Culture

October 03 2011
253

I remember seeing them cringe with hurt faces.

Whispers would come from around the corner of the high school hallway as the outspoken Baptist girls would mumble hurt-words like “cult” and “brainwashed.” The girls didn’t think they were heard, but the eyes said it all & gave away their guilt.

The hurt faces told me the choice words were heard.

Their Bibles were bigger than ours. The words sounded funny with lots of thee’s and thou’s written out. They didn’t wear crosses around their necks like we did and they always wore those rings that said “CTR.” They could never go to games on Monday nights because it was Family Night.

They talked about missions and learning different languages.

I filled out my college applications.

We all wore caps and gowns on a hot summer day, then they disappeared for two years. One of them went to Siberia. I had only heard of Siberia in movies with bad Russian villains… but he went there on a mission. I did some asking around and learned that he could only write home on pen and paper. Phone calls were limited to two times a year. He probably walked everywhere, unless he could get a bike.

I can’t imagine bikes being very useful in Siberia.

………………

I’m older now and we’re all in college.

I get invited to a wedding during my freshman year, my friend as young as me. She wears the white dress with sleeves and we all show up at the towering white Temple, with the gold statue on top. She and her fiancé vanish behind the big wood doors with their parents and we’re told to wait outside.

Another guest I know turns to me and whispers mumbled hurt-words I’ve heard before like “cult” and “magic underwear.”

Bride and Groom emerge as Husband and Wife and we cheer. Their parents follow with tear-stained cheeks and wide smiles.

I try to catch a glimpse of the inside of the Temple as the door slowly closes. It’s hard to see anything past the ethereal look of my friend, the bride. We hug and I ask her how it was. She can’t tell me much, but she explains that it was the most incredible, spiritual, God-honoring moment she’s experienced.

Her husband nods and thanks me for coming.

She looks at him with a holy longing.

………………

I’m married now, at home one afternoon, sick with a cold and a day away from work.

Sipping my hot drink by the window, I see two young men, clad in white button-ups with black ties, make their way to my neighbor’s door. I sink back behind the wall, but steal a couple glances. I see my neighbor open the door and not ten seconds later, wave her hand in their faces and shut the door quick with a thud.

The young men take deep breaths, put their chins up and step down from the stoop.

I think of my classmate who went to Siberia.

I wonder how often those young men are invited into living rooms and offered something to eat and drink. I wonder if anyone asks them how they’re doing, so far away from home. I wonder about their parents and how much it must ache to not speak to your child.

………………

I’m at home this weekend and I’ve got my own child down for a nap. I start thinking of our move to Utah, now only two weeks away. Our new house is a quick walk from the Temple. I tune in to their church’s General Conference, where leaders and presidents speak about belief and testimony.

If I’m going to live so close to this, I want to learn, to understand.

They use words I’ve never heard, like “holy priesthood.” The choir is huge. They sing hymns and the camera pans back and shows a picture of the auditorium. Every seat filled. All 21,200 seats.

Twitter lights up. I learn that millions are listening in and watching from home.

The Elders speak about family and unity. One Elder says motherhood is a great calling. I find myself nodding now. A woman speaks to men and says “The greatest thing you can do for your daughter is love her mother.” Family is central. Raising children in the faith is not the work or responsibility of the church or flashy programs. The responsibility rests on mom and dad.

Millions of people come together for two weekends a year. All in different shades of doctrine, but they choose to edify and build up commonality instead of focus on the differences.

I am convicted of my own finger-pointing.

………………

I’m starting to wonder what we’ve been so afraid of.

The Latter-Day Saints are people, just like you and me. They’re single moms and college kids. Stay-at-home mothers and business owners. They’re missionaries and servants. They’re neighbors and co-workers.

They speak of a Jesus that is quite different than mine. I know who I worship. I know the Scriptures that proclaim the Truth I believe. I will stand firm and speak to it when I’m asked.

But…

…maybe instead of shutting the door quick with a thud, or arguing theology until we’re blue in the face, we could open the door of our homes and offer a home-cooked meal. Goodness knows, it’s probably been a while since those guys have had one.

…maybe instead of using hurt-words like “cult” and “brainwashed” we ask our neighbors & classmates about their family, their story, their faith, their hopes, their dreams.

…maybe instead of drawing lines in the sand, we take a cue from our Mormon friends and choose to unify instead of divide.

 

I wonder what we can learn from each other if we choose to let go of fear & anger? What could we learn if we choose to listen?

 

 

253 comments

  1. Nish, I was in Salt Lake City a few years ago for a funeral and met some cousins-by-marriage. Because I was willing to listen instead of preach, I gained some friends, one who has been more than willing to listen to me now.

    There are three poems that go with this story, one of mine and two of his. Read here: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2009/01/three-poems-and-stories-behind-them.html

    Virginia

    Reply
    • Nish

      Virginia, what beautiful words you’ve sewn together. Thank you so much for sharing.

      Reply
  2. I’m from New Mexico, which, like Utah, is Mormon country. Our beliefs are different, but let me tell you, the rest of us could learn a thing or two about family, valuing education, and general all around kindness from these souls.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Caroline, I completely agree. I find it shocking how central family is within the Mormon context… but it’s something that’s lacking terribly in the Christian, Protestant faith. I’m inspired by my Latter-Day Saints friends to make my family unit strong and centered on Christ.

      Reply
  3. Oh, how grateful I am for your words this morning. I was raised LDS & my brother was once a boy in a white shirt on a bicycle in Canada, so far from his Texas home. I remember the stares and the questions, the shocked faces even from friends’ parents when they heard which church I belonged to. Though I am no longer a member of the Mormon church, I am grateful for my experience. The years we were involved taught me to love. They showed me the compassionate hearts of those who brought meals when I was sick and sent me sweet letters when I hadn’t been around for a while. I learned that funny looks and hurtful words will never spread truth; they will never point to Jesus. Only love can do that.

    Thank you for encouraging us to love like Christ, even those we don’t understand or agree with.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Brittany, thanks for sharing about your brother and his mission. I’d love to hear more of your story – how you became a believer in the Mormon faith, then why you chose to leave LDS.

      I love the line you shared, “I learned that funny looks and hurtful words will never spread truth; they will never point to Jesus. Only love can do that.”

      I completely agree. I find that the Christian/LDS relationship is always embattled in who has “Truth”, but it’s never communicated well because the Love is lacking.

      Reply
      • I am actually planning on sharing some of my story in a guest post for a friend’s blog this month. I can send you that link when it goes live. Until then, I would love to connect with you beyond this post! I will find your contact info on your personal blog :)

        Reply
  4. >>I learned that funny looks and hurtful words will never spread truth; they will never point to Jesus. Only love can do that.

    Yes. Let me be reminded of this, daily.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Me, too.

      Reply
  5. loved this post, nish. in fact, yours are the only posts that i continually say YES and AMEN! in my head. thanks for encouraging us to not be so judgmental and hasty to hide when the mormons knock on our doors. there aren’t a lot here in boulder, but i’m sure we could try and open our home next time! Jesus would have, right? :)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Kim. We’re an eclectic bunch of believers and misfits here. :)

      I think it’s so easy to hide and hurt because we choose to assume rather than seek understanding. Praying if the time comes, you open the door & welcome them in. xo

      Reply
    • Hey–funny, I’m pretty sure my church is building a temple in boulder–so compared to other areas of the United States, CO is fairly populated with members.

      I just have to say that I’m very appreciative of the kindness shown to me and my faith in this post, and in the comments. There is much evil in the world, and as neighbors we need to love each other because we are raising our children ‘behind enemy lines’ as was put in this conference by one of the elders of the church. We need to rely on our faith in Christ, and let Him be the judge–after all, we are all taught in scripture that the greatest commandment the Savior gave us on the mount was charity–to love one another. ALL of us are preparing ourselves to hear the truth when we allow Him into our lives, and we need not fear.

      God bless all of you faithful women.

      Reply
  6. This brings back memories of my friend Jason, who I met freshman year of college. I’d never had a Mormon friend before and what fascinated me was that he’d been raised in a Protestant church and converted to Mormonism his senior year of high school after seriously dating a Mormon girl. That forced me to really look at what they believed. We had very interesting conversations that year. He went on his mission after freshman year and we wrote letters. After he finished his mission, he transferred to a different college and we lost touch. What I appreciated Jason was his willingness to talk through our different beliefs. We came to different conclusions but remained respectful of each other. While I don’t have any friends that are Mormon (that I know of) now, I hope I could bring that same respect and willingness to listen to anyone I might encounter.

    I hope that Utah brings many wonderful conversations and shared meals your way, Nish. This is a beautiful perspective with which to begin your time there.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I love that you and your friend Jason were able to land on opposite sides of the theological spectrum, but still remain understanding and loving. You set a great example, Leigh. :)

      Reply
  7. Jessica

    Nish, I just moved back to Cincinnati, OH after living for 3 years in Brigham City, UT. I loved it there. I think my husband and I would move back in a heartbeat if God ever leads. I loved your post. My Mormon friends are very dear to my heart. And it is through seeking to love and understand them that opportunities to speak grace, peace, and truth have happened for me…each time a surprise. And in those moments, more than any other, I felt God at work planting and watering seeds that they may know the real Jesus. And you’re right about the church needing to be untied about the essentials. I felt blessed that our church was part of the Northern Utah Ministerial Association (a collection of churches from different denominations) in which we would unite quarterly to praise God and invite our friends to celebrate and praise God with us while speaking about the real Jesus. Blessings as you seek to love into the kingdom.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience in Utah, Jessica. I’m really looking forward to the move! We’ll be living in an area of downtown that’s a bit eclectic, even though it’s so close to Temple Square. I just pray that I have the same heart that you did during your time there – welcoming, inviting & loving.

      Reply
      • Jessica

        I just thought of this. You may really enjoy learning about Adam’s Road. They were all once formerly LDS. Micah the drummer was bold on his mission and in it God led him to a church to share with a pastor who listened and shared the truth. They share their testimonies on their site. They also come and visit Utah every year, sharing the gospel. http://www.adamsroadband.com/

        Reply
        • Jessica, thanks for sharing this link. I just clicked on their site and wonderful music is playing. They are in Winter Garden, Florida, which is just across town for us. I’ll be sharing this link with others.

          Virginia

          Reply
  8. So appreciate your words Nish. I still find myself sometimes gun shy about my Mormon faith around Christians because of some very hurtful things that happened to me as a teenager growing up in a very religious town. As an adult, I have so much appreciated the open and understanding dialogue between my friends of other faiths. I believe these conversations have brought us all closer to Christ.

    My husband was a missionary in Japan. He still recalls the day he knocked on the door of a Catholic nun who took them in, gave them food and shared her beautiful testimony. They were all lifted up in that experience. I hope someday my children will choose to serve missions as well. I hope they will find people like that sweet Catholic nun who will lovingly share the story of their own path to Christ and give them an afternoon of “mothering” when their mother is so far away.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Carrie, thanks for stepping out in courage and sharing a bit of your story here with me. I’m sorry that you encountered so much hurt and fear in your formative years… I can’t imagine what that would do to me, especially in regards to my faith – something so central to my being.

      I hope your kids encounter abounding love from their neighbors as they seek to strengthen their faith in their missions one day. If they show up at my door, I promise to love them & offer them a seat at our dinner table. :) Peace to you, my friend.

      Reply
      • And if they are acting like immature “know-it-alls” please kindly remind them that their mother (and Jesus) would not approve & then tell them you could really use help raking up the leaves on your front lawn.

        Reply
        • yes, yes, yes!

          Reply
        • Nish

          Okay, that is HILARIOUS. I love this. :)

          Reply
          • This is an absolutely incredibly blog post! I am so grateful for your kind and loving words! I am a Mormon, served a mission, raising my 5 children in my chosen faith. I will never change beliefs, but love to have honest, open, spiritual discussions with those who have open hearts to hear other viewpoints. Please understand if you invite those amazing, but immature 19 year olds into your home they will think you are interested in their message and will probably preach quite heavily to you :) Still love them and realize their zealousness is based in their faith.

  9. Nish, I was so happy and grateful when I saw you tweeting yesterday about watching Conference. I too had my family gathered around close (well, Owen and Henry were often running wild like always) as we listened to words that never fail to inspire me and encourage me to be more like my Savior. Conference is my favorite time of the year, and I think it’s awesome that you have chosen to learn about your new friends and neighbors in SLC rather than judge and fear as is often the case. So refreshing.
    I was one of those missionaries. I spent a year and a half in Argentina teaching people about Christ. It has changed every part of me and I will always be grateful for those who took me in, loved me, and listened to my humble testimony. Just like Carrie, I hope my kids will also choose the same opportunity and the experiences that come with missionary service.
    So often much of Christianity is devoted to the differences between us. In the end, when we strive to be like Christ, however that may look, we are a happier people. Thank you for choosing to see the good! xo

    Reply
    • Nish

      Jess, you know I love and appreciate you so much. I’m so grateful that you would allow me the space to ask questions and push for understanding. Thanks for being a great friend.

      I had NO idea that you were a missionary as well! Would love to hear the stories of Argentina sometime. After visiting Bolivia, I have a soft spot for South America. :)

      Reply
      • Sra

        I was one of those missionaries too. Not as far away as Siberia or Argentina. But some of the things I remember the best are when random people were so nice to us. One guy and his wife gave us a crockpot, a roast, and a box of cornbread to take home with us. (He would NOT take no for an answer either.) Other days, when it was about ten million degrees in the Georgia summer, someone giving us water bottles was literally the best thing that had ever happened to us that week. Those are the truly good people of the world, no matter what religion they follow.

        Reply
  10. Rachel

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am on the opposite side of this, having been raised in Utah and belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our family moved to Colorado over 5 years ago and we joined the local Christian homeschool network. I had heard about antagonism and hatred towards us, but obviously never experience it in Utah. It was shocking to me to find out how much some of my Christian sisters were against me and my children being in the group. Some fought hard to get us kicked out of the group, and when we weren’t, they left (not quietly though). Others fought hard to keep us in, even though our beliefs are different. I had looked at this as a great opportunity to get to know other Christian women that are strong in their faith. I have learned so much from my friends and love them dearly. I admire you for writing this article and being willing to get to know others even though you may not believe the same as they do. That’s part of what this life is all about.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Oh Rachel, my heart breaks that you & your children would be marginalized in such a way. I’m glad that so many took to your defense! Thanks for sharing a bit of your story here. I hope you’re enjoying Colorado – we moved to Oregon from Boulder and I do miss it. :)

      Reply
  11. As I’ve grown older, I have separated myself from the church where I was raised & often times, the Jesus they preached. & I struggle to remember how I felt that Mormans were a “cult.” Was it something said in Sunday School? Or at the pulpit? Was it whispered with judgment at youth group? I cannot remember, but I do remember those hurtful words & feel shame that I said them, without even knowing WHY I said them.

    (which, of course, leads back to my first sentence.)

    What I do remember was in youth group, we were told how to approach missionaries – to invite them in for a cup of coffee, not for the grace of God but to preach to them so they may know “truth.” I remember being taught about the LDS church & conflicting scriptures, to use as weapons against those missionaries. With the prayer that I may “convert” them in my living room, rather than offering grace. With the hope that my belief would dominate conversation, rather than listening.

    My heart? It shrivels at the thought & has always shrunk away from that “responsibility” placed upon me. In the past, I chalked it up to simply not having the voice of gospel as a spiritual gift. These days, I give all the credit to Jesus, the One who loves us all equally, as protecting my heart from becoming hard against other beliefs.

    & while I still hide from anyone knocking on my door (unless they have Thin Mints), maybe one day I will be at peace enough with myself to open the door & invite them in.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I think that’s the struggle I find myself in… being trained to always know a “defense” for anything LDS missionaries might bring up. That’s just not me or my heart. I just want to have dinner & share stories, you know? I think we overlook the value of just knowing each other for the race to conversion…. when, in reality, a heart-to-heart conversation over dinner provides a better chance of productive dialogue than a terse conversation over Scripture during a quick front-porch visit.

      I’m with you on the Thin Mints, sister.

      Reply
    • Mike

      Bethe Anne, I highly recommend you offer LDS missionaries or members something other than coffee, tea, or caffeine add beverages. Trust me as an LDS member. :)

      Reply
      • plain ol’ water it is, then ;)

        Reply
        • we drink lemonade and milk and gatorade too :)

          Reply
    • Pugluv

      I loved the Baptist Church in the small community I lived in for 40 years! I knew so many of the members because as I said it was a small community. The members were always good to me 6 days a week but on Sundays they had one class which taught their version of the “evil Mormons” and what to say if they ever knocked on their doors.

