Man's discussions don't do a great deal to move people to believe or disbelieve a particular thing and thus, it is not my place to try to convince you to leave Mormonism. That is the job of the Holy Spirit for it is He that leads a heart to seek God.
Since you objected to the original comment that Mormons weren't Christian, I thought I'd discuss the subject with you a bit. I'm not the A/C that started the discussion. I'm just a Christian depending on God's grace and the blood of Christ to save a wretch such as I am, and trying to do better each day - not because works will save, but because I want to do better for Him.
Works, you see, don't save. The chapter in James that you suggested I read was one I taught on a couple of weeks ago. My take is that a living creature is constantly producing new living cells. If it stops producing living cells it dies. In the same way, the body of Christ, without works. will die. The original members of the body will still be saved, but the next generation, and possibly generations to come will be lost. Thus, faith without works, ends in death of the body.
For your latest comments on spirits, actually, all I'm saying is that the verse you used 1 Pet 3:19 about spirits being preached to as a justification for saying salvation was possible after death is invalid. The spirits being preached to there were the angels identified in Jude 1:6 as being bound and indeed the very next verse in 1 Pet 3:20 and to be clear, the prison is tartarus - not sheol. The symbolic passage in 21 makes clear that it is not the water that saves in baptism, but the faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ - just like the water did not save the 8 at the time of Noah's flood, but the ark. It was not necessary for anyone who believed in God in the Old Testament to be baptized to be saved. Christ went to the paradise compartment of Sheol when He died, identified Himself as the promised one, and led those in paradise to heaven where they have been ever since. He didn't stop to baptize them, and they went to heaven with Him without any proxy operations by the early church.
I simply picked proxy baptisms as one of the key things that set our two religions apart. The other main thing I cited was the very nature of the God you believe in as being some super man that you might one day become. I skipped over the whole goddess concept you have. This idea of man becoming angels or gods is completely at odds with what the Bible says, and thus, even though you believe in "Christ", Christians sincerely question whether that is enough if the "Christ" you believe in is radically different than what the Bible teaches for His origin and existence.
As you are aware of the allegations and accusations, there is little point in repeating them here. Anyone interested can look up Mormonism vs. Christianity via Google and read for themselves. Some of the best references quote directly from BOM and D&C and compare in table form what the Bible says is truth or point out inconsistencies between the BOM, what is taught today via D&C, or what the later prophets of your church have changed.
The thing is, God doesn't change, and His standards don't change - as much as the world would like them to. You can't use the BOM or D&C to argue with a Christian, because we haven't accepted either as divinely inspired - precisely because of the issues many people have raised in their comparisons. If you want to convert us, you must do so using only a Christian edition of the Bible. No Christian will argue that various translations do a better or worse job of translating the original Hebrew or Greek writings than others - if you really want to argue, you have to go back to the original languages to do so. But remarkably, in the vast majority of the translations that have been done, it holds its consistency pretty well across all important theological concepts.
You are responsible for your eternal destiny. Your wife is responsible for hers. Your ancestors were responsible for theirs, but most of them have gone on and now know truth. They can't save you. Your wife can't save you. You can't save your wife. Each individual who knows about Jesus Christ must accept or reject Him and is directly responsible for his own eternal destiny. Seek Him. Study what the Bible says - cover to cover and ask the Holy Spirit to light up the truth of His word - which is the water referred to by Christ to Nicodemus in John 3.
To answer your question about Christ preaching to the spirits, before Christ's death, all souls were held captive. Sheol is divided into two compartments - a place of judgment and a paradise. Depending on a person's standing with God, their soul went to on or the other. There is a gulf between the two preventing anyone from passing in either direction. Christ described this. When Christ died on the cross and won His victory over Satan as prophesied in Gen. after the fall, he went and led the righteous souls out of the paradise side of Sheol, which is now empty (Eph 4:8-10).
Spirits in prison - Angels who had left their first estate and intermarried with the human race creating giant races in Noah's time. Jude 1:6.
