Do you believe that I or any other Latter day Saints will be in heaven?
Hello, Saints. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Jeff. I am a Christian pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ Latter day Saints. And I am here on the set of Saints Unscripted with my friend David Snow.
And I’m just a normal Saturday saint.
And I’m just a normal Protestant pastor. And we are going to have a conversation on the various begging questions that exist from each of our respective faith traditions. And I think we’re going to have a fun conversation.
It’s going to be a heated debate, punches thrown, insults launched. It’s going to be intense. You guys, I think this is going.
To be a friendly discussion. You’re going down, snow.
Okay, hit me. Okay, bring it.
First question. One of my first videos was me reacting to some Saints unscripted TikToks. Okay. And I did that because there are so many like, lifestyle and cultural things that I’m finding to be really similar. What are the things that you have seen that seem pretty similar between LDS y sound culture versus like, evangelical?
The answer I’m going to give, it’s going to frustrate some people, I think. But I think we both have a love for the Bible, for the Scriptures. Obviously we interpret some things differently than Protestants. We have additional scriptures, book of Mormon, Doctrine Covenant, et cetera. But I find a lot of common ground in the Bible and the stories of Jesus that we read there. So I think that’s one of them. Do you guys have funeral potatoes?
We do not have funeral potatoes. I need to know what a funeral potato is.
I was hoping maybe we are just too different. I don’t know.
Well, I mean, you have potlucks.
Yeah, we have lots of potlucks.
I mean, that’s a church thing. We have funeral potlucks so people will bring food.
There may be potatoes present.
There might be potatoes present. But as far as funeral potatoes are concerned potatoes. Potatoes.
Well, it’s like a potato casserole with corn flakes on top.
Oh, yeah. Like cheesy.
What do you call them?
Cheese potato. Cheese potato.
Or potato albratton.
That sounds gross.
I don’t know if it does sound gross. It’s like trying to sound French and.
It’S like it sounds too close to rotten. Yeah, it is rotten. Anyway, so yeah, love for the Scriptures, love for cheesy, potatoes. I think there are a lot more similarities than Latterday Saints recognize. So just things like the way we conduct our meetings or general conference is a thing for Latterday Saints and is for a lot of Protestants as well. For the sake of time, I’ll stop there.
Cool. Alright. Question you have for me, you seem.
To be a rather level headed guy. Yeah. You’re more of a peacemaker, relatively speaking, talking about exploring other religions. Were you always that way when it came to religious dialogue because a lot of people online you don’t talk about religion very generally speaking, don’t talk about it very much because it’s a battlefield and it gets ugly. But you’re not that way. Have you always been that way?
No, I haven’t. And I say that with a little bit of on one hand, like, feeling ashamed of that, but at the same time giving myself grace to learn and develop. Because I grew up in an evangelical tradition that was tied to a denomination that my Protestant friends are going to know exactly what I’m referring to. I don’t know how much within the Eldias Church, but it was a Pentecostal denomination, one of the largest ones, and the Pentecostal Church, the one that I was a part of, that I grew up in, claimed to have the full gospel, and it was tied to things pertaining to, like, Holy Spirit gifts, speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, things of that nature. And sadly, that mindset of we have it fully together. Even within the Protestant Church, though we would still stand shoulder to shoulder on essential doctrine with the rest of Protestant Christianity. There was almost this arrogance that could creep in, even unintentionally. Like when you say that we have the full gospel and other people don’t, naturally people are going to start thinking there’s a spiritual superiority there. So I will say that that was kind of how I viewed things, and I would speak sarcastically and maybe even demeaning about other faith traditions or denominations.
It probably wasn’t until I went to college it was a Protestant Methodist university called Greenville University in Illinois that professors and stuff would basically say, you know, do you even know what you believe and why you believe it? Let’s start there, and then beyond that, let’s be open to at least understanding the people around me. There’s a lot of other reasons why I might have found myself on the path that I’m on. But this whole idea of curiosity where I do think you can take curiosity too far to the place where you might be losing your grip on truth or you might be just kind of making truth relative and anything goes. I do think there needs to be parameters of curiosity, but I don’t think curiosity is as dangerous as I grew up thinking it was. So I think that’s something that just through growing up a little bit and seeing the world a little bit more that has kind of grown in me over the past ten or 15 years.
You’re talking about this line, right, of how far do you take curiosity? And it reminds me of that scripture that goes you’ll probably be able to quote it perfectly, but ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
You just got to be careful with making sure that your curiosity almost takes you somewhere and that you’re taking things from it.
Well, at the end of the day, too, when it comes to faith, faith is more than a mental exercise. It’s more than subscribing to an ideology. At some point, you have to rally around what is the spiritual reality of where I’m at and what is spiritually transpired in me. So that’s another thing that I think, for me, I find personally is like a safeguard of what do I believe is a spiritual reality within me as I’m intellectually exploring.
