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Prominent Latter-day Saints speak out to clear up misconceptions

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  • megen Truth or Consequences, NM
    Aug. 26, 2011 7:29 a.m.

    Mr. Otterson failed to explain that Mormons believe in a God that has not always been God while Christians believe God has always been God. Mormons also believe that those who earn eternal life will become gods, equal to God.

    Compare Joseph Smith's teaching to the Bible: "Here, then, is eternal life -- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you,... To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God.... " (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 346, 347)

    The Bible says: Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

  • just-commenting Logan, UT
    Aug. 26, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    Some important misconceptions are held by many LDS people. For example, some think that one cannot be a good Mormon and a Democrat, and that Harry Reid cannot be a good Mormon. There are all sorts of extremist views held by LDS people who think that those views are aligned with Gospel precepts.

    Perhaps if we are going to clear up misconceptions about the church, we should start with ourselves and clear up the mistaken ideas that many LDS hold concerning the church.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Aug. 26, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    There are definite differences in discussions of Mormon Doctrine that one heard thirty years ago on Sunday, versus the doctrine that is being discussed today. That may contribute largely to this "confusion".

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 26, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    The challenge with clearing up some misconceptions is that even prominent members and church employees (for example the PR department) may simply be offering their personal opinion to clear up misconceptions that developed through other personal opinions. There has been very little to no clarifications or clearing up of misconceptions by actual prophets and apostles.

    In fact, many of these misconceptions developed in the first place by the fact that former prophets and apostles made statements that the Church now either does not teach or at least would like to distance itself from.

    Here is one of many such examples: We all know the Church used to practice plural marriage. We all know some very strong statements were made regarding it's importance to exhaltation and the restoration. We know that the Church ceased all practice of it and excommunicates members today who engage in it. BUT, we also know that it is still practiced in a celestial form via our temple cealing policies. Why we still do that and what that really means is open to total speculation and personal opinion. Actual prophets or apostles have never explained why men can still be sealed to multiple wives.

  • tyndale1 Pullman, WA
    Aug. 26, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    One commenter above is concerned.

    But I say, what an exalting, ennobling doctrine the LDS have. Imagine the possibility of spending eternity doing what God does.

    But on the other hand, consider the typical perception of eternity for the righteous. I realize, with an eternity to practice I could become a pretty good harp player, but I could become that here on earth. I am not sure I would feel like enjoying heaven if I only played the harp. Trombone maybe.

    Joseph Smith, quotes the Bible in saying it is eternal life to know God. Do you buy that?

    I like shooting for a more exalted opportunity. Let's break it down. First of all we all know that we are created in the very image of God. Agreed. Second, that we have been commanded to be perfect as He is, and to follow Him. Most of us agree. Third, that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Again, it is Biblical so we believe it. It all sounds so much like God wants us to become like Him. Perhaps the progressive and brilliant Joseph Smith may be onto something.

    For me, it's worth shooting for.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 26, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    Many misunderstandings could be avoided simply by keeping the doctrine the same, not hiding history, etc. That and maybe on some of the more controversial issues should be addressed by the president of the church instead of just ignoring them because they "don't pertain to your salvation." That might help.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 26, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    Groups of people such as what are found in religions can hold false perceptions of themselves as a group and often can't recognize that another perception may not be false. Our social environment largely determines what we perceive (and what we ignore) which channels the ways in which we cognitively process that information. Shaping perceptions is the key to social power and religions use that key frequently. Are the perceived misconceptions about the LDS all false? Perhaps not! What one group may see as a misconception can actually be true to another person's perception, definition, or personal reality. For example, the LDS Church and many members may not perceive that it is oppressive toward women but people outside the religion with a different definition of oppression would be perfectly right in perceiving that it is. Everyone involved in perpetuating any false perception of reality generally does so for personal gain, personal comfort, personal security and/or personal advantage. Churches are no exception!

    It is more important to take ownership of your personal perception of reality so that others cannot mislead you rather than being so concerned about the perceptions of others that may or may NOT be true.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 26, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    When you go to the link....In a National Public Radio report titled "The Oft-Misunderstood Faith of Modern Mormons," you will see the misconception perpetuated by the LDS Church concerning the membership numbers. The LDS Church does NOT have 14 million ACTIVE members. It only has 14 million members on record. They count those who no longer consider themselves members but have never bother to officially resign and others who shouldn't be included in the count. Most religions tend to this, but still it's a misconception. Like it or not....religions often perpetuate misconceptions as well.

