Monday, May 16, 2016

Faithful Questions for Faithful Mormons

The Purpose of Questions
The Restoration of the Gospel began because of a question (JS-H 1:13). Personal apostasy begins when we stop asking questions (Alma 12:9-11). Therefore, our very salvation depends upon our ability to ask deep and often uncomfortable questions. Unfortunately, many Mormons doubt the authenticity of those who ask hard questions so let me clear about my motives. I believe in and strive to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believe in the restoration of His Gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. I believe the words of the holy prophets as found in scripture (at least as they were originally written down in uncorrupted form). I am a Mormon and I seek truth. I echo the sentiments of Joseph Smith when he said:
“Mormonism is truth…Now sir, you may think that it is a broad assertion that it is truth; but sir, the first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or anywhere else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God…We believe that it is our privilege to reject all things, whatsoever is clearly manifested to us that they do not have a bearing upon us…We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare.” (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, No. 4, Feb. 1840, p. 54)
If you are a fellow seeker of truth and believe in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to any degree, if you seek a personal restoration of God's truth to yourself, and if you want to avoid a personal apostasy into darkness, I have some questions for you that you may wish to ponder. These questions are not for the faint of heart. If any of these questions make you angry or defensive, seek to know why that is so. I am no source for truth and anyone would be a fool to follow me or believe anything I say, as my understanding of God and the scriptures is imperfect. Do your own search for truth. Go to God with your questions. If I am to be of any use, I only seek to help people ask the right questions. So buckle up.

Questions for Mormons
What do the scriptures say about trusting any mortals with your salvation? Does your church require you to trust your leaders? If there is a contradiction, why is that the case? Can trust in God and trust in man exist at the same time? (Matthew 6:24)
If ordination to the higher priesthood is delivered unto men by the calling of God's own voice and not by the will of man (JST Gen. 14:27-29), what does it mean if you have never heard God's own voice and you were ordained by a man? What does it mean if your leaders have never heard God's own voice and were ordained by men?
What was more important to Jesus - the scriptures or the oral tradition of religious leaders? (Mark 7) What are the modern day equivalents of those things?
If eternal life is the same thing as knowing God and Jesus (John 17:3Ether 3:13), do you know Them? How sure are you that you are going to receive eternal life? Should a desire to "converse with the Lord through the veil" be taken as strictly symbolic? (D&C 93:1) If you are seeking the Lord's face, should you be content with the idea of God dwelling in your heart? (D&C 130:3)
Does God respect prophets more than He respects you? (Acts 10:34) If not, do prophets have any privileges that you do not? (D&C 76:5-10) Does God desire to limit your privileges? (Numbers 11:26-29)
How many prophets in the Bible were also recognized leaders in the religious institutions of their day? What were the typical circumstances in which true prophets found themselves? (Hebrews 11) Do you see such prophets today?
If we are to have our calling and election made sure, why have no living Church leaders spoken on the subject? (1 Peter 1:10)
Was Joseph Smith's "first vision" meant to establish a legitimate religious authority or establish an example to emulate? (James 1:5Ether 4:7) Are you allowed to have your own first vision? (Joel 2:28-29)
To whom are all the calls to repentance in the Book of Mormon written? (Mormon 8:35-41) Who are the only people that read the book? What does it say about you if you rationalize away the need to apply those calls to repentance to yourself? Did any religious people in the scriptures ignore calls to repentance because they were already a part of God's people? (1 Nephi 17:22)
In Lehi's dream, what was the consequence of his decision to follow a man? (1 Nephi 8:5-7) Is it possible that you could find yourself in a dark and dreary waste without realizing it? (D&C 121:38) What if you never experienced a greater light to compare it to? (Proverbs 4:19)
Does your church have a great and spacious building used for gathering multitudes of people in exceedingly fine clothing? (1 Nephi 8) Does your church gather to hear their leaders teach with their own stories and examples while occasionally mingling scriptures with those teachings? What does the temple endowment have to say about that?
Where is the concept of "follow the prophet" taught in scripture? How should you treat mortal men, even when they are servants of God? (2 Nephi 4:34) What are the consequences of being a devoted follower of even a true prophet? (D&C 76:98-100)
If 2 Nephi 26:24-28 and other scriptures make it abundantly clear that the Lord invites literally everyone to partake of salvation, what does it mean if your church forbids certain people from being baptized?

If 2 Nephi 26:29 says that priestcraft happens when men set themselves up for a light and get gain for their preaching, do you belong to any organization that demands loyalty to leaders and ensures a comfortable living for them?
What men currently teach that they must be listened to and that they hold God's power on earth today? (2 Nephi 28:5)
If the Book of Mormon consistently denounces the extremely fine clothing of religious people (2 Nephi 28:13), do most people in your church dress in fine clothing and does your church have a culturally-enforced dress standard?
If 2 Nephi 28:21 warns those who cry "All is well in Zion", which church sings a hymn that repeats several times, "All is well"? Does your church teach that Zion is prospering and growing?
If Nephi denounces those who teach there is no hell, does your church teach that there is basically no hell? (2 Nephi 28:22)
What do the scriptures say about those who rationalize away the need to receive continuous revelations from God? (2 Nephi 28:27-30) When was the last time the actual text of a revelation from God was introduced to the members of the Church? (D&C 72:21)
If "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32), what does it mean if you have not met God by the time you die? Can there be any additional preparation in the next life? (Alma 34:33-35)
If Zion is an "old ship", does it have any foundation? What does Helaman 5:12 teach about building on a sure foundation? Is it bad to get off the boat? (Matthew 14:25-29)
If the Doctrine of Christ (which is the only thing that saves) includes faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 313 Nephi 11); when was the last time you gained greater faith, repented more, were baptized again, and received a greater portion of the Spirit of God? Where in the scriptures does it say you should get baptized by the proper authority only one time in your life? (Alma 5:62Moroni 6:1D&C 20:37)
Do you seek out the mysteries of God and do you want to know them in full? Do your church leaders approve of and/or encourage such seeking? According to Alma 12:9-11, what does it mean if you are not seeking to know the mysteries of God?

