16
Aug
08

Judging a Prophet’s Words

      This is a continuation of my last post.  There I talked about how the fruit of a prophet – the fruit by which we recognize whether a prophet is true or false – is not his character or even his success, but his words.  But how do we go about looking at his words?

     The LDS church cites James 1:5 and tells people to pray about it.  But nowhere in the context does James apply this to judging a prophet’s words.  No, when the subject is judging whether or not a prophet is true the Bible is consistent in its approach.  You judge his words by comparing them with the Bible. 

      Isaiah 8:19-20: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?  20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  The law and the testimony were terms for Old Testament Scripture.  That was the standard to be used.  They were not told to pray about it.

     We see the same thing in the New Testament.  In Acts 16 Paul comes to the Greek city of Berea.  In regard to his visit we read:  “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” (v.11)  They examined Paul’s word in light of scripture to determine the truthfulness of them.  Searching the Scriptures rather than praying about it was their method of discerning truth.  For a fuller discussion of this see http://www.thecityofzion.com/postoffice/DiscerningTruth/GodsWay/359p3.htm

     When one compares Joseph Smith’s teachings and subsequent LDS teaching to the Bible, there are major conflicts.  The Bible says we are saved without works, the Book of Mormon says we are saved by grace after all we can do.  Mormonism teaches that God was once a man – the Bible teaches that God has always been God.  The Bible says that there is only one God – Mormonism teaches that there are countless gods.  On and on it goes.

     One can’t help but think that Joseph Smith saw these conflicts and that is why he taught that many plain and precious things were taken from the Bible.  Or why Mormonism teaches that “we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” 

     When his teachings are compared with the teachings of the Bible, Joseph Smith is revealed as a false prophet.

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84 Responses to “Judging a Prophet’s Words”


  1. 1 JLFuller
    August 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Mark
    The NIV makes your quote clearer. The entire passage is 19.”When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” It is easy to see Isaiah was talking about people who consult mediums and spiritualists and indeed said people should ask their God. There is nothing in the passage that says people should not ask God. In fact James 1:5 says “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him.” Your comment “Searching the Scriptures rather than praying about it was their method of discerning truth” seems to be trumped here too.

    The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi uses the term familiar spirit to mean “as a ghost speaking from beyond the grave”. It comes from the OT prophet Isaiah who spoke of Israel’s destruction and that the only thing left of them would be their words “as a ghost speaking from beyond the grave”. He says “And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” Isa. 29: 4. Nephi was a great lover of Isaiah and speaks at length of him.

    You also said “Mormonism teaches that there are countless gods” We didn’t make that up that. It comes from the bible Mark. See Psalms 82:1,6-7, 1 John 3:1-3, 2 Peter 1:2-4, Philippians 2:5-6, Romans 8:15-17, and Revelation 21:7. They all talk about it. Genesis 3:22 indicates the belief has been around since before the earth was first populated. Many historical texts talk about it too. Athanasius of Alexandria wrote “God became human so humans would become gods” (On the Incarnation 54:3, PG 25:192B). Maximus the Confessor said “A sure warrant for looking forward with hope to deification of human nature is provided by the incarnation of God, which makes man god to the same degree as God Himself became man.” and “let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods.”

  2. August 16, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Then how do you handle Christ’s own personal declaration that men receive greater reward in heaven according to their works? All this talk of “grace-only” seems weirdly divorced from the Savior’s own ministry. Jesus was a BIG fan of righteous works.

  3. August 16, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Mark, if I were to sum up this post and a few others it would go like this: don’t worry about the commandments and don’t pray over important things. This cannot be what you’re really advocating can it?

    Your advice here is to study out the scriptures for yourself to know if a prophet speaks the truth. Do you know of a major religion that doesn’t have scholars of the highest order? None of them can come to a consensus, not even given centuries to study it out, yet you expect anyone to be able to understand the truth without help from the Spirit of Truth?

    The Savior wants us to pray and He wants us to follow God’s commandments and teachings. That’s exactly what He did and it’ exactly what He spent His time teaching.

  4. 4 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 3:52 am

    Reggie and Seth
    I don’t want to gang up on Mark. I am sure his heart is in the right place. But his logic is the logic of mankind’s understanding. It stops with asking God if it is correct. I know of some people who would rather be right than anything else in the world. Some even die to prove to others how right they are. But where they go wrong, it seems to me, is they don’t worry about being correct according to God’s way. It seems these people buy off on being told what to think not how to think. Anyone who lays the law down as to what is right and what isn’t and leaves it at that is not in Christ’s service. I even saw a bumper sticker once that said something like “God said it and that’s all there is”. What it didn’t say was “according to whom?” As far as I know, the LDS Church is the only church that requires members to study thoroughly, come to an understanding and then pray about whether it is right or not. No other church does this. It makes God a partner in our learning process. The glory of God really is intelligence.

  5. 5 Stephanie
    August 17, 2008 at 3:55 am

    As far as good works go, didn’t Jesus also say that “the last shall be first and the first shall be last?”

    The main point is that doing good works is only a futile attempt to earn God’s forgiveness of sins. It even angers God. It is an insult to His love for us. God declares each of us already “perfect” simply because Christ became “perfect” in our place. It is a free gift. Christ lived perfectly for us, and He took the punishment that we deserved by dying on the cross. When God looks at us, He sees the perfection of Christ instead of our flaws.

    We are very flawed, no matter how hard we try. We are definitely not perfect and we will never achieve perfection through our own efforts. Because Christ died in our place, we don’t have to die anymore (the wages of sin is death). He conquered death and gave all who believe the “free gift” of eternal life. That means we can live forever with Heavenly Father right this instant (if we died right this instant). There is no long and difficult journey that we need to take. Right now, right this very second, I can say that I am already perfect in the eyes of Heavenly Father because He sees Christ in my place.

    Christ wasn’t our example, He was our substitute. And there is nothing I can do to make Heavenly Father love me more than He does right this second. I know it feels good to our humanly nature to believe that we can earn our own ticket to Exaltation. I know it makes sense to feel that we must play some role in that. But as the Bible says, human reasoning is a stumbling block. Trying to make God make sense to us often trips us up more than anything else.

    The cool thing is that Christ’s sacrifice was enough for the entire world, if only the entire world believed it. His one, perfect sacrifice was sufficient for every single person to be declared “perfect” right this second. If you can somehow try hard to imagine life from that perspective, you will be astounded to see the true difference and freedom. There is no condemnation in Christ. There is great freedom and joy in doing good works and obeying the commandments; but none of the drudgery and anguish over imperfection. We know we are already perfect!

    All the major religions in the world are based on good works and earning one’s way to eternal life. Except Christianity. Christianity is the only religion based entirely on Christ’s perfect life and innocent death, and not on human effort. Despite all the scholars in history, this one, single difference remains.

    As far as studying scripture goes… This is the best way to be absolutely certain of the truth. Praying is much more subjective. Feelings can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. We know how vastly different individual people are, and I imagine their prayer-lives are equally unique. But Scripture (the Bible alone) is objective and the same for everyone. It is a much better way to discern the truth. Of course we should ask for wisdom from God. But when we have feelings that clearly contradict the Bible, we should place the Bible above our feelings. Feelings are deceptive and transitory, but the Word of God will stand forever. I pray for everyone reading this blog. May God bless you!

  6. 6 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Stephanie
    I don’t think works as it is used means to partcipate in a contest. You said “a futile attempt to earn God’s forgiveness of sins.” I think that isn’t correct. Works are intended to show we are doing more than just giving lip service. Even Satan acknowledges Christ is the Savior so just acknowledging Him doesn’t seem to be enough. We have to change. We demonstate our change by being different. Like was said earlier, Christ is all about doing rightous works. Otherwise why would there be commandments?

    You said “human reasoning is a stumbling block”. That is correct. That’s why we should study, come to an understanding and then pray for confirmation. Not only in scripture study but in any learning we do.

    You said “Feelings can be misunderstood and misinterpreted”. The term feelings has two meanings. The one we use in describibg the manifestgation of the Holy Ghost is the second one. The one about “sensing” not the “emotion” meaning. Would you say that the touching sensation is an emotion or the hot and cold sensation is emotional? No. They refer to the sense of presense of something. So it is with sensing the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. It is that sensation we should learn to recognize.

  7. 7 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Stephanie
    One more thing. When we feel the presense of the Holy Ghost it is a warm sensation. It also described as a sense of intelligence that you might not otherwise have. It is kind of like being on a roll so to speak. Insights come to you. It is like the thought is planted in your brain. It is up to us then to express it. This is a powerful feeling. But the absense of the Spirit has a discernable feeling to. It is a hollow kind of sensation. Some say it is like a stupor of thought. Some say the feelings are similar to the difference in sensation between doing right and wrong. I don’t think you would say they are the same feeling. They are quite different. I am sure you have felt the difference too.

  8. 8 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Stephanie
    You said “Christ wasn’t our example”. Peter says, ‘Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps’, 1 Pet 2.21. ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ.’ [1 Cor 11.1]. Jesus said, ‘Learn of Me; I am meek and lowly.’ Matt 11.29. I think He made it clear that we are to see Him as our example.

  9. 9 Stephanie
    August 17, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    The difference is the order of events. First (while we were still dead in our sins and hadn’t lifted one finger in any good work), Christ declared all believers “perfect.” Christ has declared me “perfect” in the eyes of Heavenly Father. Second, Christ began to “sanctify” me. The sanctification process is “becoming Christ-like,” following His example, as you say. (I was referring to Christ’s death on the cross when I said He was our substitute and not our example.) Good works is the SECOND part of the equation, not the first part. This is such a vital difference that seems very difficult to grasp.

    The order of events is very critical. We Christians do not look down on good works. We value them, and they are indeed proof of a true faith in Christ. But we don’t deceive ourselves into thinking that good works play a part in earning eternal life for us. Good works do not earn eternal life. Isn’t it a relief to know that our eternal life with Heavenly Father does not depend on whether we make mistakes? Isn’t it a huge burden lifted from our shoulders to know that Heavenly Father has already declared us perfect because of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross?

    As far as our “perfection” is concerned, Christ is an example in the fact that He did indeed live a perfect life. But there is no way for us to imitate Him “perfectly.” To tell ourselves that it is possible to become as perfect as Christ is to deceive ourselves. Satan is the father of lies, and he has deceived millions of people with the lie that humans can become perfect through their own striving. But the truth is that I am already declared perfect in Christ. Satan doesn’t want people to know this. He would rather keep millions of people in the dark, striving through good works to earn eternal life, and never realizing that they are already declared perfect. Satan wants as many people as possible to fall for this lie and end up in outer darkness forever.

