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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pharisees, You Hypocrites!

A number of times, I have had Mormons--including friends and family--tell me that Jesus would never tear down another religion. He wasn't mean to people like that. He didn't tell people they were wrong in their beliefs, or warn people of those who lead others from truth.


Quite the opposite!

I understand why Mormons say that Jesus wouldn't do this. Jesus was emphatic about showing love to people, and Mormons wish to cling to this aspect of him so that they can believe their faith should not be attacked--that good people who follow Christ wouldn't do this, so it must be a "bad" person saying things against the church, and therefore what they say is invalid. Sometimes, though, it is more loving to show people why they are wrong. Revelation 3:19 says "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." Jesus and his apostles showed this type of love often, and often with harsh or firm words, either in rebuke to people or in warning believers about who to watch out for and fight against. Here's some examples in the New Testament.

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he [John the Baptist] said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
 Matthew 16:6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
 Matthew 23:15, 23, 25, 27, 29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!"
Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Matthew 7:21 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 The Bible shows a theme of correcting and revealing wrong teachings and wrong teachers. From the beginning, sin was punished and false teachings were revealed as such. God does not destroy sinners the first time they sin, like he could, out of love...but neither does he not tell them that they're wrong, because letting them continue to believe wrongly would be an extreme disfavor.

Acts 20:25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God." 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Was a Restoration Needed?

One of the LDS church's greatest claims is that its the restored church--the only church that holds all truth. Other churches hold some, more than others, they say, but only they have it all because it has been restored to them through Joseph Smith, the first prophet.

This is all founded on the idea of a great apostasy and its consequences.

James E. Faust, a General Authority, recently said, "I wish to testify today of the fulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which adds to the religious beliefs of other denominations, both Christian and non-Christian. This fulness was originally established by the Savior in His earthly ministry. But then there was a falling away." (http://lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/the-restoration-of-all-things?lang=eng&query=great+apostasy)

Similarly, Boyd K. Packer said, "The Church you belong to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the restored Church. 3 When you know what restored means, you will understand why standards of conduct are as they are.
Following the Crucifixion of Christ an apostasy occurred. Leaders began to “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” 4 They lost the keys of authority and closed themselves off from the channels of revelation. That lost authority could not just be repossessed. It had to be restored by those who held the keys of authority anciently. 5
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a remodeled version of another church. It is not an adjustment or a correction or a protest against any other church. They have their “form of godliness” 6 and their goodness and value." (http://lds.org/general-conference/2003/10/the-standard-of-truth-has-been-erected?lang=eng&query=great+apostasy)

 Thankfully, these claims of a great apostasy and its results can be examined. The idea of a "great apostasy" quite simply doesn't fit into history. Here's a few reasons why.

Oral tradition at that time period was outstanding--there have been studies done that show that the same story could be passed over generations with no significant changes. This is for a few reasons. First of all, memorization skills were more keenly honed, developed, and utilized at this time period. It was not unthinkable for a rabbi or student of the Law to have whole books of scripture memorized. Oral tradition was held as sacred; an elder would quickly correct a younger person who got an important detail wrong. This was not like a game of telephone, where a person only hears it whispered once and has to pass it on. This was a community effort to maintain and pass on tradition and knowledge. The stories of Jesus would not have been ruined by the few decades where it existed only orally.

The Gospels were written either by eyewitnesses or people who had interviewed eyewitnesses. These people had motivation to write it down correctly, and the people who had been there were still around to correct anything that had been written down incorrectly. This contributes at least in part to the consistency of the Gospels, especially the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)--while small details sometimes vary, the core of the stories match extremely well. A lawyer, judge, or other expert in modern law would tell you that this is not only expected in stories where witnesses are telling you the truth, it is also vital, because if the stories were to match 100%, there would be accusations that the witnesses had gotten together to concoct a story, which would then bring its truthfulness into question.
The epistles of Paul were written even earlier--even closer to the events.

The Gospels and epistles were written early enough that there was not enough time for legendary development--the adding in of events that were untrue and often larger-than-life. Studies show that it usually takes much longer than the couple of decades that the writers had at this time, and the people writing still had a vested interest in getting it right. The legendary development can be seen later, in the Gnostic gospels, which is why these are not accepted into canon.

