06
Oct
08

General Conference

 

     This past weekend the LDS Church held their semi-annual General Conference.  Every six months the leaders of the LDS Church (called General Authorities) give a number of talks over two days.  Thousands of Mormons attend these talks in Salt Lake City, while millions of others listen to them through satellite feeds, the Internet, etc.  General Conference weekend is a very big event in Mormonism.

      How big?  Elder Mark E. Petersen, said:  “A general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far more significant than most people realize. . .

      . . .it is one of the most important events of the present day.  Many do not regard it, even among the Latter-day Saints.  But for those who appreciate its true significance, it is of transcending importance, for in it PROPHETS OF GOD SPEAK, living prophets.

      When God gives a message to mankind, it is not something to be lightly cast aside.  Whether He speaks personally, or through His prophets, He himself said, it is the same.

     And in this conference HIS PROPHETS SPEAK!”  (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 63.)

     These conference talks are published in the next month’s edition of the Ensign, the LDS magazine.  Many Mormons will faithfully study these issues.  As Ezra Taft Benson said, “The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one living in our day and age. . .Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is that of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece.  That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in current Church publications.”

      It is important for those Christians who are witnessing to Mormons to realize the importance of General Conference.  In line with that, it is beneficial to get the Conference editions of the Ensign and read them.  That is what many of your LDS friends will be doing.

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21 Responses to “General Conference”


  1. October 6, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Yeah, basically I only remember holidays like Christmas and the Fourth of July being a bigger deal at our house growing up. But I don’t know that all Mormons view it the same way we did.

  2. October 7, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    It is also worthwhile to watch or listen to the messages. Doing so will help to understand the tone and feelings that are conveyed. Everything is available online here:

    http://lds.org/conference/languages/0,6353,310-1,00.html

  3. 3 Darrell
    October 8, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Mark,

    The one message that surprised me the most was the message by Robert D Hales on Sunday morning. I was actually SHOCKED at the message. It was so charged with emotional words and he tried so hard to play the “us” versus “them” game it was amazing.

    Some of the message talked about:

    1) Theological scrum in the mud (I guess that is what we are doing here!)
    2) They want you to come down of your high place to argue/debate with them
    3) Enemies of the Church
    4) Avoiding Theological Debates (what is wrong with discussing God)
    5) Bible bashing (whatever that is?)

    I can’t think of all of the other ones right now but there were A LOT of emotion charged phrases seeking to create the “us” versus “them” mentality. What I can’t understand is why the LDS church feels the need to create this victim role for itself. We are not enemies of the “people” of the LDS church. I have many friends and family members in the LDS church. We just think they believe in something that is false and are open to discussing the truth with them. Why does that have to mean we are “enemies”? Why do they not believe it is possible to disagree and discuss things civally? Disagreement does not need to lead to “contention”. I have had many cival discussions with people that have not led to hard feelings or arguements. Why encourage people to avoid “deep theological discussions” because they will “drive away the spirit”. If you honestly think you have the truth why do you not want to discuss it and have a “theological debate”?

    To be honest I got the impression from the Sunday morning session talks that the church is very worried about the opposition it is suffering from right now. There was an aweful lot of “bolstering” of the membership type of talks… using the phrase “no unhallowed hand can stop this work” MANY, MANY times. Me thinks they protest an aweful lot!!

    Grant H Palmer said he heard from a very reliable source in the church office that about 100,000 people are resigning from the church each year right now. Could he be right? Mine, my wife’s and my daughter’s resignation letters (recieved this year) were all form letters with a stamped signature and they were accompanied by a stock brochure (with a form number on the back were so they can order more) inviting us to “come back”. It reminded me of the generic credit card pre-approval letters you receive in the mail. It gave the appearance that hundreds of these are going out at a time. Just speculation though because they will never share the real numbers. Kind of like the total membership versus active membership numbers.

    Darrell

  4. 4 TXNate
    October 9, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Yeah, I listened to Elder Hale’s talk as well, and I talked to a Mormon friend about it. She said that the “high ground” assertion referred to “people who were all out to destroy the Church, not just those who were questioning it.” I think that’s splitting hairs right there. I didn’t hear that distinction in the talk. Either Elder Hale was just being vague, or he was deliberately neglecting the distinction so that he wouldn’t suffer backlash for lumping critics together, and yet get the message across to his members loud and clear. Here’s hoping he was accidentally vague.

