April 2009 LDS General Conference

I am thinking of heart issues.

Hmmm . . .

How about this?  I am just an outsider, but may I predict ten topics that the LDS Prophet, LDS Apostles, and LDS Authorities might talk about?  And ten topics that they won’t talk about?


  1. On the list:


    Off the list:

    Whether God was once a sinner

    Prediction: Holland gives another talk indirectly aimed at evangelicals.

  2. springing off of Jack’s comment: what goes into our eyes, ears, and minds….beware of an unfriendly culture. this will be thinly veiled (bad choice of metaphor) towards the young; this message will be replayed continually as more and more 20somethings opt for 1)another religion 2) not much of any religion 3)casual attendance

  3. Katie ~ I think there will be a talk about traditional gender roles.

    Yes, given by one of the 2 female speakers. No one will hear it though because that’s when everyone will be getting up to stretch, go to the bathroom and grab a beer flavored lemonade.

  4. No more pickle illustrations?

    Perhaps a potato illustration from the Idahoan apostle?

    Brian, the Baptist preacher in Idaho Falls has a lot of things in his mind that he wishes the religious authorities would reconsider.

    But rather than waiting for them, perhaps we need to institute a radical alternative General Conference each year for the I-15 Corridor. A small, revolutionary band, outside the ranks of the temple worthy establishment, can have a lot of fun.

    Good job so far guys, you have hit three on my list: (1)Raging Pornography, (2) Giving and Greed in the Recession, (3) Our Heavenly Father & Our loving example, Jesus Christ

  5. Katie: As long as you’re talking Clausen’s, I love pickles too—to munch on, on sandwiches, in salads, just not in analogies. I have no idea what that pickle analogy was about years ago and I’ll admit that I’ve been afraid to go back and read it, thinking it might trip me out, give me a seizure or something.

    Todd: I know you have lots on your mind, and I really do think it would be cool if someone directed a talk at you. Maybe when Seth is an Apostle…. On a side note, what makes you so sure they haven’t reconsidered many of the things on your mind and still believe contrary to you?

    More on the list:

    Living peaceably with neighbors (esp. those with whom we disagree)

    Priesthood blessings

    Off the list:

    Environmental issues

  6. What a minute, WHAT? There was a pickle analogy in General Conference?

    I thought you wuz just bein’ silly.

    Man oh man, this I gotta see.

    Never fear, Brian, I’ll read it for you and if it’s not too scary, I’ll let you know. 🙂

  7. >>I heard Ballard was going to do a talk on how the LDS concept of God is a lot like Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen

    I saw that movie just today and had much the same thought.

  8. Yeah, I’m engaging in hyperbole Blake. That was not a direct quote at all.

    But that was EXACTLY what his words meant. And I was rather put-out, to be honest. He clearly stated that marriages that do not occur in the temple are an “inferior value.” He used a shopping analogy to illustrate it. Some marriages are “higher quality” goods. Others look nice, but fall apart as soon as you take them home. He specifically referenced the “bargain rack.” Others he said are actually “defective” goods. I can only assume he meant gay marriages with this quote.

    What’s wrong with simply stating that marriage is a wonderful thing, and temple marriage ensures it will last into the eternities? Why draw the conclusion that the mere quality of being solemnized in the temple makes a marriage inherently better in quality than… say… a Catholic marriage? What doctrinal advantage was there in claiming something like that?

    Thankfully, the speaker didn’t dwell on the analogy for too long. But I thought it was both ill-advised, and in poor taste.

    We sometimes get one of these talks in a General Conference session – a talk where the speaker chooses his or her words a little less carefully than he or she might have. If they’d known how the words would be taken, I imagine they might have chosen different words.

    I don’t remember one of these happening in the last Conference Session though. I imagine that’s true of many various sessions.

  9. Seth: Yeah, I’m engaging in hyperbole [BrianJ].”

    Yes, I knew that. And I was engaging in denial.

    Jack: “Like I’m gonna feel bad about having not participated in religious rituals I don’t believe in.”

    Not even a little bit jealous?

