A Visit with Mormons

The last time a pair of Mormon missionaries knocked on my door (two years ago), I was not in the mood. I shortly told them that I had a religion already and I was very happy with it. They asked if I would tell them about it and I declined, suspecting that they were not going to be truly listening or learning anything about Hinduism.

But last week two girls knocked on my door and I didn’t feel as forceful or annoyed as I had before. Maybe because they were women, they put me at ease. Maybe because they mentioned knowing my very kind upstairs neighbors. I think perhaps these days I feel more confident and secure in my Hinduism and so am less defensive.

I was busy at that moment, but invited them to come back the next night where I planned to serve them homemade samosas and find out more about them. I didn’t want them to feel like they were wasting their time, but I do enjoy hearing people’s religious stories and how they find meaning in their lives.

The visit was completely delightful. We told them about our beliefs and they told us about theirs. It never felt like preaching. They seemed to respect that we weren’t lost souls yearning for meaning. They were so young and they seemed to approach the whole thing with the air of truly learning about other people and other beliefs. We were able to ask questions and answer questions without anyone feeling that her faith was being challenged.

We had such a good time, we invited them back this past weekend and we had another enjoyable conversation. They brought another member of their congregation, someone closer to our age, and we had a good friend of ours there too.

I was able to find some surprising moments of common ground and I remembered how much I enjoy talking about faith and belief and meaning in our lives. When you can trust the other person to approach that conversation honestly and without guile, it is really a lot of fun.

When they spoke about Jesus coming down because God needed to experience human life and emotion, it reminded me very much of the journey that we all take. For us, every one of us is God trying to experience emotion, mortality, etc.

One interesting point that we spoke about was the baptizing people after their death. Brad asked about this because at the previous visit the girls had emphasized how important free will is in Mormonism. In fact, to them Satan’s crime was trying to force people to follow the divine plan instead of allowing them to decide for themselves (a very interesting take!) So this time we learned that souls always have free will, even after death. If someone were to baptize you Mormon after you died, you’d still have the choice whether to accept or reject. (Also, apparently, it isn’t allowed to do this baptism unless its to members of your own immediate family).

The question has been raised at Patheos: can interfaith dialog be productive?

I suppose it matters what you are trying to produce. Two people of different faiths, equally devoted, are not going to sway the other to their own religion, but that isn’t (in my mind) the real purpose of interfaith dialog. When both people or groups respect one another and really listen, there is so much to learn. And I think it can and does humanize the other side.

Having such a positive interaction with Mormons will make me kinder to others in the future. I regret being snippy with Mormon missionaries in the past! The opportunity to welcome these girls into our home gave me the chance to practice true Hindu hospitality, treating the guest as God.

[When done badly, interfaith dialog can raise resentment, though. I've offered advice before of how to defend yourself if you find yourself accosted by not so respectful missionaries: How To Explain Hinduism]

Not the sisters we met; image from http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Maya Resnikoff

    Real interfaith dialog is, I think, a wonderful pursuit. I think being able to discuss your beliefs with outsiders helps you to understand your own beliefs better, and seeing the counterpoint in the beliefs of another religion or movement helps us see what is unique about our own path, and what is shared.

    I feel less comfortable than you seem to be in labeling anything that begins as someone coming door-to-door as a missionary as being true interfaith dialog. Perhaps these girls were different- but I am always afraid, in those contexts, that the missionaries are trying to learn about your religion so that the next time they meet someone of that faith, they have interesting and compelling answers ready for them about why they should be interested in the religion they are trying to sell. Maybe I’m paranoid.

    I think that real interfaith dialog needs to be done with rules, including that all participants enter with the intention not to proselytize. From there, I think it can be a marvelous good.

    • Ambaa

      That is always my fear too!

      There was something about these girls that gave me a really different impression. It felt like we were both expanding our knowledge and no one was preaching or trying to persuade anyone. It felt like growth.

      I think if they had been forceful or arguing or trying to persuade me at all I would have ended the conversation.

      But I may be being naive and perhaps I gave them ammunition to use against us :(

      • David Murali Cowan

        I think mormonism has combined kabbalah with christanity. There is a slight common ground. From my faith of Shiva mahayoga, i don’t believe we are sons or daughters of god but god himself. Personally i see religion as corrupt, a lie to keep power for priest and spiritual leaders. These are my thoughts :).