    I also notice that this big difference between the Christian and Mormon church: Mormons discourage religious discussion, or “theological scrum in the mud”. It’s common practice at my church to talk to any missionary, Mormon, JW, etc. that comes to the door. In fact, my youth director and her husband once invited some Mormon missionaries to talk to them. This is not done just to argue, but to help others see the truth of Christ. If Mormons are so enthusiastic about their message, why don’t they take the time to discuss it with others, instead of a “sorry, not interested, here’s a Book of Mormon, go talk to a missionary”?

  5. 5 Darrell
    October 9, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Another interesting thought on this talk is how he never really answered the question that was asked of him. The question the group of young faithful LDS’s asked him was why “the CHURCH never defends itself”. He then went on to talk about how MEMBERS should respond when challenged (which was really to gie no answer and remain on “higher ground”- whatever that is). He never really answered why the CHURCH as a corporate body never responds to questions. I often thought when I was a faithful LDS member… “why doesn’t the church answer these questions?”. I spoke with my bishop, the stake president, friends, etc about my questions. No one EVER answered them. I always got the typical… “Well, we don’t know. We just have to have faith that there is an answer and one day we will get it”. I often thought that since we had a prophet that he should be able to talk with God and get the questions answered.

    Why doesn’t the church as a corporate body answer the questions the critics of it’s doctrine have? Why rely on Farms and FAIR? FARMS and FAIR will readily admit that they do NOT speak officially for the church. They just offer OPINIONS so why even address their answers… they are not official. So why does the church permit them to speak all the while officially saying NOTHING as a corporate body?

    Darrell

  6. October 9, 2008 at 4:08 am

    This is a topic where different apostles have different opinions. I have heard Elder Boyd K. Packer declare that like Samuel on the wall (Book of Helaman), we need not descend to engage our hecklers.

    But then I’ve also heard Neal A. Maxwell say that we should not allow our critics to define us for us uncontested.

    So take your pick.

    But surely, Elder Hales main point that we should be Christlike in engaging others is unobjectionable? Right?

  7. 7 Stephanie
    October 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    There is largely a misconception that being Christlike means continuing to allow someone to abuse or step all over you. This was an issue that I was confused about at one time in my life. During sessions with a Christian therapist, we discussed this very topic of responding in a Christlike-way to mistreatment. My confusion came from the admonition to turn the other cheek and forgive, 7 times 70 times even.

    However, my therapist explained that Christ was “not a push-over (her words).” She said that Christ’s anger at the money-changers in the temple was righteous anger. She explained to me that righteous anger at injustices or abuse is OK.

    I would add that God is a God of order, and clearing up confusion and chaos is something that Christ would do. Ignoring questions from fervent, confused followers seems cruel to me. It seems very possible to engage others in a Christlike manner and also answer the questions they have.

    Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

  8. 8 Darrell
    October 10, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Seth,

    Why do you call those of use who disagree with Mormon Theology “hecklers”? We disagree with what you believe in and seek to show those who are members of the LDS Church why their theology is WRONG. However, that is not heckling… that is called sharing the truth in LOVE. I have many family members who are LDS. I do not heckle them, instead I share the truth with them in hopes that they will see it and leave the mormon lie.

    The problem I have with Hales’ talk is that it started from the a priori position that all those who oppose the church’s theology are seeking to “argue”, “drive the spirit away”, want a “theological scrum inthe mud”, etc. He created an “us” versus “them” mindset right from the start of the talk. That is a ridiculous position. Since when did having a discussion about God and His truth become a “theological scrum in the mud” or be a cause to “drive the spirit away”? The talk was filled with appeals to emotion and seemed a vain attempt to play the victim role on the part of the church… “poor us, we are so persecuted and should not come down off of our mountain to even talk to those who persecute us.” If you have the truth why wouldn’t you share it with people and answer the issues they have? Why rely on Farms and Fair who say they do not officially speak for you anyway?

    The victim role never appealed to me when I was a member and now it even appeals to me less. Defend what you believe in. Stop relying on Farms and Fair. Or, perhaps the real issue is, they DON’T HAVE any answers to the critcisms?

