Friday, May 27, 2011

The Latter Day Saints and Interreligious Dialogue

The corresponding video can be viewed at:

5/27/2011 10:54 am (et) pparrissr: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 10:54 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:40 am (et) Lance Walker: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:40 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:45 am (et) Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:45 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:45 am (et) Mary: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:45 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:52 am (et) Susan: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:52 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:53 am (et) Hengist: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:53 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:55 am (et) Laura S: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 11:55 am (et).
5/27/2011 11:59 am (et) Moderator: Welcome! This is Rebecca from the InterFaith Conference (IFC) and I will be your moderator. As this is still new, let me explain how this will work. On the right, you will see a video playing of our current topic to get the conversation going. If you have a comment and/or question send it along to me, the moderator. As long as I deem it appropriate, the comment will be posted to everyone and the speaker will have the opportunity to answer your question.
5/27/2011 12:00 pm (et) Moderator: Today, our topic is ‘The Latter Day Saints and Interreligious Dialogue’ with LDS member of IFC’s Board, Lance Walker. For more information, you can visit or The LDS Church is also on Twitter and Facebook.
5/27/2011 12:00 pm (et) Moderator: As always, I would like to remind you of the rules of our engagement. This is a respectful place where we come together to learn more about the religions of the world. Whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions that are posed in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks, they will not be posted. Also, this is a place of learning, so please refrain from ‘soapboxing.’ If there are any issues or questions about this, they can be submitted along with the comments pertaining to our topic. I am here to make this a pleasant and educational experience for all, so enjoy and remember there are no stupid questions, just hostile ones!
5/27/2011 12:01 pm (et) clarkifc: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 12:01 pm (et).
5/27/2011 12:01 pm (et) Moderator: You can now view the beginning comments on the right. As you listen, please feel free to start sending questions or comments (YES, we want your comments). Also, the video will remain within the sidebar, so feel free to return to it as you wish. Our chat window automatically refreshes to keep the flow going, but if you wish to view the whole of the conversation, just hit the archive button. And lastly, PLEASE do not use double quotes as it leads to some issues.
5/27/2011 12:06 pm (et) jdiggs: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 12:06 pm (et).
5/27/2011 12:07 pm (et) Moderator: Hi Lance, as moderator I have some inside knowledge of IFC, so this week I will break my silence and ask a question. The LDS Church is listed as a distinct faith community in IFC, can you tell us why that is.
5/27/2011 12:07 pm (et) Lance Walker: Sure. First, a quick disclaimer. I'm speaking as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not as a spokesman nor as an ecclesiastical leader.
5/27/2011 12:09 pm (et) Moderator: clarkifc said: THANKS for sharing these opening comments, Lance. Its so helpful to have the LDS insights into relationships with other people!
5/27/2011 12:09 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Moderator: by the same token, why is the Catholic church a distinct faith community? Why not just put all Christian groups together under one umbrella? (I think my question answers your question: some Christian churches are just more different from others)
5/27/2011 12:10 pm (et) Moderator: Yes, I must agree, but I guess growing up Catholic (and in the South) it has always been Catholic and every other Christian group.
5/27/2011 12:10 pm (et) Lance Walker: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("the Church" for purposes of brevity) does not stem from either the Catholic or Protestant tradition but is a Christian faith. The church is a restored church.
5/27/2011 12:11 pm (et) Moderator: clarkifc said: Lance, please give some examples, locally, nationally and internationally of the Church's dialogue and collaboration with persons of other faiths.
5/27/2011 12:12 pm (et) jdiggs: private message to Moderator: logs off on 5/27/2011 12:12 pm (et).
5/27/2011 12:12 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Being a 'restored' church suggests that there is something wrong with the other Christian churches. How can a church that claims to be the 'restored church of Christ' enter into respectful dialogue with other Christians?
5/27/2011 12:12 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: And what exactly do we mean by restored?
5/27/2011 12:14 pm (et) Lance Walker: The Church values dialogue and partnership at all levels. Francis Cardial George recently spoke to a group of about 20,000 students on the campus of BYU, a Church university. We also partner with other faiths on humanitarian projects, Islamic Relief is one such frequent collaborator.
5/27/2011 12:14 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I mean if we are talking about thinking having the most truth while others are mistaken, aren't we all like that to some extent otherwise we would not subscribe to a specific religion?
5/27/2011 12:14 pm (et) Lance Walker: I'll type as fast as I can and get back to the restoration question.
5/27/2011 12:16 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: What is is about LDS that causes other Christians to insist that LDS is not Christian and how do you, as an LDS, defend your faith as being Christian? What is the LDS church doing to be seen by other Christians as Christian rather than as some sort of heretical sect or cult?
5/27/2011 12:17 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: I would like to point out that at different periods in history, people within Christianity felt the need for a change, which was often expressed as a
restoration of an essential connection with the Divine, which, according to some, had become
frayed. Very often such groups had influence beyond their membership, by raising questions for the Christian community as a whole. This has also occurred with encounters with faith groups external to Christianity, of course.

5/27/2011 12:18 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 'Restoration', 'reformation' - differnent term, same idea
5/27/2011 12:18 pm (et) Lance Walker: We believe that after the life of Christ, the Apostles and disciples earnestly sought to preserve the Church. Through persecution, martrydom, dispersion of people, etc., however, the leadership and authority of the Church was eventually lost. See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. Therefore, we maintain that the authority and structure of the Church was in need of restoration and that this Church led by prophets and apostles.
5/27/2011 12:20 pm (et) Lance Walker: As I cite scripture, I realize that others may read them differently. . . With regard to the need for a restitution or restoration, see Acts 3:19-22.
5/27/2011 12:20 pm (et) Lance Walker: As for the question of who is and who is not Christian. . . .
5/27/2011 12:21 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Yes, it seems to all be very similar, then what makes the LDS I guess more prone to 'rub you the wrong way' Laura?
5/27/2011 12:21 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: At least in terms of a 'restored' Church
5/27/2011 12:22 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Although I do think your question has essential importance. How do we relate to others when we believe they are mistaken? Is that true respect?
5/27/2011 12:23 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: what 'rubs me the wrong way' is the implication that by claiming to be 'restored' or to somehow have more of the truth than other churches, the others are somehow being slighted (this sort of exclusivism is a pet peeve of mine, no matter what religion claims it)
5/27/2011 12:24 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Ah, I understand, I probably should have picked up on the broader implications when we mentioned Catholicism, but internet talk isn't always the best when it comes to nuance...
5/27/2011 12:25 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: However, bringing up exclusivism, the main component of that would seem to deal with issues of what is the LDS answer for what happens to non-Church members after death?
5/27/2011 12:26 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I'm not LDS but, from what I know about what they teach about salvation, I think they offer more for non-members than other Christian churches do (three levels of heaven)
5/27/2011 12:27 pm (et) Lance Walker: Christ is the center of our worship and devotion. We regard him as our Savior, Redeemer, and means of salvation. While acknowledging our stated convictions, others in the Christian community see our divergence from the Nicene Creed's definition of the Trinity as putting us outside the definition of a Christian. We worship God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. We seem them One in purpose and in perfect union in that sense. However, we also believe they are individual beings. Again--One in purpose and unity. Much the same way that we humans can be close to each other and consider our selves on in purpose. We look to John chapter 17 and note that Christ is praying to his Father and pleads for unity between him and his disciples in the same way that the Father and Son are one.
5/27/2011 12:29 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: To be fair, it is very hard to claim any sense of a unique mission to the world without claiming to be different in some crucial way. So some claim to have a new expression or a new understanding of God, and wish to share with people who are otherwise, entirely equivalent. How can I not claim to be right (in some areas, at least without losing any claim to be talking at all. The key, I think is to recognize that people outside one's own
group have unique contributions to make as well, setting up dialogue rather than a monologue.

5/27/2011 12:30 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I would personally agree that any faith that regards Jesus as the Christ and savior is, by definition, Christian. Other doctrine aside.
5/27/2011 12:31 pm (et) Moderator: Mary said: Lance, you mentioned that there have been some misunderstandings about LDS in the past, and I was wondering if you could elaborate on how that 'rocky' past has shaped the church today.
5/27/2011 12:31 pm (et) Lance Walker: Laura - you are at the crux of an important question. As I stated in the introductory video, we believe everyone should worship according to her/his/their own conscience. We do believe that with the restoration, truths once lost were revealed again. We simply invite others to keep all the good and true principles they have and invite them to see if we can add a little more. The conclusions are up to each individual.
5/27/2011 12:31 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: and how have those misunderstandings been clarified?
5/27/2011 12:32 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: and how can we continue to clarify them?
5/27/2011 12:33 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: The NIcene Creed along with other such official statements, were an attempt to establish a more exact definition of 'Christian', which had the
effect of excluding large numbers of people at the time.

5/27/2011 12:34 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Hengist: true. I recall a discussion about that (re the Nicene creed) in a course on 'Christian' Gnosticism
5/27/2011 12:35 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 'We believe...' this (not that)
5/27/2011 12:35 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: One could argue that the development of movements such as the LDS was inevitable once Christianity moved into territories where it was difficult or impossible to enforce a rigid definition, especially at a time when faiths in general were facing such challenges all over the world, from the development os modern communications, etc.
5/27/2011 12:36 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: in an effort to define (in this case, what a particular faith stands for) we naturally draw a line
5/27/2011 12:37 pm (et) Lance Walker: I suspect many if not most traditions have been misunderstood, often in tragic ways. Our history of being misunderstood is not too far distant and the multi-generation members of the Church (if may use the term) still hear the family stories or read the family histories about how three or four or five generations ago, our own families were driven from their homes because of their religious beliefs. We still look to our forbears for examples of conviction and fortitude and faith.
5/27/2011 12:39 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I might suggest we recall history and how many centuries (3+) it took Christianity to become the norm rather than the persecuted
5/27/2011 12:39 pm (et) Lance Walker: I agree.
5/27/2011 12:40 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Newer religions always tend to be looked upon with suspicion and, as history goes, a couple hundred years is still relatively 'new'
5/27/2011 12:40 pm (et) Lance Walker: Back to the question of exclusivism and salvation. . . . .
5/27/2011 12:42 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: Plainly, claiming Jesus Christ as the principle source of one's inspiration is not enough to identify somebody as Christian, even if we prefer convenient labels. I think we need to look at the values expressed by Jesus in the New Testament (and/or the Book of Mormon) and how they are reflected in the behavior of somebody.
5/27/2011 12:42 pm (et) aaron: private message to Moderator: logs in on 5/27/2011 12:42 pm (et).
5/27/2011 12:43 pm (et) Lance Walker: First and foremost we believe that God is the judge, and that he will judge us individually. We recognize that billions of people have lived or will live without an opportunity to embrace the gospel. Therefore. . . .
5/27/2011 12:44 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: For that matter, I think it was a matter of 12 years after Christianity becoming legal in the Roman Empire, that attempts started being made to separate sheep from goats.
5/27/2011 12:44 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Hengist, I'd say those values are more universal in nature - going well beyond being merely 'Christian'. So I'm not sure I'd agree that (at least technically speaking) we should use those values as a defining factor of 'Christian'
5/27/2011 12:45 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Christianity is the religion ABOUT the Christ, not the religion OF Jesus
5/27/2011 12:45 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: (Jesus was Jewish)
5/27/2011 12:45 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: True, Laura, since there are Muslims who regard Jesus as 'a' source of inspiration, as an example to follow, and who reflect that in their lives.
5/27/2011 12:46 pm (et) Lance Walker: . . . We believe in the afterlife--the immortality of each unique soul, and that those without the opportunity to learn and the choice to accept the gospel here will be given the opportunity there.
5/27/2011 12:47 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: IOW, 'it's never too late' to be saved
5/27/2011 12:48 pm (et) Lance Walker: The mercy of Christ.
5/27/2011 12:48 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: that's another reason why, I said earlier, that I find LDS more forgiving than many other Christian faiths
5/27/2011 12:48 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: What does it mean to have the opportunity? I know in the Catholic Church, the Gospel must be presented in a convincing way for one to fully have a choice
5/27/2011 12:49 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: At the same time, there have been groups claiming to be Christian, claiming to be in acceptance of Jesus's death for their salvation, who then turned around and did horrific things to other Christians, motivated by what they apparently saw as their
duty to Christ.

5/27/2011 12:49 pm (et) Lance Walker: On the notion of who is an who is not Christian, specifically whether or not I am a Christian, I (along with many others, I'm sure) say ask my neighbor.
5/27/2011 12:50 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: Some of these people claiming to be Christian drove the LDS to Utah, as I understand it.
5/27/2011 12:50 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: 'by their fruits ye shall know them'?
5/27/2011 12:50 pm (et) Lance Walker: In other words, who we are, or who we at least strive to be, is an essential part of our Christian faith.
5/27/2011 12:51 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Ah, but what are those fruits? You mentioned in the video that we should be working together for the good of humanity, but many have different ideas of what that good is?
5/27/2011 12:51 pm (et) Lance Walker: Yes. . . by their fruits.
5/27/2011 12:51 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: there can be no 'bad' Christians (or 'bad' Muslims) because if you are bad you are not living the Christian life?
5/27/2011 12:51 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: The most convincing thing to me about the LDS has been the behavior of its people that I have met.
5/27/2011 12:52 pm (et) Lance Walker: I would put love, charity, helping and serving others at the root of those fruits.
5/27/2011 12:53 pm (et) Lance Walker: "root of those fruits" -- bad wording. Among the most important of the fruits.
5/27/2011 12:53 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: And those who serve up hatred, claiming it to be Christian doctrine, are offering stones in place of bread.
5/27/2011 12:55 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Hengist: yes, I too have observed that Mormons tend to be some of the upright and nice people you will meet
5/27/2011 12:55 pm (et) Lance Walker: Another clarification on an early comment, regarding salvation for all. I should have said the JUSTICE and mercy of Christ. After all, isn't it only fair that all be given an opportunity. At least that's how we see it.
5/27/2011 12:57 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Lance, I guess if LDS says we are given the opportunity AFTER death as well as during our limited life, then the opportunity is eternally available?
5/27/2011 12:57 pm (et) Lance Walker: Thank you conveying your favorable impressions. We certainly do not have the corner on goodness, kindness, etc.
5/27/2011 12:58 pm (et) Moderator: Ok All, it is again that time of the session where we must say good-bye. We'll hear from Lance about this last comment from Laura S and then we will wrap up our final comments.
5/27/2011 12:58 pm (et) Moderator: Hengist said: I recommend for people who consider the Nicene Creed as definitive to consider Luke 9:49
5/27/2011 12:58 pm (et) Lance Walker: We're far from perfect too, and have the challenges and struggles in our personal lives. Thus the need for a saving gospel and a Savior.
5/27/2011 12:59 pm (et) Lance Walker: . . . "and have the challenges and struggles in our personal lives" 5/27/2011 1:00 pm (et) Lance Walker: Too short. Wish we had more time and faster typing skills. Thanks for this!
5/27/2011 1:00 pm (et) Moderator: Thank you for your participation today. If you would like to reach our speaker, please send me an email at Next week we will be discussing ‘An Islamic View of Religious Violence’ with Imam Johari Abdul Malik.
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