When Moses was called as a prophet, he had an extraordinary visionary experience where he saw God represented as a burning bush.
When Isaiah was called as a prophet, we read of a dramatic visionary encounter with smoke filling the temple, heavenly figures called the seraphim, and more.
When Ezekiel was called as a prophet, he offered an elaborate description of divine beings that defy any normal description.
But the prophetic call of John the Baptist, who Jesus labeled as greater than any prophet before his time, is described in only seven words that are found in a very short verse in the book of Luke.
Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:2)
That’s it. No sensational experience, just… the word of God came to John.
Continue reading “John the Baptist, preeminent prophet”
Follow the Prophet is a beloved phrase and a primary song, until it isn’t. And it usually stops being beloved when church members begin to assert their own internal authority:
Continue reading “Follow the Prophet, Internal vs External Authority”
“I determine my faith commitments”
“The church doesn’t get to dictate to me what I believe”
“I follow Jesus over the church”
“There’s no middle-man between me and God”
“I’m the one who determines what my church participation should look like”
“We’re all cafeteria members, so my choices in the cafeteria are no less valid than someone else’s”
Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, if a person is not born from on high, that person is not able to see the kingdom of God.
Sedevacantism “seat-empty-ism” is a term commonly used to describe Catholics who think the pope is illegitimate because he is apostate, lacking authority, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, etc. In Catholicism, there has long been a rift over Vatican II, where the Catholic church convened a huge council in 1962-1965 and implemented a set of reforms that included no longer doing the mass in Latin. Remember that one of the core elements of fundamentalism is an idea that things were ideal in the past, and we need to return to some past way of doing things, because back then the faith was more pure or whatever. So fundamentalist Catholics typically reject Vatican II and to the extent they still participate in the Roman Catholic church, they constantly clash with popes and other authorities who maintain the reforms of Vatican II.
Continue reading “Beware of Sedevacantism in the Church”
Acceptance is letting go of:
An acceptance statement can be phrased as, “My present reality is _______”
Continue reading “The Spiritual Discipline of Living in Reality”
“Why doesn’t the church give tons of money to the poor?”
I’m currently developing an article about fundamentalism, and how its core impulse is to avoid cognitive dissonance no matter what.
Continue reading ““If the Church were following Jesus, it would give all its funds to the poor!””
Is the church “true?” I believe so, and that question matters a great deal to me. Why? Well, for starters, I pay 10% of my income to this institution, and devote a lot of time and energy to it. I have no interest in doing all of that just for the sake of belonging to a community (I can join or form any number of communities) or out of a sense of heritage, or any fear-based reasons, like “how else would I raise my kids?!!” There are a number of belief communities that I have belonged to throughout my life that I no longer belong to, because I no longer hold the beliefs that stand at the center of each of those communities’ existence.
Sometimes, we hear stories of people leaving the church and saying something to the effect that “I found out the church isn’t true.” I want to explore that a little further toward the end of this post.
But first, how does one even go about deciding whether the church is true? There are a number of questions that inform our views of whether “the church is true” or not, and below are the questions I personally use for arriving at my answer. If you haven’t gone through the exercise of writing down a list like this, I highly recommend it as a way of bringing clarity to your seeking. My list, with links to supporting resources:
Continue reading “What does it mean that the church is true?”
True conversion is more than merely having a knowledge of gospel principles and implies even more than just having a testimony of those principles. It is possible to have a testimony of the gospel without living it. Being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe and allowing it to create “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts.” In the booklet True to the Faith, we learn that “conversion is a process, not an event. You become converted as a result of … righteous efforts to follow the Savior.” It takes time, effort, and work. My great-great-grandmother had a strong conviction that the gospel was more important for her children than all that the world had to offer in the way of wealth and comfort because she had sacrificed, endured, and lived the gospel. Her conversion came through living the principles of the gospel and sacrificing for them.
-Bonnie L. Oscarson, Be Ye Converted
Continue reading “Quotes and Scriptures on Conversion”
If you are hitching your happiness to things being a certain way, it’s a setup for suffering.-Tara Brach
As General Conference approaches, Latter-Day Saints are going to be hearing conflicting messages on social media, and they can generally be grouped into two themes:
- General Conference is coming, and we get to hear teachings from prophets. Hooray!
- General Conference is coming, so brace yourself. There will probably be things said that are harmful or insensitive. You need to steel yourself against the possibility of being hurt.
The first theme is one that views Conference as a time of rejoicing. It affirms that Conference speakers are good people and that their messages are inspired. Whatever they say, it will be for our good.
The second theme views Conference as threatening. It is neutral or negative about the motivations and/or divinely-ordained callings of the speakers, and it doubts the capacity of the hearer to process conference messages in a healthy way.
Both themes reflect bias, and bias is not a bad thing. Everyone brings their biases and worldviews to every part of life — including faith — and people who claim to be unbiased are just demonstrating another form of cognitive bias called the Bias Blind Spot. For a lengthy list of cognitive, emotional and other forms of bias, see here.
There is no such thing as an unbiased viewing of General Conference, but it is possible for us to be mindful of what we bring to the Conference experience and respond to our biases (and conference) in ways that lead to our growth.
Continue reading “Positively Biased for Conference”
Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled… (Isaiah 50:11)
Jaxon Washburn just posted here a lengthy critique of the Radical Orthodoxy position. I won’t do a point-by-point discussion of all of his arguments; many of the objections to RO have been addressed thoroughly in other places.
But if I were to summarize Jaxon’s position, I might do so as follows:
Continue reading “Responding to a New Critique of RO”
In the Sunday morning session of April 2021 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson made some remarks on faithful inquiry — asking gospel questions — that have caused some consternation especially among nonbelievers. Let’s parse and explore his remarks here.
For each of these items, there are links to explore the concept in more depth.
Continue reading “President Nelson on Gospel Learning”