Friday, December 05, 2008

The Commitment Pattern

I am troubled over a prevalent Evangelical Christian argument against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS seek converts to the church through a very simple process using the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. There is no secret to it. However, many Evangelicals try to characterize what LDS call the "commitment pattern" as some sort of "Jedi-mind trick" or "brain washing." What is the "commitment pattern?" It really is very simple and it comes right out of the Bible.

The first step is love. According to the Bible, any missionary of Jesus Christ must first establish a relationship of trust, and friendship. Sincere, unconditional love for others must be the foundation of missionary work. This relationship can be established on the foundation of a love for Jesus Christ, other common beliefs, and upon charitable service. We should never be friends just to "convert." More often than not, friends ask about and begin investigating the church based on our example alone as we reflect the light and love of the Savior.

1 Jn. 4: 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

The second step is the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ promised to send believers the Holy Ghost in His absence. The third member of the Godhead, which Christ referred to as the Comforter, was promised to dwell in the believer, testify of Christ, and guide him into all truth. So, the next goal is to help others recognize how God has led and guided them by the Holy Ghost all along. While not all people are religious, most all people consider themselves to be people of faith and spirituality. And most people feel guided by God into marriage, or into a particular career path, and to have children. The importance of identifying the workings and power of the Holy Ghost is that the "commitment pattern" is just a continuation of God's divine providence in our lives. The same way people were led by God before, is that same way people can know if the LDS message is true. Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Ghost would testify of Him, His word, and His church.

John 15: 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16: 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

The next step involves experimentation. There is no blind obedience in the LDS faith. Believers are expected to try all of God's word. But to experiment upon the word involves committing to live it. This is the "commitment" part of the "commitment pattern." God won't answer prayers if He knows your heart is not in it. If He undeniably reveals His will to you and you don't follow it, you are accountable (Rom. 5: 13, Rom. 4: 15). So, the way you show your faith, and real desire to know the truth is to live or try whatever good principle that you want to know the truth concerning. If you want to know if God wants you to be honest, then try it and be honest. If you want to know if God wants you to pray and read scripture daily, then try it and see what happens. Let God prove His word to you.

John 7: 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
James 2: 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

The last step is to ask in prayer to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave the example to pray to Our Father in Heaven just as He prayed on my many occasions. Christ encouraged us to, "ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you." While God probably won't appear to you or hit you over the head with hammer, God has promised to answer prayers when it comes to testifying of truth. And how does God answer prayers? God answers them the same way He helped you know who you should marry, what career path you should take, and when you should have children. This is a very individual knowledge between a person and God. However, the Bible does give a few descriptions of the operation of the Holy Ghost in a persons mind and heart. The Bible describes His influence as a "still small voice," a "burning in the bosom," or simply as peace of mind and peace in the heart.

Matt. 21: 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
1 Kgs. 19: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Luke 24: 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Acts 2: 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

So, what should you pray about? The LDS Church invite those wanting to know more about the LDS faith to become acquainted with the Book of Mormon. What is the Book of Mormon? The LDS believe the Bible to be the word of God 100%. But we also believe that God has given other scripture not found in the Bible. These other books of scripture are contained in the Book of Mormon. How could God have other scripture other than the Bible? Well, think about it; if God is the God of the whole Earth, and Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole human family, then wouldn't it make sense that God could have another chosen people other than the few million Jew in Israel? Well, He did have other sheep, and these sheep lived in Ancient America, and they believed in Christ, and Christ appeared to them after His resurrection. The writings and revelations of prophets who lived in Ancient America are contained in the Book of Mormon.

John 10: 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Matt. 18: 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Ezek 37: 16-17 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
Isa. 29: 11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

Why pray about the Book of Mormon? Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ or Latter-day Saints called the Book of Mormon the "key stone" of our religion. Why the "key stone?" Because if a person investigates the Book of Mormon and learns from God by the Holy Spirit that it is true, then it means that everything else associated with the LDS message is true together. This is because if the Book of Mormon is God's word, then Joseph Smith who was blessed to translate and bring the Book of Mormon forth was God's prophet, and the Church that Joseph Smith was instructed to organize and name the very awkward and long name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, is Christ's church on the Earth. By the way, Joseph wanted to name the Church "The Church of Christ." That would have been shorter but when Jesus Christ tells you to do something, you do as your told. And yes, it is important to investigate and experiment and test every point of doctrine, but having received direct revelation from God through the operation of the Spirit of Truth is a sure foundation upon which to build.

Matt. 7: 24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Matt. 16: 18 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (revelation) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Now if there are anyone worried about Revelation's warning about adding and subtracting (Rev. 22: 18-19). These verses are in the singular and apply to the Book of Revelations itself. These verses say man should not add or subtract to the "book of this prophecy." However, the Bible is many books and many prophecies. Additionally, the Book of Revelations was just arbitrarily put at the end of the Bible. John the Apostle wrote his Epistles after writing Revelations.God doesn't change and He never intended that prophets and scripture should cease. And while it is never good to add or subtract to any of God's word, the purpose of the Book of Mormon is not to add, but to clarify. God promises, through His church, to bring us to a unity of the faith. Yet, ambiguous Bible translations, have led to thousands of Christian denominations and non-denominations. Conversely, the Book of Mormon clarifies the correct interpretation of the Bible and leads the true believer of Jesus Christ to Christ's true church.

Amos 3: 7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Eph. 4: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

2 Ne. 33: 10 hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

Even though this missionary and conversion process comes right from the Bible, it seems there are some who try and attack it. They consider the whole thing a from of "mind control" or "brain washing." But the truth is that the "commitment pattern" is just that--a "commitment pattern" for the making of "commitments" to read the Book of Mormon and to pray and ask God. LDS intentionally do not refer to this process as the "conversion pattern" because we have nothing whatever to do with "conversion." Conversion is a personal experience between an individual and God. Only God can truely convert and change someones heart. Missionaries serve as witnessing participants only.

Having served an LDS mission; I can tell you that those persons who felt they received an answer to prayer from God, gained a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, and were converted to the LDS faith, never did so when I or any other missionaries were present. Missionaries help investigators commit to read and pray, but only after diligent individual study and prayer, did the answers come. We just heard about their marvelous revelatory experience second-hand and after the fact. If this process involved "brain-washing," then the conversion could only take place while the missionaries were present and actively manipulating the situation. In the event anyone out there thinks that those investigating the LDS church think they got a revelation from God just to please someone. Please realize that no one going to feel the need to impress two 19-year-old teenagers.

1 Cor. 1: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1 comment:

Brian Servoss said...

I am pleased that you wrote this blog entry, and that it is found by search engines.
I am also LDS and a RM living in Mississippi.
Your post is very well written.
Brian Servoss