Monday, July 20, 2009

What Do I Mean By "Pure" Mormonism?


Some time ago I asked a class of LDS teenagers what they felt were the most important qualities that should be inherent in them as members of Christ's church. Here is a list of their answers as I wrote them on the chalkboard:


1. Be a good example to non-members

2. Obey our leaders

3. Follow the Prophet

4. Obey the Word of Wisdom

5. Dress modestly

6. Attend all your meetings

7. Don't do drugs

After listing their answers, I handed them my scriptures and asked them to find the verses that would back up their assertions. None of them could. Some thought they could show proof of a requirement to obey the word of wisdom, but when they pulled up section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, they could find no evidence of a commandment to obey. The males in the room laughingly admitted they remembered reading item number seven off a urinal mat, but that was the closest any could come to citing any source.

All of the items on the above list are some of the trappings of Mormonism, but none of them are salient to the restoration. God didn't appear to Joseph Smith to remind him to attend his meetings.

Likewise, blindly "following the Prophet" and "obeying our leaders" are 20th century constructs. Joseph Smith said that "a man of God would despise the idea." He often reminded the saints that he was a prophet only when speaking as one, and warned them that because they were depending on the prophet they were darkened in their minds. God never assigned us any "leaders" to obey, although if you feel the Holy Ghost is inadequate in your life, you may feel compelled to assign some to yourself. You do have your free agency.

Americans didn't require a new religion in order to learn to dress modestly or be good examples, and as for not doing drugs, the Lord placed certain plants on the earth as medicines, and it doesn't require divine revelation to realize that taking medicine for fun may not be such a good idea. (Not to mention that earthly governments have used such abuse as excuses to keep God's medicines out of the hands of His children entirely, and to further their control over His people. But that's a rant for another day.)

Joseph Smith's famous epiphany occurred at a time of great religious upheaval when the various professors of religion were blustering and threatening each others' flocks with eternal damnation; their own parishioners ever fearful that the devil was just waiting for them to make one false move. There were hoops to jump through and rules to obey, and if you failed to do every little thing just right, Jesus would damn you to burn in hell for all eternity.

Into the middle of this shoutfest stepped a young farm boy who quietly announced that Jesus would rather we return to His original gospel of goodwill to all men; that the followers of Christ should be defined not by fear, but by love.

Pure Mormonism, under Joseph Smith's tutelage, was nothing less than pure Christianity, which is defined as love of God and love of neighbor. Anything that does not endorse or amplify that love is mere religious baggage. "In reality and essence", said Joseph of the various denominations, "we do not differ so far in our religious views but that we could all drink into one principle of love."

So the one true quality that should define a Latter-day Saint is the same as would define all Christians: Love.

Well, that should be easy.

Oh, wait. Jesus puts a condition on that love. That condition is this: Your love for your fellow man must be unconditional. Just like His love for you.

That may seem like a difficult quality to attain at first, but I can tell you it gets easier with practice. You can start by purging yourself of all judgment of others. As I mentioned in my previous post, unconditional love cannot exist simultaneously with judgment. I'll give you an example.

Not long after after my wife Connie and I had both made a conscious decision to more fully live in the spirit, we were sitting in a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in West Jordan, Utah. Across the room from us I noticed a grossly overweight woman sitting in a booth eating alone. On the table before her was a massive array of food.


Now, in my old days, I might have allowed several thoughts to take root in my mind:
  • If that woman didn't eat that much food, she wouldn't be so fat.
  • No wonder she's alone.
  • It's a miracle she can even fit in that booth.
  • You'd think she'd be embarrassed to be seen in public looking like that and eating like that.
  • I'll bet she's LDS. If she lived the word of wisdom properly she wouldn't eat like a pig.
  • She should show some self-control.

Those are the kinds of thoughts I'm ashamed to say used to come all too easily to me. Those are thoughts of judgment. When it comes right down to it, this kind of judgment is what you display when you feel others aren't up to speed like you are. Why can't they get it together? Why doesn't this woman control her appetite? Why can't she be just a little more like me?

What happened on this particular visit to Ruby Tuesday, was that instead of entertaining such thoughts of judgment, I looked briefly over at this woman, this stranger, and felt pure, overwhelming love for her. If I felt anything else, it was compassion for the difficulty of her path in life. I had nothing in me that could blame her for the situation she found herself in. That was not my place. If she hadn't been fully accountable for her habits, she suffered enough every day for that. Maybe she could help it, maybe she couldn't, but her weight was absolutely none of my concern, and so I didn't concern myself with it. I simply and quietly let myself love her.

Connie leaned over the table and asked what was wrong, because by now I was weeping into my napkin. When I gained enough composure, I choked out a whisper that I was "just loving that woman over there", and Connie understood at once. She was becoming accustomed to these little episodes, because she was frequently experiencing such moments herself.

Unconditional love would appear to be an essential element in attaining "Christ Consciousness", a concept I admit I'm not yet capable of competently articulating. Christ Consciousness encompasses that wonderful feeling we experience when we are "at one" not only with God, but with all the sons and daughters of God. It embodies that ineffably sublime feeling we have of being completely enveloped by the spirit.

That glorious, wonderful feeling is attainable as often as you want it. All you really have to do to experience Christ Consciousness is to approach every person with the same absolute acceptance that Jesus would. I don't quite know how to explain this, but when I allowed myself to completely love that woman in the restaurant, I felt I completely understood her. Indeed, in a way that's impossible for me to describe, I knew her. A part of me actually remembered her.

I had tapped into that unconditional love that Jesus feels for me every minute of every day, and I had passed it to my sister. For a few glorious minutes I was at one with the illimitable love of Christ.

I never used to believe I was worthy of such experiences, but guess what? You don't have to be worthy of Christ's love. You'd think I'd know that after a lifetime preaching the gospel, but I've been a little slow about allowing myself the privilege.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that "The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs." And to what purpose would that be? So that we can learn to love one another in the way that He loves us.

In the last year of his life Joseph Smith declared that "friendship is the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism."

So there it is. Mormonism distilled to its pure essence is simply friendship. Unqualified, unconstrained, unwavering, unreserved, no strings attached, no ifs-ands-or-buts, unequivocal friendship toward God and all his children. Total and complete.

