March 30, 2010

A lot has happened this past month. Currently we are in California celebrating Easter with family. Just yesterday while at the beach, I ran into an LDS bishop who was wearing a CTR (Choose the Right) sweatshirt (CTR is a popular LDS acrostic). I introduced myself and Tara to him and his family. We told them about what we do in Utah and how Tara used to be LDS. I happened to have some Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVDs in my camera bag, so I gave him one.

Mike Tyson
On our way driving down from UT last week, my brother got us set up at a nice hotel in Vegas. The next morning Tara, Charis, and I went to check out the spa/fitness center. Afterwards, I let Tara take her turn while I went back to the room to watch Charis. Instead of going back the way I came, I decided to start working out by going up the stairs with Charis strapped to me in her pouch. While walking up the stairs I immediately noticed Mike Tyson coming down with a woman. He moved behind the woman to make room for me coming up the stairs. We both said hi to the other as we passed by. Back in the room, I began to pray for Mike that God would give me one shot with the former heavy weight champ. Tara came back about a 1/2 hour later, and it was my turn.

When I got down to the spa, Mike was lying down on a lounge chair. He had his head phones on and rolled over like he didn't want to be bugged. So I went in the steam sauna and began again to pray for Mike. When I got out of the sauna I noticed Mike had left. As I went to go do my workout I saw him walking into the treatment room.

After my workout, I went to shave and shower. Immediately when I went to leave, Mike was leaving from the locker room. It was a perfect opportunity to talk to him! I shook his hand and introduced myself to him. I asked him if he was still a practitioner of the Nation of Islam. He said he wasn't, and that he was simply Muslim. I asked him if he used to be Baptist, and he said that was many years ago. I then asked what was it that made him convert to Islam. He started to get a little defensive and was trying to back out of our conversation. He asked what difference it made. I told him that I had recently started MuslimInfo.org and was a Christian minister and loved him and was simply interested in him as a person. This whole time, the spa attendant was standing right next to us. He interrupted and said something to the effect that this wasn't the time for this. Fortunately, Mike told the guy that it was all right, and the attendant left us alone.

Mike began to explain that he became Muslim since that's just where he was in life at the time. It simply was who he was. He takes care of his wife and kids and that's all that really matters. It was like I was talking to another typical Mormon. He obviously didn't want to go into any detail with me, but it was clear that there was no good objective reason why he left Christianity and joined Islam. It was simply a preference of beginning to enjoy one flavor of ice cream more than another. That's all religion is for most people these days. So I told Mike that I respect him for taking care of his family, but then asked him a question to try and get him out of his subjective outlook. I asked him if it was true that as a Muslim he was instructed to listen to the teachings of Jesus. Mike said yes; he reverences Jesus as a great prophet. So then I asked Mike if it would matter if he learned that Jesus taught that He was God and He spoke against false religions. Mike didn't really answer; he asked if I was trying to convert him in a $%^& bathroom. I backed off and told him again that I was just interested in him as a person. Then I asked him if he could be wrong. He said, "Absolutely I could be wrong." I agreed with him, and told him that I could be wrong too. I was trying to get him to see that we needed to study what Jesus actually taught.

It was obvious that Mike wanted out of this "fight," so I simply told him that Jesus loved him, and that I had been praying for him. We shook hands again, and I told him to take care.

When I got back to the room, Tara reminded me that Mike's daughter died almost a year ago in a bizarre treadmill accident. She was a little worried for me, since after looking up the Wiki article on him, she found out that he had assaulted some guy trying to take his picture with his family at LAX just several months ago. We prayed for Mike, and ask you to do the same. He's had such a troubled life, and it would be awesome if Jesus saved him and gave him a new life.

As for other news, I had a great dialogue with an LDS guy in the comments section of one of my YouTube videos. He claimed that he was graduate of the Master’s College.

We posted a video on Racism and Mormonism. This is part 1, so stay tuned for the second part where I actually interview a Christian black couple on, among other things, the racism passages in the Book of Mormon.

I ran into an LDS guy at the temple a couple weeks ago who told me that he watched the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD I gave him a while ago. He said that it was really interesting… especially the part that showed the archeological contrast between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He realized the former has all sorts of support while the latter has none. His wheels have started turning.

We finally started the Salt Lake City Ex-Mormon Meetup, and have already had several members attend a few Meetups to hear Bill McKeever
At the Capstone Conference
talk on Mormonism at our church.

We also were able to attend the Capstone Conference at Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City. We had a booth there to introduce others to our ministry and distribute literature and DVDs. It was here that Source Flix premiered its new quality film The Bible vs. Joseph Smith. Please read my review of it here.

