February 27, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Much of my ministry for February consisted of writing… lots of it. I have added an FAQ section to JWinfo.org, and have answered some common criticisms Jehovah’s Witnesses use against Jesus being Jehovah. I also added a couple of film reviews to MormonInfo.org: Praise to the Man, and Passage to Zarahemla.
Sivulkas with Dr. Ryrie
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As for personal interactions, we met the famous Evangelical theologian, Dr. Charles Ryrie who spoke at our church. Dr. Ryrie said of our daughter Charis Sophia that she has a good name (in the Greek it means grace and wisdom). By the way, our neighbor I asked you to pray for last month came to church and met Dr. Ryrie.

Charis also finally met her great-grandparents (Tara’s grandparents). Staunchly LDS, he asked me what would happen if I’m wrong concerning Mormonism. So I told him that I’d go to one of the lower heavenly kingdoms.
Charis with her great-grandparents
That’s really not that big of a deal. Then I said, “But if I’m right, then you guys are... [in big trouble.]”

Earlier this month, some good friends expressed their reservations on how it doesn’t appear that we are being careful not to offend LDS. After thinking about this more, I believe our goal is never to offend LDS, even though we know it will be an unintended consequence of what we do. In ethical theory, this is known as the law of double effect. It is often used in justifying certain wars. Here some good action may be done even though it may have some unintended bad consequence. What justifies the action is that the intended good consequence overrides the bad consequence. So even though we intend to “live at peace with everyone” as Paul says in Romans 12:18, nonetheless, we know that on many occasions “speaking the truth in love” will offend people. There is no way around this, and if no one ever hates us, then we probably aren’t doing are job well. Jesus was clear that the world would hate us, and He spoke against us when everyone speaks well of us (Luke 6:26). Jesus put His adversaries to shame (Lk. 13:17). The Pharisees were "offended" when Jesus told them the truth about themselves (Mat. 15:10-14). Sometimes this is exactly what people need before they'll wake up to their need. As one ex-LDS guy once said, "Even though it offended me, it was what I needed to hear."

Most of our dialogues with people are quite pleasant. However, we almost always have people that become rather agitated at what we do. As an example, earlier this month a guy approached me at Temple Square, who didn’t appear to be a Mormon guy. I was very calm and respectful. Nonetheless, he was got right in my face, yelled obscenities at me, and threatened to kick my you know what after I told him he was full of pride. I calmly asked him if he wanted me to call the cops, and he immediately bolted.

The Apostle Paul commended the Philippians for taking care of him through their gifts (Phil. 4:15-18). This is why we believe the Lord will commend you for taking care of us through your gifts. Please send in your investment today. The standard way is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United. But we also have secure electronic funds transfers programs available if you are interested in the simplicity of monthly withdrawals without the stamp. Finally, if you are interested in taking advantage of tax-free stock donations (e.g., an IRA rollover to CCU), we can also help you with that. This will help lessen your capital gains taxes. Please see our "Invest" page for more specific information.

Grace and peace,

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

****ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS****

1. To get another ex-Mormon Meetup started.
2. To get more speaking engagements.
3. To get more partners who will faithfully invest in this ministry.
4. To get MuslimInfo.org started.
5. To represent CCU well at the upcoming Capstone Conference

****MAILBAG****

What a blessing to hear what God is doing. We are excited about having you here in Utah. Praying for you to continue strong in His work. Love & Prayers,
______________

I looked over your movie review of Praise to the Man and I have to say you have done some really great research. …Keep up the good work you are doing.
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Hi, You don't know me (but we may have known each other eons of time ago. I really can't remember).

Anyway, I am simply writing to respond to a flier placed on my door early this afternoon which states that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (I'm one of 'em) are being misled regarding our belief in Jesus Christ and how He is related to God and to us. I'll just keep it short because I don't wish to debate anything. I just wanted to say something touching our belief in immortal parents. I wonder what is so wrong about believing we were born of Heavenly Parents? How do you think women all over the world are so wonderful and nurturing, instinctively if we did not learn some of that in another life - probably from female diety - our Mother as well as from our Eternal Father? Anyway, that just makes plenty of sense (at least to me). Have a good week! =D Ever yours (well not really) A fellow Christian

[I replied:] Thanks for writing. I think these are great questions you gave me. I believe that what is so wrong with thinking that we are all born of Heavenly Parents is that it puts us and God all on equals in terms of our nature. We're all humans. But the Bible and reason tells us that God is not a man of any sort (Hosea 11:9). He's the Creator of literally everything outside Himself (e.g., 1 Cor. 8:6). If that's true, then no human can claim this as part of his/her being. We are all dependent on something beside us for our life. Christians exalt God alone to the status of truly independent.