If Alma 13:20 warns against wresting the scriptures, what does it mean when current leaders contradict scriptures? Should we assume the leaders are authorized to contradict scriptures? If so, does that mean that God changes? (Moroni 9:9-10)
Does repentance require you to feel bad about yourself? If you are to become as a little child (3 Nephi 11:37-38), should a little child feel bad about herself? What does it mean if you make yourself feel bad when repenting? Who wants you to feel that way? What does repentance actually mean?
If adding to or taking away from the Doctrine of Christ is evil (3 Nephi 11:40), why are there baptismal requirements that are outside the scope of the simple Doctrine of Christ? Similarly, when was the Church commanded by the Lord to require worthiness interviews before allowing anyone in the temple? (Matthew 23:13)
If 3 Nephi 16:10 warns that the Gentiles will reject the fulness of the Gospel, who exactly is that referring to? (D&C 109:60) Who currently has access to the fulness of the Gospel and therefore has the capacity to reject it? Should this be a cause for concern? (JST Matthew 21:47–56)
According to Ether 4:4-7 what does it mean if you haven't seen everything the brother of Jared saw? What do you need to do in order to have those things manifested unto you?

If there are various gifts of the Spirit, what does it mean if you are not experiencing them? (Moroni 10)
If the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels (D&C 13), when was the last time you received angels? Can you advance to a higher priesthood without receiving angels? In the temple endowment, who helps you advance in the priesthood? What does it mean if angels are not appearing? (Moroni 7:36-37)
When John the Baptist told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that the Aaronic Priesthood would never be taken from the earth (D&C 13), was there a church in place? What does that tell you about the relationship between the priesthood and the Church? Did the Lord ever give the LDS Church a promise of immunity to apostasy? (D&C 103:5-8)
Can you be baptized in water without noticing? Can you be baptized by fire without noticing? (Helaman 5:43-45D&C 33:11) Can you be on the "strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life" without receiving the baptism of fire? (2 Nephi 31:17-18)
Where do the scriptures teach that you should confess your sins to leaders of the Church? (D&C 42:88-93)
If all meetings are to be directed and guided by the Holy Spirit (D&C 46:2), can that happen when the exact same lessons are given in every unit of the Church every Sunday, and all Church programs are dictated by a handbook?
If D&C 84:54-57 says that "the whole church [is] under condemnation", was that condemnation ever lifted? According to those verses, what would it take to get out from under that condemnation?
What does D&C 89 actually say about the Word of Wisdom and its status as a commandment? Is there a scripture that indicates God changed His mind about this? What does it mean if we enforce non-commandments as if they were commandments? (Matthew 15:9)
Can someone be a prophet, seer, or revelator without prophesying, seeing, or revealing anything? (D&C 107:91-92) Is it okay to assume a religious leader has prophetic gifts if everybody else is reinforcing that idea with their testimonies? (Matthew 7:15-20) What will be the consequences of following prophets that do not prophesy but tell us we are doing well? (Micah 3:5-12)
If D&C 112:24-26 says that the Lord's vengeance will begin at His house among those "who have professed to know [His] name", who are the people who claim to have access to God's house and claim to know the Lord better than anyone?
If D&C 121 outlines the conditions for the removal of priesthood, and those conditions are met by "almost all men", how is it possible to guarantee the continual presence of the priesthood in the Church? (Romans 11:13,17-21)
If D&C 124:28 says that the Church had lost the fulness of the priesthood, did the Church ever get the fulness back? What were the consequences when the Israelites lost the fulness? (D&C 84:19-27) After the Israelites lost the fulness, were they immune to complete apostasy? (D&C 84:27-28)
If, in D&C 124:31-32, the Lord raises the possibility of His complete rejection of the LDS Church, will that ever be a possibility again? (3 Nephi 16:10) With the verses in D&C 124 in mind, would it be important to know if the Nauvoo temple was, in fact, completed during the appointed time in order to avoid rejection?
If D&C 124:45 says that the saints will not be moved out of their place if they hearken unto the Lord's voice, what does it mean if the saints were driven from Nauvoo?

If D&C 132:12-19 affirms that covenants (including marriage covenants) are not valid if they are not done by the Lord's word, what does it mean if you were promised a valid and lasting temple covenant by the word of a man? If you are expecting something as important and lasting as an eternal covenant, how literal should you expect the word of the Lord to be when it comes?
Ask God
I hope at least some of these questions have proven useful. If anyone thinks I am shaking people's faith with these questions, I should only be accused of shaking people's faith in men and traditions. And if so, I am guilty as charged. All men are fallible and always will be. False traditions will damn you. No man will ever lead you to salvation (2 Nephi 9:41). True messengers come from Heaven (Helaman 5:11). Have faith in God and He will teach you if you desire it. But remember to ask in faith (James 1:6). To me, that means you must ask sincerely, willing to hear and understand the answer, even if the answer might be uncomfortable or frightening. Ask God and listen, for "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5)

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