  10. This comment is blunt and will probably offend you.

    I don’t think Mormons realize just how deeply boring General Conference is. They’re taught to enjoy it, and I’m sure many do, but after experiencing preachers like John Piper, and Paul Washer, and R.C. Sproul, and lots of local pastors growing up, the Conference Center to me is like a giant funeral home where men read from teleprompters in maudlin and soporific ways that make me wonder if they really believe anything they’re talking about is exciting.

    There are a few exceptions. But in general, if the Conference speakers really are speaking as oracles of God, I think they do him a great injustice by representing him the deadening way that they do.

    But perhaps you don’t care what I think. Armand Mauss (Mormon sociologist and scholar of Mormonism) put it this way:

    Today’s bland platitudes do not compare with the spirit-driven exegeses and calls to service that used to be common. Since the Conference talks have been correlated and homogenized, I find them mostly boring and repetitive, and I remain totally uninspired by the ‘large and spacious building’ in which they are now delivered.”

    Loyd, a Mormon, puts it this way:

    “I often get the feeling that many LDS love General Conference because it is something that they have been taught and constructed [sic?] to do. It reminds me of hearing my grandmother and aunt telling everyone how wonderful the new Joseph Smith movie in Salt Lake was. I couldn’t help but feel like they would have been saying the exact same thing had the film been un-engaging, poorly written, over-dramatized, and historically inaccurate.

    “Like much of what goes on in this culture, GC has an a priori status of being wonderful, fantastic, edifying, and ‘the greatest ever’ because it is an official Church production. No matter how boring, mundane, repetitive, or uninspiring a talk may be, it already has the status of being lively, exciting, ‘just for us,’ and inspiring – before it is even read.”

    Molly Bennion puts it this way:

    The average funeral is more joyful.

    It is a mind-numbing experience, and that is why I think some interested non-Mormons really are inclined to use alcohol to get through the experience of watching it on TV.

    I wrote this comment to connect with like-minded lurkers out there, who perhaps need to experience the “aha!” moment of reading what you’ve always felt. If you’re looking for an alternative, I recommend these.

    Grace and peace in Christ,


  11. You’re right Aaron. You speak of grace and use the name of the Master like a badge, but you are no Christian and you sully that exalted name.

  12. Hmmmm…husbands off clearance racks. Mine was an inactive former Gothic/high school drop out* when I first met him–but we did end up making it to the temple. So what does that make him? Just your standard, run-of-the-mill Memorial Day sale?

    (P.S. I agree, Seth, that’s an offensive analogy.)

    Aaron, I’m a Mormon and get as bored in General Conference as the next person…but the way you came out and said it was kinda rude. 😦 I’d love a little more pep and enthusiasm, but I’m pretty sure speaking style isn’t proof one way or another that the GAs are called by God.

  13. “I don’t think Mormons realize just how deeply boring General Conference is.”

    Maybe not Aaron. But I’m not going to take it from you.

    Mind your own business and your own problems. I’m not going to go as far as Blake did, but this is petty of you.

  14. Ok, let me pull out my list:

    Top Ten Topics to Share
    Dealing with Christ’s Commandments
    1) Trusting him so that you might have peace
    2) Sharing his gospel message
    3) Loving your enemies
    4) Follow his example
    Moral Code
    5) Raging pornography
    6) Financial greed
    7) Strong, traditional families
    And remember . . .
    8) The beauty and sacredness of the temple
    9) Priesthood authority
    10) Steadfastness in the midst of opposition and apostasy

    Top Ten Topics to not be shared
    1. Sufficiency of Biblical Scripture – (Do the LDS apostles and prophet have any unresolved questions about the Bible? In what ways do they find the Bible lacking? Have they mastered all that the Bible claims to answer?)
    2. The need for continued work on the JST or an updated KJV
    3. The Triune God (unless to deny this as corrupt philosophy)
    4. Jesus as most High
    5. The Heavenly Mother (but not denying this)
    6. Creatio ex nihilo
    7. Men’s total depravity and original sin
    8. The treachery of religious moralism in the evangel
    9. Women as priests unto God
    10. The total inclusivism of The Temple

  15. AARON: judging by your post, and the first sentence in particular, then the responses ………..

    it seems you’ve got the gift of prophecy….

    this won’t console anyone, but ANY tradition can be deadly boring, so by itself, I’m not sure what that shows.


