Mormons Rock

January 22, 2008

Small Miracles?

Filed under: faith,happiness,Jesus Christ,LDS,life,love,Mormons,prayers,salvation,saved — by steffielynn @ 8:49 pm
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This weekend I went to visit some good friends who live about an hour away.  We spent the day, grilling out, talking and playing games.  I did not realize until my son started to get whiny that it was 11:30 pm, and I still had to drive an hour to get home.  So I started my van up, and let it run and get warm (it was 15 degrees outside) and loaded the kids up.  As I drove down the hill my gas light went on.  So I drove to the nearest gas station, which (of course!) was closed.  I did not know this town well enough to venture off the path to find another gas station, so I decided to keep going and pull off at the next one I came across. 

 There were NONE, (this area I was driving through is newer, and not quite developed) so I kept going, as I drove I went through the BIG scary city, and was afraid to get off in this area, so I kept going and figured I had enough to make it through the bad part. 

***ok side note.  This van I’m driving is new, I had just traded my durango in for it, and had not yet reached empty.  My durango could make it 2 days on empty so I thought I had plenty to get me to a better area)

So i’m sure you guessed it by now, as I’m getting to the exit I want to take to get gas, the car shuts down.  So I PRAY and I put it in neutral and coast as far as I can.  I made it about a 1/2 a mile UPHILL which was weird.  And I ended up at the stop light which thank heavens had a very large shoulder.  I could see the gas station across the bridge about a half a mile away.  By now it was 12am, and I was so scared to have to walk this with my kids in the freezing cold dark dangerous road. 

I started to panic, and so I prayed and I asked for help because I was so scared and I did not know what to do. 

*** oh another side note, I have no cell phone!

So I start to get out of the car, and a guy in a large truck is stopped at the light and asks me if i’m ok.  I look at him, and I just trust that God will keep me and the kids safe, so I yell back that I have run out of gas. 

So he backs up and pulls behind me.  He gets out of the truck and I was SO relieved!  He was an under cover cop.  He had a bullet proof vest on that read “POLICE” across his chest.  I about fell over. 

He told me to get back in the car and he would go get me a gas can and some gas.

I title this post “Small Miracles?” with a question mark, because I believe all miracles are equally HUGE.  There is no such thing as a small one! 

I realize that I was totally at fault for this, that I should not have let my tank get so low.  Even so, my Heavenly Father was looking out for us, keeping us safe. 

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude and love to my Father in Heaven.  He amazes me constantly, even when, no, ESPECIALLY when, I do not deserve it!  

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51 Comments »

  1. Hi Steffie

    Well what a lovely ending to a scary end of a late evening for you .

    Some time ago I was with my Sister journeying home( she was driving ), when we noticed a mororist stopped at the brow of a hill causing traffic to swerve around it and chaos at a busy road junction .My Sister in frustration was saying in the car ” come on , what the heck are you doing stoped like that in the road blocking traffic !”

    I said goodness calm down , they might be in difficulty !

    So we pulled up ahead and I walked back to the stranded car and it was a young girl stranded on her own.Her car had stalled and she flattened the battery trying to start it again .

    She told me that she was thinking ‘God please someone stop and notice me in difficulty here ‘ !

    Anyway somehow I manged to push her car over the brow of the top of the hill ( Samson style:) )and into a safe place out of the way of traffic .

    Me and my Sister then gave her a lift home .She lived with her boyfriend .

    God does respond in mysterious ways :)

    PS Ofcourse you deserve it Steffie , running low on fuel is not a transgression , I looked throughout the standard works and its not in ! :)

    ….and I ‘m sure you remembered to thank the of duty police offer as well in your gratitude to Heavenly Father !!! hahaha

    Comment by elderjoseph — January 22, 2008 @ 9:34 pm |Reply

  2. EJ, thank goodness for nice people like you! :)

    And yes, I of course thanked the officer (like fifty times), and told him he was an answer to my prayers!

    Comment by steffielynn — January 22, 2008 @ 10:20 pm |Reply

  3. This is something that I really have a hard time with.

    The things we base our faith on, or give God credit for. I am very glad that all worked out well and you were able to get home safely.

    I would like to share an experience I had while still a very active LDS in fact I think I was serving in the Elders Quorum Presidency at the time.

    I was out Jet skiing/water skiing with my son and a friend, long story short I had a pretty serious accident and almost lost my left foot. Some say it was a miracle that either my foot was not what they called de gloved or lost completely.

    Many members of the Church would come and visit me while I was in the hospital, and talk about what a miracle this was for me, or that perhaps my recently deceased Mother had something to do with it.

    While in the hospital I read an article about a horrible incident that happened across town from me. A police officer on the same exact day and pretty close to the same exact time I was injured had been shot and killed; he left behind a pregnant wife and a 2 ½ year old son.

    I am not trying to be negative but at the time I felt my situation was pretty trivial compared to his, yet I was going to use it to build my faith in God? What about him and his family that day? I was not willing to believe that God intervened on my behalf while at the same time allowed this poor family to lose a Husband and Father.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 23, 2008 @ 12:06 am |Reply

  4. Coventry,

    It is the point of this post to thank God for answering my prayers. Something REALLY bad could have happened. It was all to weird to be called luck.

    I know there are many people who suffer hardships, people die, and that is just a fact of life. My day will come, i’m just glad that it wasn’t this time.

    I am thankful that God is looking out for me and my kids. I was blown away by the experience, as trivial as it may be seem, for me it was HUGE.