    Please remember the order of events: perfection first, then good works. Good works do not add up over time and finally reach the threshold of perfection at some undetermined time in the future. How stressful life would be if we all had to labor under this lie! Please everyone remember: Christ has already declared you perfect and set you free to be sanctified, to be made like Him through good works performed with the joy of knowing that you already have attained perfection. You can already have the joy of knowing that eternity with Heavenly Father is yours right now.

  10. 10 Stephanie
    August 17, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    One more comment pertaining to my previous comment above:

    The difference I am trying to show in the long comment above is also found in both Ephesians 2:8,9 and 2 Nephi 25:23.

    The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    It is clear that eternal life is through faith alone. It is a gift of God. This verse makes it clear that good works are not a part of the equation for attaining eternal life.

    In stark contrast is the verse from 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.”

    In this verse, the equation has been reversed! Opposite! 2 Nephi 25:23 states that we must try our best FIRST (“all we can do”) and then whatever we have failed to do perfectly is covered by grace. This is clearly not what the Bible says.

    Wow! What an amazing difference. I hope you are able to see clearly now how the gospel of the Bible is vastly different from the gospel of the LDS church.

  11. 11 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Stephanie
    We are talking past one another. You quote one verse and someone else quotes another. The problem is, as I see it, you have taken these verses singley and not looked for the entire message. If you take all of Christ’s message into account I think you will see Nephi is correct.

  12. August 18, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Stephanie,

    Can you or Mark please explain how this perfection process works? After you accept Christ can you change your mind and leave the faith? Do you still have agency? You believe that you only need to repent one time in your life? Aren’t the scriptures full of examples of people who believed and then fell away? Aren’t they are examples of what not to do?

    We believe that accepting Christ is the starting line, entering at the narrow gate, that judgment comes after we leave this life and that we’ll be judged on our thoughts, actions, and deeds. Upon repenting of our sins, being baptized by water and fire, we become clean, but not perfect; we’re still capable of giving up our faith and will become in need of repentance again. We will certainly need mercy through Christ’s sacrifice, but is there not a big difference between someone who is striving to follow Christ’s teaching and someone who is not?

    Our works are not merit badges to earn and show off, they are character builders. They are designed to build the character of humans into the character of God. Anytime one of Heavenly Father’s children chooses to follow His teachings in faith and humility, it only brings glory to His name. It is His delight to grant us salvation through His Son, but He will not force us to follow Him, we have to choose that for ourselves. How do we choose? By accepting Christ, which is to look to Him for forgiveness of our sins and to follow His teachings through out our lives.

    Study the parables, beatitudes, and other teachings from the gospel. All of these doctrines are taught therein. One of the best is the parable of the unforgiving servant. That servant received forgiveness, but didn’t learn to be a forgiving person and so lost his forgiveness. Are not we to do our best (meaning using our God given talents, strength, intelligence, resources) to change our character into one similar to the Master’s?

  13. 13 JLFuller
    August 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Good post Reggie. You will notice that Mark hasn’t responded to our latest posts. I don’t know if he his just gathering his thoughts or if we just over powered him with our brilliance and deep thinking! :)

  14. 14 Stephanie
    August 18, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Reggie, I will try my best to answer your questions. However, I am merely a lay-Christian and stay-at-home mom, but it is my hope that this response will be of help to some of you.

    Can you lose your faith? Can you change your mind? Yes. In an analogy about losing faith, Paul talks about a boat that loses its mooring from the shore and drifts away.

    According to Mormonism, agency is a person’s free will and natural tendency to choose the right. But the Bible says that we are by nature spiritually dead and thoroughly evil. It is only through the undeserved mercy of God that we are able to have saving faith in Christ. Again, this Biblical teaching goes against human nature and reason. The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts through the Word of God. Romans 10:17 “So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    Because we still live in a state of sin, we do need to repent of our sinful state, and any specific sins that come to mind. However, if we forget to repent of a specific sin, we do not need to be afraid! For the Christian, repentance is different than for a mormon. If I commit a sin, repent, and then commit the same sin again, I simply ask again for forgiveness (and strength to overcome the sin perhaps) and continue trying to conquer that sin. I don’t lose my forgiveness forever. That is not taught in the Bible anywhere. Christ’s death covers all sins, for all time. Really, isn’t this a relief to know?

    The parable of the unforgiving servant is a lesson in how we are supposed to treat others. Because God has graciously wiped away all our sins, we are supposed to treat others with the same mercy. That is the point of the parable, not the wrath the servant received for withholding mercy from his debtor. The LDS interpretation is the withdrawal of forgiveness if we don’t live up to Heavenly Father’s perfect standards. But as you can see from the plethora of verses in the previous pages, we can never live up to God’s standards! Our only option is to accept his gift to us and say thanks. The Lord’s Prayer contains a similar sentence, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” In other words, we need to be forgiving to others. God has already forgiven us. God will not only forgive us according to the measure we forgive others. We are so sinful and imperfect that we would all surely die if that were the case.

    Reggie, may God bless you as you search for the truth. I really appreciate your questions and I understand where you are coming from.

    Now, I have more to say, so please bear with me… :)

    I use the word “Justification” (or justify) to mean “to declare perfect.” The word “law” means the same as “the commandments” or “works.”

    First, I want to cite a few verses from the Bible that warn about false gospels.

    Galations 1:8-9 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Any gospel other than the gospel of the Bible is to be cursed.)

    Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy or vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

    2 Timothy 2:15 “ Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (We are told to know the Bible so that we can tell truth from lies.)

    2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (The Bible must only be interpreted against itself. We must take the whole message from the entire Bible, and not take verses or even entire chapters out of context from the rest of the Bible.)

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (The Bible is inspired by God, and can be used as a standard by which to judge all other doctrines. The believer, who is already justified through faith in Christ, is equipped for good works. Notice the order.)

    From these verses, I conclude that the Bible is the only true word of God.

    Now, let me move on to tackle the next question: Can we attain righteousness through keeping the commandments? The Bible says no.

    Matthew 5:48 “Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.” (We are told to “be perfect now,” not to become perfect at some point in the future. It is impossible to be perfect.)

    Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in that way; Because narrow is the gate, and hard is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Many more people will enter the wide gate to outer darkness than those who will enter the narrow gate to heaven.)

    1 Peter 1:16 “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”

    We are not told to “become” perfect. We are told to “be perfect” in the present tense. We are told to “be holy,” not to “become holy.” Is it possible for us to live a perfect life? The Bible says no.

    1 Peter 1:17 “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourn here in fear.” (If you think you will be declared perfect through your own good works, you should be trembling in fear right now.)

    1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

    Romans 5:20 “Moreover, the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (The purpose of the law is to expose sin. However, the grace of God in Christ is more than enough to cleanse us from our sins.)

    Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Adam’s first tragic sin brought sin onto all of us. Christ removed our sins and restored our relationship with Heavenly Father.)

    Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

    James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (If we break even one part of God’s law, we are guilty of breaking all of it.)

    Clearly, the Bible says that we deceive ourselves if we think we do not sin. God’s position about sin is very harsh. If we break even the smallest commandment, we are guilty of breaking all the law. And what are the consequences? Death, outer darkness. Pretty harsh.

    So how do we assure ourselves eternal life with Heavenly Father? Again, the Bible provides the answer. We are justified by faith in Christ. It sounds too easy. That is why it is so hard to believe. The simple message of the Bible goes against the grain of our human nature. Human nature makes us want to work hard to attain eternal life. It just doesn’t seem fair that anyone can go to heaven.

    Galations 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Man can never be declared perfect through the law.)

    Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Grace means undeserved mercy.)

    Galations 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Don’t anger God by discarding Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice was enough for all time, for everyone.)

    Titus 3:5-8 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

    Philippians 3:8-9 “…that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

    Galations 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith.” (No man is declared perfect by following laws and commandments in the sight of God. Those who are declared perfect live by faith.)

    Galations 5:1 “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” (Enjoy the freedom given you through your faith in Christ, and don’t fall back into the old system of laws and commandments.)

    Romans 5:1 “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Because we have been declared perfect through faith in Christ, our relationship with Heavenly Father has been restored perfectly also.)

    Hebrews 10:10-18 “By which we are sanctified (made holy, pure, perfect) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; But this man (Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God. …For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us; for after he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Christ’s death was one sacrifice that was good enough for all sins. There is no more need for any more offerings for sin. Instead of following a complicated and strict code of written laws, our consciences will speak to us about right and wrong.)

    We, as Christians, still live in a state of sin. But because Christ is our substitute, Heavenly Father sees the perfection of Christ instead of our sin. Clearly, the Bible is consistent in teaching that we are justified (declared perfect) simply through faith in Christ. The verses abound. Sounds too easy, right? Doesn’t fit into human reason, right? Remember this verse, 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” Christ’s death not only enables us to resurrect physically, it wipes away all our sins, restores perfectly our relationship with Heavenly Father, and ensures us a place with God forever in Heaven. Christ’s sacrifice was all-sufficient, totally complete. There is nothing left for us to do. In fact, trying to do things only frustrates Heavenly Father.

    Where then do good works fit into the life of a Christian? Again, the Bible provides this answer for us.

    Galations 5:13-14 “For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Even though you are perfect in Christ, don’t abuse your freedom. Knowing that you are forgiven, do not sin purposely.)

    1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome.” (Our love of Christ is evidenced by attempting to keep the commandments. But going to heaven does not depend on keeping these laws. The divine order is justification by faith, then works – not works first in an attempt to attain justification.)

    Colossians 2:14-17 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over then in it. Let no man, therefore, judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or of the new moon, or of a sabbath day, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Christ’s death on the cross cancelled works-righteousness, ceremonial laws, and civil laws. Moral law still stands.)

    Now for the verse that everyone has been waiting for… (drumroll)

    James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith (is religious), and not have (fruits of the Spirit) works? Can (religion) faith save him? … Even so (religion) faith, if it hath not (fruits of the Spirit) works, is dead. … Ye see then, that by works (fruits of the Spirit) a man is justified, and not by (religion) faith only.”

    This seems to be a contradiction that deviates completely from all the other verses above. However, I will show you that this is not the case. I have put in parentheses the correct interpretation of this verse. As 2 Peter 1:20 tells us, “Scripture is not subject to private interpretation,” so in placing this verse against numerous other verses, it is clear that these two writers, although inspired by God, had different styles and used these words differently.

