Major Differences

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KMD
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Postby KMD » Mon 08 Jun, 2009 07:16 am

OK, speaking just for myself, I always thought the Garden of Gethsemane is when he took all our sins upon himself, to be sacrificed on the cross later. You can't have one without the other.
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Postby AdamOndi » Mon 08 Jun, 2009 08:43 am

KMD wrote:OK, speaking just for myself, I always thought the Garden of Gethsemane is when he took all our sins upon himself, to be sacrificed on the cross later. You can't have one without the other.


That might be a major difference in some people's eyes, but I see it as more a difference in semantics. I guess it would depend on how people define "taking upon himself the sins of the world." Mormons tend to associate the extreme pain that caused Him to bleed from every pore in Gethsemane with the actual punishment for our sins. Being sacrificed on the cross was the end of His suffering. I think a lot of Christians, however, equate the dying on the cross part, specifically, with being the punishment for our sins. Thus, the decreased emphasis on Gethsemane itself.

I suppose where someone places that emphasis depends on whether they think suffering that causes bleeding from every pore is more or less painful that what happened on the cross.
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Postby WiseNLucky » Mon 08 Jun, 2009 09:16 am

The pain continued on the cross, but the most important part was when Heavenly Father closed off His presence during the crucifiction leaving Jesus entirely alone to finish the task. Ultimately, Jesus had to do it alone, and I seem to remember a conference talk about how significant that moment was, because, unlike the rest of us, Jesus had never been completely separated from His Father. Even knowing it was coming, that part had to be difficult for Him.
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Postby Coolboyharrell » Mon 08 Jun, 2009 10:26 am

Is any of this answering your question Zesdy?

If you're asking "Why" the doctrines are different, that's mostly becuase a religious scholar somewhere at some time interpreted it in a different way than before and it eventually became mainstream.

As for The Trinity (3 gods yet one god, immaterial yet material) vs The Godhead (Three separate god entities yet united in purpose), that happen in the Council at Nice back in the 400's A. D., when the the organization that was to become the Catholic (Unified) Church was trying to standardize their doctrine.
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Postby ~Zesdy~ » Tue 09 Jun, 2009 10:58 am

Yes, it is helping answer my questions. Thank you, everyone.

Religion is definitely interesting... and confusing. :)

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Postby Ishmael » Thu 11 Jun, 2009 12:45 pm

I think the doctrinal differences between LDS and other Christian beliefs are well covered here and elsewhere. What was new to me and took a while to understand were the many differences in the ways churches are organized and run. I'm still not sure I'm clear on all of it, but after several detailed discussions with a good friend of mine who is a Southern Baptist youth minister, this is my understanding.

As Mormons we grow up with the idea that there is "one true church," and it is our task to find and join that church. Membership in the correct church is crucial in Mormonism. Mainstream Protestant Christianity is not oriented that way. They believe you can be saved in many churches. Technically, you can be saved as a member of any church, but the odds of accepting Christ the right way are much better in certain denominations than others. For example, from their perspective you could be saved as a Mormon, but that would require you to independently come to know Jesus by reading the Bible and determine that much of what you were taught in LDS lesson manuals is inaccurate at best.

So it's not so much being a member of the correct church as it is accepting Christ as your savior, and then finding a church that you feel most comfortable in. The differences between the Lutherans and the Methodists, for instance, aren't crucial for salvation. People simply disagree about which body of teachings is most likely to lead you to accept Christ (the right way). My friend is a baptist because he believes that their body of teachings most closely resembles his own interpretation of the bible, but he doesn't believe that Presbyterians are going to hell because they don't interpret everything the same way he does. And he doesn't agree with every single one of his own church's teachings, either. So it's not that they believe one church to be true. Rather, Christianity is true, and each denomination is a group of individual believers (Christians) who share similar ideas about what that means.

(Incidentally, understanding this has helped me to appreciate why mainstream protestant Christians are reluctant to call Mormons Christians. It's the one true churchness. But they feel the same way about Catholics, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.)

So one of the obvious practical differences between Mormonism and these other Christian churches is the flexibility. The fact that you can choose what church you want to attend, based on the personality of the preacher, the time of day of the service, the convenience of the location, or whatever criteria you choose is a very small thing, perhaps, but it is kind of symbolic of the fundamentally different approach to religion as most of our fellow Christians experience it.