  • welcomethemall Nampa, ID
    Aug. 26, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    It might be nice at times to focus only on my own imperfect perceptions -- fortunately I do not live on an island nor in a vacuum.

    The path of discipleship largely consists of how I/we interact with others. As a person and as a church culture I/we need to learn how to work more generously (name your Christlike attribute of choice - I need to develop it) with other faith communities. Communication is vital to any relationship, whether macro or micro. If people are misunderstanding me, that's a "me" problem... which I think is largely Otterson's point, as best I can perceive. As a people we need to listen better in addition to more clearly stating our intentions.

    I agree self-awareness is *a* key to communication... but I question its relative importance in the larger formula given the postulate of losing myself for His sake.

    Brahma - I've read enough of your posts now to know I don't have the wherewithal to persuade you otherwise... but I feel the Church is doing a better job of acknowledging its past now than, say, 20 years ago (re: Oaks-MtMeadows and Holland-Africans/Priesthood). I hope we'll continue to improve.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    Aug. 26, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Another misconception, Glen Beck does not represent nor speak for the LDS Church is any way whatsoever.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 26, 2011 9:02 p.m.

    The problem with Brahmabull's comments and Idaho Coug's is that the they are in fact denying further revelation. They mislead others to believe that they are hiding history when in fact it is there for all to find. NOTHING IS HID. They talk about changing doctrine and again the doctrine of Polygamy is still practiced in the temples. Maybe they need to read more of what Brigham Young had to say about it when talking to a minister from another church on that same subject. Again the doctrine HAS NOT changed which that tend to have non0-members and some LDS believe. It is still the same. It was not doctrine that Blacks could not hold the priesthood. That was a practice. Why, is open to discussion but the fact remains that revelation was received and all now have it. So what is the deal. Polygamy will be practiced again during the millienium. Why, because it is correct principle. That is not a misconception but one that is held. It will not probably be implemented again until then. Don't fall for the false assertions of Brahmanbull.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon Gilmer, Texas
    Aug. 26, 2011 11:04 p.m.

    IdahoCoug wrote "Actual prophets or apostles have never explained why men can still be sealed to multiple wives."

    I am neither prophet nor apostle, nor do I ever aspire to be -- I am one of the more obscure elders in a small East Texas town -- but here is what I know of why men can be sealed to multiple wives:

    Neither the United States Congress (the Edmunds-Tucker Act) nor the United States Supreme Court (Reynolds v. United States) have any authority in the hereafter.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 27, 2011 9:16 a.m.

    Hello Bill - I think you just reinforced my point. You said, "Polygamy will be practiced again during the millienium. Why, because it is correct principle. That is not a misconception but one that is held."

    I am not disagreeing with you but modern leaders have been very silent on this point, have not explained (like you have) why it is still practiced in the temples nor claimed it will be in the future. And frankly many active members would and do disagree with you. Hence the continued confusion around certain points of doctrine or practice.

    You say Brahmubull and I deny further revelation. My point is not to deny further revelation but rather to say it in essense does not occur anymore or at least rarely which leads to some of the confusion. Confusion that you demonstrated by offering your own opinion about the nature and future of plural marriage. An opinion that has no modern leader backing (although lots of former leader backing) and that many members would disagree with.

    Clifton similarly gave an opinion that, while valid, is likely not held by some members nor backed by current leadership. Leadership silence helps create this confusion.

  • Stephen Bennett Mabou, Nova Scotia
    Aug. 27, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    Everything expressed is opinion and does not officially represent the church, and that of course, includes FAIR, FARMS, LDS Public Relations, so why is the church's prophet and apostles so silent regarding doctrinal issues? Is it that they do not know themselves and/or they are insecure about membership retention, believing that "ignorance is bliss?" Where is the imbuement of prophetic anointing and apostolic boldness that was endued from on high upon the church the LDS claim to be a restoration of?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Aug. 27, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    Exaltation or Progression to Godhood contradicts the following scriptures:

    Moroni 8:18 ("God is not a changeable being; but He is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity"). God never progressed.

    1Cor.15:24-28 ("The cometh the end, when he [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; ... And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God (JEHOVAH) may be all in all.") Notice that it does NOT say that the GODS may be all in all.

    Ether 3:14 (", and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name [Jesus Christ]; and they shall become my sons and daughters." Notice that we shall be the eternal sons and daughters of God (JEHOVAH) thru Jesus Christ only, NOT eternal Gods and Goddesses.

