Christianity


Life is getting complicated. Yesterday I had my first serious run-in with a drug-seeker who did.not.want. to leave the hospital, especially not on the level of narcotics I was prepared to prescribe for him. The fact that one of my colleagues had – let’s say, taken a strategy I would not have chosen, to get the patient off their back a couple nights ago only complicated matters. . . I was very frustrated. The patient would probably be diagnosed with borderline/histrionic personality disorder if seen by a psychiatrist, and although I knew objectively that there was nothing much wrong with him, he sure took me for a guilt trip. . .

Next week one of the attendings is doing a transgender surgery, which the chief proposes to send me to. I was too shocked to see the case on the schedule to make any objections when it was first discussed. Also, to be honest, the thrill of being first assistant on such a big case is seductive. But I don’t see any way to excuse the matter – either the patient for asking for it, the attending for agreeing, or myself for assisting, if I were to do so. Breast augmentation (the most major cosmetic surgery I can think permissible) is bad, but it’s not downright evil. This would be mutilation, in open rebellion against all God’s laws. I don’t think I can or should do it. Not looking forward to explaining to the attending that I disagree with his ethics, or to the chief that I’m going to back out of the biggest case I’ve been offered in my career to date (1 week and x days) . . .

One reason I steered away from OB was to avoid ethical issues. Ha.

I would like to draw your attention to recent events in Egypt, where there have been some more riots and violence against the minority Coptic Christians. I pray for God’s protection for my people, but it’s hard to be too indignant, considering that in spite of frequent and unprovoked waves of violence, the Copts are still much better off than in Christians in almost all other Muslim-controlled countries (Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc). Just don’t believe the “peaceful religion” propaganda; the Copts are second-class citizens, like all non-Muslims living in a Muslim country, and these riots are the mullahs’ attempts to remind us that the modern era of openness with the West doesn’t change our centuries-old status, imposed since the Muslim conquest of the Christian Middle East. This is what they want to make of Europe and the US, too; they won’t be satisfied till we’re all dhimmis, paying the jizya.

I’m thinking too much about being scared. A high level of suspicion for asking a senior before doing anything dramatic will no doubt be healthy. But surgeons can smell fear, and it just draws the pack down on you. Stammering does that, for sure.

I know God got me into medical school, and I know he blessed me with the grades that made it possible for me to get into surgery, and I know he arranged for the Match to put me in a surgery program, instead of scrambling into something else. So surely at this point he doesn’t intend for me to, I don’t know, seriously damage many patients in the first few days of July.

The Lord is my light and my salvation:
                 Whom shall I fear?
        The Lord is the strength of my life:
                       Of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes,
           came upon me to eat up my flesh,
                   they stumbled and fell.
Though an host should encamp against me,
                 my heart shall not fear;
         though war should rise against me,
                 in this will I be confident:
One thing have I desired of the Lord,
                 that will I seek after:
                                 that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
                                                     all the days of my life,
                                 to behold the beauty of the Lord,
                                                     and to inquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion;
            in the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me;
            he shall set me up upon a rock.
And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me;
            therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy;
                                I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice;
            have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face,
            my  heart said unto thee,
                           Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not thy face far from me;
            put not thy servant away in anger;
                           thou hast been my help;
            leave me not, neither forsake me,
                           O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
            then the Lord will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O Lord,
             and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies;
             for false witnesses are risen against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed
            to see the goodness of the Lord
                      in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
       be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.
                               Wait, I say, on the Lord.

                                              Psalm 27

Last week we admitted a lady who weighs some 300+lbs. I admit that I had difficulty seeing beyond that at first (although I was the one who stuck up for her on rounds, and proved from her old records that her current complaints were real, not imaginary); but after talking with her for a couple of mornings, I realized that she’s a very nice person, not drug-seeking at all (yes, we have nasty suspicious minds around here), who is actually trying to cope with her illnesses rather than just giving up and complaining because no one else can rescue her.

Anyway, after about five days of taking care of her, I started to feel as though I needed to talk to her about spiritual things. I made excuses, and kept putting it off. She was supposed to be discharged for the last three days, and something kept coming up to keep her from leaving.

Finally, I gave in and did what I had been told to do. After talking for 15 minutes about her medical issues this morning, I told her I had been praying for her, and asked if there was anything besides her health that she would like prayer for. She burst into tears and started to tell me all about her spiritual struggles and concerns. We talked for another ten minutes, and I left, thanking God that he hadn’t let go of me until I had talked to her. I would have missed so much if I’d managed to dodge his directions for another day.

