I’ve been away awhile.
I’ve been achanging, and I like what I’ve become.
I’m no longer crazy.
I’m in love.
I’ve decided to change my name.
Want to help me come up with a new handle?
Leave your suggestion in the comments!
Last November our choir sang “A New Creation” a Cantata written by Rene Clausen. This song really touched me and has meant a lot to me. This is not our group singing, and please forgive the soloist his voice crack on “hope”. This is my new ideal, this is my new motivation.
In my previous post, my point was that we can gain from dialogue with those who disagree with us. We can challenge our assumptions, see how well they hold up to scrutiny, try seeing things from a different light or viewpoint, see if anyone else’s viewpoint can honestly add to our own. These are all very positive things because the more we experience and know the more we can ask God to reveal the truth to us, to make new connections, to fully experience life.
But there are also some negative facets to interfaith Dialogue, which Philip so aptly hinted at. Here are some of the “bad” intentions I’ve thought of as I’ve examined the interactions of myself and others in these many debates.
“Convincing someone else that your belief is right, and theirs is incorrect.” I think everyone I’ve interacted with online, including myself has been guilty of this.
“Convincing a third party of the beliefs of your second party, especially when your view is incorrect.” The person most guilty of this has got to be the false-named “I love Mormons” site run by Jessica and assisted by NChristine and Jessica’s friend Stephanie. This is followed up closely by Tim at LDSTalk. Jack has been fairly even keeled about this all, except when it comes to gender-equality, but we all have our pet doctrines.
We may want to correct the false things said about our own faith by those against us, or even those who claim to be with us. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with correcting the false things that others say about your religion.
The final reason I wank to discuss about interfaith dialogue, is when we feel we have something to prove. I know this from personal experience, that when we truly believe or know something, we teach and prove it in a far more balanced manner than when we simply wish to believe, hope to believe, yet truly don’t believe or know. Probably the most tangible experience for me was discussing the cultural attitudes towards women with a very enlightened, emancipated woman. She was set on going to law school and proving that she was every bit as good as any man. In my head, I distinctly remember thinking, “I probably think she’s more capable than she does herself, because I don’t need her to prove it to me, but she feels like she not only has to prove it to herself, but to everyone she meets.” It’s like the expression of a need of a approval instead of relying on her own self-confidence betrays her lack of self confidence. I think this also has bearing for interfaith dialogue.
Those who truly believe in their own “religious beliefs” behave much differently than those who are trying to convince themselves. Theirs a peace, a certainty, a confidence that makes down-cutting, irreverent, invasive, rude, condescending comments superfluous and offensive to the spirit of the true God. Thru many of these interactions, we can often sense whether or not those we converse with are being inspired by their own fallen intelligence, the spirit of God, or some other spirit. Over the last several months I received a clarity in being able to sense the difference in those I interact with. And therefore, having found that I find no uplifting conversation from anyone at Jessica’s blog, and fewer at Tim’s, I had decided to withdraw my interactions. I had begun interfaith blogging to defend my religion from many of Jessica’s false statements about Mormonism. I now have the confidence to KNOW that I don’t need to do that. Those who truly seek after the truth are intelligent enough to see the back-handed, dishonest, dis-ingenuous and comments, and if they aren’t, they really deserve what they get, and those who spread lies like Jessica, Darrel, Gloria, and their ilk will continue to associate with the same dishonest,
low-brow, and foolish individuals. That’s their choice.
It’s not God who’s dead, Nietze, it’s the false followers of him who are spiritually dead, and fight instead of dialogue.
OK my crazy followers. I’ve thought of a new post to write. I won’t apologizing for not being around, real life has been a lot better later, and haven’t needed to spend as much time with the bloggernacle. In any case, I have some thoughts I want to share about interfaith dialogue. I’ve broken the post into two parts, the positive half, and the negative half.