Please remember our financial needs and send in your investment today. 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 transfers programs available if you are interested in the simplicity of monthly withdrawals without the stamp. Please see our "Invest" page for more specific information.

Happy Easter!

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

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1. To get more speaking engagements.
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****MAILBAG****

Always good to hear some of your stories—especially the ones where someone was shown “the Light” but especially when it transforms them! Keep up the good work.
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i have a real question concerning the mormon doctrine. it has to do with. which races on the earth are desidents of cain?

1. is it only the black race in africa?

2. is it anyone with dark skin?

the white race is only a minoirty when compared to the number of other races?

are all the races cursed, except the white race?

what about native america, how are they cursed?

which races on the earth are cursed, according to mormon doctrine?

these are real questions

thank you

[I replied:] No one knows which race comes from Cain, if any. Adam did have other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4), so it's possible that Cain's line died out.

Even if Cain's descendants were the black race, there's no indication that black skin was the mark put on Cain and that it was passed on to his posterity. The mark is never said to be a curse. Read Gen. 4:15. The sign was a blessing. It was a protection to keep others from killing him.

Mormon doctrine treats the white race as the superior race. The whiter the better. The more dark the worse.

Have you read my tract on this subject?

God loves all the races, since He loves diversity and made them that way. They are all in His image, and He died for all of them.

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I have a couple questions I'm wondering if you could help me with.

Here in Seattle we have a church (actually several branches) called Mars Hill whose preaching pastor is a guy by the name of Mark Driscoll. I bet you've heard of him. Several of the students I work around on campus attend the branch at the UW.

One of Mark's biggest focus is on gender roles. I've been told he bases much of his systematic theology on Wayne Grudem. Growing up the churches I went to never had a woman preacher, but I'm now facing questions from students as to what I believe about this issue and why.

Moreover, I really don't have a solid understanding as to how well meaning people like NT Wright/Fee/Rob Bell and those on the other side like John Piper/Mark Driscoll can be so confident in their understanding/interpretation, esp. in regards to women being pastors/elders.

I would love to hear if you have any suggestions in dealing with this specific issue, and also if you have any recommendations for helpful reads on biblical hermeneutics. I've read some of Gordon Fee's, "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" but found even some of his interpretations questionable. Specifically in 1 Tim. Fee states in regards to the section on women not teaching as cultural, yet he doesn't even address the verses after about creation with Adam and Eve, which seem to indicate a bigger statement on women teaching.

I'm sure smart and educated Christians, like Gordon Fee and Wayne Grudem will always find some disagreement, but if there was a way for me to become more confident in this area, I would appreciate it. Any advice you could give would be great!

I hope you and your family are doing well.

[I replied:] I'm a traditionalist, and see no good reason to take this culturally. Men and women are created differently even though they are both humans made in God's image, and God has clearly given them different roles. You are correct to point out from the 1 Tim. passage the context of creation. That seems rather obvious to me. Women are to be under the authority of men just as Christ is under the authority of God as Corinthians say. Given the examples of women prophets and the nature of teaching, it should be obvious that women can and do teach. The focus of scripture is that they should be under the authority of a man. This is the cultural point of the head covering when women prophesy in 1 Cor.

This has only become an issue relatively recently for Christianity, and that for only Western Christianity. The culture has a problem with submission. That's what I take to be the real issue. But submission is the order of reality, since it's found within the very nature of God. Yes, we are called to submit to one another as Eph. 5 says, but that doesn't do away with headship--one who is responsible for a given situation. Israel ran this way. The Church runs this way, and the relation between a husband and wife runs this way.

From a factual point of view, women who are in charge of their church typically have dying churches. Men typically aren't interested in following a women's club. Sadly the Church today has become too feminized, and most guys want nothing to do with it. Further, families where the wife goes to church and the husband doesn't tend to have families where the entire family won't bother going. The opposite is the case when the man takes his family to church. For more on this, read the great book by David Murrow, "Why Men Hate Going to Church."

So I'm sort of a traditionalist/moderate on this issue (if that makes any sense). I allow for women teaching, but I don't allow for their headship role.

Hope this helps somewhat!

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I just wanted to say that I like what you are doing, creating questioning in the Mormon faith. I live in Utah myself and it can be aggrevating how Mormonism seeps into everything. I also enjoy getting people to question and I love how Aristotle questioned everything. It seems you are a missionary for your own faith. I was curious how do you, in a sense, "mission"? I have tried for so long to find some way to have faith or beleive in God and Jesus and everything but by questioning everything I just can't. Anyway good luck and keep up the hard work.

