Friday, March 20, 2009

Debunking LDS misconceptions about Protestants

*Yes, the post title has changed. See comments if you wish to know why.


Historically speaking, there have been numerous churches and faiths which claim to be the one and only truth, and their claims are hardly baseless. All claim authorities believed exclusive to them. All of it is supported by scripture. EVERYONE thinks they're right and everyone else is wrong (and when I say this, I place Evangelicals and Protestants/Catholics/Mormons/Jehovah's Witnesses in their own categories). Of course they do. Even those who permit others to believe as they like believe they're more right than everyone else.

As I can see it, too many LDS complain about misconceptions but fail to truly try to understand each other. Mormons rely on half-truths just as much as non-members rely on half-truths in their understanding of us. It's easier to believe inaccurate things about each other because "they don't have the truth."

But LDS are just as guilty of such hypocrisies and believing whatever they hear. So let's unpuff our chests. Nobody is really all that excited and impressed, only those who are unfamiliar or disaffected with another religion might be. It's more about pride than we want to think. We have to be better. We have to be more right or else why bother, right?

As one who has attended other churches, I want to help dispel a few things. Keep in mind I have many, many issues with the Protestant faith. Many. But all this bullshit about us having the only living true church is just our opinion. Everyone else thinks they have it, too. The only difference is who believes what for what reason.

Regarding Authority

Protestants do believe they have been given authority - from Christ. To His followers. As found in the Scriptures. This is one of the major misconceptions in the LDS church.

We are called by our leaders to positions and believe these callings to be inspired of God. Most of them, at least. But Brother and Sister holy-roller feel an inner calling. They feel a drive to do things. They feel inspired.

Shall we deny them this? No. Not if we want others to believe that we can receive personal revelation. By their fruits...

As to prophets. They believe in prophecy just not in a specific prophet. Much like we believe in personal revelation. Much like we believe God speaks to us through prayer (yes, contrary to yet another popular belief, other faiths do believe God still speaks). Problems? of course. But still.

And truly, the fact is Christ isn't here at the moment. The fact is that any man is sub par. President Monson may be a great and spiritually attuned man, but he is still a man. Like prophets before him, his prior prejudices and ideas can and will (if they haven't already) get in the way of doctrine.

Regarding Priesthood authority. Protestants/Evangelicals believe they have that authority by virtue of being a follower of Christ and have scriptures to back it up. With faith unfettered, they too can lay their hands upon another's head (many don't see this as necessary but ritualistic) and ask God to heal another. By invoking the name of Christ they, too, can rebuke evil spirits. With prayer and scripture study they, too, can discern.

Really, it's a matter of formality and what one believes is necessary.

Grace vs. Works

Protestants famously believe all one has to do is profess belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and they will go to heaven. Works won't do this, but will automatically manifest because the profession of Christ changes hearts enough that works will mirror His.

There is always someone quipping that Protestants believe a saved person can do anything they want and still be saved. A faithful Protestant will tell respond by saying they are human, screw up, and that is why they have the grace of God. They don't kill themselves striving for perfection, but they do try to rise above "the natural man." They will also say those who have been "saved" but who haven't changed may not have professed Christ with, as we say, a sincere heart and real intent (Moroni 10:4).

Protestants take issue with the LDS fixation on works. We insist our works don't get us into heaven. It's by the Grace of God. Duh.

But consider this (and again, I am hardly saying anyone is right): Ordinances are considered works. We teach without these ordinances one cannot attain certain kingdoms of heaven. Baptism being one of them.

That is where this comes from.

The Question of a Paid Clergy

I loved this when investigating the Church. I'd been turned off by the church I grew up in. The idea that a man would be paid to serve God seemed antithetical. It seemed too businesslike, that he wouldn't care so much about his parishioners as much as he cared about having enough to keep his job.

But consider this: Bishops and Stake Presidents (indeed YW/YM/EQ/RS leaders) generally have full-time jobs. School. Pile on a full time calling and you've a person who cannot see their family. Sunday is out. Too many meetings. Monday evening, perhaps. That's it. Yay.

