Monday, September 29, 2008

Opposition to the Church: A Charitable View

Something to provide a different perspective:

Perhaps most of the vocal opposition to Mormonism is produced by those who sincerely feel like we are stealing something. From this perspective, we steal members (and their attendant money) away from ministers and congregations, but we also steal souls away from Christ or tradition or family.

I interviewed many years ago for a position of teacher at a Quaker school. The principal told me directly that he would have to defend my hiring to one board member who had “lost a daughter to the Mormons.” Money had nothing to do with that father’s emotion; he truly felt his daughter’s spiritual life was in danger.

Likewise, one of my missionary companions was a native Japanese elder. He was the oldest son of the oldest son of the town’s Buddhist priest - going back about 16 generations. When he joined the Church, his father performed a death ceremony for him - in Christian terms, letting go of a damned soul.

Finally, early converts didn’t join and stay in their home towns with their families. They joined and moved thousands of miles away to live among the saints. They said, in essence, “I would rather be with Joseph Smith and the Mormons than with you, my family.” I know that is consistent with statements in the New Testament, but it still is a brutal message to hear as a parent or sibling.

In each of these cases, these people believed deeply that joining the Mormon Church was tantamount to abandoning family and friends and jumping into the flames of Hell. They felt that the Mormon Church stole their children’s eternal salvation/soul/destiny. That underlying feeling of being robbed in one way or another can’t be ignored - and for those of us who are parents, it should be understood better. We should be much more charitable in our reaction to opposition - understanding how we would feel if we "lost a child" to something in which we didn't believe and which we felt would harm her eternally.


Anonymous said...

Papa D., some have followed Christ and left their Mormon families in S.E. Idaho. It is excruciating when observing the family/neighborhood/career whisperings, but I witness such joy in those who have gained a fuller understanding of Jesus Christ.

Patty said...

I think the more we learn about and really try to understand other peoples' religious beliefs the better we'll be able to respond with compassion and charity. Besides, isn't that what we hope for from others?

Papa D said...

Todd, you know I respect your point of view, but your comment illustrates exactly the point of this post. You feel there is something missing in Mormonism - that we limit one's ability to understand Jesus Christ, thus stealing away that potential for full joy. Therefore, you peruse Mormon-themed blogs - interjecting your perspective into our discussions in a hope that someone will doubt Mormonism and leave. I respect that, since it's sincere, even though I believe you are wrong.

I don't believe for a second that there is a "fuller understanding of Jesus Christ" available anywhere than that which is available within Mormonism, so I can't agree with your underlying assumption. However, I DO believe that people can grow up in or convert to the Mormon Church and never gain the full understanding of Jesus Christ that is available in the Mormon Church - that they can develop an incorrect understanding that will not fulfill them. In those cases, I am positive that they can gain a fuller understanding elsewhere.

I don't believe that is due to any lock of fullness within Mormonism, but I don't begrudge anyone who makes that decision and finds peace elsewhere.

Papa D said...

Exactly, Patty. "Do unto others" is a powerful concept, and it has much wider application than many realize.

Papa D said...

Oh, Todd, if you return and are not aware of it, I am "Ray" in the Bloggernacle. Just thought you would like to know that, in the interest of full disclosure.

Anonymous said...

Ray, I hope no one thinks I just comment and then go leave somewhere and hide. ;) But not many are kindly disposed to me waxing in a lengthy way about anything.

Yes, friend, I do desire people to think beyond the ongoing LDS projections of Scripture that I hear often. And I hope to be sincerely honest about this motive anywhere that I would be allowed a comment.

Each week, I have LDS friends/missionaries in Southeastern Idaho who seek to plant seeds of doubt on a whole gamut of doctrinal issues - and whether they are sufficient - truths that I hold precious.

When it comes to heart issues, I am sensitive and don't begrudge any family for being heart broken and experiencing sincere grief/anger over a family member who splits from their faith.

(OK, just out of courtesy to all the readers of this blog: let me identify myself as not an ol' mean troll seeking to cause havock on the internet. I am Pastor Todd Wood of Berean Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho [actually Ammon, Idaho]and just grateful to Ray for allowing an occasional comment with often a very strong, opposing view.)

SilverRain said...

I think it is difficult to remember that all who truly seek after God are on the same side, and no one Church has a monopoly on all truth. It is also difficult to let go and let another person we love make a choice we see as wrong. It is, however, the essence of Godly thinking and the antithesis of Satanic thinking.

Papa D said...