The Holy Spirit continues to give words of wisdom and knowledge, along with messages in tongues with interpretation to church members today. Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest God would stop talking to the Church with the Scripture that then existed (or would soon be written down and collected from various letters to early churches) - and the stop forever. However, when new information is given by individuals, claiming to be operating under the direction of the Holy Spirit, a good test to see whether it is truth or not is whether it actually happens as the person said, and whether or not it contradicts what God has already said.
The warnings of Paul in 1 Tim. 1:4 and Gal. 1:6-8 are definitely something that must be contemplated - especially how the LDS church purportedly got its start.
Christ himself declared that the thief on the cross would be with him in the paradise compartment of Sheol that very day when they both died, so it is clear that baptism is not an absolute requirement of salvation. Neither are works, as the thief on the cross couldn't perform any works either.
Baptism is a command to all believers who have an opportunity to perform it, but it is a type of Christ's death and resurrection and a witness to others of your acceptance of Christ - nothing more. It is one of many commands Christ gave. We should try to do the best we can to follow them all, but our salvation is by God's grace through faith alone and not of works - Eph 2:8-9.
As far as proxy baptism goes, Heb. 9:27 declares "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" The judgment is final. There are no appeals available. Thus, it matters not if someone who has not accepted Christ as Savior before death could accept or reject the proxy baptism the Mormons offer. The proxy baptism act is meaningless. God's judgment has already been passed. The same is also true for the Catholic concept of Purgatory which has no basis in the Bible. Luke 16 is an instructive description of Sheol and are Christ's own words. The gulf is fixed. People do not cross.
Acceptance of Christ as Savior is sufficient. The problem between Mormonism and Christianity is exactly as you outlined. Your and our belief in who Christ is is not the same. We agree on his life on Earth. Not much else. This is the crux of the matter.
Mormons and Christians agree on the concept of Jesus Christ as man - the life he led, the things he did, how he died. However, it is the concept of God - what God and Jesus Christ were before Jesus' incarnation, what man is and will become, and the concept of angelic beings, at a minimum where LDS differs from all Christian denominations (Catholic or Protestant, Evangelical or Liturgical). The LDS theology with respect to man and God is very much different than that of everyone else - at least as it has been explained to me by a Mormon bishop. If you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, but that Jesus Christ is as different as night and day between LDS and Christian churches, does God ultimately give a pass because of the deception of Satan or are you just lost because you believed in a God that was different than the totality of Jehovah? Both groups of believers cannot be right. The differences are just too stark.
The LDS theology with respect to salvation is different. Neither Catholic nor Protestants would remotely believe or accept that a proxy baptism of a sinner would make a particle of difference to an eternal destiny, but LDS fervently pursue a study of genealogy in order to add in as many people by proxy as possible to their faith. No Protestant would accept a concept of Purgatory either, for that matter - it's one of the differences that caused the split from Catholicism in the first place. For a Catholic or Protestant, man will always be man. He will never become a god. He doesn't become an angel. The best angel didn't win and get to be incarnated as Christ.
LDS and Christianity have much in common - but they are different where it counts. Just having Jesus Christ in the name of your organization doesn't make the denomination Christian. For that matter, Muslims believe in all the history of Christ up to the point where He died on the cross as well. They just don't figure that God would have ever let Himself die a death like that, so Jesus gets labeled a prophet instead of part of the very select Godhead.
I would agree with most points you make in your last paragraphs and certainly the last one.
I would tend to say that it is too easy to be critical of using particular modern words like rapture and trinity that are - of course - not written themselves in the texts. A quick off-the-cuff reference to what Christian's term the trinity that comes to mind would be the description of Christ's water baptism by John. I would truly be curious to hear an alternative interpretation for 1 Thess. 4:13-18 that is not consistent with what modern Christians term the rapture - regardless of when the church in its history started to think about the meaning in that particular way. To dismiss the spirit of clear non-symbolic passages (as opposed to clearly figurative passages) because of words Christians have tagged them with or how long it took the church to figure it out, or how long it was forgotten by the church when it was understood by the early church just seems wrong.