These leaders are very tired. The burden is immense as they bow under the pressure of ward family secrets, indiscretions, spiritual and temporal struggles. They cannot devote nearly enough time to the ward members as would be ideal, not without sacrificing their own family (and what is most important, again?). I'm sure some men deal with this balance easily, but I wonder of their families. A good friend of ours was very close to his father until his father was called to be Stake President. Though still an active member, he has sworn off ever accepting such a call. It massacred his relationship with his dad.

Is that worth it? Didn't the pioneers sacrifice family time for the Church? Could even a paid pastor lose himself in his work to the detriment of his family? Yes. But the chances are a hundredfold when you've a person who has enough to deal with on top of that. And there's always room for volunteer work in and for the church without having to be bishop.

They also have the advantage of having a pastor who knows our individual families and can counsel them, rather than refer us to another counselor. There've been numerous times I wished I could've had this option. But again, the bishop has enough to do.

Protestants can choose their pastor. While the reasons we are assigned wards is reasonable enough, far too many feel they cannot or will not approach or trust their Bishopric or Stake Presidency because of totally viable differences. But there's nothing they can do about it. While I understand the value of humbling oneself and trusting in God's calling one to an office, there are times when one should be able to avoid certain leaders. Enough with the faith and humility answers - there are real people with real reasons that nobody should ever dismiss.

And this is why some stop attending church at all.

Understanding and learning of other faiths and even the history of our own can be scary, but we do ourselves no favors by believing whatever we're told. And many of us do, myself included, without even knowing it. I think that ought to change.

30 comments:

Katie said...

The idea that we think we are the only ones who have callings I find quite silly. I have know lots of Protestants who have felt called of God to serve missions, go into teaching, be pastors, etc. Its well understood in other faiths that God can talk to you personally. Saying that "other churches don't believe God talks to man" is very hurtful, untrue, and condescending. I don't know what churches were teaching in Joseph Smith's time, but today this is just a fallicy. I've often found that my non-Mormon Christian friends understand the concept of personal revelation and personal "callings" much better than we as Mormons do.

Soxy Pirate said...

I really would like to comment further, but I do need a bit of clarification:

What exactly are the "myths" you're "debunking" here?

I gather these:

1. Myth: There is "one truth" and/or "one true church"

Response: There is no "one truth" or "one true church."

2. Myth: The Mormon Church contains the "one truth."

Response: Official Mormon Doctrine is as reliant on "half-truths" as any other religion.

3. Myth: Priesthood Authority only comes by the laying on of hands by other Priesthood holders and/or God/Jesus Christ.

Response: Priesthood Authority need not come by the laying on of hands by Priesthood holders and/or God/Jesus Christ.

4. Myth: "Callings" (whatever that means) must come from God by way of a Priesthood leader.

Response: Callings (again, whatever that may mean) can come from within, as directed by God.

5. Myth: We are saved by [works/grace] (I'm not sure which is the myth here).

Response: Actually we're saved by [grace/works].

6. Myth: Clergy must not be paid.

Response: Sometimes it's best to have a paid clergy.

-----

I think there's something about Prophets too, but is this an accurate representation of your myth's and their debunking?

Not trying to be a smart-ass, I'm seriously trying to figure it out. (I have a dreadful cold and the nyquil is playing tricks on me, I believe).

auroranow said...

Lisa: I found your blog title interesting but had not time to read a lot until today, as I am preparing a talk for Sacrament.
First a cuuple of general comments. We can read that your comments are honest and the struggle to be also genuine; this keeps us interested. Also, you express as you go not claiming to be right in your choosing of all the forks of thought that go through your mind; this is also admirably forthright. Lastly, we are all aware that posting is risky, especially when we members reserve many of these questions/loops/concerns to an inner dialogue that is easily pacified and distracted with less than full thinking activities. Maybe that is why it is such a pleasure to have investigators around, they are free to question the premises of so many sunday school answers to really hard and perhaps unanswerable questions.

rds

auroranow said...