Love, unconditional.

Once you begin to love without judgment, kindness flows effortlessly from you. Next thing you know, joy is your constant companion. You can know what it means to "live in the spirit". Every day, if you want to. Believe me.

Jesus tells us that He stands at the door and knocks. And what do we do? We hide behind the couch.

We don't want Him to see us like this! We're in disarray, we're not decent, the house is a mess, we haven't finished our home teaching -we're just not ready! We're afraid to just open the door and accept his embrace. Better to find someone else, someone with office and title and standing in the church to answer the door for us, find out what He wants, then come back and tell us.

Here's my advice: Just open the door!

You know what I'd do? I'd take the hinges off that door and permanently remove it so there is never, ever, any obstacle or any "authority" between me and the Christ again.


UPDATE, July 31 2009:

After I had finished the above piece, quite by accident I happened across a three year old copy of Sunstone containing an article by Don Bradley entitled "The Grand Fundamental Principles of Mormonism: Joseph Smith's Unfinished Reformation" which is so pertinent to the foregoing that some of his conclusions are well worth sharing:

"Since Joseph Smith's assassination, the world in which Latter-day Saints live has changed, and the church has evolved...Still, the grand principles of Mormonism he declared have never been revoked.

"On no less authority than that of Joseph Smith, these principles provide foundation stones of the faith, as well as standards for defining the 'pure Mormon' -for distinguishing between what is and what is not purely, or legitimately, Mormon.

"Joseph preached that 'friendship, if truly taken as a foundational principle, would weld all together like Bro. Turley [in his] Blacksmith Shop'. It would 'revolutionize and civilize the world.'

"In its final formulation by the Prophet, Mormonism...is generous, open, and expansive. Whether it is so in its embodiment in the world depends on the willingness of individual Latter-day Saints to continue their prophet's reformation by reforming Mormonism as it exists in their personal faith and lives...Mormonism will 'revolutionize and civilize the world' no faster than individual Mormons receive erstwhile enemies and strangers as friends and brothers and sisters. Mormonism will...build a heaven on earth no faster and more effectively than individual Mormons shoulder this responsibility themselves."
-Sunstone Issue 141, April 2006

***

43 comments:

Jonas said...

Rock, you just amaze me.

Like you, I too have experienced the "pure love of Christ", at least, that is the way I define it. I recently pondered on someone who had offended and hurt me horriibly. I began to consider that person's point of view and what I found was pure love for the person. But in that moment and feeling of love was an absolute absence of judgement.

We both have a hard time expressing this concept because words simply cannot express the experience. Remember when Jesus appeared to the Nephites after His resurrection? The account implies certain events taking place, but the author says that he cannot express them. It's the same thing here. One cannot express in words the feeling of being in Christ-consciousness. It is simply beyond words and must be experienced.

Another truth that you have laid out here is that it does not matter who we are or what we do or have done; God loves loves us without condition and that means that we can have God (or Jesus) with us on the most intimate and personal level at any time. We need only ask, and allow the possibility.

There is no such thing as worthy or unworthy. Worthy or unworthy is judgement and judgement is the great deceiver. In both our cases, Rock, we allowed ourselves to look past judgement and just allow the other person to be, and in that brief moment is the feeling of sublime ecstacy that cannot be deined but must be experienced. In that moment we become one with Christ. In that moment we become Christ and channel His love.

Thank you for bringing this up. Thank you for being who you are. Thanks you for standing up and teaching the correct principles and doctrines.

It has been said that if we take all the laws of the churches and boil them to their simplest form we wind up with only two laws: 1. Love God with all your heart. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. All other doctrtines, precepts, commandments etc revolve around these two simple priciples.

There is no single source of truth coming through man. There is no "true church". There is only truth and that comes from God. The only way to find that truth is to open ourselves up and allow ourselves to be "taught by the spirit". Think about it: how was Joseph taught? By the spirit. And so should we be taught by the spirit. Amazing things happen when we open that door and allow the spirit in to teach us.

Now that I have stated that, reader beware! Opening that door might mean that things look different than you have ever imagined and different from what you have been taught.

God is not some far off being watching over us. God is right here. The only distance between me and God "Is the width of a thought" (From: The Way of Mastery). How true! And who defines the width of that thought? Me.

Love and light my friend!

Jonas

Dave P. said...

I've got a few beams in my own eye regarding a few issues brought up in this post, but if we were all perfect then we wouldn't need to be on this earth. But the best example I can give, without a doubt, as to someone who practices unconditional love in this life is my dog.

Karl said...

Well, my brother, i had slightly teared eyes as i read your love flow for the woman. I, as I write this am starting to well up again.
So, now you've become the big brother I have.

karl "whiplash" waterman

Rick said...

Hey pops, the thing you said about Christ Concsiousness is something I have recently and profoundly experienced as well.

When I put myself in a frame of mind to forgive people and life, I start to develop compassion and feel love for those have been hurt or are without. One day, I felt this feeling for my ex-wife very profoundly and genuinely forgave her. It's a recent phenomenom since I have been really looking inward and searching for spiritual truths. It's fleeting, healing and profound but if we only shared this as a human race more...

Anonymous said...

Strangite said...

Rock I have read all your current postings. This is the one which resonates in my soul. I may even read your earlier postings. I am persuaded that we are kindred spirits. Shalom.

Steven said...

Did you serve a mormon mission in the mid-west in the early 70's?

Rock Waterman said...

Yes Steven, I served in the Missouri-Independence Mission from 1973-1974. Did we know each other?

You can contact me at RockWaterman@gmail.com

Dave P. said...

I'm basically going through and re-reading every post in the blog so far and am quite surprised that I didn't say what I'm about to after the first time.

While in the MTC my brother sent me a letter talking about how truth can be found in the strangest places and references a talk he once wrote based on the first Superman movie. Being an avid gamer and anime fan, I've picked up on a few snippets here and there from various games and series. There's even one from one series (called AIR) that is so powerful and the spirit is so strong, that I get weepy-eyed just THINKING about it.

