Post Author: Darrell
The Sunday before last some friends and I attended services at a local Ward of the Mormon Church. This is the first time I have attended the LDS Church since leaving it for Christianity a few years ago. For any Mormons reading this, please know that we were very polite and courteous during our visit. We did not debate, argue, or disrupt any of their services. For the most part, we listened quietly and asked a few non-confrontational questions during Sunday School. In fact, we were so polite that the Second Counselor in the Bishopric invited us to come back (note: we won’t!)!
I have been discussing Mormonism on-line since leaving the Church, and being back reminded me of something that I had forgotten: there are some substantial differences between the Mormonism that is portrayed on-line by amateur LDS Apologists and the Mormonism as taught and practiced in the church Wards.
I realize that not all Mormons are going to believe exactly the same thing on every single issue and that some may be more nuanced in their beliefs than others. However, I believe the difference we see between chapel Mormons and internet Mormons is more than mere nuance. In on-line conversations, I have had internet Mormons declare emphatically that such and such is not Mormon doctrine. However, when in the Mormon Church I have had chapel Mormons declare just as emphatically that such and such is Mormon doctrine.
For example, while at church this past Sunday, my friends and I attended the Gospel Principle’s class, the Sunday School class designed for investigators, i.e., those who are researching the church. During class, the teacher shared with us how “keeping the commandments” is a vital part of the formula for attaining salvation. We politely pointed out how we believe that faith alone is all that is needed for salvation and that works are a result of, not a requirement for, salvation. We then asked for clarification to make sure we understood exactly what she was saying. In response, one of the members of class told us that keeping the commandments is not only vital to salvation, but there are some commandments that if not kept, will damn a person.
Unfortunately the bell rang ending class, so we didn’t have time to follow up with more questions. However, I assume she was referring to Spencer W. Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness where he points out that murder is a nearly unforgivable sin and that denying the Holy Spirit (decreed by some to be apostasy from the Mormon Church) is unforgivable.
Here is the kicker though… we were taught this by a Mormon Sunday School Teacher in a class designed to teach investigators about Mormon beliefs. The lady who taught the class has supposedly been called by God to teach the doctrine of God’s one and only true Church to investigators, yet in numerous conversations on-line, I have had internet Mormons tell me repeatedly that the LDS Church does not teach that works are required for salvation. Instead, they say that the Mormon Church teaches salvation by faith alone. Why the huge discrepancy?
For a church that is supposed to have the “plain and precious truths” of the restored gospel, there certainly is a lot of confusion amongst its members as to exactly what it teaches. Perhaps the Church has apostatised again and the on-line Mormons should form a newly restored LDS Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Internet Mormons.