        • David Woolley

          The Bible tells us that God is the father of our spirits. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the father of spirits, and live?”1 More than this, the Bible tells us we are theoffspring of our Heavenly Father. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.“2 Our physical bodies are the offspring of our mortal parents, and God is the Father of our spirits. Therefore, our spirits are the offspring of God in the very same sense that our bodies are the offspring of our earthly parents. The book of Acts goes on to tell us that since we are the offspring of God, God must be some type of being which we are similar to. “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”3 The doctrine of the Trinity as accepted by most Christians today is certainly based on the creeds, which are “man’s device.”

          When the Bible tells us of our creation, we are told we were created in the image of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”4 If God is literally the Father of our spirits, making us offspring of Him, then we could be called gods ourselves. In fact, the Bible makes this very declaration. “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”5 Jesus Christ Himself said we were gods: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.“6 Christ pointed out that Psalm 82:6 was not a mistake or a fluke, for He added the phrase “and the scripture cannot be broken” right after it, stressing that it was accurate and that its meaning could not be argued away.

          Even though we can be called gods, we are not on the same level as God the Father. We are like Him in that we have potential. In other words, being his children, we are in essence gods in embryo, not equal to Him. In order to reach that potential, there is a transformation that we must go through. We cannot go through this transformation without Jesus Christ.

          The Bible talks about this transformation. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.“7 Adam and Eve ate of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which changed their state of innocence to our mortal condition we are in now. Once Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, our potentiality of becoming like our Heavenly Father was made manifest. “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”8 However, they also transgressed when they ate, and that would prevent mankind from reaching this full potential, since no unclean thing can enter heaven. To prevent mankind from living eternally in this less-than-full potential state, God evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden and made it impossible for them to eat of the tree of Life. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”9 Once the fruit of the tree of Life is eaten, then we would live in whatever condition our life has brought us to. Therefore, it is reserved for those who reach their full potential, or in other words, those who overcome. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will i give to eat of the tree of life,which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”10 Those who overcome are those who have obeyed the Lord: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”11 Among the things that we have been commanded to do is to have the proper ordinances performed (baptism, marriage for eternity, priesthood ordination, etc.), and repent. Without all this, we cannot reach this potential to become a god.

          The Bible also tells us that we can be “one” in the very same sense that Christ and His Father are “one.” Now, if God the Father is God, and Jesus Christ is God, and we can be one with them, then we have the potential to be a god ourselves. A God has glory and is perfect. Glory and perfection are two attributes that belong to God. Christ, when He prayed to His Father, prayed for this very thing, that we might receive glory, and be perfect “even as we.”

          Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.12

          To what extent is this glory that we have the opportunity to obtain? The Bible is quite clear that it is the fullness of God that we might have: “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.“13 But does this “fulness” really have anything to do with the very nature of being a god? It most certainly does.

          “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”14

          The Bible continues to explain that as children, we have the opportunity to inherit everything the Father has: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”15 The Bible clarifies this inheritance. It tells us that we will inherit the very same thing that Jesus Christ inherits from the Father:

          For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of god: and if children, then heirs; heirs of god, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.16

          In fact, the Bible tells us that we may have thrones just like the Son and the Father: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”17

          Besides the nature and characteristics of godhood, we are told that our bodies will be just like God’s body. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”18 Though we may not fully understand this, it will become apparent when Christ returns for the second coming. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”19

          No true Christian would deny that God is perfect. We have been commanded to be like Him in this respect as well: “Be ye therefore perfect,even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.”20

          Latter-Day Saints who have received the temple ordinances recognize that we can only inherit all things if we are married for eternity. This LDS principle, which is ridiculed by critics of the Church, is also taught by the Bible. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”21 Latter-Day Saints are taught that only those who are married for eternity can become as God. Only a god can have spirit children of their own. Thus, the cycle continues, as does our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Why do you think marriage is such a sacred subject in the scriptures? It is not a coincidence that our earthly marriage is a step in preparation for us to reach our full potential of becoming as God.

          In conclusion, when the Bible tells us that . . .

          We were created in the image of God

          God is the father of our spirits

          We are the offspring of God

          Christ calls us gods

          Man has become as God

          We will inherit all things

          We will be co-heirs with Christ of all things

          We will have glory

          We will have thrones

          We will be filled with the fullness of God

          We will be partakers of the divine nature of God

          We will be one with God

          We shall be like Him

          Our bodies will be fashioned like His glorious body

          We can gain perfection

          then yes, I believe we have the potential to become a god ourselves. It is tradition that teaches these things are not true. It is the councils of men that teach these things are not true; it is the Christian Creeds that teach these things are not true. It is the Holy Bible that teaches these things ARE true. I choose to believe what the Bible teaches.

