Recently I read this article published in the Washington Post.
Mormon Church in Need of Reform
I think the timing may have had something to do with a certain Presidential candidates good performance in the polls. . . . .
It starts off giving a snapshot of recent gallup polls concerning church members, pretty standard stuff about how the general public perceives us, and then she throws in a line about how the church "isn't exactly welcoming of outsiders."
How many missionaries are there in the world trying to bring 'Outsiders' into the church?
And of course, using that phrase paints the picture in the mind of her readers of a group of paranoid zealots, afraid of anyone or any culture that is different from the fundamentalist, small town Utah culture. Many readers probably instantly thought of the scary polygamist cult leader on Big Love.
She then goes on to establish her credentials as an Ex-Mormon, even naming a few former Mormons who are famous (I guess).
Her explanation for being in the church is that she had prominent Pioneer ancestors, whose story was well established in her own family, and that the 'mantle' of her pioneer forebears weighed heavily on her mind. She also talks about how the church is a big part of her identity.
But then, when she gets to college, she starts to discover differing viewpoints. Different types of scientific evidence seem to contradict claims made in the Book of Mormon. She's concerned and brings her concerns to the people around her. These people get angry with her, tell her to just not read that stuff, and to just get married and not worry about it. One guy told her it's ok to question, as long as you don't tell anyone else.
Distraught at the advice given to her, and not wanting to risk leaving her community, she eventually leaves the church. Doing so gets her shut out of her parents home for five years, and some of her friends shunning her.
She tries to make the argument that the church is too stuck in it's ways, and needs to get with the times, and that this is what you vote for if you vote for Romney.
It occurred to me that the people who she talked to, who gave such bad advice, are idiots. They obviously don't understand the doctrine. Nowhere does it say that we should avoid learning about history and science. Nowhere in the scriptures are women told to turn off their brain and just get married if they have doubts. Nowhere are mormons told to respond by shunning or disowning a friend or family member with doubts.
That's BullCrap. Very Easily Dismissed if you understand the doctrine and know for yourself that God and His Son are at the head of the church.
Then it occurred to me that her story of her faith was not about how she studied the scriptures, and prayed, developing a familiarity with the God, and how she therefore knew that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be. She didn’t talk about the moment of comprehension when the truth of it all became perfectly clear in her mind.
No, her foundation was that her ancestors, over a hundred years ago, had joined the church and walked across America, and that her all her current friends and family were Mormons.
She hadn’t paid attention. Her whole life, she had missed the point of three hours of church each week, plus youth activities. Sure, she probably learned a lot of facts along the way, memorized all the talking points. But the biggest takeaway point of nearly every discussion, and the subject of a whole hour of sacrament meeting once every month, is that each church member needs to learn for themselves that the church is for real. It’s also known as gaining a testimony.
A testimony is gained by study and prayer. You need to study the Bible, Book of Mormon, whatever, and then ask God for a confirmation of the truth of what you read. It’s not a Ouija board; if you have no intention of acting on the answer you‘ll receive, then you probably won’t get anything. Why? It would do you no good if you weren’t intending to act on the knowledge.
When a person has faith in something, they believe in something so strongly that they are willing to act on their belief. When you pray about the Book of Mormon, and intend to let the answer define your life from that moment forward, then you will start to see some results, answers to your prayer.
The reason it works this way is that God cares about every single person. He wants all of us to become better people. He wants all of us to improve, to be the very best that we each can be. He doesn’t just want Keith Sohm to learn improve himself and make sure his kids are enrolled in church, he wants Keith’s grandson Dave to learn the truth and humble himself, and become a better person, and want to return to God’s Presence.
He wants the best for everyone, individually.
Carrie Sheffield, the writer of the article that appeared in the Washington Post, missed this. She didn’t take it seriously. She attended church to keep up appearances, because her Pioneer forebears and all her friends would be disappointed if she didn’t.
Lacking the spiritual foundation, she couldn’t dismiss the callous and wrong advice given to her. She couldn’t tell herself, when confronted with slyly crafted ‘evidence’, that she KNEW that the Book of Mormon was real, and that it didn’t matter what anybody else said.
She coasted through all those years of instruction, her mind elsewhere, or just content to be descended from people who had great faith. And now she has admitted as much to the whole world.
And by the way, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints IS God’s church. The Book of Mormon IS a religious history of a society that lived on the American continent before even the Vikings discovered it. The priesthood IS in fact the power of God to bless and heal, shared with worthy men on earth, right now. I know that it is. And you can know too.
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