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Postby AdamOndi » Thu 11 Jun, 2009 02:15 pm

Excellent points, Ishmael. And very succinct, too. I have heard a few different opinions that were similar to your post, but you have done a great job summarizing it in a way that makes more sense than I have heard from Protestants that I have known.

Ishmael wrote:So one of the obvious practical differences between Mormonism and these other Christian churches is the flexibility. The fact that you can choose what church you want to attend, based on the personality of the preacher, the time of day of the service, the convenience of the location, or whatever criteria you choose is a very small thing, perhaps, but it is kind of symbolic of the fundamentally different approach to religion as most of our fellow Christians experience it.


This part of general Protestantism is what I have always had trouble with. I am positive that it is due to having been brought up in an LDS home, but I just don't get the "choosing your church based on how much you like the Pastor" thing. I wonder if I would have felt differently had I been raised Baptist or Lutheran or something like that.
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Postby KMD » Fri 12 Jun, 2009 08:33 am

Wow. On one hand, I kind of agree, and on one hand, I disagree. Difficult! :D

The disagree side first. I'm a southern Baptist. My preacher, from the pulpit, multiple times has preached there is only one true church. This is it. Everyone else is going to Hell. The End. That is the official word from the Southern Baptist convention, etc...

But on the agree side, we're also taught that anyone who believes Jesus Christ is the son of God, he died for our sins, and if you've accepted him as your saviour, you're going to Heaven. Simple as that. So, that means Methodist churches, Lutheran, even Catholics, are all going to Heaven. At that point, all the other things that separate us are not "deal breakers". Just more differences of opinion. As far as I know, that is no one's official "doctrine" (Maybe evangelical free churches? Hmmm...) but it just kind of follows, right? If A=B and B=C then A=C.

Choosing which church you attend every week gets a little more complicated than that. You don't just say "Hmm... I think more like a Lutheran, I think I'll go there this week." Often it's got a lot to do with how you were raised. Like, I grew up in a Church of God. Really, really close belief to Baptist, might even actually BE Baptist for all I know. That's where my grandma went, so that's where Mom sent me and that's how I grew up. But, when I got older, I started noticing things in that church I didn't like. It's a bit of an odd branch, the one I went to still believed in being "touched" by the Holy Spirit, talking in tongues, laying on hands to heal people. I grew up with that, it all seemed normal to me. What I didn't like was what I saw around me in the people there, not the official doctrine. We had just gone through a massive fund raiser to build a bigger, better church. And ever since we moved into it, people seemed to be more concerned with the "things" of the church than the people. The chandeliers, the padded pews, the new carpet... Then it got to be about who sat where, next to who. What so-and-so was wearing. And then it got to be about how old our pastor was, and how old fashioned and behind the times. At this point, I thought to myself, this church has become more about possessions and pandering to the rich and gossip and appearances than actual worship of God. I'm out of here. And then after I left, there was a huge scandal that our pastor was having an affair with the organist, who was married to the music director. Now, in reality, I don't think an affair ever took place. But, the scandal was there, word was spread, and he got kicked out of the church and a much newer, younger, hipper pastor moved in. Which, completely coincidentally I'm sure, is just what some of the movers and shakers had said is what we really needed. Yeah. Honestly, I feel like God left that building a long time before I did. Now, none of this is the "doctrine" of a Church of God church. But it's sure a good reason to leave and seek a different place of worship. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth over that branch of Christianity, even though that had nothing to do with it, it was just a church made up of human people, and human people are notorious at screwing things up. So, anyway I switched. Actually I attended an evangelical free church for a while, which was so close to Baptist, it's like they actually were Baptist in disguise, we just couldn't get a charter from the "official" people because we were too small and our area of WV was already too saturated with Baptist churches. So, when we moved to NC, we searched around for a Baptist church we liked, and made it home.

