Monday, November 9, 2015

Truth Doesn't Matter to Haters

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been getting a lot of negative attention lately. That is not news. What is news, and what is sad, is that more and more of that negative attention is coming from within the church, from people who were once solid members. Satan is very clever. He has a way of injecting worldly logic and reason into spiritual issues to make religious matters sound foolish. So it is with current LDS issues. The result is personal apostasy, and the potential loss of eternal blessings, over what many will ultimately see was deceptive nothingness.

Haters will hate the church regardless of the truth. Haters don’t have truth. They have hatred. They cannot base their bitterness in fact. It is purely emotional.

We all choose to believe things we cannot physically verify. Today many latter-day saints are losing their faith over internet documents that discredit the church. A great many of these documents cannot be verified for their accuracy or authenticity. Documents such as journal pages from people in the mid 1800s making claims against Joseph Smith’s integrity or fidelity. People are accepting these as true, without being able to trace them to their source. They don’t consider the motivation that put those documents on the internet. It most likely wasn’t neutral. Yet people choose to accept them as factual.

Those who are honest in heart before God will go to God for their answers to tough questions, rather than persecute the Church. I have seen many people lately – some of them members of the church  posting comments and articles on Facebook and other locations, openly criticizing the Church for its stand on various topics. They do so with no regard to God’s reasons for these decisions or policies. This is an obvious sign of personal apostasy, whether they can admit it or not.

Do we choose to be a Nephi, or are we a Laman in the way we react to tough questions in the Church?

“16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

“18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

“21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 2:16, 18, 21)

Those who have solid faith will do as Nephi did, and will go to the Lord for their answers. Those who do not have that strength will do things like post critical remarks on Facebook, align with pseudo-Mormon support groups, etc.

To me, this is where the great "sifting of the wheat from the tares" in the last days begins.

One of the temple recommend interview questions goes something like this: “Do you support, agree or affiliate with individuals or organizations whose teachings are not in harmony with the Church?” The answer “yes” would render a person unworthy of a temple recommend until they can answer “no.” In this sense, it is as the Lord told Nephi: “They shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (1 Ne 2:21)

So ask yourself:

When the Ordain Women movement gained attention, did you jump on their bandwagon, post your support on Facebook, quit going to church, etc… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?

When the church took a stand in defense of the family and the definition of marriage as ordained by God, did you post a rainbow profile picture on your Facebook page, make publicly critical comments about the church, quit going, etc… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue? Maybe read, ponder and pray about “The Family – A Proclamation to the World?”

When you heard all the “news” about Joseph Smith and all of his apparent wives and alleged adulterous activity, did you post critical remarks on Facebook? Did you run to a support group full of other Mormons who also refuse to go to their Heavenly Father for answers, thinking that would strengthen your faith… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?

When you heard all the supposed evidence against the Book of Mormon, such as DNA evidence (which has since been debunked quite convincingly, I might add), or considered all the bones dug up by Paleontologists who summarily and prematurely conclude that their bones constitute proof of evolution, did you believe their findings – all of which you cannot personally verify… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?

And most recently, when you heard all the recent stir about the church’s policy regarding the baptism of children who live in a same-sex household (which was not a new policy at all), did you immediately disagree with what you heard or thought of it, and share your disapproval on Facebook… or did you pray to your Heavenly Father for understanding and for His guidance on the issue?

And if you say you prayed for your answers, how long or diligently did you pray? Did you stay on your knees all day long and into the night, as Enos did (See Enos 1:4)? Was this an important enough topic that you stayed on your knees as long as it took, or did you do it until you felt like you had prayed enough? In other words… on YOUR terms? How badly would you want to know? How important is your faith? At what price can it be bought by Satan?

The truth about these issues can be had. It comes from God, not from worldly opinion, not from the internet, and certainly not from Facebook posts. From God. Through revelation, the answer to prayers. Through His prophets. Through a witness of truth from the Holy Ghost – which is the Holy Ghost’s purpose, by the way… to testify of truth.