      They made us sound so bad that we had in a year 3 families (newcomers to the area) come to investigate us… they took the discussions and stayed!

      The thing “traditional” Christians (like any could be anymore traditional than we are) is that we do believe in being saved and accepting Christ as our personal savior. We just use different terms. If we are born into the Church or not we all need to be converted; to come to the knowledge that Christ is the only way by which we can live with Heavenly Father again.

      And while “faith without works is dead”, if we did our best to keep all of the commandments and try our hardest to follow every footstep, we cannot, (no one is perfect other than Jesus the Christ) and are and will remain too imperfect to live with our Father! So it is by Father’s GRACE and Mercy and the atonement of Christ that after all we can do (works) to serve God by serving each other (how else can we serve God?) we need Heavenly Father’s Grace so yes we believe in grace. We just do not use the word as other CHristians do,

      Our Church is named after Jesus Christ and yet I have been told all of my life by other Christians that I was not one. I always say “Judge not that ye may not be judged for the manner in which ye judge me is the way you will be judged by the Father.”

      At 71 I really do not care what I am called. I know who I am; a daughter of royal linage… my father is God! I know where I came from… from my Father’s kingdom; why I am here; to learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to serve my fellow man and to make conenants which are everlasting; and where I am going.

      I was the only kid in the Ridgefield WA school district who was Mormon. It was fine until I became active in my own CHurch. Then I was no longer allowed in the “Christian” Bible Study Class held at the Nazarene Church. I had gone there for 2 years and loved it. I could not understand since we all studied the same Bible! There was a group of Reorganized LDS who moved into the district after their small school was closed so I approached them and I was re buffed… Again I did not understand.. We not only had the Bible but the Book of Mormon in common!

      I had my 2 best friends (one died recently and the other and I are STILL best friends) but all at once they could not go to Church with me; their mothers would not let them. They gave no explaination and I didn’t know why. And I have to admit I still do not get it.

      God is love… He says so and He is a God of inclusion not divisiveness. We all need to get over ourselves!

      Love
      Pugluv

      Reply
  12. Thank you so much for writing this.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you so much for reading this. :)

      Reply
  13. this is something i struggle w/… in high school many of my friends were morman– i’m still in touch with them.

    one girl is a dear friend and was in a wedding with me. she had never been to a protestant wedding and i was blessed that she was there. however, at that christian wedding– she was ridiculed. people asked her point-blank about the morman underwear and she later wept because she felt like such an outsider. while i don’t believe in mormanism and their docterine, i also do not believe in shunning someone else for their beliefs.

    there is a problem with how many christians treat mormans and to be honest, sometimes i am apart of the problem. but i am working on it and choosing to extend love– Christ’s love.

    have you ever read a book called “i love mormans” or something to that nature… about a christian moving to slc and loving on the community there. i reccomend it.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Erika, I think we’re all in process. Whether LDS or not, we’re all being shaped and molded every day. The fact that you’re willing to work on it and choose to extend Christ’s love speaks volumes to your character and spirit. Don’t overlook that. :)

      I haven’t read that book, but I’ll look it up! Thanks for the recommendation!

      Reply
    • Pugluv

      I am often asked about my “underwear” and I always answer “Why do you want to know about my underwear? I don’t care about yours!” I say it in a humorous way… well kinda!

      When you ask “Why do you want to know about my underwear?” and if they answer at all they have to admit they are nosy! Who talks about underwear??

      Love
      Pugluv

      Reply
  14. Great post! As born again believers, my husband and I have often invited Mormon missionaries into our home, and offer them refreshments. We would then engage is discussion in beliefs, questioning each other, asking them about where their from, even sharing a few laughs. I do not agree with Mormon beliefs, their Jesus is not the same as the Jesus of the Bible. But, I will say this, they know how to love people, they know how to serve people … they know what being kind is … we can learn a lot from them.

    Reply
    • Nish

      “They know how to love people, they know how to serve people… they know what being kind is… we can learn a lot from them”

      YES. agreed.

      Reply
    • Laura

      Thank-you for all the compliments. I am LDS, and I’m intrigued when you say “thier Jesus is not the same as the Jesus of the Bible?” We believe the Bible to be the word of God. I guess I’m wondering why you think “our Jesus” is different from yours.

      I don’t want you to think I’m trying to get into a heated debate, because I’m not at all. Just curious.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Hey Laura, thanks for stopping in. I actually answered this same question a few times above. Do you mind if I just copy and paste here?

        Here’s how I believe our views of Jesus are different (Orthodox Christianity as opposed to the LDS Church):

        What I understand through the “Articles of Faith” in the LDS tradition is that Jesus is actually a separate divinity from God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (or Ghost, as he’s referred by the LDS church). I believe that there is one God, and he exists in three simultaneous persons – The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. One God, but Triune. Mormon doctrine states that God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Ghost are three separate divinities.

        Another difference would be the actual divinity of Christ. I believe that Jesus was, is and always shall be. He is God (as stated above), with flesh. According to “Gospel Through the Ages,” which is (I think?) considered an approved volume on Mormon doctrine, it is stated that Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, and therefore was created. If God created all things, he created angels as well. But God was not created. He just is. And Jesus is God.

        And because we believe that Jesus was actually God, and the LDS faith holds that he was not God, I think that draws a significant difference in who we believe He is and how that plays out theologically. Where LDS members believe that the Book of Mormon is an addition to the Bible, orthodox Christianity believes that the buck stops at the Bible and no other text is considered the inspired, infallible Word of God.

        I hope that answers your question! Best to you.

        Reply
        • Brian

          Your description of LDS belief about the Godhead is incorrect. In LDS belief, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is One God (Mormon 7:7, 2 Nephi 31:21, Doctrine and Covenants 20:28), but they are not one in substance… what you refer to as divinity. But Mormonism does teach that Jesus was God from the beginning, the Great I Am, and the creator of the universe.

          Mormonism teaches that all people are the spirit children of the Father (including Jesus), and that some rebelled and became the devil and his followers. In that sense, Jesus is the brother of Satan, but so are you and everyone else. So you could just as easily say that the Pope and Hitler are brothers and it would be as accurate. It is an unfortunate anti-Mormon argument designed to deceive, unfortunately.

          Reply
          • Nish

            I guess I’m just confused as to how those two paragraphs can sit together theologically. If Mormonism teaches that Jesus was God from the beginning, the Great I Am, and the creator of the universe, how can that be true if he was created by someone else (God the Father)? If he was the Creator, that would make him the same divinity (substance) as God the Father. Does Mormonism believe that there were two Creators?

          • Brian

            That’s a good question. The creation of the Earth as described in Genesis was the physical creation of this planet. But there were angelic beings with the Father prior to this creation. (see lds.org/scriptures/tg/man-antemortal-existence-of?lang=eng for scriptural references). The distinction between LDS thought and traditional Christianity isn’t that Jesus is different, but that we (humans) are also divine, or have the potential to become divine). We are all of the same substance and essence as the Father, and have the potential to become like him (http://lds.org/scriptures/tg/man-potential-to-become-like-heavenly-father?lang=eng&letter=m again more scriptural references). Jesus was unique because he was like the Father from the beginning, and as a sinless perfect being could take upon himself our sins, and perfect us through him.

            Mormonism does not teach creation ex niliho, but that matter and spirit are eternal, and as such, we have always existed, but that God the Father “created” our spirits and directed Jesus Christ to prepare a physical Earth for us to be born into.

            Again, it goes to the concept of the Godhead (Trinity), in that the Father and Son (and Holy Ghost) are three distinct persons/beings but act as one God, perhaps doing different things, fulfilling different objectives, but still as one God. The Father did not sacrifice himself on the Cross. The Son did not descend as a dove at Jesus’ baptism, but all acted as God. Likewise, the Son created the Earth, interceded with prophets as Jehovah (The Great I Am), etc, etc.

            So, were there two creators? No, there were three creators acting as one God.

          • Preston

            Brian, I would like to attempt to explain the orthodox conception of the Trinity and the issue of Persons.

            In orthodoxy, referring to the Trinity as Persons is not the same as referring to it as parts. Accordingly, the creed reads: “We believe in One God, the Father the Almighty … We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, eternally begotten of God, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father … We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), with the Father and Son He is worshiped and glorified.”

            You see, the confession of orthodoxy is not that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate actors or individual parts of God. Rather, they are all very God of very God, the ONE God. One God in Three Persons. Not roles, not deities, not forms, not aspects, all the same God.

            What is meant, then, by this sameness? It is on this point, in addition to the LDS teachings regarding man, that we disagree about the nature of Christ. LDS holds that Christ is a separate generation of God. A type of God, an other. As if God the Father and God the Son were as distinct as my own Father and myself. This is completely alien to orthodox belief. We hold that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all of the same “ousia,” that is, of the same substance. Jesus is not other than the Father by nature of His being, He is other with regard to His incarnation. In taking on flesh, becoming human, Christ “emptied Himself” as the kenotic hymn of Philippians teaches, that though He was equal with God (Father, Son, and Spirit) He did not hold to the form of God. That is, the form He Himself had being He Himself God. One God. In unity of three Persons, held in divine mystery. But when Christ took on flesh in the incarnation, He maintained the same “ousia” as the Father and the Spirit, for God cannot create against Himself. That is, it is beyond the nature of God to do something which contradicts that which is in God’s nature. It is not in the nature of God to deny Himself, so Christ’s incarnation could in no way cheapen or diminish His being One God.

            What then of the Incarnation? To what purpose did it serve? Here we come to another distinction regarding LDS and orthodox Christianity. The orthodox and confessional faith of the Church holds that we, though foreknown in the mind of God before the foundation of the earth, were not in existence until what was thought in the mind of God was put into agency in the reality of material things. Though I have been a thought in the mind of God since before His Spirit hovered over the water of the formless void, I was not, that is, I was without being, until God ordained and allowed atoms and molecules to collide and burst at the moment of conception between my parents. Parents who, traced all the way back to Adam and Eve, are in the image of God. But image is not the same as form. Christ being in the form of God is Himself God. Adam in the image of God has the attributes of God without the “ousia” of God. Adam is able to discern good, but Adam is not able to ordain good. Adam is able to tend over the garden, but Adam is not able to create the garden. This is the fundamental difference with regard to our conceptions of humanity, that man himself is not the divine.

            Again, the question of the Incarnation. The mystery and majesty of the Incarnation is vested in the reality that when Christ took on flesh the “ousia” of God was not compromised. Rather, orthodox teaching holds that the two natures of flesh and God, human and divine, were married in harmony but without confusion. In that moment, God dignified all of humanity. God made humanity distinctly other than it had ever been before. Before, mortal flesh had no dignity than the hope of God’s eventual plan of redemption. But in the person of Christ and in the Incarnation, the flesh was married to the divine and there was no confusion between them. The flesh was not a cloak or robe, but very flesh of very God. Without compromise to the “ousia” whatsoever. (Accordingly, I am curious as to your claim that Jesus worships the Father in the NT. I see Him pray, I see Him observe the Law, but where do you see worship. Moreover, where do you see Him dismiss people who worship Him? If we are all divine, then in the transfiguration the disciples should have worshiped the glorified Moses and Elijah, but they fell on their face–due in no small part, I am sure, to the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Christ–and worshiped Him.)

            It is this dignifying of the flesh made by Christ, in the fullness of the One God, that becomes the basis for belief in conversion. Through His death and resurrection and the promise of His Spirit, we have been given the promise to participate in the divine. But participating in the divine does not make us, with regard to essence, divine. Your link points to a Scripture spoken by Christ, that we are to be perfect as He is perfect. The Greek there does not mean perfection in the modern sense. It means complete. Brought to a state of finality. Christ commanded that we be made whole, not that we be made morally or ethically perfect through any means save the power of Holy Ghost, which He promptly promises He shall send right after He speaks those words to His disciples.

            What then of the dignity of man? In Romans 8, St. Paul discusses that we share in the inheritance of Christ, that is, if we suffer with Him, so shall we be glorified with Him, He is the first fruits of the resurrects, and in this we shall participate. We too shall be resurrected, bodily, as Christ was. However, we must be careful to not forget this important principle of “ousia.” Christ, having died and having been buried, was resurrected. What changed? Did His body change or His being? We know from Scripture that He still had His wounds, yet He was able to walk through doors, appear places, and do all sorts of strange things that He did not do in His earthly ministry beforehand. We must then conclude that these aspects were not aspects of God but aspects of the resurrected body. A body that we too shall be resurrected to. Such that I too shall experience as Christ a resurrected body that can, apparently, pass through doors. What I will not have, however, is a different essence or “ousia” than I was created with. I will still be my same finite self, glorified but still finite. (Indeed, the very thought of being a creation means that I am without the “ousia” of God, who three in one, was never created and has always been and always shall be.) Again, this is the divergence in LDS teaching, for Christ in His glorified and resurrected body maintained His incarnation “ousia,” His very God nature and His human–now glorified–one. But Christ was never finite. When He emptied Himself, He contained Himself to the mortality of the body before resurrection. After His resurrection, He has still exemplified and dignified the human condition forever, but is still Himself of the same being, the same “ousia” with the Father.

            Orthodox faith rejects the notion of there being three distinct persons with three distinct “ousia.” This is, to put it quite plainly, an early heresy that was completely rejected by the Church. To say so is to presume a fundamental notion of God that cannot be true of Him: that God is a being among beings or the most BEING of them all. God is totally, completely, other. God is of no substance, no detail, no reality that can be spoken of in human terms. As St. Aquinas so eloquently put it, we know God only through His effects. We do not know, nor do we participate in the fullness of His otherness, an ousia beyond comprehension. But through Christ, through the Holy Spirit, and the revelation of the Father we participate in the effects of God, in the fullness of Father, Son, and Spirit, in the fullness of who they as singular person are, One God, now and forever.

          • Brian

            Hi Preston,

            Thank you for your explanation. I appreciate the time you spent writing your response.

            I don’t disagree that there are is a difference in understanding of the nature of God (in defining the oneness of God). Unfortunately, that difference does tend to muddy the waters of how Mormons view Jesus Christ. He is not the same “person” as the Father, but He is God and always was God. But God is not a mysterious form or substance or essence. I cannot even fathom the concept of the Trinity in such terms.

            Mormonism takes the scripture that we are created in the image and likeness of God quite literally. God is not of a different essence or substance than Man. His spirit and our spirit are the same essence, or “divinity” although ours is in an imperfect state. We (Man) are quite literally created in his image both spiritually and physically, and have the potential to become like Him through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

            To Latter-day Saints, the Bible is explicit in this, and look to various Biblical scriptures as evidence of this message. From Genesis when God creates Man in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, see also Genesis 5:3), to when Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and “man is become as one of us, knowing good from evil” (Gen 3:22) to Christ’s commandment to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48), to Paul’s teaching that we are the offspring of God (John 10:34) and Heirs of God, joint Heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17) and a promise that we will one day be perfect men (Eph 4:13) and we will know Christ because we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2) and will be Kings in Heaven sharing the throne of God (Rev 3:21).

            It is also important to understand that Mormons take the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a literal event, and that a major component of His mission was to rise with a perfect physical body. Jesus rose from the dead, showed his body to his apostles, ate, drank and was quite literally a physical being (Luke 24:39). He ascended into heaven bodily, and continues to exist bodily. He did not shed his body (Rom. 6:9). That, to Mormons, defeats the whole purpose of his resurrection, and eventual second coming.

            Mormons believe that salvation means being one with God, being part of God, but not being the same substance or “ousia”. See John 17:20-21 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” So to LDS thinking, Jesus wants us to be one with God the Father, just as Jesus is one with the Father, not in substance but in perfect harmony and purpose.

            Of course, Mormons do not accept the various post-Biblical creeds, not necessarily because they are false, but because they are not Biblical, and not prophetic canon. You will notice I use the term Godhead and not Trinity to describe the unified nature of God, because Trinity is not found in the Bible, but Godhead is. The common diagram of the Trinity where it shows GOD in the middle and three branches from it saying FATHER, SON, HOLY GHOST, with “is” and “is not” arrows pointing in various directions, is in exact harmony with LDS belief. But this concept of “ousia” is considered post-Biblical concept intended to fit a tri-une God into a Monotheistic mold.

            Now, this isn’t to convince you that LDS teachings are correct, but it is to let you know that there is a reason and logic for such beliefs, and although LDS tend not to use proof texts, since they see Biblical interpretation without spiritual witness to be a house built on sand, and can easily falter when confronted with contradicting interpretations, but the Bible does have more than enough evidence to give LDS members faith that their understanding of God is sound and true.

