Join our panel as we discuss the question: Will Mormons Get Their Own Planets?
If the church is distancing from needing to be reproducing in the eternities in order to become godlike and exalted, it does open the door for other types of marriage that do not result in begetting physical children.
I once explained the progression from human to god to a colleague. This was after I had left the Church. He looked at me and said, “That’s a pretty good hook.”
Mormons’ desire to be “Christian” is killing everything beautiful and interesting about Mormonism.
My thanks to Carah, John, Nemo and Jaxon for the discussion. I found it interesting and insightful. Having Carah as a witty and intelligent co-host is a plus for the podcast. Nemo is a breath of fresh air for his openness and honesty. Jaxon seems like a nice individual but his comments tend to get a little long winded for me.
As I scrolled through some of the comments on YouTube, the comment of Madi Mardue caught my attention. I will paste it in full below because her comment is part of the reason I decided to write this comment.
“Jaxon’s work is very compelling and rooted in theological pedagogy. However, this approach doesn’t attend to the lived consequences of developing doctrine. The actual consequences can destroy family relationships, among other types of harm. So while doctrinal debates and exploring nuance is helpful in the overall, long term development of Mormonism as an ideology, I think we can and should also acknowledge that there is a sense of urgency to clarify and act on contradictory issues. The church as an institution is unforgiving in its demand for “worthiness” and “good standing”. It’s hard to not hold the actual leadership and daily operations to the same standard as former/harmed members.”
Thanks to Madi for her thoughts. I had some thoughts that I will express in the remainder of this comment. It is my hope that someone will find them helpful. My comment is written with respectful concern for those who are still in the Church. Madi has written that there has been harm in the past that was caused by doctrinal issues. It is my hope that this comment might, in some small way, prevent future harm to others who are still active members.
During the podcast, John said that integrity was very important. I absolutely agree with him on that point. In my opinion, the foundation of any religious belief should be integrity and honesty. If a person is going to dedicate his or her life to following a religious belief system, it does not make sense to me to follow a system without an established foundation of honesty and integrity.
A religious belief system, or worldview, might be correct or it might not but the person following the belief is basing what they think will be either an improved Earthly existence or an eternal future on the religious system they follow. For that reason, it makes sense to me to investigate the foundational honesty and integrity of the system of belief the person is following.
If a belief system has a founder or a person who established the religious belief, it also makes sense to me to investigate the character of the individual responsible for the belief. In the case of the initial Latter-day Saint belief and the mainstream Christian belief, there are two individuals who can be investigated historically. Let’s compare the character, integrity and honesty of the person who established each religious belief.
In the case of mainstream Christianity, it was Jesus. The Bible reveals that Jesus was an extremely honest person who showed great integrity and respect for other people . . . especially those of lower social status and women. The people he did not respect were the religious leaders of his day who were taking advantage of those of lower status or economic standing. They were also burdening the Jewish worshipers of Jesus’ day with way too many manmade laws and regulations.
The founder of the Latter-day Saint faith was Joseph Smith. What do you think about his respect for women and people of color? How about his honesty and integrity. What about his money digging? How about translating the Book of Mormon with a stone in a hat? Was he always open and honest with Emma? Was he right about the American Indians being of middle eastern descent? Was he right about the Book of Abraham being written by the hand of Abraham upon papyrus? Is reformed Egyptian really a language? What about the Kinderhook plates? What do you think about his treatment of women in general?
I think the Latter-day Saint faith is built on a foundation of sand. It is the sand foundation established by Joseph Smith. On the other hand, Jesus is the cornerstone of a rock solid foundation. It is a foundation that has stood the test of time. Over two thousand years later, there is very little that has changed doctrinally from what was believed by first century Christians. The gospel creed found in 1 Corinthians 15 established the gospel very early in Christianity. That gospel remains to this day. It is part of the rock solid foundation of the mainstream Christian church.
Part of the discussion revolved around improving the Latter-day Saint Church organization. There seems to now be a tendency to want to move closer to mainstream Christianity and be called Christians. That is not going to happen in the eyes of mainstream Christians until the doctrine of exaltation and godhood for men (and becoming a goddess for women) in the Church is eliminated. If and when that happens, the doctrines of the Latter-day Saint Church will move much closer to mainstream Christianity, however, there will still be significant differences concerning the persons of God and Jesus.