    James uses the word “faith” in the sense of intellectual orthodoxy, or thinking you are following all the rules and laws required by your religion. Religiosity will not save you. The pharisees were very religious, but they did not have faith in Christ because their lives did not show evidence of it. The evidence of faith is good works; not the other way around. James uses the word “works” to describe the outward evidence of a justified life in Christ, such as the fruits of the Spirit.

    Paul, however, uses the same word “faith” to mean trust in the sacrificial death of Christ. Paul uses the word “works” to describe the actions of unsaved men in an attempt to earn eternal life, like the religious works of the pharisees.

    The fruits of the Spirit are found in Galations 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.” These traits are evidenced in the lives of all Christians, and they show forth in the good works of Christians.

    Paul and James actually complement each other. Paul stresses acceptance with God wholly by grace through faith; whereas James presents the continual evidence of a life of faith (which is the fruit of the Spirit and good works). Ephesians 2:8 (see above) clearly states the Biblical standpoint on works versus faith. My interpretation of this verse is according to 2 Peter 1:20.

    God Bless everyone!

  15. August 19, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Well Stephanie you definitely win for the longest comment! I know you think we’re so close to “getting it”, if you could just explain it a little more clearly perhaps we could understand and that’s why you put so much effort into it. I feel the same way, you guys are so close, you just need some of the plain and precious truths to understand completely.

    Can you tell me at what point a believer crosses the line and loses salvation? If I’ve understood you there is a point at which enough sin will cause one to lose salvation. Is that correct? I get the sense that you believe that if a follower is not trying to do anything that Christ taught then they are not really a follower, but if they believe and they’re doing the things everyday Christians do, faith like a mustard seed, well then all their mistakes are swallowed up in Christ’s sacrifice. If that is a correct summary then you believe exactly as we do.

    From your post I really don’t think you have an understanding of LDS doctrine on agency, natural man, mercy and forgiveness.

    For example we believe in full and complete forgiveness too.

    “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” – D&C 58:42

    The key is to do our best, ask for forgiveness when we stumble, and then move forward by following the Spirit which teachs us that which we should do. It’s the choices we make each day. Will we follow the evil spirit or the Spirit of God? Doing evil leads a person to become more evil; doing good leads a person to become better and more like Our Heavenly Father and His Son.

    I think we keep talking past each other because of the word “works”. Works in our language today implies we’re earning a grade or a salary. That’s not what we believe, we simply believe Christ when He said “if ye love me keep my commandments”. The only places we miss each other are in the meaning of faith and the effect our choices have. We believe that following the commandments is having faith; if you have faith that’s what you do, if you have not faith you do whatever you feel like doing. We also believe that the reward for those who follow not the commandments is exactly as outlined by the parable of the unforgiving servant. Christ meant what He said, unrighteous people will not receive the fullness of His mercy, no matter what thier lips confess.

    Also don’t get trapped by thinking that some of those versus are referring to the Bible, because the Bible didn’t exist at that time. See here for more info (http://mormon-fyi.com/2008/08/07/the-bible-is-not-infallible/)

    Let me reiterate again our belief in living prophets. We know what is meant by these scriptures because modern day revelation has been given to clarify and enhance the understanding of the world. We plead with people to not take our word for it but to study this doctrine with an open mind and an open heart and then ask God if it is true. A major role of the Holy Ghost is to witness of the truth and this He will do when given the opportunity; and the truth will truly set you free.

  16. 16 markcares
    August 19, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    JL: don’t worry. I will be continuing the discussion. I took a fast and busy trip to Utah. Had some wonderful meetings. Met some great folks Now I have tsome catching up to do – including some sleep!

  17. 17 Brad
    August 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    JL,

    What if I told you that I have a confirmed feeling from the Holy Spirit that 2+2=5, and not 4 as is commonly thought? What would you say to that?

  18. August 19, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Brad,

    The Spirit testifies of the truth, not incorrect teachings. Of course it is possible to be deceived or mistaken about feelings, so there are other things to do and look for in addition to the witness of the Spirit. These include fruits of the teachings, gifts of the Spirit, miracles, following the doctrine for yourself to know if it leads you closer to Christ, studying all the scriptures, continually praying to the Father for understanding and confirmation, and unfortunately persecutions driven by Satan. All of these signs accompany The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  19. 19 Brad
    August 19, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Reggie, that’s the biggest red herring I’ve ever heard. I would most certainly agree that the Spirit testifies ONLY of truth, not incorrect teachings. As such, if the teachings one adheres to are incorrect, then clearly it CANNOT (as you would evidently agree) be of the Spirit.

    If it is possible to be mistaken about feelings (which you say, and I agree, as does the Bible claim as well), then you are correct, we must look for confirmation of what we THINK is of the Spirit, and we must look for it APART from the Spirit and APART from our feelings (b/c, of course, the witness may not be from the Spirit, and our feelings can deceive us, which you’ve already agreed is the case).

    As such, let’s examine what YOU say we should look at for confirmation, to see if it stands up, shall we?

    1) Fruits of the teachings – by this I assume you mean the oft-quoted “by their fruits ye shall know them”, as Mormons are so quick to quote to prove their points. However, I can show you many non-believers (in either Christianity or Mormonism), who exhibit many of the traits that believers should have, and few of the traits that non-believers might be expected to have. In fact, I’m related to some people who fit this bill. So if we’re looking at fruits, we can continue to be deceived, b/c I can look at several people on the surface and say “yeah, I think they’re a Christian/Mormon, b/c look at all the great things they do for others.” Problem is, they’re not. So appearances can be deceiving. You can also say the flip side – I know many Christians who outwardly try to put on a facade of looking like a believer, but I know from things they do in private that they’re not. But not everyone sees what they do in private, so most would never guess, and would be misled into thinking otherwise. Not a good indicator.

    2) Gifts of the Spirit – prove they’re from the Spirit. I know that sounds trivial, and the answer might be “who else are they from?”, but didn’t the magicians in Pharaoh’s day also have the ability to perform unexplainable feats? Non-believers can prophesy, have mercy, be good administrators/leaders, teach, etc… – all spiritual gifts. If you refer to speaking in tongues, prove that that is TRULY something they’re doing, rather than just simply uttering unintelligible words that nobody can interpret. I can do that right now at my desk, but it wouldn’t be of the Spirit. Not a good indicator.

    3) Miracles – This is really grasping. If miracles is our indicator to know whether something from the Spirit is true, most of us will be in confusion, b/c we rarely see miracles such as are described in the Bible. They just don’t happen like that much anymore. Not that they can’t, or that they never do, just not with frequency. Not a good indicator.

    4) Following the doctrine yourself to know if it leads you closer to Christ – perhaps the worst one you’ve presented. This is absolutely no different than just believing for yourself that it’s of the Spirit, without seeking confirmation outside the Spirit and outside your feelings. This is the same as that. A terrible indicator.

    5) Studying all the scriptures – for one, define “scriptures.” My guess is you would define them as, at a minimum, the 4 standard works, whereas I would define them solely as the Bible. Again, this gets back to confirmation of what you believe. There is confirmation apart from the Bible, apart from my feelings, and apart from the Spirit, that the Bible is true, and is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. No such confirmation exists for your 3 other works. They are true, ONLY IF those who claimed to have the revelation from the Spirit ACTUALLY did, and that is what we’re trying to confirm by this very exercise, now isn’t it? So you can’t use WHAT you’re trying to confirm, as the basis for confirming it. That’s circular, and a terrible indicator.

    6) Continually praying to the Father for understanding and confirmation – how do you know you’re praying to the “right” God, and what “confirmation” are you praying for? Again, this gets back to feelings, and needing confirmation APART from those feelings (which you’ve alluded to) to make sure it’s true. This certainly isn’t doing that; a bad indicator.

    7) Persecutions driven by Satan – these can happen to anyone, believer or non-believer. They provide absolutely NO PROOF that the Spirit has witnessed to you directly about anything. A horrible indicator.

    Yes, I would agree that those within the LDS church use these as confirmation, no doubt. Unfortunately, they are confirmation of NOTHING! How do we know that it isn’t the Holy Spirit, if I say He witnessed to me that 2+2=5? BECAUSE THE CLEAR EVIDENCE SHOWS OTHERWISE, DESPITE WHAT I MAY “FEEL” IS TRUE, OR FROM THE SPIRIT!

    That’s how you know. I don’t expect JL’s answer to be any different than yours, frankly; virtually every Mormon I’ve ever asked that question to has answered it the same way you have. All that logic falls apart, b/c it’s circular.

    There is evidence out there, Reggie. You just need to search for it and be willing to accept that you may be wrong about the Mormon church. Are you willing to do that? Now, I know your answer is “no, b/c I have a testimony that the LDS church is true.” But now you’ve been told different, Reggie, and you’re held responsible for that. I do hope and pray you make the right decisions.

  20. 20 OEF
    August 20, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Mark and Stephanie,and Brad, too
    It is so very comforting to see you using the Bible to back up your comments on this blog.
    I also have some Scripture to share that maybe helpful to some readers.
    1. Matt. 24:35 – Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

    2. 2 Tim. 3:16 – ALL scripture [is] given by inspiration of God.
    3. John 8:31,32 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    4. Ps. 119:105 -Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

    5. John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
    6. Luke 11:28 – But he said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

    7. John 8:47 – He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them] not, because ye are not of God.

    8. Isaiah 40:8 – the word of our God shall stand for ever.

    9. Isaiah 55:8 – 11 8For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.

    The Lord’s Blessings

  21. 21 Stephanie
    August 20, 2008 at 3:42 am

    Brad and OEF,

    Isn’t it amazing how God’s Word inspires worship and praise? When I saw your posts, I thanked God for the Body of Christ. Thanks for the scriptures, OEF.

  22. August 20, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Brad,

    Are you really here to just offer insults? That doesn’t seem in-line with Mark’s goal of reaching out in a caring and loving manner. It also won’t lead either of us to gain any understanding. Sure we could each sit in our corners and wait for ultimate justification at the last day when we can pounce like hungry jackals with “I told you so”, but is there really any satisfaction in that? I mean we’re both obviously interested in the things of God, and while we may never come to an agreement, we can at least try to understand each other’s perspectives and background. What do you say?

    Now back to the scriptures. Everything I shared about the signs that follow the disciples of Christ is covered in the Bible. For example you said that my point about following the word was the worst one. I didn’t make that up, it comes straight from the Master Himself.

    John 7:17 – “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

    John 8:31,32 – “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    How about a specific example? Malachi 3 teaches about tithes and offerings and the great promise from the Lord to those who obey. How do you know if the Lord will keep His promise? Well by following His word.

    Malachi 3:10 – “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

    The list of these goes on and on. Have you read the beatitudes? They’re full of promises based on specific characteristics that one can strive to implement. How do you know if those blessing will come? By trying it for yourself and when they come you will have witness of the truth of the word, and the truth shall set you free.