There is plenty of manuscript evidence to show that there were no significant changes in scriptural texts, and enough manuscripts being written that it would have been hard for a group or individual to make a change that would have gone unnoticed and been perpetuated. Even when the Christian faith began to have organized religion--the Catholic church--there were many manuscripts, and it would have been impossible to completely erase the evidence of significantly changing the contents of that many Bibles, especially since some of those early Bibles and many partial manuscripts are still preserved today.

There is no evidence of much of the practices of the LDS church being done in ancient times. Temple marriages were not performed. Baptisms for the dead in the temple were not performed--neither were endowments. There was no hierarchical order where there was a single prophet at the top, with apostles underneath him, and an organization that trickled down from there--any hierarchy was imposed by men. Even in the Old Testament, if often speaks of multiple prophets and female prophets, and there were no apostles at that time. In the New Testament, there were no prophets as leaders after John the Baptist:
Luke 16:16 The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached.
While the spiritual gift of prophecy still exists today, there are not prophets in the same way that there were in the Old Testament.

The councils that the LDS church so vilifies were not for men to impose their own views on the gospel, but for what already existed to be made official. The Trinity was made official because of heresies that contradicted the Bible--but the Trinity existed in the gospels and the epistles, and was written of by the earliest church fathers, before the councils ever convened. The canon was not chosen because they were books men wanted in scripture--they took the books generally accepted as scripture and, with strict standards that kept anything incorrect out of the God's Word, compiled those books into the accepted canon that is now the Bible.

There is also Christ's own promises that we can rely on when it comes to the preservation of the Word of God and the true church:
Matthew 24:35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

If Christ promised it and the evidence backs it up, why should we not believe it?

In truth, it is not that the gospel was lost, but that men do not always understand it. There is a reason for some of the things Christ said:

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
 Matthew 7:13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The narrow gate is very simple to find, but its so hard for many people:
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

We can see that there was no apostasy. The Bible is preserved. No important doctrines were lost. The ordinances and temples that the LDS hold up so high are unnecessary and contradict the Bible. All we need...is Jesus. His Word is sufficient to guide us to him.

Godhood: Exaltation or Damnation? A Woman's perspective

In Mormon theology, a worthy Mormon couple can become a god and goddess of their own world and populate it with their own spirit children. Unfortunately, for a woman, being a goddess is not all that it's cracked up to be.

The first downside is that she cannot hope to have eternal marriage unless her husband calls her at the resurrection. If he fails to do so, she will be resurrected, but not as his wife, which can potentially keep her from becoming a goddess.

Do the women, when they pray, remember their husbands?... Do you uphold your husband before God as your lord? "What!—my husband to be my lord?" I ask, Can you get into the celestial kingdom without him? Have any of you been there? You will remember that you never got into the celestial kingdom [during the temple ceremony] without the aid of your husband. If you did, it was because your husband was away, and some one had to act proxy for him. No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 291)

 Women who go through the temple receive a name. The only person she is to tell this to is her husband. A husband does not have to tell his wife his name. This is because God will call a man into the Celestial Kingdom, but a man--not God--calls his wife there. These names are usually from the Bible, which means that many women probably bear identical names. It leaves one to wonder how they'll know who is who in the resurrection, with all those "Rachels" and "Eves" waiting to hear their husbands call them.

Then comes the role of a woman in eternity. It is much like the role of a woman on earth: to bear children. On earth, it is for the purpose of giving bodies to as many spirits possible. In many cases, there are women and families--especially early on or in fundamentalist sects--that prohibit or strongly discourage birth control, and see anything sexual that is not for reproduction as impure, even between a man and wife. Although this has relaxed a little in the mainstream church, there is still a push to have as many children as possible and to start young. Masturbation is still seen as a sin, and while sex is allowed for pleasure even when a woman isn't fertile in the mainstream church, I have had the impression before, both as a member and as an ex-member, that anything for pleasure outside of sex itself is somewhat discouraged. I don't know if leadership are told to actively discourage this if they learn of it, however, or if they used to but no longer have to.

In eternity, the purpose of bearing children is to create spirits to continue the race of gods. Presumably, these spirits will repeat the same pattern we are supposedly repeating--they will go to earth, sin will come to test them, they will have to prove themselves worthy and faithful, there will have to be a savior to justify those who are worthy and faithful, and then the select few who meet the rigid requirements will be exalted to godhood eventually as well. Considering that billions upon billions of people have lived on this earth, and more are being born every day, the amount of spirit children a woman has to have is staggering. Even assuming gestation for a spirit is significantly shorter than women must deal with on earth, and that birth is not nearly so arduous a process, it would still take a long time for even multiple women to bear one man that many children, and the idea is simply exhausting.

