Monday, December 26, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
So what's been happening? Well, I did get my 75 lb magnet!!! As of 11/19/05 my total weight lost was 77.0 lb!!! Loren graciously bought me an iPod nano as a present to celebrate this great milestone. He has been so supportive, I feel like I should give HIM a prize too. Well, I guess he gets to enjoy the new me, which is pretty cool I suppose!
Our vocal ensemble did really well on Sunday morning, and I really am having a good time w/them. They are all talented, learn quickly, and work well together.
I'm exhausted so I'm not going to stay up too much longer typing this, but I did want to post this very goofy link from my brother (he always finds the weirdest stuff!):
<>Please don't EVER do this to your house.
(be patient, it takes a while to load)
Here's more on how they did it:
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Saturday, November 12, 2005
We ate at Bangkok Classic Thai at 850 S. State - an AMAZING restaurant. You really have to try it sometime. Cheap & delicious at the same time.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
What has happened?
1. I lost 2.2 more lb for a total of 70.2! See before & after here.
2. So far, the latest infertility treatment seems to be doing OK. Have to wait another week to see if it's going to lenghthen my luteal phase.
3. Vocal ensemble went great last week at New Song, though we needed MORE PEOPLE. If you are reading this and are interested, COME TO PRACTICE tomorrow (Wed) at 7:30 pm at the church.
4. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend, even if the 49ers did LOSE, again. The football was fairly entertaining, the food was good, etc.
5. I actually got in a hot bath on Monday while Calvin was napping. That was beyond heavenly. Probably better than a lot of Haagen-Dazs ice cream w/chocolate sauce. We use our jacuzzi tub fairly regularly (every week or two) but I'm thinking twice a week would be better.
6. Women's Bible study was great Monday night. Sara did a fantastic job facilitating. Thanks, Sara!
Theoretically, my friend Sherry is coming over soon and we're going to make soap. I've never done that before, so it should be fun. I only say theoretically because it's now 7:15 and she was going to come at 7. Maybe she forgot? If she did, I'm definitely going to take a BATH!!! Calvin just went down right before I started typing this, so I'm free for the evening :)!
Monday, October 31, 2005
explore the whole site - hilarious
some of my faves:
TP directions - hahahaha!
elmo has some issues
scary... very scary
just truly bizarre
wow, do they have some branding problems
akin to one I saw "do not put in dishmasher"
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I'm very thankful that at least God has not given up on me - I truly believe that God really is, for whatever reason (he loves me!?) fixing me up from the inside out, and there is hope for change and new life. That sounds really trite, but I really mean it, so bear with the lack of more sophisticated language to convey what I'm feeling.
Progress for the week: -0.6 lb. Total: -68.2 lb. Slower than I'd like, but I'm really going to kick things into high gear this week and try to break this plateau, whether it's medication-induced or not. I'm super motivated.
On the IF front, things are moving slowly... but that's OK. We talked the doc into letting us try the drug that worked to give us Calvin, so we'll see how it goes. Had the usual couple-3 days of morning nausea when I started it, but that seems better now that I've been taking it for a week, so we should be good to give this a fair shot. I won't know until probably mid-Nov or Thanksgiving if it's working right, and maybe not until next cycle since I started taking it later than is ideal this time. I did read some papers that indicated that this might have some utility, so I'm hopeful.
OK, my 4 minutes is up, so I'll write more tomorrow. :) Really, I will!
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The weight loss for the week was 1.6 lb, almost making up for the 2 lb gain last week. I feel on track, so that's good, and my motivation is still high. I was worried I'd get discouraged by my gain, and I did a little bit, but I figured the alternative is to be fat again, so I'd better keep on keeping on. I want to have a healthy lifestyle, darn it!
In the infertility department, things are not so great. The latest drug we tried, clomiphene, didn't really work that well. It did cause ovulation, but then the luteal phase (the time between ovulation and the start of the next cycle) was only 6 days instead of 12-16, which is pretty much what was happening before we had Calvin. So, now we're back to the same ol' problem. Wheeee. Am still waiting to hear what the doc has to say about this latest wrinkle. Hopefully will hear something tomorrow.
Let's see, what else was new this week? Calvin continues to astound us with new discoveries. This week he said "dada" and "baby", specifically, as well as pointing out to me the "doggie" across the street in the neighbor's yard. That was pretty cool. He's getting more opinionated about what he should be able to play with, and when he gets into stuff he shouldn't, he gets pretty mad when mommy or daddy intervenes. Fortunately, the fits are short-lived and he's still easily distracted w/something else.
