Joseph Saved Me From Getting Hung Up On Christ.

I read this quote from an ex-mormon. I’m just looking for active LDS reaction to it. Is his experience the same or radically different from your own? Does anything resonate for you or did he completely miss the point of Mormonism? At the time of his resignation he was the Bishop’s First Counselor in an Oklahoma City Ward.

When I was a devout member of the LDS Church I sincerely tried to respect the beliefs of other faiths. But I could not appreciate or even tolerate Christian Rock and even some traditional Christian hymns. They really bothered me. I chuckled when I saw commercials with teenagers lifting their “Jesus antennas” high in the sky as they swayed back and forth to the beat of the pseudo-rock music glorifying the Son of God.

I really didn’t care for hearing my Christian friends go on and on about Jesus Christ. I have never liked the Ichthus symbol (Christian fish symbol) on cars or public displays of Christian belief – It seemed and still seems so, well, fake and gross. For me, it’s akin to public displays of affection – please get a room.

Last night, I was thinking of why Mormons felt such animosity (or distaste) towards this type of Christian worship. “As I was pondering this matter, the eyes of my understanding were opened” and I came to the conclusion that Mormons are uncomfortable with the concept of a personal Christ. In my opinion, most Mormons view Christ as a detached stake president or young kindly prophet, or the guy in that picture with the soft eyes, red robe and debonair beard. Yeah, he is there, the head of the Church, somehow he paid mankind’s debts, but as a Mormon I didn’t really want (or have time) to know him. (I still don’t.)

I was surprised of how quickly I went from being a devout Mormon to becoming an indifferent atheist/agnostic.

I have asked myself: “Why was the journey from Mormon to Agnostic such a quick one?” I think it is because we, as Mormons, never identified much with Christ. Sure we believed in him, but we had a bunch of other things to believe in too; gold plates, Joseph Smith, modern prophets, new scripture, Word of Wisdom, being the Only True Church on the Face of the Earth, two year missions, the spirit world, the Celestial Kingdom, food storage, temple attendance, family history, Lamanites, John the Baptist, Priesthood, etc. Frankly, we didn’t have much time for Christ in our life, we had way too many assignments.

For me, and I suspect many of you, Christ was the guy who appeared to Joseph Smith, he helped make the earth – but with the help of Michael (Adam), he was a messenger boy between Elohim and Peter, James and John (apparently heaven doesn’t have phones or e-mail); his name was the beginning part of the church’s name (which made us Christians); and did I mention he appeared to Joseph Smith and maybe a couple of other prophets and apostles? At Christmas time we celebrated his birth, but the important part was that we knew it really happened on April 6 – those other ignorant Christians didn’t even know that – thanks Joseph Smith for setting us right on that bit. We celebrated Easter and remembered his Crucifixion and Resurrection, but the most important part was the Garden of Gethsemane (again, thanks Joseph for that tidbit) and then we hurried home for ham, funeral potatoes, pie and seconds. And then there’s the Sacrament, the time to really focus on Christ and his atonement, but, we all know the most important thing was whether the young priest could get the words out correctly, or would he have to repeat them? And of course, the anticipated assessment of how soft was the bread.

So maybe I have the LDS Church to thank for not getting me hung up on Christianity once I lost my faith and confidence in Smith. I was able to make a quick transition. Otherwise, I might have spent years throwing myself into a more ancient myth. See, something good did come from my Mormon upbringing.

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113 thoughts on “Joseph Saved Me From Getting Hung Up On Christ.

  1. Clearly the problem with that person is he never had a testimony and never listened in Church. And as with many people, he doesn’t want any responsibilities. He just wants a drive-through Savior and a side of fries with that.

    I find this repulsive. As would ALL the Mormons *I* know. And the part about the Sacrament is just sickening. But that being said, I pray that he finds the love of Christ and someday will come to understand what this Church is all about. And it ain’t what he just said.

    And he also said it all when he said his ‘faith’ was in Joseph Smith. It should have been in Christ. He simply never had a testimony. And when you don’t have that, the Church wouldn’t mean anything.

  2. And when I say he never listened, I mean he never listened with his Spiritual ears. He is like many who grow up in a faith that simply go through the motions and don’t understand that all the motions point to Christ.

    Many Jews lost sight of the meaning of the Sacrifices pointing to the Savior to come. It certainly doesn’t cancel what Jesus did just because they had hard hearts and refused to see it and came to a point where they simply went through the motions. I know people from a lot of Christian faiths who have left because they never had a testimony of their own.

  3. i think that yall have good points. i dont think that the piece was very pointed.

    however, let’s think about this, do we really know Christ? He often seems more like a character in a story than our Lord and Savior. how can we make Him more real in our lives?

    peter

  4. Hi Joy,

    I figured that you would want to rebut his statement as I didn’t see it matching with your own experience. Does it bother you that some one like this would be raised to such a high level of leadership?

    I don’t know what he would say about his own testimony. I’m guessing that he would have claimed that he had a very strong testimony but that’s really between He and God.

    Peter, I actually do feel like I know Jesus quite well. My relationship with him is quite personal. One of the ways I make him more real in my life is by reading, memorizing and contemplating his Word. I often speak directly to Jesus in my prayers and seek to follow his example in my actions by offering grace wherever I can. How about you?

  5. No he wouldn’t say that. I can see from what he saw… no connections… it was all just a bunch of motions to him. And the faith he did have would not have been in Joseph Smith, it would have been in Jesus Christ. He would have understood that Joseph Smith was the Prophet and Christ the Savior, huge difference. And he would have recognized the other things we do as pointing to the Savior in all of our actions and so the Savior will permeate every aspect of our lives. You will know them by their fruits. We talk of Christ, we speak of Christ, we live, and breath our faith in Christ. He didn’t get it because he didn’t want to.

    I’m glad you have a personal relationship with Christ. I have no doubt it is a good one. I can only say there is so much more… so much. Do you know how much you want to spread the Gospel? I know you do or you wouldn’t be doing this… well, that’s how much I want people to know the fulness. Keep seeking the truth and you will find it.

    I went to my Father in Heaven in sincere heartfelt prayer with only one thing I wanted and that was to follow Him no matter what. A good Father would never give his child a scorpion when they asked for fish… and I am now closer to both He and Jesus than I’ve ever been.

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! How ludicrous. What a misguided, blind soul.

    On one hand we get crap for being too intimate with God always calling Him our Father in Heaven, and called blasphemous because of our perspective on our relationship with Christ and this yokel now goes against all of that to try and say we are uncomfortable with a personal Christ.

    LOL!!!

  7. Hi Joy, yes I see the connection to Judas and this ex-mormon. My understanding is that those in the Bishopric are supposed to be divinely called and hand down inspired callings to those in their ward. In my church it doesn’t work that way, so I can accomodate people going through the motions and not really believing. Just curious how LDS “rationalize” (for lack of a better term) this.

    Also, when did you receive your testimony of Jesus? Was it before or after you converted to LDS?

  8. The callings are divine… what you’re not factoring in is that the calling isn’t for people who have already arrived, it is to expose us to the chance for greater blessing, it is for us to learn and become that which we are called, and to test us. When I was called to teach Primary (Sunday School) I was in no way prepared for it. I didn’t have any children and though I love kids I was scared to pieces. But I accepted it for two reasons. I want to do all that the Lord commands, and I already knew from the Spirit that it was coming. So when the Bishop told me I had to laugh because the Spirit had already told me and I had chuckled then and basically said, ‘you’ve got to be KIDding…’ I was called not because I WAS a teacher of children, but to help MOLD me into a teacher of children.

    Bishops and couselors aren’t called because they already ARE that calling, they are called to BECOME that calling. And the rest of us are to support them and sustain them in their callings. The people who don’t grasp that simply aren’t paying attention.

    What we do with those callings is our choice. We can be obedient and ‘magnify’ that calling by doing all we can through prayer and study to do our best, or we can throw the opportunity out the window by having a hard heart and refusing to yield to the Spirit.

    That man, unless he repents has basically sealed his own fate. Of whom much is given, much is required. He can never say to the Lord that he never had a chance. He had many… and chose the easy path. And has come up with a great explanation to himself for why it’s okay. People do that.

    cJohn71 – Yeup… Yet another witness that I’m in the right place is the amount of persecution I now get. For 20 years I always wondered why the ‘persecution’ of my faith was so light even though I was quite outspoken… but the moment I joined the Church, it has been heavy and unrelenting. From all sides, all angles and most particularly, from people who call themselves Christians… I can now really relate to the people in the Bible and Book of Mormon… lol It’s worth all of it. I wouldn’t go back for anything.

  9. Joy,

    If all callings are inspired and divine… what about when one is clearly not appropriate? I don’t (and can’t) believe that we’re all God’s robots. I don’t think that God micromanages. At best, only some (maybe many) callings could be divinely inspired. But not all. Otherwise, what is the point of authority at all, if you don’t actually exercise authority, but rather take orders all the time?

    And have you ever had a calling where you just did your best… but didn’t feel divinely inspired? Don’t bishops and stake presidents probably do that too?

    You said, “That man, unless he repents has basically sealed his own fate.” Isn’t that quite harsh–to judge a man’s eternal outcome? Do you really want that job?

    Dando, to get back to your original question, I don’t agree with all that this man said, and I can clearly see that there was emotional input into it (that in my opinion draws away from the valid points that he did make). I think that if you strip it of the outbursts, and leave in the valid points about the church, there are some things that can be worked on. It was my experience in the church that people did disdain other churches, other faiths, while simultaneously paying lip service to how we respect all other churches. I never felt that that was the case in practice. In practice, I felt like there is a lot of smugness and superiority within the LDS church–and even though I don’t believe that that is anyone’s intention, it is the natural result of believing that you have the fullness and others only have the part.

