"New Harmony," you say? In Indiana, them's fightin' words!
You could write a similar article on the reconstruction and contemporary
arranging of the hymns, arrangements that are devoid of the Spirit. The music
is twisted and turned in never ending harmonies that have little usefulness
other than to say it can be done--doesn't contribute to the spirit and
detracts from the message. Hymns are all about the message. Arrangers and their
arrangements too often get in the way.
@ BYU9293"...many in the Mormon religion act against their own
self interest. They are not acting to get power or to get money or to gain
anything for themselves."Not even eternal life?
To John Marx,You misunderstand the meaning of acting selflessly and acting
against one's self interest, they are not the same thing at all. Many can
understand acting selflessly. What secularists cannot see, and they do not see
when it comes to religion, is that many in the Mormon religion act against their
own self interest. They are not acting to get power or to get money or to gain
anything for themselves. The author of the article is right on, the secularist
use circular reasoning by starting from a proposition that all religions are
from motives on self interest, be it for money or power, and then compare them
all with this presumptive motive.
Gamaliel said it rather well. Acts 5:38 & 39 "..."for if this
counsel or this work be of men it will come to nought. But if it be of God ye
cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
@ EternalPerspectiveYou asked why nonbelievers care so
much…I think caring became a necessity at the same time that
humans began claiming that their particular flavor of religion is "the one
and only." If believers had no such illusions, if they could resist the
temptation to proclaim their beliefs superior to that of others, there would be
that much less conflict in the world and we nonbelievers could rest a lot
easier.@ davewhittleI believe you have taken the
author's simple and straightforward analogy, woven a story out of it with
facts not in evidence, and then abandoned the analogy all together for an
entirely different one.@ 1.96 Standard DeviationsFaith
in such a label is not required. Skeptics have tested the claim and found it to
be true: Real or man-made, thorns cause pain. So let's stop manufacturing
the man-made ones.@ Tyler DBell jar analogies just
happen to be my specialty, that's all.
donn, Time is merely a measurement of space, so god would have had to have
created space first, I wonder how that can be. Was god before space. If so
what did he exist in, a vacuum, but isn't that itself space. It all seems
very confusing, especially for Mormons who believe in an immanent god.
RE: Tyler D,What is truth? Is there a God? Do Christian doctrines make
sense? These are questions that philosophy addresses. And the
answers we give to these kinds of questions serve as the foundation stones for
constructing any kind of worldview. J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig offer
a comprehensive introduction to philosophy from a Christian perspective. They introduce readers to the principal sub-disciplines of philosophy,
including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and
philosophy of religion. Philosophy, they contend, aids Christians in the tasks
of apologetics, polemics and systematic theology. It reflects our having been
made in the image of God, helps us to extend biblical teaching into areas not
expressly addressed in Scripture.The idea of creation ex-nihilo is
supported by the evidence of the Big Bang. The Big Bang shows that the universe
had a beginning. There was a one time a specific point where all things were
born and put into motion. If it had a beginning that means in had to have a
“beginner”.(John 1:1)RE: EternalPerspective,(2Tim 1:9
& Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time. …
Karen R.:"Skeptics open the jar to determine if there really is
one. What we've found is that, not only does the rose have no scent, it is
artificial and man made."And that's also when the skeptic
accidentally pricks his/finger on the rose's thorn, feels the pain, and
then realizes it would have been much easier to have faith on the label of the
jar that said, "Don't touch. Thorns hurt."
@UT BritWhen in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints have leaders(prophet and apostles) "led the church down the wrong
path"?@skepticWell put in seeking always for the
truth! I firmly believe no-one should accept anything less than the truth that
becomes known for certain by personal experience (not by the hands others). But, that scenarios goes back to what is truth? How can we know it with
so many rumors, lies, and other propaganda that do little in the way of
revealing truth?I appreciate a mind that seeks to disprove something
believed false. I was once quite a skeptic myself (and an atheist). But, as I
witnessed, the truths of God penetrate all things and reveal that which I had
never considered. I only had to be prepared first.Keep searching
for the truth that goes way beyond what might be appealing to the knowledge and
values you already accept. Be prepared in this journey to receive what your
mind might naturally reject, though you come to know it is actually true.
