Minnekirken

My daughter Emily ceased involvement with the LDS Church a long time ago, and hasn’t been involved with a church since. But over the last two months, that has changed. She and her boyfriend Gabe have started to attend Minnekirken, which is the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Chicago. From the church’s website:

Minnekirken, which means “Memorial Church” in Norwegian, is located at 2614 N. Kedzie Boulevard in an area known to Chicagoans as Logan Square. The neighborhood surrounding the church is typical of Chicago’s North Side neighborhoods and reflective of a diversity of languages and cultures.In the neighborhood these days, one predominantly hears Spanish spoken in several dialects representing different Hispanic cultures. Minnekirken serves as a reminder of a neighborhood heritage long past in which scandinavians played a significant part. During the first half of this century there were several Norwegian language churches in the Logan Square area and over 20 Norwegian churches in the metropolitan area. Today, Minnekirken is the last remaining Norwegian language church within a radius of 400 miles of the city.

This church is about a block away from Gabe’s apartment, right on the train line (ironically they pass an LDS Church to get to it!), and Gabe had gone by that church many, many times. So one Sunday a couple of months ago they decided to go in and try it. The first two Sundays of the month is all in Norwegian; the third the service is English but the liturgy is Norwegian; and the fourth is all in English.

A woman does headset translation into English for the Norwegian Sundays, but they haven’t actually used the headsets yet. They enjoy listening to the Norwegian, even if they don’t understand it. Emily remarked that “it feels more holy.” And Gabe told me that he actually prefers the Norwegian, because in English when he can understand it there are sometimes doctrinal statements made that he disagrees with, but in Norwegian that doesn’t happen. (I thought maybe some of our Bloggernacle participants need a Norwegian LDS Church to attend; it might improve their relationship with the Church!) In fact, the reason I thought of posting on this was that I enjoyed my daughter’s FB status update, which was that she heard her pastor say “twilight zone,” so it must have been a good sermon.

There are about 40 active people in the congregation, the demographic of which skews older (lots of 60 and 70-somethings). The pastor and his wife are about 40 and appreciate a younger couple coming and participating. There are a couple of babies, but no toddlers or teenagers, which does not bode well for the future.

In any event, I’m thrilled that Emily has found a church she actually enjoys attending. I think it is good for her to have a church experience. I like the Lutheran Church, and there is a Lutheran background in our family (her mom was raised Lutheran, and her maternal grandparents and aunt are Lutheran). It’s a different church experience than the low church LDS, with a pastor, offering, liturgy, and so forth, but I think it’s good for her to experience that different mode of worship. And I think the whole Norwegian language thing is just way cool.

Some of you may think it’s a little odd that I as a Mormon father should be so happy to see my daughter attending a Lutheran church as opposed to an LDS one. But the LDS option isn’t in the cards, and I’m just happy for her to have found a spiritual home that works for her.

Here is a blog post that features video of the interior of the church.

[Personal to my friend Jack: The pastor, Sigurd Grindheim, got his Ph.D. and used to teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield.]

Comments

  1. “…the LDS option isn’t in the cards, and I’m just happy for her to have found a spiritual home that works for her.”

    That is such a wonderful sentiment, and one that my family shares when thinking of two of my siblings who stopped attending the LDS church a long time ago. I don’t think either has actually found a church to attend (or is even looking), but we are happy that they are finding a path that works for them and makes them happy.

  2. Andrew H. says:

    A couple of years ago the featured speaker at the Adult Session of our Stake Conference was a counselor in the Salt Lake Mission Presidency. He spent several minutes discussing his adult daughter who is a Buddhist and their relationship. He talked about how Buddhism had benefited her and made her a better person.

    It was very nice and refreshing to hear a talk from a person who was supposed to be telling us how important it is to convert those of other faiths spend some time extolling the virtues of other faiths.

  3. I was unhappy when my niece converted to Islam, but (trying to do what my mother would have done) decided that the young woman was the most important thing and I would support her and never speak ill of her choice. So much has changed between us, but so much else — the most important part, I think — has remained stable.