I’ve been noticing that political conservatives, in their enthusiasm for Mitt Romney (who is honestly the most believably conservative of the apparently viable candidates – McCain, Giuliani, Romney), are embracing Mormons as Christians, and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (hereinafter LDS for short) as a normal church. This is such a false idea. After interacting with several Mormon fellow-students and residents, earlier this year I got several books on the subject and read up about the origins and teachings of the LDS. I came to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was manipulated by Satan, just like Mohammed and other false prophets, that there are serious demonic powers in the temple rituals, that Mormons do not worship the true God of the Bible, but a figment of their imagination, and that they have no claim to be Christians at all, any more than Muslims do. I will try to support these conclusions by going through key sections from the Nicene Creed (in my estimation, the foundational truths necessary for agreement between true Christians) and showing how the LDS deviates from these.

1. “We believe in God the Father Almighty. . .”
LDS doctrine, as originated by Joseph Smith, and developed by Brigham Young and the subsequent prophets and “revelators” of the Mormon church, teaches that God himself was once a man (perhaps even Adam; there is contradiction on this point), who through doing good works eventually became perfect, and the father-god of this universe. Humans are his spirit-children, who through following the example of Jesus’ perfect life can eventually attain to the same divine status. This is why marriage and family are so important to Mormons; the men are taught that the size and glory of their future celestial kingdom depends on the number of children they have in this life. Women are taught that their salvation depends on their husband achieving divine status, and their value consists in bearing children to populate his future kingdom.

2. “. . . And in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made . . .
Mormon doctrine is contradictory on this point; but the early prophets taught that Jesus and Lucifer were the two sons of the father-god; Lucifer rebelled and became evil, but Jesus continued to obey his father perfectly, thus becoming divine, and receiving his own universe/kingdom, as all Mormons may also do if they follow his example. To this day, the LDS church teaches clearly that we are all children of God in the same sense that Jesus was, and can all become divine, like him. This is entirely contrary to the Christian doctrine that Jesus is coequal and coeternal with God, completely divine, that he did not become divine, and that humans can never become divine, either. This evil and demonic doctrine about Jesus and Lucifer is taught in the induction ceremonies of the LDS temples, where new entrants are drawn into a drama which represents Lucifer speaking to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, mocking the “false” Christian doctrine about Jesus. (This ritual has been slightly modified in the past few decades, as disillusioned Mormons have made public secrets which in fact they swore on their lives to guard; the entrance ritual also includes a ghastly oath which calls for the convert’s brutal death if he relates any of the temple secrets to outsiders.)

3. “. . . who for us men and for our salvation became man, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and became man. . .
As mentioned above, Mormon doctrine teaches that Jesus started off as a human, and became divine, rather than being God before the beginning of time, and taking on human nature for us. Also, this is the phrase in the Nicene Creed which most clearly refers to Christ’s death as a substitution, receiving the punishment due for men’s sins. Mormon missionaries will tell you that they believe in salvation and justification through faith in Christ. However, if you read their own internal writings, or quiz the missionaries carefully, you will find that what they actually believe is salvation by works: Humans must do good works in order to earn the grace which enables them to believe on Jesus. This is completely contrary to Paul’s famous statement in Ephesians 2: “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that [the grace] not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. . .”

The practical daily life of devout Mormons also demonstrates this. They are taught by their elders that in order to qualify for admission into the temple, and thus into heaven, they must keep a strict set of rules: No alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine; no lustful thoughts whatsoever; always wearing the special Mormon undergarments; always obeying the directions of the church leadership; etc. The testimony of many ex-Mormons shows that, although this leads to a beautiful picture of a strong, happy family on the outside, inside there is oppression and fear, because their salvation depends on fulfilling these many onerous, manmade laws.

4. “. . . And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life. . . who spoke by the prophets. . .
The Christian Church, ever since the early years, has accepted a particular canon, which was closed with the book of Revelation (even allowing for the Apocrypha; whether you accept it or not, it was written before Revelation). The Church has always united in rejecting false prophets who come with new messages which suggest that something was left out of the original revelation. Joseph Smith, however, claimed to have received a message from the angel Gabriel, revealing some golden tablets, hidden near Palmyra, NY, written in ancient Egyptian, which revealed a new gospel, one with major changes from that originally received. As Paul warns in Galatians 1, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

There are many objections to the Book of Mormon (supposedly translated from the golden tablets) and the Doctrines and Commandments (the compilation of Joseph Smith’s “inspired” teachings and prophecies, as well as statements by the later “prophets,” who are supposed to have divine authority and revelation, just as Smith did). Firstly, Smith told different stories about his “discovery” at different times in his career, which contradict each other, and are contrary to facts known about him and his family from contemporary records (letters, civic record, and newspapers). I cannot in this space go into these issues in detail, but I highly recommend reading the books No Man Knows My History, by Fawn M. Brodie (a biography of Joseph Smith, with many original sources quoted; this historian was a descendant of one of the prophets, and was excommunicated for this book), and One Nation Under Gods, by Richard Abanes (documents both early and modern history of the LDS, as well as their political ambitions), as well as the website of Utah Lighthouse Ministries, which has a wealth of historic documents relating to Joseph Smith and the Mormons, as well as other resources.

