Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What's This? Annie, a Mormon? You, a Southern Baptist?

First off, thanks for the warm welcome, I appreciate it. And thanks for asking me to post, I feel special. I hope you enjoy and that much exciting discussion ensues. Though I’d like to note that I wouldn’t be caught dead at a math & science fair unless there was mucho free food, and that I’m a poor college student, ergo I have about 40 cents, which I’m not giving to anyone, ‘cause I’m saving up for a Coke from the vending machine downstairs. But now, I say on with the post.

Alright, let's face it. There are two things that every person living in a house fears the most. One is door-to-door salesmen. The other is Mormon missionaries. There's nothing worse than just sitting down for a nice day of rest and relaxation and being interrupted by two boys trying to convert you from your heathenish ways.

Now perhaps there are a few people who just might go along with the whole idea, there are hundreds of thousands of conversions to the LDS church every year; Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the world, so just maybe someone has opened his door with a sigh of relief and not contempt. Just maybe.

But there are quite a few others who have opened their door, had a look, and slammed the door in the poor boys' faces. Now we shouldn't take this to be simple general hatred of any kind, at least not in every case, but instead as a mixture of agitation and fear. Agitation at being interrupted in the day's activities, and fear of the unknown. The unknown? Yes. The unknown. 'Cause no one knows exactly what might happen if you sit down and let two Mormons get a hold of you. They just might take you down.

Even a person extremely set in their own beliefs, whatever those may be, has the irrational fear of allowing someone else to make them question those beliefs they think so highly of. Perhaps nothing will happen if you sit down and discuss religion, its perfectly likely, but perhaps something will happen, something that could start a chain reaction that leads you to question, doubt, waver in your own beliefs and begin agreeing with these missionaries. And that, my blogger friends, is a scary thought for anyone.

So the question I'm posing is: what would it take for me, a strong Southern Baptist, to be converted into the LDS church? And what would it take for you, a strong Mormon to be converted into the Southern Baptist church?

It's a question that many don't like to answer. It’s that fear of “if I talk about it, it could happen,” the fear that if you give certain points that would make you doubt your own faith, then you’re doubting it already. But just for discussion sake, let’s give it a try.

Ah, the Mormon church. So similar to, yet so different from the SBC. The LDS church has extra scriptures, a differing explanation of Creation, a different idea of the Trinity, a different Heaven and Hell, special lifestyle rules, prophets, revelations... and the list goes on. A mighty leap for anyone. But seeing as how mostly all of these "extras" of the Mormon church are due to a somewhat well-known man, you may have heard of him, named Joseph Smith, I think the first step (in my conversion process at least) would be to believe the big JS was an actual prophet of God, revealing revelations to the world that came directly from the Father Himself. What would it take to make me believe Mr. Smith to be a prophet? Well, we brought that up in the previous post's comments and I don't think we ever really got to a conclusion.

I'm not in any way trying or meaning to be offensive at all, but in my opinion Joseph Smith was not a prophet of the Lord. He was simply a man who started his own church. To really believe his claims, to really believe him to be the authentic, real deal, I think I'd have to have Divine intervention. I think nothing short of the voice of God would lead me to see any of Smith's revelations as true. But I want to make clear that if I did receive a command from God, I would follow it. I’m not one to disobey my Creator so easily in matters so important.

So let's say, for argument's sake, that I did receive a message from God in some way. So, now I believe Joseph Smith to be a servant of God, sent by Him to deliver messages, translate some scripture, lead the flock, etc. Well, then it's pretty easy after that to believe everything he says, isn't it? Joe translated the Book of Mormon, so I'd believe it; he wrote the D&C, I'd go for that too; Word of Wisdom, Pearl of Great Price, idea of Heaven, temples, marriage, salvation, on and on: if he said it, I'd believe it. But the point is, I'd have to believe him first.

So for me, becoming Mormon would rely upon one very important thing: being convinced of the validity of Joseph Smith. After that everything would pretty much fall into place. And what would make me believe Smith is God's prophet? God Himself. I don't think I could be convinced by one little meeting in my house with two young missionaries. But if God sent a message, a sign, the Holy Spirit, anything that made me stop and say, "Wait a second, maybe, just maybe we could all be wrong about the whole 'Joe Smith is a quack' thing. Maybe he really is who he claimed to be," and if I knew without a doubt that it was the Almighty speaking to me and not my own skewed misconceptions or misinterpretations, then I'd listen to God; who am I to claim Him wrong?

So now I'll pose the question outward to all my new Mormon friends, well, my only Mormon friends really: What would it take for you to be convinced that the LDS church got it wrong and that the SBC is the way to go? Would it simply take you considering JS to be a false prophet, would it take a sign from the Most High, would it take my very convincing persuasive writing skills (winkwink), or should the SBC jump on the door-to-door bandwagon and send a pair of strapping young Baptist boys to knock on your door with a Holman Christian Standard Bible? (Seriously, lock up your daughters, there's something to be said for the Southern Baptist boys.) It's a tough question that may need a while to think over; I'm asking no simple thing: for you to question everything you've been taught about what's true. But it is interesting to think about, isn't it?

But maybe you don't know very much about the SBC (shame on you!)? Well, check out the SBC website: sbc.net and look up the Baptist Faith and Message at the top on a scroll down menu. It gives the overview of the SBC doctrine. Or you can check out the comments of the previous post; I discuss some SBC doctrine there too. Or just ask in a comment and I'll explain as best I can. It wouldn't be fair to ask you to answer a question about converting to my faith if you don't know enough about it to answer fully.

So the question is: what would it take for you good, devout Mormons to cross over to the *ahem*sideof goodandtruthandlight*ahem*, to reject your LDS faith in return for SBC faith? What would you learn, hear, discover that would cause you to question your church and turn to mine?

I hope this sparks a little LDS/SBC discussion (this isn't an actual conversion attempt, just a curious question) and maybe some new insight into my (yes, that's right, the SBC? I own it) religion.