  10. katyjane – I don’t understand your comment on authority. Men who hold and office of bishop have the the authority to extend callings. That authority comes from Christ. What calling would be ‘clearly not appropriate’? please elaborate. I never said anyone was perfect. But they do have the authority as long as they properly extend the call. I also never said we were robots. But several places in Scripture tell us we are here to be tested to see if we will obey all that the Lord commands. Most of the time it’s not about the other person, it’s about us being obedient. Jesus said he did NOTHING of his own, but only that which the Father showed Him.

    If I had a calling in which I didn’t feel divinely inspired I hope I would get on my knees and pray for the eyes of my understanding to be open to what I needed to learn from that calling. Callings are what you make of them. Again, agency to choose. Agency isn’t without consequence. You can’t choose to rebel against God and expect the outcome to be good. And just because you choose not to be inspired doesn’t mean the calling wasn’t inspired.

    One of the things that is so amazing about how the Lord leads this Church is that the callings are not sought out. And a person can go from a bishop to a primary teacher and humbly accepts both callings. It doesn’t mean he was a bad bishop. The Lord puts us where we need to be at that time.

    If a man was called to the Office of Bishop or Stake President and knew for whatever reason he wasn’t worthy (some unrepented sin or just didn’t want to do it) or didn’t feel it was inspired, he should tell them that. Again, his choice. But that doesn’t mean the Lord didn’t want him to do that calling. It means the man chose not to BE inspired. Or chose not to get his heart right. It doesn’t mean the Lord wouldn’t give him the chance.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley stated: “Whenever you are called upon to serve may I urge you to respond, and as you do so your faith will strengthen and increase. … If you accept every opportunity, if you accept every calling, the Lord will make it possible for you to perform it. The Church will not ask you to do anything which you cannot do with the help of the Lord. God bless you to do everything that you are called upon to do.”

    There are a lot of people who just go through the motions. That’s their choice. But to say because they don’t FEEL inspired means they the calling itself isn’t is in my opinion error. I will read up on this subject though and maybe post more on it tomorrow.

    I think the Israelites were probably considered smug and superior by others because God chose them to be His choice children and to bring the Gospel forth. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is the restored Church. If it seems smug to say so… I don’t know what to tell someone. It does sound arrogant, but a fact is a fact.

    Sometimes on message boards a post can be taken wrong if the wrong inflection is read into it. I hope when people read my posts that they read them with a calm and caring inflection because that is how I post them.

    One more comment concerning this mans assertion that apparently heaven doesn’t have email or cell phones.. that is so illogical. According to that logic, we should all stop praying immediately because after all, God knows what we need. Jesus was perfect because He obeyed everything. To say that His obedience made Him a go-between… well, that’s just ludicrous. Heavenly Father expected obedience from Christ just like we are now expected to obey as well. Heavenly Father didn’t tell Jesus to do stuff because He didn’t know what was going on, He told Him so He would have something to obey so that He could live that sinless life. Just as we pray not because Heavenly Father doesn’t know what we need, but so we are humble and WE understand what we need… and through receiving answers we learn to communicate with Him.

    Great article on callings. It includes an example of an improperly extended call.

    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=42d08bf6248ad010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

  11. An example of a ‘clearly not appropriate’ calling (hypothetical): Let’s say a person has an inappropriate attraction to children. They have never acted on said attraction, but has it nonetheless. As they have never acted on it, and, being a good Latter Day Saint feel ashamed of it and determined not to act on it, they don’t feel the need to tell their bishop when they move. However, the bishop extends them a calling as a Primary teacher. You might say that that person should humbly accept the call and use it to help overcome their inappropriate attraction, treat it as a trial. I say that if the bishop had known, he never would have extended the call–I think anybody would rather the person not ‘grow’ in that way if it means that children could be put in danger. An unlikely situation? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

    Or, maybe a better example is some of the culturally inappropriate stuff that church leaders instruct. Kullervo’s brother was on a mission in Japan, and the visiting (white) church leaders told the Japanese men in priesthood that they needed to tell their wives that they love them, every single day. But that happens to be something that you only say on your deathbed (or in other equally dire situations), so these men were coming home and saying culturally inappropriate things and making their family lives uncomfortable because they were trying to do as their priesthood leaders instructed. Now, does God want all cultures to act like American culture? Or were those leaders not actually divinely inspired to say that stuff?

    That kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME in the church. We go about missionary work as if all cultures are white, American cultures. We ask culturally inappropriate questions that make others incredibly uncomfortable. Is that all divinely inspired? Does God really care the method you use to ask someone if they want to be baptized? If yes, then why would he choose OUR culture (white American), and doesn’t that seem a little disturbing to say and think? That all other cultures should be like ours? And if no, then why are our leaders teaching missionaries that they should ask and say things that make others uncomfortable if they’re being divinely inspired about it?

    Yes, we are here to do all that the Lord commands. Too many Latter Day Saints, though, think that having the priesthood then means only acting when God says, and doing nothing else. Maybe that’s not what you’re saying–but it is a common thought and mindset in the church. That if you’re using the priesthood, you’re only doing what God is telling you to do, and nothing else.

    I preferred to think of it a different way–that authority is what it actually is, and people are to pray, ask for inspiration, and then do their best, even if the inspiration doesn’t come. (After all, sometimes we have to wait to get answers to prayers… but those primary kids still need a Sunday School teacher) And then God, having given this authority, supports the decisions that are made, and makes them work out. Which is one of the reasons He is so awesome–He can make everything work out even when we screw up.

    People often have used their priesthood power inappropriately. The things they do with that priesthood power still stand though. God makes it work in spite of us.

    Yes, if you have a calling you should pray to be divinely inspired. But that doesn’t mean that EVERY decision is divinely inspired. I was in the Relief Society Presidency, and I can tell you that although we opened all of our meetings with prayers, and although I made decisions for my teachers prayerfully, many times I was going with my best knowledge instead of inspiration–and I think that’s absolutely appropriate.

    On a slightly different topic, you said, “I think the Israelites were probably considered smug and superior by others because God chose them to be His choice children and to bring the Gospel forth. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is the restored Church. If it seems smug to say so… I don’t know what to tell someone. It does sound arrogant, but a fact is a fact.”

    I wasn’t trying to imply that YOU sounded smug. (Just so you know.) But that that is a running feeling and impression I have of the church. If the Church is the restored church, it is and that’s that. But that doesn’t mean that people need to get smug about it. People DO disdain others–you will often hear snide comments about other churches, other faiths in Sunday School. When Kullervo’s brother left the Church, people started asking what sin he’d committed, because clearly nobody would leave the Church because they just didn’t think it was true. One inadvertantly looks down on people in the grocery store buying a bottle of wine–especially if they have kids with them. I’m not saying that this is a hallmark of the church, but of the people in it–but, as I said, an easy to predict conclusion of having ‘the fullness’ while saying that everyone else has ‘the part’. Aren’t we better?

    Or the woman (who I know was just an idiot and not representative of church views, but of common ‘pioneer children’ views) who one Sunday School talked about how people who have pioneer ancestors are better than people who convert to the church. When I called her on it–because that is clearly idiotic–she said, ‘Oh, no, I love converts. I mean, my son-in-law is a convert, and we love him anyway!’. Really? Again, I know that’s just one stupid woman… but there is an undercurrent in the church that if you are from pioneer stock you are better–(you descended from Brigham Young’s third wife (who you’ll never find mentioned in a Sunday School book)? That’s so impressive!).

    I think that overall, the church is made up of good people, trying to do their best. I think it’s a good organization.

  12. Everything you are talking about is people… and your offense taken by something they’ve done. The Church as restored by Jesus Christ is true, the people are fully functioning humans in mortality which means they are going to do what people do best… make mistakes and offend others.

    It sounds to me like you never did receive a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church. Is that accurate?

    *****If you did have a testimony***** at any time of the truth of this Church, then I would have to ask why you would decide to turn your back on that testimony simply because of the imperfections of humans? Search your heart. Could it be that you are simply tired and feel that too much is required of you? Are you sure it’s not just an easier path you seek? I am only asking that you search your heart because if you did have a testimony, this is a grave decision you are making.

    My testimony came from the Holy Spirit and I will not allow any human to rob me of the blessings that come from activity in the Church and the eternal blessings that come from Temple covenants and obedience. I would lovingly ask you to not allow someone else to drive you from those blessings either. Part of obeying Christ is to extend charity to those who do make mistakes. To show them love and support in spite of their flaws.

    But if you really need to attend other churches to be convinced of the unbelievable pride and arrogance that lives in them as well as the LDS church, by all means. You’ll find plenty of people there who distain people who are LDS. I can’t see that that is an improvement.

    And they’ll use your words about this Church to fight against it. I don’t say they do this from bad hearts, but mostly out of ignorance. Is that what you really want?

    People are people, wherever you go. But truth is truth. And in the end, we are held accountable by what WE do with the truth and whether or not WE are willing to be obedient. We don’t get to pick and choose what we like and what we don’t.

  13. “An example of a ‘clearly not appropriate’ calling (hypothetical): Let’s say a person has an inappropriate attraction to children. They have never acted on said attraction, but has it nonetheless. As they have never acted on it, and, being a good Latter Day Saint feel ashamed of it and determined not to act on it, they don’t feel the need to tell their bishop when they move. However, the bishop extends them a calling as a Primary teacher. You might say that that person should humbly accept the call and use it to help overcome their inappropriate attraction, treat it as a trial. I say that if the bishop had known, he never would have extended the call–I think anybody would rather the person not ‘grow’ in that way if it means that children could be put in danger. An unlikely situation? Perhaps. But perhaps not. ”

    I do know this Church will not allow anyone with an attraction to children to teach them.

    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=c6a68c6a47e0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=27f71f1dd189f010VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD&vgnextchannel=726511154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD&vgnextfmt=tab1

  14. I can’t help but say this… the title of this Thread is just so repulsive…

    Katyjane said “I preferred to think of it a different way–that authority is what it actually is, and people are to pray, ask for inspiration, and then do their best, even if the inspiration doesn’t come. (After all, sometimes we have to wait to get answers to prayers… but those primary kids still need a Sunday School teacher) And then God, having given this authority, supports the decisions that are made, and makes them work out. Which is one of the reasons He is so awesome–He can make everything work out even when we screw up.”