  16. General Conference certainly isn’t my thing, and I’ve only sat through the entire thing twice, but I didn’t find it that hard to pay attention to when I did. It wasn’t like listening to Barack Obama without a teleprompter or anything.

    I adore Buster Soaries. I like him so much I’m seriously tempted to haul my pasty white tail to a black church next time I’m church-hunting. I’ve only heard him once, but the best speaker I ever heard was Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Joy Scott who died at Columbine.

    I’m actually going to my own denominational conference April 3-4, so I’m probably going to miss all of General Conference with my husband. Oh well.

  17. I forgot to ask, Katie: is that what your husband looked like back in high school? I hope that isn’t offensive, he just looks so young there…

    I wasn’t Gothic but I had a long black coat that I wore everywhere in high school—which was not a smart call in the post-Columbine paranoia, but I’d had it before Columbine and I was determined to not quit wearing it just because of Columbine. I went to pick my sister up from her elementary school once, and long story short, they freaked out and called the police. It was good for the lulz.

    The bishop was always gingerly suggesting to me that I wear something else. My pastor knew better.

  18. Jack, yeah, that’s from high school. It’s my favorite picture of him, because it’s so very different from what he looks like now (now he’s lost his hair, in part because he says Jesus is punishing him for all the years he dyed it black and drove his conservative Mormon dad crazy). 🙂 In case you’re interested, this is his most recent headshot (he’s an actor). Also, I should probably add that he’s in graduate school now, lest anyone think he remained a dead end drop out.

    That’s funny that you wore a long black coat. I’m trying to picture that with the photos I’ve seen on your blog/Facebook. I think I like it. 😉 I was decidedly UNfashionable in high school, though I got pretty cute in college. Now I’m back to being kind of frumpy, seeing as how I’m a work-at-home mom and all. Thankfully, this time it’s without the painful awkwardness of adolescence. Man, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to that…

  19. Your husband is handsome, Katie. He has that rugged balding-but-still-hot Jason Statham thing going for him.

    The only picture I have of myself in the coat that’s handy is this one, and it’s not the best shot of the coat because I’m not really wearing it. But I loved that coat. I wore it until it was ragged.

    After the police incident, I got tired of people giving me Columbine grief over it, so I bought a white one almost exactly like it and that seemed to freak people out less. The black one never made it to BYU, but the white one did.

    I apologize to Todd for the idle chatter, but that’s what happens when you have girlz on ur Intarweb!

  20. Aaron: I had to laugh when I saw your preface, “this will offend you.” You always try to offend. It’s your m.o. Seeing your handle and icon automatically alerts the reader that what follows will be an attempt to offend.

    Not that you care (I am absolutely convinced of that), but for the sake of other readers: I look forward to and enjoy General Conference. Every time. Not every talk though; some talks are very important to me, others I just don’t connect with. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed that my friends will enjoy different talks than I do, and I’m not going to insist on a conference tailored specifically to me. After all, it’s called General Conference, not BrianJ Conference.

    Could the speakers be better, even the ones who deliver talks I like? Sure. Who couldn’t do gooder at righting and speeching?

  21. Yeah, he’s pretty handsome. 🙂 I like him.

    I also like that picture of you and your coat. I especially like that the police were called as a result of it. That’s a funny story to tell posterity someday.

    …Which totally brings me back to the purpose of this post. You see, I think in General Conference, they’ll talk a lot about families…and…maybe school violence…and that will show us all how important it is to…ummmm, dress nicely…even in times of economic trouble…

    Sorry Todd. I did try.

  22. Todd: like this

    5. The Heavenly Mother (but not denying this)

    otherwise known as the Big Phat Momma Waffle

    I’ll take mine with pecans, pleeze

  23. Brian, the people I seem to most offend are Mormon apologists and defenders. I’d be glad to introduce you to some of my personal Mormon friends sometime who don’t take it so personally.

    There is a context for everything. And when it comes to online dissemination of compelling information, making Mormon apologists spit out their coffee is not something I feel bad about doing. It’s the seekers out there that I’m going for.

    Grace and peace,


  24. General Conference is boring Aaron?

    That’s your idea of “compelling information?” This is your idea of speaking truth to power?