    Comment by steffielynn — January 23, 2008 @ 12:13 am |Reply

  5. I “believe” and agree with both Steffie and ej and coventry on this one.

    First, I also have had experiences where things happened in such weird and completely unbelievable ways that I simply felt they were miraculous. I had an experience taking my oldest son back to college recently that is hard to explain but definitely way too coincidental (too many “coincidences”) to actually be coincidental.

    Otoh, there are obvious instances when someone did not receive protection when we look at it and assume they “should” have gotten it.

    In the end, I am trying to develop a grateful heart, so I try to err on the side of thanks for those that *might* be truly miraculous and not judge those that aren’t.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 23, 2008 @ 12:20 am |Reply

  6. “both” = three people – NOT Yikes!!

    Comment by raydegraw — January 23, 2008 @ 12:21 am |Reply

  7. ej and coventry, feel free to jump all over my #5. I know you want to use your hardest steel toes, and I understand why.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 23, 2008 @ 4:45 am |Reply

  8. Stephie,

    I’m glad that God was looking out for your family and that you and your precious kids made it home safely. I know God answers prayers, this is just another amazing example of that.

    Comment by Jay — January 23, 2008 @ 4:19 pm |Reply

  9. coventryrm:
    It is no contradiction that God is merciful when dealing with you, even though someone else lost their life on the same day. It is always right to praise God for His mercy, even while interceding for others far less fortunate. We would want to say that He was less merciful to them, but we can’t make that call.
    He causes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and sends the rains on the righteous and the unrighteous. It’s hard to know why some things happen, but He is working something out from all circumstances and situations.
    People have this idea that God is “nice.”
    He is NOT “nice.”
    He is holy, just, merciful, compassionate, and gracious. But let us never pander to the limp-wristed gospel (sorry for the poor choice of words) of a “nice” Jesus who just wants you to feel good. There ain’t no such thing.

    Now see that I, even I, am He,
    And there is no God besides Me;
    I kill and I make alive;
    I wound and I heal;
    Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
    Deuteronomy 32:39
    And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
    Exodus 34:6-7
    The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
    Psalm 145:8

    Comment by alifeofprayer — January 23, 2008 @ 4:38 pm |Reply

  10. I think CoventryRM made a good point which actually does plague my mind alot . I do want to be grateful to God ? whoever this God is for my circumstances and what I consider Good Fortune (although thats relative – some better of than me may consider me lacking in blessings ), but I can’t help feeling uneasy at the thought that God should be credited as Intervening on ‘trivial’ matters.

    Now in Trivial , I don’t regard RM’s foot accident as trivial but examples I heard in church on prayers being answered like praying to score goals in a church football match and the result a hatrick ( 3 goals scored) ! This was a real example given to me of prayers being answered by my EQ president !

    I felt a bit uneasy :( and it was another notch down the LDS ladder for me unfortunately.

    So in my prayers over the last two years I’ve asked God to concentrate on more meaningful things like saving someone from Violence and Death or Children from Homelessness and violence ( ie Latin America ? Africa etc ) … I’m not interested in scoring goals with divine help , I’m sure my own skill and fitness level is the major factor behind that.

    Having said that I only have been able to see God working through the acts of kindness and sincerity of other people . And in that I would have to say that God works through Athiests as well …. hope they are not offended by that . What I am saying is that God only seems to exist to me through the countenances of good ,well intentioned and thoughtful thinking people always looking to do right ( LDS included :) ).

    I wish God really would have helped The Two LDS Missionaries ( Sisters) who were brutally gang raped and shot last year in South Africa …. but it seems that neither The off duty Policemen , myself or in fact anyone on this board was there at the right time , otherwise God would have intervened.

    PS Actually doesn’t the LDS church believe that our birth circumstances in this life are a result of valiancy in the pre mortal life ? Supposed Apostle Mark E Peterson gave a detailed discourse on this.

    Comment by elderjoseph — January 23, 2008 @ 5:08 pm |Reply

  11. “Actually doesn’t the LDS church believe that our birth circumstances in this life are a result of valiancy in the pre mortal life ? Supposed Apostle Mark E Peterson gave a detailed discourse on this.”

    EJ, I guess you may be being sarcastic, but the answer is no. The idea of valiancy in the premortal life resulting in certain specific results in this life is not a teaching of the Church. As you know, Elder Peterson discussed this idea as a justification for the priesthood ban, but after the ban was lifted, Elder McConkie explained that all such discussion shouls be ignored as coming from limited light and knowledge.

    The Church does teach that we are all foreordained to certain callings in this life, but since we generally are not told what our foreordinations are (with some notable exceptions) there’s not much use in speculating about it. Foreordination, of course, is not the same as predestination, and no one is required to perform anything in this life, because the guiding principle of this life is agency.

    I think Coventry’s questions on this thread are important and are classic and fundamental issues concerning the nature and actions of God. Why does God intervene in A and not B, when B seems so much more important. We may not know the precise answer to this question in this life, but there are some possible answers:

    1. Did God really intervene in A? How do we know for certain?
    2. Did God really fail to intervene in B? Again, How do we know?
    3. God’s ways are not man’s ways.

    We may not always be correct when we assume divine intervention, or lack of intervention.

    I think it’s probable that God intervened in Steff’s situation, because she prayed and exercised faith. But we cannot know for certain. All we can do is be grateful for the result, and acknowledge that the result was what she prayed for.