As always, I will try to incorporate some chemistry to enlighten my readers and as an example of the principles I will be discussing. Think about the air in the room around you. How fast do you think the molecules are traveling? Some of you probably have no idea (that’s OK). Some might thinkk you’re pretty smart, and will say, “duh, PC, they’re traveling the speed of sound, about 343 m/s at STP (standard temperature and pressure).” But that’s incorrect, that’s only the most probably speed. In reality there’s a distribution of velocities. There are some molecules that are traveling slower than the average, some that are faster than the average, and some that are at the average. You can see some images of the distributions here. Now what’s interesting about these curves is that we also remember that the molecules aren’t stationary, they are constantly in motion, constantly bouncing, interacting and constantly changing. Sometimes the fast molecules interact with the slow ones, and the both become closer to the average speed. Sometimes molecules interact with each other and one molecule gains velocity and the other one loses it. Sometimes the interactions involve bouncing, or sticking, elastic and inelastic collisions.
So what does this all have to do with a positive outlook on interfaith dialogue? To me, it’s all about learning via interaction. Sometimes we may approach interfaith dialogue with “bad” intentions. We may want to convince others that their beliefs are incorrect. We may want to convince outsiders about what others beliefs are, either correctly or incorrectly. We may want to correct the false information spread by others. But in all of these interactions, we are changed, of course, we can choose if we are changed for the better or the worse, we can choose if you change closer or further away from the truth. We can choose whether we seek to glorify God by speaking the truth and relying on His Holy Spirit to Teach and Testify of Truth, or whether we rely on our own fallen minds to spread misinformation. We can choose whether we’ll be open to the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit by previous obedience to God’s commandments, or we can open ourselves to inspiration from the spirit of the devil by practicing and idolizing contention. No matter what, the choice is ours.
This is just so I remember to go back and listen to this again.
BTW, does anyone know of a transcript for this talk, especially the Q and A section?
After posting an explanation as to why it is incorrect to assign other Christian denominations to the Great and Abominable church, I received a “loving” rebuke from someone accusing me of sinning, through lying, by omission. In fact, I think John W Redelf is trying to the use the same “loving” tactics as some of our loving ex-Mormons. I just find it funny that Redlef’s sin is not knowing where doctrine comes from (it comes to lowly seventy of course, why bother the Prophet, he’s got administration to do).
The assumption this “man” makes is intent. Number one, this man has no way of judging the intent of me or any other human. Two, this man’s form of disputation is a very good example arrogant Mormonism, calling someone a liar because they have viewpoints you disagree with.
I’m going to approach this by first off agreeing with another commenter on a blog. I do respect a lot of the effort Bruce R. McConkie did to study the scriptures. I respect him for trying hard and being wrong in spite of his efforts. It gives me hope that God can still do great things with those who are wrong. But that doesn’t make McConkie infallible. I agree with Geoff J. that Bruce R. McConkie was a man with opinions just like anyone else. Geoff wrote: “Apostles have the right to be wrong on occasion too.”
The reason Redelfs accuses me of lying, is because I have omitted the “real” story of how Mormon Doctrine came to be “authorized” by the church. While Redelf admits McConkie never claimed his book was official church doctrine, Redelf himself insists that somehow the book was “authorized” to be re-published. The problem is how Redelf claims this happened. We have a historical record, written President McKay, where he says he did not authorize any other editions of “Mormon Doctrine.” McConkie, on the other hand, also records his own historical record, where he claims he did have an authorization to produce another edition. How Redelf thinks accusing McKay of lying in order to save McConkie’s skin is a good thing for the church is beyond me. I personally believe McKay’s record, rather than McConkie’s. I mean, McKay didn’t have his own pride to save by writing the record that way, whereas McConkie, and McConkie’s family, certainly does.
Here’s the historian’s comments who wrote the Biography on David O. McKay:
It is clear, from comparing the two simultaneous, first-hand accounts of McConkie’s meeting with McKay, that they portray the meeting in very different light. When McKay’s own account has him saying, “. . . should the book be republished at this time . . . it will not be a Church publication . . .” and McConkie claims McKay “indicated that the book should be republished at this time . . .”, there is a definite disconnect.
Furthermore, Redelf insists that sharing how Elder Mark E Peterson found 1067 errors in the book Mormon Doctrine makes one a liar, because one is “abusing one of [God’s] true prophets.” I’m not sure how sharing an apostle’s findings makes one a liar. Is Redelf really that bold to insist that Elder Peterson, of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles at the time, was lying about and abusing “one of [God’s] true prophets”, when Elder McConkie wasn’t even an apostle when he wrote his book?