    As for the language thing, I eavesdropped on two ward members today discussing Bible translations. One, who had an accent I didn’t recognize, but English was obviously not her first language, was arguing for the need to use a more modern language Bible (she had a particular one in mind, although I don’t recall which it was); the other was arguing against it. Her chief argument was that the language of the suggested version “wasn’t holy” and “lost all its sacredness.” The only specific she mentioned when questioned was “It calls Jesus ‘You.'” The first sister argued that it didn’t matter what the Bible called Jesus if she couldn’t understand it. I’m thinkin’ there’s something similar in there to your daughter’s appreciation for a liturgy she doesn’t understand.

    Why is it that something can appeal to the heart while the head remains disengaged?

  4. I recently saw my sister. I suggested that she might benefit from a community like a church since she lives so far from family. I thought a Unitarian church might be something she could attend. She said she had been to a couple of Unitarian services in the past and the sermons were something she could perhaps listen to. I was thrilled that she said that perhaps she would look into finding one in Brooklyn where she lives, since the Manhatten one she had attended once is a little far.
    So, no, your feelings aren’t odd at all. There are so many benefits to belonging to a church community (for friends and service to others) or to worshipping God or feeling spirituality in your life, even if you don’t have the full gospel. How can we be anything but happy when our loved ones get to experience a little more of that than they had before?

  5. prometheus says:

    Any path that brings one closer to God is a good one, I think. I believe that some of us are simply called to walk a different road to get home. I am glad that you support your daughter in this, Kevin.

  6. beccachan says:

    I spent my first year as a member attending church in Japanese. It was very good for me to just feel the spirit and not worry about all the bits of knowledge I didn’t have.

  7. MikeInWeHo says:

    What synod is Minnekirken, Kevin?

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA.

  9. Both my sons left the Mormon Church as soon as they left home. They embraced agnostism for awhile–now both have joined strict Calvinist denominations which meet their needs. Although it’s not my religion, I’m glad they enjoy the fellowship of other church goers and are raising my grandchildren with religious values.

  10. Martin says:

    Anything that brings a person closer to Christ has got to be a good thing, imo, and surprisingly, some people will come closer to Christ in other churches than they will in Christ’s (at least for a while). I think that’s just a matter of where they’re at spiritually (and that doesn’t imply they’re “behind” either — I’m convinced spiritual growth is way too multi-dimensional to be thought of linearly).

    But I have some reservation of finding spirituality without understanding. If you can’t understand what is being said, isn’t the sermon effectively reduced to a chant? I know many religions find spirituality that way, but it is foreign to me how that works. If it doesn’t draw people to Christ, is it really any better than any other relaxation technique? I realize this is ignorance talking, but I cannot reconcile these views of spirituality.

  11. Kevin knows me as we both attend the same ward.

    He may remember our oldest daughter, Joy. The last LDS meeting she attended was when she received her Young Woman award some 20 years ago. She is presently living in L.A. and attends Episcopal church in Hollywood and sings in their 16 member choir.

    As with Kevin, my wife is very happy that she found a a religious home for herself. I am happy for her but still struggled with the ‘what ifs.’

    We happened to arrive for a visit this past March on the first day of Lent and attended the evening mass. The priest was very kind and invited us to receive the ashes (smudged, as my daughter referred to it.) We declined and quietly sat, stood, or knelt on the back row, as we followed the program. It was very difficult for me as I watched Joy take Communion.

    At the end of the Mass, the priests and with the choir singing, walk down the aisle. I watched my daughter passed by singing and a peaceful feeling came over me, reinforced by the people who came up to us and thanked us for sending them someone with such a beautiful voice.

    I remind myself: Born in the covenant.

  12. I think we don’t really get to make spiritual decisions for our kids, so we do well to support them in the ones they make for themselves and also to remember that God didn’t put the parent in charge of the child’s life, he put the child in charge of his or her own life. So I trust that God knew the right person to put in charge, so I try to support or sustain my son in his decision making for everything in his stewardship.

    I was overjoyed when my son decided to become Islamic a while back, because it’s a beautiful and demanding faith, and one that brings millions of people closer to God. I went with him to the mosque for a while, until it got so hot in summer that I was roasting inside my hijab and long sleeve blouse and long skirt, and was sad to feel stuffed into the corner behind the barrier and unable to see what was going on or fully participate. So I started dropping him off at services and picking him up at the end.

