August 31, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Aaron Shafovaloff preaching outside Temple Square
This has been a difficult month of ministry. There has been another fire started over a ministry approach, except this one has revolved around in-fighting among those who enjoy “stranger” or “confrontational” evangelism rather than focusing on “friendship” evangelism. Our board member, Aaron Shafovaloff, came up with the idea that he would use August 18th as the day to get Christians to post on their Facebook walls and other places a statement that says in effect, “I agree with Moroni 8:18, so why don’t Mormons?” Since August is the 8th month, Aaron figured the 18th would be a catchy day for this mass Christian campaign. Moroni 8:18 says something that seems rather uncontroversial to Christians, viz., “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” If I just quoted the verse without saying the source, I don’t think any of my fellow Christians would hesitate agreeing with it. The problem, though, is that some legalistic fundamentalist Christians have objected quite intensely over agreeing with a source that has deceived millions to hell. As a result, Shafovaloff asked me for some help in his defense. In addition to many long hours of correspondence regarding this subject, I wrote the following article for our CCU blog: “Responding to Rocky Hulse's Critique of the Moroni 8:18 Campaign.”

There was a huge divide on this issue with both sides getting really nasty as a result. Facebook even removed one of my posts due to others’ conversation in the thread, and I received a warning! I posted on my Facebook: “I don't care if you guys disagree with each other, but the crudeness, pettiness, & hatefulness of your talk needs to stop. ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone’ (Col. 4:6).” Thank God things are finally starting to calm down!

On much more positive note, what this “anti-8:18” crowd “meant for evil, God meant for good” (cf. Gen. 50:20)! This has brought a much deeper unity among confrontational evangelists than there ever was before. Also, I know of two friends who were quite vocal against the 8:18 campaign, and they have had a change of heart. Even though they wouldn’t challenge LDS with 8:18, they have come to see that unity among the brethren is so much more important. One of those friends came out to Temple Square to witness with us last week. He told me that he recognizes that the arguments against 8:18 aren’t that persuasive. I told him that I understand the emotional reaction he has with anything that smacks of supporting Mormonism.

As we were talking, a Mormon friend of his came walking out of the temple and stopped to say hello. He had not seen my friend since his mission a number of years ago. They got caught up on what the other had been doing, and then my friend went right into sharing his testimony of how he left Mormonism and came to Christ. I also got to share the God of the Bible and other problems with Mormonism with his LDS friend. It was so great how God was using each of us to minister to this LDS friend. At the end of our time, my friend offered his LDS friend the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD, and his friend said something to the effect of, “What kind of guy would I be if I didn’t accept this when I was offering people Book of Mormons on my mission?” So he took it! I also gave him, as well as each of the Christian missionaries there, a squash from my garden.

It was such an encouraging time! It just reaffirmed: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1) God can use us for His glory despite our petty differences on ministry approaches. If I can live in harmony with my wife given all the differences we have, then certainly I can work with my Christian brother for a short time. My dad likes to remind me that when Christian evangelists aren’t focused on fishing for men, then those evangelists typically end up fighting amongst themselves. There are so many people going to hell every minute, and we want to bang each other over the head as to the proper way to keep them out of hell! OK, enough of the soap box!

As for other updates on our sites, I posted another blog article on “Responding to LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland on ‘Are Mormons Christians?’," and I also edited another Ex-Mormon testimony, and posted it on our site. See Sandi Bonner's testimony here.

Tara sharing her testimony at bbq
We also had a couple ministry barbecues this past month. First, we had our monthly Ex-Mormon Meetup with Chuck Larson sharing his testimony. You can watch that here and see the pictures here. Chuck is a well-known ex-Mormon author, who wrote a devastating critique of the Book of Abraham. Second, we had a mission team over from my parent’s former church, Emmanuel Faith Community, in Escondido, CA. Tara shared her testimony, and I shared how I got into this ministry, and fielded questions.

Finally, here’s a quick video we took of me being an “Impromptu Tour Guide” at Temple Square.

We really value your partnership with this ministry. We not only need your prayers, but we need your financial assistance as well. Your investment is not simply for us, but for the lives of others we reach with the gospel. The standard way to financially invest is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United (CCU). But we also have secure electronic funds transfer programs available if you are interested in the simplicity of monthly withdrawals without the stamp. This also helps us with our monthly budgeting. Please also keep in mind that, particularly in this economy, we have no financial guarantees each month. Ministry partners come and go as jobs do. For more information, please see our “Invest” page. At this point, we would like to raise at least $470 each month to cover costs. If you’re not a partner, please consider joining our team and let us know soon. Many thanks to those of you who hold us up in prayer and in your financial giving!


Contending earnestly for the faith (Jude 3),

Rob Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
P.O. Box 1374
West Jordan, UT 84084
(801) 708-4865
Rob@CourageousChristiansUnited.org
MormonInfo.org
JWInfo.org
MuslimInfo.org

****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****

1. To get more speaking engagements.
2. Health for our whole family
3. Protection
4. Tara’s and Maddi’s families to be saved
5. Wisdom in all our dealings
6. For people to come to our DivorceCare class beginning September 15th