    I don’t know enough about Coventry’s foot to make any assumption about divine intervention. About the football goals, I assume, as did EJ, that God does not intervene in sporting events (though some BYU games make me wonder).

    In general, I don’t automatically assume that God intervened whenever someone has a seemingly miraculous happenstance, and I don’t automatically assume that he failed to intervene just because something bad happened. But if I pray about something, ask God for a certain result, and I receive what I asked for, I always give him credit and thank him for his help. How can I not?

    Similarly, when bad things happen, especially where it seems unwarranted, or unfair, I try to be careful not to judge God by my standards. He has purposes and knowledge of persons that we know nothing about. I am humble enough to acknowledge this and trust him, even when I don’t understand.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 23, 2008 @ 7:07 pm |Reply

  12. MCQ – FYI

    By: Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, p.406 – 407 (1998)

    “The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind; namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of the principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the principle is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood, is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the Priesthood by Negroes.”

    Comment by coventryrm — January 23, 2008 @ 7:40 pm |Reply

  13. Back on Topic

    (Hopefully my point won’t be construed that we should be an unappreciative and unthankful person. Along the lines the EJ stated much appreciation and thanks and gratitude should be given for those that help us in time of need. )

    Let’s walk through this; here is the problem as I see it. Faith and what we believe and what it is based on and how it affects the life decisions we make are all tied into together. So I think it is very important to closely look at what we base that faith on.

    You have belief in God and you believe this God helped you or was looking out for you in your time of need but yet much of your faith in this God is based on these types of experiences. (My experience in listening to people give testimony is that these events play a very major role in ones faith) this is where the catch 22 comes into play.

    The fact of the matter is that events play out in complete consistency with statistical probability of the given outcome. How many times have you a had a day that everything went incredibly wrong and you could say the same thing, to quote Ray

    “I had an experience taking my oldest son back to college recently that is hard to explain but definitely way too coincidental (too many “coincidences”) to actually be coincidental.”

    It would most likely just be forgotten and written off as just a bad day.

    If we credit and remember all the postive ones and build our faith on those, what is your faith really based on? Buddhist’s chant and can tell you similar stories. In my personal life I can tell you things play out statistically, the negative to positive outcomes have not changed from when I have cursed, invoked the power of the invisible pink unicorn or prayed to my heavenly father in name of Jesus Christ.

    My point being this and the mental exercise I want to provoke in everyone is to critically look at what you actually base your faith on. Using the criteria found in most testimonies I have heard I could just as easily have faith in the invisible pink unicorn as having faith Jesus Christ. I submit regardless of what myth I believe in if I credit all the “small miracles” to that myth and forget the times nothing or even negative things happen even though I sought help, I will end up having faith in anything I decide to put my faith into, even if it was that I curse God everytime I was in jam. (I have to be careful with that analogy though because I think if you have a bad attitude a dark cloud will follow, mainly because people are intuitive and will pick up on it and most likely avoid rather than help you)

    If you want to know why I care what you base your faith on go to my comment #92 on “Why Mormons are Christians”

    I also believe and have seen that over time these stories of miracles tend to become more embelished and grow in ones minds over time. Somewhere I posted a story about a family I use to hunt with and how they built their faith regarding the sabbath I can’t seem to find it and I won’t take the space to repeat it.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 23, 2008 @ 7:50 pm |Reply

  14. Coventry:

    I’m aware that people in the church have opinions on this issue that are different from the one I have expressed here. But I respectfully disagreee with Mr. Andrus, and, since his opinion is 10 years old, I would submit that even he may disagree with it now. In any event, recent discussions on this topic by the General Authorities of the Church, most notably Elder Holland, support my position, not Mr. Andrus’s.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 23, 2008 @ 8:42 pm |Reply

  15. “but yet much of your faith in this God is based on these types of experiences.”

    Coventry, this is the great fallacy in your argument. I can tell you without reservation that none of my faith in God is based on whether he intervenes in my life. In fact, I would submit to you that if faith is based on such things, it is no faith at all. Faith is belief in things which are not seen, not belief in things because, when you ask them for a red lollipop, you find one under your pillow. Faith precedes the miracle, not the other way around. Such incidents may confirm faith, but they cannot be the basis of faith or serve as a prop or substitute for it.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 23, 2008 @ 8:48 pm |Reply

  16. Your anecdotes regarding many members of the Church may be accurate. They are consistent with observations I have made as well, but just because people relate “faith promoting rumors” in testimony meeting is no basis to suggest that the faith of people generally is based on these stories. If it is, they misunderstand the concept of faith and their testimony is built on sand.

    Christ said that the Church is built on the rock of revelation. That is what our testimonies must be based on as well: personal revelation. Not faith promoting rumors or even accurate accounts of miracles that happened to someone else.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 23, 2008 @ 8:55 pm |Reply

  17. I believe that prayer works. I believe that it is important. I know that Heavenly Father likes to hear from all his children and loves them all as well.

    How pleasing can it be if the children you love are talking to you and asking you for things from you in faith?

    As our Father in Heaven, he knows what is best for us and I believe everything happens according to his will.

    Comment by ldspad — January 23, 2008 @ 9:07 pm |Reply

  18. That must have been so scary! It’s cold, you have your kids(who are of course tired), it’s late and dark and you don’t know where you are and, well, it all adds up doesn’t it? Sometimes I get so scared and worked up and worried that suddenly one little thing fixes my problem and I can’t imagine how I ever got so frantic in the first place. I’m just glad this one had a happy ending for you!!
    I personally don’t believe that every good or bad event is caused by an outside source, sometimes stuff just happens, but I still believe in the power of prayer and revelation, fwiw.