Okay, here’s my question. What is the deal? And I have no idea about this. I have heard about this, and people have asked me to ask about it. What is the deal with what I have heard called Mormon jello?
Actually. Okay, so first of all, this is, I think, a Utah centric thing. I grew up in Oregon, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it, but I’m kind of with you on this one. I heard that Latterday Saints are, like, especially fond of green jello with fruit in it.
I’ve heard green specific. I’ve heard green, but I didn’t grow up with that.
My inlaws, they’ve lived in Utah for a long time, and they do a lot of jello with fruit in it, and I think it’s excellent. So that is something that I will own, if that’s what people are wondering.
That’s fine. Well, let’s connect this to my previous question. Potlucks. What are, like, potluck staples? Are there staples? Because there’s potluck staples, at least in Midwestern Bible Belt, Christian church potlucks.
I don’t know that there would be anything super unique other than maybe the fact that we call our cheesy potatoes funeral potatoes. Okay, but chili.
We like chili, but I think that’s a regular potluck thing rolls, and we’ll.
Do chili in, like, October with chili cookoffs, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a staple for us. Fried chicken.
I guess because is that a Protestant.
Thing or a Southern thing?
I don’t know. We do a lot of chicken in general, but fried chicken is a staple. Masticole.
Never heard of it. Okay. Masticole makes me want to go Martin Choli.
It’s like the larger tubed noodles, okay, with ground beef, marinara and cheese. And you bake it, and then you cut it like a casserole and you spoon it out. It’s a staple not only at church potlucks, but funerals and weddings and stuff like that. It’s always masticholi.
It’s a dish for all occasions. It is whether you’re dying or getting married. Wow. It sounds excellent, by the way.
Yeah, it’s great.
Okay, so obviously our beliefs in God are a little different than traditional trinitarianism, right? I’ve heard many Protestants describe kind of what God is not, and please correct me if I’m wrong on any of this. He does not have a physical body. He’s immaterial. He takes up no space, lives outside of time, technically has no gender, can you help me understand if these are the things that God is not? Can you help me understand the things that he is?
In addition to character attributes like humble and learning and things like that?
Yeah, I love that. Thank you for asking that, because I do think that especially when we’re crossing faith ideology lines, there’s so much conversation that can revolve around what we disagree with that you believe God is that way? Well, we don’t. We believe is how God isn’t. So I think that’s a really honest question, and if I may just put an aside to that, I think this is an indication of how we can break down barriers and conversation, because I think that this is the fruit of we disagree, as opposed to just help me understand. Yeah, so I really appreciate this question. All right, so, yeah, we do believe that God is utterly that’s the best way that I can put it that we believe. The Scriptures describe God as he’s outside of time, he’s outside of space. What was in the beginning is very mysterious to us because he is the Creator and we understand everything in the context of creation.
So the questions that we ask about God and who he is that the Scriptures revealed to us at some point reach a point where it’s like we don’t fully know. And for us, especially in American thinking, it’s like, oh, well, not knowing is bad. Not necessarily. I don’t know how gravity works. I don’t know what James Webb telescope is actually looking at right now. It sounds strange to say that God is outside of everything that we can understand within the creative universe, but we believe that he is perfectly holy. I think that’s one thing. He has always existed, not existing under the standard of holiness and goodness. He is the standard of holiness and goodness. Again, think of Him as outside of what we’re trying to understand is right and wrong, good and bad. That is not some nebulous standard. That is actually just us contemplating our existence next to holy, perfect, good God. There are theological terms that we will use that are sort of the fundamental things about what we believe God is. That sounds super academic and smart. I wish we didn’t use them, but I’ll just, like, name a few of them just because they’re helpful.
We believe he’s omnipotent. So he’s all powerful. There’s nothing he can’t do within his character. Okay, so when we say there’s nothing he can’t do, what we mean by that is he has perfect will and volition to do whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything that contradicts his will. So he’s all powerful. That’s why he was able to create all things. He’s omniscient, he’s all knowing, he’s all wise. He knows everything all at the same time. And not only what is, but what is possible. We believe that he’s immutable is a word that we use. This space means unchanging. He has never changed from who he is. We’ve been able to see Him from various viewpoints that help us understand his character in unique ways, but he has always been who he is, how he is. And then we do get into some of the character attributes where he is just. He is righteous. Everything he does is right. Everything he does is about bringing things into balance and his justice. He is good. He is merciful. He is loving. So in theology, we’ll study this as God’s communicable and incommunicable attributes.