    I am thinking we are assigning two different definitions to ‘inspired.’ I agree with the above and don’t think it takes away from inspiration at all. I believe we are to do what it says in D&C 9:8… use our best knowlege, make a decision and pray to get confirmation. Whether someone’s name is given out of nothing but inspiration or through this method, both would be considered inspired.

  15. Search your heart. Could it be that you are simply tired and feel that too much is required of you? Are you sure it’s not just an easier path you seek? I am only asking that you search your heart because if you did have a testimony, this is a grave decision you are making.

    I think this is an unfortunate statement and an area where the LD Saints need to grow and mature as a people. It’s convenient to assume people leave the church out of their own personal failings. They just want to sin, it’s too hard, they are weak. That might be true for some, but Katy is expressing that she doesn’t think the church is TRUE. Any conversation that focuses on her own personal integrity after she questions statements of fact is just ugly, guilt-ridden, shallow and offensive. It’s an ad hominem attack. It’s something that almost seems to be officially taught to Mormons from the church because it’s such a prevalent response from people I would otherwise guess to be gracious and kind. Joy I know that you aren’t ugly, guilt-ridden, shallow or offensive, that’s why I’m so disappointed that you say something that inherently is, even if you mean to say it in kindness.

    If people want to talk about whether something is true or not, we shouldn’t question their character. Deal with the issues. I’m guessing Katy and others like her actually maintain many of the same values and principles after they leave the church.

  16. Joy said:
    “I do know this Church will not allow anyone with an attraction to children to teach them. “

    From the link:
    “In the secular world there are no direct parallels to the issuing of a calling. One who holds priesthood keys does not ask, assign, or recruit people to serve. He calls them, and the calling comes from the Lord.”

    Unfortunately the LDS church (like many other churches) actually has called child molestors into callings that involved children. I’m confident that these callings were not made with the intention to hurt children, but they did happen.

    http://www.childpro.org/ldsmedia%202001-2002/ldsmedia%202001-02%2005.htm

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/01/05/church_volunteer_arrested/

  17. It drives me crazy. When someone leaves the Church, it’s never because they honestly have concluded that the Church isn’t true. It’s invariably because 1) they never really had a testimony, 2) they got offended, 3) they committed adultery or some other awful sin.

    Why smear disaffected members? Why assassinate their characters? I don’t believe that the LDS church is a cult, but this is cultlike behavior.

  18. Ummm. Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fay Baker… Ted Haggard… the list goes on and on… Those people’s sins doesn’t make Jesus any less the Son of God or Saviour does it? No, it doesn’t. Does those people’s sin negate the Evangelical belief system? How could so many Evangelicals have followed such sinful people? Doesn’t that prove that Evangelicals are wrong? These are rhetorical questions and meant to show the double edged sword of that argument.

    AGAIN, I never said everything was perfect in the Church, mistakes are made. But to allow those mistakes to drive you from the Church if you know it to be true, which apparently you never did know that, is indeed a grave decision and very sad. But since it appears neither of you ever had a real testimony, I hope and pray that as you explore other faiths and find people to be people regardless of where you are, it is my sincere hope that someday you come back with a heartfelt and strong testimony from the Holy Spirit that will be such that you won’t leave again.

    There is a huge difference in a Church which does its best to keep those things from happening and if they find it out, excommunicates the person, and one that tries to cover it up and/or gloss it over.

    And if you would like to talk about character assassination, I have stories that should curl your hair about how I was treated by Evangelical ‘friends’ and others when they found out I was being baptized into the LDS Church. I’ve been persecuted more since joining this Church than ever before.

    This whole thread is nauseating to me. The title alone disgusts me and I cannot get past that right now. I feel contencious because I feel my Savior is being attacked. I feel His Prophet is being smeared. And I guess I’m not able to just sit here and watch it and play nice.

    I did not assassinate either of your characters. I ask you to ponder and search in your hearts to see if any of that MAY be true. I simply asked if you were SURE none of that were true. And I thought you both had had strong testimonies. That turns out not to be true which changes what I would have said to you.

    I am getting weary of my words continually getting twisted into things I have not said. Up to this point I have at least felt calm and civil even if I’m not taken that way. But I no longer feel that. I know when I first read the title of this thread I felt a surge of anger. If you don’t think the title of this thread alone and the letter posted isn’t an attack, again, I don’t know what to say to you. But I’m no longer going to participate here.

    Dando – your intent has been clear from the beginning, and that’s okay. I really do understand where your coming from because I’ve been there. I was really hoping that there could be a civility maintained, but these discussions are going in a direction I do not wish to participate in. And I am equally to blame. I don’t have much good to say about the Evangelical Churches I attended for 20 years. But I also know that there were many sincere people who were like me, seeking truth. But I guess I’m not able to debate and keep a civil tone when I know what I know and watch as various people trash the Lord’s Church. This experience here has pointed out an area I need to pray about and improve in. I’m not supposed to get defensive. I’m supposed to show the love of Christ. And that is very hard for me when I see Him attacked and His Prophets smeared. I never was any good at that. LOL

    Sigh… I know what I need to work on and will do so. Bah… mortality just stinks sometimes.. lol

  19. Hi Joy,

    I hope you will reconsider your contributions here are valued. I realize that the quoted text and title are offensive. I posted them so that faithful LDS could disprove them and defend the church against them. Whether here or elsewhere, your church is being attacked. My point was not to offend, but to allow you the opportunity to give a different point of view that others may not receive.

    “Ummm. Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fay Baker… Ted Haggard… the list goes on and on… Those people’s sins doesn’t make Jesus any less the Son of God or Saviour does it? No, it doesn’t. Does those people’s sin negate the Evangelical belief system? How could so many Evangelicals have followed such sinful people? Doesn’t that prove that Evangelicals are wrong? These are rhetorical questions and meant to show the double edged sword of that argument.”

    Agreed. Christ is our only example of what a Christian should be. I don’t think that KatyJane’s point was that the church is false because of uninspired callings, I think her point was that not all callings are inspired from God contrary to what many LDS believe.

  20. Joy,

    I don’t think I smeared either Jesus or the prophets. I think that Jesus is great. 🙂 And I’ve always had respect for President Hinckley (the only prophet I’ve been in the church for). I do think, as Dando pointed out, that there are some callings that aren’t inspired of God, but rather people doing their best. And I don’t doubt that bishops and stake presidents are, on the whole, doing their very best in what is an incredibly difficult and challenging calling. I’ve never thought that all callings were inspired–even when I was a regular church going, temple attending member. I always thought that people decided and God upheld (which, to me, is more miraculous than God telling everyone exactly who should go where all the time–because that seems like God robots… and what’s the point of that at all?).

    And, by the way, Dando, I think your site is awesome. I’ve enjoyed reading it, and plan to continue. 🙂

  21. When I was Mormon I had some doubts about Joseph Smith, but I always thought I’d believe in Jesus. What happens to many Mormons who lose their faith in their church (this usually is a result of uncovering its history to discover it’s not what it claims to be) they become enlightened about the dynamics of myth and how easily people can be deceived.

    They had a testimony which they were told was the ultimate indicator of truth, but per their experience it didn’t work in protecting them from false teachings. It compels them go to square one and reconsider everything, and that includes the divinity of Jesus Christ. They become very skeptical. This is what happened to me and to this person whose story you posted (I can tell who it is and I’ve read many other posts by him).

    That said I still really like many Christian principles like loving your neighbor, not judging, turning the other cheek, etc. However, there is no compelling reason to believe that Jesus Christ was anyone other than a man with some ideas worthy of people’s attention.

  22. Since Paul pulled this post up, I’ll chime in.

    Not really interested in the direction the comments went, but I did want to point something out.

    Certain elements of evangelical Christianity make it a point to try and proselyte Mormons, make them see the error of their ways, reject Joseph Smith, and embrace the “true Christ.”

    Such folk, I would submit, rarely have any idea what they are getting themselves into.

    I don’t have much proof for this except anecdotes, but it seems to me that once you’ve convinced a Mormon that Joseph Smith is full of crap, he is rather unlikely to buy what evangelicals are pushing either. The more likely result is that he’ll embrace a certain agnosticism about the universe instead. Once you have attacked faith in one area as ridiculous, it is easy to extend that to other areas of faith.

    Evangelicals don’t seem to understand that undermining Joseph Smith undermines exactly the same sentiments and impulses that lead to belief in other items of Christianity. It is no coincidence that the EXACT SAME METHODS that Christian anit-Mormons and counter-cultists use against Mormons are also used by “evangelical atheists” against them.

    In the quest to discredit Joseph Smith, many evangelicals are destroying their own house.

  23. The reason that Mormons who lose faith in Joseph Smith also lose faith in Jesus is this: a Mormon’s entire faith is framed on the testimony based on a spiritual experience. When that proves unreliable (because they have concluded that Joseph Smith is a fraud, despite their “testimony”), then it undermines the rest of their faith.

  24. not to mention the LDS church has already deconstructed all the other Christian churches with its teaching on Apostasy.

  25. Bingo. You’ve been raised with a skewed–and extremely negative–outlook on th rest of Christianity. You’ve been raised to think other Churchs’ claims to truth are preposterous. You’re not going to easily set that aside, especially since it isn;t based on a testimony; it’s based on a warped view of history.

  26. It’s an incredibly complex issue. I think it would be interesting to see some numbers on how many ex-Mormons actually go for the evangelical message after leaving the LDS Church and how many simply become bitter and disillusioned about faith in general. Of course, we’re unlikely to get such numbers any time soon.

    Point being, counter-cultists (with apparently a few exceptions) generally tend to take a highly faith-damaging sledgehammer approach to a very complex and sensitive matter. I don’t even think they are aware of the destruction they are causing in people’s lives. And that’s conceding, for the sake of argument, that Mormonism is actually a big hoax!

