The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

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Beefster
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The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by Beefster » 24 Jan 2018, 18:25

In an effort to find comfort and understanding, last night, I read my scriptures. It did not go well.

I decided to roll with whatever one of my Gospel Library tabs was open to, which happened to be 1 Ne 14, which posed this exact dichotomy. It made me feel like crap and put me into a tailspin of further confusion and discomfort. I thought to myself something like "If this is how it is and what it really means to believe in 'one true church', I want no part in this"

I felt betrayed.

Perhaps someone could help me find a new model for reconciling this passage with my feelings. I see so many good people in other religions that it hurts me to see my own scriptures call them out as Satan's followers. I believe that just about everyone believes they're doing the right thing or the best they can. Very few people have evil intent and I think it's unfair to them to call them evil because they're not in the "lucky" <0.1% of the world population that is active LDS.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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dande48
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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by dande48 » 24 Jan 2018, 18:36

Beefster wrote:
24 Jan 2018, 18:25
Perhaps someone could help me find a new model for reconciling this passage with my feelings.
Skip it.

It comes from people with limited experience, in a hard time, who lived between 200 - 2600+ years ago (depending who wrote it). Scriptures at best, aren't God given words, but rather mankind's interpretation of what they see and feel in the world around them. Otherwise, God would've just handed JS a stack of papers and said, "This is what I've written. This corrects all those years of misinformation. Go and restore my Church." But he didn't, which means He's alright with human error.
"But there's no sense in crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying, til you run out of cake." - Still Alive

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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jan 2018, 20:27

If you want an interpretation you might be able to accept, read it as everyone who loves and tries to serve God (no matter how, to what extent, or by what name) is of the Church of God, and everyone who hates and fights against God is of the Church of the Devil - making yourself use only those two extremes, like a classic Heaven and Hell split.

Roughly, in the history of the world, that probably puts the Church of God at about 99.999999999999999999% of the people.

Sound about right to me, and it actually fits what I see as our pure theology quite well, even if most members can't see it that way.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Beefster
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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by Beefster » 24 Jan 2018, 21:23

I like that, Curt. It feels a lot better now.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by nibbler » 25 Jan 2018, 05:55

I was going to say what Curt said.

Also, it's a very black and white view of things. That and Nephi obviously wasn't aware of the church of Murray. Three churches, the church of the lamb of god (I bet their musical numbers absolutely shred), the church of the devil (the food cake is really good, just be sure to bless for strengthening and nourishing before eating), and the church of Murray. Murray is kinda meh on lots of issues.

But trying to be somewhat serious for a moment. I think trying to reconcile some of what's found in Moroni 7 with 1 Nephi 14 lands you with Curt's interpretation. In Moroni 7 there's less emphasis on a the who (church) and more emphasis on the what (good). I think the word good is even subjective in that chapter and it exists irrespective of the tribe from which one does it. Moroni 7 is still a little too black and white for my tastes but it's "later" in the BoM, meaning they had a thousand years of continued revelations to help them along and those revelations may have indicated that it's not about which church you belong to, it's more what you do with your life.
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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by AmyJ » 25 Jan 2018, 06:41

I would add that Nephi and Isaiah were very black/white Us vs. Them thinkers - that is in part why Nephi quotes Isaiah so much. Both of them were in environments of constant life or death struggle (how many times does the record call for Nephi being at the point of death at the hands of his brothers - at least 3 that I know of). So in their minds they needed to identify an enemy, and we're off at the races...

I view most of 2nd Nephi as his recordings based on what HE (Nephi) needed as a person. I think at the heart of the matter, HE needed to know that his actions had a lasting positive impact on future generations. That's the seed for his visions of the future, the tribes of Israel commentary, and how he frames his faith in Jesus Christ. Nephi was setting up everything he could for the long haul - building a society with innovation and job security, military protection, temples and religious observances, a defined ministry - all of it was to preserve a people who know about the coming of Christ. I think at times there is extra desperation on his part because the visions he gets show that it won't be enough - his posterity will ALWAYS fall back into old selfish ways and be captured by the Lamanites. However, even when his people are mingled into and merged with the Lamanites - his vision does show the hope of the restoration and that Nephi's words will continue to make a difference centuries down the line. I think that Nephi was worried about his legacy towards the end of his life, and that 2 Nephi is Nephi's understanding of God's revelation(s) regarding Nephi's legacy. I can respect and understand that when I look at it that way. Whether Nephi's words/interpretations are actually what God said/meant, I don't know - and I don't need to know.

I find there are nuggets of scriptures that do not sting my doubting confused mind - Lehi's dream opens up so more to me when I read it as a message of love from God to us and an exercise in charity. When Isaiah is quoted as an invitation for teaching the gospel truths "without money and without price" I can see that true charity has those characteristics. But generally, when I pick up the scriptures I know I am focusing less on the exact wording these days, and more on general story lines and looking for unusual applications of the principle of charity.

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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by DarkJedi » 25 Jan 2018, 07:29

Supposing that guys like Nephi, Alma, and Moroni were real people I see their writings as their own interpretations and understanding based on what they experienced and saw around them (which also works to some extent if they're fictional characters). I believe such things happened in the OT in instances where they were trying to explain the creation and the existence of God for example. Their are many such examples, another of which might have been explaining the Israelite escape from Egyptian captivity/slavery. The stories are based on limited understanding or at least the best understanding they had at the time. The BoM and NT are very much the same. In a more "modern" sense Talmadge's Jesus the Christ could be an example. Talmadge was a scholar, and while I do believe inspiration was possible in writing the book, I also believe it was mostly based on his understanding of some of the best theology and science of his time - in other words, it was his educated opinion. In the end, all scripture is really just the opinion of its writer.