            The best book I have ever read in comparing traditional Christian beliefs with Latter-day Saints is “How Wide the Divide” by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson. It gives both doctrinal understandings explained fairly by each side, without condemnation of the other.

          • Preston

            Dear Brian,

            Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. It’s good to be able to see all this fleshed out a bit more clearly. Of course, there are a number of places we disagree. But there are significant places where we agree, such as the literal resurrection of Christ Jesus. Thank you for taking the time to carefully explain. We’ll have to agree to disagree when it comes to our methods of interpreting the Old and New Testament of the Scriptures, but I certainly appreciate your grace in helping me understand where you are coming from.

            Blessings to you this weekend.

          • Wow! Ya’ll are being so civil and, well….Christlike while discussing a subject that has caused a lot of anger between people of differing opinions. Thank for being such good examples of what Christ would do!

          • well said, maybe if my Longhorns weren’t getting trounced today I would be in better humor….I love what you said about our reason and logic…thank you

        • Pugluv

          If there is only ONE God then at the time of Jesus baptism how do you account for the Christ being in the Water with John the Baptist, the Father’s VOICE from above and the Holy Ghost appearing in the form of a Dove? 3 different entities, as it were.

          Love
          Pugluv

          Reply
          • Cheryl

            It is impossible to truly explain our doctrine and position on a blog comment. This explanation Brian is confusing to me and I am a lifelong member of the church.

  15. Thanks for writing this!

    My church has a few former Mormons in it. My university regularly has college-age missionaries in its public square. My husband grew up with several Mormon families (common in his part of Western New York State) and there are some in my program. Initially I started with many of the same prejudices you had. I think they are misunderstood. Or perhaps it is because we are in a culture that so highly values being “right” and their way of understanding Jesus and God differs from so many of ours.

    Your call for openness, in both heart and front doors, is well timed for me. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      “Or perhaps it is because we are in a culture that so highly values being “right” ”

      Good heavens, yes. I echo those thoughts in my own heart. If I directed the energy from the desire to be right into the desire to love well… it just might change everything.

      Reply
      • “If I directed the energy from the desire to be right into the desire to love well”

        This. This is conviction and grace for me tonight. Thank you.

        Reply
  16. “what could we learn if we choose to listen” just might be one of my favorite questions posted here…

    incredible, nish. your words convict in a way that brings about love.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you, my friend, for your kindness.

      Reply
  17. I like your approach. I grew up with plenty of Mormon friends and the focus on family in that religion always impressed me. The more I learn about Mormonism, the more I do not agree with their theology, but I would rather reach out to my friends in love instead of calling them names. I wouldn’t want any of the folks I meet to think that having Christ in one’s life turns one into a cold, hateful person.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I completely agree. It should be the opposite – having Christ makes us welcoming and inviting.

      Reply
  18. Preston

    “Their Bibles were bigger than ours.”

    This was said often about my Catholic friends. Now that I find myself in a harmony of Anglican and Baptist, geographically placed in an Episcopal Church, my Bible with the Book of Common Prayer woven to its front and the Apocrypha in its center makes me a Big Bible target too. It’s funny, how the seasons shift in our hearts.

    I was raised by devout Southern Baptists who held strong beliefs in the necessity of orthodoxy. But what I remeber from them the most, what I cling to when I tempted to (as our friend has put it) throw stones, is how these two people of faith, of strong, convicted faith, were never too busy or too right to bring someone into our home, to feed them, to clothe them with grace, and to hear what they had to say. There was no deception on their part and our beliefs were given upfront and when appropriate. But there was pie. There was laughter. There was nodding. There was prayer. And there, right there, in the center of that table, was grace. There was Christ. There was Truth. Whether that Christ became known to those at that table, that is a different matter, that is a question reserved–thank mercy!–to the good work of God our Father. But Jesus was present next to half-emptied coffee mugs and the sometimes raised voices. Because that table had been set for anyone to take at seat at it. This, I think, is the greatest of all protests against evil, against that which is false–mild and great, passive or active–to offer it a place at the table. At our table. At His.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I didn’t know you were a red-door person, too! I went to an Episcopal church all through high school. Still has my heart. :)

      At HIS table. Precisely. Thanks for this, friend.

      Reply
  19. Samantha

    Nish, I’ve felt this way for years now. I have many LDS friends and they are some of the most compassionate people I’ve met. As we make our way through this life we should always stand firm in our own beliefs about faith, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow others to stand firm in theirs also. I hope this post reaches many :) Miss you my friend!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Miss you, too!

      Reply
  20. Thank you for this. I have had many wonderful conversations in my living room with various young men who have humbled me with their evangelism. We learn through listening. We also love.

    Reply
    • Nish

      We learn through listening. We also love.

      YES.

      Reply
  21. Julie

    This is so moving. I served as an LDS missionary in Canada, and one of my most precious memories is when a Moroccan family invited us in on a cold night and shared a sampling of Moroccan food with us while we talked about the paths that led us all to Montreal. My most favorite times on my mission were spent simply getting to know the people of the area.

    Thank you for sharing–having spent high school fending off “friends” who wanted to save me, I’ve been lucky in adulthood to have amazing Christian friends of all denominations, and we focus on what we have in common. Jesus. Love. God having a plan for His children. The power of prayer. Faith. Best of luck to you in Salt Lake!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you so much, Julie!

      Reply
  22. As the mother of a Mormon missionary currently serving in Kentucky, I just plain broke down and cried as you spoke so tenderly and compassionately about the missionaries. He is my baby and I miss him so much, but I am so proud of his decision, his faith and his commitment to serve at this time in his life. He does not have an easy time of it in the “Bible Belt” I guess you could say. But he is growing in the ways God wants him to right now – those are his words, not mine.

    Thank you so much for your perspective. I was tweeting General Conference this weekend along with thousands of others. And I live in Provo, just south of Salt Lake. If you need help getting acclimated, just shoot me an email. :)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Oh Julee, I can’t imagine that longing in your heart to speak to your son. And I know you must be so proud. Thanks for your kindness here.

      Reply
  23. JB

    another thank you from another mormon reader.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for being here, JB.

      Reply
  24. It is in the listening. That’s where it is. And it is in friendship.

    When we lived in Texas, I became friends with two women who were LDS who are still so, so dear to my hearts. In parenting, they were more like-minded for me than my friends with whom I share theological beliefs. I’m in tears, even now, thinking of how their friendship was a lifeline to me. I learned so, so much from them. I had never met a Mormon before that (God bless the ones here in Oklahoma, it must be so alienating to be so few and so misunderstood), but now when I see the young men on mission, I think of my friends and I think of how we are all pursuing faith in something that is so hard to believe.

    Your words are beautiful, Nish. Thank you for turning our eyes ever toward love.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, friend. Means worlds to me.

      Reply
    • My son’s best friend is serving in the Oklahoma City area! If you ever come across an Elder Francis, please show him some love. He’s a wonderful young man with a tremendous love of his Savior.

      Reply
  25. Kristin

    Nish, this is just lovely–thank you. I grew up Mormon in Nashville, Tennessee. The weeks after the counter-cult unit in Sunday School at the local churches were never much fun in high school. I’m in my 40s now, and would have thought the hurt was long-gone; I’m surprised at how quickly the feelings (and tears) rose to the surface reading your first paragraph. This was balm to wounds I didn’t know were still in need of healing.

    I also really appreciate your reflections on listening to Conference. My Mormonism fits me less comfortably sometimes as an adult than it did when I was younger, and I can get caught in picking at the parts of Mormon culture and teaching that seem weird and annoying to me. They’re probably different than the parts that seem weird and annoying to others, but the need to listen with charity and find the deep and gracious truth that can make us one in Christ is just the same. Thank you for reminding me.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Kristin, I’m so sorry that you were inflicted such hurtful wounds, even so long ago. I’m afraid the wounds never go away, no matter the hurt. I’m glad I was able to offer some grace and healing through words today. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story.

      Reply
  26. Alicia

    What beautiful words you have written here. Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy the unity I feel when watching and participating in General Conference twice a year and I’m grateful I’ve had great friends and family who support me in my desires to learn. The focus on families was strong during this past weekend and I hope the world does take notice – families are the most important thing in the world. Best of luck on your move to Salt Lake – it’s a great mecca of different cultures and religion. I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for your comment, Alicia. And thanks for your words of luck! We’re really looking forward to the move. :)

      Reply
  27. Remarkable. Thank you for expressing these ideas. I stumbled upon this from a Mormon friend’s FB update — so it appears that this has been noticed and is making the FB rounds among Mormons!

    As an interesting side note, I took a look at your About page and saw this:

    The storytellers and the team behind A Deeper Story are firmly committed to and believers of Jesus Christ. We believe that He was the only Son of God, came to earth as a Man, lived a life without sin, and died on the cross as a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. We believe that on the third day after His crucifixion, He rose from the dead, defeating death and sealing the promise of eternal life for those who believe in Him.

    I thought you might be interested to learn (and most of you are probably already aware) that every orthodox Latter-day Saint can and wholeheartedly does affirm the same beliefs. I certainly do. That could have been written by any Mormon — and I have heard virtually identical statements of beliefs countless times as Latter-day Saints the world over bear their “testimonies” to their congregations once a month in our “Fast and Testimony” meeting. So there is without a doubt plenty of common ground available to provide a wonderful discussion if you ever decide to invite the missionaries in for some refreshment!

    Reply
    • Danielle

      Amen, John! That is exactly what i wanted to say! WE (mormons) believe in CHRIST! We read and study the New Testament and know that he is the Son of God, came to earth as a Man, lived a life without sin, suffered in Gethsemane for our sins, and died on the cross. I loved your article Nish! Your sentence “They speak of a Jesus that is quite different than mine” stood out to me, though. I am just wondering what that means? Is there something specific in our theology that doesn’t sit right to you? Because we wholeheartedly believe in Our Savior, the same Savior that we are all taught of in the New Testament. I know I would be nothing without Him, and I am eternally grateful for Him and for His sacrifice for us.

      Reply
      • Nish

        Danielle, thanks so much for reading! Yes, there are some theological differences regarding Jesus Christ that would render him “different” as I stated in my post.

        Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but what I understand through the “Articles of Faith” in the LDS tradition is that Jesus is actually a separate divinity from God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (or Ghost, as he’s referred by the LDS church). I believe that there is one God, and he exists in three simultaneous persons – The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. One God, but Triune. Mormon doctrine states that God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Ghost are three separate divinities.

        Another difference would be the actual divinity of Christ. I believe that Jesus was, is and always shall be. He is God (as stated above), with flesh. According to “Gospel Through the Ages,” which is (I think?) considered an approved volume on Mormon doctrine, it is stated that Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, and therefore was created. If God created all things, he created angels as well. But God was not created. He just is. And Jesus is God.

        So that’s where I stand on the difference of Jesus. :) Hope that clears it up!

        Reply
        • Rachael

          Nish, I can see where you’re coming from, I’ve heard that logic before. To me, though, it’s like saying that I believe President Obama likes broccoli and you don’t, therefore he’s a different President Obama. With Jesus, I think we believe in the same person, we just believe a couple of different things about him.

          Reply
          • Nish

            I think we’ll probably have to agree to disagree. :) I think by questioning Jesus and his relationship to the Trinity, we’re talking about an entirely different divinity altogether… which does have dramatic theological implications. It goes a couple steps further than the President and broccoli, in my opinion.

            Again, I know we’ll land on different sides of the issue. But I thank you for reaching out and being willing continuing the conversation!

        • Danielle

          well, i’d be the first to admit i don’t know much about other religions….while, i did not grow up in an LDS home, it is the only religion i’ve ever known.
          I was kinda surprised with this answer…i had no idea that other christians had this idea..and that this was one of their “problems” (so to speak) with the LDS faith. The idea of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit being one seems confusing and quite contradictory to everything i’ve ever learned.
          when you wrote that “We believe that He (Our Savior) was the only Son of God” it had me thinking that you believed that Jesus and God were seperate…also, all the scriptures about The Savior referring to His Father
          “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”
          “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” plenty of samplings from the N.T. not to mention our LDS doctrine, that lead me to these beliefs.
          I don’t write this to be rude and I hope i don’t sound rude…just writing in a “wow, i never knew ppl thought that” kind of way ;) anyway, i’m sure that this is something that we’ll always have to agree to disagree on. but, really if you think about it, doesn’t our understanding of it make sense? okok, i know it probably won’t ever make sense to you…but maybe just something to think about :)

          also, yes, we believe Jesus is the Son of God, therefore, He is God’s creation. we believe that every spirit ever created was created by God and that we are all in spirit, brothers and sisters. Jesus was the only Begotten Son of Our Heavenly Father which means that he is the only one to ever walk the earth that had a divine, immortal father, and a mortal mother. Now, ppl get all caught up in the idea that “mormons think jesus and lucifer are brothers” but, really what we believe is that we are ALL spirit brothers and sisters, because God created ALL of us. I guess you have to wrap your head around the ‘God the Father, Jesus the Son’ idea first before this would even begin to make sense, right?! :) sorry for the novel…hope we can still be friends, lol ;)

          Reply
          • Nish

            We can certainly still be friends. :)

    • Nish

      John, thanks so much for stopping in to read and comment. It means a lot to me. I’d be interested to talk about the theological differences between the lines of our about page statement of faith with you at some point! I certainly hope that the opportunity for discussion and fellowship happens when we move to our new home.

      Reply
      • Any time. In such a discussion, I’d be interested to learn, for example, what you see as the source for the concept of the Trinity (as understood by creedal Christians). Do you see that as a biblical concept?

        You might be interested to learn that Latter-day Saints also believe in the Trinity, though we refer to the concept by its biblical designation of the “Godhead” (as found in the King James Version of the New Testament). The theological quibble relating to the Trinity arises, as you hint, from the combination of the philosophical concept of homoousios, or “one substance”, with the religious concept of the Godhead, as found in the New Testament. Latter-day Saints hold firmly to the idea of the Godhead, in which God the Father, his Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are the one true God. (We see support for interpreting the concept of the Godhead as being One God comprising three distinct beings throughout the New Testament. As one example among many, John 17:21-23, which is part of Jesus’ great intercessory prayer, gives insight into the way in which Jesus and the Father are one — and reveals that Jesus’ prayer for us as his disciples is that we can become one with each other and with him in the same way that he is one with the Father. For Latter-day Saints this is all very orthodox and biblical — it’s not even “theological”, really — and we are always puzzled as being defined as non-Christians based on a straightforward reading of this and many other New Testament scriptures.)

        Reply
  28. Susie Lee

    Nish, thanks for writing this. I am a Mormon that lives in Salt Lake (welcome to this beautiful city). I cried as I felt my Savior’s love for all of us as I read your words. They are a reminder for each of us, no matter the paticulars of our different beliefs.
    The Christ I have come to know from the Bible and from The Book of Mormon is compassionate and caring and loves all His children.
    Thanks again, I excited to read more of what you have written.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Susie, thanks so much for stopping in. Yes, Christ loved all and gave all. May we all remember that as we interact with each other!

      Reply
  29. Nish, thank you for your wonderful words. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I have friends of many different faiths. I do my best to find places where we can cross over into shared love and understanding. Love of our Savior and love of family are two of those bridges. Your words are beautiful and powerful. Thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Jo, I’m with you. Shared understanding is always so powerful, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  30. I too saw a link to your post on FB and I’d like to 2nd what john f. said. I grew up in the LDS church and still attend, despite my own faith challenges and frustrations with it. I will say, however, that the reason I am still attending is Jesus Christ. Not because of our other scriptures or our prophets, but because of faith-building experiences that keep me committed to our Savior. Thank you for your beautiful post and your loving, faith-filled words.

    I also live in Salt Lake City. Let me know if you’d like to meet up. There is quite a diversity of culture, religion, and interests here–I’m sure you will be able to integrate with a welcoming community.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Rachael, thanks for coming over from Facebook. I hear this post is making the rounds over there! I’m so grateful. Yes – may we all be committed to things that point us to Christ. Would love to meet up!

      Reply
      • Rachael

        Drop me a note when you’ve settled in. Or if you need help settling in. :)

        Reply
  31. Meredith

    Please love those Wasatch mountains for me when you are in Utah. We lived in Utah for 8 years and have recently relocated to the Seattle area. There is an incredible amount of beauty around me in Washington, but I find myself missing those majestic mountains around SLC! They’re incredible and the powder is world renowned. Promise me you will love the wildflowers at Alta in the summer. Promise me you will make tracks in untouched powder. Promise me you will take your family on one of a myriad of hikes up there. And love those gorgeous Aspen trees (they’re nicer when growing in the mountains and not in your yard :)). Love the red rock in Southern Utah. Love Lake Powell. Ahhhhh, there is so much more to Utah than its Mormonism!

