Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is that the Door Bell?

Mormons at my Door,


All and all, a good day!

I had Saturday off and was watching my nephews and my boys (not watching as much as making sure death did not occur with four boys being crazy – five including me), my wife was shopping at Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. Just prior to her getting back my nephews were picked up (not by the police) and I came out to help unload the car. As I was doing so she asked what the guys with name tags on their shirts were that go door to door. Wondering why after almost twenty years of discussing such matters and having hundreds of books on both Mormon’s and Jehovah's Witnesses lining our walls she would be asking such a question I responded, “Mormon.”

She said, well, they just walked around the corner of our condo. Elated I started gathering my thoughts just in case they came to our door. Sure enough, as I was carrying in a heavier item I could see through our kitchen window two clean cut guys come to the door. I directed their attention through the screen of the opened kitchen window by telling them I would be with them in a moment . I gave the wife a glance and she gave me that “go get’em Tiger” look that Spidey gets from M.J.

So I went to the security door (Newhall) and opened it up and invited them in. They seemed happy about that since not too many people are so inviting. This glee was short-lived as they entered into my three-foot-by-three-foot foyer that has maybe eight tiles before opening up to our modest living/dining area. I say short-lived because in front of them, almost on every wall are bookcases with thousands of books. As their eyes adjusted and I ushered them onto a couch they asked if I had read all these books. I mentioned that I have read quite a few of them; some were for reference and others yet for future reading. As they sat and their eyes adjusted more they had on the opposite wall in front of where they were seated my shelf full of comparative religious books, articles, and encyclopedias of religion. Two shelves full of Mormon and Jehovah's Witness books, counter Mormon and Jehovah's Witness books, and first editions of many of their own literature. This is when the “glee” turned mainly into survival mode.

Click to Clear

Typically there is an elder “missionary” who has been in the field for some time and is very dedicated. The other elder (really boys) is typically new to the canvassing deal. He is being trained. I could tell right away who was old and who was new. The newbie was trying to take in all the titles, glancing around, seated forward on the coach. The oldie was relaxed and more comfortable in his position. I offered to fetch water – stressing that they were in water bottles – but to no avail (J-Dubs and Latts will never take food or drink from you, but I always ask as a friendly gesture). As I settled in the more experienced elder asked if he could pray. So we did. Afterwards they gave a quick speech about what they were doing and they asked if I had any questions. Mistake. Before I dug in I pointed to the copy of an old Weekly Standard issue sitting on my coffee table in front of them with Mitt on the cover trying to allay any anti-Mormon fears they may have after seeing my books. I mentioned that while I may not agree with Romney’s theology, I still will vote for him for President, so its not like I have a hatred or disdain for Mormons by any means, “I love and pray for you missionaries often” finishing my point off.


I said I do in fact have a question, and the question – I said – stems from this election year and the exchange a few months back between Huckabee and Romney. They were quick to say that the church does not support any one candidate, that they are politically neutral. After their disclaimer, I continued. I said in this exchange Huckabee mentioned that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, and Mitt’s response was that this is a canard used by people against the church (rough quote). So I asked them a question… before I continue, let me say that I have dealt with LDS for years, my friend and I would call the 1-800 number here and there to get the free copy of the Book of Mormon, brought by elders personally to the door of course, in order to discuss these weighty issues of theology with them. So I am familiar with most of the tactics they use. However, with Mitt in the race and the church taking advantage of this higher profile, I was “chomping at the bit” to hear what was going to come out of their mouths. Okay, back to my question. I asked this, “So, my question is this, and maybe you can answer it, are Lucifer and Jesus brothers?”

I got a decidedly more open answer than I expected, but they fell short of getting to the point of Heavenly Father (whom they consider God) and one of his wives having celestial sex in order to produce children whom relate to each other as siblings, making us all at least half-brothers and sisters (as there are many wives/goddesses in the Mormon heaven). So I got into it for them, but before I did, I thanked them for the answer I had already received… trying to be low in voice and mannerism while also being polite. I started to explain that most Mormon theologians and philosophers go further and tell us that Heavenly Father was himself birthed by a father and mother on a planet somewhat similar to ours, but even prior to that he was born in a heaven not too different than the one they mentioned in their answer, and that that “God” that gave birth to their “God” also had parents, and so on… ad infinitum.