  • alwaysthinking Farmington, UT
    Aug. 27, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    Not all Mormons practiced polygamy 'back in the day'; the figure I have always been told is that approximately 6% of the priesthood holders were called to practice it. Likewise, I have never heard any prophet or apostle state that we will all practice polygamy in the next life and I certainly have not found that in the scriptures.

    As to whether or not there are 14 million 'active' saints, I don't know of any church who goes around and determines how many of their members are "active" or not. They simply state the number of members they currently have. I think it would be most interesting not to look at the total number of Mormons, but how many new converts there are each year; that would have more meaning for me. At any rate, for such a relatively small faith which has only been established since the early 1800s, I think the growth rate is pretty phenomenal.

    Why do our prophets not tell us EXACTLY what to do in all instances; we wouldn't need faith nor powers of reasoning nor leaning on the Holy Ghost nor seeking personal revelation after study. We're not puppets.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 27, 2011 3:45 p.m.

    To Idaho COug: President Hinkley made the statement on Larry King that revelation comes daily. What is interesting is that we as members fail to understand that. The First Presidency and Quroum of the Twelve each receive revelation daily. Whether it is for the Church as a whole or for them individually is open to discussion. Do you even care to read the ENSIGN monthly. If you do then I suggest you read the First Presidency message for September. You and Brahmabull are so much in arms about polygamy and other things in the past that it has clouded your minds for the present and the future. I still believe that things that were said 150 years ago really has little bearing on what is said today over the pulpit. Both of you are living in the past and not living in the future. Read Elder McConkie's MORMON DOCTRINE. He explains polygamy very well, just as Brigham Young explained it to others. Why isn't it taught today by Apostles and Prophets? Because it doesn't have a bearing on your salvation. What does is still living in the past and forgetting to live today.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2011 6:11 p.m.

    As far as I can figure, after two decades of investigating the LDS Church, "revelation" simply means ideas one accepts as true without reason, and which is, therefore, beyond questioning.

    As such, I can confidently and categorically state, irrefutably, that it has been revealed to me that the LDS Church is not what it claims to be (ie " the kingdom of God on earth" or "true" or "the one and only true and living church on the face of the earth with which (God) is well pleased."

    That is the truth by absolute revelation, and I defy anyone do refute it.

  • Maryquilter Farmington, UT
    Aug. 27, 2011 8:46 p.m.

    @Vanka: As far as I can tell the only thing that you can confidently and categorically state, irrefutably, is that the LDS Church is not for you. I could just as easily state that I believe the leaders of the LDS Church receive revelation for the church as a whole, as well as for themselves. You can only state what you believe to be truth in your mind and others are free to state what they believe to be true in their hearts.

    You said that " That is the truth by absolute revelation, and I defy anyone to refute it." Yes, in YOUR opinion.

    So why on earth do you get yourself in a tizzy reading these articles about the LDS church? If you know irrefutably that the LDS church is hogwash, then get on with your life and leave the rest of us who enjoy reading these articles alone.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.

    Mary quilter - last time I checked this was a comment board. Anybody is free to make comments and post their OPINION just as you do. I could just as easily tell you to quit responding to people if you don't like what they say. But it is a forum to discuss things, and just because somebody has a different opinion than you doesn't mean they can't comment on an article.

    Alwaysthinking - if you haven't heard or read of a prophet or apostle saying that we will prectice polygamy in the next life then you clearly haven't done too much studying.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 28, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    Bill - I appreciate the concept of letting go of past LDS issues and focusing on the present like monthly First Presidency messages. But the reason I am interested in both the past and present is that for me to say "I know this Church is true", I need to have a testimony of it from its origins to now. I can't just put some things on a shelf and say it doesn't matter because in reality it all matters.

    The reason I used the example of current temple sealing policies is because it is current and relevant to many members today. It is not living in the past. No leader has explained why men can still be sealed, upon death or divorce of a former spouse, to multiple wives while women can only be sealed to one man at a time regardless of circumstances. That is a current issue that has been left to member's personal opinion or speculation.

    And it is a little ironic Bill that you suggest I just focus on the now or the future while suggesting I read Mormon Doctrine to better understand plural marriage. MD is NOT considered current and IS very controversial.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 28, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    To Idaho Coug: You bring up a point that women can only be sealed to one man regardless of circumstances. This is INCORRECT. For instance, my mother was divorced threee times. She has children by each husband. I have talked to temple presidents and even bishops. The last one I talked to was a member of the 12 and got the following counsel. Have yourself sealed to your mother and father. Have your siblings sealed to their father and mother. Now if that is true then my mother has the ability to be sealed to three men. Take for instance Eliza Snow who was married and sealed to Joseph Smith. She was married to Brigham Young upon reaching the Salt Lake valley. She too could ultimately be sealed to Brigham Young if someone wanted to do such.