There are those who say they didn’t get the answer. They don’t believe in the power of the Holy Ghost because they say it didn’t answer them. My response is that they didn’t try hard enough, or they insisted that they get their answers on their own terms, and not on the Lord’s terms. Try again. Try longer. Be more humble and sincere. The answers come if we submit to the Lord and don’t demand it to be on our own terms.

The common denominator of haters, persecutors and antagonists who once belonged to the church is that at some point along the way, they lost the companionship of the Holy Ghost. They quit reading their scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. They quit saying their prayers. They became sloppy in their spirituality in other ways. They became spiritually out of shape, much like an athlete would if they quit working out. As a result of spiritual sloppiness, they stopped listening to the Spirit’s promptings. Or perhaps they never learned to recognize them in the first place. Either way, they are without that essential communication from God that allows us to know His mind and will. Instead, the mind and will of the world – Satan – fills that void in them.

The reality of that spiritual witness cannot be refuted by the haters and disbelievers. Millions upon millions of people have testified of the answers they have received regarding many issues ranging from the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the reality of the mission of Joseph Smith, the blessings of the law of tithing, divine protection, and others. Many of these people have seen these witnesses repeated hundreds of times in their lives. Those who try to argue against the validity of these experiences simply look foolish to the many millions who have actually witnessed them. It's as silly as arguing that Tahiti (or any other place) doesn't exist simply because you have personally never been there and never made the required effort to go.

There is no other possible explanation for people who once had testimonies of the church to suddenly become its adversaries, than to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Logic, fact, reason, etc, are not valid answers, because no physical evidence against the church’s teachings can be verified. To the contrary, only God’s word can be verified, through the witness of the Holy Ghost. That is the only source of verification that exists. Further, its validity can be tested. Millions and millions of people testify of the blessings they receive for obedience to various laws and principles of the gospel. This is solid evidence. It’s even more solid when it happens to us, and we don’t just read the accounts of others.

Haters cannot experience this. It takes genuine faith, humility, sincere desire and effort. Haters mock what they cannot understand or cannot experience. The Apostle Paul understood this:

“11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-14)


Haters don’t have any proof. They have simply chosen to blindly believe something that they cannot verify. Instead of putting God to the test and proving Him, they choose to believe the counterfeits and distractions. And sadly, they shall have their rewards. 

8 comments:

Rocky said...

Well said. You detailed the intricacies of the problem.

Samantha Shelley said...

Actually, almost all "anti-Mormon" claims come from verifiable documents. For example, the Joseph Smith Papers, which have records of Joseph being on trial for fraud for using the seer stone to "find buried treasure" for people, before the Book of Mormon was "translated" with it. Also, the Joseph Smith Papers show where Joseph got the names "Laman and Lemuel" from (a court case where men called Laman and Lemuel testified against his father. Or maybe it was Joseph himself, I forget. One of them.)
D&C 132 itself shows that Joseph broke the rules for polygamy given in his claimed revelation, namely, don't marry non-virgins, and get your first wife's permission. (We know he married other men's wives because the church's own genealogy records show it, and we know he didn't get Emma's permission for all of his wives, because that's standard knowledge in the church.)
You mention that "haters" make "purely emotional" decisions, but I would argue that conversion is an emotional experience, as is having a testimony in general. (I was a convert, so I know this first-hand.) People born in the church love it because it's their tribe - it's what their family experiences are typically tied to, and they've had a lot of confirmation bias over the years.
This post you've written is a classic example of cognitive dissonance - someone having to dismiss or deny conflicting information about the church so as to protect their beliefs/emotional wellbeing.
Finally, I run a website called ZelphontheShelf.com (which you might consider "anti-Mormon", depending on your opinion), and we wrote a post praising members of the church who acted really Christ-like towards hurting gay people last weekend. So I don't think it's fair to make assumptions about groups of people.
I left the church because I examined the scriptures, the church's own history, the Joseph Smith papers, the church's online essay trying to explain why the Book of Abraham is nothing to do with the papyri Joseph claimed it was translated from, and so on and so forth. I went to the Lord for answers as you suggest. I had zero problems keeping the commandments and being temple worthy and I didn't support any controversial groups like Ordain Women, but eventually my moral conscience would allow me to justify 14-year-old brides, horrifically racist doctrines and policies and statements from former "prophets", and other things.
I hope this helped you clear some of your biases. I don't know whether it did. All the best.
PS. I would encourage you to read CESLetter.com. You can make your own decisions about your faith, but I believe everyone deserves to see both sides, and should seek them. If you're told to only look at one side of your church, like Mormonism, Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses and others, that's a huge red flag.

