Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

RELIGIONS

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Joseph Smith's Peeps

Tuesday, July 09, 2019
What's a Mormon?

Sincerely,
I’ve Seen Their Bikes

Dear I’ve Seen Their Bikes,

Those well-dressed, bike-helmet wearing young men traveling in pairs through your community are known as Mormons, and they are part of the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).  The LDS church was formed in the early 1800s by a man named Joseph Smith, Jr.  Joseph Smith professed to have been visited by the angel, Moroni.  Supposedly, Moroni directed Mr. Smith to a set of golden plates which he then dug up and translated from their ancient language into English.  This “translation” is known as the Book of Mormon and is one of four books that the LDS church uses for guidance.

Okay, now that we’ve explained who they are, let’s see what the Bible says about Mormonism.  God tells us that even if an angel preaches a different message than the Bible, he is accursed (Gal 1:8).  That means that even if Moroni were real, Joseph Smith shouldn’t have listened to him.  Secondly, the Bible tells us everything we need to know about life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  We are also told to never add or subtract from the Word of God (Rev 22:18-19).  Either the Book of Mormon says more than the Bible – in which case, we shouldn’t listen to it, or it says exactly the same thing as the Bible – in which case, we don’t need it!  Ultimately, the LDS church is a false religion that is leading people astray and destroying their souls.

Two Paths Diverge

Friday, July 05, 2019
     My boyfriend of thirteen years told me he can no longer have a relationship with me because I don’t attend church.  He said I need to follow his path.

Sincerely,
Ex-Girlfriend

Dear Ex-Girlfriend,

We would have to side with your ex-boyfriend on this… but give us a second to explain why.  The end goal to your relationship is marriage, and ‘inter-faith’ marriages have disastrous results, an awful track record, and God warns against them.  No matter how much you love each other, there are only four possible outcomes to a marriage between to people that don’t have the same spiritual goals, and only one of them is good:

  1. You eventually convert, obey the gospel, become a christian, and are saved (this would be a really GOOD outcome).
  2. He eventually forsakes the Lord, and you are both lost (BAD).
  3. You both make compromises in your beliefs, and neither of you is fully committed to anything (BAD).
  4. You both eventually renounce both of your belief systems, and are both lost (BAD).

The only positive outcome is the first one, and that isn’t any more likely to happen after you are married than before.  From your boyfriend’s perspective, if you aren’t with him on this journey to serve Christ – neither of you is going to be happy, with potentially eternally disastrous consequences.

God warns against being ‘unequally yoked’ to someone with different values than you (2 Cor 6:14-16). Once you get married, you are ‘yoked’ to that person with a lifetime agreement. A godly marriage is designed around unity (Gen 2:24). If you aren’t unified on your core belief system, then everything else will be affected. Where will your children go to church? How much money will you contribute to church?  What happens when you disagree on moral decisions – what is the standard you will use to come to an answer? These are just a few of the thousands of day-to-day problems you will run into. God tells us that a christian should marry someone ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 7:39).  If you are serious about this guy, you need to ask yourself if it is worth looking into Christianity to see if there is a reason that this wonderful man finds it so important.  Either way, you are both better off knowing where you stand before entering into a heartbreaking marriage.

Duper-stitious

Monday, June 17, 2019
     I have a very interesting question, and I'm hoping you can help.  I know the Bible says you shouldn't mess with spirits, and fortune telling is sinful.  However, what if someone didn't ask for this gift?  I know it says no one knows the future but God, but what if He gave a gift to someone, and they were using it for good?  And what about Ouija boards?  I've always been taught they are of the devil.  One last thing, I'm from the south, and I've heard a lot about conjurers.  In fact, as a child, my grandfather visited one to get a growth removed, and it worked.  This woman was a christian and claimed it was a gift from God and not sinful.  Is this sinful and of the devil?  I am, by the way, very superstitious; however, I do believe the Bible is clear on the boundaries that should not be crossed.  Sorry for being so lengthy, but I believe there's a lot of people asking the same things.

Sincerely,
Magically Minded

Dear Magically Minded,

The dictionary defines ‘superstition’ as ‘a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief’.  Superstition means that you are placing trust in the supernatural power of a rabbit’s foot, not walking under ladders, four-leaf clovers, Ouija boards, etc.  This is always wrong.  We are supposed to place our trust in God (Ps 56:11), and God has clearly said that He doesn’t give people the gifts of fortune telling; all these things are of the devil.  Even if a conjurer removed your grandfather’s growth, being a conjurer is still sinful.  There are lots of sinful things that have short-term benefits… but long-term consequences.

Superstition is a mild and socially acceptable form of witchcraft or divining.  There is no difference between trusting in a lucky coin and trusting in the astrological tables.  Astrology and horoscopes are wrong (Deut 4:19, 2 Kgs 23:5); witchcraft and magical arts are wrong (Acts 19:19).  Superstition falls into the same category as those practices.