The other thing I tend to do with the canonized stuff is compare it to what else is in the canon. Love your neighbor is all over the place in every book, clearly something believed and taught by many. Baptism for the dead? Not so much. The lower the instance of occurrence across multiple books of scripture the less I recognize it as scripture. Thus, the church of the devil and the church of God thing in 1 Nephi gets a pretty low score - they might as well be the church of Murray ;) .
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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by AmyJ » 25 Jan 2018, 08:28

DarkJedi wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 07:29
The other thing I tend to do with the canonized stuff is compare it to what else is in the canon. Love your neighbor is all over the place in every book, clearly something believed and taught by many. Baptism for the dead? Not so much. The lower the instance of occurrence across multiple books of scripture the less I recognize it as scripture. Thus, the church of the devil and the church of God thing in 1 Nephi gets a pretty low score - they might as well be the church of Murray ;) .
I also compare it against current wisdom - and place greater stock in the commonalities. The older I get, the more I look for and see what "doctrine/revelation" received from leadership and "worldly understanding" given by experts in the fields over the years combine in for what for me would look like "true inspiration/revelation". Maybe in a series of visions or what have you, a person was given an understanding of the creation, and that message or what have you was transmitted from God to the person's brain, from the person's brain to the person's pen (or other writing implement), and from that person through an unknown chain of people and circumstances (including dressing up and redefinition and at least 1 set of scholars) until it arrives on your electronic media all bright and shiny.

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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by Roy » 25 Jan 2018, 11:37

There are only two types of people, those that believe in dichotomies and those that do not. If I frame the question as yes/no and categorize any answer other than a yes as a no - then my results prove my thesis.

There was a time when the Church of the Devil was equated with the Catholic Church. This fits in fairly well with the anti-Catholic feeling that existed in the US at the time of JS. The 1st edition of Mormon Doctrine stated this explicitly.

The 2nd edition of Mormon Doctrine changed this to be every belief system and organization that offers a counterfeit, corrupted, or non-saving structure (basically anything that takes you away from Christ). This is the current interpretation of the church.

When this topic came up in Gospel Doctrine, I suggested that the Church of God might similarly be a symbol of all religions, systems, and individuals working to do good and bring people unto Christ. It was not well received. Based on this experience, I believe that the average member still holds to an "us vs. them" mentality and the "us" is COJCOLDS.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
24 Jan 2018, 20:27
If you want an interpretation you might be able to accept, read it as everyone who loves and tries to serve God (no matter how, to what extent, or by what name) is of the Church of God, and everyone who hates and fights against God is of the Church of the Devil - making yourself use only those two extremes, like a classic Heaven and Hell split.

Roughly, in the history of the world, that probably puts the Church of God at about 99.999999999999999999% of the people.

Sound about right to me, and it actually fits what I see as our pure theology quite well, even if most members can't see it that way.
I agree with what Curt says. There is no theological reason why the symbolism applied to the church of the Devil could not be equally applied to the church of God - especially when we believe that God works through more than just our church organization.
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Re: The Dichotomy of the Church of God vs the Church of the Devil

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 25 Jan 2018, 18:02

I tried to reply earlier, but either my phone or the site crashed, and then I was distracted by a butterfly.
dande48 wrote:
24 Jan 2018, 18:36
Scriptures at best, aren't God given words, but rather mankind's interpretation of what they see and feel in the world around them.
This is about where I'm at as well, there's much more that where's my realm that qualifies as 'scripture'.
I grew up thinking that the Bible was written by the hand of God, exactly how I didn't know. More knowledge on the process of how the Bible came to be and I can see God's hands in it, but also man's.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
24 Jan 2018, 20:27
... read it as everyone who loves and tries to serve God (no matter how, to what extent, or by what name) is of the Church of God, and everyone who hates and fights against God is of the Church of the Devil...
As well as we as mortals can be in both churches at the same time...
nibbler wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 05:55
...the church of the lamb of god (I bet their musical numbers absolutely shred)
Yes, yes they would. Lol
AmyJ wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 06:41
... generally, when I pick up the scriptures I know I am focusing less on the exact wording these days, and more on general story lines and looking for unusual applications of the principle of charity.
Couple that with this...
DarkJedi wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 07:29
Love your neighbor is all over the place in every book, clearly something believed and taught by many.
This has become the essence of not only religion but existence for me...
Roy wrote:
25 Jan 2018, 11:37

When this topic came up in Gospel Doctrine, I suggested that the Church of God might similarly be a symbol of all religions, systems, and individuals working to do good and bring people unto Christ. It was not well received. Based on this experience, I believe that the average member still holds to an "us vs. them" mentality and the "us" is COJCOLDS.

...

I agree with what Curt says. There is no theological reason why the symbolism applied to the church of the Devil could not be equally applied to the church of God - especially when we believe that God works through more than just our church organization.
Unfortunately I think you're right that the average member feels this way, as most people do in their respective churches, 'everyone's got bits of the truth, but we're the closest'.

I'm at the point where I can recognize and seek after truth, wherever it may come from.

I have to say that it was totally wrong the pin the church of the devil on one religion. It did so much more harm than good, even in my own life, growing up Catholic and then serving a mission, I bought into it and it caused distance with relatives, and black and white thinking on my part.
The church as a whole has suffered, rather than bringing Christians closer together it drive a wedge between two like minded peoples. I don't blame those that felt that way, as it seemed logical at the time, but inwardly it just didn't feel right.
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