    Regarding the gifts of the Spirit. Babbling in your office is not edifying anyone. You’ll notice from the scriptures that the actions of the Spirit are always done for the purpose of edification; for both the preacher and the hearer. For example on the day of Pentecost each man understood in his own tongue.

    Acts 2:8 – “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”

    I’m sure you’ll revile against this example, but it is my personal experience and testimony and so I’ll share it. Certainly you’re familiar with the LDS missionary program. Thousands of young people go to foreign lands each year to preach the word. The first stop is a few weeks of language training. With that little bit of training they’re able to go out and begin communicating with the people. Governments and other agencies have examined the training techniques in order to be able to train their own people so quickly, but it doesn’t work. Why? Because the Spirit is helping them beyond their own abilities. I was fortunate enough to have this experience too. I learned Portuguese much more quickly than my own abilities would have allowed for. This is one form of the gift of tongues, the other still occurs frequently as well.

    1 Cor. 12:28 – “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

    Miracles are still occurring daily on this earth too, you can find evidence of this if you’re looking in the right places.

    My point is that the scriptures are not for private or personal interpretation. Since every church and spiritual leader today interprets the same passage of scripture so differently how is one to know which interpretation is the correct one? Which is the one that God intended? We say appeal to Him for a witness of the truth, follow that witness by living the teachings and you will receive further knowledge and confirmation that you are on the path of truth and righteousness. And when you are, you will encounter and recognize all the gifts, signs, and wonders that God says follows His disciples. We invite you, and everyone else, to try it for yourself.

    Heb. 2:4 – “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

  23. 23 TK
    August 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Here is a powerful scripture regarding being deceived by Satan and how the Lord will send a strong delusion that those who want to be deceived should believe a lie.(v11) LDS are believing a lie. This section of scripture also tells Christians to hold to the traditions that the apostles and Christ taught (vs 15) and that is in direct conflict with what the LDS church teaches. The LDS have their own traditions and beliefs that have been given to them by their prophets and teachers since the time of Joseph Smith which are in direct conflict with what Christ and the apostles taught in New Testament.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

    1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

    2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

    3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

    4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

    5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

    6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

    7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

    8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

    9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

    10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

    11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

    14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    15Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

    16Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

    17Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

    My prayer is that Heavenly Father would release the LDS from this delusion. That their hearts would be softened to hear the truth that LDS teachings are false and that they have been deceived. I pray that the Holy Spirit would work in their hearts and minds and free them from the bondage they are in to their works and they would know the freedom that comes from believing in the substitutionary work of Jesus and his great sacrifice for their sins and that they are saved only because of this, not because they have done anything to gain perfection. Amen

  24. 24 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Brad said “What if I told you that I have a confirmed feeling from the Holy Spirit that 2+2=5, and not 4 as is commonly thought? What would you say to that?”. Well Brad, if one’s personal testimony was determinative I would say you have been talking to the god of this world. But given that testimonies are not determinative but anecdotal and meant to be supportive of the process of discovery I would say you haven’t understood the process yet. Even though I take your point as a perjorative, I will attempt to explain it for those who may want to better understand how Mormons view personal revelation.

    Testimonies are not the last word in anything but just one person’s experience. We bear them to encourage others to make the effort to find out for themselves. So your 1+1=5 example would not be taken seriously at the outset of the conversation. But, if you had said something that made sense but was different from my testimony it would then seem logical for the investigator take the next step in seeking thier own personal experince. The fact that there are differences in testimonies is expected once one understnads how personal revelation works – at least according to LDS theology. So it is a process not an event.

    The processs is not unlike preparing for an examination in a class. We read and study and then take a test to see how much we learned. A testimony is the work product of study, prayer, fasting and observing the commandments with the goal of learning to live a more Christ-like life. If we do our part God will do His part by telling us whether our effort is leading us in the right direction. At various way points in this process our effort is paid off by confirmation by the Holy Ghost. It is does not mean that everyone learns and progresses at the same rate. In fact we are cautioned about comparing ourselves to others. Personal tesimoniesa only meant to encourage those whose faith is challenged or are otherwise not as far along as someone else.

  25. 25 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Bearing one’s weaker testimony, having faith that it is true, can bring a greater confirmation. That’s where the “faith precedes the miracle” thing can happen.

  26. 26 Brad
    August 20, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Reggie,

    You can say what you wish. You still essentially say the same thing as you did before, and my feelings haven’t changed on the matter. The human side of me would love to see you understand, all too late, at judgment that you were wrong, so I could say “I told you so – now how do you feel?” However, that is the human, sinful side of me. The side of me that tries to reflect Christ feels terrible for you, b/c you are lost and don’t even know it, and I know the outcome that awaits you down this current path, and I hurt for where I know you’re headed. I have also come to realize, as a Christian, that my job is to TELL, not convince. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. I have told, and now rely on the HS to convince.

    JL,

    Way to dance around the subject. If your answer is that my question would be disregarded from the outset, b/c it didn’t make sense on its face, then perhaps that is why I disregard Mormonism from the outset – b/c none of that makes logical sense either. That is my point. Evidence does not point TO Mormonism, but AWAY from it. The deceitful feelings you experience are what’s leading you towards it, but as I mentioned to Reggie above, I do hurt for where I know you’re headed.

    Talk to some ex-Mormons, and see why they left, guys.

  27. 27 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Pardon me for being so inarticulate and not using spell check.

  28. 28 Stephanie
    August 20, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Reggie,

    Respectfully, I am not even close to agreeing with the LDS doctrines. The LDS beliefs are vastly different from what the Bible says, in many many areas. But it is counter-productive to argue each and every point. The only point that matters is what Christ did for you and me. I have done my best to explain this in my last post. I have used God’s word to support those points, and I know that God’s word changes hearts. I know that you are blinded with unbelief, and like Brad, it saddens me. There is nothing more for me to do but trust the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts that are reading this blog. I encourage you to talk to former Mormons. God bless you.

  29. August 20, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Look, both of our sides think the other is blinded by unbelief, tradition, and misunderstanding. We all get very frustrated talking to each other; it’s obvious we’re not going to convince one another. So we can just leave things how they are and walk away, or we can explore and understand each other a bit more. Personally I’m very fascinated by many aspects of “mainstream” Christianity as we see it today. In so many ways we believe similar things, yet for the most part there is nothing but hard feelings between us. This isn’t right, Christ taught us to love even our enemies. That doesn’t mean we have to be best friends and hang out every Friday night, but I think we should be more tolerant (notice I didn’t say accepting) and understanding of each other’s beliefs. At the end of the day we’re into believing the word of God as the most important message on earth and that Christ is our personal Savior. We at least have that much in common.

    Stephanie,

    All I’m saying is I’ve read your posts and I don’t think you know what true LDS doctrine is; so that makes it tough to know if you do or don’t believe the same. My guess is that you’re saying you don’t believe in the things that you’ve heard we believe in, or you’ve done some basic reading and haven’t understood it fully.

    For example, Joseph Smith taught that Christ is the core of our belief. Everything else is just an appendage.

    We’re in full agreement that the most important event ever was Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, that He paid the price for our sins, and full and complete forgiveness is only possible through Him.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is if we ever got beyond the feelings that are caused by our various disagreements on doctrine we’d probably find we’re closer in understanding than we thought.

    Brad,

    Yes I did say the same thing as before, I just expanded with scriptural references so that you might understand where we’re coming from. I’m offering our understanding of these scriptures. If you have another interpretation I’d be happy to read it.

    Also, I think most of us know plenty of former mormons. Talking to them is like talking to former members of any religion; which is not very useful for understanding the religion they left.

    Note Paul Graham (who is not into religion at all from what I can tell) wrote an interesting essay on how to disagree. You can find it here: http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

  30. 30 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Brad
    I am familiar with why people leave the church. In fact the most common reasons people are ex’d are sexual abuse, homosexuality, adultry, spousal/family abandonment, child abuse and financial crimes. Another up and coming meme is a myth known as “intellectual honesty” which is all too often associated with men (primarilly men) who are in trouble with the Church and rightfully see Church disciplinary action coming and are looking for a “manly” way to get out before they get kicked out. I could be wrong given my professional experience with Mormans, ex-Mormons and their families and loved ones is only over 25 years and a few hundred people. IN every case I supervised the person did not live the commandments and chose to live a worldy life rather than strive for a holy life. They stopped scripture study, didn’t pray, attend church, hold a job in the church, pay tithing and almost without exception was into pornogrophy and/or womanizing. They were more out of church than in it. In fact I dare say more never were in than there were those who were solid in the first place. I call those people MINOs – Mormon In Name Only.

    But if you want a more thorough discussion of why people leave the church go over to http://mormonthing.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/why-do-mormons-leave-the-church/

  31. 31 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Mind you I am not saying there are not some who don’t fit the profile I describe above. I am sure there are. I just never ran across any. One thing about people who are ex’d – they like to tell their story. They are quite anxious for others to see them as a victim when in fact more often than not they are a perp. When I got right down to it (it was my job to get right down to it) they were creating a lie as thier front. There are no better liars in the world than drug addicts and sex offenders. So when you talk to an ex-Mormon who has a big story to tell about how badly he was treated or how wrong the chcurch is, I will bet a buck the real story is something entirely different and he is breaking his back to put up a big front.

  32. 32 JLFuller
    August 20, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I treat this subject with a bit more gentleness at http://mormonthing.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/why-do-mormons-leave-the-church/#comments than I do here. I am just a bit short on compassion to those who hold themselves up as victims when in fact the honest reason they are out of the church is because they created some real victims on their way out the door. All too often the victims called the perp “daddy” or grandpa”. 20% of all the girls and women in our country are victims of sexual abuse – and the Church is not immune either. So when one of these characters start calling himself a “victim” and blames someone else or the church… well you now know how I feel about the subject.

  33. 33 markcares
    August 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    JL:
    I know that the Book of Mormon says to “ask with a sincere heart, with real intent” – something that has been emphasized to me by numerous LDS. In response to your explanation about the process in which a testimony resides, my question is this. Have you asked with a sincere heart, with real intent,about the various things I have written? My impression is that you haven’t and I really would not expect you to do that. But if you haven’t, then, if I understand your explanation correctly, none of what I wrote has made sense to you from the start. My point is that if you haven’t asked with a sincere heart, with real intent, you have already made a judgment of the turthfulness or lack thereof of my statements. If so, what was your basis for doing so?
    I have asked similiar questions of many LDS. The vast majority have told me that they could not ask with sincerity because they knew it was wrong all ready. But that answer seems to me to make my point – that they were relying on something different than prayer to discern truth.

