately triumph over their conscious intentions and arrangements, and will in fact do what they know to be wrong. (Matt. 12:34). And their need to appear righteous “before men” (Luke 15:15) then forces them into hypocrisy. Hypocricy becomes the spirit, or “yeast,” that pervades and colors their entire existence (Luke 12:1).

I think Mormons are attracted to this idea of “more” law for a number of reasons. First the LDS church attempts to practice some form of “Old Testament Christianity”. So a Messianic Law to compliment the Mosais Law makes sense in this context. Additionally legalism is tempting because it appears safe. It’s less messy to control what people eat, drink and wear than it is to allow people to let their actions reflect their heart. It’s much safer emotionally for all of us to focus on our exteriors than to dive into a desires and cause them to conform to Jesus.

I think Derek Webb nicely sums up the idea and why it fails in his song “A New Law”

You are SAVED (from Hell)!! – What Evangelicals have that Mormons don’t: Part II

One thing that strikes me as a key difference in how Mormons and Evangelicals view being “saved” is what they believe they are saved from.  For Mormons, the flip-side of not feeling the joy of being COMPLETELY forgiven like Evangelicals do, is the comfort of never having to worry about hell in the least, for me or anybody else.  I think this difference may shape how Mormons and Evangelicals differ in they way they see God, their purpose in life, and, to some degree, what life is about. I offer my own experience as a way for Evangelicals to gain some insight on how not believing in Hell can shape your thoughts and behavior.

To somebody raised in the LDS church in the late twentieth century, there is no hell.  A fiery place where souls are sent by God to burn forever? As a Mormon growing up, I took that as seriously as the idea that the devil had horns and pitchfork. The only thing close to “hell” that I was taught about was not anywhere God would send me, It was merely the pain and disappointment of not being with our Father again, who wanted us to be there and provided a way for us to do it. I was taught that if we even got a glimpse of the Telestial kingdom, we would want to kill ourselves just to go their.  The absolute worst part if it was that I couldn’t be with my family forever. This sounded crappy enough, so I couldn’t imagine my Father in Heaven, who loved me more than my real parents did, wanted any of us to go through anything worse.

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