          Notes

          1 Hebrews 12:9,

          2 Acts 17:28,

          3 Acts 17:29.

          4 Genesis 1:26.

          5 Psalms 82:6,

          6 John 10:34-35,

          7 Genesis 2:9,

          8 Genesis 3:22,

          9 Genesis 3:24.

          10 Revelation 2:7,

          11 Revelation 22:14,

          12 John 17:20-23,

          13 Ephesians 3:19,

          14 2 Peter 1:3-4,

          15 Revelation 21:7,

          16 Romans 8:14-18,

          17 Revelation 3:21,

          18 Phillipians 3:21,

          19 1 John 3:2,

          20 Matthew 5:48,

          21 1 Peter 3:7,

          • Ambaa

            This is a very interesting analysis.

            You must understand, though, that it doesn’t matter to me what the Bible says. It’s not a holy book to me, it’s not an authority of any kind.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Ambaa, thank you very much not only for this article but for the really very thoughtful and considerate (very nearly entirely) conversation that has come from it, to which your comments have added. I just wanted to respond briefly to the idea that to you the Bible is not holy or an authority. I understand that completely. But what you have found, and continue to find, is that you encounter elements and echoes of your own belief in the faith traditions of others, which raises the possibility of some kind of underlying unity, even if we can grasp it only dimly.

          • David Cowan

            i am a western hindu, a follower of shiva. I am not a christian. Christianity is a seperate belief system.

          • 5w_haul

            whatever but in the end you are believing (faith) which totally unscientific and irrational.

          • Ambaa

            People are free to believe in whatever they want and I’m enormously glad that we all have that choice.

          • David Cowan

            David, you have a good knowledge of the bible. However please respect that other people have a different faith. Jesus taught to love they neighbour (even if they have a different religion).

          • David Cowan

            It is my right to believe in my own faith. A calm debate is healthy.

        • Ayan

          I agree with you, this God’s son & daughter concept is complete bullshit, but one thing i need to add is that we are not god but a part of god, God is within us & all around us.

          • David Cowan

            shivoham ( i am shiva). This is what i believe

        • B_Ri

          I can’t speak for any other churches. But based on negative portrayals on TV and movies and news stories that love to jump on religious figures (sometimes rightly) I can see where the opinion of organized religion as corrupt could come from.
          But being a Mormon, I can tell you that there would be no point here. We have a lay clergy, which means that if you are a member you are going to have a job (or calling) in the Church. Depending on what calling you have you could spend anywhere from a couple of hours a week to the equivalent of a second full time job on it, it is all voluntary. However whatever your calling is now, it will change. Usually every couple of years. In my 40+ years I have mostly been in leadership positions or teaching positions. Right now I am in charge of the music for the Children in our congregation, it is my favorite thing I have ever done.
          I don’t know your exact definition of corrupt is, and I know that we all make mistakes, some big and some small, but when you understand that a Church is a place to serve, each other and God, no matter what your role is, then there is no point for holding yourself above others. The guiding principle here is “Let he who would be chief among you be your servant” we do try hard to adhere to that.
          Being a southerner, you can’t go five minutes around here without seeing a Church so I have had the priviledge to know people from a lot of flavors of Christianity as well as non Christian religions. And by far the people I know, and their religious leaders are good people truly striving to better themselves and the world around them. No one is perfect but they are making an effort.

          I know that organized religion has gone horribly horribly wrong all over the world at times, and even today. But I feel that it works the vast majority of the time and when it does it is a beautiful thing.

          • David Murali Cowan

            if a persons religion doesn’t harm any one then that is a good religion. Otherwise it is a control system

        • TruthSeeker

          I agree with you.

      • cellois23

        The sisters were not looking for ammunition. A mission is also a time for personal reflection and spiritual growth. You probably inspired them to study and think about things in a new way.

        • Ambaa

          That is certainly how it felt!

      • Britt Kelly

        My experience as a missionary in South Africa led me to read the Bhagavad Gita. My favorite verse talks about doing your duty without regard to the consequences. I enjoy learning about other’s beliefs because it clarifies my own. I also love finding common ground and discovering aspects of another religion that can bring me greater peace and love. I’m glad you shared your beliefs with those sisters!