****MAILBAG****


I remember one night back in january I came across your youtube videos. I was curious about the mormon faith, mainly because I had heard how upsurd it was. I considered myself christian, went to church on sundays and thought thats was good enough. I even once said the sinners prayer but for some reason it didn't feel right. When I seen the passion and energy you had for christ my life changed. Every scripture and sermon you spoke had me fascinated. Now when i go to church it all makes sense, its like everything i hear i soak up like a sponge. I want to thank you Rob Sivulka, you have inspired me like no other. For I truely believe you lead me to the lord !
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Here's what I love most about you and your wife: You guys have crazy, busy lives, yet you hung out and chatted with us late into the night. You're not just blowing a loud horn, but you really love people, and we experienced it that night in a tangible way.
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My brother… posted a link about christians witnessing to mormons on his facebook and it made me think of you. Its been along time since I stood beside you in Manti and witnessed along with you for Christ our Lord and it seemed at that time, new to me being as young as I was. Looking back on it now not only would I have not changed a thing, but I wish I could have been more on fire for Him and able to speak His words to the people. I still remember pacing the streets of the temple holding my sign shouting at the people as you preached. You never were the "friendly" preacher, but used the words that struck people straight to their souls. Not a year goes by that I don't want to come join you again but being in the army now, it gets hard to do that stuff. I witness a lot down here and had a guy hit me the other day bc I wouldn't stop contradicting the book of mormon with the Bible. Like you say, when they get angry, its bc they know what we say is truth but they don't want to believe.

…Always know that you and the men/women witnessing along with you, are in my prayers. You truly are blessed by God to be able to speak like you do. Never stop witnessing for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, no matter what the world puts in your way. Weather it be jail, thrown rocks, people spitting at you or hitting you, never quit bc God will never quit for you. Keep the faith my brother, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Your brother in Christ,
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I just wanted to drop you a line of encouragement. I just had a friend ask me for resources to discuss Mormonism with her friend in Korea...I was thrilled to be able to pass on your website...thank you for witnessing to others in Utah and standing strong in the faith. I know many people disagree with you, probably both weak Christians and Mormons, but I know God will hold you strong.
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Praise God for your stand for TRUTH
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I was wondering if you could tell me about the Big bang, The book says that they know the universe is 14 billion years old, because of the distance the galaxies are from each other. This makes scene to me, but i don't understand what was there before the big bang? Was there a nothingness? How can something happen(such as a big bang) in a nothingness? I what is beyond the galaxies that are travailing away from each other? I thought the universe was never ending, just goes on forever.
Could you please point me in the direction of the awnserw to these question, or awnser them yourself. Thank you form your help.

[I replied:] Lots of debate going on here. Here's a good book by a theist and an atheist on the subject: "Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology" by William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith.

…I don't buy that something can come from nothing. All our experience points to the opposite. Those who say that something can come from nothing usually point to quantum mechanics to validate their point, but to put it simply, no one can be certain here that this is exactly what's going on. Further, the Big Bang isn't on the micro level like quantum mechanics is; the BB is on the macro level. Given everything else we know, it's best to put QM in this perspective... everything that happens requires a cause. So if the BB was the 1st event, then that event must also have a Cause. In Aristotle's language, that's the First Cause. Now other scientists speculate on other causes to the BB that aren't the First Cause, but there's no scientific evidence to go on. It's mere scientific speculation.

At this point philosophy becomes helpful. How can there be an actually infinite universe... a series of an infinite number of events to the past? That would require traversing an actual number of events to arrive at the present moment, and how can you cross actual infinity one at a time? Let me put it to you this way... start counting. Let's say under some bizarre scenario I stop you 50 billion years from now and ask you what number you're on. It will always be a finite number, which is simply a *potential* infinite. You're no closer to reaching *actual* infinity than from the time you started. So if the universe is *actually* infinite, then how did we cross it one at a time to get to the present moment? Trying to reach actual infinity one at a time would be like trying to jump out of an infinitely tall bottomless pit. You can't get a foothold anywhere to get going. But since we've arrived at the present moment, we got here from a literal beginning or a shoving off point. The universe of time and space must be finite and not actually infinite. That means, from philosophy, we should know that, regardless of whether science can't figure out if the BB is literally the first event or not, the universe needs a literal first event in order to arrive at the present moment.

Now given the 2nd law of thermodynamics teaches that everything is in a state of entropy and is winding down like a wind-up clock. A wind-up universe certainly can't be actually infinite otherwise we would have cooled off an actually infinite time ago. I mean, how much more time do you need to cool down than an infinite amount? So this scientific law also lends support to there being a finite universe that was wound up time ago.

Now this all implies a First Cause in which it is nonsense to ask where He, She, or It came from, since to come would be an event, and we've already established that there were no events prior to the 1st event. He, She, or It must be eternal.

Further, He, She, or It couldn't be an "It," since its (impersonal things) move only when moved upon. But again, there was no event prior to the 1st event, so He or She couldn't be moved upon. He or She had to do the moving spontaneously or freely, and that's a characteristic of persons.

Just some of my thoughts, but you're welcome to come to your own conclusion about this matter.

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Hey Rob, just wanted to pop in and say thank you, for all you've done for Aaron & Moroni 8:18 Campaign. I did not get involved in individual conversations, but did leave a piece in rebuttal of Rocky's Article. I enjoyed your response, and pray that others will respect your page and understand the risk you took to have that play out there. God bless you in all your endeavors, you have my prayers for your ministry constantly. Grace and Peace in Christ, johnny
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Just read your note re;Hulse's[.] Well done. Enough has been said publicly. I'm not fueling anyone's thread with comments, but I have been praying for Aaron and I hope this will be the end of it. I think it will be.
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Thanks so much to you and your wife for all of the great work that you do. I only wish I could be there with you doing it. In Christ's Love and with many blessings

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