You hear a knock on the door and open it to find two friendly representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church.
So what will you say? Will you send them away without a Christian witness, or will you engage them in a meaningful and Christ-honoring conversation? If you desire the latter, may we suggest the book Answering Mormons Questions by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson. Answering Mormons Questions is available wherever you find quality Christian books. Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Is repentance, according to Mormonism, a vague doctrine? Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. In August of 2021, an Area 70 by the name of Richard Neitzel Holdzapfel, and I probably am butchering that name, it's spelled H-O-L-Z-A-P-F-E-L, but Richard Holdzapfel spoke at a stake leadership meeting in the Harriman, Utah Rose Canyon Stake.
That's in the area of the southern Salt Lake County, if you're not familiar with the geography of Salt Lake City. And he had a couple of students, a male and a female, speak to the group. A video of this was posted, but unfortunately, it's not the complete video. It's just about five minutes. And in this five minute clip, you have the two young people expressing themselves on the subject of repentance.
And then Mr. Holdzapfel responds to it, and he says some very interesting things that certainly caught our attention and what we want to discuss on the show today. First of all, the boy's name, we don't know. We know that the girl's name was Jill. That's all we know. In fact, in the video, their faces are computer generated, so you cannot see their faces.
So they are trying to keep their anonymity, at least to a certain point, from the general public, which is fine. But the boy expresses some thoughts. What is the one thought that he expresses about repentance? Well, he said that his friends would not like to go to the bishop to repent.
This is what he says. It definitely would be considered a negative thing. And he was kind of nervous, so he wasn't able to articulate very well as to what exactly he was talking about. Well, maybe we should elaborate on that, because it's not a normal thing for every Latter-day Saint to go to their bishop and confess their sins. That's reserved more for what you would call, I guess in a Mormon vernacular, a more serious sin. Other than that, individuals in the LDS Church pretty much have the responsibility to take care of repentance themselves.
They don't need to go to the bishop. So for him to bring this up, I'm assuming the context is a serious sin, maybe a sexual sin of some sort, where you feel compelled to go and talk to the bishop about this. But then you had the young girl, Jill, and that's all we know about her. She expressed that she didn't really seem to understand the concept of repentance. It sounded like she understood some aspects of it, but she felt, in my opinion, listening to her. And I might mention, folks, listening to these two young people, you can't help but feel empathy for them. They realize they're caught in a system that makes it difficult for them to feel any kind of assurance when it comes to the repentance of their sins. And this is why I think Mr. Holdzepfel afterwards commends them for speaking out on this.
He actually commends them, he doesn't condemn them. I would say they were pretty brave in saying what they did. But what did Jill have to say about this? What was something that was bothering her on this topic? She said, quote, there are steps to follow to get a certain thing that I want, and there's really not, like, step one, you talk to God, step two, you apologize to, and then she stopped for a moment, and she seemed to be nervously struggling with her words, and then she added this. You have to figure it out for yourself how you personally can repent and come to God and ask for change. Part of me feels like I haven't figured that out yet. Sometimes sacrament meetings can be really hard for me because I feel bad about myself because I feel I'm not doing enough.
And it's not like I'm doing anything bad, but I don't know, strive for perfectionism. Well, let me stop you there because what this young lady is expressing is not very different from what we've heard when talking to Latter-day Saints on the streets. It's not much different than what we've heard Latter-day Saints send to us in their emails when they actually chide us for talking about grace as if that makes it all easy for them. But they usually express the same exact feelings. Now, you can understand why this young lady seems to be confused, because it's put on her to figure it out. But that's why I asked the question at the beginning of the show, is repentance really a vague doctrine in Mormonism? I don't think it is.
I think the problem for young people like Jill and this other young man that was sitting next to her is it's pretty basic, and it's spelled out, and it's uncomfortable the way it is spelled out. And she uses the word perfectionism. Strive for perfectionism. Bill, how many times have we been out on the street using some of the Scriptures out of the unique LDS standard works that talk about the importance of obedience, and how often do we get Latter-day Saints say, well, nobody's perfect? I've heard that many times, and I always find it ironic, because whenever I have a Latter-day Saint say that, I usually respond with something like, interesting you bring up the word perfection.