Accepting truth despite personal opposition is the test of whether someone can
be trusted with truth.
Karen R - you miss the key part of the analogy of the rose in the bell jar.The only way the rose got into the bell jar is because someone picked it
from its natural state, where it thrived - just as the church thrives - and put
it into an artificial state for critical examination. So yes, members of the
church and skeptics alike are capable of recognizing that the picked rose loses
its fragrance - so your critique of the analogy is deeply, deeply flawed.The point of the analogy, I believe, is that you have to look at the
rosebush as the church - not a single rose in a bell jar. Only then can you
understand the entirety of the metaphor, with Christ as the sun and light, the
word of God as the water, prophets and apostles and church leaders and members
as the roots and branches, and the flowers as the fruits of the church. Examining the flowers independent of the rest is a futile exercise.
There are none so blind as those who refuse to see! Spiritual truth can only be
discerned by those with eyes to see, can only be heard by those with ears to
hear, and can only be known and understood by those with a heart that feels and
obeys.The secular critics of the spiritual-minded simply can't
relate; they can't see, can't hear, can't feel what can only be
seen, heard and felt by the Spirit. This may not be their fault, because these
abilities are spiritual gifts that are not given to all, and which must be
sought after in order to obtain.
@ Eternal Perspective, Thank you for your response, I agree with you for
the most part. However, I don't believe because a skeptics does not wish
to be led by blind faith that he harbors anger or criticism. If there is a god,
then I believe he sheds his light and truth universal. It is mans politics that
hides the truth to deceive others and lead them blindly. The same as with
Communism, religion, politics capitalism and all other isms, etc. Demand the
truth, learn the truth, because if there is a personal god then that is where
he, she it must be. It may be nature and Mother Earth are our only gods, I
don't know, and I don't believe any one knows. We all just have
believes or feelings. You believe you have found your god, then be honest about
it, the same for the Muslims and Allah, and all other believers .
Incidentally, I share positive feelings with some of the Mormon doctrine and I
believe JS was a genius in is own right.
@donn – “Transcendentalism directly conflicts with the biblical
command to “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs
3:5).”So the Transcendentalists, and pretty much all the
eastern traditions they found affinity with, are wrong because the Bible (at
least how you interpret it) says so. Got it…You do realize
this is wholly unconvincing to anyone other than Bible literalists, yes? Not to
mention it elevates (to a transcendental realm?) a form of logic used by all
religious authorities regardless of tradition (i.e., the Imam extolls his
fundamentalist followers in precisely the same manner, substituting the Quran in
place of the Bible).@Karen R. – “Skeptics open the jar
to determine if there really is one. What we've found is that, not only
does the rose have no scent, it is artificial and man made.”Will you marry me?
skepticWhat would be the point? Unless you suspect that in Church
history there is some story hidden that betrays everything the restored church
is founded upon. Namely, the first vision, and subsequent visions by Joseph
Smith and many others. Restroration of Priesthood, The coming forth of the Book
of Mormon. Those are the foundation of the LDS Church today. Unless you have a
real reason to think that all of those things can be refuted by church history,
looking at the warts of church history is just voyeurism.
@EternalPerspectiveYes people make mistakes etc, but then again we
have seen examples of church leadership leading the church down the wrong path.
This needs to be explained and talked about.I think the church would
be best suited to give us a non whitewashed history of the church in our lesson
manuals. The truth is always best.
