In March 2003 I spent several days in intense (time wise) electronic discussions with several persons who were critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The discussions were in a forum sponsored by a chess site. I am posting the discussions here, because they can be an educational resource for Latter-day Saints who answer questions about the Church. I have omitted names to preserve privacy.
In my discussions with members of the forum, I realized I would never change their opinions of Mormonism. I realized I was really talking to the people who visit and read the discussions but don’t speak out, and I tried to use the discussions to teach in positive ways about the LDS religion.
Comments and questions from others are flagged with three angle brackets (>>>) and are in italics.
In posting this discussion to this site, I made minor changes in external links that point to this site.
[This was my first posting to a forum that was discussing Mormonism] I have an online book that gives my understanding of the teachings of my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Go to the navigation bar for this site and click on the Book link. Lots of Bible verses to read and contemplate.
>>>This means, only Christ can atone and forgive our sins. No mortal man has this power.
We Mormons agree completely with that statement! Only Christ, through his grace, can atone and forgive our sins. We are and will always be grateful to him for his grace and love. Our repentance and works don’t save us, don’t remove our sins. Our repentance and works help us to come to Christ where we give ourselves to him. His grace in suffering for our sins and shedding his blood for us removes our sins. I like to think of my faith and repentance and works as a doorway through which I can let the atonement of Christ come into my life.
As you read my reply, you’ll realize that Mormons believe that the atonement is conditional, that is, it removes sin, cleanses us, only upon certain conditions, which are that we repent of our sins and follow Christ. Other Christians also believe that the atonement is conditional. The disagreement between us and them concerns what the conditions are. Most Christians believe that the conditions are confession and acceptance of Christ as ones personal Savior. Mormons believe that but also believe that repentance is part of the conditions. As Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish.” (Luke, that may not be the exact wording but it is close (I don’t have my Bible with me at the moment)). I doubt that there are any Christians who believe in a universal salvation, that is an atonement without conditions.
>>>Many now think that a one-time experience or church membership is enough. The experience should be on-going.
That’s a nice way to express it. I think of my life on earth as a time to grow to become like Christ. He is my mentor and example and guide in life. I grow by experiencing trials and tribulations and changing to overcome those difficulties. Being positive about life, looking for the good in people, being grateful for my blessings from God and for people who influence me in positive ways, for my Savior and his atonement, picking myself up when I fall and trying again, these are all ways that I grow to become more like Christ. Repentance is the way that I improve, by overcoming faults, by mending friendships that have become strained, by giving service to others.
>>>so please excuse my questions if you find them out of line – I simply wish to know what you believe.
Sincere questions asked to learn rather than to argue should never offend, and the postings from the two of you haven’t.
>>>I think the problem most (other) Christians have with Mormonism is the additions, ie; The Book of Mormon.
I think, in general, that you’re right. I said “in general” because I expect that particular Christians might have additional reasons.
You’ve both asked important and interesting questions. If I may, due to time considerations, I’d like to refer you to my Mormon web site (https://mormonsite.wordpress.com/) and my online book and essays for my responses to your questions. Also, I have a LDS Family Gateway to the Internet that gives many links to LDS sites, so you can read what other LDS say about religion, if you’re interested in that.
*** asked a question that isn’t directly answered in my online book, about rituals and policies that aren’t found in the Bible. We believe that God has Apostles and Prophets on earth today, as He had in ancient days. The purpose of Apostles and Prophets is to receive revelation from God, and we believe the rituals and policies you spoke of have come through “modern revelation” to His modern Apostles and Prophets. I discuss the Biblical case for modern Apostles and Prophets in my online book in a chapter called “The True Church”.
>>>I visited your site and read some of articles posted there. They are well put together articles, however they do not answer major concerns that have been expressed on this issue. They talk around them, but unfortunately they can not answer specific questions from that article I posted earlier.
Thanks for letting me know that I need to focus more on your specific questions. I’ll try and go back through this forum and pick up unanswered questions.
>>>Why in the world Bible is not enough for people who want to meet God of Bible????
First is the issue of there being many interpretations of the Bible. Because of these interpretations, I have real concern about accepting the Bible as an infallible source of truth about God. See my essay for my thoughts on the Bible as a source of truth.
Second is the question of modern revelation to modern prophets. Mormons believe that God has Apostles and Prophets today as He did in Old and New Testaments. If God does have modern Apostles and Prophets, then He gives modern revelations to them, and obviously those revelations won’t be in the canonized Bible. Thus, modern scripture would be necessary. I believe that the question of modern revelation to modern Apostles and Prophets is critically important to our search for truth. The chapter in my book on “The True Church” discusses many Biblical scriptures that show that Christ did organize a church with a specific organization, that He did give revelations to them, and that his leaders were guided by these revelations through the Spirit. See my essay on the True Church
>>>Another question: how would you describe early Church of 1st century, church of Peter and Paul? In your own words, would it be closer to …. denomination?
I would describe it as the Church of Jesus Christ. Peter & Paul focused on different aspects of the Gospel, but both taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
>>>I am also curious as to what you believe about the nature of God. Was He “once like us” (a man), and do we, as humans have the potential to become Gods? It seems that the writings I looked at supported these ideas. I hope you will enlighten me.
I discuss those questions in my online book.