Some Concerns

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
Haven
Posts: 60
Joined: 15 May 2013, 17:31

Some Concerns

Post by Haven » 16 Aug 2014, 18:32

Requirements for Exaltation - Gospel Principals Manual
The time to fulfill the requirements for exaltation is now (see Alma
34:32–34). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In order to obtain
the exaltation we must accept the gospel and all its covenants; and
take upon us the obligations which the Lord has offered; and walk
in the light and the understanding of the truth; and ‘live by every
word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God’ ” (Doctrines of
Salvation, 2:43).
To be exalted, we first must place our faith in Jesus Christ and then
endure in that faith to the end of our lives. Our faith in Him must be
such that we repent of our sins and obey His commandments.
He commands us all to receive certain ordinances:
1. We must be baptized.
2. We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member
of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the
Holy Ghost.
3. Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify
their callings in the priesthood.
4. We must receive the temple endowment.
5. We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.
In addition to receiving the required ordinances, the Lord commands
all of us to:
1. Love God and our neighbors.
2. Keep the commandments.
3. Repent of our wrongdoings.
4. Search out our kindred dead and receive the saving ordinances
of the gospel for them.
5. Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible so we can
renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.
6. Love our family members and strengthen them in the ways of
the Lord.
7. Have family and individual prayers every day.
8. Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
9. Study the scriptures.
10. Listen to and obey the inspired words of the prophets of the Lord.
Finally, each of us needs to receive the Holy Ghost and learn to follow
His direction in our individual lives.
I have questions/concerns about the checklist for exaltation that is in Gospel Principles. I’m sure there are other threads about this but I guess I’m too lazy and depressed to look for them. I feel physically sick when I read this checklist. I feel hopeless also. I’m trying to understand who God really is and I struggle with the LDS view of Him. I was baptized in my 20’s and graduated from BYU. At BYU we were mostly taught that God will hold us accountable for everything we do or don’t do. I didn’t know what grace was until I left Utah and learned about it from other Christian religions. Is God the kind of God that requires a list like this to return to Him? Is He the kind of God who looks more at how a person loves and treats others than at ordinances and a list of commandments that seems never ending? Some of my concerns:

1. God has required ordinances and performances that 99.999% of humanity will never have or know about in this life. Yet the manual states that we are placed here to see if we’ll obey God’s commandments. He teaches us what we need to know before coming to earth then we lose all memory of it and yet we’re still judged by how well we obey something we don’t remember. I’m a high school teacher. If I tested my students this way I’d be fired. Why does He require something that only a handful of people will ever have?

2. Christ is mentioned once at the beginning and that’s it. Other than that it’s all about works. I’m not against good works at all. But the atonement isn’t even referred to in the list. I guess it’s implied in #3 – repent.

3. Do only the brethren have to magnify their callings? What about women?

4. What if a member receives all the ordinances but decides to serve outside of the church instead of in the church? So, some of the checklist isn’t done and God says I’m sorry but this wasn’t completed so you will be more comfortable in the terrestrial kingdom?

5. Is God really this complicated? Isn’t the Gospel the good news of Christ’s sacrifice for us? Why isn’t it more about love than rules and regulations? Does God truly require these things for us to return to Him?

6. What are the commandments? The 10 or the multitudes added on by the church that may be commandments or not?

7. Married in this life or the next. I’m single in my 40’s and never been married. I’ve not been working hard to find a person since moving away from BYU. In the manual it says that a single person must desire marriage and be working towards it in order to have an opportunity in the next life. It’s so degrading to hear that singles (who don’t do their best to find a mate on earth) will be servants to exalted beings who have been so much more valiant.

Ugh. I just want to feel accepted by God and honestly I’ve never felt accepted by Him. Strange that I feel His presence more in my life since I stopped going to church. What does that mean?

Old-Timer
Site Admin
Posts: 16887
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Some Concerns

Post by Old-Timer » 16 Aug 2014, 19:27

1) Some people see things in very simple, black-and-white terms. Joseph Fielding Smith was one of those people.

2 There are plenty of apostles and Presidents who would have (and actually have) addressed that question VERY differently than he did.

3) He was talking explicitly to members of the LDS Church - those whom he saw as having already committed to doing the things he listed. Even he would have addressed the topic VERY differently if he had been talking about the people for whom temple ordinances are performed.

4) Our temple theology makes it clear that there is NOTHING about this life that is objectively available to determine who will be exalted and who won't be exalted, especially since we teach that the ordinances will be performed at some point for every person who has lived on the Earth. Everything is subjective - and while that drives so many members so nuts that they just can't embrace it fully, it's undeniable in the actual temple theology.