[I replied:] I've got a couple degrees in philosophy, and completed all the course work for my Ph.D. in philosophy. So I appreciate your questioning. What's keeping you back from believing God and Jesus the way traditional Christianity has presented it? I invite you to read a couple good intro works by good Christian philosophers: J. P. Moreland's "Scaling the Secular City," and William Lane Craig's "Reasonable Faith." I also have some of their videos on my www.CourageousChristiansUnited.org site.
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Why are none of the Mormons (and Osmond fans) on my FB friends list not even mentioning the suicide of Marie Osmond's son? Very strange. Also it looked like KSL minimized that news. Is it just out of respect for the family? Seems like more of a church inspired decree? Weird.

[I replied:] I'm not really sure. Des News and Mormon Times carried the story and it didn't seem to be minimized there. I'm guessing that LDS don't like talking about this, since Marie is their bright star who is supposed to be a great representation for their church. Thus, if she gets negative press coverage, then the Church gets negative press coverage. I know this isn't fair, but this is how people, including LDS, think. The other thing I'd say is that suicide just like any other murder bars one from forgiveness in this life or in the life to come according to their own scripture (D&C 42:18). Thus, this is especially grievous to those who glory that their families may be sealed together for "time and all eternity."
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Hope you and your family are doing well. If you have a quick minute, I'd like to ask you a few questions on Mormonism. Here's the background . . . I work with 3 Mormons ladies, 1 of which I have become really chatty/close with. She comes over to my desk and we talk about life stuff, church, dieting, kids, etc. When we talk about our faith, she acts like we are in sync with the same beliefs. She talks about Jesus as if He is her belief, which confuses me. She talks about "the Scripture". . . but I know she is talking about The Book of Mormon. She never uses the word "Bible" . . . it's always "The Scripture". But the fact that she talks about Jesus is confusing. What does she believe about Jesus?

And why does she act like our beliefs are similar? Why does she never bring up "Joseph Smith"? What are our major differences in beliefs? Are there specific things I could ask her that would help me to share TRUTH with her?

Just reaching out for some help on how to handle this. . . I really appreciate your time.

[I replied:] Please go through our Home page chart on MormonInfo.org and read the various links there. Mormons are programmed to talk a certain way to appear more Christian. They think we are fine for what we have, but it's vastly insufficient. Ask her if these things on the chart are really true and if she believes them. When you get into problems, just write and let us know. I know it's difficult, but you'll get used to it, so keep plugging away!

Add Comment
brandon says...
"i dunno if its my browser, but the bottom picture about the capstone is ontop of quite a bit of words. i'm using internet explorer. i'd try another browser but this is the only one i have at work." (4/1/10)
brandon says...
"Now my response to the newsletter: I respect that you believe in prayer, but I don’t understand what people expect after asking for something in prayer. If there is a god, and his will is already made or planned, what exactly is it that you are asking for? I’m sure my mother prays every night that I somehow miraculously find Jesus again (not that I ever found him to begin with, I just happened to be brought up to believe in an invisible, non-communicating god who supposedly loves us unconditionally but has nothing to do with us). What good is that prayer if the god she prays to can’t control me because of free will? Unless you can prove otherwise, your prayer for the opportunity to talk with Mike Tyson was not answered. .It is none other than pure coincidence that you had the opportunity to talk to Mike Tyson. Unless you believe that the god controls us like we are radio controlled cars. Did you give the god you pray to credit for the opportunity to talk to Mike Tyson?" (4/1/10)
Rob Sivulka says...
"Thanks for letting me know about the picture. It appeared fine on another computer, but it wasn't when I check another one.

Jesus said you get not because you don't ask, so I believe there are lots of things I would have received if I only asked. Sometimes God says no, but other times He's more than willing to give and only wants us to ask. Simply because God knows what I will freely choose is no reason to think that He determines every event and we cannot exercise free will. Knowing something, even perfectly, doesn't cause it to happen.

When it comes to someone's salvation, sure God can run over someone's free will if He wants to, but other times I'm open to God drawing a person to Himself and using the individual's free will. So I pray that God will work on individuals like Tyson and yourself in various ways to get the lights to turn on.

You can exercise your faith in pure coincidence, but I'll exercise my faith that God set up the circumstances to allow Mike to hear. God could have given me a heart attack prior to witnessing to Mike. He sustained me and gave me the ability to have my thoughts coherent and the ability to communicate those ideas. I give God credit ultimately for what happened since He oversees the entire universe. I also credit Him for the opportunity to point you in the right direction and call you again to repentance before it's too late." (4/1/10)