    Darrell

  9. October 11, 2008 at 6:13 am

    You know something Darrell…

    You are awfully touchy.

    Who said I was calling you a “heckler?”

  10. 10 Darrell
    October 11, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Seth,

    Well, since I am seeking to have a “theological scrum in the mud” with you… I guess I am automatically a “dissenter” and a “heckler”. Thanks for coming down off your “mountain top” to talk with me.

    :)

    Not touchy at all… just trying to point out the victim roll the church plays. It is rather sad.

    Darrell

  11. October 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Darrell, what is the point of pointing out the LDS “victim role” anyway? To make you and your buddies feel better about yourselves?

    Because I’ll guarantee you, it will get you nowhere in a ministry outreach to Mormons themselves. It really doesn’t matter if Mormons are right or wrong about being victims. The fact is, they feel that way. They feel victimized by Evangelicals. Disagree with it or not as you choose, but it is the reality.

    Whining about things you cannot change is no way to run a ministry Darrell.

    Anyway, I was simply pointing out some quotes to illustrate different approaches that LDS leaders have advocated. Nothing more.

    If I wanted to play tragic victim and take the moral high ground, I would have left this blog well over a month ago. And there definitely are some blogs that are well worth leaving alone. That I’m still here ought to say something.

  12. 12 Darrell
    October 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Seth,

    You ask:

    What is the point of pointing out the victim role?

    The point is to open people’s eyes to what the LDS church is doing. I know this will not sit well with you but it is the truth.. what they are doing is a typical cult 101 tactic. Read ANY book that talks about how cults operate and they point this out… create a “we are oppressed by the outsiders” mindset and you can more easily get control of people.

    I have spoken with a few LDS people in my home town about this. They were amazed that they had never seen it before. The LDS church uses this paradigm to further endear it’s members to it. If they can convince people about how “oppressed” they are by “outsiders” it closes people’s minds even further to listening to anyone outside the LDS church. It pushes them further into the mindset that “the church is true” and anyone who speaks ill against it is a tool of satan. It is a miserable tactic to use and pointing it out does help some people to unhook their minds from the church.

    Darrell

  13. October 11, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Sounds like you’re describing a typical episode of Republican talk radio to me Darrell.

  14. October 13, 2008 at 1:57 am

    A cult tactic? Come on, cults (in the sense that you’re using) do not teach their followers to think and decide for themselves, or to get as much learning and knowledge as they possibly can.

    I don’t even think we paint ourselves as “oppressed” so much as misunderstood and misrepresented. Look what’s happening here; many here teach things about LDS doctrine that are completely untrue.

    Are there warnings to be careful of those who attack the church? Certainly, but it is also not in any way invalid to say that Satan attacks the Church; it’s been happening since the beginning.

  15. 15 Darrell
    October 13, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    “A cult tactic? Come on, cults (in the sense that you’re using) do not teach their followers to think and decide for themselves, or to get as much learning and knowledge as they possibly can.”

    The mormon church might SAY they want you to think for yourself and get as much learning as possible. However, all the while they also say a few other things. Two quick ones here because I am running out of time and have to get back to work…

    1) Stay away from “anti-mormon” literature (whatever that is?)

    This one was used HEAVILY on me while I was researching the church (investigating) and was used heavily again when I found out the truth about the church. I was told that satan was going to get a hold on me and that everything that the dreaded anti-mormons said were lies. Actually, most of the stuff that is said about the mormon church’s history and the deeper doctrines of the church are TRUE. In addition, If I can think for myself, why would I need to stay away from anything?

    2) All truth is not good

    It might be true that JS had 9 different first vision accounts, that Brigham Young taught that Adam was God, that JS practiced poligamy while lying about it, that the BOM has had over 500 changes in it… but that information is deemed NOT IMPORTANT by the leadership and should not be discussed. Truthly this one should read “all truth is not good FOR THE LDS CHURCH therefore, we want you to ignore it”.