    As for me, I seriously doubt that once deciding Mormonism to be a hoax, I would be much attracted by any of the other religions, Protestantism included.

    OK, maybe Judaism would be pretty neat for it’s highly developed system of ethics… But that’s it!

  27. Seth–remember that there are other options besides agnosticism, evangelicalism, and Mormonism. 🙂

    I don’t consider myself an evangelical, but I am a Christian.

    Also, I imagine that what happens to people after they leave the church is also influenced a lot by whether they were raised Mormon or converts. Kullervo and his brother have had a much harder time than me with faith issues, and they were raised in the church. And although I was a convert, I wasn’t raised with a religious background at all, but I have held fast to my belief and faith in Christ. (of course, that could be due to pride and not wanting to be COMPLETELY wrong… ;))

  28. I have nothing to add except a question and to say, “Very interesting discussion.”

    Question: for kullervo, #24: “a Mormon’s entire faith is framed on the testimony based on a spiritual experience.”

    Could you clarify that a bit? I find myself agreeing and then disagreeing with you over and over because I can’t quite tell what you mean.

    What do you mean by “faith”? Do you mean “belief” or do you mean “loyalty”?

    What do you mean by “framed”? Do you mean “interpreted through” or do you mean “built upon”?

    What do you mean by “a spiritual experience”? Is this a single event? What kind of event?

  29. By faith I mean faith, which includes belief and loyalty.

    By framed, I mean “built upon.”

    I assume based on your blog that you are Mormon, which leads me to believe you are being extremely disingenuous in asking what I mean by “a spiritual experience. However, for other peoples’ benefit, I will clarify.

    By spiritual experience, I mean the spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost of the truth of the Restored Gospel.

    To understand faith in Mormonism, you have to understand what Testimony means to a Mormon. “Testimony,” in practice, is the most fundamental doctrine/practice/belief in Mormonism. To a Mormon, the only source of Truth is God, and God’s way of revealing that truth involves (among other steps) a personal revelation confirming it. Missionaries teach that this can come in different ways, but usually is in the form of something like a “burning in the bosom” or a moment of clarity, or something like that. Though more dramatic experiences are not out of the realm of possibility (visions, appearances, etc.), and ditto for less dramatic experiences (feelings of peace, joy, and certainty). Some Mormons experience a Paul/Alma big, sudden all-at-once revelation of the Truth, but far more common is the Testimony of members who have slowly built their faith over time, the the aggregate of months, years, or a lifetime of less dramatic but nevertheless fulfilling spiritual experiences- if only “feeling clost to the spirit.”

    In my personal opinion, the biggest hole in “testimony” is the fact that the bar of “what counts as revelation” has been lowered so far and made so broad that virtually any experience (or lack thereof!) that you have after praying to know the Church is true can be interpreted as the confirmation of the Holy Ghost… if you want it bad enough.

  30. Kullervo,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    “I assume based on your blog that you are Mormon, which leads me to believe you are being extremely disingenuous…”

    Yes, I am a Mormon. I don’t fault you for suspecting me of being disingenuous, but I was not being so.

    The biggest reason I was hesitating to agree with you was your use of the singular: “a spiritual experience.” Yes, for me there was a first experience, and for some time that is what sustained me. I think that is true of most LDS converts as well. But to say that my entire faith—every bit of it—is based upon that one experience, well that’s not correct.

    In your clarification, you get at that: “…far more common is the Testimony of members who have slowly built their faith over time, the the aggregate of…a lifetime of…spiritual experiences.” So, yeah, I can agree with what you said.

    And I do appreciate how you expanded the realm of “spiritual experiences” to be more than just “a burning in the bosom.” I can only speak for myself, but many (I don’t sit and count them, so I can’t give a percentage) of my experiences are not of the “revelation” type. For example, I can think of at least two of my experiences that involved speaking in tongues.

  31. I still think there are major problems with the faith-based-on-spiritual-experience as practiced in Mormonism because what counts as a valid spiritual experience is so broad and undefined that basically any emotion, feeling, or experience you have in relation to the Restored Gospel will have the missionaries trying to identify it as “feeling the
    Holy Ghost.”

    In other words, the bar has been lowered so far that I am certain to have a “spiritual experience,” regardless of whether I have actually had one, simply because I am expecting to have one.

  32. kullervo—I agree that that can be problem. I think we (not just Mormons, but all Christians) often expect everyone to have the same experience with God that we have—“why would God act any differently toward you than me?”

    There is a problem with identifying the Spirit in someone else. I know how to identify it in myself, but that’s a different matter. Peter, in Acts 1, gives a good example of this: he explains to onlookers what is happening, how and why the believers are experiencing the Spirit, and then leaves to non-believers open to feeling the Spirit as well.

  33. I find this post and many of the replies here a bit troubling…I am a believing/faithful Mormon. Why are people losing their faith in Joseph Smith?…I’ve never in my life been taught to have “faith” in him in the first place. He was a prophet, yes, but a deeply flawed man none the less…like the rest of us.

    Joseph Smith needed/needs the cleansing grace of Christ as much as you or I. The only person/thing I have been taught to have “Faith” in for my salvation is Jesus Christ.

    From Joseph Smith’s own pen:

    “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by eimmersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    Also, this statement is not true, at least for the Church at large:
    “You’ve been raised with a skewed–and extremely negative–outlook on th rest of Christianity. You’ve been raised to think other Churchs’ claims to truth are preposterous.”

    We are not taught that “other Church’s claims to truth are preposterous”, but incomplete. We hold many of the founders of Protestantisms as inspired…preparing the way for the Restoration.

  34. Joy,

    The author of this post is one of my closest friends. You have a lot of nerve judging the heart of this good man. Shame on you.

  35. As for the OP, when I was at BYU, an apostle came to town to publicly rebuke a religion professor for suggesting that we Mormons ought to have a personal relationship with the Savior. We were supposed to worship God, not Jesus, and that is the point that the OP is making. It’s clear and obvious to any church member that Jesus is important, but he is not the object of our worship (that would be God the Father). And of course the other stuff mentioned gets a lot of airtime that detracts from mention of the Savior.

    Ask yourself this: When do most Mormons get more emotional? When they talk about the Atonement or when they talk about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith?

  36. #34: The reason many people lose faith in Joseph Smith…

    I lost all faith in Joseph when I was researching church history and found out that it was true that Joseph married underage girls, who in their diaries, stated that joseph had sex with them.

    Joseph as Pedophile didn’t sit so well with the mormon values I was raised with.

    Equally disturbing was finding out that Joseph married women who were still married to their first husbands, and even stayed married to their first husbands while they were married to Joseph.

    That’s just messed up.

    It turns out Joseph was a pervert. Not a Prophet.

  37. “Ask yourself this: When do most Mormons get more emotional? When they talk about the Atonement or when they talk about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith?”

    In my experience, when they talk about the Atonement. I’ve never seen anyone in church get choked-up over the account of Carthage. I’ve seen plenty get choked-up over Gethsemane and Golgotha though.

    “I lost all faith in Joseph when I was researching church history and found out that it was true that Joseph married underage girls, who in their diaries, stated that joseph had sex with them.”

    Well that was a rather silly reaction wasn’t it?

    I didn’t. I still think he’s a prophet, even if he did have sex with a 14 year old (which isn’t proven – Fanny Alger, to her dying day, refused to tell anyone whether she had slept with Joseph or not).

    So where does that leave us?

  38. I feel that many of the posters should be ashamed of themselves.

    Instead of trying to be Christlike, you have stabbed this guy in the back, made innuendos about his character, reasons he felt he needed to leave our church, and made ad hominem attacks to try and discredit him.

    I honestly feel that if more members lived the teachings we are taught each week, our church and world would be a better place. Instead, I find crap like what is found here.

  39. Yeah, but it’s right in Helen Mar Kimball’s Diary. 14yo sex. Icky.

    Joseph was a pervert. Not a prophet.

    I don’t see how it’s a silly reaction to leave a church that you find out was founded by a pervert.

  40. “In my experience, when they talk about the Atonement. I’ve never seen anyone in church get choked-up over the account of Carthage. I’ve seen plenty get choked-up over Gethsemane and Golgotha though.”

    In 43 years, I’ve seen plenty of people get emotional about the martyrdom and about the Missouri persecution and about the handcart companies. Look at the pioneer trek re-enactments that have become all the rage lately. The OP is dead on, in my experience. And you still have to come to grips with the fact that an apostle publicly refuted the idea that we should have a personal relationship with Jesus. The author and I were at BYU at that time. We know what we were told.

  41. “Joy”: You claim the writer never had a testimony and wanted a “drive through savior”…despite knowing about the writer.

    He actually served an honorable mission, married in the temple, was in the bishopric, served as a veil worker in the temple, honorable tithe payer, etc.

    I’m sure it’s much easier for you to slam his character than really question why this intelligent and articulate family man decided to leave the Mormon Church.

    You may want to try living the principles you are taught each week, instead of using cruel innuendo.

  42. You see what happens when someone leaves the “Herd” because they choose to think for themselves. You see how the rest of the “Herd” can only attack their them to justify why they won’t/can’t think on their own.

    Myself I also thank the LDS Church for not getting suckered into another Cult or Religion. It taught me the fundamental of asking questions and expecting answers.

  43. I investigated the Mormon Church for two years .

    At first it was great , all the great lessons and life experiences from LDS Prophets and Apostles.

    I didn’t want to get baptised until I knew it was true . I read the Book Of Mormon and noticed alot was copied from the King James bible. Well I just carried on and prayed to the end of it but I didn’t hear from God ( Moroni’s Promise) like I have heard about or was told/promised.

    In fact I then find out that many others in church haven’t either and that I will get the answer in a different way !