I explained a bit how an actual regress of infinite events is impossible, giving the example of our universe, saying, that if the universe or cosmos was eternal, the useable energy in the universe would have been used up an infinite time ago… explaining that the sun is burning off energy and that at some point the entire cosmos will die a “heat death.” This shows that we live in a finite cosmos and that whatever got it started is outside even the space/time continuum. Which is – I pointed out – much different than what Mormon theology states about their God. They disagreed with me but I politely asked if I could explain more. (The newbie was enthrawled… I could tell, he said yes… that’s an “ooops” that the more experienced guy will discuss with him later. So I did.)

I mentioned the contradistinction between LDS “creation” and historic Christian “creation” theology. I said in Mormon theology Heavenly Father didn’t create the first eye, or kidney, or coccyx and make sure that this information would continue on in the production of offspring with that information encoded in DNA and RNA. I stressed that in Mormon theology when Heavenly Father was born to his parents they had eyes already, because even his parents parents parents had the genetic code physically for eyes, thus passing on (not creating ex nihilo) genetic information from previous generations. The Mormon “God” didn’t create the eye, he merely performed a sexual act which continued his lineage. The historic Christian belief is that God not only created the first eye, liver, toe, and the like, but even spoke time into being as well as the environment and all the genetic machines to make sure this newly developed/created code would continue.

I then brought up something else that crossed my mind a few months back in a discussion on this blog about almost the same issue (really, a debate of sorts... the person finding my blog via comments I left at the Washington Times blog), and that is that matter and gods predated the Heavenly Father of this world. I asked them why they think that whenever an atheist debates the issue of God they never debate against the Mormon concept of God? The newbie was quick (“ooops” number two) to say he didn’t know, I then said, I will tell you. “It is because he would be arguing against himself.”

This time I got an inquisitive look from both of them. “Let me explain why this is,” and so I continued. I mentioned that when a person is born here on earth matter (atoms, quarks, dirt, water, air, etc) doesn’t begin to exist at the same time they are conceived, matter, in fact predated them. The earth, the stars, and the like were here long before the hypothetical 45-year old atheist. Not only that, but natural laws such as the law of gravity, the laws of motion – right then the new guy chimes in with a law (for the life of me I cannot remember what it was, but at this point he is helping me make my case… Classic!) – were also before this person being born and so, this person is subject to them. In the same way when Heavenly Father was birthed in his heaven first by his “Godley” parents he was born into an environment that worked with laws in place, even granting he was born with a spiritual body. I granted that in this heaven the laws may be a bit different -- hypothetically speaking -- but that laws had to be in place nonetheless, even genetic parameters (DNA, amino acids, etc) were in place and that this God was subject to them, much like the “gods” of Grecian lore, even being controlled by wild emotions.

Heavenly Father

Born into an environment that imposes forces on him that are both older than him and because of their (these laws) imposing forces on him (gravity, causality, entropy, etc) while he has to live in a body that can only take up that space where he is, is, well, more powerful than he.


Born into an environment that imposes forces on him that are both older than him and because of their (these laws) imposing on him (gravity, causality, entropy, etc) while he has to live in a body that can only take up that space where he is, is, well, more powerful than he.

Again I pointed out that in classical Judeo-Christian theistic thinking, God created even the laws of the weak and strong nuclear force and the like. Material, energy, even time was brought into existence at some point by my God. I then mentioned that “I was going to use a phrase by someone smarter than I and say that ‘there God is too small’.” At that point the seasoned young man chimed in and said that the church doesn’t teach officially that Heavenly Father was born to parents like us. at which point I got up, walked over to my bookshelf and pulled my copy of “Achieving Celestial Marriage (Student Manual)” off the shelf and brought it over to where I was seated and sat. I turned it over to the back cover and asked them who published the book I was holding. They of course did not what this book was, all they know knew was upon looking at the familiar “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” emblem that the book was published by their church – officially. The sinking feeling was tangible.

