Tuesday, February 27, 2007

 

Weightier Matters

In contrast with my mostly-inaccurate history of Baylor, Craig Pankratz has embarked on a more worthy mission over at Weightier Matters. Specifically, he is outlining some facts about the Mormon church understandable to outsiders. I would recommend it to anyone who wonders about the LDS church and, like me, does not know much about their beliefs.

I do know this-- it infuriates me that they run into the intolerance and hostility that they do, as the Mitt Romney presidential campaign has brought forth. My broad group of brothers and sisters in faith have one thing in common; they believe in a God that is greater than them, and who created and oversees this world. Beyond that, there are many inflections of faith, and I have learned from many of them. Some are Christians, and those are more like me than some others, because Christ is at the center of my faith. That said, though, I don't know anyone, not one person, who has exactly the same set of beliefs that I do about Christ and a moral life, if I take into account the full complexity of my beliefs. Thus, I am not going to judge someone else's Christian faith as inferior or superior to mine because it varies from my own. If I were to do that, i would be standing alone, and I have been commanded to worship with others. I am not a relativist-- I am quite judgemental of some of the things I do. I hold myself to high standards (and often fail), and those standards are not "relative" to the situation; they are constant (even when my behavior is not). I will kneel and worship with Mormons, Lutherans, Southern Baptists, Pentacostals, and Catholics-- and if you don't want to worship with me, that's ok, too. What matters is that I do so, with the humility to share the grace of God with those around me.

When I read Craig's reflections on his faith, it is not a challenge to me or cause to challenge him. It is a chance to learn and grow, even when our disagreements on a particular point may continue. I greatly admire his bravery in making his faith known; I don't know another student (or faculty member) willing to do so to the same degree. I would also say that I have found my Mormon students and other Mormon friends particularly brave in their faith, and their lives more consistent with that faith than most of us are to the beliefs we espouse.

Comments:
Thank you. You are a true friend.
 
Amen to that.
 
Well said! There is a Mormon family down the street from us and they are the nicest people you can imagine. They have their beliefs but do not push them on other people. They have four great kids and they are the best neighbors, friends, parents.. just great. They are truly the first LDS people I have ever met and I was impressed. But then I am Unitarian... so technically I like everyone...

I don't know how I will feel after Spencer's birthday party as all four kids are coming along with like 85 others....
 
Tyd--

You invited 89 children to a birthday party for a three-year old? Do they like soup? Because that soup recipe you have feeds about 120.
 
Thank you for your comments of intelligence, understanding, and tolerance.
 
I don't have criticism for people and their faith, but I don't like it when others try to push their religion on me. Being from Utah, I often feel like there is too much integration of Church and State there, and that I was often ostricized because I wasn't of "the faith". However, since leaving Utah my view of Mormons has changed somewhat. I have met other members of the LDS church from outside Utah and find them all to be wonderful people who haven't tried to push their religion on me at all--this has been a nice surprise, and a welcome change from what I'm used to.
 
You might kneel with Mormons, but would they say the same? Would they let you into their temple? Would they say you are allowed into heaven? Not like a negative answer to any of the above should stop you from kneeling, but perhaps just be informative as to how faiths that claim to be the true faith inherently discount others as untrue.
 
I think we could all get along better if we could all agree that religion is more about finding the truth than about claiming the truth.
 
Anonymous 1:44,

On the contrary, we want everyone to enjoy the blessings of our temples. That's why we open each temple to the public before it is dedicated. But temples have never been open to the general public after they have been dedicated. At the time of Christ, only the priests could enter into the sanctuary. And only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, and he could only go in on one day a year.

Today, only those members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have sufficiently prepared may enter into a dedicated temple.

I will address our temple worship on a later date on my blog.

Also, we do not believe that members of other religions are barred from heaven. In fact, even liers, theives, and the unrepentant sinners will have a place in the lowest degree of heaven after they have suffered for their sins in hell. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27; concerning three degrees of glory, consider 2 Corinthians 12:2). Faithful members of any Church will not have to suffer in hell, and, in fact, shall enjoy the presence of Jesus Christ for all eternity. (See D&C 76 to understand our concept of heaven). But I will also address our concept of heaven on my blog.

Finally, we do not believe that other religions are inherently devoid from the inspiration of God. We believe that we are God's children, and, therefore, entitled to receive inspiration from Him. In 1978, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declared as official Church doctrine, “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. … We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation” (“Statement of the First Presidency regarding God’s Love for All Mankind,” 15 Feb. 1978).

Again, I will address these topics in more depth at a later time.

Until that time, I am your servant,
Craig Pankratz
 
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