    I was a bit saddened when he finally felt unable to stick with it. I hope my inability to take the heat and stifling feeling wasn’t the thing that made him decide to leave. He flirted with the idea of being baptized LDS for a while but never took it to completion. Several things about the church teachings seem to him to be bigotry, I believe, so he doesn’t feel able to commit.

    I’d be glad to see him join any faith community. I’d love for him to get more socialization and particularly would love for him to have strong good male role models to learn from. But I trust him to make the right decisions for himself about all such things. He’s doing beautifully well lately in general, and for that I’m grateful and overjoyed.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Martin no. 10, at some point they’re going to start using the headsets for English translation. (Gabe actually picked one up this past Sunday, but he got the wrong one and it was just amplification for the hearing imparied.) For now though they’re just drinking it in.

    Greg, great to see you here! Thanks for sharing your experience with your daughter.

  14. I know that there’s a Swedenborgian church in Chicago; maybe she’d enjoy that. Bonus: they have additional scripture and the promise if eternal families.

  15. I went to my LDS ward yesterday for testimony meeting. One of the sisters bore her testimony, and I couldn’t understand a word she was saying either.

    Fortunately, I was able to partake in sacrament as part of my repentance process, which is the main reason I attend. Without the power of the saving ordinances, it ultimately doesn’t matter what they say, or what language they say it in.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    gst, I saw the Swedenborgian church in Boston when I was visiting there once. Haven’t run across the one in Chicago yet.

  17. I’m with ya Kevin. I would be much more troubled if my kids lost a faith in God/Jesus altogether – than if they left Mormonism. Some people see it as one in the same. (I also understand that point of view)

  18. I like this idea. Maybe I need to attend services in a language I don’t understand.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Kiskilili, I actually thought of you for that point. In your case it might be a challenge, though, as you know too many languages. You might have to go to some remote Pacific island or something.

  20. Don’t I only wish that were the case! :)

  21. Kevin, this is great news. Some spiritual development is better than none. Future grandkids will be raised knowing Christ, rather than just the materialistic world. And the old rite Lutheran is so very awesome to experience.

    My grandparents were Catholic, and I enjoyed attending their Mass in the little town Catholic Church whenever we were visiting them on Sunday.

    Strange how many Mormons dislike the ritual, when our temple is highly ritualized and symbolic.

  22. Kevin, I’m with you. I would be happy for my non-attending children to find a spiritual home.

    While I don’t believe that all ways lead to Rome, so to speak, and I do believe that ordinances are essential to our exaltation, I also believe that our spiritual paths vary in time and place, and that eternity is a long time, and I can’t help but hope that the Lord is pleased whenever we make an effort to move closer to Him.

    Good for your daughter and good for you.

  23. Indiana says:

    I think of my dad and his wife who both attend a local Baptist church in southern Georgia where they live. While I’d love to see my dad back in the LDS church with his wife, I’m glad that the church they attend has people who love and accept them, and teaches what they have of Christ’s gospel in a way that makes my dad willing to implement its principles in his life. He’s even become a teetotaller again because he decided that even though drinking isn’t a problem for him, if their church says not to do it, he’s willing to not be a stumbling block for his fellow Baptists.

    Of course, this is the same parent with whom I had a vicious argument as a teenager about church, which ended with my threat (which I kept) to get married in the temple, even if he couldn’t come. In fact, he did come – all the way to England – and picnicked outside the London temple with our family, and beforehand, gave me away at our civil ceremony at the Stake Centre. I do admit, I understand people who conflate leaving the LDS church with leaving Jesus, but at the same time, we can’t forget the part of our doctrine which admonishes us to seek truth wherever it can be found – and we certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. It took me a while to get off my high horse, but I agree that it’s a wonderful thing to see members of the church who acknowledge that truth (though not in its fullness) and happiness can and do exist outside the bounds of our own faith. My hat is off to this post and the comments.

  24. I have one overwhelming feeling for my new son, and that is that I hope he goes wherever he needs to to be close to God. If he needs to join another Church, live out in the woods as a hermit, become an Orthodox monk, I don’t care. I want him to feel close to God above all else, including his relationship to me (though I seriously doubt those are mutually exclusive).