Redelf’s final snark is really kind of funny. I’m actually thinking of sending this to his Bishop, just because if his Bishop isn’t aware of this man, he’s missing out on comedic opportunities. “Shame on those saints that spend their lives running down the memory and reputation of Bruce R. McConkie. Those who do it are unworthy to kiss his feet.” I’m glad I can be of some use to Redelf here. While I recognize that he’s too busy reading and defending Mormon Doctrine to read in the standard works (the official teachings of the church), there’s this amazing story in the Revelation of John. When John is confronted with an Angel of indescribable glory, he falls at his feet to worship the angel, and he was forbidden from doing it, because even as an angel, a messenger of God, clothed in God’s authority and power, he was still not a divine being. Like this angel, McConkie was but a fellow-servant, and I will never worship him, and it is blasphemous for Redelf to even use the example, even in jest. Revelation 19:
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
I’m also going to take the time to rebut some of the arguments put forth by Joseph Fielding McConkie, in an interview at Meridian Magazine.
Question: How is it, then, that the book was reissued?
Response: On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was assigned to be Elder McConkie’s mentor in making those changes.
Response: Yes, but if they would think about it, that assertion does not make much sense. … It could also be noted that Mormon Doctrine was reissued in 1966, and its author was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1972. It takes a pretty good imagination to suppose that a man who flagrantly ignored the direction of the president of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would be called to fill a vacancy in that body.
…Bruce McConkie would have died a thousand deaths before he would have disregarded the prophet’s counsel or that of the Quorum of the Twelve….
The problem I have with JFM’s “logic” is that there are a number of possibilities that he doesn’t consider. He doesn’t consider that 1) permission might not have been granted, and 2) BRM thought he had obtained permission. I know in my own life, people tend to hear what they want to hear. While I don’t doubt BRM’s integrity in thinking that he lied about it, I do think he was incorrect. It is clear from the historical record, that McKay did not authorize any other printings. Joseph Fielding McConkie also makes a number of assumptions about how things work when apostles are called. Joseph Fielding McConkie assumes that if Bruce R McConkie had disobeyed a prophet two previous to the time of his call, that he automatically wouldn’t be called as an apostle later on. Maybe not everyone was aware that he HAD disobeyed. It already seems clear he had persuaded himself that he hadn’t done anything wrong. And with McKay’s declining health, we shouldn’t make assumptions about anything not in the historical record, where he clearly did not authorize the second edition. Joseph Fielding McConkie also appears to believe calls to the apostleship are based more on human observations of obedience rather than the will of God. That’s really kind of sad for a religion professor at Brigham Young University. FWIW, I can see Bruce R. McConkie having deluded himself, and being incorrect about whether he could publish, God forgiving him and still having him called as an apostle. But let’s all remember, he was never called as the prophet, the only man authorized to receive revelation for the church, and the only man authorized to exercise all priesthood keys.
My Evangelical friends should know that I have worked tirelessly to excise the inappropriate usage of some Mormons to consign all other denominations to the heading “great and abominable church” (GAC).
I’m fairly certain, that this has been promulgated the most by the authoritative sounding book published by the late Bruce R. McConkie (BRM). While BRM was an LDS apostle, at the time his book was published he was not an LDS apostle. For a number of reasons why this book was problematic, (as seen from the leadership of the Church), you can see a number of sources, including this one. Of particular note, is the need of over 1000 corrections, and even then, the President of the Church did not want any other editions published. More information about this can be read about in the biography on David O. McKay.
It’s probably clear by now, that I don’t consider Mormon Doctrine to be “Official Mormon Doctrine.” I point out that the book has never passed the Church’s correlation, and therefore, I don’t think anyone should use McConkie’s writings as “the official” way to interpret LDS scriptures. In fact, in discussing the “Great and Abominable Church,” there is a writing that HAS passed Church correlation. I think that all LDS church members should read this talk before ascribing anyone to the “great and abominable church.”
The article was written by Stephen Robinson, and is found in the 1988 January Ensign magazine, entitled “Warring against the Saints of God,” on page 34. You can read the entire article for yourself, and also check my conclusions, but I’m going to give a paraphrase of the article.