    3) Decide for yourself

    This one has always given me a chuckle. So, I can decide for myself if my bishop is called of God. I can go and pray about it and the Lord will tell me. Well, what happens if I decided he is NOT called of God. What then? Tough luck for me because I am still obligated to sustain him. What about if I am given a calling. I can go and pray about it and decide for myself right? I know SEVERAL people who did that and decided the calling was not for them. Guess what happened, they were PRESSURED by the leaders and told “the calling is from God”. They were made to feel guilty about not accepting it. The whole, think for yourself stuff is hilarious. Remember what a past prophet said… “when the brethren have spoken, the thinking is DONE.” Yeah, that sounds like I can think and decide for myself.

    Creating the “we are oppressed” mindset and trying to control what you members read and listen to is cult-like in nature. It is sad.

    Darrell

  16. October 13, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Darrell, I’ve heard Evangelicals use the EXACT SAME victimization arguments that you accuse Mormons of.

    Are they a cult too?

    As for the council to avoid “anti-Mormon” literature… Do you really believe that Evangelicals aren’t doing the exact same thing?

    If so, let me disillusion you a bit.

    I just got booted off a counter-cult ministry blog two months ago because I DARED to link to a FAIR article. The Evangelical blogger got positively furious with me and accused me of linking to “Satanic cult websites” on his blog. Apparently, FAIR qualifies as “Satanic” in his strange little world. Actually, I didn’t even link to an article. All I did was mention Daniel Peterson.

    Well, you would have thought that I had uttered something foul. He immediately started rebuking me and then pompously informed me that I would not “be allowed to mislead others” by linking to such foul websites. He then told me I was no longer welcome at his blog and to go away. Which I did.

    You want to talk willful stupidity and blindness?

    Well I’ve had it in spades from Evangelicals. So don’t try to pretend with me that refusing to entertain the opposing viewpoint is some uniquely Mormon pastime. Maybe you are unaware of the crap your people are putting out on the internet, but I am not.

    An assertion that any of the accusations you have leveled against Mormons is unique to Mormons is simply not true. Evangelicals seem to be every bit as stupid, and every bit as intelligent as Mormons.

  17. October 13, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    As for “TRUTH”…

    Blackmail is also “truth.”

    Does that make it good?

  18. 18 Darrell
    October 15, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Seth,

    Blackmail? Wow, how far will you reach to justify what your church teaches?

    You know EXACTLY what he was speaking about in conference when he said “all truth is not good”. He was speaking to the mormon “scholars” and those researching and writing about the history of the church in an effort to get them to NOT TALK ABOUT THE BLACK MARKS IN CHURCH HISTORY. It might be true that BY taught that Adam was God or that white people who marry black people will be condemned to Outer Darkeness… but don’t write about it… it is not FAITH PROMOTING.

    Nice try Seth!

    Darrell

  19. 19 Darrell
    October 15, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Seth,

    If there is a Christian out there who discourages fellow Christians from learning about Mormonism, JW’s or any other cult I say shame on them. Fortunately for us Christians, I can easily say that the people who do that ARE NOT PROPHETS SPEAKING FOR GOD. They have ZERO authority over me and they are wrong for doing that in my opinion.

    In fact, at my church we ENCOURAGE people to learn ALL THEY CAN. When Mormon Missionaries come to the door, I encourage people to invite them in and have a polite discussion with them. I want our members to HELP THEM see the error in their theology in hopes to bring them out of the lies of mormonism to the true Christ. The same goes for JW’s or any other false religions out there. Our job is to help these people and how can we do it unless we know what they believe.

    What is really sad in the LDS Church’s case is that you have an organization that claims to speak for God saying that you should not talk about some of the truth’s of it’s OWN HISTORY. They teach… “Our prophet’s speak for God. But let’s not talk about the crazy things that some of them have said and done in the name of God. It is not FAITH PROMOTING TO DO SO.”

    I ask, how can I trust the prophets who speak today if I know for a FACT that prophets have misled people in the past? How do I know they are not misleading me today?

    Oh, I forgot, I’m not supposed to know that prophets have misled people in the past because I wasn’t allowed to read that stuff. Ooopps!! Fortunately for me I did not obey the prophet very well.

    Darrell

  20. October 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Mark,
    Can you please provide the reference for the following statement by Benson?

    The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one living in our day and age. . .Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is that of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in current Church publications.”

    I’ve been trying to get Mormons to admit this for years.

  21. 21 markcares
    October 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Keith:
    It is in “Teachings of the Living Prophets” p. 19


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