But the specific example I want to cite is from a game called Ar tonelico. Near the end of the game, the hero is asked what the cause of all of the world's conflicts are. At that point you can either choose to force your way through and destroy the final boss (leading to the bad ending) or continue on with the game so the hero can find his answer. After learning more about the antagonist and being able to see things from her point of view, he comes to the conclusion that conflicts begin because people don't bother to learn to understand each other, that they feel their point of view is always right and they try to force it on everyone else. You then go on to fight the final boss, but this time the goal is to save her rather than defeat her. The voice acting when seeing her true form at this point is wonderful. The hero realizes that, after all this time when he thought she was nothing more than a monster, he breaks down crying and says, "You've always been an innocent little girl."

Rock Waterman said...

Boy, I'd really like to see those games, Dave. It's too bad they're games, though, and not movies I can just follow from start to finish. In spite of the best efforts of my sons, I just can't get jazzed about learning how to use all those buttons on the game controllers.

I'm old.

Guy Noir, Private Eye said...

How About.... Pure Christianity???

One where:
-people don't insert their own opinions into the 'Gospel' mix;

-There's a CLEAR DIFFERENCE between CULTural suggestions & Gospel

-NO Shunning or other devices (social, financial, other) devices to enforce compliance-conformity.

Guy Noir, Private Eye said...

(Also, forgive me)

-NO dilution of the Gospel; in the Short Run, (LDS) leaders seem to think that the dilution of 'doctrine' will placate the rank-and-file, but... Does that 'really' work, long run AND short?

surely SOME of us remember the past LDS strict stance against 'artificial' birth control...(others come to mind)

whitehusky said...

I agree that we knew each other in heaven. Maybe that person who just gets on your nerves here on earth was your best friend there. Who knows? At any rate, we should be able to put ourselves in other people's shoes before we make snap judgments.

doyle_megan said...

Pure Mormonism is hard to come by today. What I keep running into is Mormons who object to anything the Lord said because they have some different way of looking at things based on a "modern" authority figure. Excuse me, the Lord never stopped being THE authority figure. I don't care how many supposed apostles you want to string together. They still can't make the Everlasting God into a "spirit child."

Anonymous said...

For the past two months I have been reading almost every article on your blog (along with the links) I can get my hand on. Your thoughts coincide perfectly with mine, and the issue of pure Mormonism has been something that has weighed on my mind quite a bit. Being a gay man who has suffered the brunt end of the church turning against me, the church I knew was true. I began to equate the church with hate, and eventually Christ himself with hate. It took me a long time and many years of research that the church that stands on the earth today is not the same church that Brother Joseph revealed and brought into being.

It seems so sad that that church more than likely will never be seen again, and could be lost in the misinterpreted past. I could only hope that people open their minds more and understand that love, unconditional love and friendship, good will toward everyone should be the ultimate goal and example of Christ and His followers.

That Christ consciousness is something I try to implement into my life daily, and it has helped me see everyone as equal. Sadly without the church rearing its ugly head toward me in the manner it did, I might never had questioned anything.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Welcome aboard. The sooner we take our focus off the institutional Church and back onto the infinite love of Christ, the sooner we'll recover that which we've lost.

MarkinPNW said...

In the last couple of weeks, I have completed building a set of shelves for my #10 cans of food storage (mostly from Family Dry Pack canning, and some from Walton Feed). After I organized the cans so that I can more easily track what I have and rotate them for freshness, my wife told me I was a "pure Mormon", to which I replied no, not really, until I can learn to have unconditional love for everyone.

Nate said...

So I just discovered your blog and I like almost all of it. But I am a little confused where you get the unconditional love part from in this particular post.

I couldn't find the phrase "unconditional" once in the scriptures anywhere. (Just once in the bible dictionary, and it was talking about the resurrection part of the atonement being an unconditional gift. Which is fine, but kind of irrelevant to the unconditional love discussion.)

I think what you are referring to is when Jesus said in Matt 5:44, when he said "love your enemies" and "love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:44).

So personally I get from this that we should use God as our example of how to love and hate people. So I did some research on who God loves and hates:


Romans 9:13
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Helaman 15:4
4 But behold my brethren, the Lamanites hath he hated because their deeds have been evil continually...

Ephesians 5:25
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 2:4-5
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,

Anyways these are some of the ones that I found. And it seems to me that God loves the church, and that God loves us when we repent. But it seems like it is a little bit of a stretch to say that God loves everyone all the time.

Anyways, I do not disagree with you that the world would be a much better place if there was more love and less hate. But I've just heard that phrase unconditional love thrown around a lot, and never could figure out where it came from. So I was just wondering if you could help me out with it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Nate,
An example of the type of love in LDS scripture that has always struck me as unconditonal is the attitude of Ammon when he went into the land and declared himself willing to live among them and actually be a personal servant to the king. (Alma 31, or thereabouts.)

Ammon did not go there as a missionary intent on making converts; he honestly desired to do ANYTHING the king asked of him, and this among a people who he clearly knew "did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances." In other words, these people were rebellious scum, the new world version of Phillistines, not ordinarily worthy of any consideration.

Yet Ammon walks in, gets treated brutally when he gets there, yet announces that he wants to do whatever the king requires of him. He humbles himself before one of the cruelest people in the hemisphere. And by the way, God didn't ask this of Ammon. All this was Ammon's idea. He asked God.

God could have told Ammon "Look, these people aren't worth it. In fact, they're barely people. Find something better to do with your time."

But God had the same love for the Lamanites as Ammon did, and told him to go ahead.

Personally, I don't think I have it in me to humble myself before any king. But Ammon had unconditional love for this collection of low-lifes, and that love was powerful enough to change the hearts of an entire nation.

Later on you'll recall, when the Nephites had fallen into apostasy, it was the Lamanites who were calling the Nephites to repentance. The bad guys had become the good guys. And all because of the love of Ammon for a people he did not know and had no reason at all to care about.

I'd have to dig up my Strong's Concordance to do a fitting analysis of the word "hate" as used by God, but if memory serves it does not have the connotation we normally give it. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that God looks with disfavor on the actions of many of his children, but I don't think he "hates" any of us in the strong sense usually given the word.

I have felt like killing my own children on several occasions because they were such dad-gummed idiots, but I can truly say that no matter what they did I never stopped loving them unconditonally. I just sometimes wished they were dead, that's all.

I think God has parenting moments like that himself.

Nate said...