Sorry Mr. Johnson but simply because people have provided evidence that the
church isn't true and yet the church goes on does not support in any way
the actual truthfulness of the church. Every church on earth has critics. The
history of the Catholic church is filled with awful episodes, much worse than
anything in Mormon history. Crusades, inquisitions, abuse, and much more - yet
the Catholic church is still thriving. Does that mean the Catholic church is
true? Does it mean it's even more true than the Mormon church because
it's gone trough worse and still survives?I don't expect
the Mormon church to "fold up like a homemade canoe" even as more and
more evidence comes to like about it's fraudulent start and and clearly
faked scriptures. No, the church will go on just like so so many of the churches
around the world that Mormons consider false.
Excellent article. Thank you Mr. Johnston.
Many critics of the church find it unacceptable that others believe differently
than they do and that intelligent people who are members of the church not only
believe but have strong convictions. Critics are not content to disagree.
Church teachings and doctrine often go against what they want and therefore must
not be merely tollerated but taken apart and silenced. In my opinion this is why
"...many writers today are like the guy who gazes at a rose in a bell jar,
hoping to catch a whiff of its scent."I think this more closely
describes believers. Believers gaze upon the rose in the bell jar and convince
themselves that they smell the scent.Skeptics open the jar to
determine if there really is one. What we've found is that, not only does
the rose have no scent, it is artificial and man made.
skepticI've seen you write previously with respect to hiding
history and cherry picking what Church leaders want to reveal. Could it be that instead of focusing on the mistakes of imperfect individuals,
the message is not about what was done wrong, but how members can more fully
serve God each day?If you dwell in negativity and criticism, then
the Spirit of God is not with you. If Church leaders who serve tirelessly dwell
upon these things, how are they following Christ who taught we must go on and
improve, constantly relying upon Him for strength beyond our own?It
is the naysayers, unbelievers, and those who feel the need to expend so much
effort to tear down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who act in
this type of negativity. Jesus said to take the 'beam' out of our own
eye before attempting to remove the 'mote' from another's eye.
For all who do harbor anger and criticism for the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, yet choose not to understand it by firsthand
immersion, ask yourselves, who do you care so much?
RE:Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, they see only the needles, not the
magnetism. Emerson was a transcendentalists, some have claimed to be
Christian; however,the idea that a human, intuitive understanding of “the
transcendental” can bring us to the truth is misguided. Transcendentalism
directly conflicts with the biblical command to “lean not on your own
understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). But the transcendentalists did
more than trust their feelings. They also received guidance from Romantic
poets like William Wordsworth and from the sacred texts of Hinduism. Thoreau, in
Walden, spoke of how “in the morning I bathe my intellect in the
stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita.”The Bible is truth (John 17:17). The heart of man is deceitful (Jeremiah
17:9). Those who rely on their own intuition and “good sense” to
lead them to spiritual truth will find themselves being led astray (Isaiah
This is a great article...so far. @John Marx, I only read that Mr. Johnston
wrote, "the only motive that makes sense to secular writers...." I do
not believe that Mr. Johnston was referring to all "secularists"
beliefs, an idea that would be untenable.
Beaver Native, in general I agree with your thoughts, but what I don't
understand, and perhaps someone can explain it to me, is: why is the Mormon
church , or it's defenders, always trying to re-write the church history,
or cover up and white wash so many facts, Why not open up the church archives
and records to qualified researchers , Mormon and non-Mormon, and let the truth
shine through . It seems it would be so much better than the constant cherry
picking ,supposedly faith promoting, arguments and articles. Perhaps it is time
for the church to grow up and take the members off the milk and junk food diet
and give them the truth to chew on. They be surprising more intelligence and
attuned than some may think.
My experience is that if any comment can be misinterpreted or taken out of
context, some who disagrees on the issue will do it, and things meant as
generalities will be taken as absolutes. John Marx response is a perfect
example. I didn't see the intent of the author's comments as to say
that secularists are incapable of seeing the value of the acts referred to. I
think the intent was to state that people within the Church are imperfect and
while some strive for perfection and fall short, there are others that fall way
short. Perhaps the author's wording did not match his intent well, but
that's because he is an imperfect being who makes mistakes just like the
rest of us.You can find faults and negative examples within any
organization if that's what you're looking for. Conversely, you can
find positives and positive examples within the worst of organizations if
that's what you're looking for. Yes, some regrettable things happened
in Mormon history and some things tried failed. What I think is trying to be
communicated is that you can only truly understand the Mormon faith through
What a huge tent of rationalization one can defend whatever prejudice or believe
under its cover, church, religion, politics, atheism, love, hate, personal
feelings, or whatever.
