Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Joseph Smith/Jesus Christ": Poignant or Pointless?

So, I had the opportunity to go to the temple on Saturday with some out-of-country friends: a former Sister missionary and her husband, their daughter and mother-in-law. As soon as we got over the crest of the hill, I saw a lone protester and was instantly giddy. I don't know what it is, but ever since I went to Salt Lake for the October 2008 General Conference, I find protesters to be.. well, a form of entertainment I guess.

Here's a photo I took from atop the Conference Centre of the protesters along the Square. My favourite is the guy left of centre, yeah, the one in the Satan outfit.

When I first joined the Church I had never heard of the "Mormons," and a few months into the year 2004 I went online and began looking at anti-Mormon material. I got wound up in this particular LiveJournal that claimed to be a place for "recovering Mormons," meaning LDS members who had left the faith. I forget the subject matter, but something caught my attention and I experienced a trial of faith. I posted a few times on the LJ and although a few of the people there claimed I was a "troll," someone else seemed keen on helping me through my difficulty, no matter which direction I chose: to continue with the Church, or to leave it. They believed I was actually experiencing a trial of faith, and I'll always be grateful to that mystery person for not pushing their own agenda but for helping me figure out what I wanted and believed.

Anyway, since then I've always been drawn to anti-Mormons, and though I stayed away from it for a couple years after that, I've gone through two stages with regard to my reactions to them: first I felt anger towards them, and now I react with a bit of humour. Yes, I find anti-Mormons funny. Well, for the most part, that is until I actually meet one who knows what they're talking about and have done their own research - then my response is a kind of searching interest.

So when we were leaving the temple, we pulled out into the street and saw a man handing out newspapers and little DVDs. I was intrigued because there was a picture of the Saviour and a picture of Joseph Smith on the cover. It's called "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith," and is produced (as far as I can tell) by an organization called "Search for the Truth." In other words, this wolf in sheep's clothing was handing out DVD's to let people visiting the temple know the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I'll edit that I think: the differences between Mormonism and Mainstream Christianity. As far as I'm concerned, there is a difference between the Christianity of today and the Christianity from Biblical times. A big difference.

So this is just an introduction to that video, which I'll watch within the week, and then post on. It's not looking good though; I'm only three and a half minutes in and I've found two errors. The first is within a quote by Orson Pratt, which is shown onscreen and states, "Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever gratefull for the information." As I'm an English major, I can't ignore the spelling mistake in the word "grateful." As for this quote, it's from a periodical Elder Pratt published in called The Seer (careful, that's a large PDF file), and that particular quote comes from an article he wrote defending polygamy. In 1865, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve released this statement with regard to Elder Pratt's teachings, "The Seer [and other writings by Pratt] contain doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works, or parts of works, are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed."

The next error seems to just be a part of what mainstream Christianity likes to do, that is, "simplify" the scriptures. On screen we're shown a supposed quote from the Book of Abraham, found within the LDS' Pearl of Great Price. Now, if you just read what it says, it seems like they're actually quoting the scripture, but instead they quote part of it and "simplify" the rest. Here's what they show: "Our Father said, 'Whom shall I send?' Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, 'Here am I, send me." The way I first read it made me think the way most people would, that they were quoting, word for word, from the scriptures. I picked up my scriptures and thumbed through it until I found Abraham 3:27, curious about what they "simplified." The scripture reads: "And the Lord said" Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first." Now, I understand that mainstream Christianity uses different terms for the Saviour and for God, but is it really so difficult to understand? My real upset comes from the way they format this, making it appear as a quote when it isn't. Format, people, format.

All right, so this has been, like I said, the introduction. Yes, three and a half minutes has been stretched into two large paragraphs. Using simple math, this hour and twenty minute long video will probably be turned into about 23 paragraphs. Not only am I working on this video now, but I've got a commentary/review on current Quorum of the Twelve President, Boyd K. Packer's "The Holy Temple," (synopsis found here) in the works, as well as the previously mentioned posts on excommunication, the documentary known as "The Mormons," prayer regarding the Book of Mormon, and one on the purpose of temples. In other words, make sure you check back weekly for new posts!

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