So I guess you're saying that it's ok to hate as long as you are loving at the same time? I can buy that as I have had heated arguments with my wife that probably came close to hating, but at the same time I always love her, and she is the most important thing in my life. So hate and love can in fact coexist.

So if by unconditional love you mean love them even while you hate them, then I don't have any issue with the phrase. And I think it fits in alright with my reading and understanding of the scriptures. In fact when I think about it, the disfavor from your post fits in perfectly with the Lord's "hot displeasure" from Moses 7:34. Moses 7 is one of my favorites and I'm not sure why I didn't think about when thinking about the interplay between the Lord's love and his displeasure.

Anyways I think that's what you meant. And if not I'm sorry if I put words in your mouth. I appreciate you taking the time to answer questions, and am impressed with how fast you do it as well. Like I said in my last post, I really have enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. Thanks for taking the time to put something like this together.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No, I don't mean it's okay to hate if you're loving at the same time. One of the challenges we're here to overcome is to learn to love only, and leave hate for the devils.

The reason I think we have the need for constant repentance is that in the little things we do in life we often forget to be loving. Bypassing the beggar, being abrupt with others, little things like that are the reasons we decide, okay, tomorrow I'll do a reboot and work at being better. Resolve to be kinder to everyone, including family, who we often are shortest with. If we could somehow have the word "Kindness" before our eyes at all times, I think that would be a cool reminder.

By the way, I don't believe that the opposite of love is hate. The opposite of love is fear. Fear chases out love; it allows unrighteous judgment to sneak in, and it gives us permission to not make the effort. Conversely, love dispels fear. When we learn to do it right.

One of the quarrels I have with the way I was raised in the Church was the immense guilt I felt for constantly not measuring up. God doesn't expect us to figure it out all at once. We should expect to fall short often. He doesn't condemn us, and neither should our bishops and other leaders.

Nonsense like probation or six months without being allowed to take the sacrament does not assist the process. God's forgiveness is immediate; it's man who requires you to show perfect attendance and tithing receipts in order to prove you're sufficiently worthy to be let back in the good graces of the Church.

If you show kindness, I believe that covers a multitude of sins. I fail at being as kind as I'd like to be every day, but the idea is not to get discouraged, just resolve to take the lesson and make the adjustments and corrections. And hopefully get a little better at it every day.

I've given you more of an answer than you've asked for, Nate, but I do tend to go on. Bottom line: focus on love, be kind, and if that's all you get around to doing in your whole life, that's everything, ain't it?

Aim for a mental attitude of unconditional acceptance. Recognize that every one of us is on our own perfect path. It isn't important whether anyone else is as up to speed as you are. You worry about you, and let the other guy know by your actions and attitude that they're okay in your book. That's the ticket, I think, and that's all that's really meant by unconditional love. Not trying to change everyone else, but REALLY accepting them where they are.

Anonymous said...

I recently found a quote from Joseph Smith that fits perfectly with this post, and even provides some additional light and knowledge that many of us may have never even considered. Ironically, in our day and age the church(tm) at all levels seems to embrace policies and practices that are nearly the opposite of what Brother Joseph taught on this occasion.

(when reading this quote, keep in mind that "charity" is defined as "The pure Love of Christ")

=====
"If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven ... If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down;"

Documentary History of the Church, Volume 4, page 445 (Nov 07, 1841)
=====

Imagine what it would be like to hear that type of sermon preached at General Conference now....


-- anonymous_99

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I'll be looking at this more closely and sharing it with my husband. The sort of judgement *we* randomly give to strangers (and sometimes those nearer *us*) is really quite different from the sort of judgement we sometimes have to make with regards to people.
There are some people in *my* life (and more precisely the lives of some of my family members) who are, frankly, evil and toxic. Evil. The meaning of it. Nehor sort of evil, but the kind that flatters and destroys. Didn't think people like that existed. For *me* and my family . . . it helps best to forgive them by seeing them as children gone astray, in need of discipline from Father in Heaven, NOT from me or mine. Feel an intense compassion for the waste of their efforts, when they could choose to do good things, instead of bad?
That sort of compassion makes a difference. Forgiveness does not, always, mean that we turn around and head right back into the relationship storm. In our case these people are not former family members or present family members; they are 'would have been/could have been' family members who made other choices and then stuck the dagger in as they made those choices. They 'look good' to many people, and they certainly would NOT be sitting at a table with a huge plate of food weighing more than is socially/culturally/healthfully acceptable. These are people with temple recommends and 'nice' callings who are really nasty. And look "nice".
You don't 'pretend' they are nice. You don't 'pretend' they didn't hurt you. But you see them, or try to, through God's eyes, knowing how sad He feels that they have hurt you. But you don't walk over and say, "hey, do that to me again, o.k.; it didn't hurt enough the first time"--

just *my* experience.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Agreed.Sometimes forgiveness means recognizing that some people are just the way they are; we can't change them, all we can do is quietly steer clear of toxic people as much as possible so as to avoid becoming infected. Which is not always easy when the offender is a family member.

We are required to turn the other cheek. But it would be foolish to walk up to a crazed tiger in a cage and press your face through the bars.

Caroline said...

I am so glad I found your blog. As a recent convert, I really needed to hear this. Too often, opinion is touted as doctrine or facts. It happened again today and I left church feeling confused and saddened. I feel much more relieved and much happier, now. Thank you for your post.

Anonymous said...

Caroline,

Yes, opinion is usually touted as doctrine, especially if that opinion is from the President or Apostles of the Church. For everyone thinks their way of seeing things is right.

But Joseph Smith & other prophets & church leaders, have taught that the way to know if someone's opinion or teachings or revelation is true or not is by comparing it to what the scriptures say, especially the Book of Mormon. If what even the President of the Church says is 'contrary' to what Christ & the scriptures teach, then we will know for sure that he is wrong.

Joseph Smith warned about even following Prophets would taught falsehoods or evils things.

There have been many false & evil things that contradict Christ & the scriptures, taught by Church leaders from Brigham Young on to today, like polygamy, divorce & remarriage are allowed, false temple ceremonies taught as true, the false teaching that 'men preside over women' & 'women must submit to husband', women can't have Priesthood, black couldn't have Priesthood, Tithing is not correctly taught or the money used properly for the poor, Church leaders are paid salaries, etc. etc.