Secondly, the text of these books has been changed. Both Abanes and the Lighthouse Ministries have extensive documentation of how LDS leaders have revised these books – editing Joseph Smith’s bad grammar and awkward faux-KJV-English to make it look more perfect, as well as removing doctrines that are offensive to modern ears. Which leads to the racist nature of Mormonism. Originally, the book of Mormon purported to explain about a white, godly race which lived in North America and was exterminated by the evil colored Native Americans. In one famous phrase, Indians and blacks who convert to Mormonism are promised that they will become “white and delightsome.” In other words, non-white coloring is a sign of evil, and will be supernaturally removed from any of these unfortunates who convert to Mormonism. Because of this racist background, the LDS did not accept black as converts until several decades into the 1900s, and only accepted them as priests and elders after heavy pressure on the church during the civil rights movement.

Which leads to the third problem with these new “inspired” books of the Mormons: Their doctrines change. One prophet can receive a new revelation which contradicts a previous one, and that’s just fine. For instance, consider polygamy. Joseph Smith (again like Mohammed) developed this doctrine pretty early in his career, but kept it secret for many years, until after he had accumulated some dozen polygamous wives. Its publication was one reason for the Mormons being driven out of Illinois (that, and their political aspiratons and influence in that state). In the 1880s, when Utah was becoming a state, the LDS leaders, under pressure from the US government, finally declared that polygamy was wrong – but many of the men who made this ruling kept taking extra wives secretly, and in fact sent secret colonies of what are now called “fundamentalist Mormons” into southern Utah and Idaho and southern Canada to keep alive what they still regarded as the truth. These are just two instances of how Mormon doctrine bends to fit the times. Their temple ritual has also been altered because of public scandal about the brutal oath of secrecy.

This is in total distinction to the true word of God, about which Peter, quoting Isaiah, declares, “For all flesh is as grass; and the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures forever; and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” Jesus also said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”

5. “. . . And in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. . .”
The Mormons’ current claim to be just another variety of Christians is in amazing contradiction to the original claims of Joseph Smith, who taught that every single church in his day had fallen away from the truth, which was what necessitated his new revelation. He decried all ministers as servants of Satan, denied that any member of a traditional church could be saved, and called on his followers to separate themselves from the false churches. Up until the past few decades, LDS leaders continued to teach that they alone were the true church, and that all others were false and apostate. This makes it particularly astonishing that they have been so successful in turning on their propaganda machine, and tricking most Americans into thinking that they are nothing more than another denominational flavor, like Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal.

Again, their marked deviations from accepted orthodox Christian teaching, shared across history and across all denominations, shows that, even if they truly wanted to be considered Christians, they have no such right, since they deny the true divinity of Jesus, and salvation through faith rather than works.

There are other astonishing secrets in Mormon theology, for which I again recommend to you the books of Fawn Brodie and Richard Abanes, and the Utah Lighthouse Ministries website. But these should be enough to support my original statement.

So how does this relate to politics? As Richard Abanes shows in his book, one of Joseph Smith’s most famous prophecies, known as the “White Horse prophecy,” states that at some point in the future, “the government of the United States will hang by a thread,” and the LDS will save the constitution of the United States. They hoped to accomplish this during the Civil War, but were not in position for it. Since Utah became a state, the LDS has been maneuvering to get themselves into control of the US government. They have had many influential cabinet ministers, and recently some very influential senators: Orrin Hatch and Harry Reid. Orrin Hatch indeed on a radio interview once specifically referred to the White Horse prophecy as influencing his mission in politics.

Given the very centralized, dictatorial nature of the LDS, where the members’ salvation depends on their unquestioning obedience to the mandates of the current Prophet, there is every reason to expect that a Mormon president would be significantly influenced by Mormon beliefs, and by the wishes of the church leadership. I do not want a demonic organization controlling the US government. Even Hillary might be better.

(To those who would argue that George W. is also controlled by a religious organization: 1) The conservative Christians are much less tightly organized than the Mormons are. 2) They do not exercise as tight a hold over their members, since they are not centralized, and often disagree on policy and theology. 3) Evangelicals do not teach that obedience to every one of their political desires is required for salvation. 4) In any case, George W. has done a lot of things we don’t like. :)  Romney and the Mormons would be different.)

I look forward to comments and discussion on this dissertation. My family is now confiscating the computer. . .