Part 2

Contrary to Soxy, above, I do believe that you have addressed several myths. True, your responses are are not full, that is thorough, but blogs are the perfect way to get through our thinking and the comments are ways to further think out details. Essays may be written afterwards.
However, you have made it quite clear that you are ventilating your mind of inconsistencies you find in the pat answers frequently given at Church. So keep it at for there are many that have wanted to get some fresh perspectives on their own questions.

Lastly on your train of thought. I believe that you are addressing myths of many less than educated members that prefer to grab on to the first vine that will help up them climb the tree above someone else. Those that have a longer perspective of both history and study have less bile for the inconsistencies and manage to believe in spite of them. Sometimes these minds show up at Dialogue, Sunstone, and other like venues. Really good minds will sometimes share how they reconcile, abandon, or pursue answers found around the world, be they in other Churches, wards, time periods or mouths.
Present day American mormons surely don't have all the answers or even the questions that you are digging into. rds

Maren said...

Before I comment on your post, let me say: Through my struggling in the Church over the past year, I have/had come to enjoy your posts because of the commonality between stuggles, thoughts, and feelings. Then you took your hiatus...Not that I DEPEND on your thoughts, but I kind of felt alone:( I go to church and watch the people, listen to the age-old rhetoric and eye-rolling sermons. I keep thinking how ridiculous it is. So now that you're sharing posts again, I feel thankful that once again, I'm not alone in my thoughts.

Anyway, you have written about something I like to think about often. Ever since I can remember, I have been "told" that we were/are the only 100% TRUE church/gospel. All the others are false, or incomplete. Imagine my confusion as a young adult when I visited a friends church one Sunday and I felt...happy there. I was inspired by the music and chanting, the beautiful attributes of the architecture, and the general spirit of the people. This wasn't "real" though...one only feels these kind of feelings in the LDS Church. Right? So, I chalked it up to just a nice day, in good company.

Years later, I attended a service at a Baptist church with friends. The music and sermon about God was awe-inspiring. I knew then that it was indeed possible to be inspired by the Spirit of God in other places.

When was the last time I truly felt the Spirit manifest itself in my ward? I can't remember. I love the kids I work with in Primary (2nd counc.), I enjoy the social interactions, and the talks in Sacrament meeting are nice and uplifting. It's neat to hear other's experiences about prayer, Relief Society, family, service, but I just don't get any spiritual feeding. I enjoy pictures of Christ...I like looking into his eyes...I like the reminders of what he did for ME. I never realized in my 35 years as a member, how much I missed this from my life.

So thank you for your post. Once again, it's nice to know that my thoughts aren't weird or rare.

Lisa said...

Soxy:

Okay. I understand. I'm pretty sick too (strep. fun, right?)

But read aurora's comment. Perhaps I could've chosen a better word than "myth" but this is a response, long coming, of the idiocy I've seen both online and in my own ward concerning other churches.

Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir, here, as well.

But I think you're reading this wrong.

I'm merely responding to a few things. Every christian church thinks they're the only way to God. Every single one of them. All the Protestant Churches do, Catholics, Mormon, etc. Every single one of them. Just because someone says they're the truth means jack. It's up to the believer to decide that. I believe in this way "truth" is relative.

RE: #2: I didn't say that. I said our members tend to rely on half-truths/misconceptions about other faiths as a means to buoy themselves up. When other faiths do this to us they're guilty of the same thing. Misconceptions being that other churches don't believe God speaks, that they don't have authority (they believe they do!), that they suck because they don't have the Priesthood (they dont' think they need it) and have a paid clergy as opposed to the humble background of those like Joseph Smith.

Something I've heard often since joining is a variation of "You don't go to a Ford dealership to learn about Chevys" regarding investigators approaching "anti-mormons" for information about the Church.

Well, same goes for us. That's all.

Again, perhaps I could've used a different word.

Regarding paid clergy, we like to think that's the best way to go. I was just offering reasons why paid clergy would work. There are pros and cons to each, but for us to tout our unpaid clergy as if it makes us better/more sincere is a bunch of bullshit. There are definite advantages to each, and our implying that paid clergy is less spiritual because they are "learned" and have attended Seminary is, as Katie said, condescending. And wrong.