  25. GatoraidMomma says:

    Our son disassociated with the LDS church in HS and has met a married a lovely girl whose family is active in a protestant church. I don’t think he’s much “into church” in general, but he supports her and attends church services and activities with her, maintains good values, standards, behavior, and charity. We always remember to look and appreciate what we have in common not how we differ in our religious support. Sometimes I find myself a bit envious that he’s made the break.

  26. charlene says:

    My former husband was baptized LDS shortly before our wedding. The conversion didn’t take. When he later returned to Catholic activity his mother wrote touchingly, “We’re very glad that you’ve returned to the church.” It startled me that parents in every congregation will use the identical phrase.

  27. Question for you. It generally seems that LDS can look at other faiths and appreciate that they have various parts of true religion, but are not yet joined in whole with the true religion Christ established, as we see it. So all these other religions (to us) are good people, seeking after truth and trying to do good.

    On the other hand, it seems, LDS by the very nature of its truth claims, has to be branded false and fraudulent. The strength of the Church of Jesus Christ is that we accept all the other good and invite them to bring it to us. While on the other hand, others have to reject what doctrinal teachings we have offered as coming from a fraudster at best and a satan-inspired wolf in sheeps clothing at worst.

    With that in mind, can I ask the question to those whose children left for other faiths? How do they approach the issue? LDS is just good but misguided? Do they not make the next leap that J.Smith was making a ton of crap up and frauding people and “you” have bought into that fraud because it’s nice as apple pie?

    I’m not saying it requires an all or nothing viewpoint, but because of what we boldly claim to be, we practically invite it — because when you get down to it by our fruits you’ll know us so we’re not afraid of that comparison.

  28. From #12: “Several things about the church teachings seem to him to be bigotry, I believe, so he doesn’t feel able to commit.”

    But he was able to commit to being a Muslim? Does he know about how THEY view women? Just sayin’.

  29. You misspelled “those people.”

  30. When I came home from my mission in Sweden, I was sorely disappointed to discover that I enjoyed sacrament meeting far less in English. It was nice to have that extra buffer between me and the talks; the work of understanding the words themselves left me with a lot less time or energy to think too hard about the doctrines they expressed. (Unless we had investigators, which is a whole different ballgame, but in Sweden, our investigators were usually English-speaking immigrants.)

    I should find this Chicago Swedenborgian church (#14) sometime. Or maybe I could start translating all the talks from English back to Swedish . . .

  31. #27 cer: With my sons who have left the fold, so to speak, they have left for a variety of reasons. One never felt “in” the church in the first place — never received answers that the church was true (and may never have asked, frankly). Another knew what being a member would entail and felt like he did not want to live up to the responsibility, so he backed away. A third was super active until a traumatic event in his life left him wanting for understanding that the church did not give him (nor did his parents, sadly). Interestingly, it is that third one who is probably closest to finding another faith where he can consider himself home.

    How he views the church is not clear to me. We do not discuss it. He respects our membership in the church, and he respects our practices in our home (evening joining us for family prayer when he’s here), but he clearly does not embrace it broadly.

    So perhaps he does consider us wrong. But he knows church is important to us, so he is tolerant (as are his other two brothers, though they seem far less interested in finding any connection to God themselves).

  32. Matt Thorley says:

    Kevin, thank you for sharing this. My wife and I have an adult son who is not “in” the Church. He’s still a member (as far as I know) but he never attends on his own. He values family, so he does attend on special occasions like a cousin getting baptized or leaving or returning from a mission, but he never attends on his own. He and his girlfriend also never attend any other church. I wish they did. I would totally support it if they did. Within reason of course, I think attendance at almost any church is better than just ignoring religion entirely. Lutheran would be a good choice, perhaps better than most.

  33. Of course it is good to see others genuinely attempt to satisfy their God-given spiritual appetite but it is a little strange to act as if all religious faiths are equally or even good.
    This is a myth that I have consistently heard throughout my life: That it is better to attend any church rather than attend no church. That might be true in some cases but it is plainly false in others. It is definitely not true that attending another church is better than attending the true church. I would only be ‘thrilled’ or ‘happy’ to see a lapsed LDS attend another church if that somehow manifested a marked change in their spiritual life. The genuineness of such a change would be manifested by their reaction to the further revelations that God himself has given in our day. How can a person get closer to Christ while at the same time rejecting or refusing to live the revelations Christ himself has given? It is the spirit of revelation that matters in religious service – everything else is a sad substitute. Revelation invites revelation. None of this means that we should demean, belittle or ostracise those of other faiths. But we don’t rejoice when a candidate for the Celestial Kingdom decides that they would be more comfortable in the Terrestrial Kingdom. Such a attitude misses the mark.