Nephi’s vision in 1 Nephi chapters 13 and 14 fits into the genre of apocalyptic literature, meaning that the seer is caught up in vision and sees things from God’s perspective. “Time ceases to be an important element; this is one reason the chronology in Revelation at times seems to be scrambled: with God there is no time as we reckon it. (See Alma 40:8.)” Because of the symbolic nature of apocalyptic visions, usually an angelic interpreter is required. The symbols are all-inclusive: all things can be placed into the categories. While the name of the symbol may change, the character, that which defines the symbol, always stays the same. And while a symbol could theoretically stand for a single thing, often it doesn’t. For instance Babylon doesn’t describe a single city, it describes a situation, one script, one plot. Therefore, in apocalyptic literature, the important point is identifying the patterns and characteristics of those categories.
We are informed that great means large, and abominable means that which God hates, often being associated with idolatrous worship or gross sexual immorality.
The Hebrew and Greek words for “church” have a broader meaning anciently than our modern use of church, meaning basically any association of those with the same loyalties, and was not restrictive to mere religious associations.
Robinson posits that the term great and abominable church should mean: “an immense assembly or association of people bound together by their loyalty to that which God hates. Most likely, this “church” is involved specifically in sexual immorality, idolatry (that is, false worship), or both.” Then Robinson lists the major characteristics of the GAC as found in 1 Nephi and compares that with the characteristics of Babylon as found in Revelation.
1. The GAC persecutes, tortures, and slays the Saints of God. (See 1 Ne. 13:5.) & Babylon is drunk with the blood of the Saints, the martyrs of Jesus, and the prophets. (See Rev. 17:6; Rev. 18:24.)
2. The GAC seeks wealth and luxury. (See 1 Ne. 13:7–8.) & Bablyon is known for her enjoyment of great wealth and luxury. (See Rev. 17:4; Rev. 18:3, 11–16.)
3. The GAC is characterized by sexual immorality. (See 1 Ne. 13:7.) & Babylon is characterized by wanton sexual immorality. (See Rev. 17:1–2, 5.)
4. The GAC has dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. (See 1 Ne. 14:11.) and Babylon has dominion over all nations. (See Rev. 17:15, 18; Rev. 18:3, 23–24.)
5. Its fate is to be consumed by a world war, when the nations it incites against the Saints war among themselves until the great and abominable church itself is destroyed. (See 1 Ne. 22:13–14.) and Babylon’s fate is to be consumed by the very kings who, because of her deceptions, have made war on the Lamb. (See Rev. 17:14–16; Rev. 18:23.)
6. The GAC has excised plain and precious things from the scriptures. (See 1 Ne. 13:26–29.)
In Revelation, there are several symbols of the devil’s kingdom. The un-virtuous woman representing false religion, and not kingdoms or governments as the beast and its horns do.
Chapters 13 and 14 of 1 Nephi use different definitions for “church” and therefore can cause an apparent contradiction. In Chapter 13, the GAC is one SPECIFIC church among many others that are not ‘great and abominable’. The language of “most abominable above all other churches (1 Ne. 13:5, 26) does not make sense otherwise.” Further, the church described in chapter 13 has a “specific historical description: it was formed among the Gentiles after the Jews transmitted the Bible in its purity to the Gentiles. (1 Ne. 13:26.) It is also the specific historical agent responsible for excising plain and precious truths from the scriptural record.” We’re also reminded that the GAC did it’s work after the end of the first century a.d.
In Chapter 14, on the other hand, an exclusionary definition of church is used, instead of many possible different churches or organizations, only two are talked about. Robinson asks: “ How can the devil’s church or churches be one and many at the same time? …. The answer is that the term is used in two different ways in 1 Nephi 13–14. In chapter 13 it is used historically, and in chapter 14 it is used typologically.”
Robinson quotes 2 Nephi 10:16 to describe this typology: “He that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.” (Italics added.)” If we apply the definitions of apocalyptic literature to the GAC (one exclusive and historical and the other inclusive and archetypical, we see the historical in chapter 13 and the archetypal in chapter 14.
Some further information about apocalyptic literature:
“Apocalyptic literature is dualistic. Since it deals with types, everything boils down to opposing principles: love and hate, good and evil, light and dark. There are no gray areas in apocalyptic writing. In this sense, there are only two categories in the realm of religion: religion that will save and religion that won’t. The former is the church of the Lamb, and the latter, no matter how well intentioned, is a counterfeit.”