The test of this life, Joseph Smith taught, is to see if we can be deceived by falsehoods or false prophets or not. So we must keep the commandment to 'question & prove all things & person' to make sure they & what they say are true & righteous or not. For those who are deceived will lose their exaltation.

Gary Hunt said...

Caroline,

Rock's blog is a great find. I found it about a year and a half ago. It helps us keep our sanity.

It made me feel sad when you said... "It happened again today and I left church feeling confused and saddened." I, my wife and our daughter have felt the same way on many occasions and we have been members all our lives.

The scriptures and the words of true prophets (when they are speaking as prophets) are two of the standards by which we can measure to see if a teaching is true or not. This is as Anonymous has indicated above. I would add a third standard, which is that we go directly to the source and ask God and He will let us know if a teaching is true or not by the power of the Holy Ghost.Of course being a recent convert you already know that.

By the way take some grains salt with you next Sunday.

MTgunfighter said...

I love your attitude towards the church, but your beliefs are not welcomed by any member I know. It's like they have decided the easiest way to be LDS is listen and, without any critical thought, blindly accept what the GAs and the 15 say. No matter how counter-scriptural it is.

It seems as if the entire church is about legalism–pray, pay and obey. With edicts being issued from some of my leaders that loudly say, "Sit down and shut up."

So, do you believe the church teaches that salvation is by works or by grace?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Waterman: I get a lot of what you are saying, and please note that I am a striving Christian that falls far short of the bar that Jesus has set for me. Nevertheless, having said this, the Mormon church inaugurated by JS, according to my years of examining the history (the un- sanitized history) of many books (I am not BSing you, I have purchased and read -- mostly all cover-to-cover -- a lot of books on Mormonism: ‘for’, ‘against’, and ‘questioning’) doesn’t conclusively ‘prove’ or even adequately conclude that the LDS church is ‘the one, true, living church’. Actually, to my way of thinking, there is more against LDS claims than for them. Hence, why not ‘Pure Christianity’ instead of ‘Pure Mormonism’?

And, oh, just a point before I forget: Doesn’t D&C Section 1: 38 -- “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same,” mean or suggest that we need to follow the leaders, specifically the General Authorities, and ‘the’ Prophet -- that following them is ‘the same’ as following Jesus -- your ‘point #3’?

But as for my first paragraph, you have to admit that JS has come across as a pretty arrogant, narcissistic, ‘something-or-other’, for example, prancing around as a Lieutenant General in full uniform regalia is hardly the Jesus of the New Testament.

I’ve read all of your posts (again, no BS), and I have learned a lot more about Mormonism and have appreciated your take on many things, but I really don’t understand how you successfully maintain ‘loyalty’ or ‘affinity’ (begging forgiveness for the lack of better terms) to JS and the Mormon church?

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, IT’S NO DOUBT IS A DUCK and not a tapir!

I would really appreciate a response, and I thank you.

Best regards,

- Paul

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Paul,
You ask, "why not pure Christianity, rather than pure Mormonism?"

I believe that is what I was getting at when I wrote the piece, and I regret you did not get my intent. As I wrote, "Pure Mormonism, under Joseph Smith's tutelage, was nothing less than pure Christianity, which is defined as love of God and love of neighbor."

Likewise I'm certain I made it clear that God neither demands nor requires us to have loyalty to the Church, so I do not hold a loyalty to that body, as you inferred. My allegiance is to Christ, and not to any earthly institution.

You ask also about my loyalty to Joseph Smith. I'm not certain that word appropriately describes my attraction to his teachings. Had I lived during Joseph's day and been his personal friend, I suppose he could have expected a degree of loyalty from me. But since we were not personally acquainted, I can't say that I am loyal to Joseph Smith. Neither do I think Joseph Smith would have expected loyalty from anyone living in or around Nauvoo who was not personally acquainted with him, any more than I would expect loyalty from someone who was not acquainted with me.

All I know about Joseph Smith is from what I have read of his teachings. My testimony of him would not be of much value, as he and I were not personally acquainted.

To the extent the Lord used Joseph Smith on occasion through which to reveal certain things, I believe those words are worth heeding.

To "heed" the words of a prophet is a very different thing from blindly following or obeying him, and from the teachings he left behind, I believe we can be pretty sure Joseph Smith would be the first to reject the common mantra today that members of Christ's church were expected "follow the prophet."

It is a rare occasion these days for a president of the Church to speak the words God has put into his mouth. So rare, in fact, that in my lifetime I am aware of no occasion when one of these men has delivered a prophecy or revelation they claimed was received directly from God. Although we boast a religion founded on divine revelation, we really can't point to many revelations received since the days of Joseph Smith. It's time we admitted the LDS church today is running on fumes. We deserve to repent of our institutional sins so that God will lift the condemnation and allow revelation to once again flow freely.

(Continued below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

To Paul (Continued)

Appropriate to the founding of this country, every community in America created its own local militia for the purpose of defending their townships and counties. The militia at Carthage, Illinois, for instance, went by the name "The Carthage Greys," and the people of Nauvoo named their group "The Nauvoo Legion." It was common for members of militias to muster out on the Fourth of July each year in full regalia as part of Independence Day festivities.

Mormons were no different than their neighbors in this regard. The misconception you appear to labor under, that Joseph Smith went "prancing around" in his Nauvoo Legion uniform leads me to believe you felt this was how he regularly appeared in public. He did not.

You say you have read all of my blog posts, yet I believe I have clearly stated in several of them that I reject the idea of the modern LDS church, or any church at all, as being some kind of "true church," since the Lord defines his church in D&C 10: 67 as consisting of ALL who repent and come unto him. Placing one denomination as superior to another would seem to contradict that definition. I agree with Jonas, who stated in the first comment following my post above, "There is no single source of truth coming through man. There is no 'true church'. There is only truth and that comes from God. The only way to find that truth is to open ourselves up and allow ourselves to be 'taught by the spirit'."

You ask about D&C 1:38 as an indication "that we need to follow the leaders, specifically the General Authorities, and ‘the’ Prophet -- that following them is ‘the same’ as following Jesus."

That interpretation seems to go far beyond the words contained in that scripture.