This type of discussion highlights exactly what I was getting at in the post, Todd. I don't want this to devolve into an argument about religion, but I trust you won't do that. I don't impute any intentions to you and your efforts in the Bloggernacle that are different than mine and others' there and elsewhere. All of us are trying to help others see and understand what we see and understand. I'm cool with that - in the context of remaining true to the message of whatever post is being discussed and with a spirit of acceptance not ridicule.

I think you and I agree on the central point of this post, so I am glad you found it. You are welcome here anytime, as long as you stick to the focus of each post - as you generally do elsewhere. Welcome, Brother.

Papa D said...

Excellent points, Sliver Rain. Thanks for bringing those up; they are very important.

Tim Malone said...

Ray, your subtitle is accurate. You do present a charitable view of those who oppose the work of the LDS church. Some would characterize those who oppose the efforts of the church as being in opposition to the truth, and as being deceived or blinded by the adversary. But of course, I would never say that.

You are also accurate in your comment where you write that there are some who convert to the LDS faith and never come to a full understanding of the role of the Savior in their lives and thus are not fulfilled because of that lack. In fact, such a scenario can and often does transpire in the life of an individual born and raised in the LDS faith.

I am amazed at the depth of the comment from Silverrain and yet I have seen this many times in the lives of some of my dearest friends in the LDS church, many serving in leadership positions, who watch their child leave the faith in search of happiness elsewhere. If they find that happiness and fulfillment in another faith, it is so much better than watching them turn to drugs or alcohol and destroying their lives, but it does hurt nonetheless.

I am firmly convinced that if converts or children of long-time members leave the faith and seek after truth in another faith and are sincere in their efforts, then they will eventually be able to see the best path to come unto Christ and return to the presence of God in the life to come.

If they are following the Savior then surely they are doing good. But like you, Ray, I am convinced that we can get closer to Christ by following the precepts taught in the LDS faith than in any other religion. I have yet to find in other churches the depth of doctrinal understanding of what really matters in my heart when it comes to salvation. My heart tells me that I have found the truth that feeds my soul in the teachings of the restored gospel as revealed to Joseph Smith.

Anonymous said...

Ray, this is something I've really been trying to work through since my niece converted to Islam almost two years ago. I can recognize the parallels on an intellectual level, but on a practical, emotional level, I have an ever-lowering regard for Islam when I see what her increasing involvement leads to, and I become less and less charitable.

When it comes to what others think of us, on the whole I prefer candid dislike, to whatever degree, to Todd Wood's smugness.

Christy said...

I've written and erased a comment several times now....

Let me just say that I've had experience in this area, and you are very right, that the fear of losing one's family is behind a lot of hurtful things that have been said. I have been very blessed to be given the understanding I've needed to help me with this problem. There's the carnal part of me that wants to be left alone, but the spiritual part of me knows that is not what I want - I want my family - all of it - together forever, and that, along with a lot of guidance from the Spirit, helps me react with compassion.

Papa D said...

Thanks, Christy - both for sticking it out and adding a comment and for the comment itself. I hope you find peace in your situation, and I hope those you love do, as well.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know that I may not comment but I do read your blog.

Papa D said...

Thanks, backandthen. I understand completely.

Jami said...

My mom was raised as a Southern Baptist and morphed into a feminist agnostic hippy. She vehemently opposed my baptism at 12 and withheld her permission for two and a half years.

She honestly felt that the church was a hate-filled, sexist cult and she was horrified at my desire to reject everything on which she had based her life. She felt as if she was losing me as a daughter.

I know her intense frustration was based on love. (And a big heaping helping of irrational fear.) It is healing to look at those troubling interactions through the lens of charity, rather than resentment.

Papa D said...

"It is healing to look at those troubling interactions through the lens of charity, rather than resentment."

Amen, Jami. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Ardis, human religion feeds a soul with smugness. At one time, I felt very happy by my sense of goodness, very prideful in my righteousness.

But the perfect Law struck me down in my sick self attainment.

Today, I am not affectionate to what at one time as a religious path imprisoned my soul.

Oh yes, my sinful nature continues to struggle with smugness, but one only needs to remind me of the reasons for Christ's shed blood.

Seeing the complete sufficiency of Christ's cross for my personal exaltation saps my arrogant smugness.

What really do I have to boast about?

Papa D said...

Todd, just out of curiosity, did you once live in the SLC area - and are you roughly 40-45 years old?

Anonymous said...


Nope, I have not lived in SLC.

Born in Idaho Falls in the LDS hospital of long ago.

Hey, I just found out that Chris H. lives in Rexburg. I need to pester that guy. :)