Recent discussions on the news regarding the personal religious beliefs of certain political figures have churned up strong feelings with many people, me included. My Facebook page has been buzzing with shared videos, commentaries and blogs in response to the position of some that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are not Christians. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often confused at how someone could say we’re not Christians when the very name of the church should be enough to dispel that statement. It has been my understanding, however, that most of the ever-shrinking minority of folks who assert this position aren’t saying that we don’t believe in Jesus Christ, they mean that we don’t believe in Him in the same way that they do. They are really speaking of the differences between our doctrine and theirs. A much better way of putting it, instead of blanketing the airwaves with the ignorant statement, “Mormons are not Christians”, would have been for Pastor Jeffress to have said, “I believe that Mormons are misguided in their understanding of Jesus Christ and His teachings.” That is a belief to which he has every right. Is Pastor Jeffress a bigot for believing that he is right and I am wrong? No. Otherwise, I’d be labeled a bigot too. I hesitate to join the debate because it’s really not worth arguing about. We are Christians. However, I have had an inclination lately to publicly state some of my own feelings about what I believe and why I believe them, and I may as well start there.
There’s a reason why I and millions like me have such a visceral reaction to the statement: “You are not a Christian.” In my own case, my love for Jesus Christ is so central to who I am, and has been for so long, that to be told I don’t believe He is my Savior is an insult that pierces deeply into my guts. Please allow me to declare my personal testimony to the embarrassingly few who will read this and to the billions who won’t. I know that Jesus is The Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father. I know that Jesus Christ was born of Mary in Bethlehem, lived his mortal life in Palestine, suffered and died for the sins and infirmities of all mankind, was resurrected and lives today. Now, there is a difference between “knowing” something is true and “believing” something is true. My religion is built of many, many particulars, details and doctrines, some of which, for me, fall into the category of belief, while others I feel comfortable saying that I know them to be true. Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world is something I know to be true. May I tell a story that I hope will be an illustration (albeit a poor one) of how I can know? Ok, here goes:
A few years back I had my appendix out. I had just started a new job and was still in training. I was training with some fellows that were quickly becoming very good friends to me, and I was really feeling good and happy. We all went to eat lunch one day at a Chinese restaurant, and though it was a lot of fun, a short time later I wasn’t feeling too well. I was feeling some pain in my abdomen area. At the same time I began to feel nauseated. Well, the obvious conclusion was that something I ate wasn’t sitting too well with me. Later that evening at home I started to wonder if there was something more serious going on. The pain in my abdomen wasn’t real bad, just constant, but the nausea was really bugging me. Just to be safe, I went in to the E.R. to get it checked out. They took a scan and told me that my appendix was getting ready to burst. This really surprised me at first because, from my experience (watching TV), appendicitis hurts a lot. Shoot, Henry Blake on MASH was doubled over with pain and could barely walk. Though this wasn't the case with me, they assured me that I needed my appendix out, and I believed them. I did have pain in my abdomen. I was nauseated. I knew I wasn’t sick with a cold or the flu or something, so appendicitis seemed to be a logical diagnosis, especially when the guy that told me had a white doctor’s coat on and a stethoscope around his neck. I went in to surgery a little apprehensive, like most, I suppose. I remember wondering how long I could force myself to stay awake when they administered the anesthesia, and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the recovery room. The moment I opened my eyes I was very aware of the lack of nausea in my life. The doctor came in and asked how I was. He told me that the procedure went well, and that we caught it just in time.
So, I know, boring story, but let me sum up. I now know that I had appendicitis, and that the doctor dude did remove my appendix. Before the surgery, the first time he told me what the problem was, I believed him. I had symptoms of appendicitis, and I had faith that he knew what he was talking about because he was a doctor. After the surgery I knew beyond any doubt that the doctor’s diagnosis was correct, and that the actions he took to heal me did, in fact, save me. I knew this because of the difference it made in what I was feeling, and because the promised results were realized.
|"He Is Risen" -Del Parson from ldsart.com|
Besides the usual stupid stuff I write about, future blogs will also contain some religious discourse. Hope that’s ok with all 4 of my followers J.
Thanks for listening…jb