    Comment by momommy — January 23, 2008 @ 9:32 pm |Reply

  19. LDspad said that she/he believes in the power of prayer.I think I may have on occasions .

    Just a couple of Months ago our ward had a 40 day fast to increase baptismal rates .Now first I would like to say how impressed I was that they should have 40 different people each fast a day ( additional to the Monthly Sunday Fast I presume).

    I have only fasted twice myself and know how difficult it can be.

    Anyway together with this new Ward Fast Initiative the Missionaries started challenging Investigators ‘aggressively’ to schedule a baptism date , Investigators including myself were all asked to plan for a DEC4th Baptism .They were aiming for 6 Baptisms.

    I was asked to pray also that this target would be met .

    However I was so distressed at the pressure and bullying tactics of the missionaries to me , including

    1 We are not going home until you get an answer – I was made to pray until I received an answer .

    2 Each Prayer they would judge and comment as to whether it was ‘sincere’ enough . I usually fell short of course as I didn’t give the green light for a baptism as I didn’t recieve an answer:)

    3 Then My Integrity was questioned and they suggested that maybe I don’t want to know if its true ?

    4 I said maybe I got the answer and it looks like maybe ( the Book Of Mormon and Joseph Smith ) are not true . The response was that I was suggesting God is The Author Of Confusion as they had got a different answer to me !

    So feeling bullied and insulted that night I decided to pray sincerely to God that they wouldn’t achieve 6 baptisms and be lucky to get just one !

    Dec 4th came and they only got one baptism !

    Now do I assume my prayer was answered ? I nearly did believe it was ..

    I want to say that I don’t blame the young missionaries for the bullying and manipulative tactics because they are just young kids and can’t see how the mission has ‘hyped’ and ‘manipulated’ them up into this frenzy .

    I have invited them for a Tea appointment this Saturday .

    I think despite my disbelief in the LDS church , I am learning to be more tolerant and understanding of religious belief since I first started investigating two years ago , even though on occasion I have my moments as Steffie knows :)

    Another thing I noticed recently too was Excessive and unnecessary Love bombing and praising ( which I do back to them ) lol

    Comment by elderjoseph — January 23, 2008 @ 10:18 pm |Reply

  20. MCQ

    I also believe that you can apply that same principle to what you call spiritual witness of truth and revelation. I would submit if you put the same amount of effort as you have in seeking this witness to B of M and things that pertain to the LDS church, the chances are you would receive the same for lets say the Koran or Lotus Sutra if you had all the same outside stimuli in support of as you have had with Mormonism.

    My path – Mormonism – allowed myself to be open minded to TAOISM and many of the Teachings and Principles taught by Don Miguel Ruiz, none of which would be considered a religion or in conflict with Mormonism, so technically one could be a TAOIST and a Mormon at the same time. I was achieving the same experiences of “spiritual witness and revelation” completely outside of Mormonism and its teachings, once I realized this, my level of enlightenment and inner peace, happiness. Moral compass, compassion for others pretty much all the principles I had associated with LDS belief, but it was just much clearer.

    So I guess I would challenge you just like you challenge others to pray and search and ask about the B of M that you do the same with what I am claiming.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 24, 2008 @ 12:52 am |Reply

  21. coventry, that is one of the things about the actual teachings of Mormonism (as opposed to what many people assume to be the teachings) that I simply love. It has given me an openness to finding the good and enlightening in everything that is wonderful.

    WAY too few members, imo, understand Moroni 7 – since it is so against human nature. Verses 14 & 18 especially are explicit:

    14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 24, 2008 @ 1:23 am |Reply

  22. Off Topic again

    MCQ

    In response to your response to the quote I posted By: Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, p.406 – 407 (1998)

    What puzzles me is why does the Church publish and approve publications with such titles as “Mormon Doctrine”, “Doctrines of salvation”, or even “Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price” but yet say what is contained is not doctrine? Why not call them “Mormon Folklore” or “Some potential thoughts or ideas on salvation” or just “Some guys opinion and commentary on the Pearl of Great price”?

    Comment by coventryrm — January 24, 2008 @ 3:09 am |Reply

  23. Because the vast majority of them are not published by the Church. The title “Mormon Doctrine” (Bruce R. McConkie) was opposed by nearly every other apostle alive at the time, since they knew people would think McConkie’s opinions would be seen, understandably, as official doctrine – and because there was no doctrinal consensus regarding many of the things he addressed. McConkie was as sure of his opinions as was Brigham Young, so he published it under that title anyway.

    I agree with your general point, coventry, but you can’t apply it to what the Church itself doesn’t publish.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 24, 2008 @ 3:24 am |Reply

  24. Sorry to stay off topic but I can’t let you off o this one so easy: These books do have approval on some level.

    In his biography of his father, Joseph Fielding McConkie states that:

    On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] was assigned to be Elder McConkie’s mentor in making those changes. … My father told me that President McKay had so directed him. In addition to that, I am in possession of handwritten papers by my father affirming that direction.”
    The second edition of Mormon Doctrine, with its APPROVED REVISIONS, was published in 1966. Horne states, “The most obvious difference between the two editions is a more moderate tone.”

