Monday, February 27, 2006

We Get More Questions!

A reader asks: I was wondering...I believe the LDS teach that the church became apostate or basically dormant after the death of the last apostle.

My question is this: Had the 'apostate' church not existed, how would have the prophet Joseph Smith known about the Christian faith or even Jesus Christ? There are a few tangents off of that question, but that is the basic question that confuses me about the LDS faith...that the work of Christians for 1700 or so years was in vain.

Many thanks.

Answer: Dear Randy --

Thank you for your question.

As a point of doctrine, Latter-day Saints do not place a precise end-point to the time when the priesthood keys were taken back into the heavens. Furthermore, we believe in apostolic succession, so the 'last apostle' has perhaps a different meaning to Latter-day Saints than it has for others.

That the Church lost its priesthood keys, and thus its authority, DOES NOT MEAN, though, that Christianity ceased to exist. Only that the authority to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel was lost.

No matter. Those keys have been restored, and every person who ever lived on earth will have those ordinances available through the temple work being performed now and throughout the millenium.

The church that the Savior established is held by the Saints in high esteem because it (in its various forms) compiled and protected the record of the Savior -- the Bible -- for two millenia.

The Protestant church is also held in high esteem because it created the conditions that allowed the reorganized Church to be established and to thrive.

We do NOT believe God hid Himself from humanity for 2000 years. Only that humanity lost its way over time, and that a restoration -- prophesied in the very scripture that Catholicism gathered and protected -- re-established truths set forth by the Savior during His earthly sojourn.

I hope this answers your question. If you have others, or would like to discuss this one further, please feel free to write again.

-- The Practical Mormon

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wherein We Define the Word "Testify"

The Practical Mormon puts in an appearance on the FAIR message board, and expounds herewith:
I need a prayer warrior and think I may ask for help during our next Fast and Testimony Sunday.
To which we respond:

"I wonder if perhaps, rather than using Testimony meeting to ask for 'prayer warriors' it might be better for you to use that time to testify of what you know to be true about the gospel.

"I hope I won't be too bold in suggesting that
what you probably need more than "prayer warriors" is a priesthood blessing. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to pray for you (and I will). Likewise, your friends, home teachers, bishopric, etc. will be happy to pray for you.

"But I take the position that using Testimony meetings for anything other than testifying is an abuse of the privilege of the podium. Your captive congregation should not be subject to Academy-award acceptance speeches, pleas for aid, travelogues, or confessions. Those four things belong solely to the realm of private prayer and private discussions.

"--The Practical Mormon"

Rather than eat up message board space, we expand here on what testimony meeting is NOT:

1. Academy-award acceptance speeches: "I want to thank my [name that relationship] for all his/her support," "I'm grateful for my [horse/house/honey/habits] because [they made me who I am today]," "I couldn't do this without my [blah, blah, blah]," "I'm so blessed today because I [own/got/won/realized..]"

Save it for prayer, people. Whatever follows expressions of gratitude is boastful, probably hurtful to someone in the congregation who ain't so blessed, and always inappropriate. We didn't give you your spouse, so stop thanking us. Thank God, who actually DID bless you. That's what prayer is FOR!

2. Travelogues. Sigh. Ain't you special. Just because we're listening politely doesn't mean we're being spiritually fed. Sit down. We're not that close. If you want to show us your vacation slides, at least do us the favor of inviting us over for dinner and a PRIVATE showing!

3. Pleas for aid. Look, Sally Struthers, if you need help, talk to your home teachers. And your friends. And your mother. Maybe even your bishop. We pay fast offerings for people like you. We pray for people like you. We bring in meals for people like you. We home- and visit-teach people like you. We shouldn't have to be assaulted during testimony meeting simply because we are courteous enough to put up with you.

4. Confessions. Please. You're embarrasing us. If you messed up bad, tell God. Tell your bishop. Tell whomever you offended. Privately. Please! The rest of us are cringing in our seats while you tell of your drug-addled, porn-addicted, wife-beating, God-doubting troubled past. We're especially pleased to discover that you came to Church stoned this morning, but that you're going to stop RIGHT NOW. Run, Robert Downey Jr., before we call the cops and have you arrested!

Hmmm, and one more we left off the list:
5. Testimonials. Oh look! You have a friend! Now sit down, Kato Kaelin. Your friend's not on trial, and you're not a witness for the defense. If we've met your buddies, we already know their virtues, and if we haven't, invite us all over for dinner so we can find out for ourselves.

Now a word about what Testimony meeting IS:

1. Miracles.
Do tell us about how through living the gospel you evaded death, saved your marriage, slew the dragon, reclaimed your children, and lived happily ever after. Your miracles enter our catalogues of evidence that God lives and loves. It's good stuff, miracles.

2. New understanding. Absolutely tell us how reading the Book of Mormon influenced your relationship with God, and your understanding of the gospel. Tell us about the specific wisdom and knowledge you gained through study, prayer, revelation, conversation, or any other Godly source.

3. Revelation. Visions. Fulfilled dreams. Temple experiences. Anything else that would belong in scripture if a written record were being kept. Oh. It is being kept! Testify away!

4. Conversion stories. Yes! Yes! Yes! That's why we're here! We want to know about your conversion. What spiritual event changed your life? What motivates you to get out of your warm bed on Sunday mornings and join us here at the meeting house? Do tell!

Testimony meeting. It's TESTIMONY meeting! Testify!

That is all.