John Marx"To say that secularists can't understand it in
others implies that secularists themselves are incapable of acting selflessly.
Not a fair comment to make in my opinion"Where does the author
imply this claim beyond subjective bias? Human interpretation is a powerful
gift but often evasive of the truth. All the more reason why we need spiritual
guidance to know and live truth as it really exists, not how we want to see
it.Truth is free from human bias and unchanging. Science has many
truths that no one can dispute because they govern the operations of what humans
understand about the physical world. But, why do we as a whole and not just
this example here, think we know best in ourselves and those who identify with
our causes to think truth is completely in us?We know nothing
without God and it is by revelation from Him that we have any knowledge upon the
world today. This is a powerful concept that will be known to everyone in life
or death. All that can be done is invite people to seek for that which
doesn't change with popular culture of the ages.
nicely stated edit; thnxi know how i define "prophet",
"seer", "revelator"i can look at many dictionary
definitions of those wordsi can't know what God defines them, unless
He tells meGod and or Jesus Christ calls persons to be PSR then
tells them what their job function is/arei'm certain
definitions don't state prophets, seers and revelators know everything abt
everything all the time, are perfect, full of water-walking faith (peter),
collective power to heal the sick (apostles asking Jesus why they were unable to
heal.) did moses ? does Jesus Christ Himself know when His Father will send Him
again at the 2nd Coming; neither He nor the angels. is moses not a prophet
because he didn't say a single word abt caffeine (aka coke or pepsi) or
tobacco but he said chickens and lobster/shrimp are not to be eaten.Heavenly Father tells us what He decides to tell, when He decides. both
tithing and and words of wisdom are anciently expressed, but have not had the
same emphasis in The Church as they do today. little by little He reveals, line
by line, precept by precept
In his article Johnston wrote,"As a result, the only motive that
makes sense to secular writers is self-interest, or delusion. Yet LDS history
overflows with examples of sane people acting against self-interest. Joseph
returning from the territories to be slain, the rescuers heading off to
Martin’s Cove. Examples have filled histories."I assure
you that secularists can and do see the value in rescuing those in need of help.
To say that secularists can't understand it in others implies that
secularists themselves are incapable of acting selflessly. Not a fair comment
to make in my opinion.
Well done, Mr. Johnston. One of your best. The apt observation by Ralph Waldo
Emerson is a treasure. You employed it perfectly.Not every decision
of every leader of the Church is perfect and free from blemish. I am
increasingly humbled to witness God's willingness to permit free agency to
work through every aspect of mortality, even His Church, which benefits from
continuous inspiration in so many respects. To the extent we can accept the
subtle workings of free agency, doubt transforms to faith and scorn transforms
to awe. The Church is wonderful, but God is overwhelmingly more.
Criticisms of the church address it as though church leaders set the doctrine
themselves and direct the church like a business - like other churches do. And
when members respond, they address it in the same way - like a club or
organization they really like. But the church really isn't a "Mormon
Church" led by people who compiled a doctrine and then shopped it to the
general public to see who would buy. It's God's church with imperfect
humans called to lead it.I wish members were better at redirecting
criticisms of the church and its history to be criticisms of how God restored
His church, how he refined his people and how he directs his servants to operate
His church. I'm sure the leaders would love to comply with popular opinion
and not cause so many waves, but it's not up to them. Critics miss the
spiritual side of the gospel because they're critiquing a man-made church,
not realizing they're actually critiquing the way God restored His
gospel.I'm grateful God didn't appear to Joseph Smith in a
burning bush. Can you imagine the critiques of that?