Speaking of Calvin, he's now demanding my attention, big time... I'd better go.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Now, the fantastic news! I entered the U of U Young Alumni 5K run/walk/stroll. I decided to take Calvin and push him in the stroller, because it would be fun for both of us. Because I've been doing lots of aerobic (read: very very fast) walking, I decided to walk the race. I thought if I did under 40 min that would be good, and if I got 36-37 min I would be especially pleased. Well, I surpassed my expectations, finishing in 34:59!!! As I crossed the finish line, they told me I was 3rd place in the female stroller division! WOW! I have never won ANYTHING for any athletic pursuit, EVER. I am so thrilled and excited. I had no idea they were giving prizes for people pushing strollers, either. I just wanted to do it. Anyway, I won a 3rd place ribbon and a really cool Utes umbrella (shaped like a football helmet!).
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
This chapter covers a very difficult subject. The title says it all: "Sin, Sickness, or Both?". My knee-jerk reaction when reading that question is "Both, of course!". But Welch makes a pretty persuasive case that addiction is a sin, albeit a complex one. The biblical teaching on drunkenness ("the prototype of all addictions") is that "it is always called sin, never sickness...Scripture is unwavering in this teaching and relentless in its illustrations...it is a lordship problem. Who is your master, God or your desires?"
OK, OK - but what about the loss of control the addict experiences? The familiar substance may even be physically required. Welch writes that if we do something and feel we have no control over it, or if we do something even though we do not want to do it, it seems like it shouldn't be a sin any more but rather a disease. He comes to a dilemma: "how do we reconcile the out-of-control nature of addictions and the apparently self-conscious, intentional nature of sin?" Ultimately, though, heavy drinking, or food addiction, or drug addiction, or whatever, is giving us something in return. Even the addict knows this - at a Weight Watchers meeting I attended recently, the leader asked us to think about what we were getting from food. We were then to think of how to get that same thing from something less damaging (her example was that she wanted to feel warmth and emotional comfort, so she curled up on the couch with a book, an afghan, and a hot cup of tea). For me, food definitely is giving me something, even when I hate it and don't want to overindulge, I may still do it because of the temporary reward I'm getting. It is comforting, it is pleasurable, it is an escape. It is lots of things, temporarily. For the alcoholic, there are temporary payoffs to drunkenness. Let's face it: there are pleasurable benefits to be obtained from any sin, even one that has a stranglehold on us. Welch explains, "for the addict, slavery with the object of desire is sometimes preferable to freedom without it", and "addicts make choices to pursue their addiction". I can't really speak for alcoholics or drug addicts, but for food addiction this is absolutely true. I made choices that got me into my almost 100 lb of overweight, and they were real choices. Even when the food had a compelling hold on me, it was still ultimately my choice to continue in it. Sometimes I wouldn't overindulge, proving that it was possible to make different choices. It seems to me that the disease model is not useless here (I still think it can be helpful), but that the sin model probably has a much greater utility.
Fine, that makes some sense. But what about genetics? I mean, fat runs in my family. I have a genetic predisposition to putting on weight. This argument has never been as powerful to me as the previous argument. Genetics might predispose you to something, argues Welch, but it does not determine it. "Possible physiological tendencies do not mean that self-control is impossible or that personal responsibility is diminished. They simply mean that some people must be more vigilant in situations where that sin can be easily provoked." This has always seemed to me to be right on the money.
What about cravings, though? How do you explain those? You might have the best of intentions, and then walk by Mrs. Fields and buy and consume a dozen hot chocolate chip cookies. We actually spent a whole lesson at WW recently on cravings and how to manage them. They do exist, but the reality is that our body cannot force us to do anything. Cravings can be dealt with in other ways. We may be vulnerable, Welch says, but we are not helpless in the face of them.
Why all the arguing about sin and sickness anyway? Does it really matter so much? Welch thinks it does - he says that the disease model implies that the cause is our body, while the sin model postulates a heart problem. If the weakness is merely physical, we are not motivated to change spiritually. If our problem is in our hearts, and we do not address it, then we will never get well. What are we really seeking to satisfy with our addiction? We must satisfy the longings of our hearts with something true, something permanent, and something real.
All right, but my food problem still does feel like a disease. What does Scripture say about that? Welch answers, "Sin is more than conscious choices. Like a cruel taskmaster, sin victimizes and controls us (John 8:34)...as the apostle Paul said, 'I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom 7:15)'...sin feels exactly like a disease." It feels like a disease, but it is not, because "the slavery of sin is one for which we are responsible, and we can be empowered by God's grace to turn from it."