    After 6 months I started to find the real history.The polygamous marriages of young girls to old LDS leaders was very troubling especially when I was being reassured by some ward members that it was only to look after widows etc.

    Further investiagtion and I find that Joseph Smith was marying teen girls , many his own housekeepers and decieving his own wife Emma over it .Then the 14 year old he married at aged 37 was starting to get sinister.

    Then I find that Orson Pratt maried a 16 year old and conceived with her at once , him being age 57 ! And she wasn’t his first 16 year old either .

    There seemed to be a continous pattern of VERY OLD LDS leaders marrying polyagmously VERY YOUNG and even TEEN girls.The thereats made to these young women to obey are in the Journal Of Discourses.

    Atfer two years investigating and everything else I found out I left in sheer horror and disgust seeing how all the lessons were blatantly false as to the real history.

    The head in a hat and garden stone translation method started me thinking very seriously prior to the sexual crimes they committed.

    I’m certain half my ward members would run if they knew the real facts.

  44. Following up on what runtu said, I think this might be a generational thing in Mormonism.

    I’m 45 years old and well remember the BYU incident where Elder Bruce McConkie of the Twelve came and openly rebuked Glen Pace for preaching about having a special relationship with Jesus Christ. Here is a small quote from the talk that will give readers an idea of where Mormonism was in 1982:

    “There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.

    I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

    Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:

    Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.

    This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We are entitled to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). ”

    So I, along with others, was taught that a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ was “improper and perilous”.

    McConkie continued:

    “I am well aware that some who have prayed for endless hours feel they have a special and personal relationship with Christ that they never had before. I wonder if this is any or so much different, however, from the feelings of fanatical sectarians who with glassy eyes and fiery tongues assure us they have been saved by grace and are assured of a place with the Lord in a heavenly abode, when in fact they have never even received the fullness of the gospel.” (McConkie,”Our Relationship with the Lord” BYU speeches, 1982)

    McConkie was trying to point out that like everything else in the LDS Church, Jesus had his place. Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, priesthood, temple marriage, etc….it all had it’s proper place and Jesus was part of it.

    As a former Mormon, I understand what Odell is saying. Jesus is just another thing that I gave up with the Mormon package. In fundamentalist Christianity Jesus Christ IS the package (and I say that as an atheist).

    I hope this will add something to the discussion.

  45. James,

    Very nicely said. I just find it interesting that, rather than engage the OP and discuss why it is that a believing, faithful Mormon would so easily transition to atheism, the response among believers has been character assassination and contempt.

  46. I think the author is spot on.

    And maybe he hit a little too close to home for some of the commenters.

  47. Dando said,”I think this is an unfortunate statement and an area where the LD Saints need to grow and mature as a people. It’s convenient to assume people leave the church out of their own personal failings.”

    I completely agree with this statement

    I also have to agree with Runtu, “We were supposed to worship God, not Jesus, and that is the point that the OP is making.”
    I was raised in the church and taught from the very beginning that we worship God the father and Jesus is an older brother figure who’s example we should follow and who’s sacrifice we benefit from.

    I agree with the OP, as a member of the church I have always been uncomfortable with “other” Christian expressions of love for Christ.

    This idea has been changing though as I have realized Mormonism does not fit my spiritual needs and moved on.

  48. To Joy and others:

    I suspect that my “testimony” of Jesus Christ was extremely sincere and genuine. How it was so completely lost is of interest to me, and apparently, to you. I guess for you and those of similar fears, it is convenient to say that I didn’t have a testimony of the Savior or gospel. Although that is easy to swallow for some, it isn’t accurate.

    The story of my departure is too long for this meager post, but you are entitled to your beliefs and even the right to blindly judge others. I actually have no problem with that. I know who I am and am very comfortable with how I view me and the world I live in.

    The point I made in that piece, which is an old essay of mine, is that the LDS church’s focus on Smith and his vision of Christianity actually distracts from Christ.

    While I was struggling with understanding my beliefs regarding Smith and his life’s works, I was a first counselor in a bishopric. I expressed my concerns with the bishop and others regarding Smith and problems I was having accepting Smith as a divine prophet and with the historicity of the Book of Mormon. During that period, I took refuge in trying to focus on Christ. For over a year we reached an agreement that every sacrament talk would be assigned from the New Testament. I appreciate him for that kindness.

    But when I examined Christianity with the same focus as I had examined Smith, I saw little difference. I harbor no ill feelings about Mormons or Christians, people are entitled to believe as they want.

    But for me, the Christian message misses the mark.

    In October, 2006 I recorded these thoughts regarding my departure from Mormonism:

    While at the MTC, Bruce McConkie died. In the LDS General Conference, McConkie delivered his final address containing a powerful message of belief in Christ and an anticipated reunion. It was the first time in my life I had felt such conviction. I had turned a corner. Boyhood thoughts were being transformed into spiritual concerns and hopes.

    Different experiences during my mission resulted in that confident attitude. Whenever I was down or struggling, my mission president would always ask me which rule I was disobeying, even in the slightest. The inward reflection forced me to examine my every action and motive. There have been negative aspects of this type of self-denial, which would eventually result in my departure from the LDS Church two decades later.

    One poisonous fruit of this learned continual introspection was my strong feelings of guilt. In the Book of Mormon, I read accounts of Ammon and his brothers who baptized thousands. Why wasn’t I having this type of success? It was because I was not faithful enough to the mission rules and not worthy enough. Pre-mission iniquities returned to my mind. I became haunted by every unkind word, impure thought, and carnal desire. I became racked with guilt and a desire to be cleansed from it. During this time we taught a welder. He was a quiet and hard working man. As we visited with him sitting on buckets outside his shop, he related his experience of having his sins forgiven. I was touched by his sincerity.

    I wanted so much to experience that forgiveness in my life. This man knew more about Christ than I did. I committed to have my sins likewise forgiven. I became exact in my work, studies, prayers and thoughts. Yet, instead of subsiding, my feelings of guilt intensified. Weekly fasts for forgiveness became more frequent. These desperate fasts, coupled with worry and lengthy nocturnal prayers left me exhausted. Month followed month and still no peace was forthcoming. Eventually, I reached the only conclusion available to my young mind, I was unworthy to be a missionary and no forgiveness was available. I was not guilty of any great sin, but yet my feelings of wrong were immense.

    One day, burdened by my heavy load, I informed my companion that I needed to speak with the mission president. I had been transferred back to Córdoba where he lived. We made for the mission home but in my desperation, we became lost. I found a telephone booth and called the mission home. I spoke with the president about my feelings of guilt and unworthiness. He was very reluctant to meet with me and encouraged me to continue on my own to find forgiveness. Rejected, I returned to my normal chores to struggle alone with my feelings of inadequacy.

    Some months later, I became zone leader in the beautiful town of Tucumán. I was invited to attend a zone leader conference in Córdoba. The conference was excellent and uplifting. It was fantastic being in the company of so many missionaries I respected. I felt inadequate among them. At the conclusion of the conference, we sang a hymn and a missionary was asked to give the benediction. As he walked forward, the mission president stopped him. In a peaceful voice the mission president spoke the words I so desperately needed to hear. He said that during the closing hymn, the Spirit had told him that many in the room had been seeking forgiveness of their sins. The words which followed have remained etched in my memory: “Verily, verily, for the sake of the work, your sins are forgiven you. Go and sin no more.” What followed is difficult to explain. I had a feeling of physical fire sweep through my body. I felt a burning sensation begin in my head and finish at my feet. At last, I felt clean and forgiven! What joy filled my heart! My sins had been forgiven. I wept freely. My mission president invited us to bear our testimonies briefly before departing. I shared my absolute assurance of the reality of Christ and his atonement. This experience would become the central point of my life for many years. Later, I would understand that my guilt was induced by a process and that my cleansing came in fulfillment of a deep and real longing triggered by words from someone who I thought spoke for god. However, then, the experience was life changing.

    And later from the same writing regarding an experience which occurred in 2005:

    Five days [after I had promised a recovery relying on the Spirit], I received a call early in the morning, my friend had just died. He would not be going home to his wife and children. What had happened to the promise? Could I really trust my feelings? I had had faith in the voice of the Spirit and had just been an accomplice in the deception of a wife and friend. I could barely find words at his funeral. As I looked into the faces of his widow and his children during the eulogy of my friend, I again felt empty. This family had been forsaken despite an undeniable spiritual promise. I had depended on the SAME undeniable Spirit to witness to me that Joseph Smith had seen Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; that the Book of Mormon was true; that the Church was true. If it had been wrong about my friend’s recovery, could it have been wrong on other “truths” too? And why did the most spiritual feeling I have had during the last decade occur during the powerful finale of the musical Les Miserables? My heart had burned within me as Jean Valjean sang in a heavenly chorus at the completion of a selfless life spent in the service of others. Jean was a fictional character in a beautiful, yet fictional story. Had my emotions also permitted me to feel that “burning in the bosom” for other fictional events too?

    For me, I no longer make decisions based on emotional experiences.

    I remarked to an LDS friend of mine who is in leadership positions that to me it seems that Mormons believe in Christ because Smith said he saw him. In other words, Christ is used to validate Smith’s alleged “First Vision” experience, and not the other way around.

    But for you, I wish you the best on your life’s journey. And remember the universal principal attributable to Christ: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” I like to think, “live and let live.”

  49. Why is this post suddenly exploding, after the discussion died out like a year ago? Where is all this new posting traffic coming from?

  50. I have had a very similar journey away from Mormonism and Christianity as Odell has expressed. I consider him a friend.

    Odell, thank you for sharing with others.

  51. Why is this post suddenly exploding, after the discussion died out like a year ago? Where is all this new posting traffic coming from?

    I asked Runtu to comment on it.

    And for those of you wishing to set Joy straight, it’s not likely she’s reading this blog any more or the least bit interested in what ex-Mormons have to say.

  52. I find it interesting how often people who leave the church are accused of never having had a valid testimony or of being too tired (seems like a veiled accusation of being too lazy) to endure or obey. It’s condescension at its passive aggressive finest.