If the move is toward mainstream Christianity, why not just eliminate the middle man and simply join a mainstream Christian congregation? Why continue to tithe to an organization that is hoarding huge sums of money during a global crisis. Most mainstream Christian denominations make significant efforts to help others in need. None that I know of hoard money at the expense of those in need. If they did, I would not consider them true mainstream Christian churches.
While we are on the subject of money, if the Latter-day Saint Church wants to become more like true mainstream Christianity that is following the Biblical Jesus, I think financial transparency is essential. All the good mainstream Christian denominations and churches I know about communicate clearly to their congregations how money is being spent. Nothing is hidden financially.
Yes, there are some churches that call themselves Christian but hide finances from those who contribute but I do not think they represent true mainstream Christianity. In my opinion, a good way to tell if a Christian church or denomination is following Jesus is to look for financial transparency. Loving money more than people in need is not a sign of good Christian stewardship.
In my opinion, the foundational truths of the Latter-day Saint Church are extremely questionable. There seem to me to be more lies and deceptions than truths at the foundation of the Church. That is why I think those in the Church should think very seriously about where they should put their trust and their money in the future. Which makes the most sense? Staying with an organization that has a sandy foundation or putting your faith and trust in the one who is called the cornerstone of His worldwide Church . . . the Biblical Jesus.
Having written these things, I do think the Latter-day Saint Church will change for the better in the future. People like Nemo will help to make that happen. The problem, as I see it, is that real change will take time. People who are now in positions of power might have to die before really significant overall change takes place (I think someone mentioned this during the discussion). In the meantime, those in the Church have a decision to make. Is it worth staying while change is slowly progressing or does it make more sense to find a place to give your tithing money that will be totally financially transparent and use your hard earned funds with greater emphasis on helping others in need?
This is a very well-considered, thoughtful post – thank you.
None of this matters. Like that newsman from Salt Lake said “Was Jesus resurrected?” Answer: No.
Personally, I believe we have spent a lot of time, effort, thought, and $ pursuing a myth. If it makes you feel better—go for it.
As for me I can’t stand another “the God I believe in, “or Christlike ” reply. This is fun. It is good to be free of the whole lie.
Thanks for the comment, Chuck. I would like to preface my comment by asking you to read The conversation Walt, Fatfinger and I had on the “Why Mormon Truth Matters” podcast . . . https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/why-mormon-truth-matters-terryl-givens/. If you read my comment to Fatfinger near the end of our discussion, you will read that I think I would probably hold a similar position to yours if I had been a longtime Latter-day Saint and felt deceived and betrayed by what I learned during my faith transition. I think some of what I felt would be anger bordering on rage. You might not have those same feelings but I know myself. I am relatively certain anger and rage would have been a significant part of my response to the process. In addition, I think I would have felt a very deep feeling of sadness because of what I had lost.
Reading on in that same comment near the end of the comments we made, you will read my example from neuroscience for why I think the human brain needs some intelligence behind its existence. Even though I am not a neuroscientist , I have written many pages about human brain complexity because of my interest in neuroscience. To simplify my response, I will not include those pages in this comment. I don’t base my entire belief system on one item but I think brain complexity is a huge indicator of an intelligence in the universe that is far beyond human intelligence.
Yes, neuroscientists are beginning to understand the complexity of the human brain but they would never have been able to understand that complexity without an existing human or animal brain to study. Ask the best team of neuroscientists you can assemble to make just one “simple brain cell”, like a neuron, from scratch and you will be met with blank stares. For a deeper understanding of basic cell assembly difficulties, go to the YouTube channel of PhD synthetic organic chemist James Tour . . . https://www.youtube.com/channel/UColdwL6T062LNo65OHngXAQ. He has made a similar point about the assembly of the first cell through a natural process (abiogenesis) that I made about the neuron.
