What Mormonism boils down to

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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mom3
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by mom3 » 21 May 2015, 10:31

I see your point Heber and Ray about the "I am a child of God" idea, however don't most Christian religions have the same center. For centuries it has been the battle of "what makes our religion different -real". In Mormonism we seem to have lots of variables in the "what makes us the real church" department. Is it - the BofM or Priesthood Authority or Personal Revelation?

To me the OP was asking that question and by the quote from our church manual it could be deduced that the BofM is the defining factor. I don't personally know which anchor to anchor our uniqueness on, I just thought I would throw out a President of the Church centered list that gives points to ponder. As a people we often jump on whatever bandwagon is preached by the top and if a co-worker or non-member neighbor were to ask us what is the key to our church, I would expect that the answer would change depending on the churches focus of the time. Looking at it's history I think I am on course.

Catholicism always anchors in Peter, Evangelicilism - the Word, and Us? Well - Great question.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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nibbler
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by nibbler » 21 May 2015, 10:40

mom3 wrote:I see your point Heber and Ray about the "I am a child of God" idea, however don't most Christian religions have the same center.
I think what sets the church apart is that we embrace all the implications of being a child of god. God is our father, we must have a mother, we grow up to become like our parents, we view god's love for us through a familiar parent/child relationship lens, etc. That relationship inspired our theology.

I had this concept of being a child of god before discovering the church but it didn't have the same weight. We were all brothers and sisters but the relationship had more of a creator/creation feel, less intimate.

There's the famous Joseph Smith interaction with Martin Van Buren:
In our interview with the President, he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Not very specific or remarkably unique but that's what was recorded.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 May 2015, 11:04

I think "Follow the prophet" is a good summary of a strong doctrinal foundation of the LDS Church. No doubt about it, and I would never argue otherwise. I simply would make two points:

1) That foundation is nowhere close to unique in the LDS Church. It is the core foundation of all of Christianity (and Judaism and Islam, as well), with a few denominational exceptions. The only difference is the object of the summary: Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the Pope, Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith, Thomas Monson, etc. We are nowhere close to the only people, even Christians, who "follow the prophet" as a primary focus of our religion.

2) Mormonism is unique, with a very few exceptions, in embracing theosis (becoming like God) so literally and comprehensively and in seeing God in such humanistic terms. (a tangible body of flesh and bones) As nibbler said, that is what I mean by embracing all of the implications of believing "I am a child of God". The more mainstream view of that statement rejects the Mormon construct as damnable heresy, since it sees such a view as demeaning God; the Mormon view of that statement rejects the Christian mainstream construct as damnable heresy, since it sees such a view as truly damning (stopping progression) and limiting God.

Again, this is what Mormonism boils down to for me - the one eternal round within which I believe everything can be circumscribed. I don't really care that others see it differently, since I don't think it's possible to get to the one true result in this case with which everyone can agree.
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

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DarkJedi
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DarkJedi » 21 May 2015, 12:59

We probably need to consider the idea that Mormonism doesn't boil down to just one thing, and/or that it boils down to different things for different people. We talk about black and white thinkers frequently here - but this is looking like one of those things where there isn't black and white and there are no pigeon holes.
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."

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Heber13
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Heber13 » 21 May 2015, 13:02

mom3 wrote:For centuries it has been the battle of "what makes our religion different -real". In Mormonism we seem to have lots of variables in the "what makes us the real church" department. Is it - the BofM or Priesthood Authority or Personal Revelation?
That might be a slightly, but related question to ask what makes us different as opposed to what mormonism boils down to. But you make a good point. And maybe asking that helps clarify my answer when I think of it in those terms.

Internally focused as if speaking to another mormon...I think mormons would tell each other it boils down to the temple and saving ordinances because it is all about Moses1:39 and that we are children of God in the plan of salvation. All we are asked to do comes from being worthy to get temple ordinances for our exaltation as eternal families.

Externally focused as if speaking to a non-member...explaining it to others might focus a bit more on what makes us unique or different, in which case, the main message is more likely the restoration of the Church from when Christ setup the church, and with it authority for restored revelation, and with that the family focus for eternal families.