    Joy wrote, “I think the Israelites were probably considered smug and superior by others because God chose them to be His choice children and to bring the Gospel forth. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is the restored Church. If it seems smug to say so… I don’t know what to tell someone. It does sound arrogant, but a fact is a fact.”

    I can’t imagine at all Jesus saying a comment like this. He taught humility and love for everyone, and rather than pointing out how he’s chosen and in favor with God, and shrug this off as perhaps arrogant but a fact is a fact is a fact, he would simply be accepting of others no matter how sinful, lazy, non-obedient, or outcast they were. THAT is the focus on Jesus that is missing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in my opinion.

    Emphasis has been shifted in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over time away from Jesus and loving your fellow man ~ shifting toward obedience to all the rules that seem to be getting more and more and more important than the simplicity, humility and love Jesus espoused. That much seems obvious in Joy’s numerous references to obedience.

  53. The Ex-Mormon quoted in the post above is obviously out to lunch, having never properly understood what a heavy emphasis the LDS church places on Christ! I mean- the LDS Church is the most Jesus-y church of all! Consider the following that makes the LDS church even more Jesus-like than Jesus himself:

    (1) In 1982, the LDS added the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” to the Book of Mormon. It’s starting to feel Christ-like already!

    (2) Since at least the early 1990s, the LDS church has pleaded with its members and the media to use its full name, or the shortened Church of Jesus Christ (this stylistic guideline was officially published in 2001), rather than “Mormon” or “LDS church.” See how Christian Mormons are?!?

    (3) In the early 2000s, the LDS church capitalized the name JESUS CHRIST in its name as shown on its buildings, publications, and missionary name tags. See, now the world knows from SCREAMING CAPS how just how Jesus-y Mormons are!

    (4) In 2008, the LDS church launched a website devoted entirely to Jesus Christ – jesuschrist.lds.org! While some wondered at seeing the web address whether it was actually a profanity or a tribute to Christ, all must agree that the LDS Church is now magically Jesus-licious.

    Yep, the writer quoted in the post above CLEARLY does not know what he is talking about. Mormons are well on their way to offering the world their own personal Jesus. Someone to hear their prayers. Someone who cares. Someone who’s there.

    That whole “Mormon”, “Joseph” thing is soooo passe…

  54. The LDS church indeed has a lot of lip-service devoted to Christ. I wonder, though, how much of an emphasis there is in practice.

    As a life-long active LDS member, I see it all the time. When I the ward sacrament chorister, I often struggled to find hymns that spoke of Christ in any meaningful way (outside of the paltry selection of sacrament hymns, that is). It’s far easier to find hymns dedicated to obedience and restoration than the love of Christ, or his grace for us.

    I agree with one of the posts above — I, too, stopped relying on emotions to make decisions. After that, I was told many times over the years that the Holy Ghost isn’t just emotions, but it always communicates “intelligence” directly to your mind and heart. I find precious few people who even claim that, though.

    Example: I was told that it wasn’t emotions, it was a “still small voice.” I asked what the voice was like. I was told that the voice is often like a feeling of peace in your heart. So, it’s not emotion, it’s a voice. Except it’s not a voice, it’s emotion.

    It can be hard to work daily in a church that demands that you have certain feelings, but other people outside the church that have those same feelings are of Satan.

    Seriously, count the number of times people mention Jesus (not counting the “In the name of, amen”) in the talks in a typical Sacrament meeting. One week I counted during the whole three hour block. I think there were 5 mentions. That’s kind of pathetic.

  55. I guess runtu must have asked some community to come over here and “help him out.” Maybe the Recovering from Mormonism message boards, or exmormon.org or something…

  56. No, I didn’t ask anyone to come over. But I did point out that one of our friends was being rather harshly condemned here. Odell has a lot of friends.

  57. Joy wrote, “I think the Israelites were probably considered smug and superior by others because God chose them to be His choice children and to bring the Gospel forth. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is the restored Church. If it seems smug to say so… I don’t know what to tell someone. It does sound arrogant, but a fact is a fact.”

    Accordingly The Israelites were punished supposedly by God and lost their land and were taken captive.

    The the early Latter day Saints too were chastised for lying and Polygamy and also lost their land and on more than one occasion.

    If one is a parallel to the LDS according to Joy then so is the other.

    The Israelites lost their exclusive rights to God and so have the LDS Mormons then.

  58. Joy isn’t even reading this blog anymore. The condemnation was over a year ago. And I didn’t even agree with Joy to begin with.

    If everyone would like to have a dump-on-Mormonism outpouring, feel free.

    I think I’ll pass. Let me know when it’s out of the system.

  59. Sorry, glancing through the comments, it doesn’t seem all that bad. My bad.

    But I stand by my hunch that Joy is no longer with us.

  60. Mr Campbell is exactly right. Being a “real” Mormon means doing so many Mormon-y things that the last thing anyone has time for is to really come to know Jesus Christ. I almost wrote Jesus, like that, but had to stop myself because Mormons would be attacking me for writing Jesus’ name wrong.

    Do Mormons know Jesus? The Jesus who loves us just the way He made us, who only wants us all to love each other just the way we are instead of finding any lame reason we can to hate and feel superior to someone else.

    I used to be a Mormon but once the initial love-bombing ended I saw Mormons for how petty and mean-spirited they really are towards anyone who isn’t Mormony-enough for them. Who’s not good enough for a Mormon? No one is good enough for a Mormon. Not even themselves because if they loved themselves, they could never hurt anyone else the ways they always do.

    I hope that some day, Mormons start acting like they sincerely love, honor and worship Jesus, instead of loving, honoring and worshiping their teenager-bedding founder Joseph Smith.

  61. Seth, are these the fundamentals?

    I picked up a book today for the first time entitled We Believe (2004) by Rulon Burton in Deseret.

    I noticed four statements in looking up the Father.

    1. God the Father is the literal father of the spirits of all people.

    2. God the Father is the spiritual and the physical parent of Jesus Christ.

    3. God the Father is to be the object of our worship.

    4. God, the Eternal Father, is an exalted man.

    I am the exploring outsider, but #3 seems pertinent and sensitive to insiders on this thread.

  62. Well Todd, if you’re a trinitarian, it doesn’t matter if God the Father is the “object of worship” since they’re both the same substance, right?

  63. Todd Wood —

    Yes, we worship the Father. But that doesn’t mean we also don’t worship Jesus.

    2 Nephi 25:29:

    And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t agree with Joy either. If Odell says he had the experience that he had, I have no reason to doubt him nor to question his honesty or motives.

    The experience that some claim to have had of belonging to an LDS church that doesn’t focus on Christ and his atoning sacrifice isn’t the experience that I have had. But I’m not in a position to tell people that they didn’t experience what they say they did, nor to judge them, so I won’t.

  64. (scratching my head) – I still don’t understand Mormon worship.

    And Seth, “substance” isn’t in my worship. I don’t worship a substance; I worship a Triune God.

  65. Pretty-much nonsensical Todd. Either they’re the same thing or they aren’t.

    I’m a fan of “social trinitarianism” myself. Father, Son, and Spirit are not one substance – but participate in each other, and are unified with each other to such a perfect and profound degree that to understand the mind of one is to understand the mind of all three.

    A question – does it matter if the mortal emphasis is on the Son or on the Father?

    It all goes to the same place, right?

  66. I don’t think we can make a universal statement regarding the Mormons relationship with Christ. I recently converted from Mormonism to Catholicism (a long story). As a Mormon I always felt Christ was the focus of my belief. I joined the Mormon Church when I was 19 because I was trying to follow Jesus. Nothing that I experienced in the Mormon Church limited my faith in Christ though I do think that I find a fuller faith in the Catholic Church than I ever did as a Mormon. I just don’t think my Mormon experience would have naturally led me to become an atheist or agnostic after I lost my faith in Mormonism. There are Catholics, Lutherans and Baptists who go from their religions to non-belief just as there are Mormons who do so — I don’t think the drift to non-belief can be blamed solely on the religious institution in which a person is raised.

  67. The discussion of the Trinity and who we worship, etc., caused me to recall some of my first steps towards believing in the Trinity when I was a Mormon. My move towards the Trinity began while reading C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. I encourage everyone here to read the chapter “Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity” as found in that book. There is no perfect explanation of the Trinity, but that’s a good introduction. It’s hard to imagine the Trinity.

    To quote Lewis:

    “You may ask, “If we cannot imagine a three-personal Being, what is the good of talking about Him?” Well, there isn’t any good talking about Him. The thing that matters is being actually drawn into that three-personal life, and that may begin any time — tonight, if you like.

    “What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, iniside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God — that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying — the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on — the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kind of life — what I call Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.”

    As a Mormon perhaps I got caught up too much in trying to figure out who I was worshiping because I was so intent on keeping Father, Son and Holy Ghost so separate instead of focusing on their intense Unity. As a Mormon I saw praying to Jesus or the Holy Ghost as something which would offend the Father, but when I contemplate their Unity it becomes obvious to me at least that the Father is not threatened when we directly ask Christ or the Holy Ghost for help because of their perfect Oneness. Even in their perfect Oneness each member of the Godhead retains their individual personality.

  68. Seth, I am bothered when mortal life is required of both the Son and Father for their further LDS experiential knowledge.

    Just yesterday, I was discovering this in how radically different we look at the “die like men” in Ps. 82.

  69. Seth R. said:

    I feel no such concerns when I pray.

    I share no such concerns either. And I agree with the sentiment expressed in the Lewis quote above. I think the words of Jesus as expressed in the Gospel of John are instructive (John 14:8-11a, NET):

    Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me …

    Although there is emphasis in the Church on praying to the Father through the Son, even the LDS hymnal has quite a few selections that are, for all intents and purposes, prayers directed directly to the Saviour. To worship one is to worship the other even if they aren’t one in essence.