  34. Unless of course this means that they are no longer acting as if candidates for the Telestial Kingdom!

  35. “But we don’t rejoice when a candidate for the Celestial Kingdom decides that they would be more comfortable in the Terrestrial Kingdom. Such a attitude misses the mark.”

    Sigh.

  36. Peter LLC says:

    None of this means that we should demean, belittle or ostracise those of other faiths.

    What do make of this line then: “it is a little strange to act as if all religious faiths are equally or even good”?

  37. “None of this means that we should demean, belittle or ostracise those of other faiths.”

    In the context of that comment, the irony just flows like the little stream.

    “But we don’t rejoice when a candidate for the Celestial Kingdom decides that they would be more comfortable in the Terrestrial Kingdom. Such a attitude misses the mark.”

    It’s a good thing that’s not the actual decision they make – and it’s a good thing the Atonement isn’t limited to our natural man understanding.

    Iow, what Chris H. said in #35.

  38. I suppose if you found my comments ironic, contradictory or disappointing that you would have those same reactions to things that we read in scripture. There is a distinction between a particular faith and the members of that faith when it comes to respect and tolerance. We are commanded to love all people (equally) but it would be very unwise to have the same attitude toward religious organisations.
    I have a younger brother who left the church when he was 16 (and while I was serving as a missionary). He is a good man and we have a warm and loving relationship. He has told me that he sees no value in organised religion. I can only imagine very rare circumstances in which I would be happy or thrilled for him to tell me that he has started attending a church – any church – except the true one. Frankly, the odds are great that it would do him more damage than good. The evidence that it was good would only come if he softened his heart toward the message of the restoration and opened his mind to the revelations of the restorations.

    But there is nothing of value that he can get in another good church that he could not find in almost any good social organisation or club. The description of the inhabitants of the Telestial Kingdom given in Doctrine and Covenants 76 includes the following:

    98And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;
    99For these are they who are of aPaul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.
    100These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of aEsaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;
    101But areceived not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the beverlasting covenant.
    102Last of all, these all are they who will not be agathered with the saints, to be bcaught up unto the cchurch of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.

    The point is that all sorts of organisations are mentioned here while the description of the Terrestrial Kingdom (the honourable) does not indicate such affiliations as being necessary at all.

    I know that there are good people among all nations and in all religious sects because I have met them and because the scriptures say so (JSH 1:33 & D/C 123:12) but I am not naive enough to believe that every government or every church is equally good, true or valuable. Frankly, it matters.

    As for the atonement we access it through the laws and ordinances of the gospel not independently of them:

    We believe that through the aAtonement of Christ, all bmankind may be csaved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Articles of Faith 3)

    The atonement assists all those in each kingdom of glory but the full blessings of it are only available to those who make and keep temple covenants. Hence the importance to make these things know (2 Nephi 2:8). So it is not denying the atonement to express to others the full potential that they possess. All people have the potential to be exalted – anything else is less.

    The great thing about the restoration is that the evidence that it is true is available to each person – they simply have to ‘ask of God’ in faith, humility and sincerity. The Book of Mormon is the great testament of Christ for today.

  39. In Kevin Barney’s original post, in credit to him, he expresses his expectation that someone reading it “may think it’s a little odd that I as a Mormon father should be so happy to see my daughter attending a Lutheran church as opposed to an LDS one.” What I found odd reading the 30 (or so) comments on his post was that no one appeared to find it odd. I found it odd but I found that fact that no one else expressed a feeling of unease about it odder!

    So although I have heard the exact same sentiments as expressed here my other active f the church about their less active children and although I have heard many people bemoan the loss of religious commitment in modern society (especially here in Ireland) I admit to finding the notion that any religious commitment is valuable (or better than none) strange and untrue. Although I expressed that in a preachy way I think it is a more reasonable position to take and allows us to be more sensitive to some of the more accurate accusations of the New Atheists. Not all religious positions should be applauded and not all church services are a service.