5) So, take what he said as the view of one person (albeit the top leader) who was talking to one group and give it whatever weight makes sense to you - from none (which I personally can't do) to total (which I personally can't do). I get what he is saying and the general idea behind it (that we need to try to do our best), but I wouldn't say it the way he did. (I'd say it the way I just did.) :P
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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

meggle
Posts: 16
Joined: 23 Aug 2013, 00:45

Re: Some Concerns

Post by meggle » 16 Aug 2014, 20:38

4) Our temple theology makes it clear that there is NOTHING about this life that is objectively available to determine who will be exalted and who won't be exalted, especially since we teach that the ordinances will be performed at some point for every person who has lived on the Earth. Everything is subjective - and while that drives so many members so nuts that they just can't embrace it fully, it's undeniable in the actual temple theology.
Ray, can you explain?^^^ what in the temple theology makes this clear? Haven, I hear you loud and clear. I feel like some if what I've always believed doesn't totally square with a loving God. Idk. Personally, I'm not sure if I'm just tired (too tired to try anymore to do the checklist) and looking for justification, or if where I'm at is okay.

User avatar
Haven
Posts: 60
Joined: 15 May 2013, 17:31

Re: Some Concerns

Post by Haven » 16 Aug 2014, 21:04

I'm not sure I understand where in temple theology it's clear either, Ray. I guess I'm just trying to understand what God really wants from us, from me. Why is there a checklist in a lesson manual if that's not what we have to do to get to heaven (exalted)? Why is it all so complicated? Did God really make all these requirements for us or did we make them up? I went back to church for the first time in over a year a couple weeks ago. It was F&T meeting. I did ok- there was only 1 talk that was goofy- and I really want to try to go more often and maybe even go back to the temple. But when I come across basic teachings like this I lose ground. Such a battle.... :(

Minyan Man
Posts: 2016
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Some Concerns

Post by Minyan Man » 16 Aug 2014, 21:10

I joined the Church as an adult while in College.
The emphasis during the discussions were:
Faith.
Repentance.
Baptism.
Gift of the HG.

We discussed the need & role of the Savior JC.
We discussed the need & role of the Prophets, especially JS.
We discussed the WofW.
We discussed tithing.
Everything else was extra. If they would of used a check list like the one you show, how many would join the Church?

I do not expect to be exalted in this life.
I let the future take care of itself & stick to the basics.
My hope is that more will be revealed (by God) as time goes on & i am ready to receive it.
I have to continually remind myself to not complicate the process.

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7377
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Some Concerns

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Aug 2014, 04:45

I Haven. I think you are trying to address a topic that many of us struggle with. I certainly do. I like this quote from Joseph Smith, and in fact regularly use it in talks and discussions:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
I think the gospel is really simple, and boils down to love God, love your neighbor, and believe in Christ. It's contained in the scriptures (mostly the Bible, IMO), not manuals. Yes, I know that each of those points made in the manual can be backed up by (sometimes obscure) scripture, but I think if we try to get the gist of the scriptures - the main message - it comes down to the three things I mentioned. I don't think God made all those rules, I don't believe there is a checklist for exaltation. I don't think any of that fits with a just or merciful or loving God.

The last line in your OP struck me - being accepted of God. Could it be that perhaps you don't feel fully accepted by God because your comparing yourself to these man-made requirements? What if you decided for yourself what would make you acceptable to God and then tried? I think it's much easier to be accepted by a God who loves us without the checklists. Oh, and I know it can be hard to go back after being away for a while - I've been there. Filtering can take a lot out of me.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4582
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Some Concerns

Post by nibbler » 17 Aug 2014, 06:20

I believe Christ isn't mentioned much only because the list focuses on things that we can to do. The list presupposes that the atonement is already understood (as taught in lessons with a different topic/focus), so the purpose of this focused lesson is to enumerate things people can do. In other words the list doesn't focus on the atonement because it's not something that we can do.

I don't want to put words in Ray's mouth but he's likely referring to specific language that accompanies the temple ordinances. The temple ordinances themselves do not exalt, they only prepare people to become exalted. The endowment and sealings are still contingent on continued faithfulness. This is explicitly stated in the temple.

In Mosiah 4 King Benjamin gets to a point where he tosses his hands up and essentially says... you know what, there are so many ways to sin that I can't sit here and list them all so check yourself before you wreck yourself (new world translation). I believe that works for the other side of the equation as well. There are so many ways to be righteous that it would be pointless to try to enumerate them all. Maybe Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28 could be used to quell the notion that there is some sort of man-made checklist where all boxes must be ticked in order to gain salvation.
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
No detailed listing of what constitutes a "good cause." No definition for "much righteousness." Those definitions are purposely left off to maintain the spirit of the message; that the reward is finding our own path and not leaving those types of choices up to someone else. So following DarkJedi's comment... that lesson represents Joseph Fielding Smith's checklist for Joseph Fielding Smith but our reward will be in discovering and following the checklist that we write for ourselves. It might overlap here and there but it doesn't have to be an exact match. Life is about forging our own path.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

Roy
Posts: 6268
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Some Concerns

Post by Roy » 17 Aug 2014, 09:41

Haven wrote:I just want to feel accepted by God and honestly I’ve never felt accepted by Him.
In a moment of despair and anguish I felt acceptance from God despite my failings. I felt God's acceptance for my stillborn daughter despite her lack of accomplishments. This for me has fundamentally shifted the way I see the gospel. My relationship with my Heavenly Father was never in jeopordy.