God is saying that his word "shall not pass away, but will all be fulfilled." What is it then that shall not pass away? Why, those things his ancient prophets foretold would one day come to pass. God assures us those prophecies will one day ALL be fulfilled.

In ancient times God warned, through his servants, of things that were to come to pass in the latter days that had not yet been fulfilled. All God was saying in verse 38 was that those former predictions were things we could still count on happening in the future. He wanted us to know He was not taking any of it back. His word was good, and if he predicted something, we ought to expect that what he prophesied about WILL come to pass. You can take that to the bank. God was making no excuses for himself or his prophecies.

How anyone can extrapolate that verse to mean that every utterance of a man now holding high office in the Church should be given equal weight with those actual prophecies, is evidence of how far some people are willing to stretch a verse of scripture to fit the meaning they want it to have.

That verse implies no such thing. As Charles Penrose, member of the First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith and Heber Grant succinctly put it, “We respect and venerate” [the prophet], but “we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God.”
(Millennial Star, 54:191)

I hope this answers your questions, Paul. Thanks for reading!

Me from Cali said...

Hello, again, Mr. Waterman. Thank you for the detailed reply, but I still can’t figure out where you stand with regard to the ‘official’ Mormon church as it is today. If you were to have a conversation with, or be interviewed by almost any Stake President (at least in the United States), say, for a temple recommend, I don’t think they would see you as the expected, regular type of believing and ‘temple worthy’ member. You have even stated, if I recall correctly, something about you haven’t been excommunicated yet, or something like that (again, I’ve read all of your posts, however I don’t remember a lot of them).

And again, as with D.C. 1:38, I don’t think it’s a ‘stretch’ to think that most leaders of the church think that when they speak, they speak for the Lord. Listen to what Dallin Oaks says at time 3:00 (and forward):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g64_UW9_VXA

“You’re the servant of the Lord, and your action is the Lord’s action.” This principle even applies to ‘lowly’ bishops, i.e., what they speak and declare “by inspiration,” is the same as if the Lord were speaking, let alone the Prophet, apostles and other GAs. And when Elder Oaks shakes hands with people, he’s inferring that it’s like shaking hands with the Lord. He doesn’t say that directly, but at least that’s how I interpret it because he says that it’s very special to shake hands with an apostle of the Lord, which begs the question: Special in what way?

You also said, “Pure Mormonism, under Joseph Smith's tutelage, was nothing less than pure Christianity, which is defined as love of God and love of neighbor.” Okay, but JS wasn’t just about “love of God and love of neighbor.” Come on, Mr. Waterman, you have to acknowledge that JS was about a lot more than that! He was about polygyny (even involving teenage girls) AND polyandry; he was about having himself annointed king of the whole world, and that no one gets to enter the Kingdom of God in the next life without his permission (as taught by BY); he was about scrying for hidden treasure; he was about the Council of Fifty and the Danites (especially in reference to ‘putting out a contract’ on Governor Bogg’s life); he threatened his primary wife (of whom he publicly lied about saying that she was his only wife) in the D&C saying she would be “destroyed” if she didn’t go along with him. And the list goes on and on.

You have a lot of insightful things to say about the LDS church of today, which, in the way I read it (and agree with a lot of what you say), certainly is not always complementary and in line with what the LDS church leadership would be pleased about, nor in agreement with you. I mean, that’s the quotidian, teenage “Well, duh!”

So that’s why I asked you about your ‘brand’ of Mormonism. Meaning, I don’t think you would be considered a valid ‘Mormon’ by the current LDS leadership. However, you are a Christian, so you may be more about ‘Pure Christianity’ rather than ‘Pure Mormonism’. Anyway, that’s how I see it. Or another way of putting it is that have been ‘Mormonized’; that has been your historic conditioning, but you are certainly not a Mormon according the current, official LDS standards. And how you can even accept JS as being a ‘true’ prophet from the point of his inaugural days -- circa 1820 -- is beyond me. He was a con! And even if his brand of fraud was for pious intentions, the facts are pretty clear, copious and convincing that he was indeed ‘something’, but certainly not a man who “communed with Jehovah” in the way the official LDS church tells the story.

And please note that I would not have wanted it to be this way, but after a LOT of study I don’t see how any honest, rational, objective truth seeker could see it any other way.

Again, thanks for your indulgence.

- Paul

Me from Cali said...

Hello, again, Mr. Waterman. Thank you for the detailed reply, but I still can’t figure out where you stand with regard to the ‘official’ Mormon church as it is today. If you were to have a conversation with, or be interviewed by almost any Stake President (at least in the United States), say, for a temple recommend, I don’t think they would see you as the expected, regular type of believing and ‘temple worthy’ member. You have even stated, if I recall correctly, something about you haven’t been excommunicated yet, or something like that (again, I’ve read all of your posts, however I don’t remember a lot of them). This has been my experience, anyway.

And again, as with D.C. 1:38, I don’t think it’s a ‘stretch’ to think that most leaders of the church think that when they speak, they speak for the Lord. Listen to what Dallin Oaks says at time 3:00 (and forward):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g64_UW9_VXA

“You’re the servant of the Lord, and your action is the Lord’s action.” So, if this principle even applies to ‘lowly’ bishops and stake presidents, i.e., what they speak and declare “by inspiration,” is the same as if the Lord were speaking, how does this bode even more so for the Prophet, apostles and other GAs. And when Elder Oaks shakes hands with people, it seems to me he’s inferring that it’s like shaking hands with the Lord. He doesn’t say that directly, but at least that’s how I interpret it because he says that it’s very special to shake hands with an apostle of the Lord, which begs the question: Special in what way; a sort of ‘divine investiture of authority’?

You also said, “Pure Mormonism, under Joseph Smith's tutelage, was nothing less than pure Christianity, which is defined as love of God and love of neighbor.” Okay, but JS wasn’t just about “love of God and love of neighbor.” Mr. Waterman, you have to acknowledge that JS was about a lot more than that! He was about polygyny (even involving teenage girls) AND polyandry; he was about having himself annointed king of the whole world, and that no one gets to enter the Kingdom of God in the next life without his permission (as taught by BY); he was about scrying for hidden treasure; he was about the Council of Fifty and the Danites (especially in reference to ‘putting out a contract’ on Governor Bogg’s life); the Kirkland anti-banking scheme; he threatened his primary wife (of whom he publicly lied about saying that she was his only wife) in the D&C saying she would be “destroyed” if she didn’t go along with him. And the list goes on and on.