Madness To The Methodist

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
     I have been attending a United Methodist church for about two years now and really enjoyed the teaching of the Bible from my clergy; recently, he told me the Bishop was transferring him to another church, one that in distance would prevent me from attending.  I feel I have lost a good teacher, one that had and could capture all my attention and others’ when we would hear his words on the teachings of the Bible.  Why would a church replace a man that meant so much to the people he ministered to?  I have tried to listen to the new appointed minister, but somehow, it’s just not giving the blessings of the Word of God that were there for me with my last clergy.  I am a bit disappointed, and we are now looking for new church… again.

Sincerely,
Left Behind

Dear Left Behind,

The reason the United Methodist church did this was because they haven’t been following the Bible – they’ve been following their own traditions.  Your frustrating situation is a great example of what has gone wrong with the religious world.  God never intended for congregations to take orders from some regional archbishop or governing council.  The Bible pattern for local churches is much simpler – and it avoids the sort of congregational disruption you experienced.

Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23)… no boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates.  If a congregation was happy with their preacher, he stayed.  If they were unhappy, they stopped supporting him.  Simple as that.

What you are looking for is a local body of believers who are accountable to Christ and His Word, not some district office or United Methodist jurisdiction.  Congregations like this exist all over America and the world.  If you’d like, we’d be happy to get you in touch with a congregation that plays by God’s rules, not their own.  E-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org if we can be of service.

En Garde!

Monday, June 10, 2019
     In your response to a question about calling clergy “father”, you once again led the reader to accept your personal, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Unless you are claiming your interpretations are infallible?  Why not give your reader a more complete picture of what Scripture has to say on this subject?  Why not point out that Jesus Himself used the term “father” in a spiritual sense?  Unless you are saying that the rich man was Abraham’s physical (biological) son (Lk 16:24-25)?

Why does Paul refer to christians in Corinth as his children? Are they all his biological children (1 Cor 4:14-15)?

What about the apostle John? Are they all his biological children (1 Jn 2:1)?  What about the Old Testament?  Joseph tells his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” in Genesis 45:8.  Job has a similar statement, “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16).

I think you guys know better than that.  I think you know Jesus, John, and even Paul all used the term “father” in a spiritual sense.  Again, I find it interesting that you leave these verses out in order to “hit a home run” against a faith system you disagree with.  The Catholic Church is not, nor ever has been “wrong” concerning this issue.  How could they be?  If every christian is meant to search the Scriptures and determine doctrine based on the Scriptures, why are your interpretations correct and my interpretations incorrect?  I see the term “father” used in a spiritual sense all throughout the Bible.  Thus, if I am interpreting Scripture the same as you are, who are you to tell me I am wrong?  You even admit in a previous response to a question ("Trust No Man"): “We aren’t infallible here at AYP; we are just men.”  You might want to consider your previous statements before going and making an “infallible” proclamation concerning the practices of others.

Sincerely,
Swiss Guard

Dear Swiss Guard,

Oh, Swiss Guard, how we have missed you and your anonymous rants.  It is too bad that you never provide your e-mail address, so we could personally search the Scriptures together… it seems like all you want is to use our website to publicly voice your frustrations – but we digress.

First off, we have dealt with the way that Peter, Jesus, and John used the term ‘father’ – feel free to read the post from January 13th, 2011 entitled “Parental Paradox” for an explanation of all those verses that you say we leave out.  We’ve handled this concern before.  We don’t avoid verses – we just keep them in context… unlike the Catholic church.

As far as Lk 16:24-25, the rich man was a Jew, and he would have considered Abraham his biological ancestor – just like all the Jews did (Jhn 8:39).  And Job 29:16 is literally saying that Job treated the poor like they were his children.

Now lastly, let’s deal with the idea of interpretation.  The Bible tells us that it isn’t a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20).  What you think and what we think doesn’t matter at all – what matters is what God said.  That is why we always give lots of verses to back up our answers, so readers can check the Scriptures for themselves.  People are fallible, but the Bible never changes and we encourage people to double-check for themselves.  But that doesn’t mean that we can each believe whatever we want and all be okay – if that were the case, there would be no such thing as right and wrong at all!  Instead, God’s Word is right though every man be found a liar (Rom 3:4).  Just like a roadmap or an instruction manual – it says what it says... not what you want it to say.

In the end, Catholicism is a false religion because it isn’t built upon the Bible.  Any religion that doesn’t use the Bible as its standard of measure is false (Gal 1:8).  The Catholic church tells people that they can’t eat certain foods, and it tells their priests that they can’t marry – which is wrong (1 Tim 4:3).  The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is directly in contact with God and that people should follow him… once again, wrong.  Christ is our direct connection to God (Heb 1:1-4), and the Bible is what we should follow (2 Tim 3:16-17).  Everything about the Catholic church’s organization is in direct opposition to the Scriptures.  The question isn’t how old a church is; the question is whether or not Christ is its head (Eph 5:23).  There is only one pattern for the church (Eph 4:4-6), and the Catholic church is not it.  But, don’t take our word for it – take His.

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