    My great grandmother Amanda Barnes Smith was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith though married to two Warren Smiths. She never had any relations to Joseph as all of her children are from both Warrens. By Church standards she could be sealed to both Warrens as well. The answer is that in the eternaties she has the ability to choose her husband.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 28, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    To Idaho Coug: You ask why does polgyamy go beyond the veil and the answer is because Man's law only regulates the living, not the dead. Brigham Young asked this question and so I ask you the same. If a Man marries a woman and has children and she dies, is he stopped from remarring. The answer is no. So he remarries a woman and has more children. Again she dies and he remarries and has more children. What happens to the children and spouse of these additional marriages? Do they stop being his children? Do they not have a right to be sealed to their father and mother? Therefore, they are sealed to their father and their mother. The result is polygamy in heaven. Is it any different if a man marries three separate women in this life. Again if you are hung up on the practice of polygamy then you are worried about something that hasn't been practiced for over a hundred years. It has no bearing on your exhaltation. I asked you to read Mormon Doctrine as it pertained to polgyamy because the answers there are consistent with Church teachings.

  • alwaysthinking Farmington, UT
    Aug. 28, 2011 1:38 p.m.

    @Brahmabull: Gee, thanks for deciding that I "clearly haven't done too much studying".

    I have been listening to General Conferences for the past 36 years, attending and learning in the temple for 36 years, going to Sunday School and Sacrament Meetings, learning in Relief Society and well as teaching the Gospel Doctrine classes for quite a few years and regularly read outside sources such as commentaries and talks by leaders of the Church, and reading the Ensign monthly. I generally study for several weeks before teaching a lesson. But I guess you would know better than I if I had studied the gospel and the scriptures all of my adult life?

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 28, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    Bill - I certainly agree that in the eternaties we will likely be situated in the best possible circumstances. But the examples you gave do not change the fact that in this life men can have multiple wives sealed to them if former wives die or there is a divorce. Women, however, must break a current sealing in order to have a new one. Women cannot be sealed to multiple husbands at once on this earth.

    Again, the only reason I can come up with for this practice is the principle of polygamy. If it truly is just a matter that all will work itself out in the next life then women should also be able to be sealed to multiple spouses concurrently. They can't - only LDS men can.

    I am not convinced that plural marriage was directed by God. But it is not a real big hangup for me. Rather, I thought it was a good example of what this article was addressing - how members are clearing up misconceptions. And my point is that, like the example of temple sealing policies, the Bretheren really are largely silent on these issues. Leaving it open to personal interpretation and opinion.

  • alwaysthinking Farmington, UT
    Aug. 28, 2011 6:01 p.m.

    Idaho Coug: I agree that Mormon Doctrine is very controversial . President Mc Kay was not happy about the idea of Mc Conkie publishing the second addition and took issue with many of his ideas. It is oft quoted, but not Church doctrine.

    As to all the complexities of how many people a woman has been married to and who ends up sealed to whom, etc. -I just figure I will do my best to improve my marriage on a continual basis (going strong for 35 years so far) and have faith that my Father in Heaven is fair and just and all will work out in the next life. So far I have no reason to believe my Father in Heaven would do otherwise. Some may cry "blind faith" or naive believer, and that's fine with me. I surely do not understand every single thing about the gospel, but I do absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church, and that the BOM is true, and President Monson is our current prophet. I learn line upon line and the Spirit whispers to me that I am on the right path; details come with time and study.

  • Kevin Surrey, BC
    Aug. 29, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    to: Idaho Coug | 5:03 p.m. Aug. 28, 2011

    I can appreciate your desire to know and understand all the details and reasons behind decisions and practises of the past. I have lots of unanswered questions that if I chose to think deeply over would probably make me even more frustrated. I simply choose to focus on what the leaders are teaching today and let God explain it all in the next life. My testimony is built upon the things that alwaysthinking has mentioned. You might want to try the advice my wife gives me from time to time.. "let it be". I truly don't think our understanding is ready for the answers to some of our questions. The BOM prophets weren't allowed to write some things because the people could not handle nor understand the why's. God bless...