February 2, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

The best ministry news from last month is that the LDS gal, Patty, who was coming to our Ex-Mormon Meetups with her former LDS husband Ken, has now become a former LDS herself and is now trusting Jesus. We’ve been praying for Patty for quite some time now. She had been obviously searching for a while, and was fine with her husband coming to witness with us at Temple Square since she liked the changed she saw in his life when he gave up Mormonism and committed himself to Christ. Ken did an excellent job at “staying out of the way” as he put it. This is reminiscent of 1 Pt. 3:1: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.”

We also began another semester of DivorceCare through our church (Lifeline Community). Since we had such a small group last time, I prayed that we’d have at least 10 people there, and with Tara and I, that’s exactly what we have now. Due to our goal of confidentiality, I can’t go into details, but please pray, in addition to God growing this, that He’d also bring healing to marriages, healing to those whose marriages can’t be healed, and new life to those in need of salvation. Also, if you’d like to help out financially with this, please indicate that in someway with your investment. We are providing dinners as well as child care for free, and we would like to continue doing so. This ministry is a blessing to those typically facing financial challenges.

Rob at Temple Square
Witnessing out at Temple Square has been difficult due to the cold weather. Nonetheless, we continue to represent Christ there. Last weekend I talked to a mother and daughter about their Mormon faith in polytheism being contrary to not only the Bible, but also their own Book of Mormon. I read to them Alma 11:24-29 that says clearly that there is only one true and living God. The mother claimed to believe that, despite her belief in polytheism, since this means there is only 1 God for us. I then asked her who that referred to, and she replied that it was the Heavenly Father. I then took her to the front of the Book of Mormon where it says that Jesus is the Eternal God, and then asked about Him. “Wouldn’t He have to be a false God then if there’s only 1 true and living God?,” I asked. She was puzzled as to how to answer me, but thanked me for having a polite conversation with her.

Martha and Matt talking to a couple LDS guys outside Temple Square
I also ran into a couple disappointing Catholics outside Temple Square on different occasions. One told me that he didn’t think Mormons were going to hell for their beliefs, and he thought I was wasting my time with my work. He assumed I was condemning them, and thought the Bible could be interpreted all different ways, so nothing really mattered. The other Catholic told me that she hoped she was going to heaven when she died, but wasn’t sure. She leaned toward going to heaven simply because she wasn’t a bad person. I asked, “Really? You’ve never lied?” “Yes,” she responded. I then asked, “Well what does that make you?” She admitted that it makes her a liar, but then spun it that this wasn’t really bad. It was getting too uncomfortable for her, so she excused herself.

Unfortunately, most Catholics I run into off the street are just like these two. They are just as lost as any other unbeliever I run into. They all think of themselves as pretty decent people, and even if they fall short, at least they belong to some church. They all need the good news of trusting Christ’s work as a gift-payment for all sin. As the old hymn says, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!”

The other day, a buddy of mine, Russ Bales, found the following on the CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) forum: “So, today I was up near Temple Square with a friend of mine since I had never been. As we walked off Temple Square and were going to cross the street over to visit the Conference Center (which btw is a structural masterpiece, but that's besides the point) there was a man handing out anti-Mormon literature holding a sign to two prominent anti-Mormon websites (Mormon "info" and JosephLied). I found it funny that a man would actually waste away his Saturday doing that. Obviously this man isn't married and doesn't have kids, because otherwise his time would be better spent teaching his children the "truth" as he perceives it. I just find it funny the lengths anti-Mormons will go to trying to talk people away from the LDS Church. Maybe there really is something to this whole Mormonism thing. (Just as a thought, I see evidence of the truthfulness of Mormonism in how much "Christians" persecute it and scold it - see Matthew 5:10-11)” Find this and responses here.

On the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wrote a blog on our CCU site called “Responding to LDS Spin on Their Racial Scripture.” I entered into a Facebook debate with an LDS apologist, who was claiming, among other things, that the Book of Mormon only treats separation from God and His people as a curse, and not skin color.

Marv Cowan at our Ex-Mormon Meetup
We had a great time at our last Ex-Mormon Meetup with Marv and Jan Cowan. Marv is a long time Baptist minister here in Utah, and he shared his testimony out of Mormonism and into Christ with our group. Marv is also the author of Mormon Claims Answered, which was the first book I ever read on Mormonism almost 30 years ago! For more pictures, see here.

We really need your partnership with this ministry. Your investment is not simply for us, but for the lives of others we reach with the gospel. The standard way to invest is by writing a check to Courageous Christians United. 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 on partnering with us financially, see our “Invest” page. Many thanks to those of you who hold us up in prayer and in your financial giving!