Refresingly, Welch does not believe that addictions are simply subject to mere willpower. He writes, "If you deny the out-of-control nature of all addictions, as some Christians have done, then you assume that everyone would have the power to change himself...there would never be a sense of helplessness or a desperate need for both redemption and power through Jesus...at the same time, there will be other problems if you ignore the in-control, purposeful nature of addictions." I think he finds a great balance between them as follows, "since sin is a broad category that includes both self-conscious disobedience and victmizing slavery, find addiction on the side that emphasizes slavery." In other words, it is a sin, but it is a sin which enslaves and entangles more readily than most. The addict feels out of control, but is making sinful choices at the same time.
Finally, he adds a welcome section entitled "Back to the Dark Ages?" where he addresses the very real problem that this doctrine "has been used to bludgeon addicts". Maybe calling it sin will keep people from getting help. People are often judgmental of addicts using this theology. But that doesn't mean the theology is wrong - it means that the people who are judgmental are in the wrong. Welch explains, "The answer is not to avoid the truths of Scripture for fear that they will be misused." Rather, we must use them properly. What does this look like? "A good friend shows an addict where to find life and hope...Doctrine...must also naturally point us to Jesus Christ."
He concludes with some pointers for the addict, one of which I found very useful. When I first read this, I did feel that physical aspects of addiction were perhaps underemphasized. In response, he comments that "the goal of this chapter is not to minimize the effect of the body on addictions. Rather, it is to emphasize the role of the heart." This was extremely helpful to me, because frankly, I have come to be convicted recently through various Scriptures, life experiences, and WW meetings, that the real problem lies very deep. The center of my being needs to have a new focus, or I will exchange my food addiction for something worse, perhaps. I am renewing my desire to be changed by God's grace and to know him more. In knowing him more, may I see that only he will satisfy my longings.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Perhaps I need to be asking myself why I feel so compelled to cram so much into every day. It's not like I feel guilty about relaxing, it's just that there is so much I think I HAVE to do RIGHT NOW that CAN'T WAIT one more minute. At least that's the thought train going 'round in my head. I mean, I like to relax as much as the next person, and I get annoyed that I have so much I HAVE TO DO that I can't relax. Then I get irritated with Loren because he does know how to relax, and why does he always get to rest when I HAVE TO WORK? But this is silly, since the only reason I am working so hard is that I am driving myself to it.
Hmmmm. This is deserving of more thought. I'll probably put it off until I have time, which means I won't do it. I do actually need to get some sleep now...
Sunday, October 09, 2005
I was going to write about another chapter in the addictions book, but I am just too tired. I have no excuse other than that I got up earlier than usual, played the piano at church, and walked 3.75 miles today. I did rest and watch the 49ers game (why did I bother? sigh...) until 4 pm when I taught 2 piano lessons and then ate dinner & fed Calvin too. Calvin went to bed early tonight - 7 pm (yay!) so now I'm going to take a bath. A hot bath. In my jacuzzi tub. Ahhhhhh. And I'm going to read a great book I bought called The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. It's a very interesting history of English with lots of tidbits thrown in. He's a great writer, so I'm really enjoying it a lot. I only have 20 other books I want to read on my bookshelf in my room (the nightstand isn't big enough to hold my reading projects!) but they will have to wait. I'm reading this one first!!!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
So the appointment was OK except for being late, but then I left the office and proceeded to hit the edge of a tire on a large curb (how stupid can I get?) and flattened it thoroughly. Loren was there and tried to change the tire, but one of the bolts on the wheel broke off and one of the lug nuts was misshapen. So, we had to call AAA and get a tow. Several hours later (after feeding Calvin cookies from a vending machine at the repair shop because I didn't bring food for that long), Loren picked us up after he got off of work. An hour later, the car was fixed and we were able to go get it. I did make it home in time to teach my 5:30 pm piano students, which was good.
Anyway, everything came out fine in the end, but it was an interesting day, to be sure.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Chapter 1 - Practical Theology
Welch writes, "Practical theology protects us from the deceptions in our hearts and the competing "isms' of the world. It sets the boundaries for our lives." Basically, he sets forth the premise that Scripture does set forth ready help for our addictions, even though it may not appear to do so. I could not agree more that Scripture contains much for the entrenched food addict, at any rate. Once you start to look for it, it's amazing how much the Bible has to say about food. Seems like perhaps some others have had this problem before.