  34. August 20, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Mark that’s a difficult question. I doubt my answer will be satisfactory, but let me try. If a person has sought out the truth and been converted to the LDS Church through the power of Holy Ghost by asking “with a sincere heart, with real intent”, then when they encounter opposing views do they need to ask again? I mean, they have been given a testimony of the restoration of Christ’s church and of living prophets here on the earth, so when someone offers an interpretation of the scriptures that is not in-line with the fullness of the gospel, they don’t need to ask again, having already discovered the truth. They have already been given a witness of the truth and that witness and their understanding has only grown stronger with study, prayer, and actually living according to the teachings.

    Let me reverse things around again. You believe that you understand the Bible correctly and so when you encounter teachings that are contrary to this understanding you dismiss them because they’re obviously not true; they don’t jive with the Bible. Is that correct? That seems to be the basis for this blog and your book and all your efforts in reaching out to Mormons.

    All we’re saying is that we believe your point of view is the best that can be discovered by man’s understanding. We believe that God has reestablished His kingdom on earth (as prophesied) and has given us more information to enlighten man beyond his own understanding. And we say that you shouldn’t believe us, you should ask God if it is true. Has He set His hand to work again on the earth, revealed more scriptures and called living prophets to give guidance to all the earth?

    Don’t think that most of us (even those raised in the Church for multiple generations) haven’t had a crisis of faith at one point or another and really questioned the Church and the story of Joseph Smith and the gold plates. I know I have gone through that. Yet over the years of seeking knowledge and understanding and living Christ’s teachings, my testimony, belief, and faith has only grown stronger.

  35. 35 Brad
    August 20, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Reggie, you can write and say anything you wish. In the end, Mormons always love to use the “we’re really closer in thought than you think” line (which absolutely is NOT true, we’re actually FARTHER apart than YOU think), and they love to boil everything down to “feelings” and “love.” Sorry, that’s not the way to go, Reggie.

    I don’t hate you. There’s no bitterness from me to you. Do I accept the Mormon religion? No. Do I even tolerate it? No. I don’t buy it for 1 second. I personally don’t see how Mormons can truly investigate it, and still stay with it. I personally think they’re either not investigating it (thus they’re not “really” finding it out for themselves, but relying on what their friends, bishop, etc… are telling them), or they’re setting aside in their minds what they must in order to still believe in it. I also believe this is possible b/c of the strong influence of Satan in this world, and the ability he has been given to blind the minds of people. You can argue against that all you wish, and claim it’s not true, but I believe it nonetheless.

    Does it mean I don’t like you, or hate you, or wish eternal harm on you? No, on the contrary, it means just the opposite. I feel very badly for you, b/c there is a penalty for the road you’re on, an eternal penalty that once you die, cannot be escaped. Again, I don’t expect you to believe that, just b/c I or anyone else say that. And I don’t think you DO believe it. But, nonetheless, I know it’s true. And from where I’m standing, it is the worst possible position for you to be standing in – and what’s worse, you don’t even realize it. No, that doesn’t make me hate you, or not love you. It makes my soul hurt for you. I don’t expect you to understand that, b/c the picture you hold of eternity is MUCH different than mine.

    I know what Mormons believe, Reggie. When confronted, Mormons always love to fall back on the “you just don’t really understand our beliefs correctly.” Wrong. There’s too much information out there, both from the LDS church and outside the LDS church, from current Mormons, ex-Mormons and non-Mormons, and too many ways that it is possible to study and research the church, for people to not be able to understand, especially if you put some time into it. I have. It’s just that I don’t agree at all with your beliefs.

  36. 36 Brad
    August 20, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    JL, you may have experience with sexual deviants, I have no idea. But the many Mormons I’ve met, or talked to, didn’t leave due to the reasons you stated, and weren’t chomping at the bit to tell others. They left b/c they realized, through one means or another, that the LDS church isn’t true, and they can articulate it well to those who ask.

    You seem to have real issues with those you’ve met, but by no means are those the only types who leave. If you were to bet me a buck, as you say, I’d be rich.

  37. August 20, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Brad,

    Are you saying it’s easy to be LDS? Are you saying there is no faith or sacrifice required to be a member? Are you saying it’s so easy that people just do it because it’s there and it’s a path of least resistance? If so then it’s clear you know nothing about our beliefs or our history.

    I never said you hated me, I said that there are incredibly strong feelings over the differences in doctrine and those feelings get in the way more than the actual doctrine does. The Church has been approached many times by other Christian denominations for help with strengthening families, instructing youth, managing welfare operations, and so on. There is a lot that we can work on together, even if we retain our fundamental difference over the meaning of faith.

    I could offer all the same warnings about the path you’re on leading to a different place than you think it is, but what’s the point? You won’t believe me and I certainly don’t believe you. I’ll work that out with my own conscience before God.

    All I’ve tried to do is offer our view point on the gospel and my personal experience that following LDS doctrines brings peace, understanding, faith, hope, and witness from God that you’re following His will. Along with an invitation to try it for yourself with faith and sincerity, instead of railing against it with all your might.

  38. 38 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Reggie,

    I don’t recall saying anything about Mormonism being easy, the path of least resistance, etc… You are free to read into what I wrote, if you so desire.

    You are re-stating exactly what you said before about “feelings”, and I’ll restate exactly what I said. My feelings have nothing to do with my objections – it is the actual doctrinal differences (and they are many) that get in the way, not my feelings. I “feel” (and know) that you’re wrong. You would believe I’m wrong. But feelings have nothing to do with it – it is the actual differences in belief that are the stumbling block. There is precious little we can work on together (under the guise of being united as Christians), due to those very doctrinal differences. We are NOT one brotherhood united in Christ, b/c we don’t believe the same about common things regarding Christ. Period.

    You are free to offer whatever warnings you wish – you’re right, I don’t believe them. I know what I say is true, just as you would say what you say is true. There is one HUGE difference, however, between our beliefs regarding eternity. If I die without being a believing Mormon, then under your beliefs, I will still have the opportunity in eternity to accept it (albeit I won’t have the ability to gain access to your celestial heaven). Hell isn’t my destination, even if I don’t have Mormon beliefs. However, under Christianity, it’s an all or nothing proposition. You either believe, and have eternal life with God, or you don’t, and your destination is hell. So you need to realize, while Mormons say they don’t “judge” others and don’t speak of the doom and gloom that awaits that Christians (particularly Evangelicals) do, it is b/c you don’t HAVE those beliefs. If you did, I feel sure you would proclaim them. It’s yet another one of the many differences between our beliefs, Reggie. If I’m wrong, and you’re right, I’ll still have opportunity in the next life, and you’ll get what you thought you would all along. I’m not really any worse off. But if I’m right, and you’re wrong…it’s a whole different story.

    I know that Mormonism is false, Reggie – I can only pray that someday, before it’s too late, you too will realize it. As I said, if you don’t, I truly do feel eternally sorry for you.

  39. 39 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Brad
    It isn’t just ChoMo’s. The issue is, ex’d Mormons were not practicing Mormons when they were ex’d. The “I left because I was lied to about…” is pure nonsense. It just doesn’t happen. And I will still bet a buck that the people you refer to were not practicing when they left the Church and maybe hadn’t for along time if ever. Leaving the Church means stopping the practice of living the Gospel every day. Church attendance is not a sign of actually practicing the faith. Neither is serving a mission or a high calling in the Church. People begin to leave the Church when they prefer living the worldly lifestyle. Assuming one was ever solid in the Church, they start to leave when they prefer other things to living a Christ-like life. You can’t serve two masters. It is a process not an event. And “intellectual honesty” has nothing to do with it.

    Mark
    Apparantly we are not connecting here. I don’t express the things I write to convert you. I am not in the converting business. I am in the “let’s get this right” business. What you believe is up to you. I am sure you are quite happy with your version of Christianity and I truely hope it works of you. But there is a big disconnect between what is said about Mormons and reality. In a very real way you cannot know about us as an outsider beyond what the natural man can understand. I am OK with that. Some Evangelicals are not. They think their understanding is the only understanding. What nonsense. They think they have some special dispensation to change us to thier way of thinking and many use dishonest tactics to accomplish their aims. Those are Satan’s tools not Christ’s. Christ’s tools are put in simple terms. “My sheep know my voice.” The rest is up to the Holy Ghost. But it is not an “either – or” situation at least according to us. But it is according to you spo you and other Evangelicals seem to feel free to say or do what ever strikes your fancy when it comes to talking about Mormons. THAT is what I aim to counter – the misinformation you people spread about us.

  40. 40 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Brad
    One more thing about intellectual honesty – where was it when they joined the Church? Were they only intellectually honest when they left or were they dishonest when they joined? If one joined due to parental pressure while a child then they never were in the church other than name only. If their testimony was just the rote ramblings of a child you can’t say he was ever a practicing member. He was an attending member who was going through the motions for someone else’s benefit or for social reasons neither of which is intellectually honest. Of course children are not held to the same standard as adults but when they become an adult they can be and should be held to the higher standard. Every one is interviewed all along the line as they grow to see how they are developing spiritually. If they were dishonest in their interviews there is no way they can claim to have been intellectually honest when they leave the church because they never really understood the gospel – they never gave it a chance. They may have understood parts of it or what they thought is was or even an analog of it. But you cannot truly understand it until you live it completely over time. I have done both and there is difference.

    The analog of the Gospel is a version that on the surface looks like the real gospel but unless you know what you are lookng for you can’t tell the difference.

  41. 41 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Maybe I ought to explan that a bit more. God says the natural man is his enemy. But what the natural man sees is only the part he can understand. It really isn’t the true or auhtorized or complete version. You have to look at it through God’s perspective and you can only do that by living a holy life and in complete compliance with the commandments and all other parts of the Gospel. Every element of the Gospel you live and truely accept and work diligently to understand and master adds to your ability to see things like God does. It is a long process but there are spiritual payoffs along the way. The more you learn and master the more understanding God will provide you. But there is no way the natural man can understand the things of God and Mormons didn’t make it up. I know this throws cold water on traditional Christian understanding but that is our theology. if you are a Mormon you either accept it and progress in it or you never get past the natural man state.

  42. 42 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 3:37 am

    Now I know someone out there is going to say other Christians can do the same things and grow to become holy people too just as Paul says we should. We believe that too. The difference is traditional Christian’s limit how far one can go and that there is only so much a person can understand and achieve and understanding things like God understands them is beyond our capabilities. Mormons say there is no limit on how far one can go or what one can learn. We can know what God knows because we have God’s spiritual DNA in us and are His literal offspring. We can even become like God.* (Notice I didn’t say THE God.) Mormons didn’t make that part up. It is biblical. Traditional Christians say we are not God material and can never understand what God knows. That is one fundamental difference between us. We say there is no limit to our potential and traditional Christians say there is.

