Saturday, 5 February 2011

my response to a letter from a tbm to his exmormon brother

> As you know it is a sad day when a brother, figuratively and literally, loses his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel as you have recently declared. And so it is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. First, I must tell you that I am sad for you.

I understand that you are sad brother, but I feel good about my decision.

> This gospel is true! Of that I have no doubt.

I know you *believe* the gospel is true. It is not unlikely that you have no doubt. I too had no doubt before until I researched church history and found many issues and events that I was never told about in church, which cast great shadows of doubt on what I have been taught. Even more frightening is that the church (e.g. Apostle Boyd Packer) even admits that "some things [truths] are just not useful" ( ):

In a 1981 speech to educators in the LDS Church Educational System, he cautioned them that "There is a temptation for the writer or teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful." Arguing that teachers should "give milk before meat", he stated that "some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy." Packer's opinion applied to all historians who were members of the LDS Church: he stated, "One who chooses to follow the tenets of his profession, regardless of how they may injure the Church or destroy the faith of those not ready for 'advanced history', is himself in spiritual jeopardy. If that one is a member of the Church, he has broken his covenants and will be held accountable."

and that Apostle Dallin Oaks even admits that the church doesn't represent itself in a balanced way ( ):

"Balance is telling both sides. This is not the mission of the official Church literature or avowedly anti-Mormon literature. Neither has any responsibility to present both sides." (Dallin H. Oaks, Reading Church History, Ninth Annual Church Educational System religious Educators' Symposium, August 16, 1985, Brigham Young University.)

The problem with Oaks' statement is that anti-mormons CAN tell both sides, but the non-faith-promoting information--Packer's so-called "advanced history"--will always be damaging for the church, thus the church is in the weaker and less-truthful unbalanced position because they CANNOT tell both sides or--to repeat myself--it would be damaging. to reiterate once again: the anti-mormon side is the only side which CAN give a balanced view, whereas the church CANNOT present itself in a balanced way.

> has denied the testimony delivered by the Holy Ghost so many times in his life, has caused my heart to grieve.

I know this seems hard for you to understand, but when you realize that most people in all other religions (e.g. 2+ billion christians, 1.5+ billion muslims) believe just as strongly that THEIR religion is true--and have had similar religious experiences to mormons--really discounts feelings and emotions as a valid indicator of truth. In the real world, truth is established by evidence and data that are testable, reproducable and peer-reviewed. It is a good thing that people cannot be convincted in a court of law, merely based upon feelings, but rather by physical evidence which establishes proof beyond reasonable doubt.

> First, I'm angry. I'm angry that you have made a declaration so strong and bold

Please don't be angry.

> "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free".

I understand your desire to quote this phrase to defend your faith, but it is a contradiction to the concept of being a "slave of Christ". I do however think that the more knowledge one obtains, the better the position we are in to make a rational, wise decision. This is how I arrived at my decision to leave the church. After seeing the real *balanced* view of the church, its history and it's contradictory teachings, the choice was quite simple. Feelings and emotions simply cannot trump facts.

> I'm surprised that you've thrown away all that you once knew to be true

what I believed to be true about the church, yes, but I haven't thrown away ALL that I know to be true.

> along with the accompanying blessings that come through obedience

the fact that "blessings" also come to people who DON'T obey "god's" laws nullifies this claim, just as much as the fact that bad things happen to obedient people.

> with so little evidence to back up your new found `religion'.

non-belief in deity is not a religion. the *much* evidence AGAINST the church is the issue.

> I too could be standing in your shoes, the shoes of apostasy.

I call it enlightenment.