I don't agree with 100% of the Left Behind theology - it is a work of fiction. But I do think they did get a better than average amount of the prophecy correct, which isn't easy. My biggest issues with their texts would be the extent of the antichrist's kingdom as I think the prophecy would limit it to the extent of the Roman Empire, and I take exception to their mark of Christ/mark of the beast symbols, but overall not a bad attempt to put into readable form a couple of tough books of the Bible to read in most translations. Is it better to try to read and understand the originals? Yes, of course. But most people write off much of the Bible prophecy because they don't have the time or background to try to unravel it. The fact that it is spread over many books some of which refers to near term events and some yet to be fulfilled doesn't help. So while I'd rather people read the best translation of the original they can find, I don't find the fictional texts to be a problem. As you say - people read things many different ways and it will be interesting to see who is actually right or wrong about Revelation interpretations. The important thing is the eternal end point and not a scorecard or grading of unraveling prophecy before hand. And, of course, focusing on the big things would promote unity. Trouble is, agreeing on what the big things are is just as hard a thing to do as getting unity on them.
I suppose that people could take the approach you suggest about the rapture and the planet and not caring about it since it will all pass away. I guess that to me, God Himself is going to beat the planet up pretty hard according to Revelation, so I'm not sure that what we do is going to be noticed. But I would also point out that regardless of the rapture, the timing of it is not foretold. So doing whatever we wanted with the planet would seem to be a pretty silly thing to do - even if we thought it was going to be happening soon. After all, the early church thought it was going to be happening soon as well. We were originally created to be caretakers, and I'd think this should be our goal with respect to the planet itself. Jesus projected a pretty good "waste not" philosophy while on the earth.
As far as the rest, 1 Cor 13 is a pretty good summary of what to shoot for.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit has been going on since Acts 2 for Christians, and a bit earlier if you count Christ. It is one of the divisive issues of the church today, but that doesn't make it less real. Since I have witnessed both baptisms in the Holy Spirit, seen the evidence of changed lives, and have seen the gifts of the Spirit in action, the issue isn't an elaborate construct for me or the Christians I know.
The trinity is clearly present throughout the Old and New Testament.
These are literal Bible truths.
You are correct that Christians today do use terms which are not found in scripture - word for word. We use terms like rapture to describe the events as written in 1 Thess. 4, 2 Thess. 2, and Revelation 4:1 (hereafter being after the church age of Rev 1-3). It is easier to just use one word that is understood among believers than to read out 1 Th. 4 every time you want to talk about the event.
You are right that people who have not heard the truth wouldn't need to hear these things, but if you have been brought up in a Christian household and have chosen to reject Him, you really aren't in that camp.
I won't argue that the church of today has gotten away from what Christ wanted it to be. He tried to make it clear that the church needed to stay united, and every fracture, brought about by sin has fractured the church and weakened it.
Denominations are a curse. But so is the sin in the church that led to some of those splits. Protestantism started because Luther couldn't stand what was going on in the Catholic church and he couldn't find a way to fix it from within. Was he right or wrong? God will decide that.
I can say that the Spirit filled denominations are on the rise and the more classic denominations are failing. The evangelical denominations have had their issues and failures as well because people aren't perfect. You can stand on the outside and throw stones or stand on the inside and try to change things for the better. God wants change first in His children's hearts and then in His church and then in the world outside the church.
You've mentioned LGBT issues a few times. I would agree that Christ would be out trying to save the lost. And once they had accepted His salvation, He would have been telling them to go and sin no more, just like the woman taken in adultery. Preaching against sin is never popular. If you believe people are destined to end up in hell, how is trying to keep that from happening by any means possible wrong? You should love the people and do good whenever possible, But you should also preach the truth in season and out of season.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is the celebration of when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers in the upper room - the first of many examples in the New Testament. Of one thing I am certain - when the Holy Spirit is in control of God's church, things work fine. When He isn't, there are problems.
