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”
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”
Why are we here?
Where are we going?
What does “judgment day” mean?
How does God judge souls?
Is there such thing as “sad heaven?”
These are all discussion points in this presentation. Slides below:
Continue reading “Presentation: Judgment Day is Underway”
This is one of the most common insults toward our Latter-day Saint faith, and it’s worth exploring.
Slides for viewing and download:
Continue reading “Are we a cult?”
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:
Continue reading “Faith Crisis: Presentation and Resources”
Is critical thinking destructive to faith?
How can we fortify our own thinking skills and learn to spot errors in common criticisms of our faith?
This presentation offers a simple primer on critical thinking; slides are available for viewing and download here:
Continue reading “Critical Thinking: a Primer for Latter-day Saints”
Why do we sometimes feel like we don’t belong?
Who is responsible for belonging?
What are things that individuals and institutions do that decrease people’s sense of belonging?
What are reasonable expectations for ourselves and others?
These are discussion points in our presentation on belonging, based on Ben Pacini’s briefing to BYU-I faculty. Slides, discussion, and resources below.
Continue reading “Presentation on Belonging”
Does the church need to change?
Yes. the church has changed a lot over the years, and will continue to evolve into the future.
But what specifically needs to change, and why? And what are good and not-so-good ways for members to think about change in the church? What do we as human beings bring to the equation?
Below are the presentation, our discussion of the slides, and some of the resources cited in the presentation.
Continue reading “Changing the Church”
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.
Continue reading “Learning to think…about faith”
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?”