    Reply
    • Nish

      I promise, I promise! :)

      Reply
  32. NoCoolName_Tom

    As an individual who has lost belief in the truth claims of the LDS Church and self-identifies to close friends and family as an Exmormon, I was also touched by your kind words about Conference.

    My current perspective often leads me to be upset with human leaders and human authorities in the LDS Church (and I hate admitting that because it only helps reinforce harmful stereotypes about those who leave the LDS Church). It’s easy for me to focus on the negative messages even when I’m trying to look for the good aspects of what is said.

    However, I don’t ever want to be one of those who throw words like “cult” or “magic underwear” around. I’ll always be Mormon in some genetic way and I’m cool with that. It’s so comforting to see how good can always be found in the perspectives of others, and your post was a great way to reflect on Conference for me and a good reminder to seek the positive even if the relationship is still painful. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Tom, I think your name is quite cool. Simple, but cool :)

      Thanks for taking the time to read and offer a bit of your perspective. I’m with you, in that it’s easy for me to focus on the negative. I’m glad i was able to point out some positives. I pray you’ll find healing as you journey forward out of LDS. Blessings to you.

      Reply
  33. Nish–for an INTJ, I see the Holy Spirit weaving “F” throughout you & it’s beautiful as you look at life with objectivity loaded with compassion. Your heart & words are so Jesus. I appreciate you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      You and your Meyers Briggs. ;) Thanks for your encouragement, Kamille.

      Reply
  34. Suzie

    I really enjoyed your post. I hope you have a great experience in Salt Lake City. There are so many amazing natural wonders and wonderful cultural events near there.

    I am a member of the LDS faith who grew up in Idaho where about 40% of my friends were LDS, 40% Catholic and 20% were of various other Christian and non-Christians. While there was some ‘name calling and whispering’ it wasn’t bad. Then I moved to Eastern Washington and tried tried to join a “park group” and was told my children (ages 3 and 5) were ‘devil spawn’ because we didn’t believe as they did. I wasn’t looking for a Bible study group, I was looking for a group of kids to play with at the park. Later we moved to Virginia and I was appalled at the way Christians treated us. I can’t imagine treating anyone as badly as we were for trying to attend social events or homeschool fieldtrips. There were many times we were asked not to attend because of our religion. The first question asked when I’d call about an activity was what religion are you? Or they would have a very strictly worded “Statement of Faith” and if you didn’t agree with that view you were not welcome. So I started a “I don’t care what religion you practice, just be nice to each other homeschool group”.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Suzie. First, let me just say that I’m so sorry to hear that you were hurt by the words of those who love Jesus. We’re all flawed and hopeless without Him. It breaks my heart to hear how you were treated.

      I’m so glad that you have a heart of “just being nice to each other.” What a great example for your children.

      Peace to you.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your wonderful article. I grew up on a farm in Southern Idaho and served my mission in Washington D.C. (A political side note, my Mission President was Jon Huntsman, Father of Jon Huntsman Jr., candidate for President of the United States).

        While Washington D.C. was a culture shock to me, the experience caused me to love and appreciate people in a way that I did not know was possible. I had the opportunity to share my faith with the King of a country in Africa, with two wonderful people struggling with drug addiction, to close friends of a U.S. Senator in his home, and everything in between. That love for people I experienced in Washington D.C. has never left me. We have cherished friends from our 8 years in Virginia, and 2 years in Phoenix, AZ and 13 years in Utah. I am confident that our experience would be the same wherever we go.

        While I have heard the “hurtful” words, the people behind the words, in almost all cases, are wonderful people. I also feel very lucky that, to this point, I have always been able to have them as a friend. Some took more time than others, but often those have been the most cherished.

        As far as doctrine is concerned, when the Savior redeems us, I believe we will then learn that loving others like he taught will have more bearing on our eternal happiness than our doctrinal belief. One cannot hate his neighbor and truthfully claim to be a follower of Christ.

        My wife, Kathleen, and I would cherish the opportunity to help you feel welcome in Utah. We could teach you the “Mormon Lingo” in less than 30 minutes. You will be amazed at how fast you will “fit-in”.

        Best Wishes

        Les

        Reply
  35. css

    This is beautiful. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, css.

      Reply
  36. Wonderful to see such positiveness here, in your post and all the comments. I’m currently a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I’m on a path that I believe will lead me away from it. I’m in the midst of a lot of bitter feelings and anger, and your post helped me to remember to look back with kindness and appreciation on my years as an active member of the faith. Thank you :)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi, onefootout. Thanks for taking the time to read & share a small window into your journey. I pray that as you leave the LDS faith, you are able to do so with grace and healing ahead of you.

      Reply
  37. It isn’t just the boys that door knock far from home. I spent 18 months in Australia. I rode a bike and got rained on and sweat buckets and killed spiders and ate weird food . . . and loved it. Every day I got to testify of Christ. I’ve prayed with people of all faiths in their homes, on their doorsteps and yes, in their churches. Thanks for taking some real time to understand. Those of us who claim to love God must first love each others. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Science Teacher Mommy! Thanks for jumping in. Yes, I know women go, too! Amazing that young girls would have the courage to travel to someplace completely foreign for two years… I know I certainly didn’t have that courage when I was that age. Thanks for your kind words here.

      Reply
      • Kelli

        Wow, I was with that beautiful, science teacher mommy in australia as her 24 hour, spider killing companion for 4 glorious weeks! The things I learned from her and knowing she has my back are priceless Every young person should have the experiences we had as missionaries to talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, and preach of Christ. Nothing has shaped my life more than those 18 months of my life.

        Having said that, I was really grateful to read your post today, especially after hearing such hurtful words from Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas. He was referring to Presidential candidate and fellow member of the LDS church, Mitt Romney, when he said that he is part of a cult and no good Christian should vote for him. Regardless of your political persuasion, the words are very personal and hurtful. If this were said about any Muslim or Jewish candidate, everyone would be up in arms and the guy would be asked to resign. We are one of the few groups that it is still considered politically correct to treat so horribly.

        Thank you for taking the time to learn more about us and your kind words. It is amazing what can happen between groups when we truly treat each other as we would like to be treated. I hope you find love and acceptance with your move!

        Reply
  38. Thank you for this. I would be honored to call you a friend and a sister in God.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Keli. Likewise.

      Reply
  39. A beautiful, beautiful witness of the Christ that I know and love. We don’t get too many Mormons in our neck of the woods, but yes, a good meal and an evening of hospitality will be theirs now because of this.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I love you, friend.

      Reply
  40. Char

    I have never read your blog before, one of my daughter-in-laws sent me the link this morning. It was the first thing I read today and I have thought of little else since reading it. Thank you for your words. I have a son is serving a mission in Salt Lake City at this time. I hope and pray he knocks on your door and that you will share a meal, but more importantly that you share your faith and hopes and dreams together. You will be surprised that not everyone belongs to the Church in Salt Lake. He runs into people of all faiths and not all are as nice as you will be. Thank you for spreading kindness and unity. For all the moms with sons and daughters serving missions all over the world, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words today.

    I have another son and daughter-in-law that live close to Temple Square, they would love to welcome you to Utah! If you want to contact them, email me.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for reading, Char, I’m glad you’re here. I hope and pray that your son knocks on my door, too. I know that if my son was out on his own, working hard to spread the good news of the Gospel, I’d want good families around him who would love him well.

      Reply
  41. I have never read your blog before, but saw the link on my Twitter. Thank you, thank you for the words your shared! I have grown up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but have lived in North Carolina (where I was the only one in my school that went t to the same church) and now live in Utah, where I attend college. I am the age of most missionaries, and think often of the letters they send me. Sometimes they get so discouraged from being turned away and “shunned” as the “2 Mormon missionaries with white shirts riding bikes.” Thank you for being understanding and realizing that they have mothers, friends, and family members who worry about them as well! We should all be kind to one another, no matter what our religion is. Best of luck moving to Salt Lake City! I encourage you to check out the Temple Square Visitors Center. There is so much information there and sister missionaries from all around the world — they are fun to talk to and hear stories from!

    I am glad you were able to listen to General Conference and see the importance of family. As a single woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I cannot wait for the day when I will marry and have a family of my own! I am grateful there are people like you who see the importance of family that so many seem to forget!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Cheri, for reading. And best of luck to you in your studies! I pray that if being a wife and mother is the honest desire of your heart, that God would bless you that way in your future. Peace to you.

      Reply
  42. Tina

    Dear Nish,

    Thank you for your kind words! The are a tender mercy from a loving God.

    I grew up in Texas and converted to being a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) as a young adult. I have raised all my children in the church. I have always tried to be a good friend to all I meet no matter what their religion.

    I will be sending my oldest son to Chile to wear a white shirt and black tie for his two year mission in less than a month.

    I can only hope that your words will inspire people to open their doors and be kind to missionaries they meet. These are the sweet little boys the ones who cried when they lost their Hot Wheels and when girls broke their hearts. We moms still see the little first grader who was a little scared to go to class. And now we trust to the Lord to watch out for them for two years.
    They believe what they teach but they never want to beat down your door and yell at you to get you to believe. I hope your words will reach the hearts of those who follow your blog to show the same kindness you would show to any stranger, to show their desire to live like Christ did and show mercy and kindness to those who need it missionaries always need it.
    Have a super day and may the Lord Bless you extra for your kind words.
    Tina

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Tina, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your family’s story with us here. I pray your son meets kind families who love him well during his stay in Chile.

      Reply
  43. BGT

    Like several others, I became aware of your post via a Facebook link. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I sincerely appreciate your kind thoughts and attitude. What a great example for ALL to learn from.
    Out here in Utah, it is not unheard of for the opposite problem to occur: I know of several instances where individuals NOT of the LDS faith have been shunned and excluded. Growing up, I was blessed to have parents that set a wonderful example of love and acceptance, and I had several friends from other faiths that were always welcome in my home. Sadly, I also saw as they were frequently given the cold shoulder, the whispered comment and odd look, etc. It was devastating! As you have found, I also discovered that by focusing on our commonalities, we were able to better understand and appreciate one another, and our relationships were strengthened. I have fond memories of shared Bible study, prayer, and more with these friends. All were uplifted, regardless of our differences in theological beliefs.
    May your open attitude be shared by those of all faiths; not only toward Mormons, but from them as well. I pray you will also be the recipient of the same respect you demonstrate. Best of luck to you on your move! I love this great state, and I hope you find much to enjoy as well!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Well it sure seems like it has gone a bit viral on Facebook, eh? :) Thanks for stopping in to read, I appreciate you being here… and for offering a unique perspective on life in Utah. I have hear that once you meet another mother who is not a member of the LDS church, it’s like instant camaraderie, instant friends, because its rare. I pray that I make friends with moms and families from the broad scope of faiths, but you never know. Thanks for your kind thoughts!

      Reply
    • Sadly, I would echo the statement above, it is common for the opposite to occur here in Utah. I grew up in a small town that was about 90% LDS. While I never knew of any problems there, (one of my best friends was Catholic, and I never, ever heard anyone say an unkind word.) I saw it later as a mom.

      In my current neighborhood, we had a family move in about the same time as us. Our oldest boys were the same age and met on the bus, we were both pregnant and in a brand new subdivision with all new people. After we were friends for a while, she told me that she had been very nervous about becoming my friend and letting our boys play together. In their last home, the “good mormons” had treated them horribly and forbade their children to play together because they weren’t mormon. UGH!!! I can’t stand when people do that. They missed out on one of the best friends you could ever ask for. She was so good and kind. I couldn’t believe anyone would shun her and her wonderful kids.

      Above all, that is not Christlike and as an LDS person, it is my ultimate goal to be like my Savior. The Savior loved and comforted all. Thank you for sharing your faith. If more Christians, including LDS, would look to our similarities than our differences, we would find we have so much in common.

      Reply
  44. Electric! Thanks!
    For me I have never quite felt the same way as when they announce the Provo Tabernacle Temple during conference! Whoa!
    -=roger

    Reply
    • Nish

      I heard they were adding a new temple! I’m excited to go see it during the open house once it’s finished. I’ve never seen the inside of a temple before!

      Reply
      • You are in for such a treat!!! I would strongly urge you to not miss this opportunity. I was able to take my three young boys to the open house for the Vancouver, Canada temple and it was something I will never forget and something the boys still talk about today. Seriously one of the best experiences of my life. :)

        Reply
      • Guy Briggs

        The one in Brigham City will be completed sooner, I think. Next September, if memory serves. Drop me an e-mail – my wife and I would love to accompany you to the open house in either Provo or Brigham City, answer questions, etc. See http://lds.org/church/temples/brigham-city-utah?lang=eng#gallery=image-1

        Reply
  45. What great, loving responses to such a fantastic post! Nicely done Nish. I remember sitting at a table with 2 LDS members in a poetry class in college. I still remember the conversations we had about our beliefs and faith. They were two of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. I agree, just because we don’t have exactly the same beliefs, it doesn’t mean we don’t share commonalities. I am so looking forward to reading more about your journey as you and your family make this big move!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks so much for your kind thoughts, friend. I’m looking forward to our journey, too!

      Reply
  46. Mary

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Yes, we are humans, people just like everyone else and like anywhere else you will find good people, kind people, not so great people and well all sorts, we are all individuals. But like everyone else we are trying our hardest to be the best we can, to follow the Saviour, Jesus Christ in His example of love and compassion and following the commandments. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and have experienced much misunderstanding, but also understanding from people like you, willing to listen and see that we are Christians who want to be the best we can and to help others, to love others. Yes, families are so important and that is why we have temples. The temple is beautiful, no I can’t say much about it, but I can tell you that if ever you have the opportunity to go inside (you are moving to Utah and they are always building temples, the Provo Tabernacle will be the new location of a temple, so at the open house, go see it!) and it’s because the work there is sacred. Your friend who was married, she and her husband were sealed for eternity and that is a main part of the joy they felt. We believe our marriages are meant to be forever, that families can be forever and the temple makes this possible.

    It is so wonderful when we all can have more understanding and acceptance of all faiths. We are all children of God and He loves us, everyone of us.

    Reply
    • Nish

      I hope to go see the new Provo Temple when it’s finished! That would be a cool opportunity. Thanks so much for clicking through and reading today, Mary. I appreciate your kind words.

      Reply
      • The Brigham City Temple will be the next one completed in Utah. It’s not too far from Salt Lake. Then you don’t have to wait as long to see what it is like!

        Reply
  47. WOW!

    I am a dedicated Mormon and a dear friend just posted your blog entry on her Facebook Wall. From the time I was a little girl I have been mocked and rejected for my Faith. I grew up in a Bible Belt area of Michigan and was always surprised by the level of bigotry regularly shoved in my face by those who had been systematically taught to hate us.

    Here in Colorado, where we are raising our family, I have continued to experience the rejection and loss of friendship in a variety of social situations. I was having a lovely chat at the park with a Pastors wife whose grandchildren were playing with my children when I inadvertently said something that let her know I was LDS. She stood up, gathered up the children and walked away without looking back. It was a rude and hurtful gesture, after a wonderful two hour long chat about faith and family.

    But I have had so many of these types of incidents clutter my life that I have learned to just let it go. I am so grateful for the churchs “I am a Mormon” outreach on the web. I know it has helped prevent more uncomfortable situations like the one that happened when a sweet christian gal contacted me to write an article for my online magazine for Moms, wanted to advertise, and set up a long term financial relationship, who honestly admitted that upon learning I was Mormon could not affiliate herself or her company with mine.

    With that little button proudly displayed on both my personal blog and my magazine, potential customers, readers, and writers uncomfortable with my Faith can easily identify and RUN back to the safe haven of their bigotry and groupthink around what it means to be a Christian.

    Rejection and Hurts are painful, but it is refreshing to see you write about the bigotry in an open and honest way. Maybe if some on the outside of the Mormon Faith write about this very real phenomenon we can prevent the current hyperbole and hatred of my people from turning into another mob action genocide as was experienced by our ancestors in the 1800′s. Most Americans don’t know the history, but an EXTERMINATION order was on the books in the state of Missouri until 1976 stating that Mormons could either be run out of the state or killed.

    Think it can’t happen in America? It already did.

    Jenny Hatch

    Reply
    • Nish

      Jenny, thanks for sharing here. I’m sorry that you were treated so poorly because of your faith. The account that you recalled in the state of Missouri is shocking! I’m going to have to read more about it.

