In an attempt to not leave anyone in suspense (and to distract myself from the things I really need to do, but do not want to) here is part 2, a continuation from my post yesterday.
Where last I left you it was past midnight and as everyone in our cabin snoozed away I was trying to keep my eyes open and the pamphlet "Are mormon's christians?", as well as try to understand all the big words they were using to prove their points. There were three main points that really struck me (to recap incase you don't remember) namely that mormons are not christians because... 1.)they believe that God and Jesus Christ are two separate beings with bodies (not in line with the traditional trinity), 2.)they do not believe that they are saved by grace alone (I have issues with this one), 3.) they believe we can become like God. So I read as much as I could, feeling confused and having so many questions, I gave into sleep and turned in for the night.
The next day went much like the first, but this time I had so many questions in my mind it was hard to focus on what the man what saying without firing back a question every time (mentally of course, but very distracting none-the-less). The workshop continued into the flaws of mormon doctrine, the flaws of Joseph Smith and other things that got the audience as a whole nodding their heads in agreement. Things were not sitting right with me, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, and then it hit me. Between the things this man was saying was wrong with mormon doctrine and what the pamphlet said, I was hearing a lot of what is wrong, but nothing telling me what exactly was right (other than it was not the LDS church).
After the workshop finished I waited around to talk to the speaker. I'm not sure exactly what I was trying to accomplish, but I knew that I had questions about what I had read and that this man could answer the evangelical side. I also knew that I wanted to tell him I was LDS, I did not want to sit silently in the back over the course of three days and say nothing (although in hindsight, people probably knew Daniel and I were mormon form the BYU sweatshirts we were wearing the whole week). There were several other people who wanted to talk to the speaker before me, I stood back and listened to their conversations, and mustered up the courage to continue to wait (instead of giving up and going back to the cabin were everyone was eating lunch and subsequently worrying about where I was). When it was finally my turn the whole place was basically cleared out.
I started off by saying, "Hi i'm Michelle and I live in Utah as well, and I am a mormon." As you can imagine intrigued filled his face. I started off by asking the questions I had from reading the pamphlet, basically, was I so naive to think that the differences in doctrine meant that we were not christians? And if what we believe is so wrong, then what church is right? I shared with him my conversion, and he shared with me why he left the church. And upon analyses we had quite opposite experiences. I was a person raised (starting about age 8) in a a christian environment, then at the age of 18 converted to the LDS church. He was someone who was born and raised in the LDS church and left it in his teen years. His main reason, he told me, was because as a teen he saw evangelical christians who talked about Jesus on a personal level, they had a personal relationship with Him, and this man wanted to learn more. I shared that I had grown up around mormons (my best friends are members, I went the church dances with them, even met with the missionaries once out of curiosity) but was never interested in their doctrine in a way that made me want to join their church, until I graduated from high school. In high school I went to christian summer camps, I did bible studies, and youth group activities twice a week. But when the church my family attended shut down, I was confused as to how that could happen. My friend Soren invited me to family home evening, ward activities and eventually to meet with the missionaries. I was skeptical still when I met with them, but everything that I did not understand about the church suddenly made sense. Everything they talked about, made sense. God and Jesus Christ are separate beings with bodies, that made sense to me (I could never quite grasp the concept of the trinity). The priesthood is Christ's authority on the earth today? Made sense. To my brain (which can be overly logical at times) it all made sense. I already knew who my Savior was, I already knew what the Holy Spirit felt like, I already knew God was always there watching over me, but now I could know the rest.
The rest of the conversation I learned more about his point of view, but the differences seemed small, and I was still confused why others thought they were so important (me being naive again?). When asked the question I really wanted an answer to, I received a very disappointing and underwhelming answer. "So in reading the pamphlet it said that those were the things that we got wrong, then who has it right?" (to paraphrase, of course). **I will add this, even growing up in a christian church I struggled with why all the different sects were so, different. What is the right way to be baptized? Sprinkle or dunk? How often do you take communion (the sacrament)? Every week or special occasions. What happens to people who were not baptized and die? What about children and babies?** I was fully reading for some sort of grand answer but what I got was, "I don't claim to know who is right.....". He added something else but I do not remember what he said, but it did not answer my question.
We also talked about being saved by grace alone, as opposed to grace plus works. I still don't understand all the differences. I believe I am saved by grace alone, but I need to do my best and do everything I can do to be the best I can be. If this is grace plus works, then yes I believe that, I guess. But I do know there is nothing I can do on my own the be saved. His explanation only made me more confused.
So what did I learn from all of this? I learned that people still do not think mormons are christians and why they believe that. I was exposed to the way some evangelicals look at mormons and at mormon doctrine (not all may think this way, but a lot do). Above all else I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth, I believe that because it has all the things I wanted answered, it a wonderful and divine way. I am so thankful for this whole experience. Going to Mt.Hermon with my family for this vacation I fully expected to have fun, to relax and to grow closer to those who I was with. But I never imagined I would question what and why I believe what I believe, and then come out the other side with a strengthened testimony, because now I can say, I still believe what I believe.