16: The District – A Mormon Expositor Review for Episode 4: A Great Instrument

Amy hosts this review episode that includes a discussion on “blessings” that members believe will be given to them based on having a missionary in the field, the pressure missionaries feel to bring people to the One True Church, the legalism of Mormon prayer language and *OH NO!* what happens when an investigator asks if the baptism they’ve already had is “legit”? Also discussed: what happens if an ordinance is performed by a man who has not been honoring his covenants?

You can watch the episode online here.




  1. nehor90210

    That mentality that the missionaries felt personally responsible for the salvation of the thousands of people in their areas stems, I think, from Jacob 1:19, which was possibly my least favorite verse of the entire canon as a missionary:

    “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.”

    Now, this does take agency into account. It doesn’t say you have to convert everyone within your stewardship, you just have to teach them with all diligence (oh, is that all?) Interestingly, it depicts only the selfish motive for missionary work, unlike the D&C 18 “worth of souls is great” passage.

    I used to personally soften the meaning of Jacob, thinking, “Well, Jacob means he was only working as IF his salvation depended on running himself ragged, but he wouldn’t have actually damned himself by not being Super Missionary 24/7.” It was a nice way of coping with how much I hated proselytizing. But I can see where these ideas come from.

    Reply Nov 05, 2012 @ 15:00:45
  2. K.C. Krisher

    Fascinating podcast. Thanks to all. I hope you don’t mind if I toss a few extra croutons into the salad.

    1. As Sarah pointed out, the Mormon church isn’t unique in its belief in hierarchical authority. Every church believes in hierarchical authority in some form, because if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a church. It would be a disorganized bunch of people.

    But the Mormon church is unique in being probably the MOST hierarchical church around. Catholic authoritarianism isn’t even close to Mormon authoritarianism. For example, the Catholic church acknowledges the validity of baptisms performed in all other churches that profess the Nicene Creed, which includes almost all Protestant and Orthodox churches. Under some circumstances, the Catholic church accepts baptisms performed by anybody whether ordained or not.

    2. I think the problem of introducing potentially surprising or offensive concepts into the missionary discussions (for example, “well, your non-Mormon baptism isn’t really valid”), or into non-proselyting discussions with traditional Christians, is part of the whole milk-before-meat-or-maybe-a-veggieburger issue. For traditional Christians who begin investigating Mormonism with the expectation that Mormons are essentially just another variety of Christians, the eventual encounter with uniquely Mormon beliefs can often seem bizarre, comical, or even blasphemous.

    When I try to explain Mormonism to traditional Christians, I don’t worry about whether to serve the milk course or the meat course. I just set the table by saying, “Mormonism includes many things that will probably be familiar to most traditional Christians, but it also contains some things that may seem strange. You might find Mormonism easier to understand if you approach it as you would approach a relatively unfamiliar tradition such as Hinduism or Buddhism. The first thing to understand is that many people find Mormonism to be a meaningful religious experience. The second thing to understand is that good Mormons try to treat everyone with respect and kindness, and they naturally hope to be treated respectfully in return. If you can accept these two things, it is easier to learn more about Mormonism before making too many judgements about it.”

    Reply Nov 07, 2012 @ 10:42:58

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