This is how Robinson applies the distinction to the Great and Abominable Church.
“In the historical sense, though, only one entity can be the great and abominable church. Well-intentioned churches would thus not qualify as the mother of abominations described in 1 Nephi 13. They do not slay the saints of God nor seek to control civil governments nor pursue wealth, luxury, and sexual immorality. In either the apocalyptic sense or the historical sense, individual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not by membership but by loyalty.”
At this point, it is probably good to recap what Robinson wrote: Well-intentioned churches do not qualify as the GAC defined by 1 Nephi 13 because they do not fulfill the qualifications outlined in 1 Nephi 13. Furthermore, for both definitions of GAC, loyalty is more important than membership, and since no mortal has the ability to see into another person’s heart and judge them, we are wrong to judge their loyalty by calling them a member of the GAC.
Robinson’s money quote, which passed church correlation just fine: “Just as there Latter-day Saints who belong to the great and abominable church because of their loyalty to Satan and his life-style, so there are members of other churches who belong to the Lamb because of their loyalty to him and his life-style. Membership is based more on who has your heart than on who has your records.”
Finally, the smack-down: “Some Latter-day Saints have erred in believing that some specific denomination, to the exclusion of all others, has since the beginning of time been the great and abominable church. This is dangerous, for many will then want to know which it is, and an antagonistic relationship with that denomination will inevitably follow.”
Robinson then outlines how Judaic elements were not able to fulfill the scriptural requirements of belonging to the GAC. After which, Robinson outlines why it is untenable for Roman Catholicism to be considered the GAC. Untenable means undefendable. All Robinson has to do to show that something is indefensible is to show that any of the claims are wrong. Robinson shows this by recognizing the historical fact that the Roman Catholic Church did not exist when the GAC was doing it’s work. Robinson shows that the plain and precious parts were already removed by 313 AD, before the Catholic church was made a state religion by Constantine. Robinson shows how the orthodox church was not known for it’s immorality (rather its asceticism), and how they weren’t able to persecute any saints, as they had NO power, and were themselves being persecuted!
So Robinson’s conclusion was that “The Catholic church of the fourth century was the result of the Apostasy—its end product—not the cause.”
And therefore it would be incorrect to call the Catholic church or anything that came after the Catholic church the GAC.
Robinson then outlines how we know of no historical church, denomination, or set of believers that meet the requirements for being the great and abominable church, because no historical organization fulfills the requirements listed in the scriptures. The reason we know of no historical church is because we have the fewest primary historical sources. After this historical blind-spot, we find a different entity than the one that Christ organized, Hellenized (or made-Greek) Christianity. While LDS do not believe that Hellenized Christianity maintained the same fullness necessary, one should also not conflate Hellenized (and incomplete) Christianity with the Great and Abominable Church.
I conclude with Brother Robinson’s final paragraph:
“The historical abominable church of the devil is that apostate church that replaced true Christianity in the first and second centuries, teaching the philosophies of men mingled with scriptures. It dethroned God in the church and replaced him with man by denying the principle of revelation and turning instead to human intellect. As the product of human agency, its creeds were an abomination to the Lord, for they were idolatry: men worshipping the creations, not of their own hands, but of their own minds.
Babylon in the first and second centuries may even have been a collection of different movements. Some Jewish Christians couldn’t let go of the law of Moses and eventually gave up Christ instead. The Orthodox Christians adopted Greek philosophy. The Gnostics wallowed in the mysteries and in unspeakable practices on the one hand or in neurotic asceticism on the other. Second-century compilers like Tatian and Marcion rewrote the scriptures, the latter boldly chopping out anything he didn’t like. And all of them together forced the virtuous woman, the true church of Jesus Christ, into the wilderness.”
I heard a funny story about myself today: Apparently, I’m an average Mormon.
Several months ago when my new roommate arrived, I took him on a tour of the city, and helped him move his stuff in. You know, the same things anyone would do for a roommate. He then told his sister.
Several weeks later, his sister asked: “So how are things going with your roommate?” “Which, the member or the non-member.” She responded, “you know, the average Mormon.”
Upon hearing this response, my roommate burst into laughter, knowing that I am, by no means an average Mormon. But I guess, even when I was inactive, I acted like one. Who would’ve thunk it?
This is funny.