Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Visited Mormon church

I have contacted the Mormons and had a few dialogs with their missionary elders about three years ago, but so far had not step into their worship place. Until yesterday.

I was invited to their church by two of their missionary elders. Met them at Newton MRT before strolled about 5 minutes to the place. While reaching, I asked them how should I call their place, a 'church' or a 'temple'? They said that it is a 'church'. Their temple is in Utah, America.

I was led to the fourth floor at the extended building behind the main building. And there I entered to their headquarter office and then proceeded to a room.

While we were waiting for another elder-in-training to join us, I was drawn to a picture hanging on the wall. I asked them what is that. It looks like a tomb at the center of a beautiful hall. They said that it is the 'sealing room' at their temple, where family members will kneel around the table to be sealed as a family for eternity (picture below). Fascinating.

Then the elder-in-training finally arrived, we sat down. And there we were. Three Mormons chit-chatting with me, a confused student who is pursuing theological studies.

We had about an hour discussion on their doctrine of Christ and the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith's encounter (they think Nicene Creed is man-made since it is initiated by Constantine, a pagan emperor, and voted by men). One of the elders bordered down the discussion to whether is the Book of Mormon true. And on that, I asked, how do we verify it to be true. And the elder gave me the same answer the other elders I met three years ago. Their verification of the veracity of the Book of Mormon comes through a process:

1) Hold fast to James 1.5: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Pardon the "upbraideth", they think the KJV is the inspired translation).

2) Pray: ask the Holy Spirit's guidance to verify to us whenever we read the Book of Mormon.

3) The Holy Spirit will reveal to us that the Book of Mormon through a religious experience. Among others, the experience comes with an unspeakable serenity; we will be at peace with ourselves and everything. Then we will know that the Book of Mormon is trustworthy.

My Mormon friends said that they know the Book of Mormon is true because the Holy Spirit had reveal to them that it is true. They experienced that serenity. And of course I cannot say their experience of the Holy Spirit is false. Neither can I say that it is true. It is untestable, unfalsifiable. They are playing Witgenstein's private language game. So what can I do? Nothing. I kept quiet for a while before carried on with the discussion.

(At that point, I hope I can do the same with my essay on the trustworthiness of the New Testament in Tony Siew's class, the trustworthiness of the OT in Maggie Low's class! Perhaps I should try doing that. Test my luck. Who knows I might get through since this is a theological college and we do believe in Holy Spirit's speaking to us.)

After the discussion and prayers (we all prayed in the same name, so I did say 'amen'), we stood up and made our way. But before I walked out, one of the elders passed me two DVDs as gift. One is the Mormon's perspective on the life of Jesus Christ, and the other is an enactment of Joseph Smith's life. Three years ago I was given a copy of the Book of Mormon, and a book written by one of the apostles of their Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They take mission work as serious as the Evangelicals.

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