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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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do Mormons Worship God?

Mormons do not worship God. I know many Mormons will automatically reject this claim, but I would ask for a thoughtful consideration of the evidence instead of an emotional rejection.

1. Mormons do not focus on (worship) God or Jesus in their personal testimonies and beliefs.

Go to a Mormon sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of the month, the fast and testimony meeting. Listen to the testimonies. Usually it will go something like this: "Hello, for those of you who don't know me, by name is _______ and I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today..." and so on. Somewhere in there they might throw in something like, "I know Jesus Christ atoned for our sins," but there usually are few references to God and Jesus, if any, and most are directly related to the church ("I know that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ"). Even children are taught to say they "know" these things before they even understand them. The belief of most Mormons is all too obviously rooted on the church, its teachings, and its leaders. While they believe it is the work of God and the church of Jesus Christ, it is the church and its teachers that truly matter and its leaders that they truly follow.

2. Mormons to not usually focus on (worship) God or Jesus throughout church meetings.

Sit through the whole three hour bloc of meetings sometime, and keep tally of what they say. How many times are "God" and "Jesus" mentioned outside of prayers and hymns? While hymns are certainly worship (singing praises of a person or thing...yes, done in church for a religious purpose, that would usually be worship), how much do you think people are really getting into the hymns about God or Jesus most of the time? On the other hand, how many times do you hear "Joseph Smith," "the Church (or a variation)," or some other very specifically Mormon thing pertaining to the church or its leadership mentioned? For that matter, is a hymn like "Spirit of God," "Praise to the Man," or "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" sung in praise of the church and its leadership?

Psalm 29: 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

I and many other ex-Mormons (and any Mormon who is truly honest with themselves) will say that they don't really worship in church, except perhaps when singing hymns. Singing songs like "I Stand All Amazed" was probably the closest I got to really worshiping God. I learned plenty about the church. I learned plenty about things I should and should not do. I learned a lot about Mormon teachings and the Book of Mormon and prophets. But there's a lot I didn't know about the Bible, and the Bible is about God and Jesus. I didn't know a whole lot about God and Jesus personally.

Psalm 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

3. Mormons do not worship God in their daily lives.

The Bible commands us to worship God alone, and to do so constantly. 

Exodus 20:1-4 And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

1 Corinthians 10: 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory [worship] of God. 

We are worshipers. The question is not whether we worship, but what. Worship doesn't begin and end on Sunday, it continues constantly. People who don't worshiping God are just worshiping things that aren't God. Even if it is a good thing that we worship, if it is not God, it is an idol. According to the New Testament, many false things we worship are actually demons. 

Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 

1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Most devout Mormons I know worship things such as marriage/family, success, their own righteousness (read, pride and self-righteousness), and the church. Now, these things aren't necessarily bad in and of themselves, but since Mormons place these things above God, they have become idols. Family is a blessing, but it is not as important as God; God should be above family for a family to truly be Godly. Marriage is wonderful, but a marriage should be secondary to and guided by God, actively and daily, not just in name. Success isn't bad, especially for a husband and father trying to provide for his family, but if it is placed above God, it is an idol. Righteousness is good, but true righteousness only comes from God. The legalistic righteousness of faithful Mormons is self-righteous and becomes prideful very quickly, since Mormons see it as their road to their own Godhood, place their own false glory and exaltation above God's true and perfect glory and exaltation. 

 Isaiah 29: 13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

If you are a Mormon, think about your daily life outside of Sunday or other meetings at church. Do you read scriptures? Pray? Spend time with family? How much of this do you do to glorify God, in complete honesty? Think about each thing you do carefully. Do you do it because you know you're supposed to? Because it makes you feel good about yourself, maybe? Any reason less than joyfully giving glory and love and time and attention to God is not worshiping him. And in the daily, "non-spiritual" things...do you clean your home, raise your children, go to work,  etc., for the glory of God? I doubt it. I don't think I've met a Mormon who can honestly, truly say they do.

 Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Not that we usually can perfectly worship all the time. We are human. But Mormons don't really do it even when its easy, more or less through the daily grind.
4. Mormons do not worship Jesus.

I know what a Mormon is going to think here, roughly. "Of course we don't worship Jesus! We're only supposed to worship Heavenly Father!" Well, here's a surprise for you. We are SUPPOSED to worship Jesus! He accepted worship! And it is well recorded that Christians were worshiping Jesus as God before the apostles died!   

Matthew 2:2, 11 ...and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”

Matthew 14:43 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 

Matthew 28: 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 

John 9:38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Hebrews 1:6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 

Jesus was God. I've got other blog entries on the Trinity to support it. Jesus certainly recognized that only God should be worshiped, and recognized himself as the incarnation of God, and therefore accepted worship. That means we should worship Jesus! It makes sense. If he is divine, why should he not be recognized as such? Does he not deserve praise and adoration? Love and extreme gratitude? Does his sacrifice not inspire joy and awe? Is that not worship? Yet Mormon leaders say that we aren't supposed to worship him!