This, of course, gave rise to polygamy. Polygamy was not, as most Mormons are led to believe today, just to take care of women whose husbands had died. Marriage is not necessary to do that, anyways. The church could have made other arrangements to care for the widows and orphans. There's also no indication in early membership records that there was a significantly larger proportion of women than men due to the persecutions. In reality, polygamy was to fulfill the dual purposes of a family creating bodies for as many spirits as possible (and fundamentalist sects believe more children means more guarantee of exaltation and great eternal rewards), and then given an exalted man--a god--as many spirit children as possible.

Polygamy can still be seen in the mainstream church, just in a "legal" way--since polygamy being illegal is what made them stop practicing actively in the first place (the Manifesto was not a "revelation" and wasn't God commanding it to be stopped forever; go read it yourself). Now, if a Mormon man dies and his wife remarries later on, she has to chose which husband she wishes to be sealed to, she can't be sealed to both. On the other hand, if a Mormon woman dies, and her husband remarries later on, he can be sealed to both, and both will be his wives if he becomes a god. Although I do not know for sure, I would not be surprised if women who are unmarried when they die are sealed by proxy to worthy Mormon men. As far as I'm aware, there is also a belief that if a woman is worthy and is either a Mormon with an unworthy husband or accepts Mormonism after death and her husband does not, she can still be given to a worthy Mormon man. Whether or not this is official taught, I know there are members who believe it, which makes sense in light of all their other beliefs on marriage and exaltation.

To add insult to injury, if our own "Heavenly Mother" that the Mormons believe in is any example, a goddess won't even be acknowledged by most of her children, and the few who do know she exists won't worship her, don't pray to her, and will barely talk about her. The Mormons say things like, this is to protect her from insults and blasphemy, but I would think a goddess could handle herself. No, in reality, this is because our heavenly mother--or mothers--are inferior to their husband and less powerful than him because of a single thing: the priesthood. He is the priesthood head in their family, so he is in charge, and therefore he is the one who is involved with his earthly children and their world; the women do not have the power to do anything in their childrens' mortal lives. It is his earth, and she is just one of the necessary components in his eternal exaltation.

Women, I have to ask you: does this sound like exaltation...or damnation?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Should a Christian be a Homophobe?

As homosexuals try to fight for the ability to marry and be recognized as legal couples with the same rights as heterosexuals, American Christians are making grave mistakes by going to extremes in either accepting or rejecting gays.

The first extreme is outright homophobia. Should a Christian be a homophobe? No. At least, no more than they should be and adultery-phobe, or a fornication-phobe, or a lying-phobe.

The Bible tells us a few things we should remember when dealing with the homosexual issue. The first is that we are all sinners, we all fall short, and we all need a savior.
Romans 3:22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

The Bible tells us that sexual immorality in general is wrong. It does not specify that one type is worse than another. Sin is sin, and sexual immorality in all its types is sinful. This means that we should not exclude a homosexual man or woman anymore than we should exclude an adulterer or the couple that is living together for marriage. In fact, if anything, we should welcome them for the healing, change, and improvement that faith in Christ will bring into their lives if a person accepts him wholly and sincerely.

The other extreme is to downplay the sinfulness of being gay. We can accept being a person who has relations with the opposite sex, but what it comes down to is that it is still a sin, and we should not accept the sin. Let me make this clear; I'm not picking on one type of sexual sin. Anything outside of a heterosexual monogamous marriage is contrary to the will of God, as he has outlined in the Bible. Christians should accept all sinners, as all of us are sinners, but pretending it is not a sin for public image purposes is just as wrong as rejecting the sinner completely.

I think the worst part is seeing religions allow gays to become leaders.

1 Timothy 3 says this about church leaders:
 1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
 8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 
12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 

And Titus 1 says this:
An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Leaders will of course fall short sometimes, but they should not be participating in the serious sins as outlined in Galatians 5:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

A person who is trying to be a leader but who will not follow God's Word and follow Christ fully cannot effectively lead the church in following Christ fully and correctly.