Rick Carpenter said...

Samantha, the verification problem is in the pedigree of the documents. Have you seen the actual documents regarding the trial involving "Laman and Lemuel," or did you hear about it? Or see a second-hand or third-hand report about it? Proof of forged documents on the internet that are supposed to be authentic is widespread, not just church-related, but birth certificates and others. How do you know that Joseph Smith violated the rules regarding polygamy? What original documents have you seen to support that? As a lawyer, I am very aware of heresay, which is second-hand and third-hand (or worse) information. It is not admissible in court for a reason... it often cannot be trusted. Yet so many people want to use information against the church that they "think" is authentic yet cannot be traced back to an origin without going through someone with malicious intent. It would be inadmissible in a court, and therefore I consider it inadmissible in this context. And if any of this were really true, why wouldn't it have been a bigger issue back in the day, when the church population was very small and people knew what everyone else was up to? The ability to suppress information didn't exist then the way it does now. Nor did the ability to fabricate documents and stories that cannot be reasonably verified. By their fruits I will know them, not by all the heresay suddenly circulating on the web. I respect your decisions based on your own circumstances, but I stand by my claim that most sources are not verifiable. To be fair, neither are the church's sources in many cases. That is where the witness of the Spirit is essential... to teach and testify to us what we cannot know otherwise. Thanks again.

Rick Carpenter said...

Also, Samantha, you mention church records indicating that Joseph Smith married other men's wives. My understanding is that he was sealed to them in a temple ordinance, not in a sexual marital relationship. He was sealed to many women who didn't have other sealing ordinances to conflict with it, as I understand. And you cite "standard knowledge in the church" as some of your "proof." I reject that as hearsay as well (I spelled hearsay wrong before), even if it comes from church members. There are many people who are active in the church who promote false theories and faith-promoting rumors. They are worthless. Lastly, I am amused at the notion that I need to dismiss conflicting information to protect my wellbeing. That's cute, but false. I want facts, not conjecture. Real documents, not hearsay and not "everybody knows that" baloney. Court document copies - I mean real ones that weren't concocted? The bottom line is that you can't prove any of your supposed allegations against the church. You rely on the words and ideas of others whom you have chosen to trust, but you cannot verify the authenticity of any of it. That's weak and gullible. And that's exactly why God gave us the Holy Ghost to testify of truth, so we wouldn't have to depend on deceitful, inaccurate or partial information. It's available to anyone who is willing to do what it takes to obtain it and listen to it. But that creates a whole new problem... those tho mock the church also mock the idea of a spiritual witness, largely because it's foreign and unavailable to them. 1 Corinthians 2:11-14.

Velho Burrinho said...

Rick,

When I first read your original post it was entertaining although very short sighted, I seriously doubt you have done your due diligence and looked into, or have even read even the most elementary level of scholarly church history. Most of the problems that Samantha has discussed does have very good documentation, in reputable sources.

Below is a link to the the document from the Joseph Smith papers that you were asking about. Looks like Samantha was right, That Joseph Smith did have an exposure well before the BOM was published to an individual sharing a name with at least one of the characters in the BOM

I'll give you the same advice a General Authority gave me recently which was to read the church essays, and if further clarification is needed to use the footnotes included. Other books recommended by this GA were Richard Bushman's "Rough Stone Rolling". "Joseph Smiths Polygamy" by Brian Hales. And the book from the church history department "The Massacre at Mountain Meadows."


http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/appeal-bond-from-jeremiah-hurlbut-solomon-tice-and-william-jackways-8-february-1819-hurlbut-v-smith?p=1&highlight=lemuel

https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng

Rick Carpenter said...