One passage in this chapter that is especially poignant for me was in the section entitled "Describing Addictions". He explains, "Addicts feel as if they are trapped and out of control. They feel like abject worshippers, devoted to something that can be very dangerous...they feel they can't let go, clinging even when the addictive behavior yields very few pleasures and a great deal of pain...[they] feel out of control, enslaved, stuck, and without hope for freedom or escape." Wow. That is really how I felt much of the time for the past 7-8 years. I became truly miserable and felt so stuck. It was horrible. It's good for me to re-live this now, if only for a little while, so that I can keep in my mind how terrible it was to feel that way. It reminds me that I never, ever, ever want to go back to that again. I love food, and always will, but it is just not worth it. Welch explains why we keep going back to these things that enslave us, "What unites these and most other activities or substances described as addictions is that they deliver a bodily experience...[they] change our physical experience and they do it quickly, working within seconds or minutes rather than days or weeks." It is true, the temporary pleasure is hard to resist, but part of the resistance is remembering the long term pain that it causes.
That's most of what really particularly struck me about chapter 1. I'll try to write some on chapter 2 tomorrow. Or whenever. For now, I'm going to get my stuff ready for the morning and hit the sack.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Tonight I didn't cook dinner and we just had leftovers, which was great. Our fridge is so full of stuff for Calvin's 1 year party that there is no room for anything else, so we really needed to eat the leftovers to make more room.
I did cook a little - I made coconut-almond rice krispie treats for Loren (he gave me this recipe and begged me to make it, and I said "no problem", much to his surprise) with the almond paste I could NOT find at Wal-Mart (grrrrrrrrrrr!). They were so amazingly good. I have never had rice krispie treats this good before. I was worried about the points value, but they were only 4 points for a very large one, which was decent, I thought.
Oh, this I'm posting for Sara Z. Thanks for the accountability! I am impressed! After I blogged last night I did spend 5 minutes playing a scrabble move and saw your comment on the post, so I posted again. I actually got to bed only a tad bit late, but managed my 7.5 hrs sleep and also managed quiet time and a walk in the morning, and was only 10 min later to work than I wanted to be, so it all worked out. It's earlier tonight, so I'm going to read for a while before I go to bed, unless Loren wants to watch a movie. He's putting Calvin to sleep right now, so we should have some baby-free time for a bit, which is always nice.
Monday, September 26, 2005
So with that in mind, I'm off to bed!
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Today was goal day at WW. Every 10 weeks we set goals and see how we did on our last set of goals. I did great on all of my goals except my goal to get more sleep. I need to work on getting to bed earlier - that might mean less blogging. Hopefully it will mean I just get a bit more disciplined. We'll see. Anyway, this week I lost 1.8 lb, and my total for 1o weeks was 17.2 lb! My total since I started is 63.6 lb GONE! I was able to buy some size 16 pants, and they fit well. Considering that I was wearing a 3x plus (26-28 size), this is a vast improvement. Heck, in high school I wore size 14-16. I still weigh about 25 lb more than in high school, but I'm working on it.
OK, so my new goals are:
1. Eat within my points every week.
2. Get at least 28 activity points per week.
3. Lose another 12-18 lbs and get my 75 lb magnet!
4. Get at least 7.5 hrs sleep 5 or more nights per week.
5. In conjunction with number 4, make sure I go to bed early enough so that I can wake up to have a MORNING quiet time 5 days per week (minimum 15 min).
The sleep part (#4 and 5) is going to be tricky. With that in mind, I'm going to bed!!!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
dinner was great. had dutch oven feast at loren's work. it was amazing food - the BEST comfort food i've had in a long time, hands down. yummy potato dish, green beans in mushroom soup, a mexican casserole, tender chicken, some great pork tenderloin, too... then cobbler for dessert that was just incredible. these people do this for their hobby - they have a large trailer (we're talking LARGE - like 15-20 ft long) that holds all their stuff plus has a workspace. they had like 20 dutch ovens. some were so huge - i have never seen a dutch oven that big! loren was very impressed too.
so now you ask - did you do well in the food department? well, things went pretty well overall. i exercised amazing self control until dessert. then i did eat a lot. however, i had not used ANY of my points allowance yet this week, and i still have most of it left, so actually things are fine. i do still expect that i will lose weight this week. i do have another big dinner thingy on friday (neurobiology & anatomy picnic, catered by rico's mexican market - yum!) but i still have some points allowance left, and it should all be fine.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Part of my journey is figuring out the spiritual component to the whole weight problem. One of John Piper's sermons mentioned this book, and I thought it would apply, so I am reading it. It's about addictions (hoping it will apply to my food addiction - yes, it really is an addiction) and it's called Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. The first chapters have been good and informative, but I'm now reading the chapter on how to say "no" (can't remember the chapter title exactly), and it's really really good. It's very much hitting home, and it's information that I think I will want to read and re-read and re-read. When I have a little more energy and I've actually finished thinking more about the chapter, I'll post more on this topic.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Ahhhh, the warm bath I started to draw is calling my name. Calvin is in bed, and I'm going to enjoy a soak and some more reading. I've taught my piano student, prepped my breakfast and Calvin's, laid out clothes for tomorrow, and I'm ready to relax!!!