    The other apostles had a problem with its tone not so much its content. Furthermore for someone in as high a standing as these men that were the authors of just the 3 books I mentioned they need “Church Approval” we have seen what happens when members of high status actually publish something against the churches wishes. They are excommunicated.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 24, 2008 @ 6:30 am |Reply

  25. I just want to say to EJ that I’m sincerely sorry that he had to put up with those “missionary” tactics. I don’t believe in behaving in that way. When will we learn that missionary work is not multi-level marketing?! I’m really sorry EJ.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 24, 2008 @ 6:41 am |Reply

  26. Coventry:

    “so technically one could be a TAOIST and a Mormon at the same time.”

    Indeed. I know a few.

    “So I guess I would challenge you just like you challenge others to pray and search and ask about the B of M that you do the same with what I am claiming.”

    You guess? That’s a pretty tepid challenge, Coventry! You’re not giving me much motivation. Also, I’m not sure I understand what you are asking me to pray about. That you are a prophet? That your religion of pure rationality is true?

    Seriously, I don’t see how anyone can pray to God and ask if something is true when (1) they don’t know what that “something” is exactly, and (2) there is no promise from God (like in Moroni) that such a prayer will be answered. In addition, such a prayer is in conflict with what God has already revealed to me, so it would be impossible for me to exercise faith in that prayer. In these circumstances, there is no possibility of a positive result.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 24, 2008 @ 6:51 am |Reply

  27. “What puzzles me is why does the Church publish and approve publications with such titles as “Mormon Doctrine”, “Doctrines of salvation”, or even “Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price” but yet say what is contained is not doctrine? Why not call them “Mormon Folklore” or “Some potential thoughts or ideas on salvation” or just “Some guys opinion and commentary on the Pearl of Great price”?”

    You’re right, that would be a much better title. You’re preaching to the choir on this one, Coventry. I don’t think the church should ever have approved the publication of Mormon Doctrine, and there are other books in the same boat. They should have had their titles changed, been published with huge disclaimers (in fairness, some of these books DO bear disclaimers) or not published at all.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 24, 2008 @ 6:58 am |Reply

  28. “we have seen what happens when members of high status actually publish something against the churches wishes. They are excommunicated.”

    Not when they are apostles or GAs, Coventry. The Brethren always find a way to reach compromise on issues like this.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 24, 2008 @ 7:03 am |Reply

  29. MCQ

    My challenge is that you give some other form of enlightenment the same effort you have given Mormonism and see if you can tap into the same type of revelation or spiritual experience you have had in regards to your LDS experience.

    All of these experiences require your personal interpretation as to what they actual are or mean so to isolate it to your current bias or belief system can only certainly result in the witness you are searching for or want, Why not open your mind, you might find that spiritual experience or revelation does not have to be confined to the limitations you describe below. How could anything but positive come as a result?

    “Seriously, I don’t see how anyone can pray to God and ask if something is true when (1) they don’t know what that “something” is exactly, and (2) there is no promise from God (like in Moroni) that such a prayer will be answered. In addition, such a prayer is in conflict with what God has already revealed to me, so it would be impossible for me to exercise faith in that prayer. In these circumstances, there is no possibility of a positive result.”

    Comment by coventryrm — January 24, 2008 @ 3:26 pm |Reply

  30. I think you misunderstand me, Coventry. I do have an open mind with respect to other forms of enlightenment. I don’t believe that Mormonism is the only source of truth, or even the only place to find God. I read widely and study other religious and philosophical thought, but I have received revelation that convinces me, without speculation, that the Book of Mormon is of God. I cherish this answer and want to respect it and not take it lightly. I believe it came, not as a result of bias, but as a result of faith and sincere inquiry. For the reason I described, I find myself unable to exercise faith in a prayer to God concerning any other system of belief right now. That’s just reality.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 24, 2008 @ 5:32 pm |Reply

  31. coventry, I also agree 100% that there is profound enlightenment available to people in just about any organized religion or personal, spiritual journey outside of religion. That’s why I don’t try to challenge others’ joy – unless I see it as nothing more than short-term gratification. Mormonism is what works for me, but I understand clearly that it doesn’t work for all. That’s not my place to judge; I simply try to share my joy – and defend what brought me that joy from stereotyped and hypocritical attacks.

    For example, whenever someone who calls himself a Christian accuses Mormons of being close- or narrow-minded / brainwashed but then, in the same breath even, turns around and says that all of God’s words to man are contained in the Bible – or when someone who condemns all who do not “accept Christ” in this life to Hell claims we baptize everyone into our church against their will when they die – or any number of other ridiculous claims.

    In that light, the only problem I have with what you just said is that Mormonism is one of the LEAST restrictive of revelation and inspiration outside its own boundaries in all of Christianity. Joseph Smith took much of the ceremonial structure of Mormonism from multiple religious and social traditions of his time; we accept known scriptures outside the Biblical canon and the possibility of even more unknown scripture from just about any source; our apostles quote CS Lewis so much in General Conference that he is jokingly called the 13th Apostle by many; etc.

    As I’ve said about other issues, I just don’t like the obvious double-standard that is used against Mormonism.

    Back to the point of the post, I also appreciate the “small miracle” of a civil discussion like this – which I personally think is a sign of true “Christian” discipleship, whether or not one self-identifies as Christian. This type of conversation with agnostics or Buddhists or Muslims or evangelicals or whatever is a better example of that dedication and effort than scripture-bombing and argumentative, condemnatory “debate” will ever be.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 24, 2008 @ 7:25 pm |Reply

  32. and that last paragraph applies to too many Mormons and the way that they argue and debate religion.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 24, 2008 @ 7:27 pm |Reply

  33. Ray

    I guess we have just experienced two different churches.