    As for some of the complaints that we hear about LDS services – such as that they are boring, repetitive or uninspiring – these are sometimes true. It is also true that some sometimes people have been offended, ostracised, marginalised, or ignored. But the gospel is not the same as the church and it is wrong to judge the truth of the gospel only on some of our experiences at church. We need to learn to stand independently in our testimonies.

    I think we need to distinguish the ethical and doctrinal contributions of Christian churches. I don’t see anything essentially ethical that is distinctively available in the LDS faith although there are plenty of doctrinal distinctions. So people can be good outside the church or indeed, outside any church. They don’t need a church to be good. Of course a person can be good without being Christ-like in the sense necessary for salvation in the highest heaven (See 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 27). There are numerous good people who are not baptised or do not believe in Christ. The restored gospel offers more than this.

    Latter-day Saints too often think of themselves as just another group of Christians. We need to read the Book of Mormon better than we do – we are covenant centered Christians. There is a world of difference. Doctrine matters. Covenants matter. Ordinances matter. Truth matters. Being good is not enough. Although it is a good place to start!

  40. MJ, sincere question, just to try to understand what you are saying a little better:

    Would you rather your child be an agnostic or atheist or attend another Christian denomination?

    I don’t think anyone here is saying they’d rather their child attend another church than attend the LDS Church. I think you are reading into the comments things that just aren’t there.

  41. I guess ignoring #38 didn’t work.

    MJ, my question for you is this:

    Do you have any children?

    This post is about a loving father who is glad that his daughter has found some type of faith and happiness. I think such things transcend most other considerations. I know you will disagree with that, but I think that is because you are detached from what is important to human existence.

  42. I am measuring things against statements made by the Prophet Joseph Smith; statements made while he was acting as a prophet (cf, Lectures on Faith & D&C 76).

    Re: “Would you rather your child be an agnostic or atheist or attend another Christian denomination?”

    An underlying assumption here might be that ‘all churches are good so long as they preach Christ!’ – I seriously doubt that. There are agnostics/atheists attending all Christian churches and there are theists that attend no church. That is only one issue.

    I already admitted that there are some cases where one might be happy to see someone progress to a form of religious faith but I think we ought to be careful about assuming that any attendance at any church is better than not attending any church. In that sense, I am not sure that God is happier to see his children attend just any church.

    Re: “I don’t think anyone here is saying they’d rather their child attend another church than attend the LDS Church. I think you are reading into the comments things that just aren’t there.”

    I never suggested that there were, therefore, it appears that you have read things into my comments that just weren’t there. We can all be guilty of irony!

    In fairness, attendance at church is not the most important issue – even for a Latter-day Saint. ‘Salvation cannot come with revelation’ and that is why revelation is what matters in religious worship. People can get revelation outside the church but what is the revelation they get?

    Re: “I guess ignoring #38 didn’t work.”

    Sorry to hear that was your intent. Why is it that we are intolerant toward those we view as intolerant? I am advocating kindness and gentleness to all of God’s children but not advocating a view that an allegiance to religion – any religion – is better than none. What of the many good agnostics out there? Are those who believe in any religion – including false, vague or downright dangerous religions – better than them? Of course, Kevin Barney was talking about a church that seems to be a relatively good one. But there are many non-religious good organisations too.

    Re: “Do you have any children?”

    I do – and I desire the best for them. I recognise that the covenants of the temple are the only way for us to be eternally united as a family and hope to live worthy of that choicest of all blessings. I pray they will too. I will always love them, no matter what. But happiness for them is not the same.

    Re: “This post is about a loving father who is glad that his daughter has found some type of faith and happiness. I think such things transcend most other considerations. I know you will disagree with that, but I think that is because you are detached from what is important to human existence.”

    I think “glad” is a better word than “happy” or “thrilled” – less intense. Faith and happiness can be found outside the church but I question whether one must attend another church to find it. In that sense I am sceptical of most organised religions as being necessary for either faith or happiness. Similarly, the odds are just as great – greater in some cases – that attendance at some churches will lead to doubt and misery. My comments were not directed at Kevin’s post only but more so the many over-the-top warm comments that agreed too readily.