      Reply
  48. I appreciate your words and your eloquence. What a beautiful post!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you, Katie!

      Reply
  49. As a very happy member of the LDS faith, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this. It is a rare occurrence to hear such positivity from others regarding my religion. I’m afraid the referral to a “different Christ” stuck out to me as well, but I am happy to agree to disagree. I will have to poke around Deeper Story a little more and see what I can learn about other religions. It seems like you have a very respectful attitude to all faiths and I’m sure I could learn a lot here.

    Also, I’ve lived in Utah for the past 5 years. It’s such a great place! Salt Lake will welcome you with open arms and YES GO TO LAKE POWELL. I grew up every summer on that lake, and jumping in the water is like putting on a pair of silk pajamas. Good heavens, it’s glorious. Nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

    And I’m sure you will love the temple open house! I’m so excited to see the Provo Tabernacle re-built. Thanks for a refreshing take on the LDS faith. I appreciate it very much.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Kristin, thanks for reading. I’m totally happy to agree to disagree. And while some folks will let that drive a wedge between them, I try to just let it settle as it may and proceed with the relationship in love and grace.

      The contributors at Deeper Story would all consider themselves followers and believers of orthodox Christianity, so everything you read here will be from that viewpoint. We all fall in different camps within the umbrella of orthodoxy (Calvinists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Arminians, etc.), but we like coming together and presenting different opinions and stories.

      Please know that you are always welcome here and as the creator of this place, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to visit!

      Reply
  50. Nish- I love this post. Thank you. I am a member of the LDS faith and i truly love the way you have describe the commonalities between the LDS faith and Christian, we are Christians after all and I have often found it difficult to find the words when asked about this. For some reason I can speak about many things, but when it comes to my faith it is dear and precious to me and I am not always able to describe what I feel and explain clearly what I believe. But you have inspired me to find my voice.

    I also love that you pointed out the beautiful talks on family and motherhood. I am going to be a first time mom this spring and I found peace in these talks.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks so much, Ashley, for being here and reading. I find it hard to speak about my faith, too. However, if you ask me to write it out, I can easily do that! :) I’m not a great speaker. I’m glad that this post has inspired you to find your own voice.

      Congratulations on your upcoming adventure into motherhood! It’s the coolest thing ever!

      Reply
  51. Brett

    I love this post. As a Mormon, I always feel that way when Jehovah Witnesses come to my door. I make sure to listen, and to be as nice as possible. Because I know how tough it is for members of our faith to do the same thing. I grew up Mormon in the South. In Virginia, in 700 club territory. And I can tell you, it was extreme prejudice. It’s one thing to be told you are in a cult, but constantly being told you are going to hell is a lot worse. My best friend growing up was never allowed to play at my house because of all of the “evil spirits” there. His dad was a pastor. As a young kid, it always made me wonder, what did I do to them to make them so angry at me? Maybe he just wasn’t a nice guy. But I got pretty much the same treatment from others all the way up through high school. Teachers that would like me, until they found out I was Mormon. Not that they disliked me, but they treated me differently. Personally, I think the whole Christian world could use a lot of coming together right now.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Brett, thanks for taking the time to respond here. I grew up in North Carolina… just south of you. The prejudice you speak of was alive and thriving there too. I’m sorry you had to endure it, especially so young. I can’t imagine the sadness and confusion that caused you. It sounds like you’re pretty grounded in your faith… I’m glad something positive came out of it. And yes, I agree… we could all use a coming-together… and even more love & grace.

      Reply
  52. Nish –

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I spent time as an LDS missionary in Northern Germany, where bikes are equally useless, and I wanted to tell you that some of the dearest people I came to know in my time there became so dear to me because they did just what you wrote about: they showed us love and kindness, and they looked for the good we could do together. I learned so much about love and understanding from people, specifically mothers, of all faiths. Thank you for sharing your experience with the blogosphere!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Emily, thanks for writing! I’m glad it reminded you of the beauty you saw in people in Northern Germany.

      Reply
  53. Bryce

    Nish,
    I was one of those white-shirted missionaries. I am from Idaho and served in Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you for this post. We are more alike than we are different. We both have a faith in Christ and a love of God. We both want the best for our families. We both believe in the power of prayer.
    As a recipient of home-cooked meals from kind-hearted strangers, I thank you for this post. Thank you for choosing to listen. Thank you for having an open heart and mind. Thank you for choosing unity.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Bryce, thanks for your encouraging words here. I pray this is only a small start to a healthy relationship between orthodox Christianity and the LDS faith. I pray we can continue to move forward in positive dialogue.

      Reply
  54. Thank you for your kind words and especially for having an open mind about moving to UT. I hope that you will have a wonderful experience living there. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I have a great respect for others regardless of their beliefs or lifestyles. I have always been taught that we should treat others as we would like to be treated and how Jesus Christ would treat them if he were still here on earth. Am sad that there are still so many individuals that do not think that we (the Mormons) believe in Jesus Christ or that our Jesus Christ is different than the one in the Bible. I’m not sure what Bible they might be referring to but we read regularly from the King James version of the bible which I believe many churches use. We also have a book called The Book of Mormon which is a companion to the Bible. The Bible contains a record of His ministry upon the ancient continent while the Book of Mormon contains a record of his ministry upon the American continent. One is not intended to replace the other but together they are two witnesses that Jesus is the Christ and loves all of his Children.

    I commend you for go straight to the source to learn more about your neighbors. If I wanted to know more about the Catholic faith or the Protestant faith I would ask my friends of that faith as they would be able to tell me the truth about what they believe.

    For those that might be curious about “what” Jesus Christ we believe in I highly recommend browsing this site: http://jesuschrist.lds.org/SonOfGod/eng/. For those who might be interested in learning more about the Mormon faith and what the basic church doctrines and beliefs are I recommend browsing this site: http://mormon.org/

    Thank you for providing a positive and accepting platform for comments. Everyone here seems to be respectful and kind. I have friends of many faiths and love them dearly. I live in CA and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are part of an interfaith council where many churches gather to share their beliefs and work together on projects. What a wonderful world we live in. Forgive me for the long post and thank you again.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Kimberly, thanks for your encouragement and your sharing of resources here. I think the reason that orthodox Christians believe that the Jesus of the LDS faith is different lies in the identity of Christ in His divinity. We believe that Jesus Christ is God, part of a triune divinity. God the Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are all one God to us. And because we believe that Jesus was actually God, and the LDS faith holds that he was not God, I think that draws a significant difference in who we believe he is and how that plays out theologically. Where LDS members believe that the Book of Mormon is an addition to the Bible, orthodox Christianity believes that the buck stops at the Bible and no other text is considered the inspired, unfallible Word of God.

      That’s only the tip of the iceberg, and I’m no theologian, but I think that’s a good starting point for helping to explain the difference.

      Again, thanks for stopping in and contributing, I really appreciate it.

      Reply
      • Brian

        I posted earlier on this topic, so I will be brief. LDS doctrine does teach that Jesus is God, one of three in the Godhead (Trinity). He is and always was divine.

        Reply
        • Nish

          Yes, in LDS faith, He is God in his own right, but not the same divinity as God the Father. Correct? Christ is actually seen as an entirely separate being? Just want to make sure I’m understanding.

          Reply
          • Brian

            I don’t know what you mean by “same divinity.” They are not the same being. The Trinity uses the term “three persons”. Mormons say “three beings’ I don’t understand the distinction. They are separate. They have their own minds, and think independently (although are unified in perfect harmony). Jesus can have a conversation with the Father (as the NT has ample examples of). Jesus worships and prays to the Father (also testified of in the NT). But, yes, they share the same divinity, but they are not the same being/person. So, perhaps you need to define “divinity”.

      • Michigan

        Brian and Nish, from what I understand the fundamental difference is that evangelical christians have taken time to draw a line in the sand on the definition of christian (I am not saying this is right or wrong).

        While the definition of christian in the dictionary is the one commonly used by Mormons – namely, one who professes a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ – Protestant Religions have created their own definition of christian. The definition includes, as a fundamental premise, the belief in the Nicene Creed of 325 AD commisioned by Emporer Constantine as he tried to pull all of the sects together with the help of 318 advisory bishops. (This is a tough one with regard to direct revelation from God: because the creed attempts to clarify biblical principles 300 plus years after Jesus. If one does not believe more can be added or subtracted from the Bible; how does one reconcile that this creed is a correct interpretation of the Bible? And yet, for protestants, this is the key principle used to measure other groups professing to be christian.)

        In the end it is about definitions and designed group boundaries and nothing more. The dictionary doesn’t work in these conversations, one group has defined the word in an exclusive way. When a Mormon uses the dictionary definition of the word christian, the other groups cringe and say no, because they don’t use the dictionary definition.

        Pastor Jeffress has allowed this blogger to create a write up using Venn Diagrams to explain the difference: http://fleetingthoughtsiii.blogspot.com/2011/10/pastor-jeffress-misery-of-false-faith.html

        We can agree to disagree, but is sure helps if we all understand each others definition of the words.

        Reply
  55. James

    Nish, thank you for being Christian through and through. I walked the streets of Indiana and Michigan for two years as a missionary, and having a conversation like the many above was a rare gem. It lifts my soul to see that you have created such a loving atmosphere for religious discussion.

    I also want to add my 2 cents about the “different Jesus” thing (don’t worry, I’m not trying to preach or debate, just clarify). While I understand that LDS teachings include many additional doctrines about Jesus Christ than strictly bible-based Christianity, it would be erroneous to assume that Mormons do not have any personal relationship with “the real Jesus.” Every denomination within mainstream Protestant Christianity teaches different doctrines on who Christ is, and what He intended for the church, but this does not mean we ought to start labeling the Jesus as taught by our respective churches as “the real Jesus.” This not-so-subtly implies that “my Jesus” or the Jesus of any other church is fake or false. We should all give our fellow Christians credit for trying their best to understand and follow Jesus.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey James, thanks for offering your thoughts here.

      I don’t doubt that members of the LDS Church have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But, being that we (orthodox Christians) believe that Jesus Christ was actually God, and that the God of Scripture is a triune God, it very dramatically changes who we believe Jesus to be and who God and Christ claimed Him to be. I hesitate using words like “real” as opposed to “fake” or “better” as opposed to “worse.” I don’t think that kind of rhetoric does anything to further the conversation… I do believe that the two accounts of Jesus Christ given in the original canon of the Scriptures, opposed to the account of Christ in the Book of Mormon are two entirely different accounts.

      Like I said. Not real, not better, not fake, not worse… just different. And like I said to an above commenter, I’m no theologian! :) I’m just a mom and a wife trying to live out my faith authentically. But when you say that “Every denomination within mainstream Protestant Christianity teaches different doctrines on who Christ is…” I’d have to disagree. Orthodox Christian denominations, as far as I know, would all claim Jesus Christ to be fully God, part of a Triune divinity, not separate from God the Father. Yes, he was fully man, too. But he was God the Father in flesh. Just as the Holy Spirit is God as well. (I know, it’s a weird concept to wrap a brain around.) But I *think* that’s where we would land.

      I do give my LDS friends great credit for their devotion to following Jesus Christ. I hope I didn’t hint at anything otherwise. I just think that the Christ that orthodox Christians choose to follow is different from the one in the Book of Mormon.

      I hope that clears up any confusion. Thanks again for your contribution.

      Reply
      • Hannah

        Hey Nish!

        I love this article – thanks! And wow, what a response! There certainly needs to be loving and solid dialogue instead of slammed doors and pointing finger. Those take us nowhere but down. I’ve had some great conversations with LDS members, attended their church, and read most of the “Book of Mormon” and “Family Principles”. I have huge respect for them and have been humbled by their devout lifestyle.

        I’ve seen a lot of discussion regarding the difference in belief concerning Jesus. I want to add that the view of who we are as human beings differs dramatically between the Protestant and the Mormon view as well. Again, I don’t want to get into some ugly debate, but I think it’s a hugely fundamental difference. Either we are fallen and in need of Jesus’ sacrifice OR we are capable of the perfection of Jesus (Mormon). I realize that is highly simplistic, but I’m trying to be brief ;-)

        Seeing who I am is a tangible proof that I’m getting nowhere in the perfection of Jesus category and desperately need His sacrifice and the forgiveness received through it. I’d be a really bad Mormon. Thankfully, that doesn’t keep me from being a child and heir of the King. In fact, acknowledging my inadequacy is what brings me to His throne daily – not by what I do but what I could never do and what Christ has done for me.

        In His Grace,
        Hannah

        Reply
  56. Mike H.

    I also appreciate your thoughtful comments. I’m from San Jose, CA, and served a 2 year LDS mission in the Atlanta, GA region. Some people were nice, & truly practiced the love that they preached to have, and others would curse & fume & yell at us. My grandmother said when growing up in Sweden, around 1900, the local State Church Minister would treat her & other LDS members terribly, so insults to LDS members is nothing new.

    I know that religious harassment has gone both ways, though, for one former BYU roommate mentioned his Catholic grandmother was put down by some LDS kids growing up. I do remember LDS Church President Hinckley telling LDS members in a General Conference some years ago not to be “Holier than thou”, when he mentioned an incident like that.

    I still don’t know why a number of “Counter Cult” types feel being demeaning to be the best way to get people to change.

    Salt Lake City is more diverse that other Utah towns. Yes, you will find some jerky or hypocritical LDS members, but you will also find some genuinely good ones. You are very likely to find a church that suits you. Some people hate the Liquor control system there in Utah, but you can still buy it, strangely enough, none of the Utah cities or counties are allowed to make themselves “dry”. Trees & rain will be more sparse than Oregon, so be warned.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Mike, thanks for chiming in. When you say “I still don’t know why a number of “Counter Cult” types feel being demeaning to be the best way to get people to change.” Yes, I completely and whole-heartedly echo that sentiment… hence the post here.

      I wish I had words for the excitement I possess for the substantial lack of rain in Utah. :) I’m ready to get rid of my webbed feet and gills that I’ve grown here in Oregon. Time to put away the snorkel.

      Reply
  57. Elizabeth

    Nish! I, too, learned of your website from a link on Facebook. You probably get the picture now that pretty much the entire Mormon church is SO happy about your eloquent, loving words. :)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Elizabeth, for clicking through from Facebook. I have to say the response to this post is entirely unexpected! But I appreciate the continued dialogue that it has offered. Thanks again!

      Reply
  58. What a great post, Nish. Grace & truth filled!
    Salt Lake City is gorgeous. I hope the move is a great one for you.
    I’ve been there 3 times, on “missions”. Not as LDS. I went as a young adult with my baptist church, 3 different summers. We spent time learning about Mormon doctrine & learned proof texts for what we believed & learn about to argue. the church didn’t present it as, we were supposed to argue. Perhaps they said we were to “engage” in conversation? But, I am ashamed to say my first trip was void of much “choosing to listen”. My second one, I began learning to step back a bit. learning to listen a bit. mostly having my eyes opened to some of the hurtful words & attitudes of my fellow mission team members.
    My own upbringing was very conservative (some may say fundi, some may say patriarchal). I am from a family of 10 kids. I was used to dressing very modestly. I was even part of a group where we wore Navy & White while on ministry trips & folks would tease that we looked like Mormons.
    Anyway, I noticed how the baptist kids I was with were even mocking the family values of the LDS faith. I felt closely aligned with the LDS on a lot of this stuff & didn’t understand where my baptist friends were coming from, to laugh at the big families, etc.
    On that 2nd trip to Salt Lake, I listened to my own team brag about winning debates with this guy & that one & how cool it was that the Mormon had no answers.
    What?
    Still I went back a 3rd summer. My heart was being pulled back. It was different this time.
    I listened. I laughed with the sister missionaries. We talked about many things we had in common. I told them I was a Christian from a baptist church, here to talk about faith. No one was turned off by me this time, because I didn’t have the same condescension.
    I learned a lot. And I met a lot of neat people. I got invitations to all over the world. (Sister from tahiti, I am sure I have your address somewhere still! I may just stop by!)
    this time when we had conversations about our faith, I saw the sincerity in their eyes & the passion in their hearts. And they say mine. Many times, we cried together, because we so wanted the other gal to understand.
    All that to say, I am ashamed of the times I was condescending to various LDS folk who I encountered. But I am thankful that I have been blessed by many.
    I hope someday to open my home with grace for a couple of missionary kids.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Erin, that’s the glorious thing about Christ and the love He possesses for us… we are offered continued grace in the midst of our mess. I cling to that… I hope you will, too. Please know that God grants us conviction… but never shame. So please don’t be ashamed. Accept the grace that you are freely offered!

