Thursday, March 15, 2007

Peace, Be Still

Dear All,

I'm concerned that the comments on this blog are becoming too contentious and devoid of the Spirit of Christ. The last thing I want to do is to start moderating comments. You all deserve to be heard. But I would like to reiterate some ground rules for posting on my blog. I articulated them several months ago, and I realize that most of you did not have the opportunity to read them.
Anonymous, your concerns are valid. And I understand how anyone can have them. I'm not offended in the least bit and want to express my love for you. If you have questions that you don't already have an answer to, please continue to ask them, and I will answer them as best as I can, even if you think the question might offend me.
That goes for everyone.
If any of you feel I'm judging you, forgive me. Mormons DO NOT believe we have a monopoly on Goodness, Truth, Love, Faith, Knowledge, or Miracles (notice the capital letters). (Please see Dallin H. Oaks, "Miracles," Ensign, June 2001, 6). Our claim is of FULLNESS, not exclusive Rightness. Yes, that means we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's True Church, but we believe that we are all children of God. And as children of God we have access to Him, regardless of religion, race, gender, social class, nationality, and skin color. (Please see James E. Faust, "Communion with the Spirit," Ensign, March 2002, 2-7). In other words, all religions that strive to make men and women better people possess Truth (again, note the capital letter).

This Sunday, I will talk about the Mormon concept of Heaven. Hopefully, this will help all to understand what I mean by this.
Until then, now and forever, I plead that you will adhere to these seven simple rules for religious discussion:
1. Never attack someone else's beliefs.

2. Declarations of sincere belief are always welcome. And if you wish to rebut someone else's belief, then do it by expressing what you believe. NOT by pointing out which points of doctrine you find to be silly, erroneous, or misguided.
3. If you want to know what members of another religion believe, go to them and not to their enemies.
4. Never judge a church by its worst members. Those who fail to live according to the tenets of their religion are not representative of that religion.
5. Leave room for divine envy.
6. Everyone has the right to believe or not what you are saying.
7. Listen (in this case read) for understanding, not to plan on what you will say to refute what the other is saying.
With Warmest Regards,
Craig Pankratz

8 comments:

OsoDelSol said...

I like number five. I think I'm going to hang that somewhere in my apartment; yea verily it didst cause me to grin mightily.

Anonymous said...

Craig,

Can you explain:

Yes, that means we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's True Church, ... all religions that strive to make men and women better people possess Truth (again, note the capital letter).

Craig Pankratz said...

Oso,

Don't get too impressed, rules 3, 4, and 5 are paraphrazed from the 3 rules for religion discussion which Krister Stendahl uses when he discusses religion(for his bio go to http://www.hds.harvard.edu/faculty/em/stendal.html).

Anonymous,

We believe that after Christ ascended into heaven, the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ flourished for one hundred years or so. As you know, His Apostles suffered severe persecution, and one by one were murdered. At first, the members of the Twelve were able to replace vacancies in the Twelve, as they did when Judas apostatized and betrayed Jesus.

But eventually, the Twelve were unable to fill the vacancies left by the slain Apostles. Without the foundation of Apostles who continually communed with Jesus Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, which possessed the fullness of the Truth, fell apart.

Mormons call this the Great Apostasy.

Imagine that the Church of Jesus Christ which existed anciently was a beautiful mirror. When the Apostles were murdered, the mirror fell and broke into many pieces. Faithful men and women did what they could to repair the mirror, but ultimately failed because they lacked the proper authority (authority which was lost with the Apostles). As a result, much Light, Knowledge, and Truth was preserved for future generations, but much Light, Knowledge, and Truth was lost as men and women began mingling their own philosophies with scripture in an attempt to repair the mirror.

Therefore, we believe certain doctrines espoused by other religions are incorrect. But that does not mean that ALL of their doctrines are incorrect.

Futhermore, in 1978, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declared as official Church doctrine, “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. … We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation” (“Statement of the First Presidency regarding God’s Love for All Mankind,” 15 Feb. 1978).

Therefore, all religions that strive to make men and women better people possess Truth, but each religion possesses it to a different degree than others.

We believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the reconstituted mirror which fell anciently. Thus, it contains the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel which Jesus Christ revealed to His Apostles.

Best,
Craig

Anonymous said...

That is pretty interesting; the mirror analogy was helpful.

Does that mean the LDS is 100% full of truth, and other relgions are close to fullness, but just not 100% fullness? Are there any relgions or institutions that, in the view of the LDS, do not strive to make men and womean better people?

And how does all of that tie into your concept of heaven(s)?

Craig Pankratz said...

Anonymous,

That's what we mean by fullness: we have all the Truth which God has chosen to reveal to us.

An example of a church which doesn't strive to make men and women better is the Church of Satan.

The relationship between other churches to our concept of Heaven should make sense on Sunday after I've had time to write about it.

Best,
Craig

Craig Pankratz said...

The "us" in the prior post means mankind.

Anonymous said...

Church of Satan? What is that?

Craig Pankratz said...

Believe it or not, it's an actual church which was founded in the 1960s. I learned about it on the History Channel and on the show in which Kirk Cameron shares his faith with others. (He and his partner interviewed a priest of the Church of Satan). Marylin Manson is a member of it.