Soxy Pirate said...

Contrary to Soxy, above, I do believe that you have addressed several myths.

What the hell? Contrary?

Soxy Pirate said...

Every christian church thinks they're the only way to God. Every single one of them. All the Protestant Churches do, Catholics, Mormon, etc. Every single one of them.

This is absolutely false. Absolutely. Go ask the very next protestant you meet if only Baptists/Methodists/Lutherans/Pentecostals {pick one} go to Heaven.

Just because someone says they're the truth means jack. It's up to the believer to decide that.

This seems to be a contradiction. On on hand, you're saying that it doesn't matter what someone believes, because it doesn't make it true. Then you come right back and say "it's up to the believer." What am I missing here?

I believe in this way "truth" is relative.

Hmm...

RE: #2: I didn't say that. I said our members tend to rely on half-truths/misconceptions about other faiths as a means to buoy themselves up. When other faiths do this to us they're guilty of the same thing.

I agree wholeheartedly here. We have no excuse to demonize other faiths based on half-truths and lies.

Misconceptions being that other churches don't believe God speaks

Mormons actually think this about other Churches? Most Mormons I know would say that most other Christian churches believe that God doesn't speak to a single prophet called to lead his church but that he speaks to each one of us individually. I say those Mormons are generally right on both accounts. There are exceptions, of course.

that they don't have authority (they believe they do!)

Some believe they do, some believe they don't need it, but as you said above...what they believe (and what we believe, for that matter) doesn't change what actually is.

that they suck because they don't have the Priesthood (they dont' think they need it)

See above.

...and have a paid clergy as opposed to the humble background of those like Joseph Smith.

I do think that this is a legitimate concern for members (and non-members) to have. As you pointed out, however, a paid clergy is not necessarily always bad, and a volunteer clergy is not necessarily always good, but generally speaking, I prefer an unpaid clergy to a paid one. But again, what I think doesn't change anything, and we should all be sensitive to members of other faiths who have different beliefs and preferences.

Something I've heard often since joining is a variation of "You don't go to a Ford dealership to learn about Chevys" regarding investigators approaching "anti-mormons" for information about the Church.

Well, same goes for us. That's all.


I agree wholeheartedly. Many a Sunday school lesson has ventured into the realm of demonizing other churches in order to make ours seem right. They don't have to suck for us to be right. We should be sensitive to their beliefs and remember that we're not going to convince anybody by showing them how wrong their church is so they will choose us by default.

but for us to tout our unpaid clergy as if it makes us better/more sincere is a bunch of bullshit.

Generally speaking, I buy into this bullshit.

There are definite advantages to each, and our implying that paid clergy is less spiritual because they are "learned" and have attended Seminary is, as Katie said, condescending. And wrong.

I agree in theory, but I've NEVER heard a complaint coming from a fellow Mormon that leaders of other faiths are less spiritual or inferior just because they're educated.

I agree with Katie's comment, but like Inigo Montoya (from the Princess Bride) "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Lisa said...

Okay, Soxy.

Go talk with your Baptist friends. Your Assembly of God friends. Ask them if they think you're going to heaven.

I'll bet you at least some of them, if not all, will waver and say No because you don't believe in the right Christ and you believe in works. True there are exceptions, but if you'll look at various polls you'll probably find this is the conclusion.

I've Penecostal family and friends. They do not think we're going to heaven. Period. Why else call us a cult and try so hard to show us the light? They're trying to save the Mormons. Their way is the only way. Christ is the only way. I know it's ridiculous since we agree that He is, but they don't see it that way and they do have their reasons. Misconstrued or not, they do have their reasons.

Baptists/Methodists/Lutherans/Pentecostals subscribe to the same doctrine of salvation and that of grace only and no works. I already dealt with why they would see our doctrine as one of works in the post, so I won't repeat myself again.

This seems to be a contradiction. On on hand, you're saying that it doesn't matter what someone believes, because it doesn't make it true. Then you come right back and say "it's up to the believer." What am I missing here?