    Check out my Blog the Link – The Mormons — Disciplinary Actions

    My sister was a close personal friend with Margaret, listen and consider what she is saying about niceness.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 25, 2008 @ 12:32 am |Reply

  34. coventry, Two things:

    1) I am well aware of Margaret’s excommunication. I personally might not have approved of her excommunication, but she describes disciplinary councils incorrectly on a number of points in the video to which you linked. If her description of her own council is accurate, it was not done according to the format directed by the Church. I can’t say for sure one way or another, since I wasn’t there, but IF her description is accurate it was not done correctly.

    2) I have participated in more than one disciplinary council, as have close friends of mine. The only ones that were not “nice”, if you will, were the ones where the person was defiant and bitter and simply refused to act civilly. Every single person in the room who sat on the council itself truly wanted to hear an explanation that would keep us from lending our support to an excommunication, but in those instances there was a defiance and spite and contentiousness that was palpable. In case you are inclined to blame the Church for that attitude, these were cases of obvious and serious sin – not something more “questionable” like Margaret’s situation.

    I will never claim that all excommunications are justified, and I will never claim that every one is done properly, but based on my own experiences and those of people I know and respect, I believe firmly that the improper and unjustifiable ones are a small minority of the total cases.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 3:03 am |Reply

  35. Forgot to conclude with: Perhaps you are correct; perhaps we really have experienced two different churches. It certainly would shed light on our different perspectives.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 3:05 am |Reply

  36. I’m absolutely certain of it Coventry. The church you talk about on your website is not one I recognize.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 25, 2008 @ 3:14 am |Reply

  37. I certainly understand that view, I didn’t recognize it either for the majority of my life.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 25, 2008 @ 4:43 am |Reply

  38. Interesting, since every single one my quotes are from the LDS library as sold and distributed by deseret books.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 25, 2008 @ 4:48 am |Reply

  39. I hate to say it this way, but, “So what?” Deseret Book publishes thousands of titles that aren’t considered official church doctrine. There isn’t a single, rational Mormon who would claim otherwise. Stretching that far, coventry, is way beneath you.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 5:35 am |Reply

  40. I’m not talking about your quoted material, Coventry, as should be obvious, of course. I’m talking about your commentary. The comments you make on that Ballard talk are a perfect example. You’re just not credible. You choose a talk that’s fifteen years old and you construe it in a way that no rational person (who didn’t have an axe to grind) ever would. You claim to be the person dedicated to pure reason, but your comments on LDS material say otherwise. You clearly have a bias a mile wide. I have one as well, in the opposite direction, but ten I’m not the person claiming to be dedicated to rationality and empirical evidence. Your comments are based on neither.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 25, 2008 @ 5:44 am |Reply

  41. coventry, I initially refrained from commenting on your Ballard talk commentary, but I have to agree with mcquinn. The mental gymnastics you have accused me of performing are nothing – absolutely nothing – compared to your commentary on that talk. It only works if you assume up front that Elder Ballard is a cynical, intentionally manipulative bastard – and I mean that completely. If he is sincere in his talk at all, to any degree whatsoever, your commentary falls apart completely – since that commentary depends explicitly on such intentional manipulation, insincerity and nearly hard-core evil.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 7:13 am |Reply

  42. That same basic format can be found in talks given in the last conference as well. I don’t think they have “insincerity and nearly hard-core evil” I think they follow the basic format that has been followed for years without much thought. It is just how it has been done and will continue to be done, why? because it works.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 25, 2008 @ 7:45 am |Reply

  43. I might not agree with that completely, but I wouldn’t spend much emotional capital arguing against it. It’s just not the tone and message that comes through the commentary itself. (but, again, I’m fine with the answer here, so it’s all cool here.)
    :-)

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 7:49 am |Reply

  44. I can see your point in regards to the tone of my commentary

    I will take a look and maybe give a better example or illustrate more fully the common thread or format that I seem to notice throughout most GA talks at GC and then present it more in those terms on my blog. (FYI I did have a licensed therapist help me with that commentary in regards to the emotional and physiological process the speaker seemed to be attempting to take the listener through)

    After reading both of yours and MCQ comments last night I had decided to do some research in terms of comparing talks and basic format style of message and see if my perceptions actually have any evidentiary validity, if not I will have to adjust my opinion.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 25, 2008 @ 3:36 pm |Reply

  45. mcquinn

    You said ealrier in response to my missionaries hard sell and pressure tactics …

    “I just want to say to EJ that I’m sincerely sorry that he had to put up with those “missionary” tactics. I don’t believe in behaving in that way. When will we learn that missionary work is not multi-level marketing?! I’m really sorry EJ.”

    Thank you for this but its not really fair on you . I think your version of Mormonism and missionary ethics and The Church Leader’s version are two different churches .

    I think the Church prophets and Apostles should actually apologise to its sincere ordinary members like yourself for all the baptismal abuses that go on and the resultant ‘inflated’ and potentially ‘bogus’ headline membership figure which then reflects poorly on members like yourselves .

    Pressure and Manipulation in the LDS missionary field is not new . .I read about it In Simon Southerton’s ( DNA Scientist/Bishop now resigned )brief Biography of when he saw it in his 2 year mission in Australia .His father who was Bishop at that time voiced his dissapproval of such to the mission President of the time.Later when he became Stake President he was released early by the visiting same said prior Mission President .( Revenge Perhaps? ).