Look out! Charis starts walking in earnest!
Contending 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. To get more partners who will faithfully invest in this ministry
3. Health for our whole family
4. Protection, especially as we start witnessing in front of high schools/LDS seminaries
5. Tara’s and Maddi’s families to be saved

****MAILBAG****

I saw you on Doris polygamy show. Loved the part where you bore you testimony against the BOM. Classic.
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Rob, keep up the great work, I am proud of what you had done.
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I was just looking at your website josephlied.com, or I guess it's the new site now. I just wanted to know why you guys are so out to get the Mormons and so against it. I think there are lots of churches and groups that aren't right, but that's just how it is. Mormons do a lot of good in the world, and so do Buddhists and Jews. I researched some other anti-websites on other religions, but there isn't nearly as much on any other church as there is on Mormons. Plus, it looks like the Mormons never really come out and talk bad about other religions. I was just curious as to why so much animosity towards Mormons. I say, if they're doing good in the world, and helping out other people, let them be. Thanks,

[I replied:] Thanks for your note. In addition to Mormons, we reach out to all groups that attack the Christian Faith in one way or another. Now I don't mean physical attacks, although that may be a part of it. I mean attacks that intend to demean and draw our own away and to what these religious systems claim to be true. In fact, Mormons and other cults claim to be the only true manifestation of Christianity. Our main site is www.CourageousChristiansUnited.org, and here we support our own beliefs and try to persuade others who disagree with them. We live in Utah, so most of the people we live with are Mormons. My wife used to be Mormon (see here), so most of my in-laws are Mormon. I have no animosity towards them. I think their doctrine is corrupt and leads people to hell, but that's quite different from saying I have animosity towards them.

We are missionaries, and as such we try to convert the culture to biblical truth. Mormons deny what Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox churches have taught for 2,000 years now, so we try to help Mormons out and we also try to warn others away from a pseudo-Christian cult like Mormonism.

I agree that Mormons and other religions do a lot of good in the world, but we're about something deeper than that. One can do good and still be on their way to hell. Now you may not believe in hell, but certainly you can understand that we do and we want to warn people away from it and offer people life found in being under the ultimate authority of Jesus.

Now Mormons do in fact talk bad about others when they all believe they are the only true Church (see their scripture D&C 1:30) and that all other churches are wrong, all their creeds an abomination, and all their professors are corrupt (see their scripture Joseph Smith's History 1:19 in the Pearl of Great Price).

It's sort of like illegal aliens claiming they are fully American citizens, entitled to all the benefits America provides, and then having the audacity to claim that somehow American citizens really aren't Americans. Or how about this: my last name is Sivulka, but I'm really a [Jones]. We accidentally switched parents at a very young age. As such, you aren't really entitled to all the family benefits you've been receiving. I'm taking you to court, and claiming what is rightfully mine. Now how does that make you feel?

Hope this helps and Happy New Year!

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Love the latest newsletter and the interview on the t.v. show. Keep soldiering on!
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We love you guys and pray that God continues to be glorified by you and thru your ministry. All God’s best to you
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Saw your teaching on The Trinity on YouTube. Very impressive! Thanks for helping people. Enclosed is a modest gift.
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If the wife a morman man who was married in a temple dies, and he wants to remarry another widow in the temple who was also married in the temple to her deceased husband, will he be married to both in Heaven? hope it doesnt sound confusing I was just curious about that

[I replied:] …[For LDS] You're only married in heaven to those you are sealed to. If a widow was already sealed to someone else, then she can only be re-married for time. The widower can be sealed to another who was never sealed to someone else or he can marry just for time.
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“The fundamental question is that of truth. It's not who has a more interesting story.” I completely agree with that statement...just want to know the truth. Which leads me to a recent question I have...a couple LDS scholar/apologist/PhD students I've been speaking with used Genesis 1 & 2 as an example to exemplify how the Bible is not infallible/needs correction. He compared the fact that in Genesis 1, God seems to have complete control, while in Genesis 2 (specifically verses 5-7) things "happen" and God's actions are more of a cause/effect or trial/error response. What are your thoughts on that?

[I replied:] The idea that there are differences between Gen. 1& 2 which indicate different authors is a liberal idea that’s been soundly refuted by conservative scholars. Primarily the argument is on different names for God being used in each chapter, but I fail to see how that alone indicates the liberal thesis. And even if their thesis is true, I’m not sure how that indicates fallibility.

Further, I don’t see 2 different creation accounts between Gen. 1 & 2. I see 2 as presupposing the completion of God’s work in 1. 2:1-3 tells us that work was completed. Then in vs. 4 it goes into a summary statement of God’s work, and then goes on to talk about some details of it with more precision. Since everything is ultimately under God’s control in chapter 1 (He’s the Creator and Sustainer of everything after all), then chapter 2 goes into more detail about how that control operates. God sets nature on its course to operate according to its own laws. Where’s the trial and error on God’s part here? Where’s the fallibility here? Sounds like a bunch of hot air to me.


[She continued:] “[LDS think] Yes, by decreasing and living for the Church, we reap the benefits and may be exalted by our worthiness.” How is this different from Biblical theology...I know people are saved by grace in the "Christian" world, but really, they're not if they're not exercising sanctification, right? If, like in James, they claim to be saved, and yet are not doing anything "Christ-like", they are really not saved. I see a superficial distinction, but once analyzed, it seems like just different wording for the same definition.