Anyway, in part Ishmael is right though. If you grow up Lutheran, have no problems with that belief, usually the toughest part in choosing where you go to worship includes whether the timing of the services are convenient for you (although most times they're all at the same time anyway, maybe just a half-hour here or there, or this pastor tends to go long, so we always get out late, that sort of thing.) which one is closer to your house, or whether you like the pastor, the Sunday School teacher, the other people there. What types of hymns they sing, traditional or contemporary. I know in some Baptist churches, that becomes a real deal breaker, the hymns. And which translation of the Bible they preach from. Some folks only want a King James. We're NIV folks at my house. It's the little things like that that make people hop from one church to another, but they aren't going to hop from say a Methodist church to a Baptist church. They'll just hop to another Methodist church down the street. Or, much worse, just stop attending services all together, but still say they are members of such-and-such church. But actually switching from one type of Christianity to another? I don't know anyone who does that without some major soul searching.
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Postby AdamOndi » Mon 15 Jun, 2009 04:28 pm

KMD wrote:But actually switching from one type of Christianity to another? I don't know anyone who does that without some major soul searching.


I was referring more to which particular physical location a person would choose based on what they thought of the pastor or the other members or something. I didn't mean to sound like I was saying that they would hop to a different sect on a whim. The scenario you described is exactly what I meant, where you didn't feel comfortable with a particular congregation, so you changed the congregation that you chose to attend.
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Postby Momma Snider » Mon 15 Jun, 2009 05:52 pm

So, Zesdy, do we get to know what denomination you are investigating? And by "we" of course I mean "I"?

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Postby KMD » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 07:45 am

AdamOndi, then yup, you are right. How do you guys do it?
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Postby Lady Celtic » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 08:07 am

KMD: We move. Wards (congregations) are based on geographical location, so where you live determines the ward you are in.
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Postby WiseNLucky » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 09:18 am

Lady Celtic wrote:KMD: We move. Wards (congregations) are based on geographical location, so where you live determines the ward you are in.


I would like to point out that I'm not personally aware of anyone moving just to be in a different ward, although it almost certainly has happened. After all, people move so that their kids can play sports at a particular school, so why not to determine where they go to church?

But, yes, KMD, our place of worship is determined by where we live. Each ward, or congregation, has specific boundaries. That means that people on one side of boundary streets may belong in one ward, while people on the other belong in another ward. For that reason, boundaries are often rivers, highways or other large but easily identified dividing lines where that kind of split would be uncommon.

Some places (in UT, AZ, CA, ID) have such tight member density that a ward represents only a few neighborhood blocks, so they have to clearly define who goes where. Having been a clerk, or someone who takes care of membership records, the church computers seem to do a really good job of identifying which ward people belong to based on their address. Maybe they use GPS! :wink:

In my case, I must actually travel farther to my ward than to one that is nominally closer to my home, but I would have to say that is pretty unusual. Ward boundaries are determined by local leaders to provide acceptable numbers of members in each ward, for leadership purposes. Where members are spread far apart, that means wards can have a really odd shape.

When a ward starts to get too big, usually identified by not being able to fit everyone within the pews and a few rows of seats behind the pews, then the leadership will "split" the ward, usually making four wards out of three existing ones, or three out of two. Rarely will one ward split into two except in cases of cities or towns that go from having one ward to having two.

People who choose to attend a ward that is not their assigned one are free to do so, but their membership records are in the ward where they are assigned so, technically at least, they aren't supposed to be able to hold callings if they don't attend their assigned congregation.

Callings are a different topic if you are not familiar with our practices.
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Postby Lady Celtic » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 11:31 am

Yeah. What he said.

I haven't heard of anyone moving to switch wards either, though I know my mother was tempted a couple of times.
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Postby KMD » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 11:54 am

Thanks WnL, that's how I thought it worked, I just wanted to be sure.

Just wanted to add, at my old church in NC, when attendance got to be so much that the pews were filled, as well as the classrooms, we had a 2 pronged solution. 1) We raised money, bought new land, and built a new church/school to our own specs. Like, there is a heavy geek base in our church, we required WiFi in the new place. As for adding a school, we had a lot of teachers in our church that were having problems getting jobs or were unhappy teaching in more secular schools. And plenty of parents who wanted a Christian school for their kids to go to, and none in the area. 2) While waiting for the raising of money and building of building, we split the services up. So, at 9:30 the younger generation went to Sunday School, while the older generation went into the sanctuary for a more "traditional" service, then at 10:45 we switched, the older people came into the classrooms, and the younger folks went into the sanctuary for a more "contemporary" service. It was a really good plan, because we had just gotten a new music director, and she was working in some more contemporary songs along with the old hymns, which the older generation didn't like, and the young ones did. So, this way, everybody got the best of both worlds. I moved before they got into the new building, so I don't know how they're doing it now. I do know the new sanctuary was supposed to be one of those "multi-purpose" rooms, where at the end of services, the chairs are removed, and you've got a gym. I'm sure the old traditionalists didn't like that either.
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Postby ~Zesdy~ » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 12:15 pm