... Con’t

Me from Cali said...

... Con’t

You have a lot of insightful things to say about the LDS church of today, which, in the way I read it (and agree with a lot of what you say), certainly is not always complementary and in line with what the LDS church leadership would be pleased about, nor in agreement with you. I mean, that’s the quotidian, teenage “Well, duh!”

So that’s why I asked you about your ‘brand’ of Mormonism. Meaning, I don’t think you would be considered a valid ‘Mormon’ by the current LDS leadership. However, you are a Christian, so you may be more about ‘Pure Christianity’ rather than ‘Pure Mormonism’. Anyway, that’s how I see it. Or another way of putting it is that you have been ‘Mormonized’; that has been your historic conditioning, but you are certainly not a Mormon according to current, official LDS standards. And how you can even accept JS as being a ‘true’ prophet from the point of his inaugural days -- circa 1820 -- is beyond me. He was a con! And even if his brand of fraud was for pious intentions, the facts are pretty clear, copious and convincing that he was indeed ‘something’, but certainly not a man who “communed with Jehovah” in the way the official LDS church tells the story.

And please note that I would not have wanted it to be this way, but after a LOT of study I don’t see how any honest, rational, objective truth seeker could see it any other way.

Again, thanks for your indulgence.

P.S. Please let me know if I’ve written something that has contravened some ‘rule’ or ‘etiquette’, or some such thing. I do not wish to cause any harm. Thanks, and God bless.

Anon 23 said...

Me from Cali,

Sorry to comment on your post to Rock, but may I say that it appears you have fallen for alot of false information about Joseph Smith and his brand of Mormonism. I also believe in Joseph's brand of Mormonism, but not Brigham's or anyone who came after him.

Thus Elder Oak's remarks are astounding to me, for I believe he must know how often most Bishops on up to the Church's Prophets and Apostles fall to sin and are deceived by false revelation from the Adversary, and thus preach false doctrine. How can he ever think he or they are talking for Christ when they preach and practice so often completely contrary to Christ? One things for sure, Christ doesn't change his doctrines from yesterday to today.

And about Joseph, if you really study the facts, there is no proof that Joseph ever preached or practiced polygamy, just vile hearsay that he did, usually from those who wanted to live polygamy and have it seem justified. I find most people like to believe Joseph lived polygamy and had a lot of faults, so they can feel better about their own faults.

So to listen to Brigham or anyone else who followed him west, or D&C 132 which Joseph probably never heard of, is not wise in my opinion.

While not even true prophets are perfect, Joseph preached as close to Christ as any Christian preacher or prophet I've ever known of. As did the BoM prophets, whether the BoM is true of not, it still teaches Christ's same doctrines.

Whereas, all Church leaders today preach and practice completely opposite doctrines to what Christ taught, no matter how righteous & holy & authorized they may say they are.

Me from Cali said...

With all due respect and as a brother, Anon 23 (and I sincerely mean that), get your head out of the sand and resign your membership in the Flat Earth Society (that’s a little snarky, I’ll admit). But like the world really is a sphere, Joseph Smith did have at least 33 plural wives. If you can’t wrap your head around this, I don’t know what I can say to convince you.

My best.

Anon 23 said...

Me,

Do you have proof that Joseph Smith had 33 wives or are you just believing all the hearsay and ignoring what Joseph published and said himself all his life against polygamy?

It makes no sense that he would fight and warn against it like he did, if he thought the Saints would someday have to accept it. For he tried to turn them against it and anyone, even a prophet, who might come teaching it.

Joseph knew enough that he couldn't put out scripture against polygamy like he did and then bring our opposite scripture 'for' polygamy (132), for true followers of Christ would never accept it.

Were Christ and the BoM prophets lying too, for they also preached against polygamy?

If Joseph did live polygamy then of course he was a false or fallen prophet, but I have not seen any proof that he did and I find lot's of proof that he didn't. I find that despite his other faults and weaknesses, he preached the same things as Christ and the BoM Prophets, especially in regard to polygamy.

So I believe Joseph was too smart to fall for polygamy as a principle, but as a man, yes he could have weakened and fell just like many other prophets through the ages fell for polygamy, but I find no proof that he did, and neither did a court of law who examined the best the LDS Church had on the subject either.

I believe that Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham and other leaders for polygamy but he died before he could do that. Joseph did seem to be deceived by evil men alot, calling them to high office in the Church, men like BY, Bennett and many others.

And either BY and others hid their polygamy so well that Joseph didn't find out till the last few months of his life that they were secretly living it, or Joseph took along time to reign people and leaders in who were doing evil. I think he had a good heart and wanted to look/hope for the best in people. I see this alot in people today, good people who don't want to call the kettle black on their close friends.

But, still, Emma was said to say that Joseph didn't have confidence in Brigham in the later years and feared for the Church if Brigham ever took charge of it, so it seems he knew something was wrong with him, though he may not have realized just how deep he was into polygamy, though he probably knew he like the idea of it.

But there is no proof that Joseph was unfaithful to Emma, just wild rumors and hearsay that one would expect from people trying to justify their whoredoms, and especially if Joseph was a true prophet then of course all hell would break loose against him as it seemed to.

It's easy to believe the hearsay and what the Church says' happened, but the Church or LDS historians who have a stake in their bias, are hardly sources you can trust, since if Joseph didn't live polygamy, it's never going to tell you that.

Have you read the book 'Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy' ? I would encourage it. It shows another side of the story.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think there is little doubt that Joseph intended to expose Brigham Young, among others in the Church hierarchy, as he declared his intention to do just that three weeks before he was murdered.

He also gave a special talk to all the women of the relief society warning them about the cancerous practice that was taking hold in Nauvoo and assuring them that if a prophet or any other persons should ever preach such iniquity they should "shun them as the flying fiery serpent."

These don't sound like the words of a man who intended to one day reveal the practice as having come from God.

