Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 ESV

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"I have a testimony"

As I figured we would eventually, we got to an impasse with the missionaries tonight. They were very nervous from the get go, and I figure one of their higher ups recommended that they not visit any longer. I was able to pray with them and encourage them to read the Word, instead of relying on their feelings and what the "prophet" tells them. So I don't expect to see them again, and one of the missionaries is getting moved next week. They are off to some easier audiences, but I pray we managed to plant a seed of doubt that God will nurture when they get home from their missions.

On the bright side, I got a new job in a different area so we will be moving in the not too distant future and as soon as we get settled in, we will hop on and request the missionaries bring by a Book of Mormon!


Caught again!

The mormon practice of baptism for the dead often is a controversial one, and in the past it has caused a ruckus among the Jewish community because mormons have seen fit to baptize Holocaust victims, who were murdered for being Jewish. Several times in the past, the mormon church has promised to stop baptizing Holocaust survivors only to be caught with Holocaust survivors on their rolls for temple work. Now the Jewish community has broken off talks, figuring that they were wasting their time...

Jewish group wants Mormons to stop proxy baptisms

Associated Press Writers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."

In 1995, Mormons and Jews inked an agreement to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. Ending the practice outright was not part of the agreement and would essentially be asking Mormons to alter their beliefs, church Elder Lance B. Wickman said Monday in an interview with reporters in Salt Lake City.

"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines," Wickman said. "If our work for the dead is properly understood ... it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It's merely a freewill offering."

Christians recognize the need to evangelize Jews, no different than any other group. But we also realize that given the history of Jews especially with regards to the Holocaust and the Inquisition (neither of which we perpetrated by Christians). The mormon church could halt the baptism of Holocaust victims by insisting it's members stop adding the names, but given their focus on the un-Biblical practice of proxy baptism for people who had no interest in being mormons in life, it is unlikely that it will ever truly stop. The only consolation I can offer to Jews who had family members die in Auschwitz and Treblinka is that proxy baptism has no basis in Scripture and is nothing more than a show. I doubt that will be much consolation though.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adventures in eisegesis

As I mentioned several posts ago, I went with the missionaries to the Priesthood session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints broadcast. The evening was capped by a presentation by Thomas Monson, the president of the mormon church and the self-proclaimed modern prophet of God. In the second of Paul’s epistles to Timothy, he urges Timothy as a young elder to be sure he is rightly handling the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Based on what I heard from Thomas Monson, he is hardly on par with Timothy, much less a prophet of the restoration. Take this passage from his priesthood talk as an example, where Monson quotes one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Ezekiel 36:

In this vast throng are priesthood power and the capacity to reach out and share the glorious gospel with others. As has been mentioned, we have the hands to lift others from complacency and inactivity. We have the hearts to serve faithfully in our priesthood callings and thereby inspire others to walk on higher ground and to avoid the swamps of sin which threaten to engulf so many. The worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God. Ours is the precious privilege, armed with this knowledge, to make a difference in the lives of others. The words found in Ezekiel could well pertain to all of us who follow the Savior in this sacred work:

“A new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. . . .

“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

“And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

How might we merit this promise? What will qualify us to receive this blessing? Is there a guide to follow?

May I suggest three imperatives for our consideration. They apply to the deacon as well as to the high priest. They are within our reach. A kind Heavenly Father will help us in our quest.

First, learn what we should learn.

Second, do what we should do.

And third, be what we should be.

Oh the erroneous assumptions assumed by that statement. Keep in mind that this man is speaking from the “pulpit” or lectern at the mormon General Conference, speaking on priesthood authority to those who also hold a similar, although lower, priesthood authority.

The great error involved in this statement is the very premise of the question: How might we merit this promise? The whole point here, and indeed one of the key, overarching themes of Scripture, is that we cannot merit this change of heart, or seek to impact that change. It is a work of God. Notice the initiator and the recipient throughout the passage in Ezekiel: The repeated use of "I will" indicating God is the initiator of the action and we are seen as the recipient. Nowhere is it stated or even assumed that we have something to do with this sovereign change of heart. Like most of the talks in the "priesthood" session, the emphasis is on human ability with God's help, human worthiness. The focus of Ezekiel 36 is not on man however, but on God. Statements like this demonstrate that Thomas Monson has a minimal grasp of the Scriptures and feels free to misrepresent and reinterpret Scripture as he sees fit.

I wonder if any of the "priesthood" holders looked up Ezekiel 36 and wondered about Monson's interpretation.