I appreciate you responding to my email. I have thought a lot about what I read in your book, but am still not convinced. You mention that Mormon missionaries tear down other religions. I would not be so naive as to say that members of the Mormon church do think they have a fullness of truth that others may not, but I would be no more in favor of anyone putting down another religion if they were Mormon, than if they weren't. In fact, when I hear others tearing down the Mormon Church (especially when it seems to be their quest and purpose in life) it is the very thing that stops me from wanting to pursue some of the emptiness and/or questions I do feel in my heart. Why? Because that feels ugly to me. I can't imagine, for the life of me, that Jesus would go about it in that way. In fact, my heart tends to lean more towards the idea that there are MANY paths that lead to the Lord; not just one. How else could I explain all the beautiful people I know from all walks of life?
You said on one hand that you loved the people you knew in the church, yet then you later said that you didn't feel close to any of them. I love the people I know, and I do feel close to them. If there is anything lacking, it would be that I often times do not feel I have the unwavering convictions that they do, which makes me feel sad. But I would never tear them down or insist that they are brainwashed or anything of the sort. I know them to be wonderful, loving and giving people ... doing the best they can to be the best people they can through this life. Which I thought is what we are all doing.
I didn't realize that you were Baptist. My best friend from childhood is Baptist and I love her. She loves me. We share our faith in the Lord but don't generally get into "religious" conversations. Perhaps somewhere in her heart she worries about me, thinking I belong to a "cult" but I do believe when she sees how I have changed my life from the rebellious teenager I was, and sees how hard I try to raise children that are respectful, God-loving, and good...she knows there must be something of worth to what I believe - and she has, in fact, told me that very thing. Just as I may, at times, wonder or hope that what she believes is the right thing too...yet she led the same rebellious life (and was, in fact, the ringleader!) and has also turned her life around and become a beautiful woman who cares more for the Lord than for this world. I see the same thing when I look at the wonderful job she does with her children and how great they are turning out. I guess I say all that to explain my frustration. If I can see the good in her, in her religion, and in all the people I encounter who I try to look upon their hearts...without me feeling the need to discredit anything and everything they believe in order to make myself more sure that what I believe is true...why is there that need with not only you, but others, to not give me the same courtesy?
I do want to find the truth - whatever it is - but I wonder at your motivations.
More to Dena
I once did a meeting on Mormonism in Logan, Utah. Afterwards, several returned missionaries came up and spent an hour talking with me. One of the boys, a very sincere young man said, "I hear what you are saying. Much of what you say is true. But, I believe Mormonism is true. So, if I sincerely believe that, wouldn't God count that sincerety as 'good enough.'"
My reply was that Mormonism is not the reason Mormons are empty and separated from God. _All_ of us are born separated from God because of our sin nature. The problem with Mormonism is that it offers a solution which is _no_ solution. As Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6 "if I _or an angel from heaven_ bring any other gospel, let him be accursed." Mormonism is _backwards_ to the Gospel of Christ (set forth most clearly in Romans chapters 1-8)
So, I told the young man that God had made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. And then Joseph Smith (through an angel, by the way) came up with _another_ plan. So I asked the young man, "Would God simply forget about the real Gospel and say, well, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness doctrine, Sun Myung Moon, etc.--all of which bring _another_ gospel, are _OK_? No, He wouldn't. And the naive idea that Jesus would not confront religious error tells me you are not very familiar with the Bible. Jesus was an "in your face guy" with absolutely no tolerance for the "religious" people of his day. Calling the snakes, graves covered over, full of rotteness, etc..."
If a religious lead comes along and feeds his followers a doctrinal concoction which will doom them eternally, we _must_ speak out, if we are to be true Christians. That is my motivation, whether or not you choose to believe it. (Please note, that all my books are available online _free_ to anyone who wants to download them. http://www.mazeministry.com/new/downloadbooks.htm)
And, Dena, it is not just me who thinks Mormonism is a dangerous cult. Virtually every Bible-believing denomination has an official statement condemning Mormonism as an unbiblical mishmash of false doctrines.
Again, either Joseph Smith was right when he said, "all other churches are wrong, all their creeds are abominations, and all [who practice those creeds] are corrupt," or it is _mormonism_ that is wrong. Smith claimed to restore the true church because it had fallen away. But Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell will never prevail against it." Smith thinks Jesus was wrong and the church fell away. You need to decide if he was right or wrong.
By the way, I am not a Babptist. That was a figure of speech. I could be happy in any church that teaches what the Bible clearly teaches. Mormonism teaches the exact opposite. For example (just one small example) Mormonism teaches that all men may become Gods and that God was once a man. The Bible teaches that in all the universe there is but one God and that man need to decide to _worship_ God, not compete with Him.
There were no Nephites.