I’m having a good day. We took on a ton of patients last night, and everyone whom we tried to discharge today developed major new problems as soon as we got their paperwork done. If we don’t get some of them out tomorrow, we’ll be seriously overloaded for our next call, on Saturday. I actually like these patients, they’re mostly nice people – but there’s an awful lot of them. On the other hand, that means I can do actual work for the residents, so we’re a real team, and it’s good.

As we were rounding today, the attending, whom I have down as an Asian Muslim, noticed my last name and its ethnicity, which led to a discussion of the three monotheistic religions and their attitudes towards Abraham as a common prophet. I got my tongue tangled, trying to say that I did know that the Muslims regard Abraham as a prophet, and that Christians call him “the father of all who believe” (Paul, Romans 4), but that that doesn’t necessarily mean that we agree on the definition of prophets, or that Mohammed follows as a prophet.

A few patients later, we heard of a baby named Uriah, “from the Bible.” Most of the team didn’t know what that meant, so I explained to them (after we left the room!) that Uriah was the husband of Bathsheba, and was killed by David because he wanted Bathsheba. The attending remarked that this showed the difference between Christians and Muslims, because Muslims regard this story as fictitious, since no prophet could do such an evil thing. I responded that yes, indeed, Christians believe that all the other prophets sinned – Jesus is the only perfect, sinless person. The rest of the team jumped as if stung, and the attending hastily steered in another direction.

Then, this afternoon, another Asian resident mentioned that he didn’t understand why so many hospitals are named after the Good Samaritan. He didn’t know the story, so I told him. I keep underestimating the biblical illiteracy of our society – but it’s fun to tell the stories to people who’ve never heard them before.

This evening as we were leaving the hospital, the resident said of the night float intern who had just taken over from us, “He used to be a very sweet, easy person. He’s not like that any more; he’s becoming hardened.”

And I am thinking: Do I really behave that differently from these other medical people? I join in when they complain about another drug overdose being admitted, and roll my eyes when a patient complains about being asked the same thing for a tenth time, and mock the 300lb lady when she insists that her weight gain of 10lbs over 2 weeks is unusual and concerning. That’s not how a Christian should be behaving. What am I going to be like by this time next year, let alone five years from now?

But how is it possible not to be frustrated and sarcastic about people who come in every month with the same complaint, only being satisfied when they’re admitted and given iv pain medicine? Or people who abuse every drug on the books, and come in every other month with overdose/suicide attempt/psychosis, and thwart all efforts to help them get into rehab?

One of the first medically-oriented books I read as a child was a biography of Mother Teresa. I remember being impressed by how she taught her novices to overcome their disgusted response to the filthy, stinking street people they cared for by thinking of each individual as an opportunity to minister to Jesus, personally.

But it’s hard to imagine Jesus being like these people; he wouldn’t be so difficult, so ungrateful, so demanding, so perversely contrary to all our efforts to help.

The Copts have a great many saints whose legends are taught in Sunday School, right along with David and Esther. There’s Abanoub, the courageous child martyr; and Mina, who left a position of honor and safety in the imperial army to sacrifice his life by declaring his allegiance to the Lord Jesus; and Demiana, who rebuked her father when he denied Christ, and died together with forty virgin companions. (These all died in the persecution of Diocletian.)

Then there’s the story of Abba Bishoi, which must be heard several times before the meanings sink in. Abba Bishoi was the spiritual father of a monastic community gathered around a small oasis in the desert, not far from a mountain range. St. Bishoi was very ascetic in his practices, fasting much, and rising at all hours of the night to spend time alone in prayer. One day, Jesus himself appeared to him, and even washed his feet. St. Bishoi was overcome with joy to see the Lord in person, but he remembered all his brothers the monks, and begged Jesus to appear to them also. Jesus answered that if they would all travel to the top of a certain mountain the next day, he would come and meet with them. That morning St. Bishoi announced his news, and the monks were filled with enthusiasm. They immediately started to run from the monastery up the mountain. St. Bishoi brought up the rear, a little more slowly.

At the base of the mountain, the monks came upon a decrepit elderly man, huddled by the side of the path. As the monks passed, he called out to ask where they were going. When he heard that they were going to see Jesus, he started begging every one who went by to assist him to climb the mountain, so that he also could see Jesus. The monks, in their haste, ran on, saying that they didn’t want to arrive too late and miss Jesus; and anyway, as holy persons who had dedicated their lives to serving God, it was surely far more important for them to get to the top than for this ridiculous old man. Finally, St. Bishoi came to the bottom of the mountain. When he saw the old man, abandoned by all the others, he took pity on him, and, lifting him onto his shoulders, began to slowly carry him up the mountain. Of course, this old man was Jesus himself, and thus only St. Bishoi, who stayed behind to help him, actually saw Jesus that day on the mountain. The Copts always mention St. Bishoi in the liturgies as “the righteous, perfect man, beloved of our Good Savior.”

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