    Please tell me you’re joking before I lose my lunch here.

  25. Yes. Some people have lived their whole lives in expectation of Conference being spiritually exciting, but have in the back of their minds only considered in a latent way that it is the opposite. Hearing someone say it out loud can be very helpful.

    If Conference really was spiritually exciting, then why are you so bothered by my comment? Let it roll off your back if you think the Conference stream online and on TV speak loudly enough for themselves to be spiritually exciting.

  26. Aaron, you haven’t earned the position of being able to criticize my faith with me. Like I said, I’m not going to take it from you.

    You want to talk smack about General Conference, fine, expect me to unload on the crap in your religion too and all the idiocy that passes for worship in your own tradition. All the shallow Evangelicals out there that don’t have the spiritual discipline or maturity to sit through a sermon unless the pastor throws a freaking dog-and-pony show.

    Sorry we failed to entertain you. Maybe you can find some Evangelical pastor somewhere to throw a song-and-dance for you, and provide that crutch you seem to need in your spiritual life. The LDS Church is about real people putting up with real people and supporting and benefiting from real people. It’s not about the selfish Evangelical “me-drive.” Unlike a lot of Evangelicalism, Mormon worship is a group effort.

    Believe it or not, it actually pains me to bad-mouth a tradition that I know is more diverse than the negatives I have mentioned above. I also hope that other Evangelicals here whom I respect don’t take this as a personal shot at them. But if you want to throw crap at other churches, don’t expect a free hall pass for yours.

    I’ll take these criticisms from someone within my Church. In fact, I’ll even make my own complaints about the LDS Church to other Mormons (and even Evangelicals if I feel secure with them). But I’m not taking it from you.

    Mind your own business Aaron. You, frankly, don’t have standing here.

  27. All the shallow Evangelicals out there that don’t have the spiritual discipline or maturity to sit through a sermon unless the pastor throws a freaking dog-and-pony show.

    As a conservative Protestant who puts a high emphasis on serious worship and expository preaching, and as a critic of the market-driven church movement, you’re not alone in directing that criticism. It’s a fair criticism and I wouldn’t object to non-evangelicals leveling it too. In fact, I wish evangelicals would hear more of that criticism from non-evangelicals so the world of entertainment-driven churches would be rocked. Please, don’t stop!

    I think if you check out the kind of services and sermons John Piper, and Paul Washer, and R.C. Sproul (the ones I mentioned above) conduct, you’ll see it’s a healthy corrective to the kind of mark-driven movement not to mention the postmodern tendencies that have crept into evangelicalism.

    Also, see Mark Dever’s “9Marks” list. Dever is closely associated with the Piper and Sproul, and his ministry is a great alternative to the entertainment stuff so often fostered by Rick Warren material.

    Grace and peace!


  28. And please, Seth, don’t ever feel you have to “earn the position” of being able to level fair criticism over embarrassing aspects of evangelical subculture.

  29. Oh, but I do have to earn that position Aaron.

    You’ll note, I don’t typically go into Evangelical forums and level criticisms at their religion or practices unless I feel the criticisms are IN RESPONSE to crap they’ve been throwing at my religion.

    Otherwise, I’m just a party-crasher. Uninvited and unwelcome.

  30. Seth ~ Do I get to criticize your religion?

    Aaron ~ Just curious, do you think all of the Mormons who have reacted negatively to your “GC-is-boring” charge are LDS apologists who aren’t giving serious consideration to evangelical Christianity?

  31. Anyone who doesn’t fit into Aaron’s “easy prey” category is dismissed by him as “an apologist.” It’s how he deals with difficult people.

    Yes Jack, you are allowed. Mostly due to motives. Everything Aaron says is part of a script he has to de-legitimize Mormonism. He is not a searcher, not here to learn, not here to share. He’s not even really here to educate anyone about Evangelicalism. His only purpose is tearing something down he doesn’t like.

    I don’t like ulterior motives.

  32. A lot of Todd’s posts have an underlying reproach of Mormonism as well.

    But I am much more willing to take it from him because almost all his posts are also a sincere attempt to share what good news he has.

    I’ve never heard any good news from Mormon Research Ministries. Just a lot of crap about how we suck because of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Kinderhook Plates, DNA, et al.