So the things the scriptures teach us about God that we don’t necessarily share with Him, they’re unique to Him as a being the otherly parts. But then there are aspects since we’re created in his image that they are communicable. They’re the characteristics we actually share with God as his image bears.
Okay, got you.
Does that answer your question?
Yeah. I like the idea that we don’t have to know everything that resonates with me, as I think it should resonate with all people of faith. You do reach a point where I don’t fully understand this and that’s where faith really shines.
Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I think that’s great. Cool. All right, hopefully this one isn’t too provocative.
Let’s give it a whirl.
This is a question that I get a lot, though.
And it’s a question that I didn’t know the answer to until a couple of years ago. Okay. Does the LDS Church still embrace and adhere to plural marriage?
Got you. Okay. So I would say no asterisk okay. If you engage in plural marriage in this life, you will probably be kicked out of our church, which would have been very different from what Latterday Saints would have practiced 170 years ago, if you want to get technical. But we do believe in eternal marriage. Right. We believe that man and wife can be together after this life. We don’t know a whole lot about what that’s going to look like. An eternal family? What does that mean? Am I going to be with my parents and their parents and 1000 generations of my family in a mansion or something? We don’t know.
We don’t know what that looks like. It is possible in our faith today. You can be sealed that’s our term for eternal marriage. You can be sealed to multiple partners after death. Or in other words so I’ll use our president of the church for an example. He was married to a woman, she passed away. He married another woman. But he is sealed to both of them for eternity. Right. I don’t know what that means.
You don’t know what that looks like?
Right. Beyond we’re going to get a lot of things wrong in this life and there are a lot of questions we don’t have answers to. So when it comes to things like eternal marriage and whatnot, I think that kind of the idea is, well, let’s just seal them together and we’ll figure it out after this life. Just because the president of church is sealed to multiple women currently, I don’t necessarily believe that that’s how it’s going to be for eternity. I think that this is our best attempt at navigating this eternal family deal and these questions can be answered and put right by Christ after this life. Does that help at all?
It does help, and I appreciate that answer, because what it does is it points to the unique teaching that does exist in the LDS Church that I believe is held dear even to this day. Even though what it has looked like, I guess you would say, in time and space here in this existence, the application of that has varied, that there’s a strong emphasis on the fact that the ceilings that we make specifically in the marriage covenant has an eternal significance.
Right. We believe that our relationships with people, and not even just marriage, but our friendship we’re building right now is one of the very few things that we can carry with us into the next life. We believe that the same sociality that exists among us here will exist there as well. Nice relationships are very important to us. We belong to an everchanging, we call it a living faith that is changing and growing and being refined over time. And so it would be a mistake for us to say we have it all figured out. Right? We’ve talked about that concept a lot, but there are things that are changing and revelation that is being given. I kind of like to look at it as a bowling alley. Right. You’ve got God’s will over here. That’s the pins. And we like to think as Latter day Saints that we always just throw that ball right down the middle of that alley and get a perfect strike every time. We don’t. I like to think of it as a little kid bowling and bouncing between those bumper bumpers. And eventually we get a pin in the corner and we get some things right eventually, but it takes a while to get there.
I think that there’s definitely room to grow and for better, more enlightening answers to be given in the future, if not in this life, than after this life.
Okay, that’s great. That’s helpful. Sure. Okay.
So first I want to recognize that of course, not all as I understand that Protestants have the same beliefs, obviously core beliefs, but there are some differences between denominations and whatnot. And I recognize that you don’t speak for all Protestants as I don’t speak for all Latterday Saints, but theoretically I die as a believing Latter day Saint. You die as a believing Protestant. Do you believe that I or any other Latter day Saints will be in heaven?
Great question. Here’s what I would say. Where are you before God and have you been reconciled before him, right. Understanding that God has been pursuing us and that Jesus is the one whom he sent in order to make that way back to Him, because we can’t do anything about the fallenness that we have. We can’t take away our own sins. Life before God and being reconsidered for Him is not about getting to the end of all things and him looking at all the bad things you did and all the good things that you did. And if the good things outweigh the bad things and you can get to heaven. If not, then you can’t go to heaven.
Though that’s insinuated a lot in Protestant Christianity. That’s just not what we believe the Bible teaches it’s fully what Christ sit on the cross when it comes to the LDS faith. And I’ve talked about this a lot in some of the videos. The historicity of the Book of Mormon is something that’s difficult for the rest of Christianity to embrace because we perceive a lot of the teachings in the Book of Mormon from Joseph Smith, even from some of the other stuff, doctrine of covenants to be contrary to what the Bible teaches. In Mary ways, I believe the Eldias Church has reintroduced acts and rituals and ceremonies that are significant to exaltation and significance to whether or not you will spend eternity in God’s presence that I personally believe are unnecessary. Okay. It goes back to the Book of Galatians where these new Christians were reintroducing Jewish laws and rituals to say you can’t be reconciled to God unless you believe in Jesus and do these things. It seems to have introduced a lot of works based, merit based practices that can eclipse what Jesus did. But I do believe that if there is an individual who, based on their knowledge that has been revealed to them, is truly pursuing the Creator right.