What I am saying is that we cannot know. I don't know. I don't feel I can rightly say "This is the only true way to get to heaven" (and by that I mean in LDS terms of the highest degree of heaven) when so many others have decided they have the truth too.

True one can commune spiritually with God to find where they feel they ought to be, but to then point fingers and say we're more right than they are is wrong. We can't know.

Some believe they do, some believe they don't need it, but as you said above...what they believe (and what we believe, for that matter) doesn't change what actually is.

Right. I get that. But here's the thing: Their idea of what "is" is much different than yours. It's all interpretation. It's all according to what one feels is God's truth based on scripture study, prayer, etc. Ultimately I do believe there is one truth, but I can't decide for someone else at this moment what that truth is. I just don't know. I cannot pretend to know.

And I think that's the difference between us. I've taken a more agnostic approach to these things.

Mormons actually think this about other Churches? Most Mormons I know would say that most other Christian churches believe that God doesn't speak to a single prophet called to lead his church but that he speaks to each one of us individually. I say those Mormons are generally right on both accounts. There are exceptions, of course.

You've never heard a Mormon (or many) say that they don't believe God speaks to other churches?

Soxy, the last Sunday I was at church (few weeks ago), there was a SS lesson on why we're the only True and Living Church. One of the points was that God speaks to us. Penecostals believe God speaks to the individual, but they also believe he speaks directly to the Pastor/Preacher/whatever pertaining to the individual church he or she presides over. That's strikingly similar to us.

It is true they don't believe in individual prophets and in a closed cannon, which is probably our issue right now. That is true. They don't believe in an open cannon.

But many do believe that Penecostals cannot receive regular revelation from God because they do not have the gift of the holy ghost. He just visits occasionally. Not all the time.

I agree in theory, but I've NEVER heard a complaint coming from a fellow Mormon that leaders of other faiths are less spiritual or inferior just because they're educated.

No you won't hear a complaint, but you'll hear often about how God calls the meek and illiterate (carpenter's son, fisherman, etc) to positions of authority and not the learned because the learned are not humble.

The corollary to that is that God doesn't call the learned to positions of authority. Only the humble and meek. (and yes i know. we've doctors and lawyers in the 12, but i'm speaking more of bishops/stake presidents/RS/EQ/etc)

That is part of the selling point of the lay clergy, no?

Lisa said...

Oh, and Maren, thank you :)

Soxy Pirate said...

Go talk with your Baptist friends. Your Assembly of God friends. Ask them if they think you're going to heaven.

This is a fundamentally different issue than the one you brought up. You said that "all believe there is only one way," which has nothing at all to do with everyone agreeing that Mormons are going to hell (or aren't going to Heaven).

What I am saying is that we cannot know.

Oh, so this entire post is about epistemology? Well in that sense I don't even know if I'm typing right now (while my wife allegedly watches a movie that seems to be Twilight...but then again, I'll never "know").


You've never heard a Mormon (or many) say that they don't believe God speaks to other churches?


Of course I have, but not in the sense that you're saying it. The distinction they make is a fair and accurate one and not at all a misrepresentation of actual protestant beliefs.

No you won't hear a complaint, but you'll hear often about how God calls the meek and illiterate (carpenter's son, fisherman, etc) to positions of authority and not the learned because the learned are not humble.

My Bishop has an MBA from Wharton. And I've never heard someone touting "illiteracy" as a qualification for "meekness" or spirituality.

Even for fear that I'll repeat myself, I'm afraid you've once again responded to a caricature of Mormonism, and not the real thing.

Katie said...

I think the confusion lies in the definition of "speak" when we say things like "God speaks to earth once more". My husband informs me that this is intended to mean that no other religion has a single, divinely-authorized head honcho (ie, prophet) who can receive revelation for the whole church from God. Catholics would strongly dispute this argument, contending that the pope is the only prophet that is needed. Protestants would say that there is no need for prophets, since the Bible contains all the necessary saving material.

This is a very different construction on this phrase from what I (and Lisa, and many others, particularly adult, previously Protestant converts) hear when we hear "God speaks to earth once more." What I hear is that God was witholding all personal revelation, and the power of the Holy Ghost, from the earth prior to Joseph Smith. I don't think that was what was intended by the statement, but certainly it can be understood. Especially when you consider that most non-Mormons believe God speaks more by personal revelation than by any individual pastor.