    In the long run, no loving further is happy that his child made it to the Terrestrial Kingdom rather than the Celestial but we sometimes act as if such substitutes were something to have a party about. It is possible that Emily’s heart will be turned by the light of Christ back to him and that she will return to the faith. If the attendance at this church has this impact it will be wonderful but most Christian churches do not advocate the kind of openness to revelation required to believe in the restoration. Instead they teach the doctrine of sufficiency (2 Nephi 28:26-30). It is a shame that Latter-day Saints are so quick to join in and teach the same doctrine.

    Tolerance can only be shown to beliefs that you disagree with and we should tolerate others but tolerance is not the same as happiness!

    A father’s love is what the plan of salvation is all about and Christ is the great example of how to be true to the Father’s love. But read the ‘lost’ parables. His greatest joy is reserved for those who repent and return home. Does it make a difference that God loves all his children? Surely he will not have the same relationship with all his children in the eternities. Our relationship with him (not merely Christ) “transcend [all] other considerations” and is “what is [most] important to human existence.” Thanks for the timely reminder about that… I must be about my Father’s business.

  43. “Why is it that we are intolerant toward those we view as intolerant?”

    I have never said you were intolerant.

    “But there are many non-religious good organizations too.”

    I am actually pretty secular in many ways, but churches offer a type of community that my political party and the nonprofits I affiliate with do not and cannot. I am happy within the LDS community, but I am also happy for those who find that community elsewhere. Heck, I might even be thrilled.

    Kevin does not tolerate his daughter (sorry for speaking for you, Kevin). He loves her. This is not a theological exercise but a real father and daughter relationship.

    “My comments were not directed at Kevin’s post only but more so the many over-the-top warm comments that agreed too readily.”

    That is because I love Kevin. He is a great man. MJ, you and I have a very different view of human relationships.

    Once, again….sigh.

  44. “I think we ought to be careful about assuming that any attendance at any church is better than not attending any church.”

    Who has said that in this thread? Seriously. Who has said that?

    “no loving further is happy that his child made it to the Terrestrial Kingdom rather than the Celestial”

    It’s a good thing that’s not the official doctrine or theology of the LDS Church when it comes to Kevin’s post and his daughter’s situation. If you feel comfortable making that judgment (that all who were raised in the LDS Church but attend other churches will end up in the Terrestrial Kingdom) without knowing anything, really, about those people, so be it – but that’s not the actual doctrine of the Church. We teach a MUCH more expansive, empowering model of the Atonement than that, even though many members don’t understand it when it comes to peopel they know and of whom they have personal expectations.

    I don’t know enough about anyone’s situation to know if they have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ by attending a different church. I’m glad I have not been given the responsibility to make that call. I’m glad God has reserved that action for himself – and, as a father of children you don’t know the slightest thing about, I am saddened that members of the LDS Church can be so cavalier in their certainty that they have the ability to judge people they don’t know in the slightest and assume, based on one thing in their lives, that they have forfeited eternal exaltation if they “stray” (to use a word I normally wouldn’t use in this context) in that one decision.

    I’m going to stop now, because I don’t want to continue – mostly because I don’t know you well enough to make a firm judgment about you. All I have are the words in this thread, so I will try not to extrapolate from those words a guess as to your attitude and rightness before God. That’s not meant as a subtle condemnation; it’s not meant as a passive-agressive attack; it’s not meant as anything other than a simple statement that I don’t know you well enough to judge you.

    I’m just saying we judge each other way too much, when we really ought to leave many of those determinations up to God.

  45. It appears than you guys are not reading what I have written. It is far more nuanced than you appear to appreciate. But to clear up some misunderstandings:

    Numerous good people presently outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will inherit exaltation – that is one reason we have such confidence in the redemption of those who never heard (D&C 137 & 138). But the conditions for experiencing exaltation are the same for all (D&C 132; 2 Nephi 31 & 3 Nephi 27).

    We are actually commanded to judge (which is good since we can’t help doing it anyway!) But we are commanded to judge wisely, righteously and mercifully. I am not judging Emily’s (or anyone else’s) eternal destiny because I can’t… but I am judging the notions that any religious commitment is good or than attending some church is better than attending no church. I don’t believe these. As for whether anyone has stated these re-read the blog and you’ll see these ideas both stated and assumed. That was the only reason I made my original comment.