        • Ambaa

          Clarifying your own beliefs is a really great outgrowth of interfaith dialog. I definitely enjoyed finding new ways to speak about and express aspects of my faith as questions were asked.

      • johnrpack

        I wouldn’t worry about “ammunition.” My experience is that people don’t respond to being fired upon — even if the other person’s points are good ones.

        People respond when someone addresses their needs or concerns. Spiritual conversion only comes when a deep, unsatisfied spiritual need is met.

        In your case, neither side had such an unsatisfied need — but your mutual interest in learning how others see spirituality made your meeting productive for both groups. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all approached everyone else with an interest in learning from their perspective?

        • Ambaa

          Exactly! Couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

    • Dandini

      If you are aways afraid to take that leap of faith. . . . you will never know. . . .

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • Ambaa

      Thank YOU for sharing! :)

      I told them I had a Mormon colleague and how much I enjoy chatting with you.

  • sfcanative

    There’s a new breed of Mormon missionary now being dispatched around the planet. The former missionaries you encountered would have likely spoiled your initial impressions since they were there with strict instruction to gain converts; recite their memorized presentation, steer you to repentance and lead you to their baptismal font.

    Today’s missionaries are being sent out with a more subtle commission to befriend, do service and set an example. A major part of their role (85,000 of them now around the world) is to reactivate the existing absent members of the Mormon faith–estimated to be around 60-65% of their overall 15 million worldwide membership.

    In several Northern California missions the directive is to ditch the suits and ties, put on some work clothes and find a service project. Others are now using online media as their primary vehicle for connecting with prospects. Door-to-door “tracting” is being phased out by the Mormons. The musical “The Book of Mormon” has made such a mockery of that archaic practice, there is little choice but to find a different way of sharing the message of Mormonism.

    • Ambaa

      Interesting!

      I can respect missionarying (new word!) by setting an example. That draws people who need something while respecting the boundaries of those who are already at peace.

      I also hope to express the love of the Gods through my behavior.

      Service was definitely in their instructions. They wanted so much to be able to do something for us, but we couldn’t think of anything!

  • slgdh

    As a Mormon who has studied and enjoyed the teachings of yoga philosophy (especially as taught by Paramahansa Yoganada) I appreciate this article. Especially regarding the infinite, non-created nature of the soul, there are some interesting parallels between esoteric Mormonism and ancient yogic teachings. In fact, I came to prefer the Hindu angle on many of the similarities.

    • Ambaa

      :) I was delighted and surprised by some of the common ground.

  • charles

    Hi Ambaa. Here is an article that says something about the LDS attitude to Hinduism http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/south/spanish-fork/sri-sri-radha-krishna-temple/article_6eca0f6b-4ec9-52e1-bd95-117a5a06abaf.html . I know that the LDS men from local congregations helped lay the sod at the temple site when it was built. I don’t know but suspect they helped with other work, too. I seem to recall an article a couple of years ago where the LDS church donated land so that an Evangelical Christian church could build a church in the Salt Lake city area.

    • Ambaa

      Thank you for sharing that article! A wonderful story! I am inspired by the possibility of all of us living happily side by side and sharing what we love without fearing that someone will try to take it away from us :)

  • Tornogal

    Unfortunately, in the final analysis, success to your new friends is measured by conversions, not by conversations.

    It would be interesting to see how they report their contacts with you to their superiors (each week they must report on all of their activities). I promise you that their report about you was not about an invigorating interfaith dialog. No, it was “And I think with some more effort she may be more receptive to the Gospel.”

    The LDS church is all about conversions. And in the process, there is an extensive public relations effort. Even their disaster relief program “Mormon Helping Hands” is placed under the jurisdiction of the Public Affairs arm of the local stakes of their church. That says a lot.

    Ask to see a copy of their hymn book. Their entire focus is “the work,” which (their term) is to bring souls to Christ. The operational meaning of that is to bring people to formally join their church.

    • Ambaa

      Hahaha! I am certain I gave them no false hope.

      I think for them, at least for their understanding of their religion, there is always another chance for me and any soul to accept Jesus. Even after death. It takes some of the pressure out of it.

      Also, personal choice was of supreme importance to them, which really did come across in their attitude and behavior.

    • Richard Mangum

      It was always my understanding that the Spirit/Holy Ghost “converted”… and that the Mormon position was to testify, by word or example, of the truths they knew – thereby giving the friend/contact their agency to choose, or not, to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ! If not, we would still be friends, respecting of each others views and working together to make this world a better place to live.