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
My parents put their dog Ebony to sleep today. She was truly a great dog. I helped my mom to pick her out back in 1991... still remember what a cute puppy she was and how she was so frisky and adorable. She was always such a wonderful, sweet companion. She will be missed a lot.
Anyway, it is really interesting how our lives are all sort of linked. 3 of us have husbands who are MDs, and one of the women used to work in the same dept as I do at the U. Her husband works in a lab in the building next to the one I work in. It's neat to actually know people at church who live & work so close to us. I really missed this a lot, but just didn't realize it. I am looking forward to continuing to get to know everyone better!
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
Other notes... Loren is almost over the annoying cold that had him pretty wiped. Now I have it. Grrrrr. Have managed to keep exercising and working, though. Other than that, it's been a fairly straightforward week. This is a boring post, so I'll stop now!
Monday, September 05, 2005
Despite that, things are holding steady. I managed to stay on program while gone, and have lost another 2.8 lb! Total now is 58 lb gone! I read a GREAT book while I was gone - "Walking: The Complete Guide to the Complete Exercise" by Casey Meyer. I was contemplating starting running because I wanted to get a higher intensity workout, but I really prefer walking. Well, my mom had this book sitting on her coffee table, and I picked it up. Good move. I learned that aerobic walking is not only possible, but desirable! I can burn just as many calories walking w/o the risks of injury associated w/running. So, since I've been back, I've been walking fast. Very fast. The other day I did 3.75 miles in 46 minutes (average 12:15 mile!). I prefer to do about 13 min miles for right now, as that seems to be fast enough to get my heart rate over 70% max (high intensity for WW).
It's getting late, so I'll sign off for now.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Tonight we got a babysitter, since Calvin seemed to be doing fine, and we went to a performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado" at Deer Valley. It was wonderful to have a night out and the performance was cleverly current (they added some 21st century verbiage to some of the songs) and very funny. We sat on the lawn and brought a picnic from Tony Caputo's deli along with a bottle of wine. It was great!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Well, I'll try to post those pics tomorrow, maybe!
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
"A Different Jesus?: The Christ of the Latter-day Saints" by Robert L. Millet
A review by Tammy Stevenson.
The average evangelical Christian in the pew would probably be quite surprised by the contents of this book. Seven or eight years ago, I would have been surprised too. After living in Utah for six years, and dialoguing often with my Latter-day Saint friends, Millet's book is not so much surprising to me as it is a fair and reasoned summary of the Christology of the Mormon church. Millet intends to convince his evangelical Christian audience (since the book is published by Eerdmans, one can assume that most of the audience will fit into this category) that the Christ of the Latter-day Saints is the same Christ they know, love, and worship. He displays an extensive knowledge of current evangelical thought, citing works by today’s most popular and prolific evangelical writers. But despite his ultimate goal, he does not flinch from honestly and completely presenting Mormon beliefs about Christ, even when they are significantly different from traditional Christian perspectives.
After a thorough introduction (Chapter 1) explaining the origins of the LDS faith, Millet takes on liberal theologians and biblical criticism (remember the "Jesus Seminar"?) in Chapter 2, finding common ground with evangelicals on the accuracy of the four gospels and the historicity of the Jesus of the Bible. Evangelicals will find much to agree with in this chapter, as Millet puts forth arguments that we have heard many times before , adding in a sprinkling of LDS Scripture to support his points. However, there is one place in particular where he reveals his LDS background. In speaking of the liberal theologians, he remarks, "How unfortunate it is that basically good men and women, people who have at least an affection or an admiration for holy scripture, should wander so far afield" (italics mine). This caused me to have an immediate visceral reaction, "NO!" when I read it. Most evangelicals would not refer to anyone as "basically good", but as we shall see in later chapters, in LDS theology regarding the nature of man this does not pose much difficulty.
