Lunch with Mormons

Joseph Smith
Image by via Flickr

I had a great time having lunch a few days ago with 2 Mormon missionaries and 2 recent Mormon converts (they had just become or were in the process of becoming Mormon).

It was interesting to see the little stories and other techniques that the missionaries used to try to keep the meeting on their agenda. They had definitely had training, but it was really interesting to see what happened if you got them off their script.

Part of the training, I'm sure, is that they tell stories. They started out with one about, "A young man named Joseph Smith who... prayed and God and Jesus appeared before him, and gave him a message."

So, a simple first question, "Why doesn't God appear that way to everyone?"

"But then we wouldn't have faith..."

"How miserable was Joseph Smith for the rest of his life after that encounter robbed him of his faith?"

"Oh he still had faith..."

I haven't written about it, yet, but I used the "How does that work in Heaven?" question/tactic quite a bit because they just could not respond to it at all.

It works roughly  as follows:

"Why is there suffering?"

-- Because God gives us free will, and this results in pain and suffering ...

"And it would be a bad thing if we didn't have free will?"

-- We would just be robots, and God doesn't want robots following Him!

"So we have free will in heaven?"

-- Of course!

"How much suffering is there in heaven?"

-- None. It's a perfect paradise.

"So, we can live in a perfect paradise without suffering, ever, and still have free will?"

-- Yep!

"So let's go back to that first question, why is there suffering in the world?"

-- I already said this, God gives us free will!

"But, you just said that we could live in a perfect blissful harmony forever without any suffering and still have free will."

-- Wait... I guess we don't have free will in heaven.

"So for the rest of eternity, God wants us to be robots in heaven worshipping Him without choice?"

-- ....

I really need to get around to writing up the full essay on this, but hopefully that teaser was enough to whet your appetite.  I plan having a number of these lunches in the future. Look for future updates!

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