    I’ll take a “conference is boring” remark from you Jack (and probably agree with it to an extent). But not from Aaron.

    No way.

  33. Seth ~ I don’t like ulterior motives.

    Well then, I guess I’d better come clean that my ultimate goal is to get Mormonism to take up the practice of polyandry again so that I can marry Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford in addition to my current husband.

    Whew. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

  34. Seth wrote:

    Oh, but I do have to earn that position Aaron.

    I’ve been at this blogging thing for just less than a year, still green around the gills, but (and I’ve been SLOW to come to this position) I’m with Seth on this one. I think , in THIS context and forum, a position is earned. That may not be the case in other avenues of teaching or preaching. Even MC is described as coming into someone’s living room….well, that comes with a certain expectation or set of them.

    I don’t want to beat this into the ground, and there is certainly some flexibility for style and approach, but a culture of SOME kind of trust seems to be necessary, or how can a conversation occurr. rough blog, sorry…….


  35. germit,

    You immediately earned a great deal of credibility with me by simply being willing to talk “off script” and see more than one point of view.

  36. Germit, I have been in Aaron’s home and sat at the table with Aaron and his wife. Warm. Spontaneous hospitality. Transparent family. I stayed the night upon Aaron’s insistence.

    There is a huge part of Aaron that just does not get communicated through the media of internet and will hardly be expressed by bloggernacle LDS.

    On this blog, brother Aaron has my welcome mat. I tip my hat to his God-given passionate personality. Anger, sarcasm, and a lot of other different emotions — they might not be in “interfaith conferences”, but it is throughout the Bible in vivid reality.

    Surely, with all our personalities, we all have great strengths and great weaknesses. I am aware of mine. And I know Aaron is aware of his. And only through God’s grace alone will we both be used for His glory in the days ahead among our LDS friends.

    To all, have a good weekend.

  37. Mark Hamill, like the star wars skywalker guy ?? AND Harrison Ford ?? If you get started on Chewbakka or…..well, let’s just leave it at ONE alien at a time…

    Seth: as AARON noted, the ev’s can (and should) be critical on themselves, there’s lots of housecleaning to be done (my current favorite “cleaner” is Michael Spencer, and I doubt anything you tell me would be much harsher, so have at it.

  38. Seth: I like the phrase “off script”, and in his own way, I really think that describes AARON, so we might disagree on that. I can’t and won’t pretend to not have an agenda: in fact mine is (I hope) out there and up front, but my hope is that I continue to talk to PEOPLE, not members of a group or movement. I know, easier said than done.

    Given my explicit agenda, it’s a tribute to YOUR patience and longsuffering (of a sort) that you dialogue with me. I consider that a privilege.

    Todd: thanks for being flexible with so many different strong personalities (and dysfunctions 🙂 )

  39. Here Germit, let me let you in on the joke.

    Todd, I’ve seen some of the worst Internet behavior out there defended with “He’s a really nice guy in real life.” I’m not necessarily saying that Aaron has the worst Internet behavior out there, but my experience has been that it’s terribly easy to be someone else behind the wall of a computer screen. I’m no exception to that; I have a much more difficult time being assertive in real life than I do on a computer. In fact I can and have been a total ass on the Internet when most people tell me I’m a nice person IRL.

    As far as Aaron’s comments go, here’s what I know: four Mormons have responded negatively to him. I don’t know Blake very well, but the other three I’ve had thoughtful and heartfelt dialogues with in which they’ve been honest enough to admit to difficulties they have with and weaknesses in the church. One of them has been giving serious consideration to evangelical Christianity—yet that person still found Aaron’s comments rude and unhelpful.

    And well… I don’t know what to say. That makes me a little heartsick.

    I don’t mean to embarrass anybody with this post and I apologize in advance if I do.

  40. Todd, I’m aware that people are not the sum total of their online personas.

    For my own sake, I should hope not.

    But what else do we have to go on?

    But I’ll back off.

  41. Boy, looks like I missed a good discussion while I was working today. NOTE TO SELF: Slack off more. 🙂

    I don’t want to re-hash what’s already been said, but I’ll just add this. If conversion is the goal, I think the confrontational approach is generally counter-productive.