The beautiful thing about follow Christ is this: that he promises to make us new, to help us abandon the old man and put on the new, to guide us out of our sins and into a relationship with God. We are born as sinners. Some sins are more inherent to a person's nature than others. Those who feel that they were born homosexual do not have to feel that God does not love them. Instead, they can rejoice in the changes that God can make in them. It is the job of Christians to see it as a sin, to accept the sinner, and to support them in letting Christ change them into what he wants for them.

Religion or Relationship?

Beliefs often give rise to religions, constructed and ruled by imperfect and possibly corrupt and deceptive men. In comparison, the New Testament describes relationship with God. Let's look at the difference.

Religion: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
Relationship: 1: the state of being related or interrelated
2: the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship 
The Mormon church is a religion. It was started by a man (Joseph Smith), is ruled by men in a hierarchy starting from their prophet/president and trickling down into the general membership. There is a set system of beliefs, attitudes, rituals, ordinances, and so on. Everything is highly regulated within the church. Each church teaches the same lessons no matter where in the world they are. Each church had the same hymns, varying only by what language necessitates. A person could appear to be a Mormon without ever believing it if they said and did all the right things, although I imagine it would be hard to maintain such a front permanently.

Christianity is supposed to be a relationship--a relationship with God. The Spirit of God lives in us, giving us direct and constant access and contact with God. There is no earthly hierarchy--there Jesus/God the Father, and there is the church. People in the church have different roles, but none are supposed to truly be over another Christian in the ways a religion does. A pastor is not a ruler, a dictator, or someone whose commands should be followed without questioning whether or not they're from God; he is a shepherd, a guide, a teacher. Everyone has their place, but none is unessential. All are equal in the sight of God. Believers have a direct relationship with God, with no intermediary because Christ himself is our mediator. Our relationship with God can be so strong and personal that God becomes Abba... Dad. According to Romans 8, this is what God wants, and what the Spirit prompts us towards. It is hard to appear to be a Christian if you are not, because being a Christian has two essential components; true, sincere belief, and that belief being shown in a person's life. A person who does not believe generally will not show the fruit of the Spirit in their lives if they don't truly believe.

The question is, if you think you believe in God, do you truly have a relationship with him? Do you see him in your life more and more, or is he a second thought? Is your desire not to do what a religion tells you that you should, but to live out the love of Christ in your own life? Do you follow what Christ taught because you think you have to in order to be worthy, or because you love him and belief in him so fully that you want that goodness in your life and pursue it? Do you follow men without questioning whether or not they speak for God because they say they speak for God, or do you follow the Word of God? Is God a distant being with whom you feel you must be formal, or is he your Dad, your Abba, with whom you can speak normally and love and interact with? Is all of God enough for all of you, or do you need more, such as rituals and imperfect men? 
Do you have to depend on other people or a religion to get to your goal after death, or do you depend fully on Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life?

Which do you want to depend on?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hymn 301

1.I am a child of God
And he has sent me here
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me
Help me find the way
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday
2. I am a child of God
And so my needs are great
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows to late
3. I am a child of God
Rich blessings are in store
If I but learn to do his will
I'll live with him once more

This hymn was what my grandfather requested to have played and sung by his grandchildren at his funeral. Being the oldest granddaughter and being able to play piano, I played while my many cousins sang. I had already left the church at this time, but it was my grandfather's wish, and I loved him too much to deny him that because of my change in beliefs.

When I was practicing the song the night before the funeral, my uncle came up to me and made a statement about the song not differing to much from my new beliefs, as far as he understood it. I just said, "close enough," because I wasn't prepared for that particular discussion when emotions were already a little touchy from the beloved family patriarch passing away.

I've gone back to that very brief conversation again and again in my head since then, thinking about what parts of the song differ from Christianity. It comes down to two main differences.

1) Pre-existence
In the Bible, we did not pre-exist as spirit children, or eternal intelligences, or anything else you'll hear Mormons talk about. We were created. This is clear from the very beginning of the Bible, and is referenced directly or indirectly multiple times through the rest of the Bible. God is the Creator. God is the only being that is un-caused and un-created. It is pride that causes the Mormon religion to claim that its faithful, worthy members can become gods--can be equal with God. That is simply blasphemy. Even Jesus, who was God, did not make himself equal to God (Philippians 2:5-6) because he was humbled in the flesh. We are not God, we are not literal children of God, and we will never be gods the same way God is God. Romans 8 explains that we become the children of God through adoption when we come to believe--which means we aren't born his children.