      Reply
      • You are right, Nish! thank you! Praise God for His grace!

        Reply
  59. I loved this post so much. I too found this post through Facebook and it reminded me that God is wonderful. I truly believe that His hand can be found in all things, including allowing understanding and knowledge to take place in men throughout the world. With wonderful media advances like Facebook, twitter, blogging, television, radio etc… we are able to share and find messages such as yours to lift our lives and fill our souls. While I realize that not all things media related can lift our spirits and minds there are certainly things out there that allow us to grow and advance spiritually and for that I am truelly grateful.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Karli, for clicking through. I’m so glad that the piece was uplifting to you. Peace to you today!

      Reply
  60. Jolene

    I just wanted to make sure you knew that there are other LDS temples under construction in Utah that will be completed much sooner than the one in Provo. I believe the one in Brigham City may be the first so you could attend that open house. My family drove past it on our way home from Idaho this summer and it’s taking shape quite nicely. I hope you can attend and feel the sweet spirit of love and peace found in a temple.
    I hope you aren’t overwhelmed by the “viral” nature of the response you are receiving nor that you will be overwhelmed by well-meaning neighbors upon your arrival. I’m afraid we Mormons are all a bit insecure about how we are perceived by others so sometimes we’re a bit like a lost puppy who thinks its found a new home. I think you’ve touched very nicely on the reason we might behave this way. It’s so refreshing to have some kindness shown us, we tend to respond and respond and respond…. :)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for the heads up on the Temples, Jolene! I’ll have to check in on the one in Brigham City.

      I confess, I am QUITE overwhelmed by the viral nature of the response. I wasn’t expecting it at all! I just sat down at my computer and pounded out the words that were in my heart… it took me all of 20 minutes to write the post. So the massive response is a bit surprising. I’m glad that it’s offering some kindness where kindness has been lacking.

      Best to you!

      Reply
  61. Nish-

    I shed a few tears reading what you wrote; it was completely beautiful. I don’t have anything else to say other than how beautiful it is when we recognize that we are all there for each other. To help each other through life.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for your kind words, Erica. I’m so glad that it touched you and offered beauty to you today.

      Reply
  62. Thank you, Nish, for this thoughtful post. I was an LDS missionary in Switzerland, and to the consternation of my leaders, was often more interested in the beliefs and faith of the Swiss people I met than I was in repeating my own message for the 1000th time. I enjoyed many thoughtful discussions on spirituality and faith with Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and any number of other beliefs. I always learned something!

    25 years later I’m still LDS and now living in Australia (www.aussieshed.com). One of my most cherished experiences has been visiting the Benedictine monastery at New Norcia and eating a meal with the monks in total silence. Yes, we can all learn something from one another, since we’re all in this together. But it only works, I found, when I listen instead of talk.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey John, thanks for sharing a piece of your story. I have to tell you, I’m a bit jealous of your current residence, I’ve always wanted to visit Australia.

      Grateful for your contribution!

      Reply
  63. Kendi

    I want you to know how touched I was by your comments in regard to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a memeber of this church. I am thankful for the spirit in which you delivered your thoughts. Thank you, thank you!

    I do have a personal question for you. I have taken a quote from your message that has given me something to think about. It is as follows: “They speak of a Jesus that is quite different than mine. I know who I worship. I know the Scriptures that proclaim the Truth I believe. I will stand firm and speak to it when I’m asked.” Because I am curious, would you please share with me how our views of Jesus are different? I have been a member of the L.D.S. church my whole life and I have often wondered how others view the Savior of the world. I am sure we share some very similar beliefs.

    Thanks again for being brave and posting something so positive about my faith!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Kendi, thanks for the encouragement you offered here. Yes, I’d love to answer your question. I’ve answered it in a couple of different places above, so forgive me if you’ve already read this answer!

      Here’s how I believe our views are different (Orthodox Christianity as opposed to the LDS Church):

      What I understand through the “Articles of Faith” in the LDS tradition is that Jesus is actually a separate divinity from God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (or Ghost, as he’s referred by the LDS church). I believe that there is one God, and he exists in three simultaneous persons – The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. One God, but Triune. Mormon doctrine states that God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Ghost are three separate divinities.

      Another difference would be the actual divinity of Christ. I believe that Jesus was, is and always shall be. He is God (as stated above), with flesh. According to “Gospel Through the Ages,” which is (I think?) considered an approved volume on Mormon doctrine, it is stated that Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, and therefore was created. If God created all things, he created angels as well. But God was not created. He just is. And Jesus is God.

      And because we believe that Jesus was actually God, and the LDS faith holds that he was not God, I think that draws a significant difference in who we believe He is and how that plays out theologically. Where LDS members believe that the Book of Mormon is an addition to the Bible, orthodox Christianity believes that the buck stops at the Bible and no other text is considered the inspired, infallible Word of God.

      Okay, whew! Did that overwhelm you? Sorry for the lengthy response, I just wanted to make sure I explained it to the fullness of my capability. Hope it helps answer your question!

      Reply
  64. Jettboy

    Although I am thrilled with this post and the many positive statements about Mormons, I am still uncomfortable with many of the premises. Many of them end with something similar to, “And it is through seeking to love and understand them that opportunities to speak grace, peace, and truth have happened for me…each time a surprise. And in those moments, more than any other, I felt God at work planting and watering seeds that they may know the real Jesus.” Now, in many ways Mormons think this way as well, because both believe they have the “real Gospel,” and frankly as a Mormon I do think that. However, I will submit that so long as this is the reason for getting to know each other no actual friendship and understanding will exist beyond a superficiality. Hurt words and name-calling might be worse, but having this as an objective feels just as painful. I know many non-Mormons who have complained when Mormons are like this, so there is no reason it will not go the other way.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Jettboy, I understand your concerns, and while I can’t speak for other commenters (like the one you quoted above), I can speak for myself. I’m not sure that conversion is always a reason that I want to get to know someone. I just like getting to know people for who they are. Because aside from religious affiliation, we all have tremendous value to offer each other… and I’m a fan of that.

      I also don’t think that a heart for conversion necessarily equates to superficiality in a relationship. Before I became a Christian, I had several friends who silently hoped and prayed that I would be led to Jesus. But they were still my friends and they still deeply cared for me, and I trusted them. I didn’t see it as an ulterior motive, but rather as an outpouring of their love.

      I think the underlying premise must ALWAYS be love and mutual respect, whether conversion fits into the equation or not.

      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution here. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

      Reply
  65. First, I offer you a big Welcome to Utah! I love it here. I live in SLC and it’s my favorite place on earth – and I’ve been to a few other places. It’s a beautiful place to live.

    Second, thank you for sharing your experience. As an LDS person, it was very refreshing to hear your thoughts and experiences with my faith. The media tends to shade things how they want, and it’s important for me to hear what the “real” people think rather than what the media projects people think. Thank you! And let me know if you’d like a tour guide. You won’t find someone more bias about their city then me! Ha!

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks, Andrea, for the kind welcome! We’re so looking forward to the move – a little over a week away now! And thank you for taking the time to read here. It means a lot to me.

      Reply
  66. I stumbled upon your site via a fb link. As an LDS member, I truly appreciate your words and respectful perspective… that’s not something I find often online! I hope Utah is a good experience for you. I have many relatives that live in Utah who are wonderful people (I currently live in Washington, but grew up in Portland, Oregon). I’ve had a couple nonLDS friends that moved to the SLC in years past and both had some positive and negative experiences with members… As much as I love visiting Utah and enjoyed my time while living there for one summer in my younger years, I do think a cultural bubble exists there, where some of the members can be judgmental, and/or live double standards… again, NOT everyone, but some. I’m sure this could be the case for any area that is highly populated with one religion (though I must add that I recently learned there are more nonmormons in SLC than mormons). So why am I bringing this up to you? If you do encounter some judgement, please keep in mind that those members are not practicing what we believe, and it’s not a reflection on our church, but that they are human and that they have some learning and growing to do. I hope you love living there. I’m new to your site and look forward to perusing it! Many blessings to you and your family~

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Pamela, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I’m happy to see a fellow Portlander! That’s where we have spent the last five years. While we’re very excited for the move to Utah, we’ll miss a lot about Portland. It was a good home to us.

      I assume, just like moving anywhere, there will be positives and negatives. But, I’m excited to see how those play out specifically in SLC.

      Thanks for your kind words!

      Reply
  67. rach

    Nish,

    Thank you so much for your wise and beautiful comments! I see many people here have had some negative experiences in the South, but I for one loved the time that I lived there. I developed some beautiful, life-long friendships with people of different faiths that took time to have respect and understanding for mine. It is an uplifting and wonderful thing when people ‘choose to listen’ on both ends of the spectrum. Thank you for doing something positive, which is so much needed in a world that focuses more and more on negativity. It gives me hope:).

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey rach, I’m so glad I could offer a few words of hope to you today. Thanks for stopping in to read & encourage!

      Reply
  68. wow.

    just tuning in now, and wow.

    love how you addressed this with such an open heart, nish. love how God is using this site. these words. how you kept it holy, and loving. xo

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you so much, my friend, for your encouragement and continued, prayerful involvement here. You are so cherished. xo

      Reply
  69. Flora

    Wonderful post! We had an interesting experience up here in Canada. As active Mormons, we contributed generously to Focus on the Family to fight against gay marriage legislation while it was still in the courts. After the conclusion of that particular fight, Focus on the Family repeatedly asked for money, as is to be expected by any organization in need of funding. A lovely gentleman flew from Vancouver (we live in Calgary) and asked to meet us in our home to ask for a sizeable donation. We were very frank in that we love Focus on the Family’s goals and purposes. Our concern was that they actively preach against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While we were more than happy to combine forces (and funds) during the gay marriage legislation battle, we thought that our money could perhaps better be donated to causes more in line with our beliefs. He looked astounded and assured us that there was no possible way what we believed was accurate. We were quite happy to have him rebut our concerns and asked him to look into it and to please get back to us. (I mentioned to my husband after he left that he must be a paid fund raiser because he certainly didn’t understand how Focus on the Family as an organization feels about us.) It is very telling that we have never heard from Focus on the Family since. It really does break my heart that we can not be “of one heart and one mind” in fighting evil in the world, even if we do choose to disagree on points of doctrine.

    That sentiment struck a chord again this weekend when we went to see the outstanding movie, “Courageous.” The film is excellent. The wonderful Baptists who produced the movie need to be commended for bringing wholesome entertainment with the purpose of strengthening homes and families. My husband said, “They are such good people.” My response, “It’s so sad they hate us so much.” My feelings, again, were how much good we could do if we could unite in a common cause of promoting good and virtuous living and strong families. I have a feeling your post is a wonderful step in the right direction. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Flora, thanks for stopping in. We’ll probably have to agree to disagree on what is considered “evil” in the world and what needs fighting. But that’s okay. I appreciate your thoughtful response here all the same! And just to be fair… not all Baptists hate you. ;)

      Reply
      • Andrea

        Nish, I just wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so bold and gracious as even to imply that same-sex marriage does not need ‘fighting’ and is not evil. When I wonder how I will one day take my children to church, when I wonder how to equip them to bear up under those who would tell them that their mothers are “loved” by God then turn around and say that everything fundamental to the fabric of their beings is icky-icky evil, I want to despair.

        Yet there is that gentle nudge which reminds me not everybody is cloaked in the mouldering garment of heterosexual self-righteousness; not everybody in a church pew is full of fear or hate. God still breathes grace and truth into hearts willing to hear, and I can keep loving Him, and can one day teach my children that He loves us, too . . . no matter how hard some parishoners may try to prove me wrong.

        I deeply treasure the way you extend Christ’s love on all fronts, here, and not just on those you wholeheartedly agree with. It is a balm to my soul. It is a promise for the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

        Reply
  70. Being in seminary, there are always one or two mormons. My experience with them has been wonderful. I’ve learned some great things from them about their faith, and their values. So different from 8th grade bible class showing us the Mormon Cult videos and how they kill people who leave the church.
    Love makes all the difference, friends.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Yes, Love makes all the difference.

      Reply
  71. Amy Jo

    Thank You for your lovely comments about my adopted faith. I have heard that Ghandi stated, “I like your Christ, but not your Christians so much.” I often wonder how our quarrels over religious doctrine make us appear to nonbelievers and people of faiths that don’t believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Our job, as belivers in Jesus Christ is to Love God, and love people, all people…..period. I can tell that you have figured that part out!

    Reply
    • Nish

      I love that Ghandi quote. It’s a pointed reminder for me to strive to always represent Christ well. I can’t say that I have it figured out like you suggest. FAR from it, actually. I’m taking baby steps… and I think it’ll take me my entire lifetime to gain a comfortable understanding of loving others. Thanks for offering encouragement, Amy Jo!

      Reply
  72. This is for Laura (way up there) … Nish’s reply is exactly what I would have shared with you, I might add too that we don’t believe we will become gods after this life either – there is no proof of this in the Scriptures. Jesus warned believers that others would come preaching another Jesus, and He warned us of them. Scriptures do not teach that He and Lucifer were brothers. Lucifer was a created being, an angel who fell from heaven and from grace. Like Nish said, Jesus always was … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” … “The Word was made flesh.” :o)

    Reply
  73. Loving people is the key. Unfortunately, I find that some Christians can be cold and callous. But I have learned that love goes a long way … so does respecting our fellow human beings.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Yes, I am with you, Risé. Thanks for stopping in.

      Reply
  74. Thank you for this post. I am a nondenominational Christian but my husband’s family is mostly Mormon (or ex-Mormon). I have been embarrassed often by the defensive position that Christians seem to take in regard to Mormons, and why, as a culture, Christians sometimes seem to feel that it is okay to be ugly and judgemental toward other faiths. My husband is an ex-Mormon that is now a Christian but his biggest obstacle in receiving saving faith in Christ was his experience with Christians and Christian churches, and their preaching that Mormonism was a cult. Even IF this is true, it is no way to represent Christ to nonbelievers. I don’t believe that’s how Christ would have approached any human person, and therefore, it doesn’t give us the right to go there either. I take the same stance on homosexuality and other lifestyle disagreements. It’s not wrong to deal directly with sin, but we cannot apply the law to those that are not under the law, and they will not be under the law until they receive the love of Christ, which they should experience from His followers.

    Just my two cents. Thanks for this inspiring post — I know it’s brought a whirlwind into your life, but I think it’s important stuff that needs to be said.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hey Cara, thanks for reading! I’ve often been embarrassed, too. You’re not alone there. The ugliness and judgment needs to stop. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  75. Paula

    Wow. Just wow! I read your post and the comments (all of them!) and want to say thank you for your kind words. The whispered name calling has always been just that in my life, luckily I’ve nad no confrontational awkward moments. This relates to what I was reading just this morning about what Joseph Smith said about his vision of God and Jesus Christ. “Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers. . . I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil. . . . and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age. . . yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among al the sects–all united to persecute me.” Sorry for the dot-dot-dots, I’m a lazy typist, hopefully the idea is still there. (The full quote is here, paragraphs 21 and 22: http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng ). Another thought I wanted to share was about the Mormon cult videos. I wonder how many of my neighbors have seen these videos. Do they truly think my family and I would ever kill folks who leave the Church (and heaven only knows what else). Cause that’s just AWKWARD, am I right? :)

    Moments of open-mindedness, tolerance and even love like your post created here are a healing balm to me. I love you for sharing these thoughts with me today, Nish. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thank you for sharing here, Paula. I’m so glad that the post was healing to you. Peace to you this weekend.

      Reply
  76. Vickie

    Thanks for your thoughts and your attempts toward charitable actions. It is appreciated, and a breath of fresh air compared to the dank stench of intolerance normally afforded Latter-day Saints from some so-called “Christians”.

    Here is something else to think about. Have you considered that the whole “A Different Jesus®” wording is as offensive to Latter-day Saints as the whole “cult” nonsense? I, a Latter-day Saint, worship the Jesus as preached in the Bible. If I worship “A Different Jesus®” from you, then I invite you to worship the true and living Jesus along with me.

    Strangely, so-called Christians who accuse Mormons of worshiping “A Different Jesus®” also claim to follow the teachings of Paul. As I recall, Paul stood up among a group of polytheists with no relationship at all to Christianity, took one of their gods that they called “the unknown god”, and said, “Hey, look! That’s Jesus!”

    So Paul saw fit to say that the Greeks’ “unknown god” was the authentic Jesus, yet so-called “Christians” can’t see their way to saying that the Christ worshiped by the Latter-day Saints is Jesus.