I never said that. All I did was quote what your Scripture has to say, and you automatically drew that conclusion, because I think you're smart enough to know what that verse is implying. It is implying perfectionism. And I think this is what causes young people, especially people like this Jill here, to struggle with that, because you know in your heart you can't be perfect, but yet you're being told things in your local ward or in your lessons that you study either in seminary or in institute. You're told things from your Scripture that certainly seems to imply that if you're keeping all the commandments continually, that you are really a perfect person. And even Latter-day Saints, no they are not, which is a good thing.
I think sometimes we need to realize that there's no way we're ever going to meet that standard. But see, as a Christian, a New Testament Christian, that compels us to go back to the foot of the cross and see what Jesus did on our behalf. So even though we might feel bad that we can't constantly live up to every commandment and do everything perfectly well, we know that our Savior did it on our behalf, and that's an element of the gospel that I think is often overlooked or ignored or even sometimes criticized by members in the LDS Church, including their leaders. We like to use the word imputation, which connotates the idea that we might not be perfect, but we know somebody who is, and that's Jesus, who credits us with the righteousness that He had.
And so one of the things that makes Mormonism different than biblical Christianity, in Mormonism you're required to keep the commandments in order to keep the ability to go to the very best this religion has to offer, which is the celestial kingdom. But in Christianity, it's all based on what Jesus did, and yes, I am a sinner who receives grace because of what He did, not because of what I did. Now Holzapfel is going to zero in on that word perfectionism, and he's going to talk about that. What does he do? He repeats that word perfectionism when she uses that, and I think that becomes the theme of the final two minutes of the video when Jill says, if we could talk about it more, I think that would really help a lot of people. Now here's where the video gets very interesting, because he recognizes that this young lady is struggling with this, I guess he would think it would be an imagined understanding of repentance, which includes perfectionism. He's going to act as if that's really not a part of what we believe. So in other words, she misunderstands what the church is teaching about this. So he's going to talk about that, but he begins by telling the story of Elizabeth Smart.
Now, in order to understand what he's talking about, we need to go back. Back on June 5th, 2002, Elizabeth Smart, who lived in Salt Lake City, was abducted by a man by the name of Brian David Mitchell. Unfortunately, he sexually abused her numerous times during this abduction. She was not rescued until March 12th, 2013. You can only imagine what kind of hell Elizabeth Smart went through with this man. But she spoke to a group at Johns Hopkins University on May 1st, 2013. She was speaking on the subject of human trafficking. But in this talk, she mentions the feelings that she had when this horrible man, Brian David Mitchell, was raping her. She says in her talk, I thought, oh my gosh, I am that chewed up piece of gum.
Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth. You no longer have value, Smart said. Why would it even be worth screaming out, she says?
Why would it even make a difference? If you are rescued, your life still has no value. Now, Holdzepfel attributes this misunderstanding that Smart had regarding this rape as something that was taught by someone in the church, but she misunderstands, and he uses the illustration of a nail pounded into a piece of wood. When you pull the nail out, the hole is still there. Holdzepfel seems to understand that she should not have felt that way. Although he doesn't go into a lot of the details, he just merely talks about her and her misunderstanding about her worth. And right after he talks about the piece of wood the nail was in, the repentance was to remove the nail, the hole is still there, as you mentioned, Bill, he then says, some phrases that we've used in seminary, and that's the high school teaching that happens during the four years of high school, and young men and young women in Sunday school for decades in the church have hurt the rising generation.
We've got to get this clear about what repentance is. And then he talks about Russell M. Nelson. He mentions the words of Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of the church, and he recommended a February 2021 Liahona article that was written by Mormon apostle Neil Anderson, and he also mentions the book that Neil Anderson wrote. Although he doesn't mention the book by name, you're not supposed to push books in a chapel setting like this in the Mormon church.
It's just a rule that they have. Maybe that's why he doesn't mention the title, but we know the title. The title is The Divine Gift of Forgiveness, written by apostle Neil Anderson, and you and I both agree, Eric, that this book was written probably purposely to replace the book by Spencer W. Kimball, which was The Miracle of Forgiveness. And he's going to talk about Spencer Kimball's book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, and he makes a statement which you cannot say is anything but a sharp criticism of the book. And in tomorrow's show, we're going to look at what Richard Neitzel holds that full, says about this book, and I think you're going to be shocked to hear what he has to say. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-23 12:09:04 / 2023-08-23 12:14:30 / 5