Updates Hit “Foundation for Christian Studies”

Based on feedback offered by the comments on this blog the “Foundation for Christian Studies” has made changes to their website to make their connection to Mormonism more explicit. Their intro paragraph now reads

The Foundation for Christian Studies (FCS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, teaching, and practice of Christianity according to the doctrines and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism). The website is intended to inspire all people, regardless of religious affiliation, to come together in support of essential Christian values and compassionate service to God’s children across the globe. The FCS accomplishes this by providing rich scriptural course study, access to spiritual web forums, an online store offering inspirational Christian media, and a charitable giving program.

The founder and board of advisors of the FCS are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and therefore the principles and doctrines of Christianity taught on this website are aligned with those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism). However, this web site is designed for people interested in learning more about all faiths and Christianity in general as a form of spiritual exploration. Through earnest study toward the understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ we can grow in our desire to love and serve the Savior—leading to an increase of spiritual peace and freedom in our lives and a commitment to reach out to those who are less fortunate.

In addition there are other changes throughout the site. I was pleased to see that they were willing to respond to feedback and make corresponding changes.

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38 thoughts on “Updates Hit “Foundation for Christian Studies”

  1. Just to add: I apologize for having not been a productive part of the earlier conversation. I was a bit careless and defensive and appreciate the feedback a great deal – to the point where we made the changes. Know that I appreciate these kinds of exchanges and will refrain from participating when I find myself in that stressed out of a situation. Thank you again and God bless.

  2. I still think that the site name and logo are misleading, but now the content has been made sufficiently clear that I think it’s just bad marketing, not duplicity.

  3. This is the other Eric, not Eric Shuster.

    The home page and the About page now both make it very clear from the top what the theological perspective of the site is. There’s enough there to eliminate my concerns that the site is engaging in a bait-and-switch tactic.

    I’m not saying the site is put together the way I would do it, but the changes do strike me as a genuine and sincere response to concerns that have been raised.

  4. Yes, I think it’s all an effort in good-faith. None of us are going to be given editorial control to make our list of changes, nor would I expect it. But those who are unfamiliar with the specifics of Mormonism will understand where the perspective of the site is coming from.

  5. None of us are going to be given editorial control to make our list of changes

    And why not? Tell me, why shouldn’t I be given editorial control over some random internet dude’s website? I feel like I’m entitled to it.

  6. Kullervo, you and you alone are entitled to it. Unfortunately I don’t think he follows the rulz of teh interwebz

  7. But he’s a person on the Internet. why wouldn’t he follow the rules? It doesn’t make sense.

  8. What would an appropriate logo for the Foundation for Christian Studies look like?The guidelines are that it has to communicate Christianity, be immediately recognizable by all Christians, and not include a cross.

    I welcome your suggestions.

    Looking forward to it.

  9. I don’t really mind the logo, because it’s the words on the site that really matter and no one really pays any attention to logos anyway 😉

    It’s a tough question: what symbol is used by most Christians and also Mormons? I think that’s what you need: something that says “Christian” without being something not normally used by Mormons.

    A silhouette of Jesus? Too complicated (and weird).

    A cross? Not Mormon enough.

    A Bible? Errmmm, too restrictive for Mormonism.

    An image of Arianus and Pelagius in conversation with Calvin? Probably not recognizable—or interpretable.

    The more I think of it, I think you should keep the logo you have. Does it use traditional Christian symbols? Yep. Could someone looking at the logo think this is a traditional Christian site? Yep. Is that someone an idiot if they don’t read the first few sentences on the site that (now) explicitly state that it is Christian from a Mormon perspective and therefore the lazy logo-looker deserves whatever confusion he brings upon himself? Yep.

    I’m sure some—probably many—will complain that you’re “stealing” traditional Christian symbolism. But you know what? The dove and the fish represent things that Mormons believe in just as much as any other Christian. I don’t think anyone gets to lay claim to those symbols. In fact, I think you should stick a cross in the background just for good measure.

  10. Although I objected to the logo earlier (I’m LDS), I now agree with BrianJ. I think your home and About pages make it sufficiently clear that this is an LDS-oriented site, so I’m not longer concerned about the logo seeming duplicitous. But the logo’s definitely not LDS-looking. The fish and dove aren’t symbols we use much if at all, but there’s no reason why wouldn’t. So use them if you like them. (And, in my view, the reasons we don’t use the cross are an accident of history rather than anything based on our beliefs.)