    Having re-read the blog myself I see that some have raised questions about the value of listening to a language you can’t understand. That is minimises doctrinal disagreements or feels ‘more holy’ is not a sign of genuine spirituality. Maybe I should have written my comments in Norwegian or Gaelic! Pan-theists suggest that nature itself feels more holy than sacred buildings but they rarely recognise God as their actual father. I love nature but it is not a substitute for the Holy Temple (See D&C 124 and 128). It is good for people to have an experience of nature but it is not a valid substitute for true religion.

    Some in the blog also expressed their belief in the unique power of priesthood ordinances. There is something missing without these in our lives.

    I don’t think a father should ‘tolerate’ his children – he should love them and he should show that love! But he may be called upon to tolerate their decisions rather than love those decisions. I believe Kevin is a good man and than his daughter is a good person – I can tell that without much trouble. She is probably agnostic about the nature of God and is definitely agnostic about which church (if any) is true. She needs to hear the voice of God in a language and manner than she understands. I don’t doubt his ability to speak to her. But sometimes churches get in the way of that communication rather than making it clearer. I live in a land that attests to that. So I am not naively pleased for people just because they have some allegiance to any Christian church.

    As far as the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms are concerned the doctrine is clear about what is required to go to either place. There will be lapsed ‘Mormons’ in the terrestrial kingdom… and baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom – that is scriptural doctrine. The good news is that those in the celestial kingdom can visit those in the Terrestrial kingdom. (To be clear – I am not speaking specifically about Kevin and Emily when I write this!) And Heavenly Father will continue to love his children in the lower kingdoms. No one is suggesting that we shouldn’t love our children.

    Finally, I witness that God loves all his children and will do all in his power to save them. The restoration is the greatest evidence that he wants the best for all his children. It offers the promise of having (enjoying) all that he has (enjoys). It is the only plan of exaltation on the entire earth. It is a marvelous message and it deserves marvelous messengers.

  46. “It is far more nuanced than you appear to appreciate.”

    No, it really is not.

  47. Chris H.

    You’re the one not being nuanced – you fail to notice anything that you agree with in anything I write.

    Look, section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants is more nuanced than the Book of Mormon on the rewards available in the afterlife but neither revelation denies the need for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, the gift of the Holy Ghost and endurance to the end as essential for entrance into the highest heaven. Nor does it justify a view that the priesthood adds nothing to our faith or that temple covenants do not actually endow us with greater knowledge, power and love. If you want to pretend that God would be as “well pleased” if his only begotten Son had chosen not to be baptised or had chosen to turn his back on that covenant then that is your choice. If you think that their loving relationship trumps Christ actually being righteous may I suggest that you do not understand Christ’s example.

    Our scriptures take a nuanced and diverse view toward other religious organisations and so should we. Joseph Smith was expressly told not to go after any other church. That is good counsel. Ecumenism can only proceed on the basis that no-one is claiming the one true way. We can show solidarity only when we are all sceptical.

    I don’t see membership of other Christian churches as essential for entrance into those kingdoms whose inhabitants are good people – nor do I suspect that good Christians will be rewarded more favourably than good Muslims or good Buddhists. I suspect than many man-made churches cannot generate the kind of connection with God that most people either desire or need. I don’t view the LDS faith as just one more group among the many Christian faiths. I know it is the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth. That does not mean that I view all outside it as evil, damned or lost. I simply don’t.

    The argument that any religious community will do for reconciliation with God is as bad as any other false argument I have heard. It sounds dangerously close to the ‘broad road’ doctrine that Christ himself warned about. I know other churches do good – but some charities do more good. Latter-day Saints should take seriously the warning that there are spiritual counterfeits because the Lord himself has told us as much.

    I have attended other churches. I know that they provide solace and socialisation during difficult times etc but they also negate the fulness of the gospel and leave out the most essential blessings of the atonement. Some rather than being a door to God are a barrier between him and man. I have seen this in the lives of my own immediate family. As nice as Norwegian may sound there is no exaltation in Lutheranism. Latin sounds nice too – but there is no exaltation in Catholicism.

    That someone is comfortable in a certain place does not suggest that that is the only place they could have belonged (Mormon 9:2-8 & Article of Faith 3). In that sense my position is a lot more optimistic, loving and kind than you recognise.

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