Some people see me as defective or struggling because I don't place the same amount of emphasis or urgency in certain good works. They cannot fathom a world where people are not measured against the checklist. They are largely good people, but it is difficult to anderstand one another.
nibbler wrote:I believe Christ isn't mentioned much only because the list focuses on things that we can to do. The list presupposes that the atonement is already understood (as taught in lessons with a different topic/focus), so the purpose of this focused lesson is to enumerate things people can do.
The author of "believing christ" talked about how college kids would attend his BYU classes being able to recite all sorts of church minutia - but without a firm understanding of the atonement. Are they all just sleeping during the atonement classes? The primary understanding of the LDS Atonement (In My Observation) is to afford us the ability to repent and prove that we will never do it again or to put us over the top AFTER we have already done everything that is humanly possible.

Muslims and Jews don't believe in Christ's atonement. How do they square the tension between making mistakes and having a God with exacting standards? One would think that without an atonement they would be doomed. Does their God accept a good faith effort?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7377
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Some Concerns

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Aug 2014, 12:00

Roy wrote: Muslims and Jews don't believe in Christ's atonement. How do they square the tension between making mistakes and having a God with exacting standards? One would think that without an atonement they would be doomed. Does their God accept a good faith effort?
I do not intend to speak for all Jews and not Muslims at all - I don't know any Muslims really well. I do know some Jews. With the caveat that I have observed that there as as many differences in the way Jews observe their religion as their are Jews, it is their belief in general that it's the individual's job to become "at one" with God on his or her own. Much of this is centered around Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) . Most do believe in repentance, confession, sacrifice and restitution but there is no intercessor - the relationship is directly with God. Some sects of Judaism, especially more conservative ones, are every bit as focused on commandments as Mormons - perhaps even more so in some cases. The "celebrate" this most holy day as a day to make things right with others and with God. In other words, they're not constantly brow beating themselves and throwing guilt trips on each other. This is an oversimplification, but the two things that stand out to me about Judaism and atonement (which they do believe in) is that it's directly between the individual(s) and God and once it's done, it's done.

In LDS and perhaps general Christian theology this creates a bit of a cognitive dissonance. However, if we do believe LDS teachings that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses it makes some sense, and the sacrifice that the orthodox Jew might make is replaced by the sacrifice of Christ. While I do believe Christ was a sacrifice and in some way we don't fully understand plays a role in grace and mercy from God, I also believe there is some truth to what our Jewish neighbors believe and practice and that Christ may not be all there is to atonement - and his role may be smaller than we think. Either way, I think we focus too much on keeping the commandments and the atonement and too little on Christ's other teachings of love, faith, mercy and grace.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Old-Timer
Site Admin
Posts: 16887
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Some Concerns

Post by Old-Timer » 17 Aug 2014, 14:28

Here is my summary of what I meant, as simply as I can say it:

1) We perform ordinances in the temple for people who didn't have the opportunity to be involved in those ordinances when they were alive - and we say that these people can become everything we can become - that there is NO difference eternally between our potential final condition and theirs. This means we believe there is no literal significance of ordinances in this life, since even those who couldn't participate can be exalted.

2) We perform ordinances in the temple for EVERYONE who has lived - even people whom we naturally would see as irredeemable. We do this from the belief that ONLY God knows everyone well enough to make a final judgment about the eternal welfare of their souls. The only people we exempt from this requirement are those who obviously are not accountable for their understanding and/or actions - the "handicapped" or "disabled" or under-aged. Interestingly, but NEVER discussed in my own experience, that would mean, at the other end of the spectrum, we exempt true sociopaths and psychopaths who sin due to a genetic lack of conscience - something they didn't choose and which they can't control or correct. (If you want an interesting experience, try throwing out the idea that Jeffrey Dahmer might be guaranteed exaltation, since he might not have been accountable for what he did.) Thus, we talk about ordinances being critical in this life, but we also have an official disclaimer that says those ordinances are going to happen at some point - which means if they don't get done now, they will get done later - which destroys the idea that it is critical to get them done right now - etc.

3) Since we perform the ordinances for everyone, and since we do that explicitly since we can't determine who will be exalted and who won't be exalted, the only logical conclusion is that there is no way to determine, objectively, who will end up where / in what condition.

The summary:

It's really important for us to do the best we can to become the people we want to become - and it's really important that we teach that concept explicitly and clearly. For EVERYONE, that includes certain things in which we believe strongly enough to make a "priority checklist" - either in writing or in our minds. That list might be as long as the more than 600 requirements in the Mosaic Law - or it might be only one thing (for example, "Love God, self and others, and make every decision based on that love.") - or it might be between those two extremes (like Pres. Smith's list). No matter the length of the lists, our temple theology says, essentially, that everyone has a shot, since each person only will be held accountable to their own understanding - and only God knows what that is for each individual.
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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Post Reply