    I work in sales and marketing. Many sales trainers tell you to push and “hard close” because it’s the only way to get people to take action. But I’ve discovered that when I approach people with sincerity and kindness, understanding that sometimes my prospect just isn’t in a position to buy right now (and being genuinely okay with that), I almost NEVER get a negative response…make a ton of great contacts for the future…and end up selling a lot more than others who are using more “traditional” methods.

    One doesn’t change one’s belief system like a pair of shoes. For many, conversion is an uncertain–even painful–process. Anytime I’ve ever been involved with someone sincerely considering a change in their beliefs, whether it was on my mission or elsewhere, the experience has always benefited from an attitude of mutual respect, trust, and kindness.

  42. germit: I appreciated reading your last few comments. I’ll be upfront: my first impression of you (from the commenting you’ve done on this blog over the last few weeks) was that you like to mock my religion. I’m not going to say whether that’s right or wrong, but I found myself skipping over a lot of your comments. I blog for dialogue, and mocking kills dialogue. The point is: your recent comments got me to reconsider your motives.

    Jack: I’m only embarrassed when you say “thoughtful and heartfelt dialogues” and I think of…that post. You know the one. But hey, thanks for the kind words!

    Katie: I was always a terrible salesman.

  43. BrianJ and others: attitudes and motives, and our IMPRESSIONS of them will always be very problematic area. I know that sounds defeatist, but from where I sit, I just don’t see it playing out much differently.

    Think about it: LDS go door to door telling us “we’re so glad you have a little bit of the truth….” ev’s on the other hand are saying “the LDS message does not bring salvation…..”

    Now I’d rather have this discussion in an atmosphere of charity and respect for people, but these are not compatible viewpoints, we are not branches on the same tree……we’re not the same plant. When this point is brought forth clearly, feeling USUALLY take a hit. I know mine do. Is that just because I’m thin skinned and insecure ?? Maybe that explains it, sometimes, but there’s no getting around the simple fact that we are on opposite ends of a very passionate and life and death enterprise.

    On a PERSONAL level, I like those who try to walk a more ecumenical line, but in the long run, we’ll still go BUMP….this is not a character flaw, it’s two trains on different tracks, more like cause and effect.

    I’m NOT writing the above to justify anyones less than christian behavior, esp. my own, and sometimes my sarcasm goes from mildly useful to something ugly; sometimes I wish I could “bring a post back”. But even if I, or AARON, were Mother Teresa, Bono, and Billy Graham rolled into one, EVENTUALLY we’ll go BUMP with those we post with…..again, two COMPETING worldviews: those of Joseph Smith/LDS….and ours.

    This is the view from GERMIT’s chair.

  44. Brian, yeah, while I’m pretty good at sales, it’s definitely not my favorite thing. I’d much rather do marketing, so I can get people to come to me instead of the other way around. 🙂

  45. Seth, if evangelicalism ever starts explicitly and unrepentantly worshipping Baal, or telling people not to take their kids to the hospital on Sundays, I would hope you would crash our party, uninvited, and publicly and critically engage our errors. Even if you have to endure accusations of disrespect and unkindness. Putting the “I have to earn a position in order to criticize” prerequisite on your actions is in the end unloving. Earning trust can add a lot of credibility, but sometimes you just have to rely on the power of the Spirit and the impact of resounding truth without an established relationship of credibility and trust.

    Just curious, do you think all of the Mormons who have reacted negatively to your “GC-is-boring” charge are LDS apologists who aren’t giving serious consideration to evangelical Christianity?

    Bridget, I think they are ardent defenders of Mormonism who are hardened in their allegiances, and will remain that way unless they are born again by a miracle. They have intellectually considered evangelicalism at some serious level, but the real issue is that of the heart, and whether there is repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

    Bridget, if you can evangelistically make in-roads with some of these Mormons, then more power to you. My personal evangelistic focus is not on Mormonism’s ardent public defenders. In general, I believe the New Testament calls for rebuke and reproof of public false teachers, and a more laid back, patient approach in personal relationships.

    He’s not even really here to educate anyone about Evangelicalism.