Just looking at mormon.org and lookind at "What is Mormonism..." they start the answer with this:
When Jesus Christ lived on the earth, He organized His Church so that all people could receive His gospel and return one day to live with God, our Heavenly Father. After Jesus Christ died, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, His Apostles continued to receive revelation from Him through the Holy Ghost on how to direct the work of His Church. However, after they were killed, members changed the teachings of the Church that He had established. While many good people and some truth remained, this Apostasy, or general falling away from the truth, brought about the withdrawal of the Church from the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; Acts 20:29-30). The Apostle Peter prophesied that Jesus would restore His Church before His Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21).

Jesus Christ began to restore His Church in its fulness to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820. It has grown to become a worldwide Church with over 13 million members. It has the same teachings and basic organization as the Church established by Jesus in New Testament times.
Perhaps, then...Mormonism boils down to ...the Church.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Heber13
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Heber13 » 21 May 2015, 13:04

...but I like DJ's answer. It is most likely the most accurate...but not what they will put on Mormon.org
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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DarkJedi
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DarkJedi » 21 May 2015, 13:39

Heber13 wrote:...but I like DJ's answer. It is most likely the most accurate...but not what they will put on Mormon.org
I agree with you, Heber, and it's not going to be on the front page of LDS.org anytime soon, either. I could see Pres. Uchtdorf making nuanced reference to the idea, though.

Since I don't believe Christ did actually organize a church or that the current church is exactly like whatever organization there was then, the Mormon.org thing doesn't work for me anyway. I think we take that idea of the current church organization being like the one Jesus organized too much at the word of those who say it - without really thinking about it too much. Some would say many things are like that, and I would have to agree there are other things like that. That's why it doesn't boil down to the church for me. Not to be too heretical, but I think there comes a point where the church has done all it can for many individuals (be that ordinances, socialization, or whatever) and is really no longer needed by them. Part of my faith transition actually has been that I can live without the church and still believe and live the gospel, though I do sometimes enjoy the social aspects of it (still working on DW about not going to the Memorial Day picnic).
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

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mom3
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by mom3 » 21 May 2015, 18:32

For us on this board, as well as when we interact with more orthodox members, Mormonism boils down to whatever you feel strongest about.

Best part of that - there is plenty to choose from.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 May 2015, 20:18

Perfect, concise summary, mom3. :thumbup:
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

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Re: What Mormonism boils down to

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 23 May 2015, 09:25

Ray DeGraw wrote:I think "Follow the prophet" is a good summary of a strong doctrinal foundation of the LDS Church. No doubt about it, and I would never argue otherwise. I simply would make two points: 1) That foundation is nowhere close to unique in the LDS Church. It is the core foundation of all of Christianity (and Judaism and Islam, as well), with a few denominational exceptions. The only difference is the object of the summary: Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the Pope, Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith, Thomas Monson, etc. We are nowhere close to the only people, even Christians, who "follow the prophet" as a primary focus of our religion.
I still see quite a few differences between the LDS Church and most of these examples. Do Lutherans really venerate Luther as a prophet and quote him the way Mormons quote current and previous leaders as if it is true simply because they said so? Do Presbyterians look at Calvin anyway near the way Mormons view Joseph Smith? My impression was that Luther and Calvin mostly interpreted the Bible a certain way rather than claiming special revelations that have equal authority as canonized scriptures. I doubt that a very high percentage of Catholics specifically avoided using condoms simply because John Paul II said so the way a significant number of Mormons have felt like it was their duty to have as many children as possible due to comments by David O McKay, Spencer W. Kimball, and other Church leaders.

The only one of these examples that looks like it really compares to the level of seriousness with which typical followers take what their accepted prophet(s) said is Islam and in that case the obvious difference is that it is primarily one past prophet they defer to the most but in our case it is many past and living apostles and Church presidents all regarded as prophets, seers, and revelators which has had a cumulative effect of the Church acquiring more and more expectations over time while making it hard for the current leaders to contradict what past leaders have already said. Basically in terms of how seriously Mormons take what current leaders say as if they speak directly for God, the LDS Church is fairly unique and the only other cases I have heard of similar to this are relatively small sects like the FLDS.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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