Beginning in chapter 3, "Why a Restoration?”, our views begin to diverge much more. At first, the chapter is quite illuminating. Many evangelicals will be surprised to learn here that Mormons do not believe that "most of the doctrines in Catholic or Protestant Christianity are false or that the leaders ... have improper motives". Millet explains that the Mormons simply wish to bring us more truths and additional revelations. He takes the time to patiently explain and alleviate misconceptions about what Mormons mean when they say they have "the only true and living church", and his explanation is more positive than evangelicals will expect.
Despite the fact that much of the chapter is conciliatory in tone and helpful in understanding the Mormon mindset, there is still plenty to disagree with. In arguing in favor of modern-day prophets, Millet writes that "There are simply too many ambiguous sections of scripture to 'let the Bible speak for itself'". Actually, though it is true that there are things in scripture that are hard to understand (II Pet 3:16), Protestants in particular believe that scripture is sufficiently clear that we may understand all that is necessary for a life of faith. Furthermore, Millet's argument that we need prophets to interpret scripture for us in order that we can have an independent measuring rod of truth is absurd. Are LDS prophets really "independent"? Do we need additional layers of fallible human beings between us and the Word of God? Is not the Holy Spirit, present in the hearts of believers, sufficient to illuminate the essential truths found in the Bible?
The differences in the Mormon and evangelical doctrines of man’s identity begin to appear more strongly in this chapter. The LDS view of human nature appears to be more exalted in LDS thought than in evangelical thought. Millet refers to following the divine light within each person, citing John 1:9, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world”. He also remarks that God “loves us all and is pleased with any and every halting effort on our part to learn of him, serve him, and be true to the light within us.” This theology seems very dangerous, implying greater innate goodness in humans and elevating humankind to a higher place than is warranted. John 1:9 does not refer to a light within us, but rather to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in the world. The light is completely from outside of us, and is not given to everyone, but to those who believe in his name, reading on in John 1 through verse 13, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” Earlier in the chapter, Millet states that “The highest good that men and women can do is to seek tenaciously for the greatest amount of light and knowledge that God will bestow.” This implies that humanity’s self-betterment through obtaining knowledge and light is the most important thing that we can do, and this view gives humans a more central place than we rightfully should occupy. Evangelicals commonly cite the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”. That is the highest good that we can do – to glorify God, not to better ourselves.
In Chapter 3, Millet makes a remark that will have greater significance later on. He is criticizing what he calls the “postbiblical creeds” of Christendom. This is understandable, coming from an LDS point of view; however, the standard that he applies undergirds the very reasoning by which most evangelicals reject the Mormon worldview. He says, “To the extent that creeds perpetuate falsehood, particularly concerning the nature of the Godhead, then of course our Father in heaven would be displeased with them.” This, of course, is central – we are agreed on that. But if Mormonism itself is perpetuating falsehood concerning the nature of the Godhead, then this is equally problematic, and it does not need creeds to do so. No matter how a faith codifies its doctrines, as creeds or as words from a prophet, those doctrines may be accepted as true or rejected as false. The question is: what standard are we judging the doctrines by? The evangelical response is that we judge them against scripture, and the doctrine of God is of primary importance, as we will see in later chapters.
The heart of the book is found in chapter 4 “The Christ of the Latter-day Saints”, where Millet gets to the meat of Mormon Christology. He prefaces his discussion with a quote from C.S. Lewis, warning us not to judge who is or is not a Christian, “It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ…It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense…When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian that to say he is not a Christian.” Millet intends for the evangelical reader to be wary of judgment, which is an appropriate caution. However, there is still that niggling question of doctrine. Implicit in Lewis’ statement is that he thinks one must accept “Christian doctrine” to be a Christian. What is “Christian doctrine”? Do Mormon beliefs about Christ fit into “Christian doctrine”? We may not be able to judge the hearts of individuals, but we are certainly able to use our reasoning powers to judge whether or not particular beliefs are “Christian” or not.
Millet goes on to list fifteen “fundamental and foundational LDS beliefs about Jesus Christ”, and leaves it to the reader to decide whether these are indeed “Christian” or not. There are other points that Millet mentions that differ from evangelical beliefs, but in the interest of keeping this review to a reasonable length, we will just examine a few of the more contentious ideas he presents about the identity of Jesus Christ.
He remarks in point four that “Jesus is the Son of God the Father and as such inherited powers of Godhood and divinity from His Father…he possessed the powers of a God” (italics mine). While evangelicals recognize Jesus as the Son, they do not believe the Bible says that Jesus inherited his divinity or powers, but rather that they were his inherently as a member of the Trinity. Why does this matter? It speaks to who Jesus is fundamentally. Is he the offspring, the son in the flesh of Heavenly Father, or is he God from all eternity in the core of his being, begotten, not made? Did he possess the powers of a God, or was he the one and only God incarnate?