    Seth, I think that kind of assumption serves you well, but it’s a product of selective listening. It reminds me of having calm, civil, 20-minute conversations with some Mormons on the street over the nature of God, replete with discussion about the Biblical and traditional Mormon views of God. I’ll appeal to passages like Isaiah 43:10, and then contrast them with the traditional understanding of the Lorenzo Snow couplet. Yet at the end some Mormons will say, “I haven’t heard you say one good thing about your religion. You’ve only bashed my religion.” I don’t even react surprised to that anymore. I usually just pray for the person and recognize that they have a hard heart that has caused selective listening. But thankfully not everyone is hardened to that degree.

    I’ve never heard any good news from Mormon Research Ministries

    Given that you can’t accurately remember the title of the ministry 😛 maybe you should spend some more time reading MRM’s material? Saying MRM never shares the good news is due to selective listening.

    Grace and peace,


  46. AARON: happy Friday to you…hope you had Mizzou going into the elite 8

    I liked your post and this quote

    Earning trust can add a lot of credibility, but sometimes you just have to rely on the power of the Spirit and the impact of resounding truth without an established relationship of credibility and trust.

    I think this is a case of there being a time and season for BOTH being true, but for those who linger in our “living rooms” to talk, the trust and credibility thing will be big.

    I appreciate your heart for the lost, and the hard work (grace empowered) you put in to see more of GODS’ creation with HIM in heaven.

    Stay steadfast, immovable…..and teachable

  47. “I’ll appeal to passages like Isaiah 43:10, and then contrast them with the traditional understanding of the Lorenzo Snow couplet. Yet at the end some Mormons will say, “I haven’t heard you say one good thing about your religion.”

    That’s because you haven’t. Isaiah 43:10 is not an inherent selling point for your religion Aaron. You have to explain WHY that verse is a good thing. I rarely hear Evangelical ministries spending much time on that.

    It’s more like they assume – “Hey, it’s in the Bible! Debate’s over! Cause we KNOW everything in the Bible is automatically appealing and right. So what else could there possibly be to say?”

    Then their only concern becomes one of out-prooftexting the Mormon. Because, if you can out-prooftext the Mormon, that means your religion won, right?

    Not really. Prooftexting is a rather fruitless ministerial strategy when you are dealing with a religion that does not share your basic assumptions about the prooftexts in question. You’d be better served to prove why what you have is appealing, in and of itself, without any reference or appeal to the authority of a sacred text.

    I’ve also observed that you rarely spend any significant amount of time savoring your Evangelical faith without immediately getting detoured by some way in which Mormonism is bad. Negatives in a blog post will always, ALWAYS carry more weight and be more remembered than positives. It’s just a rule of human nature.

    Thus Mormon Coffee (and it’s affiliates) is not “good news” for the visitor. Even if it has elements of good news thrown in there, it will be utterly drowned out by the rest of the static being pumped out there.

  48. “Seth, if evangelicalism ever starts explicitly and unrepentantly worshipping Baal, or telling people not to take their kids to the hospital on Sundays, I would hope you would crash our party, uninvited, and publicly and critically engage our errors.”

    Actually, I wouldn’t Aaron. But I don’t expect you to understand this.

  49. I was saved around the time I read Romans. It was Romans 4:5 that really conquered my heart. Unless we’re willing to say that God is a poor communicator (a mumbler?) we can’t smother the (relevant but not exclusively definitive) issue of presuppositions. In a significant way, the text really does speak for itself.

    Jesus prooftexted, and so did Paul, etc., so I feel like I’m in good company if the text is being used responsibly. That won’t satisfy ardent Mormon intellectuals, etc., but for the man on the street, it’s partially the way Christians are called to share the revelation of God. Of course longer exegetical presentations of the larger text are preferred, but in a setting with only twenty minutes, it’s not appropriate to go down a path that requires two hours of discussion over philosophy.

    You’d be better served to prove why what you have is appealing, in and of itself, without any reference or appeal to the authority of a sacred text.

    The Bible is God’s revelation, his testimony, so to denigrate it as a mere sacred text that is less than the dual-authored testimony of God himself would be to disobey God. If I speak in a way that doesn’t finally appeal to the authority of God himself, then I am a charlatan and am seeking my own glory.