    I think I’ll accept Paul’s example as the Christian way.

    (BTW, Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus was and is God. I understand that you may not comprehend this very well, but it’s still true.)

    Reply
    • Nish

      Hi Vickie,
      Thanks for stopping in to read and contribute. I prayed and hoped that the term “different” wouldn’t be offensive. I chose this term for a reason, rather than using something like “the Real Jesus” or “the Better Jesus.” The reason for doing so is simply because it’s true. The Jesus depicted in orthodox Christianity is just different than the one depicted in the LDS faith. You state in your comment here that you believe Jesus was and is God. I never actually refuted that point. I comprehend it quite well. The difference between the two is that Joseph Smith undeniably rejected the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. By stating that yes, Jesus is God, but he’s not the same God as God the Father and the Holy Spirit, actually paints a very different picture of Christ and his divinity. From what I understand from the LDS scriptural text, Mormon faith believes that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are actually three separate beings, each with their own divinity. They are “one in purpose,” but not one in being. That’s a fundamental difference.

      The other difference is that Jesus is believed to be one of God the Father’s created Spirit beings, just as humans used to be. Orthodox Christiany does not hold that view, since we believe that Jesus Christ is actually the same divinity as God the Father. In the Book of Mormon’s “Book of Moses,” I believe Jesus and Satan contend for the privilege of becoming the Savior. In the end, Jesus wins… but orthodox Christianity would never hold that view, because we don’t believe Jesus was created.

      Again, I don’t meant to say “different” as an offensive term. There are just some very distinct differences of doctrine when it comes to Jesus and who He is in his divinity.

      Best to you this weekend, Vickie.

      Reply
      • Perhaps it would help to say “We believe different things ABOUT Jesus,” instead of “Different Jesus,” since we all know there is only One.

        Reply
  77. Debbie

    Thank you so much for this post. As a Latter Day Saint the most hurtful thing is being told that I am not a Christian. This hurts deeply as I love Christ and try to follow his teachings, sometimes falteringly but as best I can. I am moved by the uplifting and accepting comments here.

    Reply
    • Nish

      Thanks for reading, Debbie!

      Reply
  78. teamwebb

    Thanks. It’s nice to read something positive about my religion. I don’t usually comment on stuff but I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your respectful wise words. I believe this kind of understanding and compassion makes Jesus happy. Whether a different Jesus or the same. :)

    Reply
  79. Kelli

    “Different Jesus” is offensive. We do believe in the same man that walked the earth. Details on philosophy might have some differences, but same Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. Can we leave it at that? We are getting into new territory that takes us from the original piece, which has been fabulous to read. Thank you!

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  80. Thank you so much for this tribute. This really touched me. As a practicing Mormon who grew up in Houston, Texas, I was often on the receiving end of these types of comments (and still am). We blow it off, but it still hurts every time I hear them. I think most of us just wish others could understand us better.

    Reply
  81. It is so incredibly refreshing to witness a Christian online actually acting like one! While I know many people personally who are “good” Christians, I have seen so much abuse and cruel comments directed towards Mormons online that whenever I read a news article related to the LDS faith, I NEVER read the comments anymore because they are so hurtful. With the recent debate about whether or not Mormons are Christians, I think it is fair to say that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Those who spread hate and false judgements are not followers of Christ. Those who spread tolerance and love like you Nish, are most definitely followers of Christ and therefore true Christians.

    Reply
  82. As a long time member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it does hurt deeply when evangelicals say we don’t believe Christ…..it is like saying we don’t believe in the sun. We feel the hatred…..we know that churches teach anti Mormon classes. What to do if missionaries come to your door…as though we are selling drugs and pornography.
    A minister came to my home once on a personal visit to find out how we done some things in our yard. When he found out I was LDS he turned into a lunatic. As he was leaving I asked him about those people who have never heard of the Savior. What happens to them? He looked at me with such anger and told me, “they were lost”. That is when I knew he didn’t know the Savior I knew. My Savior doesn’t lose us…he is mindful of each one of us, we are written in His heart.
    And the Bible is added to. I don’t understand how that escapes evangelicals. Who said Paul could add his words? Or Matthew? The Bible is compiled…..and I love it. I am not as nice as most Mormons…..I get tired, really tired of the things said about us. Three of my children served missions, their purpose was to offer what we have. That’s all…..offer. We don’t approach people and tear down what they have, we don’t have to. We offer, people either accept or we move on. No big deal. Join, don’t join, you get to chose. But until you have been on the business end of folks who claim to love the Savior, but clearly hate some of his children is beyond me.
    I told you I wasn’t very nice…..I am just a salty old woman.

    Reply
  83. Erin

    I was referred here from a good friend’s facebook post. Thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate the understanding that I felt as I read. I grew up in Idaho, went to BYU for college, and (as you may have guessed) have been a Mormon my whole life. I’m now in Omaha, Nebraska for medical school. And I have been very touched and grateful for people like you who have been understanding and non-critical of my faith, even if they do not agree with it. Many of my classmates and I have discussed our differences in faith with each other and have been able to be civil and even find commonalities. If anything, we have all been able to agree that love and compassion should be central to our lives, all other things set aside. So thank you. Good luck in Utah! I miss the mountains and non-humid air. It can be a great place to be. And God bless!

    Reply
  84. Becky B

    Thanks to Nish for such a wonderful post and a respectful discussion, yet open, from many participaters. I am also a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been a member of my entire life.

    I had the opportunity of studying Russian language and culture in university some years ago, and attended the Russian Orthodox church Palm Sunday vespers (Saturday night) service, as well as a couple of other services. I interviewed the priest at length, preparing for me semester report for a class for my degree. I attended a Catholic service for compare and contrast, all fascinating. I also spoke with Orthodox believers and loved their concept of Mary, Mother of God, and the spirituality involved in icons and other aspects of worship.

    I really appreciate the effort at informing each other about sameness–and differences–in beliefs, but having the Christian love to accept each other as children of God, and “agree to disagree.” We really are all more similar than we are different. And the Orthodox priest was one of the kindest people I ever met.

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  85. I made them dinner, I heard their words, I was raised Baptist but the LDS faith and family centered focus pulled me closer to my relationship with Jesus…I began to study the bible and the scriptures, yes the same KJV bible. I’m a better Christian because of it and I plan to convert.soon. don’t be so quick to judge or run away..they are some of the warmest, glowing, loving people that you’ll ever meet.

    Reply
  86. Thank you. Constantly being the person on the outside can be lonely and hard. Thank you for your kind words and open heart.

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  87. E

    Thank you for this post. I will admit, I was really nervous when I saw the picture of the SLC Temple at the top.

    Thank you for the recognition, the acknowledgement, that we’re “not all that bad”. Thank you for taking the time to listen to General Conference (I was away, and still haven’t even caught up myself yet!).

    I love Deeper Story, so much that is written resonates through to my very heart. As many, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, experience as they wander through life, I’ve been having a lot of questions about faith, about doctrinal principles, and so forth. A source of strength has been this blog, speaking openly about God, about faith, about prayer … something that transcends all denominations, even if the subtleties are a little different.

    Reply
  88. Nish, thank you so much for this.

    I really believe in the power of respect and listening. I personally believe that Christ needs many of us in many faiths working together to stand for faith, family, values, kindness. It breaks my heart when doctrinal differences become dividing lines.

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  89. Thomas

    Nish,

    I very much enjoyed reading your article. I was impressed that you would take the time to listen to conference to try and get to know us. I have also enjoyed the civil nature of the comments. Kudos to everyone for remaining so pleasant.

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am saddened when people label us as non-Christian; especially when I hold the teachings of Christ so dear. It never really made much sense to me. But with this talk of a “different Jesus” I believe I now understand where those people are coming from. It all comes down to what you mean by Christian. Those seeking to be exclusive, seem to have redefined the the term to mean that you are only an authentic Christian if you accept the creeds of the “orthodox” christian religions. Under this narrow definition Mormons are not Christians, since we reject the trinitarian view of God, and hence, believe in a “different” Jesus. Naturally, reference to a “different Jesus” will be confusing to those who are not aware of the narrowness of the definition of creedal Christianity. I believe we can agree that our Jesus is different, but I think we will disagree on which Jesus is non-biblical.

    The definition of Christian in the dictionary is one who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. This more common definition is much more inclusive. Under this definition, Mormons are Christian every bit as much as our orthodox Christian brothers.

    One could also adopt a functional definition such as “Christian is as Christian does,” which highlights the notion that one does not become a Christian by adopting the beliefs of a particular group, but by treating others as Christ would treat them, by emulating the attributes of Christ, and receiving his image in our countenance. There are many people, professing Christianity (among Christian denominations as well as Mormons) who would fail to qualify as Christian under the functional definition.

    I feel it important to explain why Mormons do not accept the creeds regarding the nature of God. It is not merely because we interpret the bible differently, but instead, intimately related to the restoration, as we call it, of the gospel to the earth in these latter days. As a youth, Joseph Smith was caught up in the religious excitement of his day. He attended the meetings of many denominations and felt considerable confusion regarding the differences in the doctrines. Seeking divine guidance, Joseph went to pray in a secluded grove of trees where he had a remarkable vision, beholding both the Father and the Son. In response to his question about which sect to join, he reported, “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight;”

    So Mormons believe, that in his first interaction with deity, Joseph Smith learned more about the nature of God than could be found in all the philosophies and creeds of men. This difference in understanding is non-trivial. In the lectures on faith, Joseph Smith said, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”

    The nature of the Godhead is explicitly addressed in an additional book of LDS scripture (the Doctrine and Covenants) where it says, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

    Despite our differences in the understanding of the nature of God and his Christ, we still have much common ground with fellow Christians regarding Christ’s teachings and what it means, functionally, to be Christian. Together we can talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, and prophesy of Christ, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

    Thank you for your part in helping to bridge the gulf of understanding that separates us. God bless.

    Reply
  90. Clint

    Nish,
    First time reader, first time commenter. :) As a Latter-Day Saint, I just wanted to thank you for your kind words and your loving, Christian attitude. I hope you’re welcomed with open arms here in Utah like this Texan has been.
    Yours in Christ,
    Clint

    Reply
  91. Very heartwarming to read this post. Also, I have never seen such a respectable comment section under a post about Mormonism. That says a lot for your site and audience.

    Reply
    • Misty

      Too true :)

      Reply
  92. raedyohed

    Thank you for this bridge-building faith-sharing post. I didn’t have time to read ALL of the comments, but I was impressed by what I saw; Mormons, exMormons, protestants, all talking about faith (theirs and others) and sharing in an uplifting and meaningful way. All the best in Utah! I grew to love it as an east-coast transplant; even as a Mormon it took some getting used to. With your great attitude I’m sure you will love it!

    Reply
  93. Nish! You are famous! Haha! Hey, I was raised Mormon, and so was my husband. I really love love loved this article. We are now Christians and sometimes… all of the times… I am at a loss for words. But yes… love can fill those gaps. Thanks again for these words.

    Reply
  94. I found this post from a friend on Facebook and I was very impressed with you. Not many people will listen to our missionaries, as you experienced, and I am grateful for people like you who, while you might not be interested in our message, you are still willing to open your home and show us a bit of love. I am preparing to serve my own mission, and I pray that there will be people like you in the area I serve =]

    Reply
  95. Rose

    Thank you so much for this post! I really felt your sincere Christianity come through. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) who grew up in the South. Like my neighbors, I believe the only way to heaven is through the grace of Christ, who was the divine Son of God and who died on the cross for me. It was always frustrating to me to be called not-a-Christian, and sometimes to be treated badly for it. Happily, I know far more people who are true Christians and who can love people with slightly different understandings of God. You can always tell a true Christian by their love of God and others, something you can feel even if you disagree about individual points of doctrine. And the people who profess to be Christian and don’t act like it? Well, isn’t that all of us sometimes? It’s easy to know something is right–it’s much harder to live up to it. Which is the whole reason we need Christ, isn’t it? To pick us up when we fall down and fill in the gaps of our weaknesses and lift us to a higher level.

    Now I live in a rural town in Idaho that’s about 110% LDS, and it’s a strange turnabout. :) I find myself wanting to reach out to people who aren’t LDS–just because I know what it’s like to be in the sometimes-misunderstood minority.

    As to Utah–I’ve only lived there to go to college, but if you like doing anything outdoors in nature (skiing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, wildlife observation)–you are there! Quick access to so much public land with so many varied landscapes was something I really missed when I moved back east. Plus, Salt Lake has a great bookstore (the King’s English) and a ton of excellent children’s writers (Shannon Hale, Mette Ivie Harrison, Rick Walton, etc.) I hope you like it!

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  96. I am touched by the Christ-like things that people do and want us to do, some of which have been recounted here. I would like to add something that may help you see that we really are brothers and sisters in Christ and that great good can come from treating each other that way irrespective of the cultural boundaries we live within.

    A few too may years ago I was driving home one hot afternoon and saw a many walking the street in a suit and looking lost. I asked if I could help him. He really was lost. When he told me where he was going I told him to hop in the car and I’d take him there. It was a long way to where he was going, up and down many hot and sticky North Shore Sydney hills.

    When we arrived at his destination he asked what he could do to recompense me and offered me money. I waved it away and tod him it was my pleasure and to pass the kindness forward if he had the opportunity. He insisted. “OK.” I said. “The next time the Mormon missionaries knock your door, invite them in and offer them a glass of water. I know that when I was a missionary I would have loved that to happen to me some days.” Surprised, he said, “OK, I will.” He thanked me again and was gone.

    A few years later, I was at a homecoming talk given by a young woman in Hamilton, New Zealand. She had been serving as a Mormon missionary in Sydney. She had been assigned as senior companion to a new missionary who was having a hard time with the rejection she was experiencing at the doors. One particularly difficult day, the new senior companion encouraged her to make a final attempt for the day at the next door. She did, and to her surprise they were invited in. They shared their message as the person listenned patiently. Then he offered them a glass of water which was appreciatively accepted.

    As they left, the senior companion asked the man, “Why did you invite us in? You clearly had no particular interest in us or our message, but you have really helped us. My companion’s confidence has been restored by what you have done.”

    He said, “Yes, you’re right, I really am not interested in your message, but some years ago a man helped me when I really needed it, and he asked me that the next time the Mormon missionaries came to my door . . . . ”

    “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me” Matt 25:40.

    We get on the Lord’s side when we do what he asks us to do. I think that many of this rising generation are coming to see that more clearly than any before, and that the boundaries that separate us are beginning to melt away as so many more act in a Christ-like manner.

    Thanks for your good works. They strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and in His call to each of us.

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  97. Kristine A

    Thanks for your post – I’m LDS and took world religions at BYU-Idaho.

    I think Mormons are too quick to be offended by not being called “Christian”. My response is, “According to YOUR definition, I’m not. We do not hold to the tenets of the Nicean Creed. According to OUR definition we are.”

    {{In our perspective priesthood authority was lost, and so the gathering at Nicea was basically a bunch of church leaders getting together to vote (literally, they voted) what their doctrine would be. The doctrines voted upon are historical Christianity. Our definition is anyone who believes The Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.}}

    There is not one religion or creed that holds a monopoly on what the definition of “Christian” is. I think what is in our hearts and if we act and treat others as Christ would act, more defines our Christianity than the doctrines of the church we belong to. I’ve met a lot of rotten Mormons and Protestants. I’ve also met Baptists that are better Christians than most Mormons. I think there are likely even many Muslims who are more Christlike and have a better relationship with their Creator than those who claim Christian status.

    I think all this back and forth is silly.

    God is LOVE.

    Reply
  98. Kristine A

    ps I don’t mean the back and forth about the comments here – I mean the finger pointing and everlasting arguments of who is Christian and hurt feelings, etc. There has been very respectful comments here.

    Reply
  99. Wow! What a wonderful post. After we were first married we lived right near where you’re moving. It’s quite a liberal area for Utah — so it will be interesting seeing what kind of a feel you get for our state!! We enjoyed living there; we enjoyed the history and being able to walk everywhere and being in the middle of it all.

    I enjoyed reading about your respect for members of the LDS faith and your willingness to listen. I found it somewhat ironic that you sensed such high regard for families at our General Conference (that sounds really awful because we do highly regard families!). Yes, that’s what we teach, but a bit back I was really having a hard time finding exceptional examples of LDS women who really loved being mothers! Seemed like everyone was trying to get away from it. However, I found some awesome evangelicals and other Christians who really set a great example for me. My eyes were truly opened to the goodness and faith of other Christians (having grown up in Utah most of my life, I just haven’t had too many experiences with people not of my faith). Since that journey, I have found many LDS women willing to stand up for faith and family, too. We can all learn from each other. Thanks for the tone of your blog!