I think your distillery is broken. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and has been doing so both in and out of religious contexts in all hearts since time began. It is this reason that all can be judged by God at the white throne judgment, for His Holy Spirit has been continually striving with man's individual hearts and actions to draw them to Him.
Thus, morality can indeed exist whether there is religion or not or whether there is a Christian religion or not. This is what was alluded to in Romans 2:11-16,25-29. However, I would suggest that it is much easier to live a moral life with God and the Holy Spirit's help than without it. Thus, even though morality can certainly exist without religion, it is much stronger with it. That comes from both God's help and a collective desire to live up to other fellow believer's expectations. The eternal aspects of this life along with the promise of a future revealing of each man's works also helps to keep people moral.
Sadly, we all fail at times - I more than most, I'm certain. But that doesn't mean I throw up my hands at religion and its bad representatives. I keep pressing toward the mark and try to do better the next week than I did the week before. I hope you can get past your anger. I strongly suspect God is angry at many things as well and his judgment will start with His own house. For every mega-church you are so critical of (and sometimes rightly so), there are 1,000 missionaries toiling in foreign countries with pretty much no resources, and there are hundreds of small community churches that will never be rich on earth led by pastors or priests who will never get rich either and who put in untold hours in His service.
To set the record straight, the reason the early church was successful was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which empowered them to witness, helped change their lives by increasing good qualities (love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness and meekness) to quote the standard list as a baseline, and which gave them power to act and demonstrate the difference between Christianity and the other religions of the time through the gifts of the Spirit.
The fruit of the spirit manifested itself in many ways that you mentioned, but it was that baptism of the Holy Spirit which made the change in heart and attitude possible.
This was the same exact reason that Jesus was successful in His ministry. He had the Holy Spirit in fulness and literally did what He saw His Father doing.
Regardless of your assertions, it is the attitude of the heart that causes the difficulties with God. All things - nice or not nice - are just things. It is the attitude of the heart toward them that causes the issues.
Yes, church history is littered with problems. But it is also littered with truly good people and ministries. You don't hear about them because they aren't news worthy enough to make the news. I remember when the hurricane hit Haiti. One of our church's organizations was approached by news people wondering how much of the donations went to help the people involved. The math worked out to around 95%. They left because they were only looking for dirt due to some other organizations overhead ratios. You can always find problems. Frequently you don't have to look hard because the reports will be helping you find them. But you can also find good if you look.
Jesus taught wherever he could. Much of the teaching time of Jesus (and the early disciples for that matter) was done in the synagogues and the temple at Jerusalem. These were arguably "nice" buildings. They also did a lot of teaching literally in the "field". Jesus, however, didn't spend time teaching on matters of the physical church plant as I recollect. He dealt primarily with eternal issues.
I would also argue that even the early tabernacle that God specified himself was pretty nice, with many gold and silver features. If you translated the dollar value of the portable tabernacle into today's terms you'd be shocked. Solomon's temple was even more magnificent. The New Testament also makes it clear that those who work for the kingdom of God have a reasonable expectation of being compensated. So I am hard pressed to point to scripture that specifically condemns "nice" things. The problem arises when pride, envy, jealousy and the like start to get involved (particularly when things get too nice at your facility or too nice for a particular neighbor church and the people start wishing they could have those things locally as well). The attitudes of the heart are the real danger and not the things themselves.
Every Christian has enough means to give to both God (through His church) and to help the poor. Not all can give monetarily, but all can give something - whether time, money, or materials.
... and pay for it
The love of money is the root of all evil.
That certainly applies to churches who have lost their way, and sadly, there are many of those. But it also applies to individuals who aren't charitable. To tar all religious organizations and their member churches as being alike in wanting your goods is no different than considering all non-religious people as being the same because a few horde what they have.