  • Emma Wilson

    Thank you for sharing, Ambaa! As a girl who recently served a “Mormon mission” herself, I very much appreciated your perspective. And agreed with it.

    I’d like to clarify: while, yes, I certainly always tried to invite others to receive the same light from the gospel (“good news”) of Jesus Christ, I was always genuinely happy to meet kind, interesting, spiritual people of other faiths. Mormons believe there is much truth in other religions. We also happen to believe that the whole truth is found within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which explains why we share it.

    My purpose as a missionary–may I add, all missionaries, although some lose sight of it–was never to force or coerce others to believe as I did. It was to spread light and truth (the Bible tells us that “God is love,” right? 1 John 4:16?), and to allow others to accept or reject according to how they felt. I have many friends of “other” faiths, and no faith at all, and love heart-to-heart conversations with each of them. [Case in point: one of my Muslim friends and another Catholic friend have an agreement that we ask each other questions about the other's religion before just accepting something we hear about the faith... it's wonderful! I recommend it! And I'd love to learn more about yours, too, if it came to that :)]

    • Ambaa

      I love your attitude!

      I feel like, of course we want to share our religion because we love it and it brings us so much joy, so it doesn’t make sense not to be bursting to share that. For me it all comes down to respect and when I feel like someone else is respecting my beliefs and actually listening to me, it makes the conversation uplifting.

      I love to learn and if I can do that without feeling defensive it makes me very happy!

  • Y. A. Warren

    “I think perhaps these days I feel more confident and secure in my Hinduism and so am less defensive.”

    This is a very important point, and why parents must have strong boundaries about what is brought into their homes while the children are still completely dependent on their parents and the Parents’ community.

    “The question has been raised at Patheos: can interfaith dialog be productive?”

    The answer, I think is yes, as long as we are looking for common ground, rather that competing with one another.

    • Ambaa

      “Competing” is a great word. That is so often what it feels like.

  • Scott Soulier

    How heartwarming and refreshing your comments are. I am a retired surgeon who has enjoyed a number very gentle, kind, and very skilled professional colleagues who are Hindu. I love them. We live in Salt Lake City just 500 yards from a Hindu cultural center (Temple is what I believe it is called by those who attend worship services there). It is situated just a half-block from the Mormon temple where I frequently worship and serve. I even helped with the landscaping prior to the Hindu temple’s dedication. I was happy to do that. I wish everyone was as gracious as you. Best wishes in all you do. Thank you for the breath of fresh air.

    • Ambaa

      Thank you for joining in the conversation. I am so relieved to hear of people of different faiths living and working happily together!

  • jeromeLDS

    This is really amazing, learning is a lifelong process, we need each other to learn, as a young Mormon, I know we were created differently for us to learn the concept that we need each other. I hope all people of different faith are like you, because most of the times, Mormons are misunderstood. But if they will just open and see our hearts, there is a huge space for “them”. :)

    Hope we learn to love always. We were created by the same creator. Just this week I join an interfaith dialogue and I learned a lot from it. Loving and understanding each other. :)

    • Ambaa

      Good for you!

      I have a new respect for how hard it must be to knock on doors and get so much rejection and fear!

  • 5w_haul

    this is funny, isn’t unannounced visit considered bad in your individualistic culture ?
    so how can someone pop up at ones house.
    aren’t people are allowed to be individual and be themselves ?
    so how can someone try and poke the nose into other’s personal matters and convert them.
    trying to be loving, compassionate and helpful but in return want to save their soul is utterly selfish, love is unconditional isn’t it.
    so this is height of hypocrisy and contradiction where these preacher can’t even follow their own culture and religious scripture.
    sorry to be harsh here but truth is truth.
    a dog’s tail can never be straightened.

    • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com/ Andrea

      It *is* considered bad and that’s why a lot of people are resistant to it and automatically distrust anyone like door-to-door missionaries, salespeople, etc. This is not an action that is normal in mainstream American culture and so it is not trusted.

      But!! Remember that the USA is full of MANY different cultures. Mormons tend to be more family-oriented, more community-oriented than the typical everyday American. Knocking on doors and sharing the Good News that you have isn’t considered such a faux pas in such subcultures – but that is where the cultures clash!