In point seven, he remarks of Jesus, “Because he kept the law of God, Jesus was in the Father…they were two separate and distinct persons” though they were one in “transcendent unity”. Millet states that we all ought to have this unity with God, and should “strive to be one with the Gods”. This point, as well as point eight (regarding the relationship of the Spirit and Jesus) display a separation in being of the “godhead” resulting in, as Millet puts it, “three separate members of the Godhead”. He explains that they are one because they bear the same witness and teach the same truths; however, when one considers the exalted view of humanity in Mormonism, that we may one day become what God is, it is hard to escape the conclusion that though there may only be one God with whom we have to deal, there are many gods in this faith. This philosophy is called “henotheism”. Millet makes it clear that this is what he believes in a later chapter, when he remarks, “While we believe that becoming like God is entailed in eternal life, we do not believe we will ever, worlds without end, unseat or oust God the Eternal Father or his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; those holy beings are and forever will be the Gods we worship. Even though we believe in the ultimate deification of man, I am unaware of any authoritative statement in LDS literature that suggests that men and women will ever worship any being other than the ones within the Godhead.” The description of God the Father and God the Son is quite foreign to evangelical thought, to the point that one wonders whether we are really talking about the same being (beings, in Mormon thought!).
In a later section entitled “The Cosmic Christ”, Millet sets forth additional Mormon doctrines of Christ. “Modern revelation attests that Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father”, Millet writes. In some mysterious manner, God the Father existed before Jesus did, and brought him forth. LDS doctrine teaches that Heavenly Father and Mother brought forth spirit children, of which Jesus was the first. Millet explains that “as a premortal spirit, [Jesus] grew in knowledge and power to the point where he became ‘like unto God’ (Abraham 3:24), meaning the Father” (italics mine). Evangelicals would be hard pressed here to recognize the Jesus that they worship, who was and is God in all his perfection from all eternity past to eternity future. Jesus did not have to become “like unto God”; rather, he is and always was and will be fully God.
The next chapter, “Salvation in Christ” further illuminates the LDS understanding of man’s nature as well as the nature of Christ and goes on to describe modern Mormon soteriology. Many evangelical readers may be surprised by some aspects of Millet’s description of salvation. We have been conditioned to believe that Mormons don’t believe in salvation by grace – they believe in salvation by works, of course! Millet shows us that our preconceptions about Mormons only believing in salvation by works are false when he says things like “That redemption and reconciliation come through the finished work of Jesus the Christ. In short, salvation is in Christ. Redeemed man is man who has partaken of the powers of Christ through the Atonement, repented of his sins, and been renewed through the sanctifier, who is the Holy Ghost…This new birth brings membership in the family of God: such persons are redeemed from the Fall, reconciled to the Father through the Son, made worthy of the designation of sons and daughters of God.” He goes so far as to say that we do not go to heaven because we are good and we deserve it, but because God gives us what we do not deserve.
That being said, there are some serious problems with the plan of salvation described in this chapter, most of which have to do with the nature of man and the nature of God. Humanity’s nature is elevated above what traditional Christianity teaches. The LDS believe that our inner spirits are “pure as the heavens” but are corrupted by “tabernacles that are contaminated” (our flesh). In addition, in LDS thought, humans are eternal beings, “To be sure, Joseph Smith taught that man is an eternal being. He declared that the intelligence of man ‘is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal.’” Millet goes on to explain that men and women possess in “rudimentary form” the “attributes, powers, and capacities possessed by our Father in heaven…There is a sense, then, in which we might say that men and women, being spiritual heirs to godliness, are good by nature.” To sum up, he writes, “Man is basically good, at least his eternal nature is. Man is basically fallen, at least his mortal nature is.” This leads directly to the idea that this time on earth is a time of probation, to see if our good spirits can, with the help of God (Millet writes that “we must have help…if it were not for divine assistance, each of us would…lose the battle of life”), make the choices necessary to overcome our fallen mortal nature. President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to Godhood.” To be fair, President Hinckley states also that “this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father…He is the greatest of all and will always be so”. Ultimately, then, God may be full of grace and may give us what we do not deserve, but it is the choice that our spirits make to follow God instead of the pull of our sinful flesh that is what saves us. It is probably impossible to avoid comparisons with the Calvinist-Arminian debate in evangelical thought here; the major difference as I see it is that the Arminian soteriology is not intentionally nested in a worldview that exalts man to be, as Millet acknowledges, of the same species as God. The doctrine of eternal progression from premortal spirit to fleshly human being to exaltation as “gods” cannot be distanced from Mormon soteriology. They are inextricably linked, and the bottom line is that though we may absolutely need God’s help to get where he is, it is ultimately our good spirit and good intentions that get us there.