    Basically, I believe that it is through the work of Jesus Christ as understood through the power of the Holy Spirit that we come to know the will of our Heavenly Father. I’m much more concerned about following that will as best as I can understand it (and I certainly fall short) than I am worrying about which Person of the Godhead that means I’m worshiping.

  70. I worship God. Perhaps you prefer to call God the Godhead. When I say I worship God, I automatically include all three persons in what a Mormon would probably call the Godhead. In the act of praying to God the Father in the name of Jesus through the Holy Spirit we are worshiping all of the persons in the Trinity at once.

  71. “Seth, I am bothered when mortal life is required of both the Son and Father for their further LDS experiential knowledge.”

    What does that have to do with the price of eggs Todd? Is it random stream of consciousness day today or something?

  72. Amen to the OP. I am active LDS now but went inactive for a few years after studying church history. I remain a believer in Christ but have been rexamining my relationship with Him and have had to almost start over. I really relate to the author of the OP. It’s almost identical to what I experienced in church. Although Christ is a focus in church, He gets lost amongst everything else.

    Although Mormons deny it, we almost worship Joseph Smith. With the exception of praying to him, we do just about everything else a person would define as worship. I didn’t realize how Joseph Smith was so directly connected to my entire faith in Christ and God until I learned his history. My entire belief system was crushed when I studied polygamy and other disturbing parts of history. I came really close to losing faith in everything.

    Here is my take on the problem I had with having a close relationship with Christ.
    THe GODHEAD.
    Growing up LDS it was very confusing to pray to a Heavenly Father who is an entirely seperate person than his Son who gave his life for me. Shouldn’t my Father atone for my sins? As a parent, I wouldn’t sacrifice my child to save my other children. I would give my life for them.

    It also didn’t make sense that Christ was a special child to God if we were also his children. Why is Jesus being the only begotten Son more special to God? Aren’t we all loved equally? Why are we supposed to feel so much gratitude that God GAVE his Son? Christ gave HIMSELF.
    I want the focus to be on my Savior’s sacrifice, not the Father’s.

    As a Mormon, Christ isn’t the person we prayed to when we needed help. It was His Father I had the relationship with. The scriptures are slightly contradictory a few times on the Godhead but for the most part, Christ is defined as the only God we should worship. He is the Father of all the spirits on earth. Whether or not He has a Father really doesn’t matter. After all, LDS believe Heavenly Father has a Father, and He has a Father, and so on. IMO, LDS have the Godhead all messed up and we should be praying to Jesus as our Heavenly Father. That is why other Christians have a much more solid relationship with Jesus.

    As I rexamine the Godhead and have an open mind to other Christian faiths, I am starting to develop a relationship with Christ that is completely different than what I was taught.

  73. I prefer having the relationship with the Father. I probably have more of a relationship with the Father than with the Son, and you know what? That doesn’t bother me even a little bit.

    I also happen to think Joseph Smith is pretty nifty and don’t mind focusing on him really.

    Non-issues, all around. I have a hard time getting much worked up over the issues in the original post.

    As it so happens, we Mormons are talking about Christ a lot in Church these days, so the realities some of the ex-members are speaking of here probably don’t really apply anymore.

  74. As for the polygamy issue…

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am to live in a Church with such a freaking awesome history! Seriously, it’s just fascinating stuff!

  75. I think that most churches ignore a lot of what Jesus says in the Gospels. Even Paul does not spend a lot of time on the Sermon on the Mount in his epistles.

    As Thomas Jefferson complained, Paul can seem to make Christianity a religion about Jesus rather than a religion devoted to His teachings….

    There may be as many ways of losing focus on certain elements of what Jesus taught as there are ways of conceiving who He was and is.

    I can’t think that Mormons are any worse at this than other Christians.

  76. Kullervo,

    I don’t mean it as an excuse, I am not defending or sitting in judgment on the religion. But the gist of this discussion is that Mormons somehow are hung up on Joseph to the detriment of following Jesus unlike those Jesus focused Evangelicals. I just don’t see that that is accurate.

    I think both groups get hung up on things that keep them from following through with what Jesus taught, but for example turning the other cheek is tremendously hard for everyone and easy to rationalize our way out of.

  77. I didn’t post this to say that Evangelicals are more “jesusy” than Mormons. I just wanted to hear how Mormons would respond to what an ex-Mormon has said about his experience. I don’t attend an LDS ward so I have no idea how often Jesus is emphasized over Joseph Smith.

    On a side note, I thought it was interesting that Odell mentioned how he got the same “burning bosom” feeling while watching “Les Miserables”. Le Mis is a classical redemption story that takes it’s themes straight from the Christian narrative. So I would expect anyone with a connection to Jesus and the atonement to get shivers when they watch that play. In fact I would expect most people to find a strong connection to it because of their own need for the redemption and atonement Jesus provides. It’s easy enough to say that he didn’t get that feeling in addition to his feelings about the LDS church, but precisely because of the LDS church.

  78. I thought of Tim’s comments on Les Mis last night when I was reading an article by President Monson in Ensign magazine. In the article he said it is his personal opinion that Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was inspired by God. Certainly, it is consistent with LDS belief that God can speak through us through sources outside the Church, even a musical based on a 19th-century French novel.

  79. I’d be hesitant to conflate emotion provoked by emotional media with the spirit of God. While it’s possible that the particular media provokes emotion (at least in part) because of its resemblance to spiritual themes, that still doesn;t mean that the emotion itself is from any kind of external or spiritual source.

  80. While it’s possible that the particular media provokes emotion (at least in part) because of its resemblance to spiritual themes, that still doesn;t mean that the emotion itself is from any kind of external or spiritual source.

    I’ve been saying that same exact thing for over a year and half. =)

  81. This post has received more than a bit of attention over on Exmormon.org. The gentleman who posted originally is known by me, but not personally. He has become somewhat of a leader in those circles, thanks in part to his slick orations, and boorish pontificating. The fact that he always seems to start his posts by reminding the audience that he was a “bishop’s counselor” at the time of his resignation is pure hogwash…… As if to add some credibility to his latest, essay.

    The plain and simple facts are that apostates have existed in the church since Kirtland. The new breed of “internet apostates” all claim to have sort of “new” information that none of the 13 mil. of us have never heard…imagine that. If you read through some of their lists, you’ll easily find a dozen or so books on each topic at Deseret Book, and twice that many Ensign articles….all written by reputable church members, not excommunicated members with an axe to grind or cross to bear. The internet has given them a voice and a platform. If you read their silly ramblings, you’ll quickly learn that the Church is headed for destruction, unless we can change our way of thinking.

    Internet apostates are simply “old wine in new bottles”.

    SC

  82. You realize that that kind of attitude towards ex-members is a characteristic of cults and cult-like organizations, right? Demonizing the “apostates?”

  83. But Seth, which came first? The hard feelings that ex-Mormons have, or the treatment of the exes by the faithful?

    Mormonism demands an awful lot of its members, and I have witnessed firsthand the way that members react when you leave the church. And, I have to say, I was appalled. The accusations thrown at us, the condescension directed our way… it’s hard not to be bitter when you’re going through a really difficult thing (leaving a life-encompassing church because of fundamental disbelief in the doctrines, shaking up your entire world) and then being treated like you’re a teenager who knows better but sins anyway.

    Someone actually asked Kullervo if he got a beer brewing kit for Christmas in order to hurt them. Um, it was a present. And it was because he wanted it. And we weren’t even with said person when he got it!

  84. I guess I just don’t get why other groups don’t get the kind of targeted crap we do, on the scale that we do, that’s all.

  85. It’s my opinion that every group (business, political, religious, social, technological) earns its own dissidents.

    Seth, I wonder why you think you get it as well as those other groups?

  86. Fine. Do we at least get some sympathy? Throw me a bone here.

    For the harshness of your dissidents? No way. I’m sympathetic to Mormonism on a lot of grounds, but definitely not that one. I agree with Tim. You’ve earned your dissidents.

  87. Hi Seth R.,
    Why did you say you “prefer” a relationship with the Father instead of Christ?

    Here was your quote:
    “I prefer having the relationship with the Father. I probably have more of a relationship with the Father than with the Son, and you know what? That doesn’t bother me even a little bit.

    I also happen to think Joseph Smith is pretty nifty and don’t mind focusing on him really.”

    My next question is how do you think investigators view the focus on Joseph in our church when they visit?
    I have always found the focus on him to take away from Christ in our worship services. (and that was during the time that I had believed he was an honorable man of high moral character)
    During the year of his 200th birthday celebration, the focus on Joseph Smith was so over the top that it made Mormons look like we DO worship him. They even put him on the Christmas Ensign cover that year. The December theme in Primary that year was Joseph Smith’s life, not the Savior’s.

    How does the constant focus on pioneers and Joseph Smith help LDS develop a solid relationship with Christ or the Father?

  88. Seven asked:

    How does the constant focus on pioneers and Joseph Smith help LDS develop a solid relationship with Christ or the Father?

    I’d say that “constant focus” is a bit stronger than reality, certainly than the reality that I’ve seen. But without accepting the complete premise of your question, I’d say that discussing Joseph Smith and the pioneers does the same thing to bring us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as does studying the Biblical heroes such as David, Isaiah, Moses, Peter, Noah, Paul and so on.

  89. Seven,

    It’s a complete non-issue to me.

    We preach a “Restored Gospel.” Joseph Smith was the instrument by which that happened.

    Of course we focus on him to some extent.

    Duh.

    My experience is that the only people who care about this, are those who utilized Evangelical anti-Mormon literature in their process of rejecting Mormonism. Most other people really don’t seem to give a darn.

  90. Hi Seth,
    I’m not an anti Mormon evangelical and I care about the issue for my children as I raise them in the Mormon faith .
    I cared about the issue when I was an orthodox Mormon but I tried to make myself believe there was nothing harmful in it.