Momma Snider wrote:So, Zesdy, do we get to know what denomination you are investigating? And by "we" of course I mean "I"?


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Postby Coolboyharrell » Tue 16 Jun, 2009 02:08 pm

Called it.
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Postby Jersey Girl » Wed 17 Jun, 2009 09:13 pm

Lady Celtic wrote:Yeah. What he said.

I haven't heard of anyone moving to switch wards either, though I know my mother was tempted a couple of times.


I actually knew someone who's family rented a house on the other side of town so they could take a break from their ward for a year (this was somewhere in the mid west). They were having major problems with the bishop (he disliked the family and made it known to them and others at church). The parents felt they saved their family from leaving the Church by leaving the ward since the kids were teenagers at the time. They later moved back to ward (and their house) after their break. The dad is now a temple sealer and the kids are all married in the temple and active members. The move worked for them and the parents are still in the ward. In the singles community, the ward switch happens much more than in my example but that's mostly because everyone is shopping for marriage prospects or they are sick of the singles ward scene.
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Postby Ishmael » Thu 09 Jul, 2009 02:00 pm

I've seen it happen both ways. My parents bought a house in a particular area in order to be in a certain ward, only to have the lines redrawn less than a year later. Now they find themselves in a ward they would not have chosen.

In the same reshuffling, the lines were somewhat gerrymandered in an attempt to put certain people in certain wards, for leadership purposes. All that was for naught when some of those families moved shortly thereafter (for other reasons). It just goes to show that if you're committed to a geographic system like this, then you shouldn't try to game it from either side, because people move and lines get redrawn.

The latter example is particularly boneheaded, because the church can simply call leaders from neighboring wards, if the need arises. I know a man who was called to be the bishop of a ward across town because they were short on priesthood leadership. They didn't make him move, of course, he simply attended that ward for four or five years. His family continued to attend their home ward. It was no different than if he had been called to be the bishop of a singles ward or some other special ward that was outside of his actual physical ward boundaries.

I don't see why this can't work on the membership side as well. If someone has a good reason for wanting to attend a different ward, the stake should be able to approve that on a case by case basis, rather than forcing them to go through the motions of renting a house in the other ward's boundaries. Who knows, maybe there are some stakes that allow this? Although I wouldn't be surprised if there was a strict Churchwide policy against it, either.

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Postby AdamOndi » Mon 13 Jul, 2009 08:28 am

Ishmael wrote:I don't see why this can't work on the membership side as well. If someone has a good reason for wanting to attend a different ward, the stake should be able to approve that on a case by case basis, rather than forcing them to go through the motions of renting a house in the other ward's boundaries. Who knows, maybe there are some stakes that allow this? Although I wouldn't be surprised if there was a strict Churchwide policy against it, either.


On my mission in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee North Stake was kind of like that for a while. They had official ward and branch boundaries, but there were some long time members who lived in a part of the city that was included in the City Branch (commonly known as the "Inner City Branch" to much of the stake membership) who were allowed to attend the less, um, "urban" neighboring ward. This went on for a few years until the stake presidency finally cracked down and had a big meeting where they showed everyone in the stake what the boundaries were and told everyone that the boundaries were drawn by inspiration just as much as callings were made with inspiration. (There wasn't really any Gerrymandering in the boundary lines--they all followed major streets). And since the boundaries were drawn that way, everyone was expected to attend their properly assigned ward or branch. Thus, the City Branch nearly doubled in size the next Sunday, and got a big influx of white people who had been going to one of the suburban wards. The result was great, actually. There was a lot of great integration, and the long time members were a really good influence (doctrinally and Mormon Culturally) on the much newer members that made up the majority of the City Branch.
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