The nature of God the Son presented in this chapter is also not without its share of disagreements with traditional Christian views. Millet does write of Jesus, “he was…the divine Son of God. While the prophets were called of God, he is God” (italics mine). While it is refreshing that he states so clearly his belief that Jesus is God, in the context of his remarks in the previous chapter, it is hard to say that he means exactly what evangelicals mean by this. Furthermore, he refers to Jesus as “a God” many times in the chapter. A few examples follow. Speaking of the power of Jesus, he says, “Only a god, only a person with powers over death, could do such things”. On the atonement of Jesus: “we cannot rationally comprehend the work of a God. We cannot grasp…how one man, even a man possessed of the power of God, can suffer for another’s sins.” And on salvation “salvation is in Christ and…the renovation of men and women’s souls is the work of a God”. If Jesus is the ONE true God, then why not refer to him simply as “God” rather than “a God”? The reason seems clear when Millet explains, “We believe in “one God” in the sense that we love and serve on Godhead, one divine presidency, each of whom possesses all of the attributes of Godhood.” Unfortunately, this is not the God that I read about in the Bible, and I believe most evangelicals will not recognize God the Father or God the Son in this description.
The remaining chapters in the book, “Those Who Never Heard” and “Recurring Questions” provide interesting additional insights into Mormon thought, but they are not specifically about Christology, so they will not be covered more thoroughly at this time.
The conclusion by Millet and afterword by Richard Mouw (president of Fuller Theological Seminary) are essential reading to get the complete flavor of the book. The conclusion is an impassioned plea by Millet to accept him and other Mormons as fellow believers in Christ. Armed with quotes by Gregory Boyd (a prominent Open Theist), Jimmy Carter, and Richard Mouw, he argues for tolerance and emphasis on the wideness of God’s mercy. If one were to read the conclusion without reading the rest of the book, one might believe that this Jesus is really not so different after all. Of course, you cannot divorce the conclusion from what has come before. As much as one might wish to be tolerant, to be open, and to be inclusive, if you wish to be a Christian, you must “accept the Christian doctrine” as C.S. Lewis put it. The contents of much of the book mitigate against this, in my opinion.
Interestingly, Richard Mouw’s afterword appears to agree with this on one level. He writes, “I believe that Bob means in his testimony the same thing that I mean when I say that my only plea before the judgment seat of God is that I am covered by the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ. My question is not about the adequacy of his reply to this all-important question. My continuing worry is whether his other LDS beliefs can properly sustain him in – whether they provide a solid theological grounding for – his deep and sincere conviction that his only hope for eternal life is the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ that was completed for his salvation on Calvary.” While Mouw does find some hopeful signs in the book (which I will not repeat here), he remains concerned about some fundamental issues. “At the heart of our continuing disagreements, I am convinced, are very basic worldview issues. Judaism and Christianity have been united in their insistence that the Creator and the creation – including God’s human creatures – are divided by an unbridgeable “being” gap…On this view of things, to confuse the Creator’s being with anything in his creation is to commit the sin of idolatry. Mormons, on the other hand, talk about God and humans as belonging to the same ‘species’…the question of Christ’s saving power cannot be divorced from how we understand his ‘being’.” And finally, he remarks, “…having a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not require that we have all our theology straight…But I also believe with all my heart that theology is important. There is a real danger for all of us that we will define Jesus in such a way that we cannot adequately claim the full salvation that he alone can provide.”
But in the final analysis, Mouw decides that Millet’s Jesus is defined adequately, “I think that an open-minded Christian reader of this book will sense that Bob Millet is in fact trusting in the Jesus of the Bible for his salvation.” I wish that he had explained more thoroughly how he reached this conclusion, because his remarks in the paragraph above just don’t seem to square with his final verdict. My experience in dialogue with Mormons here in Utah over the last 6 years leads me to many of the same thoughts that Mouw has written above. I deeply love my Mormon friends and neighbors, and I truly wish that I could say that we really believe in the same Jesus. But theology IS important, and after reading this book, I have to say that I remain unconvinced. I wish that it were otherwise, and I truly do appreciate Millet’s honest portrayal of his Christology. But in the end, I see a different Jesus.