The other reason we aren't all born of Heavenly Parents is that Jesus is clearly the "only begotten Son" (Jn. 3:16). If that's true, then any reference to us as the offspring of God must be taken figuratively. God the Son has this independent nature of God, and by Him everything else exists (again 1 Cor. 8:6).

The Christian God isn't such that He needs anything to bring about His purposes. He doesn't need a body or a wife. He's all powerful, and as such, He created all of us in His image without a Heavenly Mother. We reflect God because He made us that way. He made us with the different capacities that are unique to men and women. He made us with all sorts of capacities, but this doesn't entail that everything we are God is. We reflect Him, but not perfectly as the Son has always done.

Now note, there's a huge difference between making and begetting. God made us, and whatever you make isn't going to have your nature. You can make a painting of a human, but that painting isn't human. Similarly, God makes us and thus we have a different nature (i.e., we're human and God isn't). God eternally *begets* His only Son, and that's why the Son is eternally God. We aren't, nor will we ever be, eternally God, since we aren't eternally begotten of Him.

It's because LDS have devalued God/Jesus to the position of simply an exalted man that Christians regard LDS as false Christians... counterfeits. I mean no offense, but am just telling you how historic Christianity sees things here.

Here's a video I did on this subject last October.

I pray the best for you!

________________

"Brother Rob thank you for accepting my friend request. You know i usually watch "Heart of the Matter" on you tube and i came across your videos of you preaching at the Mormon Pageants. Man u are really bold and i thank God for using you out in Utah. God bless u and keep up the great work!"
________________

Where does (or does) it sayin LDS Scriptures that there will be mandatory polygamy in Mormon heaven and that women will still be popping out babies?

[I replied:] The only "scripture" on polygamy is D&C 132, but LDS use vs. 19 to claim they may be married to 1 wife under the new and everlasting covenant and still become a god. Brigham Young, though, in the Journal of Discourses said that the only ones who becomes gods are those who enter into polygamy (11:269). Other LDS say that the celestial kingdom is made up of levels with gods, married without gods, and singles who are angels. For more info, see here.
___________________

You've got a great site and I am thankful to God for the work that people like yourself are doing. I thought of one point that seems to helped convince Mormons of the Christian position on "us" in Genesis 1:26. Christians often contend that the 'plural of Majesty' is typical of an ancient middle-eastern way of describing the overwhelming glory of God. An important evidence for this is that even the Koran--which no one denies is monotheistic--uses "Us" when God speaks. I thought that the 'plural of majesty' idea seemed rather odd, even far fetched when I first heard it, but when I realized that even the Koran uses this language I knew that I was not telling myself some half-baked explanation--it really is indicative of a middle-eastern approach to God's glory (and aseity?). A big thanks to Dr. Meredith Kline for this observation.

Mormons that I have talked to in online discussions seem to have conceded the point when the realized that it is a trend that exists outside of the Bible, which makes sense in an ancient culture, and which is clearly not thought to be at odds with monotheism (how else could it be in the Koran?). Blessings in all your work,

[I replied:] I guess you're referring to my FAQ on this passage, right? I think what you have said would be good to use as an example. The only problem that I foresee is that the Koran is about 600 AD. The other middle-east references that conclusively use this way of talking are quite late if I remember correctly. I concede the passages in the Bible *could* have this meaning, but they *could* also be a reference to the Trinity, or even *possibly* a reference to other divine beings that were *created* by the Uncreated. These possibilities are quite an eye-opener to the typical dogmatic LDS interpreter who wants to force LDS polytheism upon it.

Thanks for your encouraging words, and please keep up the good work of leading people to the true God!

________________

My mormon wife is fascinated by the Elizabeth Smart case. Do you have any info that her kidnappers were Mormon Temple workers ?

[I replied:] "Mitchell was not born into fundamentalism. He'd spent most of his life as a dutiful Latter-day Saint, and for three years he'd actually worked at the Salt Lake Temple, the epicenter of the establishment church, where he performed in ritual reenactments of sacred history. His wife, Wanda Barzee, was an upstanding Saint, as well, who for a period ... See Morehad played organ at the Mormon Tabernacle. One of Barzee's music teachers described the couple as 'the epitome of righteousness, fulfilling every church duty and assignment.

Mitchell's unflagging zeal raised eyebrows even then, however. During his tenure as a temple worker, his job was to act the part of Satan in staged religious dramas. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Mitchell was so convincing in the role that 'he made church officials uneasy.' …By the mid-1990s... were officially cast out of the LDS Church" (Jon Krakauer, "Under the Banner of Heaven," 42-3).


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Bro. Wayne says... (Reply)
"Bro.R, got your news letter. Thanks. I hope Mr. "Another Christian" can clear away the fog and pay attention to your answer. Here's a quote he might also think about: "If horses had Gods, they would look like horses." Xenophanes, Greek philosopher." (3/1/10)