27 May 2015

Baptism Q&A

(I've gotten a lot of questions about our baptisms, so I thought I'd collect them, and their answers, in one place.)

Q: I thought this is why we partake of the Sacrament each week, to renew our baptismal convents? I still not understanding the WHY you did this when repentance and partaking the Sacrament has the same desired effect.

A: There is no support in scripture for the idea that sacrament is renewing of baptismal covenants. Baptism and the sacrament are separate ordinances. There are several instances in scripture, most notably in 3 Nephi and Acts 19, where faithful believers are baptized again to show their repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. This is not taught currently in the LDS Church, which is really sad to me. It was a common practice in the early church. I don't know why rebaptism has been discouraged. Additionally, Jesus instructed us to eat and drink the emblems of His flesh and blood "in remembrance of Me". Baptism is to show we have repentant hearts and have begun a new phase in our lives.

Q:I'm confused. We're you baptized into a different church? Was this something you did on your own? The post was unclear to me.

A: The LDS Church does not consider someone a member of the church until confirmed, after baptism. An investigator could be baptized, and then walk out of the building before confirmation, and that person would not be put on the records of the church.

Baptism has never conferred membership, but is a sign of repentance and faith.

This was done on our own, in accordance with the 11th Article of Faith, which allows all the same privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of our own conscience. We have been super-prayerful about this, the scriptures clearly show this is a pattern that goes back to before the time of Christ, and we have a deep confidence that this was pleasing to God, for we felt His approval.

Q: If you no longer believe in the principles and ordinances and priesthood authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, why do you care if you're excommunicated? Aren't your actions confirmation of your desire to leave the Church?

A: The LDS Church is MY church. I am a member. It has been the bedrock of my own personal community for my entire life. It taught me to live a good, clean, upright life, to love God, and gave me beautiful and powerful scripture.

The leadership's shifting policies and procedures, some of which I've watched change dramatically in the last six months, as well as over my own lifetime's memory, have changed things for the worse, and not in accordance to the teachings of Joseph Smith.

My baptism is proof that I fully believe in the principles and ordinances of the gospel (4th Article of Faith). I have full faith and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. Priesthood existed before the LDS Church was organized. The LDS Church does not own or control priesthood--quite the contrary. The church itself is dependent upon continuing priesthood authority from God in order to have any efficacy at all. (Remember Elder Packer's talk on priesthood a few years ago, where he lamented that we have done a great job at distributing the authority of the priesthood the world over, but lag far behind that in those so ordained actually receiving the *power* of the priesthood?)

A church isn't about worshipping and obeying the leadership. Contrary to modern idiom, a church ISN'T its leadership. We say "the church" the same way we say "the white house", meaning the leadership. But the rest of Christendom, when they say "church", they mean all believers in the Body of Christ. "Church" is used to denote buildings and denominations . . . but the word itself harks back to Greek, and to a word used to denote a group of people: ekklesia, meaning "the ones called out". The "church" is those who are believers in Jesus Christ.

I want this to be absolutely clear: I have NO DESIRE to NOT be a member the LDS Church. It is still MY church, and part of my community.

Q:Just curious, who performed the re baptisms. Vern? For himself? And where?
Like · Reply · May 24 at 9:22am

A: Vern was baptized by a good friend, and Vern baptized me, in a lovely creek local to us.

Q: We must be careful about innovating and deciding on new doctrine. I'm worried you're going astray . . . 

A:We aren't proclaiming new doctrine. Simply following the words of Christ in scripture. D&C 1:38 reminds us that God's words do not decay or die, but are eternal and permanent. His doctrine is that we repent and be baptized. So we are doing just that.

Q: Is this something you will continue too do often as a part of your repentance process?

A: Yes, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Repentance is turning to Christ because you see things differently, or you want to see things differently. It's not a five-step process for every item on a list of wrongdoing. It's a joyous, hope-filled way of life.

This rebaptism was prompted by a renewal & strengthening of our own relationships with Jesus Christ. I can see this happening many times throughout the rest of my life.

Q: So by what authority? And I'm guessing you skip the confirmation?

