The True Fisherman

I have a son and a son-in-law who are both avid fisherman. My son has fished all of his life and would rather fish than eat. His definition of a fisherman is someone who spends ten hours with a fly rod, follows a trout up a stream in hip waders, hides in the shadows and drifts a fly under its nose a dozen times until it strikes. He then teases it into his net on too-small of line, and after taking a photo, releases it back into the stream. To him, that is a true fisherman.

My Son-in-law lives in Alaska and has fished all of his life also. His definition of a fisherman is someone who walks up to a river, pulls out 200 pounds of salmon in an hour, fillets it on the bank, takes it home and cans or freezes it, and then eats it every day for the remainder of the year. His definition of a fisherman is someone who charters a boat, goes twenty miles in choppy seas, barfs a few times, catches a 300 pound halibut, brings it home and puts it in the freezer and eats it.

Last year, my son told us many stores about his fishing. My son-in-law’s wife, our daughter, sends us pictures of them on the banks with rows of fish, the smallest of which is about two-feet long. For Christmas last year they gave us 50 pounds of halibut and salmon.

The last time they were both in our home together they argued about who was actually a real fisherman, the guy who teases one fish from the stream and releases it, or the one who pulls wagon loads of fish from teeming streams with very little finesse and eats them. After a while I changed the subject to politics, which at the moment seemed a safer topic than fishing.

Yesterday I read an article by some political professor of something or the other who hates a certain Mormon candidate, and was making the case that Mormons are not Christians. He acknowledged that we call ourselves Christians, and we do Christian things, and worship someone we call Christ, but who just is not actually Jesus Christ. His reasoning was something about some doctrine we don’t actually espouse, but that someone said a century ago, which now disqualifies us all from being Christians. And since we’re not Christians, all Mormons are going to hell, the candidate is the devil’s agent, and should be the subject of great contempt and distrust to all Americans.

I couldn’t help but think of my son, the great fisherman who catches one fish and has loud disdain for his brother-in-law’s “fishermanship” who practically lives on fish, but who is not a fisherman by his definition.

Just sayin . . .

Brother John

© April 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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14 Responses to The True Fisherman

  1. Brent says:

    This topic of other Christians telling us that we are not Christians because we believe in a different Jesus Christ always brings a smile to my face.

    I served a mission in one of the most Anti-Mormon parts of the world in Southern California. I had a zone leader who had this concern brought up to him on a regular basis. While it may be irreverant, his response to us believing in a different Jesus Christ morphed into something like this. “Are you suggesting there are two Jesus Christs? That is a damnable heresy if not blasphemy.” Which generally caught people off guard and provided persepctive to their acusation.

    I just smiled.


  2. Steve G says:

    I appreciate the post, John, and agree with Steve H. about the irony of using a post-Biblical creed to determine if someone is a Christian.

    BTW, what was the doctrine and who did the espousing?

    Steve G.


    • I would have to dig up the article again. He said Mormons believe only men can be exaulted (never heard that one before) and that Christ and Lucifer were brothers. (Aren’t we all brothers and sisters?) and something about the immaculate conception which I have never heard taught and I don’t personally believe. Those were his main complaints about Mormon theology. Besides getting two out of three wrong, it was just the audacity of it that amazed me. What amazed me even more was that it was on a major news website.

      Enough groaning…

      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Robin Carlson says:

    Bro John:
    re: Jared’s comment
    I’m no pro on this but isn’t being “valiant” part of minimum qualification? Also doesn’t the parable of the husbandman who hired workers at varying times throughout the day have some bearing on the question of minimum requirements?
    My own take on this is that the qualifications were probably set for each person who aspired to the Celestial Kingdom, in the pre-mortal existence and the challenge for each person here in mortality is to so live as to have the Spirit whisper what they should do to 1)find out the specifics of the mission(s) 2)what one should do to accomplish them 3)cling to the rod, the iron rod. I like that word “cling” Seems extreme but very apt as this is one’s exaltation we’re talking about.
    And what about the teaching that the Celestial Kingdom actually has 3 degrees of glory within itself? How do you see that fitting in?
    Robin Carlson


  4. James says:

    I love salmon, so I’d have to go with the son-in-law on fishing.

    I suppose that people who think Mormons are going to hell just because they are Mormons are about as enlightened as Mormons who think they’re saved just because they are Mormons.

    I had a good conversation with my daughter about a lesson on covenants and ordinances in her YW class today. The instructor asserted that it wasn’t enough just to be a good person, you had to have the ordinances of the gospel in order to be saved. My daughter struggled against the idea that God would favor a church member over a non-member of equal or greater character just because of having received the ordinances. So I said to imagine person A, being LDS and making a reasonable effort to live the gospel, temple worthy, serving in callings, etc., and person B, someone of another church or of upstanding character who also lives according to the usual standards of devoutness for his faith. Not knowing or assuming anything more about the two indivuduals, when they die, what is the difference between their respective standings before God? She guessed it. Absolutely nothing.

    Receiving the odinances isn’t as though tinkerbell sprinkled pixie dust on us so we can fly, but no one else can. We read some of DC 84 about the covanents and promises associated with the ordinances of the Priesthood. It really comes down to ‘Following the Light of Christ into His Presence’, and believing that we can with His help.