Relationship with the Creator and believe in Jesus for that, then that’s what matters. At the end of the day. I believe at the end of the day, god is the one who judges. Rightly. And he is good in that. And I don’t think there’s a single soul who is going to spend eternity separated from God who in God’s righteousness and justice doesn’t deserve to be there. Nor do I believe that anybody who is invited to experience his presence forever is going to be invited who isn’t supposed to be there because he is the ultimate judge and he is the one who sets all things right. And that’s where at the end of the day, I put my full faith and trust in.
That was an excellent answer. Okay, longwinded I kind of preached a little bit. No, that was okay. I understand the perspective. You vocalize something that I’ve been thinking a long time. Right. I’m going to get things theologically wrong. Right? You probably are too. And I wonder, like, I feel like because of that, a lot of people are like, then you’re going to hell. But I truly do think that this loving, just, merciful God, we will appear before Him and bring with us these beliefs and all of this cultural baggage and whatnot. And yeah, I think God’s going to say, you know what? I love you. You got some things wrong. Right here’s what it actually was. But get over here, kids. I think we overemphasize being right, over being disciples of Christ.
Sure. If there’s one thing that when I’m looking at the LDS Church, though, that I will pump the brakes on and be like, hold on, be careful here. I love family. Family is like earthly the most important thing to me. I think that where I have gotten concerned and I’ve talked to LDS Church members before as it pertains to what we’re reaching toward in the afterlife, it’s almost as though God is a means to immortality so that we can spend eternity with our family.
As opposed to if you go back to what I was saying about what we believe the biblical narrative is redemptive narrative, it’s that family is important in so much that it points to the type of unity that we can have with God. This ephesians, chapter five, marriage specifically. But that heaven is about reconciling relationship with God and being in his all fulfilling presence for eternity. And even if we’re not still within our family, we will still be with other believers. So I believe I’ll still be with my wife and my kids and all that other stuff. But the point of heaven is God forever.
And maybe if you want to speak to that, you can as opposed to what is perceived as the point of heaven is yes, God, so that I can be with my family. So what that does then is that puts me in a position where I wonder in the Eldias Church, can family be replacing beautiful, virtuous aspects of who God is in a way that I have heard some people say within the Protestant church that family is kind of an idol in a sense because it’s more important than God.
Interesting thoughts on that. Yeah, so that’s something I’ve heard before and I totally understand where that’s coming from. And it’s a great question. If I’m understanding this idea that our emphasis on family is overshadowing, what should be a larger emphasis on a relationship with God. I get that. My perspective, I think, as a Latter day Saint, is that our emphasis on the family highlights God. So by way of comparison, I grew up with being raised by my parents, love my parents, fantastic parents. I did not fully appreciate them. Well, I still haven’t fully appreciated them. But becoming a parent myself and having a family has made me appreciate them in a way that I didn’t before and couldn’t before. And so that’s just kind of in one sense how I think that the emphasis on the family kind of opens up new ways of appreciating God and knowing Him in different ways.
And we definitely don’t believe that we will ever, like, we have this idea of theosis right. Or exaltation, where we can become like God. And again, people have concerns about whether that means that we are trying to replace God or that we think that we will become better than God, and that’s not what it is. We do not believe that God will ever stop being God. Right. Like, Heavenly Father is my God. He will be my God forever, just as, you know, my dad, whose name is also Jeff, will forever be my father, even though I’m not a father, things like that. Sure. And that’s getting into, again, the edge of the things that we know. Right. I’m not going to get into the office too much, but I understand that perspective, and hopefully that helps understand a little bit more where we’re coming from and where we’re not coming from as well. We definitely don’t intend to be replacing God sure. Or that relationship with him.
That’s helpful. That’s great.
Yeah. All right, David, thank you so much for not only coming on Hello, Saints but being so hospitable, inviting me to the Saints Unscripted set to have this conversation. I learned a lot. I’m really enjoying getting to know you. Thank you.
I appreciate that. Likewise.
And I’m looking forward to more conversations we can have. Hopefully, this sort of is taking things to the next level from the Hell of Saints audience as to the earnest sincerity that can allow curiosity to bring about really helpful conversation and relationships. So hopefully this is helpful to you. It gives you the more insight into why I love this channel so much. I love if you liked, if you would subscribe. And until next time, I’ll see you later. Thanks.
Got good chemistry.