Re: whether or not Protestants believe that their's is the only path to heaven... Protestants as a whole believe in the Bible being the only authority necessary. Baptism is also required, but it must be a baptism within one of their "approved" churches. For instance, Catholics for a long time were not considered have "valid" baptisms by the Protestant churches, meaning they could not be saved (since they did not have the requisite saving ordinance). That changed in modern history. Catholics do not accept the validity of any baptism other than that done in the Catholic church. Baptists and Mormons are the same. Baptists because they believe that baptism must be by immersion to be effective, and Mormons because we believe no other church has the authority to baptize (this is exactly the same thing that Catholics believe, btw). Again, the confusion is in the definition of the phrase "only true church". In a sense, Protestants as a whole belive that Protestantism is the "only true" path to God. Catholics believe Catholism is the only true path. Etc. Each just claims "authority" from different sources: ie, the Bible, the pope, the prophet.

Where it gets condescending is when you hear someone say, "No other church has the gift of the Holy Ghost; we are the only ones who have it b/c we have the authority." The problem with those sorts of statments is that lots of non-Mormons feel the Holy Ghost and feel God speaking to them daily. I felt that with my confirmation in the church and with an understanding of how to receive personal revelation, I was able to harness that power of the Holy Ghost MORE. But I HAD been led by the Holy Ghost prior to my baptism.

I had a bishop once who told me there was no way that I could have felt the Holy Ghost in my life before my baptism after I had turned 8. That is just wrong. People feel the Holy Ghost all the time. I don't know how to differentiate between the power vs. gift of the HG and the light of Christ, but I do know that it is a misconception that somehow we as Mormons have a monopoly on the Holy Ghost. I don't necessarily think this understanding was what was intended from the phrase "God speaks to earth again," but it is certainly a misconception among some (although not all) Mormons.

I have found we as Mormons tend to place a higher emphasis on prophetic revelation than other churches, but a lesser emphasis on personal revelation. I think we could learn alot from our Protestant brothers and sisters in that regard.

Soxy Pirate said...

Katie, again I agree with your assessment.

I'll add, I find it alarming that your Bishop would say/believe such a thing. Even the 13 year olds in my Sunday School class could clearly articulate the distinction when I asked.

Katie said...

Soxy -

Even for fear that I'll repeat myself, I'm afraid you've once again responded to a caricature of Mormonism, and not the real thing.

Again, you have to accept that the "Mormonism" experienced by one individual is often quite different from that experienced by someone else. Alot of that comes from the misconceptions or misconstructions placed on doctrine that have accumulated over time. Yes, the things in this blog may not be what was meant when they came from the Prophet or as found in the church literature. However, they do represent the church as experienced by Lisa and many others. What is your "reality," and what is "Mormonism" is more influenced by what you hear others say and by how you doctrine interpretted than by the actual hard doctrine. I don't think Lisa is trying to do a academic dissection of Mormon doctrine; I think it is meant to be a reaction to the Mormon "reality" she is experiencing in N Cal. Correct?

T.J. Shelby said...

Great post. Soxy, pull the stick out. Myth was a poor choice of words but maybe Nyquil is frying your ability to see the point. In the grand scheme of the world, Mormonism stands no different from the rest of the religious world in the claim to, and proclamation of, extreme religious doctrine.

We like to think we are "a peculiar people" and that our doctrine is simplistic in it's clarity. We like to think we are truly unique in our standing as "the only true and living church" but the truth is that the rest of the world doesn't see us as quite so unique. We are clumped in with all the rest.

And just as Mormons scream that the general populous bastardizes their belief system with lies and misconceptions, so to does Mormonism rely upon those same types of religious mockery and finger-pointing at other competing religions.

Most common examples would be the baptizing of infants by Catholics, the lack of authority by other pastors and preachers (if an ice cream truck turned on their siren, pulled you over and tried to give you a moving violation ticket, would you pay? Why not?), and the constant condescension of comments about the schizophrenic God of modern Christianity (the 3 in 1 belief of the Trinity).