    I also read about batismal abuses in Europe ( Baseball/Sport baptisms followed by mass excommunications ) and also The Latin American ones ( See Chile Santiago Temple President Ted Lyons talk about it on You Tube ) .

    Its disgraceful to say the least .These are Temple Recommend missionaries supposedly brought up in good Mormon Families ( by their fruits etc ) who then return home and marry in The Temple and yet have committed such disgraceful practices in the mission field .It just makes a nonsense of it all. This was another notch down in my LDS ladder of conversion.

    In fact In Sunday School Class members spoke of their missions being based on pressure , figures , statistics and baptisms rather than ‘conversions’ . I was suprised myself to hear this openly admitted and ‘condemned’ unanimously and yet nothing changes as our Ward was/is experiencing similar tactics/problems from current ‘hyped’ and ‘pressured’ missionaries.

    I’ve had to reassure my Missionaries over and over that they have represented the Saviour as indivuduals beautifully and ward members alike .My reason not to baptise is not linked to my worthiness or their worthiness but to The Church’s own supposedly inspired Authoritive worthiness as an organisation .It’s not Perfect like it claims.

    My two years investigation has witnessed what I believe will be referred to in the future as the ‘ Asylum Seeker baptisms ‘.

    The problems it is causing the Ward prompted our Bishop to write to the area presidency over it .

    The missionaries can’t really find hardly anyone to baptise except mostly African Asylum Seekers .These people are vulnerable and lonely and are easily persuaded .The Missionaries get their appropriate boxes ticked for their figures and reports and even get Baptisms ! :) It all looks good superficially in terms of Numbers but in reality it leaves a headache for the ward .Now its possible one or two are genuine , but most just use the church to aid them in their asylum cause .

    I do admire the church members efforts to help them , but they end up being embroiled in False Identity ( for illegal work purposes ), False asylum seekers on the run .The Bishop had to turn down a members request for Bail Money as he was being detained in a detention camp ready to be deported .Had the bishop paid the bail money , its likely the member would have gone on the run . It’s a terrible dilemma for the church members and I do sympathise with them.

    What can be done ?

    Missionaries need to stress to Asylum Seekers that the church can’t help them with the Asylum bid and that they are only interested in a Baptism and Tithe Paying obedient members. ( Which is the reality of it all ). Obviously this will most likely result in less Baptism figures but at least the Ward won’t have to deal with the aftermath .

    One baptism I attended I can label ‘Joke of the Year ‘ . The candidate got baptised , Words were spoken of how much growth he had made etc ….. Hymms sung ….Yet I was laughing about it all the way through as I knew :

    1 He hardly came to church, because I was there every week and at every other meeting /event.

    2 He was pressured ( experienced it throught my two years myself ).

    3 That I didn’t think we would see him again .( I know because I have tried to pick him up for church and he doesn’t give a hoot ).

    The Result ? he came the following Sunday to receive The Holy Ghost and no one ever saw him again ! lol

    I’ve also heard that another recent convert has gone on the run now too .It seems that he’s started to realise exactly what he has joined .

    I only ever saw about one or two baptisms out of about 10 which I consider an informed or well thought out decision .

    Also one baptism which I ‘approve ‘ of, whether he knows what he is doing or not is a young lad with suicidal problems .If the church can cure/help him then I’m all for it in his case.

    Comment by elderjoseph — January 25, 2008 @ 5:11 pm |Reply

  46. ej, as coventry said, we simply are experiencing and have experienced different churches. I will not accuse you of overstatement, exaggeration or lying, since I don’t know you at all (and the internet is a lousy way to have real confidence in one’s presentation of himself – for both of us), but I have served extensively in the missionary programs of the Church for nearly twenty years. What you describe I have seen myself – as the exception, not the rule.

    Yes, there are elements of “sales training” embedded within the training missionaries receive, including the setting of goals for measurable things like contacts and lessons and baptisms, but the vast majority of leaders and missionaries I have known over the years understand that those goals are to give concrete substance to measure effort. It is too easy for some leaders to get caught up in the numbers and start to abuse the system, but in every single instance I personally have observed that fit that description, it has been curtailed (and sometimes quite swiftly and harshly) once the situation became known to the authorities over the Mission President. I personally have seen MP’s sent home early and TIGHT restrictions put in place that severely lowered baptisms in order to make it crystal clear that the basic rules were not to be broken.

    Abuses still occur, but to say that they are sanctioned by the highest leadership simply doesn’t match my practical experience at all.

    I have said multiple times that the greatest weakness of the organizational church is that it is run at the ground level by a bunch of untrained amateurs – with all the problems that includes; I also have said multiple times that the greatest genius of the organizational church is that it is run at the ground level by a bunch of untrained amateurs – with all the amazing growth and passion and fellowship that entails. I understand completely the challenges that structure creates, but I wouldn’t change it for the world when I look around and see the people it produces that no other process produces in such high numbers.

    The Mormon Church is not a place for those who want to continue the relatively stationary religious observance embodied in most of the rest of Christianity; it is a commitment that requires a radical change in action AND perspective – a change in mind and body and eye – and it simply doesn’t “stick” for many who initially respond to the message – or, too often, the messengers. Part of that is directly the fault of the membership who fail to live the Gospel they try to accept, including those who lose sight of the people in the numbers, and part of that is a natural result of asking people to make such a radical change on little other than simple faith.

