Latter-day Saint Apocalyptic, and Visions of Glory as Case Study

There is controversy in the news with several former church members who have been strongly influenced by the book Visions of Glory. In this presentation, we explore some questions around that book and its genre, which is called apocalyptic.

Questions we explore:

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John the Baptist, preeminent prophet

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.

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Reverse CBT in the Church

This video points to a Triggernometry episode recounting a Gen Z woman’s experience with critical race theory and manufactured fragility:


The source video is from Tik Tok. The story is that a lesbian and her wife who use they/them pronouns walked into a gay bar and she melted down over being called a lady. So, the gay guys in the bar kicked her out. Notice that as she is whining and performing for the camera, she has an empathetic enabler reassuring her that the mean world has mistreated her.

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Quotes on Cynicism

Cynicism is a powerful anesthetic we use to numb ourselves to pain, but which also, by its nature, numbs us to truth and joy. Grief is healthy. Even anger can be healthy. But numbing ourselves with cynicism in an effort to avoid feeling those things is not. When I write off all evangelicals as hateful and ignorant, I am numbing myself with cynicism. When I jeer at their foibles, I am numbing myself with cynicism.

When I roll my eyes and fold my arms and say, “Well, I know God can’t be present over there,” I am numbing myself with cynicism. And I am missing out. I am missing out on a God who surprises us by showing up where we don’t think God belongs. I am missing out on a God whose grace I need just as desperately, just as innately as the lady who dropped her child sponsorship in a protest against gay marriage.

Cynicism may help us create simpler storylines with good guys and bad guys, but it doesn’t make us any better at telling the truth, which is that most of us are a frightening mix of good and evil, sinner and saint.

– Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday

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Follow the Prophet, Internal vs External Authority

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:

“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”

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Presentation on Spiritual Discernment

How can we tell the difference between God’s influence and other things like emotion?

What are signs of good versus evil spiritual energy?

What are signs of demonic influence?

We discuss these and other questions in this presentation; slides here:

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Faith Crisis: Presentation and Resources

What is faith crisis?

What are some possible responses to the experience?

What are some healthy ways of reframing faith crisis?

Is a positive outcome possible?

What are some helpful resources for people in faith crisis?

In this presentation, we cover these questions and more. And if you would like personal help working through faith crisis, we’re happy to link you with people who can help! Just send a note using the feedback form.

Slides available for viewing and download:

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Getting Along < Shared Belief < Conversion

The Book of Mormon is an absolutely remarkable text of religious psychology. At various points in the text, certain terms are used to make fine distinctions between very specific states of mind and heart. And the consequences of these states of mind and heart are spelled out in terms of social trends in communities.

When I say I know the Book of Mormon is true, part of that statement includes my conviction that it conveys real history of real people and real phenomena. The other part of that statement is that its unique picture of religious psychology is accurate. This morning, my reading in 3 Nephi reinforced this conviction in me.

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Learning to think…about faith

If we are serious about learning, we need to be mindful of our reasoning. It’s a process that adds a lot of work to all of our learning, but it’s absolutely essential if we want the best possible outcomes in our learning process.

When evaluating the truthfulness of a particular claim, we need to understand some basic rules of inference in order to sidestep fallacies that muddle our thinking. It’s common for those without this kind of training to focus exclusively on whether or not a particular claim is factual and disregard whether that claim logically supports the conclusion being drawn.

If you have never studied logic, here is a brief primer on some basic concepts (thanks to Meagan Kohler for her assistance!). Or, you can skip down to some concrete examples for Latter-day Saints.

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