[I replied:] Intentions matter. Externally, sure they look the same. But a Christian is one who intends on trusting Christ *alone* as the only means whereby the *gift* payment for the complete debt of sin may be accomplished, and this is simply on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross. This is the point in which justification happens or when one is born again and all things become new. Non-Christians intend to do their best (as if they really could), and then suppose God will weigh the scales to see if they are worthy enough to enter His presence, or if LDS, a particular kingdom. See the difference? One claims works only as a vindication or knowledge of one’s sin removal whereas the other claims works (and yes, of course faith) as the means by which one may be worthy. Example: 2 kids wash my car, but their intentions are different. 1 kid does it because she loves me and just wants to thank me for adopting her. The other kid does it because she wants me to think she’s great and adopt her on simply how good she can be. Consequently I love the 1st regardless, but the second I find to have an over-inflated view of herself and her own performance, despite how nice it is. LDS are the 2nd kid; Christians are the 1st kid.

Finally, about this business of living for the church, you must not have seen my Facebook post from the end of last month: “Bob Millet of BYU said in Alive in Christ, ‘The Church... is absolutely indispensable to our salvation. No supposed personal relationship with Jesus, no commitment to the gospel, no high level of Christian conduct in society can compensate for what is to be found in the Church.’ Lynn Wilder formerly of BYU said, ‘I discovered the exact opposite is true. No church can compensate for what is found in Christ Jesus.’"


[She continued:] “LDS assume the parent/child is literal when it comes to our relation to God. They assume we're all of the same species. Christianity finds that blasphemous to think that we'll receive *exclusive* worship from our spirit kids just like God does from us. This just devalues God and exalts man, the creation.” How does this devalue God, if He's the one who emptied Himself and became human as Jesus anyway? I know the act seems weird and not something people are comfortable with, like polygamy in the old testament for example, but how are we to determine whether or not God did have sexual relations with Mary? Can't God, being omnipotent and omnipresent, do anything He desires (example: allowing sin, natural disasters, and hardening of peoples' hearts to happen)?

[I replied:] God became devalued, not as God in Himself, but within another nature, and all natures outside of God’s are dependent or creations. Thus, by definition, they aren’t as valuable as the One by which all other things depend. So the creation that was born 2,000 years ago was in fact weak and was able to die, being our Sacrifice. But God in His nature isn’t able to become weak and die. This is where Christians have traditionally kept the 2 natures of Christ distinct, without confusing them. So Jesus as God isn’t man, but Jesus as man isn’t God. Jesus is the only thing we know of that has 2 natures.

Look, God could take on any form He wants to since He’s all powerful, but that doesn’t mean that form in and of itself is God. Think of it as an attachment. Attachments express the hard drive; attachments are not the hard drive. The Bible is clear the Holy Ghost descended on Jesus in the bodily form of a dove (Lk. 3:22). Do you think the Holy Ghost is a dove? Of course not, and neither ought you to think that God is a man, especially when scripture is quite clear He isn’t (Hos. 11:9).

The Bible is clear that the Holy Ghost is God. Jesus is the Son of the Highest and was conceived, not by the Heavenly Father, but by the Holy Ghost (cf. Mat. 1:18 and 20, and Lk. 1:32-5). The Heavenly Father was the Father for other reasons from being the one who conceived Mary.

Now Mary didn’t have sex with a dove (the Holy Ghost) or with a man, since God isn’t a man and Mary was a *virgin* when she gave birth (Mat. 1:23-5). It was a virgin conception as well as birth after all. That’s why it was miraculous and worth celebrating. If God used natural means to impregnate her, then technically, there was nothing supernatural about it. Just an unusual occurrence.


[She continued:] Likewise, why does God come down in a form of a human, and then say to everyone that he is speaking to "his father"? Why doesn't he just claim (the trinitarian view) that he's God himself? Why use a different name and confuse the people into thinking there are two Gods, one in heaven (God the father) and one on earth (Jesus God)?

[I replied:] Jesus did claim to be God Himself (e.g., Jn. 5:18-23; 10:30-33; Rev. 1:7-8, 17-18; and 22:6, 12-20 with Isa. 44:6). If Jesus isn’t just as much God, then we devalue Him from the Most High. This is different from claiming that He’s the Heavenly Father, the 1st Person of the only God Being. Jesus was very clear that there’s not more than 1 true God (Jn. 17:3). For more on the Trinity, see here.

[She continued:] How is it "impossible for God to lie" (Heb 6:18), if He is in control of everything, and thus, everything is possible by Him? If it's "impossible", doesn't this limit His power or freedom to choose?

[I replied:] No, because God can do all powers, and for Him to lie or create square-circles isn’t a power. It’s meaningless. It’s scrambling words together, but having no content to them. All credible philosophers of religion recognize this, and it’s only the village atheist that asks the question, “If God’s all powerful, then can He create a stone so big that He can’t move it?” It’s the same sort of problem. Nonsense. So an all holy God cannot sin like lying.

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