2)Working to be with God (to be saved)
We (Christians) wish to do God's will, follow Jesus, and be good people...but we do not believe that the things that we do save us. The only thing we have to "do" is accept what Jesus already did. Jesus died on the cross for our sins as the perfect sacrifice. A personage of God himself came to us in flesh, humble, tempted, tried, and rejected by much of society, in order to pour out his love for us on the cross. Nothing we do can ever equal that, so all we can do is accept that. We can believe in what Jesus did, give our sins to him because we know that we are sinners and need to be cleansed (repentance), and we will live with God (not once more, though). Anything we do beyond that is secondary, and while its good and shows the sincerity of our faith, it is not the instrument of our salvation from sin.

I am a child of God because I believe in His Son and have been adopted in His Kingdom and inheritance. And that amazing grace is all I need.
"Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works."
- Martin Luther

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Feeling the Spirit in Worship

Just about every Mormon has heard it. There's a notion that the Spirit can't be felt at all, or not as well, in certain times and places--when the music includes drums and electric guitars, in "other churches," when someone is not walking quite right with God.

The church my husband and I got baptized at wasn't the one we attended regularly. It's a tiny little foursquare church, and we'd been doing a book study there, because some of Steven's family attends there. They are very strong in their fellowship, particularly because they're a tiny church, and they were holding baptisms. We didn't know when our church was going to hold baptisms again, so we signed up. The church really didn't fit us--but it really fits other people, and draws those people to God, which is the ultimate point. Just because it didn't fit us for regular church attendance doesn't make it a bad church, or any less blessed by God. My parents went to see us be baptized, though, and my mom's comment later on was that she "just didn't feel the Spirit there."

The problem wasn't with the church, or a lack of the Spirit being there. The problem is that the Mormon church gives this impression that only the Mormon way and only the Mormon standards of righteousness can invite the Spirit in strongly enough.

I heard many times over the years that adding in guitars and drums took away from the reverence and therefore took away from the Spirit. Is this really so? I certainly don't think so. I rarely felt truly stirred by Mormon hymns--not that I never did, just not always. Yet regularly my heart is touched and I feel great joy in the worship music at my church, and they have drums and guitars, and we clap at the end sometimes.

In a way, I'm sure its personal preference. My husband enjoys worship music that I don't really seek out just because its more rock music, but that doesn't mean that it worships the Lord any less. I'm sure some people really do enjoy a quiet church with just pianos and hymns and nothing more. I don't think the Spirit is any less absent for any of these, if God is the focus. People can shout praises just as well as they can quietly share them, and its all praise to God.

Also, there are false spirits that could be felt, and also make it harder to feel the Spirit of God. I can't deny that I got all sorts of good feelings that I called the Spirit when I was a Mormon, but the Bible warns us of false spirits. We wouldn't have this warning if it weren't for the fact that these false spirits can make us think they're the Spirit of God.

In many ways, though, I think it ultimately comes down to the sort of brainwashing the church is frighteningly good at. They say it over and over, and since a member believes it is the leaders and members of the true church saying it, then it must be true, so if a Mormon attends another church and isn't completely open-minded to the style of worship and teaching--and especially if the other church worships and teaches too differently--then they will only get what they expected. Its self-fulfilling.

When the Mormon religion comes to other countries or regions, sometimes their way of worship is different--they sing differently, usually: clapping and singing out and standing and raising their hands to the Lord. Yet the Mormon religion imposes their way as the only right way. Yet are those people worshiping wrong? Aren't they rejoicing in the Lord? Aren't they pouring out their hearts to God? Aren't they celebrating their culture, their traditions? How is that wrong?

Here's a good example of praising God and a Spirit-filled song, even though it includes more instruments than just the piano and isn't a traditional hymn. Please take time to listen. See if you can identify with the lyrics. See if its truly worshiping God. Do you think God would find it to be not good enough even though it doesn't follow the traditional Mormon way of worship?

There is no one "right" way to worship. There is no one "right" way to feel the true Spirit of God. It is the message, not the method. If its all about Christ, if it draws the people into fellowship with Christ and each other, if it teaches of a saving relationship with Christ, if God's message is the message taught, if all is don't with the love of God...then the Spirit will always be there. It is your choice whether to feel it or not.