    • B_Ri

      As a Mormon I would say that I have found something that brings joy and happiness into my and my family’s lives. More than if we didn’t have it. If I love you, then I will want to share that with you. Yes, even by going door to door to every house in the world if that is what it takes to give everyone a chance to hear it.
      There is no force, no compulsion, no argument, if a missionary knocks on your door they will tell you they have a message for you. If you want to listen or begin a dialouge with them then great, if not they will politely move on to the next door.
      I think that the selfishness would be to find something that makes you happy and horde it or hide it and never share it.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      “Get off my lawn!,” eh?

      Apart from the idea that no one should talk to you about your salvation without an appointment, none of the rest of this makes any sense. It is absolutely loving and compassionate to reach out to you to share thoughts with you about your eternal destiny and relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. There is no hypocrisy or contradiction because this is obedient to the very last instruction Jesus Christ ever gave. The “dog’s tail” remark is just offensive.

      • Miriam Robarts

        I think that “A dog’s tail can never be straightened.” is an old proverb; meaning that it’s something you can’t change, no matter how much you try. (You must be thinking of something else, because that’s not offensive.) It was just reiterating the phrase “truth is truth”.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          You’re right that it is an unfamiliar proverb. Your thought is that employing that proverb in the unkind criticism of another’s faith or religious practices can’t possibly be considered offensive. I think that using animal metaphors in such criticism is questionable at best.

          • 5w_haul

            i never criticize anyone’s faith and practice in my above post. i said what you believe is your thoughts don’t try and convert others to your mental state because its intolerance.
            and contrary to your culture and scripture, both of my statements are factually correct.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            I have no reason to want to argue with you. It would be contrary to the very nice tone set by this blog and most of the comments. But to say that your original comment wasn’t a criticism misuses the language, because it surely was. And now you double down with the term “intellectual terrorism.” Miriam Robarts doesn’t think you intended to be offensive – we see now that you did.

            Your statement that efforts to communicate with others for persuasion to a different faith being contrary to our culture and scripture isn’t factually correct but simply factually wrong.

            As I say, there may be no desire to argue this. But instead of simply asserting “factually correct,” you might try to support that statement as to both culture and scripture. There is a strong and robust history and tradition in America of missionary or other forms of person-to-person persuasive efforts – think of political canvassing if you want a non-religious example. And as far as scripture is concerned, the Savior’s parting words to his disciples were a call to missionary endeavor. Mark 16:15. I don’t know how you get any idea that missionary work is inconsistent with scripture.

            There is no intolerance in missionary work – quite the opposite. They are acts borne of love. Your idea that respect for others’ beliefs means to eschew efforts to persuade or teach anything else is wrongheaded as a matter of culture, tradition, values and practicality. People can be persuaded to a different world view, and it actually happens every day. To call the attempt “terrorism” is just a terribly unfortunate, and intolerant, thing to say. I’m not even sure why you make the effort to express your views here, since by doing so, you self-label as a terrorist, no?

          • 5w_haul

            please reread 1st comment.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            I’ve done that several times. It is properly and fairly subject to the comments I have offered, as is the later comment about terrorism, which was particularly obnoxious. But I am certainly willing to leave it there.

          • Miriam Robarts

            I don’t think that anyone here is actually trying to offend anyone else. I think people just get passionate about their beliefs.

            I also feel like it is helpful to choose not to be offended, no matter what others say–especially when talking about sensitive subjects like religion.

            It sounds to me like 5w_haul is saying that we should be tolerant of other people’s views, and not try to change them.

            While I agree with you, I also feel that there is nothing wrong with asking someone if they want to learn about our beliefs & I enjoy hearing about what others believe. Each person thinks their view is correct, or they wouldn’t believe in it. We just invite people to learn about our faith & try it out so they can find out for themselves if it is true. If they aren’t interested in our church, we can still be friends!

      • 5w_haul

        you completely misunderstood it mate. no one want to hear about his destiny or thought pattern from others, imposition of your “beliefs” on others is called intellectual terrorism. if i believe that earth revolve around moon and moon is great power, my destiny depends on loving relationship with great white moon. so be it i have no right to convert you to my thought patterns and say that your destiny is white moon. exclusive systems have no place in a pluralistic society. i can blast through your beliefs and thoughts, can defeat you in flash but what you believe is not my business.

  • David Tiffany

    “When they spoke about Jesus coming down because God needed to experience human life and emotion, it reminded me very much of the journey that we all take. For us, every one of us is God trying to experience emotion, mortality, etc.”
    The reason Jesus came down was to pay the price for the sins of man. And there is only one God, who shares His glory with no one.
    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/

    • Miriam Robarts

      I commented separately regarding the line you just quoted, to clarify some of our beliefs, so I will be brief here.
      Mormons believe that Christ came to earth to be our Savior.