> I don't believe you found the `truth' through thorough and thoughtful research; I believe you lost the truth because you failed to `endure to the end'.

to your credit, you use the word "believe" instead of "know" this time. you "believe", but you are however mistaken. I DID thoroughly research the church and have critically thought about it's teachings and what they mean in the real world and how they affect real people in the real world. E.g. Prop8 is a great contradiction to the 11th Article of Faith:
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Attempting to take away the civil rights of homosexuals flies in the face of this claim by the church and it is inhumane. the church's actions and statements against homosexuals are hurtful, have caused immeasurable suffering, suicides and are not something I want to associate myself with.

> At any time have you done all of the following: Attended church consistently all 3 hours; held a calling; been assigned as a home teacher; had home teachers; gone on splits with the missionaries; paid a full tithing; attended the temple regularly; prayed daily; read the scriptures daily? This is full activity, and this is what it takes to stay strong and firm in the gospel.

After my thorough research, I also realized that extreme mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance would also be requirements to stay active and "firm in the gospel".

> Satan is real, and anything less than this slows our progress and opens the door ever so slightly for him to begin to influence us. He never sleeps, is always patient, and takes every opportunity to blind us and make us lose our way. Nothing makes him happier.

the concept of a devil, troublemaker or adversary has existed in religions and many cultures, some older than christianity. it is one way that humans have tried to explain hurtful human actions and has served many well as a scapegoat for responsibility of their own actions. the "satan" figure is actually the church's greatest ally--without him and "hell" there would be nothing to threaten believers with if they were disobedient. in new testament times, when someone started convulsing, people thought they were possessed by a demon. today we know what epilepsi is and we take these people to a doctor, not a religious leader.

> an apostate organization who thought they were being brainwashed and abused. And by the way, they were being brainwashed and abused. Duh!

the major difference between the FLDS and the LDS church, as we all know is the issue of polygamy. brainwashing and abuse however are present in both organizations. here is a great list of attributes and requirements of a cult:

i can easily recognize AT LEAST the following points:
1, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 8...2, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 97, 98

> I personally believe this is the process the Lord expects all of his children to follow.

yes, the church teaches that you should have faith and that "blessed is he that believeth without seeing", but in the real world this amounts to foolishness and naivete. airplanes are not made using faith. you don't buy a car based on faith.

> I've known you for 48 years and I smell a cut and paste.

why do you hold joseph smith to a different standard, who cut and pasted large portions of the king james bible into the book of mormon?

> So, if these words aren't really yours, I don't believe the searching of the factual accounts is yours either.

will you then apply this to your belief in the book of mormon?

> They are men, not Gods.

no, they are "men of god", prophets, the lord's annointed, etc..

> You don't expect every founder of the early church to be perfect, right?
> But if the church were ever being led by a prophet who was not following the Lord he would be removed from his post. That is true.

joseph smith and his polygamous and polyandrous behavior serve as a good example of this actually, but really this line of thinking is contradictory:

* if a man isn't following the Lord, then he will be removed by his post
* he's only a man, he's not perfect
* if a prophet dies, was he not following the lord?
* if a prophet or apostle decides to leave the church because of his conviction that it is wrong, he will be assumed to have not been following the Lord and have been doing evil, even though he has broken no commandment

apologists like to use this fallacious thinking to both take credit for the good and explain away the bad:

* prophet A said X <-- he was speaking as a prophet * prophet B said something contradictory or was shown to be proven false over time <-- he was only speaking as a man > One perplexing fact is that I have never known another religion that professes to know the answers to these questions. In fact they revel in their non-committal reply when they say, "God does not share all his mysteries with men". That's an excuse that means, I don't have the answer because God hasn't told me the answer, because I don't believe in personal revelation. That's heresy in most religions. God is so great that he doesn't talk to losers like us.

when will the exact time of the second coming be?

"God does not share all his mysteries with men"

enough said.

> I know this to be true because if truth is what you are truly after, there is only one place on the face of the earth where you will find it in its entirety… the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

in its *entirety*? are you serious? c'mon....

> we will always love you and appreciate you for the value you add to our family. You can leave the church, but you can't ever stop being our brother.

thank you, i love you too.

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