    As I’ve said before, at least our official theology doesn’t automatically condemn those who leave the Church to Hell, since we can never know exactly why they leave and how accountable they truly are. Luckily, our theology leaves that totally in the Lord’s hands – no matter what individual members might believe or say.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 25, 2008 @ 10:59 pm |Reply

  47. Coventry, thanks for your last comment. That’s very fair-minded of you.

    EJ, I sympathize with your experience, but I agree with what Ray said. My missionary experience is similar to his. I saw pressure tactics used and I saw missionaries who only cared about numbers, but those attitudes and practices were not approved by the mission president or anyone above him, and were in fact discouraged explicitly. I was a missionary in Southern California. Do you think we didn’t run into illegal immigrants there? It happened every day. Were we encouraged to teach and baptise these people to inflate our baptismal numbers? Far from it. Did they seek baptism so that they could receive the benefits of church membership while living illegally in the US? Of course. And sometimes they got it, but most of those were weeded out through the interview process. What’s going on in your area is sad, but it’s far from the general rule.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 26, 2008 @ 7:20 am |Reply

  48. My first mission president was great and the way you describe the model, my second was not he was about numbers, the traveling AP’s came by to show us how to do it and about half way through the evening I told the one I was with I didn’t want anything to do with his aggresive tactics and walked back to my flat and told him to follow me or tract alone, my companion stuck it out and recieved a lecture about what a failure his mission was from the AP, I had to spend the entire next day talking him into A: Not going home B: Just get up out of your fetal position you are not worthless.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 26, 2008 @ 8:02 am |Reply

  49. That is a sad truth, Coventry, and one I have experience with as well. The Church’s missionary program will never be completely safe from the multi-level marketers, but as long as there are people willing to stand up to them, they won’t win.

    We can take hope from this fact though: There are no multi-level marketers among the twelve.

    Comment by mcquinn — January 26, 2008 @ 10:37 am |Reply

  50. Ray and MCQ

    As promised I did some preliminary research using the April 2006 conference. So far I have found that in just about every talk there is at least some portion that reverts to a potential fear or guilt generating statement or term such as: wicked world, Satan, the Adversary, Perilous times, sin, deception, etc. However I did change my intro for that post from “talks being centered” to “talks have their share of” – referring to fear and guilt statements.

    The point being just as most Christian evangelicals feel the need to preach with fear and guilt so does the LDS church leaders. That was the main point of my commentary. When talking to LDS they typically say they don’t and then say something such as Ray’s comment

    “As I’ve said before, at least our official theology doesn’t automatically condemn those who leave the Church to Hell”

    I have heard this many times as well as the sentiment of how LDS don’t believe people are going to hell they have the 3 degrees of glory, while I was contemplating this I had a revelation and it struck me: why does the LDS Church need to talk about Satan so much, the Church could in fact teach strictly from a positive position without invoking the fear of big bad Satan or the awful moral decline of our world (which is also very debatable) to motivate and teach morals and values.

    I also wonder since most members seem to believe these messages are not in the talks, is it that they are just desensitized? They come in under the radar and they don’t even see it and are virtually subliminal? My experience with people is that one negative comment equals at least ten positive comments. And that’s being conservative.

    Like I said before no where am I saying that Ballard is an evil man, (and I don’t really see that conjecture in my commentary either) I am saying he along with most the LDS GA’s use a format of talk that includes fear and guilt messages, just because they use that GA monotone voice for delivery it can still pack the same punch as a bible thumping evangelical with the subtle message, I believe subtle messages have much more lasting power anyway.

    Comment by coventryrm — January 26, 2008 @ 5:20 pm |Reply

  51. I see what you are saying, coventry. I guess my main response would be that these “guilt” and “fear” messages are the simple result of a mindset that sees both good and evil and addresses both – that defines certain things as “wrong” that should be avoided.

    Iow, if I see bad things happening, I will mention them – and if I have kids, I will ask them to refrain from them in order to avoid the consequences. In order to help them understand the consequences (for example, of real addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs), I must talk of those consequences. In doing so, I must “warn” them, so to speak – and that can come across as “playing on fear and/or guilt”. I don’t see it that way, but to someone who doesn’t believe these substances are harmful (or at least as harmful as I believe them to be), my words will appear to be manipulative – or even borderline coercive. In MANY cases, people addressing the same things actually ARE manipulative, but someone who disagrees with the fundamental premise will see ALL such “counsel” as misguided and/or manipulative.

    Sometimes messages are “subtle” because they aren’t intended the way they are heard. Sometimes, they merely are the assumed backdrop for the real intent of the message. As I consider all of the potential topics about which I could talk in church, it’s hard to pick one that does not have any “negative” side that I might mention in order to highlight the positive.

    For example, I write extensively on my personal blog about grace – and the need for Mormons to accept it more openly. We teach it, but it’s not obvious enough, imho. However, in order to deal with grace, I pretty much have to talk of sin and transgression and the results of disobedience and genetic weakness. Based on what you have said, I have to assume you might characterize such a post as manipulative and fear-mongering.

    Does that make sense?

    PS. I agree completely that Mormons, of all Christians, could go a lifetime without even mentioning Satan (except in discussing the pre-existence and the Garden of Eden and the period after the Millennium) and not be amiss.

    Comment by raydegraw — January 26, 2008 @ 7:06 pm |Reply


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