I remember how hard it was to just talk about Jesus when I was Mormon. Saying the name "Jesus," especially in excited conversation about him, was foreign. I said "Jesus Christ" pretty comfortably and familiarly, but just talking about "Jesus" was more than a little awkward. Its not anymore, but that's because I've learned to worship Jesus.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Questions for Mormons to Ask

Here are some questions for Mormons to consider and try to find answers for:

  • If there is a lineage of gods, as Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets and General Authorities have taught, and if an actually infinite number of something is impossible, then there had to be a first god. Who was he, where did he come from, and why do we not worship him?
  • If Jesus could prove himself worthy without sinning, why do the rest of us have to suffer from sin?
  • The Book of Abraham said that the gods made the heavens and the earth (Abraham 4) but the Bible says Jesus did (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-18); why the contradiction?
  • If Jesus was perfect and the example par excellence, why didn't he get baptized at eight years old?
  • If God organized the earth (Abraham 4), and matter is eternal, then why do we not worship eternal matter? Or if matter was made by the first god, we go back to the question, why do we not worship him?
  • Why do wives have to depend on their husband to call them forth at the resurrection, but the Bible says that there is neither male nor female in Christ (Galatians 3:28) and that resurrection comes through Jesus alone?
  • Why does Jacob 2:24-28 say that David and Solomon's many wives were an abomination and that the people of God should not practice plural marriage, but D&C 132 says the opposite? Does God change his mind? Are one of them wrong?
  • How are families forever if those who achieve exaltation eventually get their own planets, as prophets have taught? This means that the faithful children of faithful parents will be separate. Does families forever simply mean you have access to your family at anytime?
  • Since God was once a man, could he have been a sinner? The implication of us being able to become gods is that yes, he could have been, unless he was the savior. Even if he was the savior, then we, as sinners, can be gods of our own worlds over our own spirit children.
  • Brigham Young said that "...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 289). Yet Jesus said that we get to the Father through him. Is Joseph Smith as great as Jesus?
  • In accordance with D&C 132, Brigham Young said ""Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). Also, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). Since many Mormons no longer practice polygamy, can they be exalted?
  • If Jesus is the Only Begotten Son, how could he have been conceived by the Spirit, who is not the Heavenly Father? And since Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and blood, how could he have impregnated Mary without intercourse? (General Authorities, including prophets, have said that God did have intercourse with Mary. Do you agree with this?)
  • If Heavenly had intercourse with Mary, isn't this incest?
  • If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book (History of the Church 4:461), then why does it have so many anachronisms?
  • If all but the sons of perdition are placed in a Kingdom of Heaven, and if even the lowest Kingdom is a paradise, what is the real punishment for the sinners who didn't even want to be with God in the first place?
  • If Adam and Eve eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why was it a sin, and if its a sin, why is it a good thing for humanity? This means that God wanted rape, abuse, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, murder, and everything else to come into the world to test us, knowing that we'd fail the test to at least some extent because everyone sins!
  • If sin was necessary and part of the Plan of Happiness, why did Jesus have to pay for it?
  • Considering that most children can't really made an educated or heart-felt choice in their beliefs, why is eight years old the age of accountability? What happens to the nine-year old who grew up in a non-Mormon home?
  • If the president of the church is a prophet, why doesn't he prophesy?
  • If Jesus was Jehovah God of the Old Testament, he gave the commandment to worship him only, but prophets say that only the Father should be worshiped. Why this discrepancy?
  • How could Jesus have been Jehovah God of the Old Testament when he didn't have a mortal body and prove himself in mortality yet? For that matter, why is the Holy Spirit enjoying Godhood without having received a body and proven himself in mortality?
  • Since polygamy was originally the New and Everlasting Covenant (D&C 132), could Heavenly Father be polygamous? Could some of us be only half spirit siblings because of different Heavenly Mothers?
  • Why are the fundamentalists so wrong, if they actually practice and believe the teachings of the early prophets that mainstream Mormons don't? Wouldn't Brigham Young, having taught those doctrines, believe the mainstream church to now be apostate?
  • Why is it that prophets can be just "giving their opinion" as doctrine from the pulpit if future prophets or current Mormons don't like it and either denounce it or don't ratify it, but the Old Testament prophets never just "gave their opinion" as doctrine and had to have it affirmed?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ask the Missionaries

So many times, I'm told, "ask your bishop" or "Ask the missionaries" about my objections to the Mormon religion. Completely aside from the facts that I no longer have a bishop and can school most missionaries in knowledge of their own religion, this is ridiculous.

If I"m trying to decide whether to buy a certain model and year of Chevy, I'm not going to get an honest and straight answer about the car from the dealership because they're going to talk it up and make it look as enticing as they can to make the sale. Nor do I want a for dealership, as they'll bash Chevy no matter how good or bad the car may actually be. I want something like Kelly Bluebook or an unassociated car buff or a friendly, non-associated mechanic.

The bishop or missionaries are like the Chevy dealership. Although in this case, they often won't even know something might be wrong with the car, more or less what exactly it is and whether its true. Unfortunately, Mormon leadership has gotten around that difficulty by labeling everything else as Ford, even if it not, which leaves the seeker with only the misrepresenting or more probably the ignorant Chevy salesman to go to.

We live in the information age. Its as easy to access knowledgeable and correct information about the Mormon religion as Kelly Bluebook. There's some very simple ways to figure out what you're looking at:

1) Is it spiteful, obscene, and angry towards Mormons, especially without reasonable foundation? That's probably Ford. There is probably truth in at least some of it, but its not the best source of information. I personally encounter these fairly rarely.

2) Is it written by Mormons? Glowingly approving of the religion or beliefs with little or no objectivity? Its probably Chevy. There are a couple website that claim to be Christian but sound overwhelmingly Mormon, because its made by Mormons, so that's still Chevy--Chevy pretending to be Kelly Bluebook, no less.

3) Are sources carefully cited or available? Are many sources historical, or from sources that are currently or were originally published by the LDS church and/or its upper leadership? Is it firm with truth, but not full of either anger and railing or glowing reports that may gloss over unpleasant facts? This is Kelly Bluebook, or your friendly mechanic.

I don't listen much to Ford. I have listened to Chevy, but have generally found it is biased and unreliable. I like Kelly Bluebook. Its not the Bluebook's fault if the model is bad.

(Note: This is not any indication of whether I prefer Chevy or Ford. I drive a Mazda.)