    * http://mormonthing.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/can-man-become-a-god

  43. 43 Stephanie
    August 21, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Reggie;

    I believe the Bible is the complete and true Word of God. There are no plain and precious things missing from the Bible. This lie paves the way for false gospels and false doctrines to be introduced through false teachers and prophets, which I know has happened with the LDS church. The differences between the Bible and the other standard works are countless. For example, God was not a man. Man cannot become god. God doesn’t have a physical body. The fall of Adam was not a good event in that it made man mortal and able to procreate. Joseph Smith is a false prophet if you compare his teachings to those of the Bible. I know that the LDS church teaches that mainstream Christian doctrines (such as the Trinity) are lies of Satan! The LDS church says that the very words of the Bible are lies of Satan.

    The differences are endless, drastic, and more than dangerous… they are deadly. They are fatal lies that will lead you to outer darkness. There is no second chance after death. All of these plain and precious things must have been “lost” from the Bible, according to you. But there is plenty of evidence which proves the purity of the Bible.

    Satan has used the same lie that he used back in the garden of Eden, “If you eat of this tree, you will be become like God, knowing good and evil.” And today, the LDS church has fallen for Satan’s lie that man can become a god. Don’t you see that? There are many who have left the LDS church because they have been set free by the true gospel from the Bible, that Christ’s death accomplished everything for us. Yet vain “natural man” still longs for power and godhood, which is the ultimate carrot that the LDS church dangles over its members: You CAN become a god if you do x,y,and z.

    These beliefs are entirely backward from “mainstream” Christianity. From the earlier posts, I cannot understand how this basic difference is not apparent to you. Pardon the expression, but sometimes it feels like beating a dead horse, as they say. It truly shows me how scales are indeed over your eyes, and that because you are not of the Spirit you cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to open your eyes to the truth of the gospel. I hope you sincerely pray for that to happen.

    You say that the LDS church believes in full and free forgiveness through Christ, but you have a different definition of “full and free forgiveness.” According to LDS, Christ made it “possible” for you to attain forgiveness IF you do x,y,and z. But you still have to DO something to achieve this forgiveness. Mainstream Christians don’t have a debt to pay because Christ already paid that debt. That’s what it means when someone cancels your debt. You don’t have to pay it back anymore. Not so with the LDS. Jesus refinanced your loan to God and spread your payments out over eternity. Now you have eternity to achieve perfection and achieve the forgiveness you desperately want. That is my understanding of LDS doctrine. Is this not so?

  44. 44 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    It isn’t just ChoMo’s. The issue is, ex’d Mormons were not practicing Mormons when they were ex’d. The “I left because I was lied to about…” is pure nonsense. It just doesn’t happen. And I will still bet a buck that the people you refer to were not practicing when they left the Church and maybe hadn’t for along time if ever.

    JL, you’re speaking in absolutes. When you do that, you set yourself up for failure. When you say that it’s “pure nonsense”, that “it just doesn’t happen”, you’re making absolute claims. All I have to do is provide ONE example of someone who left the church for reasons other than what you say, to prove you wrong. Just ONE example proves an absolute wrong. You really make yourself look foolish when you present an absolute argument such as yours. I have 2 people in my SS class currently who have recently left the LDS church, after being near life-long members, and are now active in our Christian church. They didn’t leave b/c they now wanted to be “worldly”, they left b/c they realized that it wasn’t true, and didn’t want to stay in a church or a religion that they knew wasn’t correct. You can disclaim that all you want, but I see and talk to them all the time, and know that to be the case. That one example disproves your absolute. It’s OK for you to say that SOME might leave the LDS church for the reasons you gave, but to say in absolute terms that ALL who leave do so under your circumstances, is patently ridiculous, and lends LESS creedence to the rest of your arguments.

    Leaving the Church means stopping the practice of living the Gospel every day. Church attendance is not a sign of actually practicing the faith. Neither is serving a mission or a high calling in the Church. People begin to leave the Church when they prefer living the worldly lifestyle. Assuming one was ever solid in the Church, they start to leave when they prefer other things to living a Christ-like life. You can’t serve two masters. It is a process not an event. And “intellectual honesty” has nothing to do with it.

    On the contrary, “intellectual honesty” has a lot to do with it, for some. For all? No. But for the couple I mentioned above? Everything. Your argument is invalid on its face, due to its absolute nature. Many leave the church due to disagreements they have about doctrine with the church, such as my friends. They’re more prevalent than you’re willing to give credit for. Mormons can stick their head in the sand all they want on that one, doesn’t make it true.

    I am in the “let’s get this right” business. What you believe is up to you. I am sure you are quite happy with your version of Christianity and I truely hope it works of you. But there is a big disconnect between what is said about Mormons and reality.

    Another common Mormon talking point. “You don’t agree with us, therefore your understanding of us is incorrect.” No, our understanding of you is correct, we just don’t agree with you. It’s not a hard concept. People disagree all the time. I don’t think Mormon’s misunderstand Evangelical Christianity, I think they choose to accept a different way.

    In a very real way you cannot know about us as an outsider beyond what the natural man can understand. I am OK with that.

    In a nutshell, what a load of crap.

    They think their understanding is the only understanding. What nonsense.

    I suppose this is unlike Mormonism? Do you not believe that Mormonism is the only truly correct way?

    But it is not an “either – or” situation at least according to us. But it is according to you spo you and other Evangelicals seem to feel free to say or do what ever strikes your fancy when it comes to talking about Mormons. THAT is what I aim to counter – the misinformation you people spread about us.

    There is some misinformation, I won’t deny that. But SOME misinformation spread by SOME, doesn’t mean that ALL are misinformed, or that EVERYTHING is misinformation. That’s a logical leap you can’t make. And yes, it IS an either/or proposition, according to Christianity based on the Bible.

  45. 45 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    One more thing about intellectual honesty – where was it when they joined the Church? Were they only intellectually honest when they left or were they dishonest when they joined? If one joined due to parental pressure while a child then they never were in the church other than name only. If their testimony was just the rote ramblings of a child you can’t say he was ever a practicing member. He was an attending member who was going through the motions for someone else’s benefit or for social reasons neither of which is intellectually honest. Of course children are not held to the same standard as adults but when they become an adult they can be and should be held to the higher standard. Every one is interviewed all along the line as they grow to see how they are developing spiritually. If they were dishonest in their interviews there is no way they can claim to have been intellectually honest when they leave the church because they never really understood the gospel – they never gave it a chance. They may have understood parts of it or what they thought is was or even an analog of it. But you cannot truly understand it until you live it completely over time. I have done both and there is difference.

    Yet another common theme of Mormonism. “Nobody REALLY leaves, only those who never REALLY belonged in the first place.” I.e. if someone leaves, it’s not b/c they found out it wasn’t true, it’s that they never REALLY believed it to be true in the first place. Leaves no room for people learning more about the church as they progress, they would have to have perfect knowledge before they joined, and do all research before they joined. Doesn’t happen in practice. But it does allow Mormons to bypass the argument.

  46. 46 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Brad
    Yeah sometimes I get a bit preachy. Guilty as charged. I work on it though. Sometimes I am better than others but the basis for my conclusions is my expereince. I didn’t pull this stuff out of thin air. The taxpayers spent a lot of money traing me to do this and the work product is more than merely anecdotal. Sorry if you disagree with it but that is the way it goes.

  47. 47 markcares
    August 21, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Reggie:
    Thank you for answering my question. I am going to try and sharpen it a little more. The method for discerning truth, as my original post stated, for Christians is comparing what a prophet says with what the Bible says. The LDS method is to pray about it with a sincere heart. Two different methods. But, in your answer to me, you no longer used the LDS method, but one that looks remarkable similar to my method – the only difference is comparing the message not with the Bible, but with LDS Scriptures. Switching methods in mid-stream doesn’t appear very consistent to me.
    On another point. As you are probably well aware of, I could basically use your answer and say this is why I don’t have to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith – because the truth has already been revealed to me and the teachings of Mormonism contradicts that truth. In other words, I am using the same method with Mormonism that you used to not pray about the truthfulness of what I believe and state.

  48. 48 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Brad
    I get it you take exception with the intellectual honesty thing. McGill University in Canada, the U of Cincinnati and the Manhattan Institute all have done work in understanding such phenomena. I don’t make this stuff up. Your friends likely fit the profile. You can quibble with my presentation if you like but I think you miss the point if you focus on that too much. I am sorry you disagree with the premise but the odd anecdotal reference does not obviate the model. The story your friends tell seems to fit within the parameters I described.

    If you want to go to my site I have some references and links on many of the things I presented in these few posts. I think it makes sense not to copy and paste that stuff here. It is somewhat lengthy and I don’t want to use a lot of Mark’s a bandwidth. http://mormonthing.wordpress.com

  49. 49 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Now I know someone out there is going to say other Christians can do the same things and grow to become holy people too just as Paul says we should. We believe that too. The difference is traditional Christian’s limit how far one can go and that there is only so much a person can understand and achieve and understanding things like God understands them is beyond our capabilities. Mormons say there is no limit on how far one can go or what one can learn. We can know what God knows because we have God’s spiritual DNA in us and are His literal offspring. We can even become like God.* (Notice I didn’t say THE God.) Mormons didn’t make that part up. It is biblical. Traditional Christians say we are not God material and can never understand what God knows. That is one fundamental difference between us. We say there is no limit to our potential and traditional Christians say there is.

    Absolutely right that’s a difference. And the Mormon thinking is not found in the Bible. Look at Isaiah 55:7-9 “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” Look also at Romans 11:33-34 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Clearly these verses don’t lead to an understanding that we can hope to know what God knows. To think that is to think that we have the ability to somehow get on God’s level. And that is way more than we can hope for. That would draw God to our level. But that is Mormon thinking. You bet I disagree with it.

  50. 50 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    JL, like I said, you refuse to believe otherwise. You’re right, obviously. You leave no possibility for the fact that anyone can truly “disagree” with Mormonism, and leave it b/c of that. If you want to rely on studies by universities, that of course is your prerogative. I choose to stand on Scripture, not the University of Cincinnati.

  51. 51 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Stephanie said “I believe the Bible is the complete and true Word of God. There are no plain and precious things missing from the Bible. Stephanie, how do you know this?