Soxy Pirate said...

Katie,

Of course I understand that. I'm sure you understand that. I mentioned it because I'm not convinced Lisa understands that.

Soxy Pirate said...

TJ, would you help me remove this stick from wherever I'm supposed to be pulling it by addressing specifics in my post, because I generally agree with everything you've said, yet I find fundamental differences between what you are saying and what Lisa is saying.

Soxy Pirate said...

I think it is meant to be a reaction to the Mormon "reality" she is experiencing in N Cal. Correct?

Perhaps, but I'm having a tremendously difficult time believing that such exceptional misunderstandings are so commonplace in Northern California.

Lisa said...

Okay, this is getting ridiculous.

Soxy, this IS based on the reality I've lived, but not only that: I've spoken to many online, have spoken to many from different areas - missionaries who've served in various areas, friends who've lived abroad.

I don't live in some remote area. I live in the most conservative county in California and I live in an extremely orthodox stake but come on. I've spoken with others. Experienced it. Read the scriptures, listened to the lessons, heard the talks.

Like Katie said, this isn't academic.This isn't Mormon Matters. This is a venting place. I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from calling it a caricature simply because you disagree and feel it is. For many this is the reality.

And really, everyone else (Katie, TJ, aurora) seems to understand what I'm saying. Perhaps their explanations are clearer than mine since you seem to agree with them. I'm sorry if we've come to an impasse. This is what I've heard, what for a long time I believed, what many of my friends continue to believe and preach, and what I've heard in church.

You are coming across slightly aggressive.

This is how I see it, how I've lived it, how I've heard it.

Oh, Katie: my dad's church doesn't believe baptism is necessary nor do many protestant churches (Baptists, I think, do feel it necessary like the Catholics). It's a ritual, totally optional. It's an outward expression of an inward committment.

In fact, I'm 99% positive that's the exact phrasing they use.

Lisa said...

oh, and the reason some churches don't believe baptism to be necessary for salvation is because it would fall under the "works" category.

It's not necessarily a matter of works = being perfect but a matter of needing ordinances to get into heaven. That's their beef.

Katie said...

Actually, now you mention it, I think I do recall it being an "outward manifestation of an inward committment," but from my experience most encourage baptism.

Soxy Pirate said...

I've spoken to many online, have spoken to many from different areas - missionaries who've served in various areas, friends who've lived abroad.

Have you entertained the possibility of some self-selection?

This is a venting place. I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from calling it a caricature simply because you disagree and feel it is. For many this is the reality.

I don't doubt that. This "reality," however, tells me more about the one doing the venting than it does about the Church.

This is how I see it, how I've lived it, how I've heard it.

I'm sorry to hear that. If anything, you should take comfort in knowing that your experience sounds so horrible to me that I couldn't initially even believe it was true. There is an entire world of Mormonism out here that doesn't resemble what you've said except when spoken of by enemies of the church. I truly hope you find a way out of Northern California.

I'm also sure there is an entirely different world of Mormonism not far from here that I wouldn't even believe if I saw it firsthand. I hope I'll never see it. I've tried to avoid it by trying to filter the bullshit from the Gospel truth.

You are coming across slightly aggressive.

I hope you know that all of my aggression is channeled towards your words and not you as a person. Contrary to how I might come off here, I'm convinced I'd probably really like you, and I bet you'd like me too;) I do get a bit defensive however when Mormonism is painted with such a broad brush, by friends or enemies, since I'm (unwillingly) included in that stroke.

Katie said...

Ok, did a little research on this... The Protestant branches I am most familiar with are Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptists, since those were the ones that I actively attended while trying to choose a church.

Lutherans require baptism for salvation. Per their website: Luther retained baptism. "Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'(Matt. 28:19).
Our Lord commands Baptism. It is not optional,nor is it simply a nice 'extra'... It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Which are these words and promises of God? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: 'Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,but whoever does not believe will be condemned”(Mark 16:16)."

The United Methodists do not believe that baptism is required to be saved, but that "baptism is a gift of God's grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us."