Moving on to your concerns, newsmen are not what I would consider a reliable source for the resurrection of Jesus. I know you were just using that as an example to make your point but I think we all have to dig deeper into the evidence for the resurrection in order to make more informed decisions about the accuracy or inaccuracy of that occurrence. It is my personal opinion that the resurrection of Jesus is the key to the truthfulness of the mainstream Christian belief. You are right to point out the importance of that event. I have suggested elsewhere that there are several good sources to investigate the resurrection that I think reflect good scholarship. Googling the name Mike Winger, Mike Licona or James Wallace and resurrection will get you a lot of information to investigate. If you are not already aware, Jim Wallace was, and might still be, a cold case homicide detective. If you like murder mysteries, you might like his approach to the investigation of the facts behind the resurrection of Jesus.
Although It’s impossible to have 100% certainty about the existence of God, my confidence that there is a higher intelligence than human intelligence responsible for life on this planet approaches that level of certainty. I know my personal confidence in a supreme intelligence won’t convince you of anything. That is a matter you will have to investigate for yourself. What I do know is that if I am wrong and there is no God, I will simply turn to dust or ashes and will never know that I was wrong. You, on the other hand, could face an eternity of regret if the decisions you made while on this Earth were the wrong decisions.
It was Blaise Pascal who initially made the same point I am making. He made it as far back as the seventeenth century (Pascal’s wager). His point was that a non believer faces significantly more eternal consequence by betting his or her eternal life that there is no God than a believer in God does by betting her or his eternal life that God really does exist. My personal choice is to bet on God. It is the biggest gamble of my life but if I am wrong, I don’t really have much to lose. My belief in God has given me hope through deep valleys of sadness and despair during difficult times in my life. My valleys might not have been as deep as yours but, for me, they were significantly deep that they caused great pain and sadness. The loss of my wife five years ago was one of those valleys. I have come out on the other side of that valley with renewed confidence that the God and Jesus I worship are real.
I’ll conclude this comment by writing that my youngest daughter spent a number of years with an atheist worldview. Because I love her, I spent a lot of time investigating that worldview. My personal investigation convinced me that it was not a worldview that could provide a lot of comfort for me. If I followed the atheist arguments to what I thought were their logical conclusions, I could find nothing but despair at the root of the belief. So, the bottom line is that we have come to different conclusions about the reality of God and Jesus. We each have a right to express our opinions about that matter. Although I don’t agree with your opinion, I respect your right to express it. Thanks again for the comment.
For anyone wondering about my daughter’s views at this time in her life, she has changed her mind and now agrees with me that there is a God and that mainstream Christianity is true.
As much as I can appreciate Jaxon’s thoughtful commentary, when you get into discussions like this something that believers tend to forget is the most basic aspect of the Mormon narrative, which in my opinion, renders the rest of the conversation mute. And that is that the very bottom line key to everything is that Mormonism presents itself, not as “a church”, but as The church and kingdom of God, set apart from the philosophies of men (other religions) by the restoration of original and sacred truth and by true and living prophets called by God to lead his people and be his mouthpiece on earth. You know, ACTUAL prophets of God who’s job it is to relay modern revelation from God to man. These are not “so called” prophets that speak as men, that’s what all those other religions have, men and women and the opinions of men and women. What sets Mormonism apart is Mormon leaders are not just men, they are TRUE messengers of God that have God’s authority and mandate to speak for Him. Thus all the changes and rationalizations and “he was speaking as a man” excuses don’t hold up. The others have “men”. You not only don’t need it; you don’t want or have room for men speaking as men when you have men whose sacred calling from on high is reveal God’s word.
I mean if we’re supposed to look our bishop in the eye and tell the truth during tithing settlement as if we’re speaking to God himself because the bishop is God’s authorized representative, then how much more should we be able to expect God’s true prophets and apostles to accurately and truly represent God and not themselves?
Jackson seems to be the only adult in this conversation. He acknowledges others views, while having his own views and is willing to have a fair discussion. The rest of you seem to be set in your views and opinions and rarely acknowledge Jackson’s differing views.
Jaxon/Jackson’s speeches amount to verbal obfuscation, the long-winded version of “Restoration schmestoration. We are young in church building.” Calling J. a scholar is a stretch. I have *rarely* heard such compelling evidence that exhaustive mental gymnastics such as he provides actually reduces the “scholar’s” number of brain cells. What utter rot!
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