  52. 52 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Brad
    I refer to studies about why people do what they do when caught in an uncomfortable situation. It can be universally applied. I had hoped that with all my key banging I made that clear. I appologize if I didn’t. You say you stand on scripture. How do you know your version of scripture is accurate? Given there are something over 400,000 different OT and NT manuscripts extant and all are different in some way. Some are substantially different from the Greek espescially those that the KGV were translated from. When you comapre the Syriac, Coptic, Greek, Latin and others it is impossible to tell which is an honests translation and which is a poor copy given we don’t have the originals or anything even remotely close to the originals. And given Evangelicals don’t believe God provides personal revelation how can you be sure?

  53. August 21, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Brad,

    Please explain how under your doctrine I could possibly not be saved? If the only choice that matters is accepting Christ as personal Savior, that only through Him is it possible to obtain mercy and complete forgiveness, and that after that choice is made there is nothing one can do to lose salvation because all sins are swallowed up in Christ, well then count me in. I know who our Savior is and fully accept Him as the only way to salvation.

    Or do you mean that the sin that will invalidate this saving grace is the sin of continuing a lifetime of repentance and striving to live as Christ taught we should live?

  54. 54 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Stephanie said “I believe the Bible is the complete and true Word of God. There are no plain and precious things missing from the Bible.

    Then JL said Stephanie, how do you know this?

    I’m not Stephanie, but I’ll answer this way. Suppose I say “b/c the Holy Spirit witnessed to me that the Bible is the complete and true Word of God, and that there are no plain or precious things missing from it. Since the HS witnessed it to me, I therefore know it is absolute true beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

    What would you say?

  55. 55 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I refer to studies about why people do what they do when caught in an uncomfortable situation. It can be universally applied. I had hoped that with all my key banging I made that clear. I appologize if I didn’t.

    I had thought I made mine clear as well, but perhaps not. I could care less what all the studies in all the universities say – you’re simply trying to rationalize the fact that you think ALL people leave the LDS church for reasons OTHER than finding out it’s not true, which simply is NOT the case.

    You say you stand on scripture. How do you know your version of scripture is accurate?

    B/c the Holy Spirit witnessed to me that it is.

    Given there are something over 400,000 different OT and NT manuscripts extant and all are different in some way. Some are substantially different from the Greek espescially those that the KGV were translated from. When you comapre the Syriac, Coptic, Greek, Latin and others it is impossible to tell which is an honests translation and which is a poor copy given we don’t have the originals or anything even remotely close to the originals. And given Evangelicals don’t believe God provides personal revelation how can you be sure?

    Same reason – b/c the Holy Spirit witnessed to me that the version I, and many others, believe is correct.

  56. 56 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Please explain how under your doctrine I could possibly not be saved? If the only choice that matters is accepting Christ as personal Savior, that only through Him is it possible to obtain mercy and complete forgiveness, and that after that choice is made there is nothing one can do to lose salvation because all sins are swallowed up in Christ, well then count me in. I know who our Savior is and fully accept Him as the only way to salvation.

    Or do you mean that the sin that will invalidate this saving grace is the sin of continuing a lifetime of repentance and striving to live as Christ taught we should live?

    Different Jesus, different God, different beliefs, therefore not saved. I can put my faith and trust in a Hispanic named Jesus, and say “I believe Jesus saved me.” Does that make me saved? No. Why? Wrong Jesus. No different with Mormonism (other than the fact that yours isn’t Hispanic) – still different.

    Again, Reggie, I don’t expect you to believe what I tell you, but I’ll tell you nonetheless.

  57. August 21, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Brad, we’re talking about the same person. The Son of God, the One who died on the cross, the Savior of all mankind. There is only one Christ. So again I ask, how can my “sins” of striving to live Christ’s teaching invalidate the saving grace that is given to those who have faith in Him?

  58. 58 JLFuller
    August 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Brad
    Then don’t worry about it. Believe as you will and allow us the same privelage.

  59. 59 Stephanie
    August 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    JL-

    Yes, I could answer as Brad did, that the Holy Ghost has witnessed it to me. That is how the LDS support their claims, which is really quite unscientific, and no one can argue against such a subjective position, how convenient. But there are many books with proofs on the Biblical accuracy and preservation. One such book is From God To Us: How We Got Our Bible by Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix. I recommend you take the time to search out this book and read it, if you are truly serious about studying your own faith and seeing how well it stands up to scrutiny.

  60. 60 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Brad, we’re talking about the same person. The Son of God, the One who died on the cross, the Savior of all mankind. There is only one Christ. So again I ask, how can my “sins” of striving to live Christ’s teaching invalidate the saving grace that is given to those who have faith in Him?

    Evidently you missed what I was saying – they’re not the same. It’s as different as I described earlier.

    Do you believe in the Jesus who is also fully God, part of the Trinity? If not (and you don’t), then it’s not the same one. Bottom line.

    I can have faith in anyone – but faith in anyone except the Jesus Christ as depicted in the Bible, is faith misplaced.

  61. 61 Brad
    August 21, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Then don’t worry about it. Believe as you will and allow us the same privelage.

    JL, I don’t worry about it – for me – b/c there’s nothing left for me to worry about eternally. As I’ve mentioned, it’s you (and all other Mormons) that I worry about, whether you agree I should or not.

    Nothing I do can take away your “privilege” to worship as you see fit – that is your free will, which God has allowed you to have, at work. I can’t – and don’t – take that away.

    I’m just telling you that it’s the incorrect way.

  62. August 22, 2008 at 5:24 am

    So Brad now I’m quite confused. Since reading this blog I’ve nothing but the idea that Christ did everything for us, all we have to do is have faith in Him. Are you now saying our understanding of Him matters? That in order to be saved it’s not just faith but also interpreting the scriptures as God intended them to be interpreted?

  63. 63 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Reggie, I would agree that you’re quite confused. Mormonism tends to do that to people, unfortunately.

    It goes back to my example about having faith in a Hispanic named Jesus. You can say you have faith in “Jesus”, but if it’s not the same one as described in the Bible, you may as well not have faith in anyone at all.

    I’ll repeat what I’ve already said, for your continued benefit – Mormons DO NOT believe in the same Jesus. The nature and attributes are different. Do you believe in a Jesus who is also fully God, part of the Trinity, not a created being, having the same deity as God, who has been around (with the Holy Spirit) with God the Father from the beginning, and who asks us to accept Him through faith and grace to gain salvation, apart from any works we can do?

    If you answer “yes”, then you’re not a Mormon. If you answer “no”, then you’re not saved.

  64. 64 JLFuller
    August 22, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Brad
    I thought I was done with this conversation but your bring up the Trinity as though it was
    settled doctrinally. It isn’t. It isn’t found anywhere in the NT. In fact it wasn’t even discussed until the late second century. It is Greek in origin and stems from an accommodation extended to the neo Platonists. Early Christians never understood God to be the way the Trinitarians described him and neither Christ nor the apostles ever understood or talked about the nature of Diety in those terms. In fact it is quite the opposite. Christ made it perfectly clear that He and Father were seperate beings. This isn’t just Mormon doctrine either. The idea of an amalgamated Deity is just not supported anywhere. It is a tradition and that is all it is. I am able and willing to enter into that discussion and provide biblical proof to the contrary of you wish but I can tell you now you have no leg to stand on.

  65. 65 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    JL, I understand your position – it’s the position a Mormon HAS to take, based upon their beliefs. However, I also am able and willing to enter into that discussion and provide Biblical proof to the contrary of your argument, and I can also tell you that you have no leg to stand on.

    When did gravity exist? Did it ONLY come into existence after Newton’s Law of Gravity was finalized, or did it exist BEFORE that, just not in an official scientific law? I would hope that you would say “before that”, as a reasonable person would. As such, something doesn’t have to be formally written down or acknowledged, for it to have existed, or for the theory of it to have been observed or believed.

    Same with the Trinity. Is that word mentioned in the Bible? No. But neither is the word “basketball” – doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as a basketball. The IDEA of the Trinity is clearly presented. The “leg” you believe you stand on is based on severe misinterpretations of key Scripture verses, which you MUST hold to in order to have Mormon beliefs.

    It’s a pissing match, JL – you won’t convince me, and I won’t convince you. I have told you that I believe you’re wrong, and you have done the same. I have told you of the consequences that loom, and you have disagreed. I have said it’s not me who saves, but only me who tells, which is true. It’s up to you what you believe in.

    Mormons love to deride Christians for thinking they have the monopoly on proper Scripture interpretation, but they think they do, too. Ironic.

  66. 66 JLFuller
    August 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Brad
    Get J.N.D. Kelly’s book Early Christian Creeds. Kelly, of Oxford University, is considered the dean of authorities of early Christian thought and history and he is not LDS. J.G. Davies also writes and researches early Christianity as does Bart Ehrman. Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus tells the story of how much of the misunderstanding came about. None of these are LDS writers.

    One more thing Brad. Don’t buy off on Luddite Chrisitanity as taught by some pastors. Reading about the realities of Chrisitanity and Christology is interesting and informative. Few of us have the time or talent to do all the research and discovery of the reality of Christianity so we have to rely on others. So chose carefully. As in any endeavor, relying on one source limits the information necessary to developing a more complete picture.

  67. 67 JLFuller
    August 22, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    One more thing. (There is always one more thing.) Even the bastions of Evangelical thought as Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College acknowledge that Trintarianism is not biblical.

  68. August 22, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Brad I’m not confused at all by LDS doctrine, it is clear, simple, well defined and scripturally consistent. However I am confused at what is being presented here and so I’m asking clarifying questions in an attempt to better understand. All I’ve heard is that the only doctrine that matters is that of faith in Christ and accepting Him as our complete substitute in word and deed. But now you appear to be saying that other doctrines matter as well, that one can’t be saved if one doesn’t have a correct understanding of the nature of God. Is that just your opinion or does Mark believe the same way?

  69. 69 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Get J.N.D. Kelly’s book Early Christian Creeds. Kelly, of Oxford University, is considered the dean of authorities of early Christian thought and history and he is not LDS.

    JL, this is what you come up with? Are you kidding? Yeah, JW’s like to quote Kelly too, to do the same thing you’re trying to do (dispute the Trinity). Problem is, they MISquote him, and make his comments say what they want them to say, when, if you look at the actual quote in context, it doesn’t say that at all. You know, it’s kind of like when Christians try to use Brigham Young’s or Joseph Smith’s many ridiculous sayings as arguments against Mormonism, and Mormons just can’t stand it, b/c they say “you’re taking them out of context”, or “they’re still fallible men.” You either haven’t researched what Kelly has ACTUALLY said, or you don’t care. I won’t even put links – a novice can research this through Google at his desk, so I assume you can, as well. This is pretty pitiful, JL.