Christianity started out in homes. There isn't anything wrong with wanting to meet in a nice building rather than homes. But I think that in America the Christian denominations have gone too far in the "nice" department. I would prefer to see more money being sent to missions to help those less fortunate. If churches close because they lose membership or people stop supporting them according to the Biblical standards, Christianity itself will not die. It may even become stronger as Christians stop worrying about who has the nicer stuff. Many of the denominations are losing membership because they have stopped trying to live up to Biblical standards and have let the world creep in. At some point perhaps some of those groups will get a clue and put God back in charge of things and return to His standards.
If you're going to be an atheist and reject God, it really doesn't matter if you adhere to the Christian rule set or not. Christian works won't get you to heaven. Living "right" won't get you to heaven. As you say - you gotta have faith - and do a few other free things - none of which require churches. But if you have many Christian relatives, you already know this.
I'm sorry that you grew up in a denomination or church environment where you never witnessed the power of God. If you had, perhaps you would not be an atheist today. From my personal observations over a long life, He is still working in the world today, just as He promised in His word. I hope you will seek out places where you can see His work first hand. The title of this section was 23 down, 77 to go. The world is rapidly reaching a point where it will be 77 up and 23 left. I know that's optimistic - I don't expect it will be anywhere near 77 up, but I do know that there will be rejoicing and parties in certain circles when we leave. Course, it will get grim quickly. Best of luck - and do seek Him out while He can still be found. He's not hiding, and He isn't hard to find - if you bother to look for Him.
No windows is a stupid idea, but just to be clear - the best you can hope for is crash resistant.
Everyone thinks the cloud is great - till the backhoe goes through your fiber line and you either don't have a backup data connection due to the fiber cut being down the street, or you do have a backup data connection but it doesn't have the capacity to handle everyone running on the cloud. There are many points in the country where even if your ISP does have a backup, you will be down for quite some time while they reroute (and everyone else is trying to reroute as well). When most ISPs in town use the same trunks to get to the real world, you don't even really have many choices for redundancy.
People who live in silicon valley and some countries with really good overall connectivity to all users are spoiled with many options. Out in the flyover area, things are tougher. Then think of places with even less connectivity than the US has.
Keeping the company up and running by keeping the data local has a lot of advantages.
I don't disagree that there were business records kept.
When you put something in the mail in those days, that wasn't tracked by anyone that I know of at that time. It certainly wasn't tracked as it has been in recent years. That was pretty much it for common everyday communication other than face to face. Shipping large items has always been recorded, and they probably wouldn't have gone so far as to ban record keeping at that level. But that isn't the type of communication being debated. What is being debated is normal communication between individuals.
Even at the point of the telegraph's usage in history, I don't think you can claim there were any records kept - everything was pretty much a cash transaction at the telegraph. Clearly the operator at both ends knew what was in the message, but if you went to the office to send one, you were pretty much in the clear on the transmitting side. If you had the message held for delivery on the reception side, the same was true. If the operator knew you, he might have been able to record who sent what, but if he didn't know you, he would have had to rely on who you said you were on both ends and documents were much easier to create in those days if you needed to pretend to be someone else. That isn't to say that you couldn't be spied on if the government chose. That has always been true. But monitoring what everyone was doing would not have set well with the founders.
I think it is a fair assumption that at the very least they would have forbidden government snooping and potentially more.
Pretty sure that the individuals involved in writing the constitution and the bill of rights would have felt such data would have been considered private to the individual. I would go so far as to say they would have required the companies that recorded the data for billing purposes to remove it when the bill was paid without dispute instead of hanging on to it at all. To let the government sift through it would have been unthinkable.
They had a real clear idea of what it took to mount a revolution without the government knowing what was going on. Several of the amendments are there specifically to keep the government from laying a heavy hand on anyone in the future to ensure that what they had shed blood for would not be trampled on again by any future tyrannical powers
It's pretty clear that 200 years have dimmed the collective consciousness of the people. Poor public schooling hasn't helped.
Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe