Welcome To My New Site

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Previously this site was http://ahouseofprayer.blogspot.com. I have now moved to my current host and to a new domain. If you visit the site from an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android device, or some other similar mobile devices you will see the mobile site. You can turn it off if you want to see the normal site. I recommend using the mobile site on your mobile device in order to speed up page loads.

I will no longer be posting updates on A House of Prayer but it will remain online. All previous posts are on the  current site. I will update the feed via Feedburner so it should transfer over for those of you who subscribed to my feed on the old site. Go ahead and subscribe here just in case though. Everyone else, please update bookmarks and whatever else you need to update. I know it is a bit of an inconvenience for you but it was time to have my own domain. From this time forth, my gospel blog will no longer be A House of Prayer; rather it will be By Study and Faith. Same content, same goals, same everything else except for a new name, a new design (it might change; I’m trying out a few templates), and a new name [there’s a gospel lesson in this but I won’t go into it at the moment].

Again, please visit this new blog and begin reading; you might discover something new. Let me know if you have any problems with this site.

Feel free also to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

The Story of this Blog

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While serving on my mission in Seattle, Washington, I had the desire to write a gospel-related book after I returned home. I had an unofficial goal to write a series of essays on various gospel topics and try to get them published by Deseret Book or one of its subsidiaries. Well, life ensued and I never wrote my book, not that it would necessarily get published anyway.

Then a few months ago I decided that I needed to change my gospel study habits. Since my mission I have always missed how much I was able to study the gospel as a missionary. We had about 2 hours of study in the morning plus at least an hour in the evening. I also tried to utilize lunch and breakfast times and any other time I had to study and read. I read the Book of Mormon a number of times as a missionary. I read substantial portions of the Old and New Testaments as well as Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. I read the books in the “missionary library” – Jesus the Christ, Articles of Faith, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Truth Restored, and Our Search for Happiness. After I finished those books I started into books borrowed from members or purchased at Deseret Book. Everything revolved around the gospel and I loved it. It wasn’t just the studying and learning that I loved but also the teaching.
I shared that simply to provide a picture of how immersed most missionaries are in the gospel (although, I do admit that I read more than all my companions did; but reading is my background – it’s just part of who I am and who my family are; we’re a family of readers). Then I came home. I continued to read the scriptures and study the gospel but over time I became busy with school, marriage, more school, work, kids, and more school. I found that I was no longer studying the gospel very intently; I felt like I was merely sipping from the fountain of living waters and nibbling upon the word. I found myself missing a few days or even a week of personal scripture reading. I had become careless in my scripture study.
So a few months ago, I don’t remember exactly when but I think it was in June, I decided I needed to make a change. I felt that my gospel knowledge wasn’t growing much; I also felt, to an extent, my personal spirituality was stagnant. I knew that I needed to be more intentional in my gospel study. Even simply reading the scriptures every day would not be enough. I decided to start a topical study of the gospel. I began to treat my scripture study as if I were preparing talks for Sacrament Meeting (or writing essays on gospel topics). I felt that, for the time being, I had a good linear (temporal) foundation of the Book of Mormon so I could stop reading it straight through and begin to study topic by topic.
I randomly pick topics – usually whatever comes into my mind first. Sometimes I pray and ask that I be led to my next topic and sometimes I just pick a topic. Next I look up and write down scriptures. Then, I start expanding on the scriptures and try to form my thoughts into mostly coherent essays, adding more scriptures as I find them or as they come to me. Recently, I’ve started adding in quotes from General Conferences, as appropriate.
This blog is my book. I still hope that I can turn many of these essays into a published book, or at least expand on one or two of them and turn that into a book, but this will suffice as my book for now. This blog allows me to share the gospel and my testimony with others, as few as they may be. I hope that these posts will brighten someone’s day, lighten someone’s load, or strengthen someone’s testimony, even if it is just my own.
My shift from nibbling upon the word to feasting (or, at least trying to) upon the word brought a noticeable – to me – change in my life. Studying the gospel intently will always have a positive effect on your life. It gives you greater power over the Adversary and greater peace about your path. The burden may not be lighter but you will be strengthened so that it becomes easier to bear.
That’s the story of the genesis of this blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do creating it.

A Response to a Website Critical of Mormonism

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Edit: I removed a portion of this post in order to simply it and focus on just one topic. I’ll rewrite the first part of the post (that I removed) at a later date. I also removed the comments because they no longer applied to this post; they weren’t removed because of content, they just weren’t relevant any more. The author(s) of them should feel free to re-comment, if they desire, when I post the first part of my article again.

Here is my review of a website I stumbled across.

This site is full of so-called intellectual criticisms of Mormonism that often consist of random quotes taken out of context to make a narrow and often unrelated point. Sometimes quotes are cleverly juxtaposed to make it easier for someone to make a faulty intuitive leap. Many of the quotes can be true independently but they sometimes are put together in a specific way to make a point that is not true. This is a common anti-Mormon tactic. This is a common tactic in political campaigns. It is also a common general rhetorical tactic.
There are numerous posts that seemingly point out inconsistencies and shifts in church doctrine over time, as if this somehow hurts the church. The LDS Church is founded on modern-day revelation – on the belief that we have a living prophet who is the only one authorized to receive revelation for the entire church and to authoritatively interpret the scriptures and speak for the Lord. If some doctrines did not have to change over time in response to the times, why would there be a need for a living prophet?
Because the authors who contribute to this site come across as providing intellectual criticisms of the LDS Church, church doctrine, and church leaders, I’ll write about the Church and intellectualism.
The LDS Church is sometimes criticized for being anti-intellectual. What is true about that is that the Church does not approve of intellectuals who place their own personal beliefs and egos above that of revealed doctrine; people who think that they know better than the prophet just because they might think they are smarter than him or a particular church leader. Some of these intellectuals want to sell their messes of pottage for what they think is truth. So some criticize the Church for occasionally excommunicating these “free-thinkers” for “doing nothing” but questioning authority or telling the “truth.” This brand of intellectualism consists of religious anarchists, people who believe that they should have complete immunity and impunity for their words and actions.
They criticize the Church for encouraging blind faith while at the same time disregarding LDS doctrine that teaches that God values moral (free) agency so much that a war was fought in heaven over it. Church leaders always let people have their agency, even if that means the people lose their membership in the Church. Church leaders do not call for us to have blind faith, although there are instances when we need to take a step or two into the dark or to take a leap of faith, they want us to have simple faith (that’s not simple-minded faith, it’s pure and holy faith – the faith of a child in a parent). The LDS Church is certainly not opposed to intellectuals. Does not God have the greatest intellect of all? Do we not believe that we are His children and can become like Him?
I am not encouraging people to think less or to stop asking questions. Think hard, ask the tough questions but make sure you ask God to know the truth; you can know all truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. The gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept and encompass all truth, regardless of topic. Science and doctrine go hand in hand when science is true (and when the doctrine is true).
My personal belief and philosophy is that I may believe many theories and “truths” of science and philosophy but I’m not willing to bet my eternal salvation on those. For example, I could spend my whole life doing neuropsychology and neuroscience research and discover, in the next life, that everything I thought I knew was true was in fact false. I would not be upset because I leave myself open to that possibility, even if it is not likely. The only sure thing that I really know is my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He lives, that He has a plan for me and all of us, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church restored to the earth and that the keys, authority, and ordinances necessary for salvation are held therein. Everything that I know to be true is related to that knowledge. All worldly, scientific, or other knowledge is secondary. The more I study science, the more sure I am that Truth is only revealed by God through His prophets and through the Holy Ghost.