    This issue has caused many devout Mormons to fall away from all belief in God/Christ after losing their testimony or having a faith crisis after learning church history. If you are sincerely interested in gaining some understanding on why this happens to so many, I can only share my experience. (which often seems identical so many others who have left the church) Your post sounds like you are only interested in defending the church and not discussing this honestly.

    Christ is like “the parsley on the plate” as I have heard other LDS openly admit on discussion boards. I have always been envious of the relationship other Christians have with Jesus even though it made me uncomfortable to witness the differences in worship.

    I didn’t notice an answer to my question about why you prefer a relationship to the Father over Christ. Thanks! 🙂

  91. I wanted to clarify that I didn’t read or “utilize” any anti Mormon evangelical literature when I went through my faith crisis. I only studied LDS literature and authors. My confused feelings about praying to the Father and not Christ were there from my childhood on, along with the desire to feel as close to Jesus as other Christians.
    I wasn’t able to understand why I had this problem until I learned alternate views on the Godhead of other faiths and really studied the scriptures.

  92. Seven said:

    Christ is like “the parsley on the plate” as I have heard other LDS openly admit on discussion boards.

    If that’s the experience you’ve had, that’s unfortunate. It hasn’t been mine.

    I don’t know how any faithful member of the church could read the Book of Mormon, which has been described as the keystone of our faith, and come to such a conclusion. It’s about as Christocentric of a book as it could possibly be. Certainly, as I have taught the book this year in the Gospel Doctrine class, I have come to appreciate how much it keeps the focus on Jesus Christ and what he did for us through the Atonement.

    As far as whom we have a personal relationship with, in LDS soteriology we’re talking basically about our Heavenly Father. (The phrase “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” even though it’s part of the Christian life, is found nowhere in the Bible regardless of translation, so I’m hesitant to make that the No. 1 goal.)

    But I’m not sure how much difference it really makes, though. Jesus and our Father are fully one in purpose, and Jesus told us that if we’ve seen him, we’ve seen the Father. If we pray to our Heavenly Father and seek counsel on something, what he tells us is the same thing as Jesus would tell us. There are some things I don’t think God is all that nitpicky about as long as we’re trusting in him. Such may not be official doctrine, but it’s my take on things.

    As I was writing this, and after I had written my second paragraph, I came across this Catholic article about the idea of “personal relationship with Christ.” I found it interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

    The expression “personal relationship” comes neither from the language of the Bible nor from the history of Christian faith. The expression comes from the humanist psychology of the last hundred years, principally that of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Eric Fromm. It also has its roots in overemphasis on the attitude of rugged individualism of the early development of America.

    In using the expression “personal relationship” there is a danger in attempting to harmonize the formulas of the Bible with the formulas of psychology, psychiatry, and/or American nationalism. The language of the Bible and the languages of psychology, psychiatry, and nationalism reflect divergent perceptions and conceptualizations. Attempting to treat them as identical can only be artificial.

  93. I do not disagree that Christ is A focus in the church but the point is that he’s disconnected in a sense because of how we worship Him. In Mormon theology, Christ is our BROTHER who saved us and we are praying to the Father in gratitude for HIS sacrifice of His only begotten Son instead of Christ. I want to thank Jesus, not the Father in my prayers.

    If Christ is the God of this earth, why are we not praying to HIM in gratitude of His sacrifice? Why is the Father’s sacrifice of His Son more important than the millions of innocent children who are tortured and abused everyday?

    Why do you believe most former LDS all have the similar experiences on this issue?

  94. I have another question for LDS here.

    Is Jesus the God of this earth? Did he create this earth? Wouldn’t that make Him the Father of our Spirits?

    If you one day become an exalted being in the Celestial Kingdom and make your own planets, wouldn’t YOU be the Father of the spirit children born on those planets as a God?

  95. Seven,

    I think the main reason we don’t pray to Jesus is that he never taught that.

    Jesus taught a method of praying that did not focus on him. He taught to ask the father in his name and to pray, “Our Father in Heaven”

    Mormon practice follows what Jesus teaches in the Gospels.

    I don’t think there is any harm in praying to Jesus, but it doesn’t seem to jibe with what he Himself wanted.

    JC

  96. “Is Jesus the God of this earth? Did he create this earth? Wouldn’t that make Him the Father of our Spirits?”

    No.

    All that scriptural reference does is establish that Jesus was involved in creating the physical world. No reference whatever to our spirits.

    Secondly,

    Mormon wards are not monolithic. Sure, we’ve got standardized lesson plans, but the character and experience in a Mormon ward can vary widely depending on which one you are attending. You can get an utterly different worship experience just by going to the other building across town.

    People should not generalize for the entire religion based on anecdotes pulled from their own localized experience. I have never been in a ward where Jesus was ever de-emphasized and I’ve been in plenty. But to hear some ex-members talk, you’d think nobody in the LDS faith believed in Christ at all.

    So you had a ward that ignored Jesus?

    So why didn’t you stick around and help them out? Why did you instead run away? Those Mormons needed your help in finding the truth. Instead you left them to rot in error.

    Maybe that’s not a fair read on your experience (in fact, it probably isn’t). Certainly, I don’t have much basis for deconstructing you based on only a couple internet comments. I’m just trying to point out that there were probably other responses to your situation than the one you chose. We need not abandon a religion simply because the other people won’t play the way we want them to.

  97. I have never been in a Ward that “ignored Jesus” and I didn’t intend to leave that impression. Mormons believe in Christ and much of the lesson plans, & talks mention Him. I think you may have misunderstood my experiences and the point I was trying to make. The focus on church is so much on the restoration and everything associated with it, that the life and teachings of Jesus often gets less focus in our meetings and church worship. And how we pray directly impacts that personal relationship. Obviously if you equate “the Church” with Jesus, then it won’t make a difference to you. You only need to attend testimony meeting to see what most LDS members focus on. Christ gets an honorable mention at the end, but members get all weepy over Joseph Smith and “the church.” Christ is always on the plate, but he’s not the main course.

    With the exception of really kooky members in a branch I attended back East, every Mormon Ward I attended was like a carbon copy of the other in everything from testimony meeting to Sunday School discussions. In fact, most members have expressed how they love the security that they can go to any Ward anywhere in the country and it’s the same. The culture in Mormonism doesn’t allow for diversity in Sunday worship, and neither does the very detailed structure given to local leaders.

    BTW, I didn’t “run away” from church. Why did you assume that? I remained active during the entire year I struggled with learning church history. I went inactive for a short time after that (trying to figure out where I fit) but I have never stopped living the gospel. I am currently active again with my family but obviously not an orthodox believer any longer.

  98. Hi Jared,
    If Christians view Jesus and the Father as one, then it makes all the difference in how you interpret those scriptures and pray.

    Hi Seth,
    you said:

    “All that scriptural reference does is establish that Jesus was involved in creating the physical world. No reference whatever to our spirits.”

    That’s not true. Christ is the creator of this earth (under the direction of the Father) which makes Him a God. Even the Book of Mormon mentions that Christ becomes the Father of our Spirits through “the fall.” We had to be reclaimed and He does this for us through the atonement. The Bible often refers to Christ as God and the creator of this Earth. As a Mormon, it was always confusing to see those scriptures and wonder which God it was referring to. The temple ceremony also teaches us that Jesus was already a God to create this earth.

    Did you see my question about exaltation? If you become a God one day, create a planet Earth and create spirit children with your exalted wives, are you not the Father of those spirits?

    Did you miss my question about why you “prefer a relationship with the Father over Christ?”

  99. Like I said, my example probably wasn’t an accurate portrayal of you. I acknowledge that.

    I prefer the relationship with the Father because that is whom I have been told to pray to – by Christ himself. So that’s who I developed the relationship with.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think it makes much practical difference. I imagine Christ shares the mind of the Father to such an extent that I might as well be addressing my prayers to him and worshiping him. Since Christ is part of what I consider to be the One God that Mormons worship, I think the bases are more or less covered (not accounting for my own weaknesses of course).

    I still don’t see what Christ physically creating the earth, and even us being his children by adoption (or by inclusion) has to do with him literally creating our spirits.

    Our spirits were organized before the physical creation of the world. In fact, Mormon scripture even suggests that we assisted God and Jesus in creating the physical world (reference to the “divine council” in heaven in the Old Testament).

    In the Mormon view, God organized our spirit forms out of pre-existing identities and THEN instructed the divine council – headed by Jehovah (Jesus) – to organize the physical earth.

    Does that clarify the timeline for you?

  100. Yes thank you. 🙂 I did understand the timeline already.
    Christ still created the earth, did he not? Yes, under the direction/command of the Father.

    I have no problem with the teachings that we assisted Jesus in creating the earth. I don’t believe your views on Christ merely “assisting” the Father in the creation mesh with the Bible or Book of Mormon. There are countless scriptures referring to Christ as God, the Father and creator of this earth. The Godhead is THE hot topic between EVs and Mormons on most discussion boards so I assume you know which scriptures I am referring to. As I said before, as a Mormon I always felt confused by those scriptures and couldn’t understand which of the Gods (the Father or Christ) the different scriptures were addressing.

    So what is your view on future exaltation for worthy members of the church if you believe that Christ as the creator of this earth did not make spirits with his exalted wives? Define exaltation in Mormon doctrine.

    So is your view that Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior wasn’t a God before He came to earth? Was He only a spirit being like all of us? Are all the scriptures from the Lord speaking to Prophets throughout the Bible all from the Father? I was taught it was Jesus as a God giving these revelations. Not a spirit child.

  101. My own wacky theory is that “God” is not so much a person as something that persons participate in.

    But that’s waaay out in left field. Not doctrinally supported at all, and probably wrong. So there you are.

  102. Seven,

    I think that Evangelicals and Mormons should agree that God himself does not define Himself at all clearly in recorded revelation. There is so much left to discussion and questioning that its almost as if He is being intentionally elusive.

    Therefore I don’t really worry too much about what people think God is, whether they think he is one or three or somewhere in between. All that is clear is that he decribes himself as being indescribable to us…

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