Sunday, January 06, 2008

The latest --

I haven't posted in awhile, so I thought I would provide a short update.

The last few entries I made here were pretty positive about the church, but since September/October I have been trending the other way pretty substantially. In summary I have been attending a non-denominational bible study, and the contrast between how other churches teach the bible and how the LDS church approaches it is stark. This bible study basically talks about the bible and Jesus and not much else. It serves to illuminate just how much of what we do in the LDS church is focused on promoting the church and reinforcing the authority of the leaders. The study is held in a large Baptist church and most of the people in the class (200+) are Baptists, yet they never talk about the Baptist church, quote former Baptist leaders, etc. Just the bible and Jesus.

One of the things we covered a couple of months ago was the concept of "saving faith", which is basically an understanding that we depend on Jesus for our salvation and nothing else. Not ordinances, not our works, etc. I can't hope to do this subject justice in the space I have here, but it again helped me to appreciate how much we do in the LDS church is designed to convert people to the church rather than to Christ. Basically other churches try to convert people to Christ and then hope they find a church. The LDS church converts them to the church first, and then hopes they find Christ.

I'm also disheartened by the way they are handling the media issues surrounding Mitt Romney and some of the uncomfortable doctrine being exposed. i.e. whether Jesus and Satan are brothers, whether polygamy actually did take place after 1890 when it was officially abandoned, etc. Rather than being upfront about these things they are resorting to mealy-mouthed PR responses which are technically correct but not really truthful. These are questions that should be addressed head on and not obfuscated.

Recently Mitt Romney said he doesn't believe God has spoken to prophets since Moses, which totally disavows Joseph Smith and every other LDS prophet. Granted he doesn't speak for the church, but I think this is a representative approach. Officially, instead of standing up for what we believe, they are trying to blur the very distinctions we should be the most proud of, if this is really God's true church on the earth.

In summary I am not in a good place with respect to the LDS church right now. I love the people. The culture is my adopted heritage. Much of the unique doctrine Joseph Smith taught may well be true. However, I have difficulty giving my heart to a church that doesn't teach what I consider saving faith and that continues to be deceptive in public about its doctrine and practices.

It's hard to say where I will be a year from now, but before, I was unsettled by my concerns. I wasn't sure what to do. I was torn between the good and the bad in the church. Now I understand why things bother me, and I can easily separate my love for the people from my disdain for the institutional church. I understand that the "restoration" merely restored priesthood authority, and I just don't think that's important anymore. I have trouble sustaining leaders at the general level who are not totally honest in what they present to the public.