A: The authority comes through the voice of Jesus Christ, same as Nephi received it during Christ's visit to the Americas.

Q: First off I do love the family picture. And I'm glad your family is happy, but if you believe in Joseph Smith and the scriptures which talk about prophet's since the beginning of time do you not believe that president Monson is prophet? And if you do why aren't you heading his advice? I'm not trying to be rude just wondering.

The gospel and it leaders have taught me to love others as Jesus did no matter what, who or where you are in life. Church is a hospital for the sick and weary. And sometimes we do get excommunicated but it is for our own good and then we can come back and be baptized again. And I've been able to witness that as a youth and I will never forget. I trust the Lord and his leaders that guide and direct me and sometimes they may make mistakes for we are all human but we will be blessed for our obedience. And I testify of that.

Anyway I wish the best for you all and miss seeing you guys. Hopefully we will see you around this summer

A: I continue to pray for President Monson, and hope that he someday shows the same behavior and fruits as prophets in the scriptures . . . but knowing that Joseph Smith is a prophet, seer and revelator that brought forth a tremendous work for the benefit of a portion of God's people, does not automatically make Thomas Monson a prophet. I have watched and looked, and while I believe Pres. Monson is a good and decent man, often inspired of God and who has devoted his life to serving others within the organization of the LDS Church, his life does not bear the fruit of the gifts of prophecy (knowing God's will in a specific situation, or bringing a message from God), revelation (learning things which no one can know without God showing them), or seership (seeing things as they are, were, and are yet to come). Contrary to common believe, a prophet truly MUST say "Thus saith the Lord" to identify the words of God to the people. That's the pattern set out in scripture, and no matter how well-meaning any General Conference talks have been that say otherwise, God has always done that, and continues to do so now. He opens with identifying Himself, and closes in the same way, often entreating us to hear and receive what He says.

President Monson has given so much really wonderful advice. Be kind to others. Serve. Love. Give selflessly. Read your scriptures. Care for the needy. Love God. I'm following all of that to my best ability, because I'm following Jesus Christ.

If the church is a hospital for the sick and weary, then it's the strangest hospital I've ever seen. Some wards (pun intended) do really well at caring for those who are in desperate need, while others do not. Some leadership nurture along those with serious crises of faith, and others shun them. Some allow people to learn at their own pace and work through things as they need to, while others excommunicate people for questioning or teaching their children things the leadership doesn't agree with. (That happened to a good friend of mine from back east. He was excommunicated for "teaching false doctrine, primarily in the home".) There are SO MANY wonderful things about Mormonism, but there is an illness in the hospital staff and doctors themselves that must be cured.

Excommunication can be a good thing, but only if it's done in cases of serious sin. So many people I know have been excommunicated because they had the gall to do what the scriptures teach, instead of honoring a leader's contradictory instruction. Between the word of man and Word of God, they chose the Word of God, and were cast out. No sin involved-- most were worthy of temple recommends when they were excommunicated.

I love the members of the LDS Church. Dearly. That hasn't changed. It never will.

And lastly, the only obedience that brings blessings is obedience to the will of the Father, as Christ submitted Himself throughout His entire life. Obedience to men only brings positive feedback from the institution, which is powerful and heady stuff. But it won't bring salvation, because you're binding yourself to a mortal, instead of God.

Thanks so much for asking questions. I know you, and I only heard curiosity and earnest concern. Thank you so much.

Q:I have to be blunt. I worry about you. I worry that you are falling away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. So I have to ask, are you? Are you desiring other religions? What is it about the LDS faith you are scared or worried about? Have you gone to your leaders with your questions and concerns or better yet, God? Heavenly Father has all your answers, but have you listened for them? 
I really have no clue why I am writing this but maybe it's meant to be. 
I love the picture and love to see smiles on your families faces. 

A: Thank you so much for asking. That says more to me about the genuine concern of your heart than a courteous silence ever could.

The only religion I desire is what the Lord Jesus Christ has given us: to be in relationship with Him because of His Victory. The LDS church has made it increasingly clear that it expects its members to go through their leaders in order to have access to Christ. (Elder Oaks' talk on Priesthood, Elder Nelson's talk on sustaining leaders, and Sister McConkie's talk that followed Elder Nelson's all come to mind.) According to current practice, without church approval, you have no hope of salvation or exaltation. But that's not what God said. He said "Come unto Me".