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  100. This has been such an interesting conversation, and it makes me hopeful to see so many comments wherein all are courteous and respectful to one another.

    I am an LDS woman, and this has been a refreshing read for me today.

    Thanks, Nish!

    =)

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  101. Jason

    Nish,

    It is nice to see kind words as you have written, seeking understanding and friendship in spite of theological differences. I grew up in what we would call a part member familly. My mother and I are members and my father is not. I think it helped give me the perspective to seek common ground in faith rather then emphasizing differences. I have wonderful friends and family members of many faiths. Religion has never dictated who my friends are, how we treated each other did.

    Thank you for this article.

    Reply
  102. Rose

    @ Preston and Brian,

    Thanks for such a clear, thoughtful, complete explanation of your respective ways of understanding the nature of God! Really appreciate your doing it in a way that respects someone of another opinion, too.

    Reply
  103. Wendy Stebar

    “The Lord looketh on the heart.” It does my heart good to hear such guileless responses to theological differences of our chosen faiths. The love that Jesus Christ has for both you and me and our brothers and sisters throughout the whole world is evident in His priceless gift of The Atonement which He freely gave. He suffered and died for our sins, He arose on the third day, He lives!

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  104. Wendy Stebar

    This above exchange was so cool! We would all do well to take a lesson from your playbook of kindness and mutual respect. Bravo!

    Reply
  105. Nish, thank you for showing by your example what it means to be a good Christian with regard to respecting people of other faiths and recognizing the good in them. Your love and compassion for your neighbors is a good example to all. Thank you for all of your kind words!

    A few Latter-day Saints have commented about your statement, “They speak of a Jesus that is quite different than mine.” I know that you did not intend for this to be an offensive statement and that you tried to choose your words carefully, as you told Vickie in response to her comment. However, you may not realize that the reason why several people are commenting about it is that saying that Mormons believe in a “different Jesus” is just as cutting of a hurt-word for Latter-day Saints as “cult,” if not more so. It’s hurtful because it’s a common mischaracterization of Latter-day Saint beliefs used by anti-Mormons to discredit the faith. At the very least, the perpetuation of this notion of a “different Jesus” demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of LDS beliefs. It implies that we are not real Christians; if you think we believe in a false Christ, then how could you think we are true Christians?

    Of course I don’t mind if you disagree with some of our beliefs. I would, however, like to explain a few Latter-day Saint beliefs to hopefully help you and other readers to better understand what we believe and why we believe it, and especially that we believe in the Jesus of the Bible and are true Christians. I’ll try to mostly limit this response to just a few specific issues you have raised.

    Here’s what I, as a “Mormon” or Latter-day Saint, believe about Jesus:

    I believe in the Jesus Christ of the Holy Bible. I believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus under humble circumstances in Bethlehem and that angels announced His birth (Luke 2). I believe that He was more than merely a prophet or a great teacher. I believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah (John 1:41), the Son of God (Matthew 3:17), the Savior (1 Timothy 4:10), and our Redeemer (Ephesians 1:7). I believe that the only way we can be saved is through His grace, His mercy, and His suffering and death on the cross and subsequent resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4; 15:20). I love Jesus Christ with all of my heart. I read and study His words. I look forward to His Second Coming. I seek to be His disciple and to follow His teachings and the example He gave us in the New Testament.

    Are you certain that we believe in a different Jesus?

    Nish, in your response to Laura, you wrote the following:

    “Another difference would be the actual divinity of Christ. I believe that Jesus was, is and always shall be. He is God (as stated above), with flesh. According to “Gospel Through the Ages,” which is (I think?) considered an approved volume on Mormon doctrine, it is stated that Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, and therefore was created. If God created all things, he created angels as well. But God was not created. He just is. And Jesus is God.”

    First, we also believe that Christ is actually divine. Likewise, we “believe that Jesus was, is and always shall be.”

    We have different beliefs regarding the Trinity, about which I will go into greater detail hereafter.

    I would venture to guess that you do not have a copy of The Gospel Through the Ages, a manual for LDS priesthood holders that was published in 1945. I have neither seen a copy of it nor would I have probably ever heard of it were it not for the fact that anti-Mormons still quote from it. I’m guessing, therefore, that you are probably referring to an out-of-context quote in an anti-Mormon source, which in my experience are about as unreliable, misleading, and downright deceptive as possible (perhaps you didn’t realize that the source was anti-Mormon).

    In any case, you bring up a common anti-Mormon criticism that “Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer.” For a better understanding of what Latter-day Saints believe about Lucifer from a current, authoritative, and official source, I recommend this (see especially the D&C reference):

    https://lds.org/scriptures/gs/lucifer

    Nish, you refer to “the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.” It is certainly true that most Christians hold to the Trinitarian creeds and doctrines. These doctrines were debated and decided upon by councils of men who lived 300 years after Christ, several generations after the deaths of the apostles. You may be surprised to know that like some modern Christians, many prominent and orthodox early Christian leaders did not believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the same being (for brevity’s sake and to avoid too frequent repetition of their names, I’ll refer to the three collectively as the members of the Godhead, a term that Paul used frequently; see Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9). Even some of those who consented to endorse the Nicene Creed did not wholeheartedly believe in the conception of all three Godhead members being literally the same; half of the participants in the First Council of Nicaea initially sided with the belief that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father. Eusebius of Nicodemia was one such prominent Christian leader and council member, who ultimately subscribed to the Nicene Creed “with hand only, not heart,” because the intention of the council was to unify the conflicting beliefs that existed in Christianity. Since then, there have been many who do not hold to the doctrine that the three members of the Godhead are all literally the same being.

    One should rightly ask whether the doctrine that the members of the Godhead are separate and distinct beings is found in the Bible, as well as whether the doctrine of the three as a single entity is found in the Bible. The problem is that there are Bible scriptures that could be interpreted to fit either belief; this was one reason why the doctrine of the Trinity was so hotly debated at the First Council of Nicaea. (You can read more about this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea and related articles, if you’re interested.)

    One reason that Joseph Smith was so persecuted and hated from the beginning was that he claimed to have seen God the Father and Jesus Christ side-by-side. This was viewed with great contempt by the Christian preachers of the day. This surprised the 14-year-old Joseph, who naïvely supposed they might be interested to know what he had seen. The persecutions increased throughout the rest of his life, and he was ultimately killed by a mob of angry, disbelieving men.

    Interestingly, an extremely similar series of events is found in the New Testament. In Acts chapter 6, we learn that the twelve apostles prayed and laid their hands on a disciple named Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” who afterward, “full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” Certain wicked people from the synagogue “stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses” to testify against him, “And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Clearly this Stephen was no apostate; he was a truly righteous follower of Jesus Christ. In Acts chapter 7, we learn what happened to Stephen after he testified to the people of their wickedness. Quoting Acts 7:55-60 (King James Version):

    “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (that is, he died; see Acts 8:1-2).

    So a righteous and faithful man who believed in and preached about Christ, who looked up above himself while being full of the Holy Ghost and saw God the Father standing next to Jesus Christ, told others what he had seen and was thereafter killed by an angry mob. The similarities between the New Testament story of Stephen and the modern story of Joseph Smith are striking.

    Aside from this experience of Stephen, there are plenty of other scriptures in the New Testament that can be used to show that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are three separate beings who are one in perfect unity and harmony of purpose. (I share these scriptures and observations to show that there is a Biblical foundation for this belief, not to argue or debate about which belief is true.) When Jesus Christ was baptized, “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him” and the voice of the Father spoke from Heaven saying, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). On another occasion, Jesus prayed to the Father, saying “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3); He identifies His Father as “the only true God” and then refers to Himself as having been sent by the only true God. In the same prayer, Jesus describes the way in which He and God are one (John 17:20-23). Jesus cried out in agony on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), which again shows a distinction.

    I could go on, but my point is simply this: The belief that three separate beings comprise the Godhead is well-supported by the Bible and does not make someone non-Christian or mean that they believe in a “different Jesus.”

    If you’re still not convinced that Mormons believe in the same Jesus, or if you just want to learn more (from a much better source than anti-Mormon literature), I highly recommend this article based on an address given by Latter-day Saint scholar Dr. Robert L. Millet at Harvard Divinity School:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/what-mormons-believe-about-jesus-christ

    Latter-day Saint beliefs are in harmony with those of early Christians and are Biblically supported. Nevertheless, we still accept those who believe in the Trinity as fellow Christians. It hardly seems fair that many of our fellow Christians do not extend to us the same courtesy.

    I was raised as a Baptist, by the way. =) You can go to http://mormon.org/me/19PF-eng/ to read more about my story (or to find my Twitter and Facebook contact information). Since I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my love for the Savior has grown immensely and continues to grow. You can call me a fellow Christian or think of me as a heretic, but I know in my heart that I trust in the redeeming blood that Jesus Christ shed for me.

    Reply
  106. Nish

    Friends, I am truly and overwhelmingly grateful to each of you who have chosen to share this post with others and bravely comment – to offer bits of your own beliefs and stories. That is truly the greatest gift to me… the kindness you show in offering a piece of yourself with the community here.

    I’m in the middle of packing up my house to move to Salt Lake City. We pick up the moving truck on Friday and start the drive from Oregon on Sunday! Your prayers and positive thoughts are most welcome – I’m a little tired of dealing with cardboard boxes. :)

    That being said… my time is a bit full, so I’m struggling to keep up with all of the commentary here. I will do my best to respond to each of you, but if I don’t, please don’t take it personally! I’m just in a period of major flux for the next couple of weeks. I appreciate your grace and understanding.

    Please feel free to continue the conversation here and I’ll do my best to respond when I’m able to grab a few extra moments in front of the computer.

    My best to all of you!

    Reply
  107. SBates

    Nish, What a beautiful, beautiful spirit you have. This post, your comments after, all of it is so filled with love. All the best to you in your move.

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  108. What is this place, this blog? I’m just . . . floored. It’s a pool of light here.

    Thank you, Nish, and all the rest who have posted. This is how it’s supposed to be between religions, I think. Listening and befriending first. Good-natured ribbing. And respectful sharing. And, if needs be, hard questions. But open-armed friendship first.

    I think I’d come to believe there weren’t places like this on the internet. What a place of light. There’s a lot us Mormons can learn from this great example.

    I hope your time in Utah is great. May you be blessed with many neighborly delivery of cookies and loaves of bread, and may those of us Mormons who fall into the same trap in Utah that you describe in your post above be few and far between.

    God bless you, Nish.

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  109. Jennifer

    I’ve just discovered your site through a link from a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) on facebook. How refreshing to come to a place where we can freely discuss ideas with kindness and love on both sides of the spectrum! As I have read the post and subsequent comments, I have felt encouraged that there indeed can be open and loving discussion. I am a Mormon as well and will definitely be back to peruse your site. Thank you!

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  110. Heidi

    Nish, my sister forwarded this site to me. I sit in absolute awe of you and your goodness. I am LDS, I grew up in a small LDS community, and I served a mission. . . . And tonight my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was strengthened because of you and the beautiful words that you shared about my faith. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds the keys and the priesthood necessary for us to return to a loving Heavenly Father. I know that when I was sealed to my husband in the temple, we were bound together for eternity. And that our three children will be ours forever. I can’t imagine a God that would give us something so incredible and let us feel so much joy in this life only to cut those ties after this life is over. My dad died when I was 14, it is something that I still struggle with. But find peace because of the knowledge I have of the gospel. And the amazing blessing of being sealed to him and my family for eternity. I know that God lives. I know that he knows me and you personally. That he knows and loves us, as we are his children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts . . . for making the world just a little bit better. You are amazing! I just want to hug you and take you to lunch.

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  111. Vinniecat

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I appreciate such a kind and thoughtful post. I have close friends of all religious backgrounds and appreciate when we create atmospheres of love and acceptance. I do open the door to missionaries of all faiths and respectfully listen to their messages as long as they are kind. I did have to send away my some who came to my sister’s deathbed (at a cousin’s request) to try and get her to renounce her religion to avoid “burning in hell,” but for those that come in a spirit of love, I have great respect. And living in Utah I’ve gotta say, this is a great place to raise a family!

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  112. Hayley

    A book that I read that speaks to a lot of what you shared here is called “I love Mormons” by David Rowe. He is a Christian living in SLC and has an incredible perspective of the danger in labeling and how it limits Christ from actually being seen.

    I chose to be baptized Mormon on my own when I was 9 mostly out of seeking stability in my life. The LDS church became a family for me and showed me values in righteousness. A handful of years later I realized the need had been met but I still didn’t know what I was putting my hope in. This search led me to Christ in a new way. My own story and lots of extended relatives in the LDS faith make me defensive and frustrated at our alienation often as Christians. This post was a sweet reminder and great breath of fresh air. Thank you!

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  113. Very good post. Just a few of my own thoughts and experiences. I had Mormon friends growing up. I did not know about our theological differences. I didn’t care to much for theology at that point and wasn’t sure God existed. But I knew I shouldn’t treat them different even though I knew others did. I don’t agree with their theology now but that is no reason to treat them poorly. We invited some of them into our home a few years ago when they came. Also, I am Catholic and some people misunderstand what we believe and think we are cultish too. But we are also all Christians. I hope to be the voice that shows people that when I am at Relevant next week? Are you still going?

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  114. Thank- You for taking the time to listen instead of just hearing.

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  115. Virginia

    Hi, Nish. I found this post through a friend sharing it on facebook. I just want to say, I am inspired by your faith in making the decision to try and understand (if not agree with) your new Mormon neighbors.

    I joined the LDS church during my freshman year of college, amid vehement protests from my family and friends (Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal…. You name it, I’ve got it). I had two missionaries and an LDS friend teaching me about their love for Jesus, and a plethora of people around me stepping far into judgement and away from grace. It was not an easy time period for any of us, and many things were said on all sides that can never be taken back.

    But in addition to my wonderful renewed relationship with Jesus Christ, and my amazing church family, because of my decision to join the church, I have my amazing husband, and beautiful daughter. And, through what I can only describe as God’s eternal grace, my faith’s biggest detractor has become my best friend and closest sister in Christ. Despite the differences in the doctrine of our worship (she is a reformed Calvinist member of the Salvation Army – she knows all about complicated religion), we are able to have deep theological discussions several times a week (in addition to everything else we talk about!) and through our searching and conversing, have each come to know our Savior in a much more precious way. I thank my Father in Heaven constantly for bringing her into my life, first kicking and screaming, and then as my first non-family phone call in a time of distress. Our friendship truly is an example of God’s saving grace.

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  116. Mandy

    This is a sweet blog, reminding me and every reader about keeping in mind that although we’re all different, we all live strongest when treating one another with respect and kindness. While reading about inviting in people of other faiths doing door-to-door, I couldn’t help but think of the Scriptures warning about inviting people in one’s house who are spreading a false Gospel (2 John 1:7-11) that teaches Jesus isn’t God and during his time here wasn’t God incarnate. I understand the VERY Jesus-love concept of kindness and love, and an weary of some people’s rigidly hypocritical interpretation of Scriptural guidelines like these, but how would you interpret and apply this passage? It’s very specific about the doctrine being addressed. I also understand the importance of a believer winning people to the Gospel by relationships, life, expression, etc.
    How would you handle this particular issue?

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    • Nish

      Hey Mandy,
      Thanks for stopping in and asking this question… it’s a good one. For me, I would always err on the side of humility, grace, and relationship. By relegating the LDS missionaries (or Jehova’s Witnesses, or any other door-to-door evangelism), to a strict, literal interpretation of this Scripture, I think we’re doing a huge disservice to the faith community at large. I believe that we can stand our ground on each respective side of doctrine and theology without sacrificing a relationship. Everyone is going to have different thoughts and practices when it comes to interaction with missionaries, but I try to choose to look at the whole person, not just the gospel they preach. Does that make sense? I want to know their story, who they are, and how they came to believe what they believe. Without stepping out and engaging with the actual person, it’s hard to make any productive headway when you turn the subject to faith.

      Hope this answers your question!

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  117. Sarah

    Thank you for this post. I found myself almost in tears as I read some understanding words from someone who isn’t of my faith. As a life-long Latter-Day Saint who grew up in a primarily Baptist community, with very few friends in my own church, this touched me very deeply. Many other religions get sympathy from the mainstream, but we somehow get shunted to the side and either ignored or ridiculed. Now, don’t get me wrong–it is all worth it! Your post, however, is a refreshing change which I wish we saw more of, and Heavenly Father will bless you for your kindness. Thank you!

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