    “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18, cf. John 5’s section on appeals to authority)

    I don’t consider a 100% iron-clad guarantee of salvation to be “good news” Aaron.

    Well that sounds like a more foundational issue here, doesn’t it? This assumption of yours prevents your heart from savoring the pearl of great price when it is presented to you.

    Negatives in a blog post will always, ALWAYS carry more weight and be more remembered than positives

    This really depends on one’s heart condition. When I was saved in high school, God really (negatively) exposed my pride and lust and laziness, and it wasn’t fun. God peeling back the onion of my messy heart was a big part of my transformation. But that’s not the precious part I remember. The most precious moments I remember are realizing that I just couldn’t rationalize grace away anymore in light of stark passages like Romans 4:5. The negative aspects of having to “hate father and mother” and “let the dead bury the dead” and “sell everything you have” fade away in view of the small precious pearls of the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. I dare not look back and complain that God and his messengers spent too much proportion of time negatively peeling back the opinion of my facades and pretensions.

    Grace and peace,


  50. I meant, “we can’t smother [the text with] the (relevant but not exclusively definitive) issue of presuppositions”

    Also, “[onion] of my facades and pretensions”

    I am spoiled at Mormon Coffee where authors can proof and edit their comments after posting.

  51. Aaron, I’m not interested in discussing your street ministry and how it is conducted.

    You are not on the street right now. Now you are here – on a blog. How you conduct yourself in a blogging setting is the only thing I am ever interested in discussing with you. In a blogging setting, you are going to need to do more than you are currently doing to be convincing. I don’t care how effective it is in other contexts. It doesn’t work HERE.

  52. Seth, you’re right that street ministry is not the main topic here. But it wasn’t intended to be. The issue was brought up via the parallel I made. The original issue being pointed to is selective listening. That is a relevant issue both for street ministry and communication on the internet.

    Another parallel I’ll make: It’s like reading Romans chapter 3, and being so turned off (hardened in the heart) by Paul’s litany against humanity in verses 1-20 (let alone the negativity in the first two chapters), that you’re not able to savor the pearl of great price that start in 3:21. If you’re not able to savor justification of the ungodly by faith apart from works because you’re too tenaciously unwilling to hear what Paul had to say about your sinful condition, then it’s a heart issue.

  53. Seth, I spent an hour with the church family this Wednesday night in Jeremiah 17. We closed with fascinating discussion.

    I think you and I would both say a hearty amen to the Sabbath sermon beginning at Jeremiah 17:19. It is a kicker for the corrupt, selfish, materialistic, and disobedient culture.

    I cherish Sabbath Sundays, so do my LDS friends. But how we worship on Sunday is determined by how we see Jeremiah 17:9. I tend to believe that many of my LDS friends engage in their Sabbath activity, thinking that their hearts (mind, will, emotions) have from the beginning been good, and it is the recovering or remembering that idea; whereas I am thinking on Sunday Sabbaths about my incurable, stony heart that needed to be completely replaced with a new heart.

    The #7 and #8 in the top ten things not be shared are very important heart issues for me.

    I think our cultural Sabbaths (Jer. 17) are very different because of how we accept Jeremiah 17:9.

  54. Todd, I think you misunderstand LDS teaching on original sin. Nowhere do we teach that mankind was perfect from birth and just needs to “recover and remember.” We teach that before birth we chose to follow God’s plan; that was a “good” choice, but by no means made us perfect or anything close to perfect. If all we accomplish in this life is to “recover and remember” our pre-mortal status, then this life will have been an utter waste of time.

  55. I believe questions of sinfulness with respect to the pre-mortal state are highly different than we would consider them now. So that’s not a question that is going to have an answer we, as mortal beings, would really understand.

    There was freedom to choose God or something else however. That much is certain.

  56. Aaron: Good question. If there was ever a time that I existed before being called to join God then I would say I was probably sinless then: there was no call—no law—to sin against. As a spirit child of God (i.e., premortal existence), I don’t know what kind of choices I had before me other than to follow God or Satan—and I know that I chose God. I don’t know what sins were even possible then—perhaps lying, gossiping, faithlessness? At any rate, whether I was sinless then or not, I am certain that I was not perfect—not one with God.

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