I have most definitely asked my questions of both leadership and God. My leadership has been utterly unhelpful (my bishop going so far as to openly reject scripture, declaring that the handbook supersedes it when the two disagree). I have had so many answers given through personal revelation--all of which have been ratified by scripture, and many of which have come by reading scripture.

It wasn't until I began consciously choosing what God has said in scripture over what men now preach that my own faith began to grow . . . like the good seed in Alma 32. A lifetime of the most faithful of faithful Molly Mormon living didn't do that--it gave me tremendous discipline and character development, the Book of Mormon & associated scripture, and so much more. But the promised fruit (such as in D&C 21, where we're promised that darkness will flee before us and the heavens & earth will shake for our good and God's glory) never could be produced by faith in men.

Our words MATTER. Our praise must be for God alone, and we should not honor one man (or woman) above another. HIS name should be lifted high, His glory extolled, His righteousness and mercy to us shouted aloud every day, and especially on when we meet together to worship Him.

Mormonism has forgotten what it even means to worship...and even the precious and sweet meaning of the simple phrase "God is good".

Those smiles on our faces were put there by the incredible joy we all felt from our baptisms. We have had an increase of love & joy in our family, and a significant increase in the presence of the Holy Spirit in our home & our hearts.

We are not attacking the LDS church, or anyone in it. I've made a conscious choice to not be ashamed to own my God, to worship Him in truth (both scriptural accuracy and in agreement with His nature as the Way, the Truth and the Life), and to not fear what man might do, but follow the Lord God. And finally, scripture's promised blessings--God's own promised blessings--flow.

Q: In these last days, people will start to stray from the gospel and its teachings. I just worry that, that is what is happening.

A: I have a question for this person and any others here... how is being baptized according to the commandments of Christ in the Book of Mormon indicative of one "straying from the gospel and its teachings"? (Vern answered this one.)

Q: It's not just that... It's other comments that have been made that go against what the LDS church teaches. I'm not one to judge, but I am one to worry about my fellow members. I have met Annalea, and think she is a great person. But that doesn't mean that Satan won't work his damnedest on her either. He knows us so well that he knows what to plant into our minds or what to plant into others minds to stray people. It's his goal... To destroy us all!

A: I guess the best and really only way to know if one is not bring deceived is to ask the Father in the name of Christ. This IS the only way. The scriptures are full of people who trusted in men more than God for truth. We aren't exempt from this even though we've been taught we are. (This one a FB friend answered.)

Q: I hope the best for you and that you don't lose faith in God (I'm sure you won't) And that you will not diss the LDS faith or people that do believe and practice it... or preach that it's teachings are wrong. 
I feel that religion and politics are a very bad subjects to discuss with a lot of people. The debate can get ugly real fast. I don't like that. I was merely showing concern for you when reading these things you've been posting. I hope nothing but the best for you.

A:I don't ever want to diss anyone . . . that's not the heart of God, to attack His children.

I will continue to write about what God teaches me through scripture and the Holy Ghost, and some of that might shed light on issues that various churches have (not just the LDS). I've felt consistently led to point to Christ and write about the amazingly good news of His victory. This will still mostly happen at my blog, too. I don't like to bring up hot-button topics on facebook . . . this announcement was one I felt distinctly prompted to make, and I've been blessed for doing it.

I have so much gratitude for the LDS Church and what it gave me. It was my entire life for nearly all my life, and taught me so much. Things have changed drastically in the last two years, including a lot of things that openly flout the plain words of Jesus Christ. It's my testimony of the prophetic call and ministry of Joseph Smith and the beauty in the things he gave us that precipitated recent events. I'll never ridicule or mock, and will always honor another's choice to worship how, where and what they may, with only one caveat: that there is no abuse involved. I will always decry abuse, and the oppression of the children of God in the name of religion.

Thank you so much for your questions, and for caring. It means a lot to me. God bless you and your family!