    • Interesting reply. I had to read it a couple times. The key is as you said, following Christ. If you are saying that a LDS person who doesn’t seek anything further, who is at ease in Zion, and not seeking anything more than a good feeling once a week, then a non-LDS person who is truly dedicated to Christ may actually have an advantage hereafter. Discipleship is more important that membership in and out of the church. The problem we hit is that if the Holy Spirit has been urging someone to join the church, and they resisted, then discipleship is lost and they have missed some part of their life’s work.

      There latter-day ordinances open great privileges for us if we avail ourselves of them fully. Just having them performed for us (the pixie dust) doesn’t change much unless we press forward and claim the blessings associated with the ordinance.

      I’m still pondering this answer. I an reluctant to judge people or to make blanket statements about who is qualified and why.

      I appreciate your thoughts,



      • James says:

        It was a difficult concept to articulate. We can never judge real people whose hearts we don’t know, but hypothetically comparing two men by their outward expressions, it becomes apparent that those expressions alone cannot distinguish them before God. There must be something more, even from the church member who received the ordinances and continues to show up and try to be good. If that man was me, what then, might I do differently? Possibly nothing outwardly, but open my heart to the spirit and continually seek greater knowledge from my Father; ‘repent of mortality’, desire the ‘greater things’ that God has for us; knowledge that will give so much advantage in the world to come. Never succumb to the lie that a set of procedures has secured my soul to heaven over and above my neighbor, such that I fall asleep until it is everlastingly too late; but continually ask, seek, knock; meekly, diligently, patiently, faithfully; being satisfied only when His voice, and no other, assures that my sacrifice is acceptable to Him. Thank you for letting me process these kinds of thoughts on your unblog, it is a blessing in my life.


  5. Jared says:

    It’s kind of sad and ironic how, in the midst of all these extra sacred realities, life goes on.

    I was just talking to a close relative a few days ago about how to gain greater faith and spiritual sensitivity by making a concerted effort to follow the promptings of the Spirit in ALL things. I also testified of the blessings that follow. In this case, this particular person has long lamented her seeming inability to receive spiritual promptings or manifestations of any sort.

    Well, in our conversation it finally came out that she was afraid of what God might have her do. She plainly stated that in her profession she competed with a lot of people much more clever than her. She seemed to think that following the Spirit would put her at a disadvantage and she thought she would do better carefully maneuvering the course by playing the game according to how she thought best.

    It seems that ones level of faith and spiritual experience really is a choice. Her response, ironically, was very reminiscent of the verse in D&C 76:75 about those who inherit Terrestrial Glory as those “blinded by the craftiness of men.” It is really so sad.

    Brother John, maybe you could talk about what qualifies us for the Celestial Kingdom. D&C 76 seems to indicate a very high bar; much higher than merely being LDS.


    • What an interesting story. I worked with an investigator years ago who read most of the BoM and prayed diligently to know if it was true, and did not receive a testimony. The Spirit wrought upon me and I asked, “are you willing to change your life and join God’s true church if He tells you it is true?” He said, “No, of course not. I’m just curious.” We didn’t go back.

      Your friend seems to have the same malady. She wants personal revelation, but not to change her life because of it. In my experience, the only thing revelation does is change one’s life.

      The Spirit has never led me to write on that subject. I know how to qualify for the vast blessings, the highest degree, and the journey into Eternal Lives, but I don’t know what the minimum requirment is becuase it is so vast. Certainly, being LDS while mortal is not a requirement or we wouldn’t be doing vacarious ordinances. The parable of the ten virgins can be read as meaning that not every member of the church will have oil in their lamps and be ready. I believe people come to this earth with all types of assignments, the fulfillment of which will qualify them for the Celestial Kingdom. How can we say that a person who hates the LDS church, but who is a committed Christian, a witness for Christ and worker of good things in his own realm is not a candidate? It is a possibility that his work can only be accomplished outside of the church, and the ananimity is the Lord’s way of keeping him in his promised role.

      The 76th section can also be read as a description of Zion and translated people. If you have The Triumph of Zion, there is a section on page 44 and page 183 on the meaning of the 76th section. Very interesting stuff.

      Good question, I’ll ponder it a while.



  6. Steve H. says:

    Funny that politics became a safer topic! My sense of humor, though. I’m actually puzzled that some Christians define Christianity by stubborn adherence to extra-Biblical creeds, then freak because we have scripture besides the Bible. It’s really sad that they think they have some exclusive right to declare what is and isn’t Christianity; and it’s darned presumptuous for a member of an off-shoot from an apostate version of the True Early Church. People!

    I think if I wrote a blog it would be about those two untouchable topics: religion and politics. Do you think I could do it without inflaming contention?


    • I like your view of the irony of someone declaring who is and who isn’t Christian. Or even higher irony, whose Christ is better. Or the highest irony, that they can send someone to “hell” based upon their divine right to decide.

      And, good luck with the blog. Maybe you could call it “ToHeckandBack”…



  7. Robin Carlson says:

    Bro. John:
    Thank you: gave me a lot of “food for thought” especially about how dangerous contention is to one who wants to become a more committed disciple of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
    Robin Carlson


    • I agree, and with your email comment. I expect it to get far worse as the lines are drawn. But, I also expect to triumph through Christ and then all conflict will end. For that, I’m willing to stay the course.


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