It was only after Brigham Young had the church history doctored to expunge such statements, and the fact that many who followed Brigham were illiterate converts from the lower classes of British society that Brigham was able to convince the pioneers that plural marriage was something he received from Joseph Smith.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Like most members, I grew up believing we earned our way. I realize now that is not what is taught in the Book of Mormon. We are saved by the atonement of Christ, not by following a checklist of "righteous behaviors."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Me From Cali;
I believe you labor under a false assumption, and one that is shared by many active latter-day Saints as well as non-members such as yourself. That assumption presumes that for a person to embrace Mormonism, he must embrace the modern institutional Church. Not so. There are many, many people who consider themselves believers in the Restoration who have no need to be counseled by self-appointed leaders.

It seems to me that in the absence of modern revelation, the only wise recourse is to ignore those who promote any teaching that is not in harmony with scripture. So to answer your question with a question, why would I submit to an interview with a church leader whose first allegiance is to The Church (TM) rather than to Christ and his gospel?

The "Church" would doubtless consider David Whitmer an apostate, though it is clear he was true to the precepts of "Mormonism" all his life. He was even critical of and rejected some of the actions of Joseph Smith, yet his writings and opinions persuade me that he was as true a "Mormon" as could be found in the latter 19th century.

Whitmer did not feel it necessary to align himself with any of the denominations that resulted after the splintering of the church, but there is no question in my mind that he was a Mormon to his dying day.

Of course, I reject the teaching you quote above by Dallin Oaks, just as I reject the declarations of other so-called "leaders" who are known to fabricate their own doctrines intended to persuade the membership that they would be lost unless they follow them. I don't belong to the Church of Dallin Oaks or Thomas Monson or any other fallible being. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. My membership in the formal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is secondary to my membership in the church as defined by Jesus in D&C 10: 67.

(Continued)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Me From Cali(Continued),
Allow me to address a few of the assertions you made, because I I do not find there to be any basis in fact for any except one:

"Mr. Waterman, you have to acknowledge that JS was about a lot more than that! He was about polygyny (even involving teenage girls) AND polyandry"

I don't have to acknowledge any such thing, because I have found no evidence to support those allegations. Joseph's practice of plural marriage is widely accepted in the Mainstream LDS Church because without it, the authority of the current leadership would be called into question. I have made a concerted effort the past three years to find any evidence to support the allegations that Joseph Smith was personally involved in the things you believe him to have been, and I have found nothing but vigorous statements to the contrary. We have numerous denunciations in Joseph's own words, while on the other hand are accusations by his enemies during his lifetime, and rumor and hearsay from his "friends" beginning around 1878. Not convincing.

"He was about having himself annointed king of the whole world, and that no one gets to enter the Kingdom of God in the next life without his permission (as taught by BY)"

You answered that charge yourself, "As taught by Brigham Young." I'm only interested in the documented teachings of Joseph Smith. And even then, not every word Joseph Smith uttered should be taken as gospel, as he himself reminded the Saints continually.

"He was about scrying for hidden treasure"

Yeah, so what? I've searched for hidden treasure myself when I was the same age young Joseph was when he was accused of being a "money digger." I'm not ashamed of my youthful dreams, and I don't fault a poor farm boy for doing what even Mark Twain and his friends were doing 30 years later: hoping to find hidden pirate treasure. And if, as a young adult, someone was willing to pay me to help dig up his farmland in search of treasure, I would have willingly taken the job just as young Joseph Smith did.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Me From Cali (Continued Part 3 of 3);

"He was about the Council of Fifty and the Danites"

The Council of Fifty, yes. The Danites, no. The Council of Fifty was intended to be the political and social organization of the Kingdom of God, which was not yet on the earth. (This was a small detail that escaped many of Joseph's contemporaries). It was also to be made up of both Mormons and non-Mormons, and was a benign organization, or council. It has been confused by some with the Danites, of which it has nothing in common.

The Danites (or "Sons of Dan") was an illicit gang organized by Samson Avaard for the purpose of exacting vengeance on the Mormon's perceived enemies. The Danites kept their existence secret from Joseph Smith because they knew he would strongly disapprove based on the revelation he received in 1833 commanding the Saints to bear their persecutions patiently. Scholars have been trying to determine for years regarding Joseph's knowledge of the Danites. Consensus seems to be that when he found out he was furious.

"Especially in reference to ‘putting out a contract’ on Governor Bogg’s life"

If you have evidence that Joseph Smith was behind the shooting of Lilburn Boggs, I know many scholars who would love to see it. Boggs and others were convinced Joseph Smith was behind the shooting, and it's likely that a Mormon did it, but there is no evidence pointing to Joseph Smith as authorizing the hit. Some have speculated it was the work of Porter Rockwell, and I'm inclined to that view myself. My personal opinion is that whatever the circumstances, Boggs had it coming to him. But that kind of vindictiveness was contrary to the nature of the prophet, and certainly there is no evidence tracing him to the deed.

"The Kirkland anti-banking scheme."

Yep, big mistake. And proof of what happens when even a prophet oversteps his calling. Also a cautionary tale, I would suggest, for any Mormon who believes God will bless those who get the Church tangled up with Babylon.

"He threatened his primary wife (of whom he publicly lied about saying that she was his only wife) in the D&C saying she would be “destroyed” if she didn’t go along with him."

Are you referring to the story of the angel with the flaming sword who stood over Joseph and threatened to destroy him if he did not take additional wives? That is an urban legend that did not appear until many years after Joseph's death, and once it started, it was repeated by several people. What we don't find, however, is any mention of it in any of the writings of Joseph Smith. Besides, if such an incident really occurred, why would the angel appear to Joseph instead of Emma? By all accounts, SHE was the one standing in the way. SHE was the one who needed convincing. Why not have the angel appear with that flaming sword to Emma to get her to go along?

These are questions a lot of Mormons don't bother to ponder. They just accept them as fact without further research or follow-through because they find these stories necessary to bolster their belief in things about their religion that are not true.

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Craig said...

We confuse fellowship with friendship and offer a lot of the former and not so much the latter. The friendship of one person is more satisfying than the fellowship of a hundred. I can count on the fingers of one hand the people in my ward that are friends, i.e. people that I have had sustained contact with that wasn't 'official'. My fault as well as others'. I think we fail at this because it can't be turned into a program and we expect that programs will save us. Hasten the work.