    • Ambaa

      Yeah, that’s the part of Christian theology that sounds insane to me. I don’t get it at all. I asked them about that and it’s one of those things that’s very difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t have the same world view. Why did anyone need to pay prices for sins? That has never made any sense to me. And please don’t answer that because I’m sick to death of the circular conversation that ensues!

      • trytoseeitmyway

        May I answer in a way that doesn’t try to explain the literal statement? It’s good to avoid the circular conversation, and by the way, David Tiffany doesn’t represent Mormon faith or teaching in any way. (Check with your colleague Chris Henrichsen about that.)

        What if instead of saying “pay the price for sin,” I said, “bridge the gap between mortality and immortality, between corruption and incorruption?” Would that begin to make more sense? The idea that for men and women to proceed on an eternal path, they require divine intervention?

        The Christian, and specifically the Mormon, idea of the Atonement is really very rich, and obviously the metaphor of sacrifice as a response to sin (drawn from ancient Hebrew tradition) doesn’t add up to everyone at first blush, or even the second or third. That’s OK. But read the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans sometime if you’re interested. I know that the Bible is not an authority for you but you would see how the same ideas are expressed in other terms.

        There are other explanations in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, but you can explore that with Chris sometime maybe. Or perhaps the sister missionaries. :-)

        • Ambaa

          Hmmm. I suppose that makes a bit more sense, but it still requires a radical shift in perception of the world. I don’t think human beings need redemption from anything, so there is no need for this bridge. God is already within our hearts. We don’t need Jesus to take us to God.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            If it makes a bit more sense, maybe I’ll call it a small victory and thank you for considering the thought. You are a very kind and thoughtful person.

      • David Tiffany

        Why does anyone need to pay a price for sin? I’m sure you have seen and or experienced atrocities in your lifetime. Generally speaking, people want the perpetrators to pay a price. That’s just, right? God is the God of justice. We can all look and the commandments of God, even at our own thoughts and understand we break the law. So who pays the penalty? That’s why Jesus came. To pay the penalty for us. God, being just, demands justice be carried out. Either you will suffer for your own sins, or you will trust Jesus who paid the price for you and will forgive you.
        trytoseeitmyway says:
        What if instead of saying “pay the price for sin,” I said, “bridge the gap between mortality and immortality, between corruption and incorruption?”
        Why don’t we not try to change the meaning of what Jesus did at the cross. He willfully carried your burden of sin to the cross and payed the penalty you deserved. Why don’t we respect the great sacrifice He made for all those who would come to Him and not try to cheapen what He did.

        • Miriam Robarts

          I don’t think that trytoseeitmyway meant to downplay the fact that Christ paid for our sins. One thing can be explained in different ways. I would say that corruption = sin.

          Also, we believe that Christ suffered for our sins, as well as for all the suffering, disappointments, sickness, heartache, etc. that we go through in life. This is so he can understand and help us with anything we go through.

          By saying “bridge the gap between mortality and immortality” they were referring to the resurrection. Because Christ overcame death, we believe that after we die, all people will live again (with an immortal body).

  • B_Ri

    Hey thanks for this post. I am glad I found your Blog. I am Mormon but have always been fascinated by other beliefs. Hindu is one that I know very little about. I am in technology so I work with a LOT of people from India but since it is a work environment we rarely are able to talk about religion. They are mostly either Hindu or Muslim and the closest we usually get to religion is when we talk about the purpose behind a holiday. But like a lot of the young mostly single Christian (and probably every other religion in the world) guys in technology, they tend to focus on the food and presents and fun stuff rather than the deeper religious meaning.
    So, thanks again.

  • EngineerSenseHere

    This was a good article. I’m glad to see understanding and respectful conversations between religions. Thank you.

  • Miriam Robarts

    Thanks for your article. I enjoy hearing about other people’s beliefs, and I am happy that you had a good discussion with our missionaries. That is great that you were able to share & learn from each other.

    I want to clarify a few things that were mentioned. You said, “Jesus [came] down because God needed to experience human life and emotion”. Mormons believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate people. We sometimes refer to Christ as God (such as in the Old Testament), because he works with Heavenly Father. God has given Jesus authority to speak and act for God.