    Another symbol that comes to mind would be something using bread and/or wheat. The wheat is a symbol used at some temples because of its association with Jesus as the bread of life. Perhaps some combo of the fish and bread, which also would be reminiscent of the feeding of the thousands, would be cool.

    Maybe I should go in the logo design business and compete with Tim. 🙂

  11. And while you are open for suggestions, I have another one: on your social issues menu, there is no page concerning helping the poor even though that was the social issue about which Jesus spoke the most about. Maybe that could be added.

  12. Folks:

    Good conversation with some good ideas. I like the wheat idea and may play with that a bit. The logo is important and should be thoughtfully considered.

    Tim: as for using the cross I thought an exchange between the late Gordon B. Hinckley and a group of Christian clergy may illustrate the point of why we do not typically use the cross as a symbol of faith:

    President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the reason in a talk delivered in general conference. He told about talking to a Protestant minister following a temple open house. The minister had asked why there were no crosses anywhere if we say we believe in Jesus Christ. President Hinckley answered, “‘I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.’

    “He then asked, ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’

    “I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship” (“The Symbol of Christ,” New Era, Apr. 1990, p. 4).

    President Hinckley further explained, “On Calvary he was the dying Jesus. From the tomb he emerged the living Christ. … Because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of his death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when he said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)” (pp. 6, 7).

    The “New Era” Magazine explains: “Even though we do not believe in using the cross as a symbol in our Church, we do not criticize others for wearing or using the cross in their religions. We should understand that the cross is significant and sacred to them. In fact, the 11th article of faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    “We focus on the great atonement of our Savior, his sacrifice for us that makes eternal life possible. We think of his life and sacrifice every Sunday during the sacrament. Our testimonies become the precious things that we bear, along with our obedience, to show we are true followers of Christ.”

    Given this I would continue to refrain from using a cross in the logo, while still recognizing the sacred nature it has for other Christians. I might add – our home displays a cross given to me by a friend who acquired the cross in Mexico.

    Rollingforest – thank you for taking the time to look at our charities. We have selected two charities that have outstanding records of helping those who are striving for self-sufficiency. You mentioned helping the poor: I believe Choice Humanitarian is doing just that by going into villages to set up infrastructure to help sustain life over the long run. It is an excellent charity that gives heartily to the poor – just as Jesus would. If you have some other examples I would love to hear about them.

  13. Eric, I like that name, “Foundation for Christian Studies”.

    Can I steal it? 🙂

    Btw, the website does look very LDSish. Except maybe for the logo, which looks a little Calvary Chapel-ish. And that’s a little ironic because Calvary Chapel consists of Jesus people who are counter to the religious culture in the I-15 Corridor.

  14. You mentioned helping the poor: I believe Choice Humanitarian is doing just that by going into villages to set up infrastructure to help sustain life over the long run. It is an excellent charity that gives heartily to the poor – just as Jesus would.

    I like the subtext here. “Jesus wouldn’t just give handouts to beggars. Jesus’s message of hope to the poor was about helping them help themselves.”

  15. Todd Wood said:

    Btw, the website does look very LDSish. Except maybe for the logo, which looks a little Calvary Chapel-ish.

    I also thought of Calvary Chapel the first time I saw it.

  16. good luck getting the “lives of our people” to fit into a logo. 😉

    Not to rehash an entire conversation that we’ve previously discussed. . . I understand the justifications that LDS use for not using the cross, as Eric said, I think it was an accident of history and not really something done with intention or forethought.

    I love the cross because it’s a symbol of the victory of the resurrection. Even the device use to torture and kill Jesus is turned upside down and redeemed because he lives.

  17. @Eric Shuster: I’m glad to hear about your charitable work. Charities are a very important part of the Christian life. However, I was referring to your Social Issues tab on the main page. I do think talking about this issue is important considering that, at one count, there are over 2000 verses on helping the needy in the Bible. Charities are much more successful if we focus on teaching people the moral reasons why so much of the Bible is focused on this issue.

    How do you get to the part of your website dealing with charities? I don’t immediately see any link on the main page. Perhaps this could be another way you could help your visitors.

    @Kullervo: I agree that we should not reward bad behavior. The problem, however, is that many people are too quick to rant about welfare and say that if you are poor you must be lazy, when in reality many poor are working long hours every day at minimum wage jobs and still struggling to pay the rent. Millions of unemployed people are sending out resume after resume because they want to work but can’t find a job. Many of today’s poor grew up in neighborhoods with gangs and drug lords and went to school in rundown buildings. Many of them had absentee parents who didn’t teach them as children. Many did not receive any financial help to pay for college unlike their richer peers. Labeling them as lazy is unfair and not what Jesus would want.