I turned it over to reveal that this was a manual for couples to read prior to being married in the Temple, an official student manual to be exact. I opened up to page 129 and read the second emboldened title down the page aloud, “GOD WAS ONCE A MORTAL MAN” (capitals in the original), and then I read the next line underneath that that reads as follows, “He Lived on an Earth like Our Own.” The seasoned guy squirmed, the new guy almost right then went to his testimony, where I cut him off quite forcibly by saying I have a testimony of my own, and I gave what I could remember of my paragraph response when they give their testimony:

  • I too have a testimony… I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Christ and Savior of the world… that He died for my sins and was resurrected. I know that I am saved by grace and not by works and will inherit heaven upon that principle. I also know that God hears and answers prayer. I know all this not only by the feeling I have from the inner witness of the Holy Ghost but by the reliability of God's Word, the Bible, which declares it to be so. And, I also know that because of my relationship with Christ, Jesus has changed my life and continues to bless me!

… thus, beating him to the punch not allowing him to close the discussion (one) and two not letting him feel secure in this all too often used psychology of shabby belief.

I then asked the seasoned guy if this book published by his church was wrong. He then went to the line about a person (referencing me) coming into a story near the end when the plot, foreshadowing, actors, etc, were already well developed. I asked again. He acquiesced and said that this is what is taught. I quickly moved on. I mentioned again that because of this that their “God” is too small, and is not all-powerful or all-knowing like the Judeo-Christian God (again, I knew this would hook them into at least another short round of discussion). The new guy said “Heavenly Father is all-knowing and all-powerful,” to which the seasoned guy affirmed. I pointed out that this is impossible because if Heavenly Father were truly born to parents on a planet similar to ours that much like people here he could have been an atheist for the first half of his life, or worse. Bringing up Moses being a murderer as well as King David, so too could have Heavenly Father killed and even done time in jail only then finding the similar path to exultation via a similar Mormon doctrine.

Following this hypothetical, I said he grew in knowledge and understanding, and Mormon theologians say he is still earning new things. I asked them to affirm with me as well as the Book of Abraham that God lives on a planet near the planet Kolob. They did. I asked them to affirm that he has a physical flesh-and-blood body, they affirmed that. I said then his all-knowing status is diminished merely because he is confined to what he see’s and hears where he is at at that time. Making him finite. I did grant that he may know more than them, but surely not what the future brings. This also is different than classical theism. I got up again and grabbed another book entitled "The New Mormon Challenge" and read the reviews off the back by Mormon professors and apologists stating that this book was the most respectful, well thought attempt to discuss these important matters with their fellow Mormons. I said if they were to leave here with any new challenges to their faith at all that they should in the least - when they get home - get a copy of this book and read it... again I stressed the Mormon scholars who wrote positively of the book.

The seasoned guy went to his testimony and right when he was going to tell me about the burning in his bosom - I cut him off and asked who in the Bible shoots fiery arrows? He said, “Satan.” I then said, until you can substantiate a feeling in your chest by something other than the feeling itself, I cannot accept that this burning sensation is Godly. Almost forcibly I said (beating them to the “we have to go” speech… controlling even their exit like the conversation), “before you two leave my house, I want to read a Scripture to you,” I reached for my worn King James version of the Bible and opened up to Ephesians 1:8-9:

  • “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not by yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Man I tell you the Spirit leaped at those gospel words! I stressed that I had touched on many philosophical ideas and challenges to their faith, but that if they wish to come back and discuss this verse and others, I will always be here" (looking at the new guy as I said it).

As they got up I mentioned that my prayer for them was to come to realize that there is rest in Jesus, that salvation is already waiting for their affirmative response and not because of whom they please at their church. And off they went.

I went back to the end of my garage after shelving my books to grab the rest of the heavy items for my wife who so graciously allowed me to interact with lost souls. As I walked out the back to the car, they were getting in their truck (yes, no bicycles), and I hollered after them, “have a good day guys, and remember, I am always here for discussion.” As the wife came in from the back as well after a conversation with a neighbor, she said “Their leaving?” I responded, “Yup, no more door-to-door today, they definitely had more condo’s to go, but after this condo they have to go back and deprogram all this new information they just got…. I scared them away honey.” “You did baby, you did,” was her reply.

What a great Saturday. Got to see my nephews, my wife brought home food, and I got to plant the seed of both doubt about the Mormon worldview as well as planting the a seed of the gospel message.

Kimba, I had to throw this cartoon in for you... thought you would enjoy it. The cartoonist is of course of a more moderate descent than I... but I still enjoy his wit and style.

Here is his front page

and, this is the page I retrieved the above cartoon. Enjoy