    We believe that God, Jesus & the Holy Ghost are three separate beings that work
    together like presidency, where God is the President with two vice presidents or counselors (we don’t use this terminology, it’s just an example & you can see the pattern repeated in the Presidency of our church were we have a Prophet and two Counselors).

    We also believe that God has a body & does feel emotions. Unlike us, his body is immortal and perfect. We believe that like Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected after we die & receive a perfect, immortal body regardless of our actions or choices in life. Our choices determine whether or not we will be able to return to live with God.

    We believe that we had a spirit body before we were born & we come to earth to for several reasons: to gain a physical body; learn and grow to become more like God; preform necessary ordinances such as baptism; and be tested to show that we will follow God & choose the right.

    We believe that we must be baptized to return to our Father in Heaven. We can participate in baptisms for the dead for people who are not related to us, but usually the research has been done by a family member of the deceased.
    “You may submit the names of individuals with whom you shared a friendship. This is an exception to the general rule that members should not submit the names of individuals to whom they are not related. Before performing ordinances for a deceased individual who was a friend, you should obtain permission from the individual’s closest living relative.” http://www.lds.org/manual/members-guide-to-temple-and-family-history-work/chapter-7-providing-temple-ordinances?lang=eng

    The names of deceased persons are not added to the membership records of the Church. As was mentioned in your article, we strongly believe in personal choice, and we believe that the deceased person can accept or reject the baptism.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience & being a good example of interfaith friendship!

  • Cockywannacracker

    Great article! An LDS for the past 34 years, I currently live in a house with two Latter Day Saints (who are former Hindus) as well as a Catholic and a HIndu. It is a happy house – we all get along well and like, respect and appreciate one another. I am very grateful for this experience that has increased my learning and understanding,
    not to mention my increasing liking of flavoursome Indian foods that my friends so willingly share with me! (Thanks, family!)

  • Kevin

    I received an email from a lady who says she was the “member of the congregation” that came to your house with the two Sister missionaries. She referred me to this article. One of the Sister missionaries that came to your house was my daughter. Even though I have been a Mormon all my life and even served as a missionary in the 1970′s I was still very anxious about my little girl traveling to a distant area to serve as a missionary. It is nice to see all the good people in the world who have been so kind. As a dad, I want to thank you for being so nice and compassionate with my little girl. I truly appreciate it.

    • Ambaa

      Awwww! How wonderful!

      You should be very proud. The girls were both polite, kind, and cheerful.

  • John W. Morehead

    From this piece on an interesting encounter:

    “The question has been raised at Patheos: can interfaith dialog be productive?

    I suppose it matters what you are trying to produce. Two people of
    different faiths, equally devoted, are not going to sway the other to
    their own religion, but that isn’t (in my mind) the real purpose of
    interfaith dialog. When both people or groups respect one another and
    really listen, there is so much to learn. And I think it can and does
    humanize the other side.”

    This
    is an area where interfaith dialogue struggles: the place (or not) of
    persuasion in the process. Some in traditions like Hinduism and Paganism
    argue that to try to persuade others is to disrespect them. Therefore,
    persuasion and those who advocate or practice it are not welcome in
    interfaith. Religious diplomacy says that persuasion, while not the only
    part of interreligious engagement, is an important part of the process
    that should not be ruled out a priori. And when it is incorporated it
    should be so in ways that are ethical, humanizing, and welcomed by one’s
    partner in conversation. Food for thought.

    • Ambaa

      Food for thought indeed. I can see the place for persuasion if the person you are speaking to feels lost and expresses a desire to find more meaning in her life. If she is already at peace and happy, it becomes incredibly obnoxious to think that you should take that away and replace it with what brings YOU peace and meaning.

      • John W. Morehead

        Persuasion is an important part of much of life. We routinely think that our perspectives on politics, important social issues, as well as religion are not only right for us, but that they are the best and more true than others, and therefore we want to see others embrace them. It’s possible to be at peace and happy and to be wrong in such things. If persuasion is done ethically and with receptivity on the part of others than it need not be obnoxious. The point is that persuasion can have a place in interreligious encounters, even if it is not seen as a fit in much interfaith activity. But then again some question whether interfaith really addresses the challenge of how we live peaceably with our irreconcilable differences. From a religious diplomacy perspective, interfaith does not acknowledge the elephant in the room, whereas civil discussion of differences as well as similarities, and ongoing relationships across traditions, can transform enemies into trusted rivals who can not only attempt to persuade each other, but also work together for the common good.


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