  18. Did you ever hear Jesus make excuses for people? Did you ever hear Jesus blame society’s problems on absentee parents, gangs, minimum wage and drug lords?

  19. How the heck is that making excuses? Are you seriously saying that if your children grew up in poverty, well then that’s just their tough luck and you wouldn’t care? Are you seriously saying that if they were distracted from their homework because someone got shot down the street, you would blame them for not getting an A on their paper? Are you really saying that you would blame them for not going to college if you didn’t help them out financially while all their friend’s parents helped their kids?

    Go send your kids to live in the ghetto and I bet you’ll sing a different tune about how the stresses of life can degrade a person.

    Jesus said that everyone has value. This whole “sucks to be you” disregard for anyone besides themselves that people have is what is the cancer on this society.

  20. Now perhaps I’ve misunderstood you, Kullervo, and please correct me if I have, but I do find people who grew up in good homes and good neighborhoods, who arrogantly (and falsely) claim that they “did it ALL on my own” and mock those who struggle in the bad circumstances, to be very selfish and self centered people. I do pray that I misunderstood your point and that you aren’t sneering at those who have had harder lives than you.

  21. Rollingforest: Now I understand! Thank you for pointing that out. I will plan to write an essay on the topic which will touch upon what you and Kullervo are discussing. If you scroll toward the bottom of the FCS home page you will see the charities flash. You can also mouse over on the about tab and see the charities option come up.

    Charitable giving places responsibility on both the giver and the receiver. The giver to impart of his or her substance, and the receiver to receive in thanksgiving with righteous intent. The forth chapter of Mosiah, verses 17-19, in the Book of Mormon lays this out quite uniquely:

    17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

    18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

    19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    I personally believe that Jesus would fully support the concept of personal responsibility; however, we must also accept that he taught us bluntly, and without caveats, to give to the poor. Should there be one who is poor by personal choice and “scamming” for donations, then the giver will receive the blessing of his charity and the receiver will be judged by the Lord accordingly. Thus the scripture above from the Book of Mormon. Those who are truly poor as a means of adversity in mortality need our charity… as Jesus said, the poor will always be with us.

    This does not fully address the concept of enabling those who are scamming for donations to feed a bad habit, but we can once again defer to the earlier scripture. We give to not only help others, but because we need to give as children of God.

    Just my opinion.
    God Bless.

  22. I can’t think offhand where he said that directly, but by his actions he said that. By spending time with tax collectors, Samaritans and prostitutes, all of them looked down upon in the culture in which he lived, Jesus gave us a very clear message about what the worth of the lowly is.

  23. By spending all his time inside the borders of the Roman Empire, Jesus gave us a very clear message about which Empire is the greatest.

  24. It was the actions of the Savior that spoke much louder than his words. Some words that come to mind are those from Matthew 6:26 which read “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

  25. It was the actions of the Savior that spoke much louder than his words.

    So then why don’t Mormons grow long hair and beards?

  26. Facial hair is not against any priesthood leadership grooming standards. I have had bishops with facial hair, even a state presidency member with facial hair. It is a personal choice that is not governed by any written standards.

    However, there is an “unwritten order” that urges priesthood brethren to be as clean as they can be from an outward appearance perspective. To be free from anything that might be a distraction to themselves or others – especially during worship services (including the wearing of white shirts). Wherein the old days shaving was in and of itself a distraction and not easy to execute – thus many had beards – today it is much easier to accomplish (although not for every man).

    The Church doesn’t regulate facial hair, it simply encourages all priesthood brethren to be as clean and well groomed as they can be both in the inside and the outside.

    As for the wine, that is another story altogether. : )

  27. Almost two years
    later I have returned to let you know that http://www.studychristianity.com has been completely redesigned and now more than ever makes it clear what the site is all about. You will be interested to know that the Foundation for Christian Studies has taken a back seat to this effort and is now simply a sponsor of sorts. The new StudyChristianity.com, CatholicLDSChristianity.com and FindYourChristianity.com are all part of a new series that will launch on January 14th as part of a global effort to promote my upcoming book “Where are the Christians? The Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion” due for release May 14, 2013. Come on by at FindYourChristianity.com for a look starting Monday the 14th. God Bless.

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