Here are some references and questions I keep in mind when attending a religious conference.


Questions to ask for personal preparation: 

Alma 26:21-22, D&C 93:28&39

Am I repentant, ceaselessly prayerful, and diligently obedient to the commandments so that God can reveal his mysteries to me?

Alma 12:10, Helaman 15:7-8

Is my heart soft and ready to receive correction by God? Am I willing to consider that some of my most cherished beliefs may be incomplete, inadequate to save, or altogether wrong?

 

Mosiah 1:4-5

Have I studied the scriptures closely and carefully, and do I know them well enough to detect when I am being taught false traditions rather than God’s words?

 

Jeremiah 17:5-8; 2 Nephi 28:31; D&C 1:17-20; 2 Nephi 33:1; D&C 50:19-20

Do I trust in men or trust in God? Am I willing to discard anything I hear that is false, regardless of the one speaking? Likewise, am I willing to accept truth taught by someone regardless of their title, name, position, lack of position, gender,  race, slowness or sophistication of speech, or any other reason I have for dismissing their words?  Am I prepared to accept only what the spirit carries to my heart, and set the rest aside, even when others claim that the correct (and “faithful”) course is to accept everything that is taught?

 


Questions to keep in mind while listening to speakers:

Alma 13:6; Matthew 15:7-9; JS-H 1:19

Is this person a true high priest, meaning they teach the commandments of God, purely and unadulterated, in a way that will lead others to enter the rest of the Lord? At any point to they teach codes of conduct; procedural guidelines; traditional mores; or any other standards of dress, behavior, or diet as though they were commandments of God without providing a record of where and when God commanded them? Does this person carefully and clearly differentiate between commandments of God and commandments of men?

 

JST Genesis 9:21, 3 Nephi 14:24-27, 4 Nephi 1:12; Mosiah 2:13&22

Does this person encourage me to keep all the commandments of God? Or does this person teach me that it is impossible to do so, and that God’s grace will save us in our sins?

 

Mosiah 23:14

Does this person keep the commandments of God (as found publicly stated in the scriptures), as far as I am able to observe?

 

Mosiah 2:14-15; Mosiah 18:24&26; Mosiah 27:3-5 Alma 1:26; Matthew 23:3-8

Is this person completely financially independent of the people to whom they are speaking? Are they esteemed as equal to their hearers? Do they receive a wage, salary, or stipend from their audience? Are their living expenses, housing, clothing, and food paid for by their parishioners? Are they esteemed above their hearers as evidenced both by the flow of money to them and by public displays of deference, praise, and reverence?

 

D&C 121:41-42

Does this person rely on persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, unfeigned love, kindness, and pure knowledge to influence others? Or do they attempt to exercise power or influence by virtue of their priesthood or institutional position? When they claim to know something, do they know it? Do they attempt to coerce obedience, compliance, or agreement by the weight of their title or their ability to withhold institutional privileges?

 

D&C 84:54-58, 1 Nephi 13:40-41

Does this person remember the “new covenant” which is the Book of Mormon, or do they treat it “lightly” by misusing it or failing to reference it in their teaching? Are they teaching and expounding its principles? When they reference it (if they reference it), is their interpretation reasonable or are they reading into the text things that it does not say?

 

Jeremiah 17:5-82 Nephi 28:31, D&C 1:17-20

Does this person encourage me to trust in men, or to trust only in God? Does this person encourage me to be “no respecter of persons”, or does this person encourage the belief that some people’s teachings are more trustworthy due to their title or office in an institution? Does this person claim that there is a man or group of men will not, and indeed cannot, mislead me?

 

D&C 1:38

Does this person claim that the words of some religious leaders are the same as God’s words by virtue of their institutional position, or do they confine such a claim of equality only to instances where someone actually can truthfully testify that God has spoken?

 

Moroni 7:36-37; Moroni 10:5; Joseph Smith’s letter to his Uncle Silas Smith; Moses 8:23-24; Joseph Smith on the topic of faith, fruits, and the gifts of the spirit

Does this person teach that spiritual gifts, including visions, visitations, working miracles, and receiving revelation encompassing “all things” is the inevitable result of faith? Or does this person discourage me from seeking and obtaining these things by suggesting they are unavailable, restricted to those whom God arbitrarily favors, or that they pose some spiritual danger? Does this person teach that the Lord will only give me revelation about things pertaining to my specific institutional calling or family responsibility, and that therefore I cannot receive revelation outside of that narrow window? Or does this person teach that the purpose of the Holy Ghost is to make “all things” manifest to each of us as we repent, ask, seek, and knock?

 

Mosiah 13:27-32; Moses 5:9-10

Does this person teach that people are saved by the redemption of Christ, meaning being brought back into his presence, or that people are saved by participating in religious rituals?

 

Lecture on Faith 6:7-8; Joseph Smith – 10 March 1844 – “Scriptural Items”

Does this person teach that I can only claim the blessings received by those in scripture (eternal life, sealing to spouse and children, etc.) by sacrificing all things and thereby receiving God’s personal assurance that I am accepted by Him? Or do they teach that these things can be obtained in some other way and that some other process can provide me with an assurance that I will receive them?

 

1 Nephi 10:17-19, Jacob 4:8, Joseph Smith- 9 October 1843

Does this person teach that I can gain the same knowledge or “testimony” as the people in the scriptures by gaining a spiritual witness that their words are true, or do they teach that I can only claim knowledge of the things I have personally experienced? Are they encouraging me to gain saving knowledge by actual contact with God (hearing his voice speaking words to me, receiving visitations, having visions, etc), or are they encouraging me to gain a generalized feeling of religious conviction? Do they adequately teach the difference between the two?

 

2 Peter 1:3-4Joseph Smith – 14 May 1843 Lecture on Faith 6:4

Does this person claim that all things pertaining to life and godliness are only available as I come to know Jesus Christ personally? Do they teach that the personal knowledge of God is the main key that will put in my possession the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven? Do they teach that God’s personal promise of salvation will be the anchor to my soul that allows me to remain steadfast and overcome the world? Or do they teach that I can obtain these glories and mysteries without knowing God personally, and that I can remain steadfast and not faint without God’s assurance to me?

 

Joseph Smith – 1 May 1842, 3 Nephi 11:14, Ether 3:18

Does this person claim to know God? If so, what experiences do they testify of to validate the claim? Do those experiences include physical contact with God, which is required for one to fully claim knowledge?

 

Jeremiah 23:16-22; 1 Nephi 1:18 – 1 Nephi 2:1Helaman 13:3; D&C 42:12-13

If this person closes their talk “in the name of Jesus Christ,” have they truly been speaking his words, or have they taught anything that didn’t come from Him? If they are not quoting words given to them by God, are they accurately, correctly, and faithfully expounding the words given to others in the scriptures? Will a careful analysis of their teachings reveal that they consist of God’s words or of traditions not revealed by God?

 

D&C 21; D&C 90:5

Does this person teach that the words of God given through Joseph Smith will, if heeded, prevent the gates of hell from prevailing against me, and will allow God to disperse the powers of darkness from before me? Or do they instead teach that Joseph’s teachings are subject to revision and deletion by current leaders, and that the scriptural promises which were once applied only to God’s words through Joseph now apply to others and not Joseph? Do they treat the oracles received through Joseph Smith carefully and respectfully, by relying on them to establish doctrine and truth? Or do they treat them lightly, preferring instead to correlate their teachings to other traditions?

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