Response Part 1:
Velho, you have no idea how much study I have put into my faith. No idea. I have studied it for a lifetime. I am a senior citizen, not a kid.

You make the same mistake of drawing irresponsible conclusions about your findings. So we see the name of Lemuel in the Joseph Smith papers. So what? That is one name out of maybe a hundred Book of Mormon names. What a coincidence! How many people do you know who have the same names as people from centuries ago? The fact that we matched just one name, and to call that proof that Joseph Smith made it all up, is laughable.

Samantha cited "reputable sources" such as "common church knowledge." That is a joke. There is so much garbage being circulated among church members that is nothing more than faith-promoting baloney.

I have read Rough Stone Rolling. What I got from that is that Joseph Smith was a human being full of weakness, and sometimes foolishness. But none of what you purport to show refutes whether he was the Lord's prophet to open this dispensation. Moses made mistakes and was denied entry into the promised land. Did that make him a false prophet? David committed adultery, then committed murder to cover it up. Did that invalidate his prior years as the Lord's prophet? Peter was a proven liar. Yes, he repented and became great, but by the standards you and others seem to want to hold against Joseph Smith, we all would have left the church with shaken faith thousands of years ago. Nothing you can present, whether it be about adultery, made up names, misuse of the seer stone, etc, can refute whether he indeed was the man the Lord used to open this dispensation of time. You simply can't do it with all of your dirt digging.

Rick Carpenter said...

Response part 2:
I find two flaws with the premise of most people trying to disprove the church's origins: 1) people naively assume that prophets must be perfect, always holy people, never making human mistakes. That is ridiculous. 2) What you all seem to miss regarding the quality of your sources is that the pedigree of your information - what makes it pure, unedited/unaltered and truly reliable - does not exist. If documents existed in the 1840s about Joseph Smith's integrity, where were they back then? When the Saints number a few thousand and everyone knew everyone else and what was going on, why weren't there problems then? We would have heard much, much more. But now with the internet and amazing Photoshop talents, suddenly, mysteriously, these "ancient" documents are popping up everywhere. Who put them on the web in the first place? What was their motivation for doing so? People don't just scan documents onto the web for fun. Where did they get the documents? Have you personally seen the originals? Who showed them to you? If it was not an original and it wasn't shown to you by the author or a very close family member, I dismiss it as hearsay, just as I would dismiss a sloppy piece of unfounded and unverified evidence in court. At some point, you choose to believe things you personally cannot ever verify. It's not proof of anything. It's evidence only. And at that, it is questionable in its origin and integrity at its very best. Some people are so incredibly naive to believe anything they see on the internet that supports their cause. There is far, far, far more evidence of the truthfulness of the church than there is of its fraud. While clinging to physical evidence you cannot verify, you dismiss the thousands of personal testimonies of those who lived at that time, who knew Joseph Smith personally, who saw miracles, who performed miracles, and who had a strong witness from the Holy Ghost of the truth of these things. Add to that the millions and millions of personal testimonies of people who have succeeded them. You simply dismiss all of that in favor of a few unverifiable documents. I cannot describe how utterly foolish that looks to those who have witnessed indescribable events through the Spirit. From a lawyer's viewpoint, that is laughable. First of all, testimonial evidence weighs more than circumstantial evidence, but even more so with documents whose source cannot be verified. Never mind that the sheer volume testimonial evidence outnumbers your little bit of evidence a million to one.

Rick Carpenter said...

Response part 3:
People are making my point: antagonists and haters will never cease to pin prick and dig for little nuggets that they think will unravel the restoration of the gospel. Perhaps efforts like this is what prompted Joseph Smith to claim, “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

Despite futile efforts to discredit, those who actually turn to the Spirit of God learn truth. Those who are weak deny the Spirit and are stuck fighting it. The train has already left the station on this issue... and some are still standing on the platform arguing that there is no train... It's silly and sad all at the same time. The church continues to accelerate to fill the earth and fulfill prophecy against all odds as you stay back and deny it.