Recent conversational events have left me... stunned, really. Shocked! Totally bewildered. I had no idea
that Christianity was so divided on the issue of Christ himself. Of course I knew that we are spread out over a huge amount of doctrinal ground on all kinds of issues, but I thought those were all peripheral, and at the heart of things all Christians believed more or less the same. I had assumed that we all agreed that: 1.) Christ was the son of God. 2.) Christ suffered to pay for sin. Even the people who don't seem to get that Christ also taught some good stuff about love and tolerance at least agree on those two things, right?
But apparently neither of these things is actually agreed on in any way! And I just don't get it. I really don't! I thought that the Bible makes it crystal clear
that you can't enter heaven as a sinner. That sins have to be paid for. That God is just and requires all accounts settled, and that it's the mercy of Christ that settles them. I... just thought that was obvious.
I guess not.
Apparently... sins don't matter? I don't know! I'm not sure! I can't wrap my head around this. You... read the Bible, believe in Christ, but he... didn't suffer for you? Gethsemane meant nothing, he just sweat blood on a lark? I don't know! I really don't. He was crucified because men are sinful, but that didn't accomplish anything, it just proved that men suck, and kill good people? What? That's the basis for a religion? Augh. I don't GET this at all!
I was just going around and around and around trying to figure it out, and then
something dawned on me. I was trying to explain why I think that it's totally obvious that Christ paid for sins, and wasn't just some sort of divine example, he actually did
something, and I went to look up a scripture I remembered, that said it without any possible ambiguity... and lo! Said scripture is in the Book of Mormon.
There it is. There, really is the evidence that my seminary teacher was right when he said that the Book of Mormon was meant to make the Bible "plain." I still am kind of boggled that somebody could worship Christ and think he was nothing more than a great teacher, but I suddenly at least understood why I have such a different way of looking at things. My faith in Christ is
based on the Bible, but it's the Bible as clarified by the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It's a Bible where if I'm not sure of a particular verse, I can go find a dozen or so other, related verses, and the combination tends to offer insight.
And this just kind of leaves me at a loss. I really can't debate with other Christians when I'm working from an entirely different basis, honestly. I still
think the Bible is pretty clear on what Christ did, but as fundamentalists have proved, you can twist it around if you really try, and make it say what you want it to say. So... I don't quite know where to go from here. I think I'll have to just leave the conversation as it stands, because honestly if they're bound and determined to interpret things one way, they're not going to listen to me unless I can present something inarguable, and I can't do that without stepping outside the little box of the Bible, which is the only reference they'd accept. (Er... I hope this isn't offending anybody! I don't mean to put down Christians who only have the Bible, at all. I just can't quite think how to discuss this with them, because I know 90% or so of Christianity regards the Book of Mormon as heretical at best, Satanic at worst. So even bringing it up at all tends to instantly lose me any arguments I make, but trying to make the arguments without it is frustrating. I was raised on a four-book set of scriptures, and it's like trying to debate the Bible when you can only use selected chapters of the Old Testament. There's huge chunks missing, and sometimes they're not even where you expected them to be.)
But this also lead me to think of something else. You folks, reading this, probably have a lot of different ideas about Christianity, and what it consists of, and who Christ was, and all that. You probably also have a lot of varying ideas about Mormonism, and what we believe. And if I can be floored by finding out what some Christians believe, maybe there's some of you who have just as little idea of what Mormons actually believe.
So... I'm going to tell you. As concisely as I can while still not leaving anything important out, I hope. You're going to get the fourth discussion. (The discussions being the little lessons Mormon missionaries teach people if they let them in, the fourth one being what comes after we've explained where the Book of Mormon came from, our belief that Christ is the savior, and what Joseph Smith did and why we think that's important. Although I know they've changed it recently, so you wouldn't actually get this exactly. Plus the actual discussions tend to be shorter and less detailed than I'm going to get. Anyhow...) This way if we want to discuss religion, we can do it knowing where I'm coming from as far as both the weird stuff unique to Mormonism, and the stuff common (or that I still think should be common!) to all Christians. I'm going to not give all the scriptural references for this stuff, but if you're curious I can provide chapter and verse for most of it.( Collapse )
Whew! That was long. And has still left out all kinds of stuff, I didn't even get into covenants, baptism, temples, or any of that. And heaven knows what else I may have just plain forgotten... Heck, I still don't know
all the details, and I've been studying this for my whole life! There's a lot of stuff in there.
Disclaimer - this is the Gospel According to SPark. This may or may not actually line up perfectly with official LDS doctrine. There is at least some scriptural and doctrinal basis for every bit of it though.