Definition for baptism found on the Episcopal Church of America website: "Baptism... is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body, the church. God establishes an indissoluble bond with each person in baptism. God adopts us, making us members of the church and inheritors of the Kingdom of God (BCP, pp. 298, 858). In baptism we are made sharers in the new life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the foundation for all future church participation and ministry."

I think its largely the "low church" branches (Assembly of God, Methodists, etc.) that focus more on salvation w/o sacraments, while the "high church" branches (Lutheran, Episcopal, etc.) retain baptism for membership in the church b/c they are closer in evolution to Catholism.

Lisa said...

Katie: I'll agree with that. They encourage it, but not require it?

At least some don't. My dad's didn't. I still remember a friend of my stepmom's coming up to me and saying "You know this won't save you, right?"

I don't know what her point was. I'd already been "saved" a few times by way of prayer during worship service.

Lisa said...

Katie: Ah! That does make sense. Thank you.

(and for the record, I did attend an Assembly of God church. I've also attended Baptist and Catholic, but the Assembly of God is the one I am most familiar with)

Katie said...

I've actually experienced most (if not all) of the complaints and characterizations on this blog in my daily experiences with other Mormons. Some are from other ward members, some from bishops or stake presidents, ocassionally you even get the General Conference talk that could be misconstrued if heard from the wrong frame of reference. For instance, Pres. Hinckley talking about "elite, liberal colleges in the East". Are we supposed to construe from those sorts of statements that Mormons are anti-higher education other than BYU? No; clearly this is an instance where personal experience is influencing the way that the talk was given. I also specifically recall one GC talk about the need to drop the "traditions of our fathers" and embrace "church culture". This rubbed me the wrong way until my DH explained that they meant to drop those traditions that contradicted gospel teachings, such as drinking, etc. But that was not what I heard.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the people who believe alot of these misconstructions are also the loudest in the ward/stake. Alot of the "misconceptions" are passed down from parent to child, over generations. There is a "sense" that the East is evil and that because Utah is Zion we all need to flee there to escape the world's wickedness. Is there a teaching, anywhere, that we should now be fleeing to Utah? No, but tell that to the thousands of Mormons who fly home each year after obtaining their degrees in "elite, liberal colleges in the East" to raise their kids and work in Utah so that they won't be exposed to wickedness. You see it constantly by well-intentioned individuals, and, as a lifelong East Coaster, it can sometimes be hard not to be offended by it.

Obviously these examples are not church "teachings" - but they are misconceptions that somehow have evolved in some minds.

Perhaps a better title for this post would have been "Debunking Common Misconceptions Among Mormons regarding Protestants". I guess if it were an essay, not a blog post, you could also go into reasons for why each thing was just a misconception, and not the reality of what the Mormon Church teaches. But that would make it an essay, not a blog post :-)

Lisa said...

THANK YOU.

And yes, I need to retitle this thing. Maybe I will though the address will forever remain the same.

Next time I'll refrain from posting while sick or otherwise overwhelmed by school and family.

Amanda said...

I couldn't read through all these comments, but I did notice that someone in here said that all Christian religions believe their faith is the only way to heaven and while I agree that that's true for most, I don't believe it is for all. Some of the most liberal faiths - quakers, universalist unitarians, etc - believe there are many ways to read heaven. Heck, some quaker congregations don't even care if you believe in God. Anyway, not saying anything against what you've said Lisa, but I thought I'd thrown my thoughts into the mix.

Lisa said...

I appreciate that, Amanda, and I edited the post in an attempt to clarify.

When I say those things, I'm speaking more of mainstream Christianity (grace only via prayer) vs. Mormons/Jehovah's Witnesses/Catholics/etc.

Soxy Pirate said...

Lisa,

After your last comment I felt compelled to tell you that while my father's entire family is Mormon, my mother's parents were Methodist, her oldest sister a Jehovah's Witness, and her younger sister is Catholic.

Imagine how wonderful are our Christmas/Thanksgiving Dinners;) (FTR, the JW doesn't believe in Holidays).

We have a very ecumenical family!