    J.G. Davies also writes and researches early Christianity as does Bart Ehrman. Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus tells the story of how much of the misunderstanding came about. None of these are LDS writers.

    What little I’ve seen on Davies provides nothing conclusive, anything more than that from Kelly. But Ehrman? You try to use a self-proclaimed agnostic to support your claims of no Trinity? JL, you’re reaching…

    One more thing Brad. Don’t buy off on Luddite Chrisitanity as taught by some pastors. Reading about the realities of Chrisitanity and Christology is interesting and informative. Few of us have the time or talent to do all the research and discovery of the reality of Christianity so we have to rely on others. So chose carefully. As in any endeavor, relying on one source limits the information necessary to developing a more complete picture.

    I would absolutely agree, JL, and would warn you the same about Mormonism.

  70. 70 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    One more thing. (There is always one more thing.) Even the bastions of Evangelical thought as Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College acknowledge that Trintarianism is not biblical.

    You need to provide some sources for these. Where is the official acknowledgement, currently, that neither of these believes that the Trinity is Biblical? I’ve not found anything, but would be interested in what you say you know. Just b/c Ehrman was once affiliated with these, isn’t guilt by association (though it should make people question the validity of the Religious Studies dept at UNC-Chapel Hill).

  71. 71 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Brad I’m not confused at all by LDS doctrine, it is clear, simple, well defined and scripturally consistent.

    LDS doctrine is NOT clear, it is NOT consistent (are you serious? consistent? with as many changes as you’ve undergone?), it is NOT well-defined, and it most certainly is NOT Scripturally consistent. But you have bought in hook, line and sinker to the Mormon party line, Reggie. I’ll give you that. Problem is, you know what happens to the fish on the end of the hook eventually, don’t you…

    However I am confused at what is being presented here and so I’m asking clarifying questions in an attempt to better understand. All I’ve heard is that the only doctrine that matters is that of faith in Christ and accepting Him as our complete substitute in word and deed. But now you appear to be saying that other doctrines matter as well, that one can’t be saved if one doesn’t have a correct understanding of the nature of God. Is that just your opinion or does Mark believe the same way?

    I can’t speak for Mark, but I’ll REPEAT (for the 3rd time) what I said to you earlier, Reggie, since evidently you missed it:

    Mormons DO NOT believe in the same Jesus. The nature and attributes are different. Do you believe in a Jesus who is also fully God, part of the Trinity, not a created being, having the same deity as God, who has been around (with the Holy Spirit) with God the Father from the beginning, and who asks us to accept Him through faith and grace to gain salvation, apart from any works we can do?

    If you answer “yes”, then you’re not a Mormon. If you answer “no”, then you’re not saved.

  72. August 22, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Brad I’m not asking what you believe the nature of God is or for other specific differences between us. I am simply asking if what you’re saying is that before one can have faith sufficient for salvation they must have complete and true understanding of God and all of His doctrines?

  73. 73 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Reggie, I’ve told you what I believe above already. With increased knowledge as our relationship with God develops, comes increased responsibility to make sure that knowledge is correct.

    You continually miss the point. I can have faith in an egg, and think that egg is God, and say that I’m saved, b/c I have faith in the egg. Does that make me saved? I believe in God (to me), so therefore I’m saved, right?

    Wrong. Why? Because my faith is misplaced. B/c what I worship as God (the egg) really isn’t God at all, is it? Mormonism is no different (well, I don’t know specifically if you use eggs for anything, but the theory is the same). You worship what is God TO YOU, but does that make you saved? No. Why? B/c your faith is misplaced in what Joseph Smith came up with as your religion, that’s why.

    I really can’t say it much plainer than that, Reggie. If you still have question, I’m not sure I can help you much more.

  74. August 22, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Ok, so how far do you take this belief in correct doctrine? If there is only one God, one Savior, and one gospel, and you must find the correct one in order to be saved, then is this one correct set of doctrines embodied in a single religious organization today? If so then which one is it?

  75. 75 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    First, Reggie, I would ask you a couple questions (you haven’t answered too much before, but maybe these):

    Do you believe there is one God, one Savior and one gospel ONLY, and that ONLY through THAT gospel are you saved?

    If someone does NOT believe in the SAME God, Savior and gospel, even if they PROCLAIM to, but don’t in actuality, are they saved?

    My answer to the first would be “yes”, and my answer to the second would be “no”, just for reference.

    Yes, I do believe that correct doctrine is embodied today; in fact, I believe that the doctrine is correct in more than 1 church. What I mean by that is that some denominations have it correctly, and others don’t (from an “official beliefs of the denomination” standpoint). However, just b/c the “official beliefs” of a denomination are correct, doesn’t mean that EVERYONE in that denomination holds those beliefs.

    I won’t tell you which I believe have them correct, but I personally believe it’s fairly few denominations. I will say that Mormonism is not 1 of them.

  76. August 22, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks Brad, I find that very interesting. I can explain my beliefs, but you seem to be well versed in the LDS doctrine that there is only one God, one Savior, one gospel and only one church that has authority from God to act in His name and teach His doctrine. The shorts answers to your questions are yes and no.

    However I am not clear on some traditional teachings. So would you mind elaborating on how you can believe that there is only one true gospel, and yet that one gospel is embodied in multiple organizations which have differing official doctrines?

    Also why would you not share which ones you believe to be correct? If the only way to be saved is to have a true understanding of the correct gospel and you know which gospel is correct, then shouldn’t you be shouting it on the rooftops so that your neighbor might also be saved?

  77. 77 Brad
    August 22, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I have, Reggie – I’ve told you, haven’t I? But you don’t want to truly “know”, you want to argue about it, and go on a lot of red herring journeys.

    I’ve been on them all before with other Mormons, Reggie; you can see them coming from a mile away. You’re not the first Mormon to try it; you won’t be the last.

    By saying your answers are “yes” and “no”, respectively, you have just explained why I’ve told you that I believe Mormonism is wrong, and why you’re not saved. B/c you don’t believe in the same God or gospel. It’s pretty simple, actually. So as to “shouting it from the rooftops”, that’s only as effective as the people who are willing to listen, Reggie.

  78. August 22, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Brad, I’m truly striving to understand your view point about one gospel but multiple churches. Obviously I don’t agree and I won’t be converting, but I’d still like to understand how you’ve put so much thought into such an important decision and arrived at that conclusion. I’m also not asking so that I can come back later with ammunition to attack your position. I just find the position incomprehensible, yet you and millions of others have arrived there and are passionate about defending it. Can you offer anything on how this jives with the Bible?

    Also , I’m not the only reader here. Why would you not share which church has the true gospel when you believe that eternal salvation depends on it?

  79. August 22, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Let me add one more thing. LDS doctrine is that to reach salvation you need three things:
    saving ordinances from one with authority, righteous living, and mercy through the Atonement of Christ. Since we believe that there is only one church on earth with authority to perform these saving ordinances and to teach doctrine according to God’s will you can see how we believe you need to belong to this church. Complete understanding is not necessary, just enough faith to enter at the gate and then you will learn line upon line.

    However what I’ve mostly heard on this site is that the only way to be saved is by accepting the Savior and that authority and commandments matter not.

    Now you’ve offered a different viewpoint which is that one must have understanding of the correct gospel before one’s faith can have any effect. So I didn’t really answer my own question by answering yours with “yes” and “no”, because we have different views on why it’s important to belong to the correct church.

  80. 80 Brad
    August 23, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Reggie, I won’t take the bait, buddy. Again, the angle’s been tried 1,000 times by a 1,000 different Mormons. Never works. If you don’t agree and won’t be converting, does it really matter?

    I find Mormonism incomprehensible myself, yet you and thousands of others have arrived there and defend it wholeheartedly. Makes no sense to me, either, just as this doesn’t make sense to you.

    I can offer (and have already) a lot of information that jives with the Bible – you don’t, and won’t, accept it, Reggie. You’re predisposed to believe what you currently do. I’m OK with that. I feel sorry for you, I really do, but I’m OK with knowing I did what I should.

    Again, I never said “a” church has cornered the market on the true gospel. In fact, what I said was that correct doctrine is embodied today, and that it is embodied in more than 1 church’s official beliefs. And for the record, despite what you (and other Mormons) think, eternal salvation doesn’t depend on what the church you attend believes (though it can tend to shape what the individual believes), but rather on what YOU believe.

  81. 81 Brad
    August 23, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Let me add one more thing. LDS doctrine is that to reach salvation you need three things:
    saving ordinances from one with authority, righteous living, and mercy through the Atonement of Christ.

    No kidding. Ask 10 average Mormons what is needed, and I’ll get at least 5 different answers. I’ve found an extreme lack of consistency from Mormons on this subject. Does it happen in Christian churches as well? Yep. But that’s usually due to different denominations. Don’t you claim to be a single denomination? Hmmm…

    Since we believe that there is only one church on earth with authority to perform these saving ordinances and to teach doctrine according to God’s will you can see how we believe you need to belong to this church. Complete understanding is not necessary, just enough faith to enter at the gate and then you will learn line upon line.

    Yes, I know you believe that. Of course, I completely disagree, but I already knew the beliefs. Yes, it’s amazing – you really DON’T have to be told from a Mormon what they believe, to actually know it. It IS possible to know beforehand!!

    However what I’ve mostly heard on this site is that the only way to be saved is by accepting the Savior and that authority and commandments matter not.

    In general, I would say that’s true. They matter not FOR SALVATION. Nobody ever said they weren’t important, just that they didn’t SAVE. Mormons LOVE to twist that one around, so when I find you do, I’ll call you out on it.

    Now you’ve offered a different viewpoint which is that one must have understanding of the correct gospel before one’s faith can have any effect.

    Not at all. My viewpoint is no different. What I emphasized to you is that when we say “accepting the Savior”, or “believing in the gospel that saves”, you must believe CORRECTLY, otherwise it’s faith misplaced. Remember the egg example, or the Hispanic “Jesus”? Same thing. The viewpoint isn’t different – the explanation is. What makes Mormons different, is that they believe in a different (incorrect) view of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, salvation, atonement, eternal progression, etc…

    So I didn’t really answer my own question by answering yours with “yes” and “no”, because we have different views on why it’s important to belong to the correct church.

    You would attribute it to a “church” – as a Mormon, I would expect no less from you. Christians don’t attribute it to a church, but to a Savior. All the difference in the world, Reggie. Your faith is misplaced.

  82. August 23, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Mark would you or anyone else care to answer my question? Brad thinks I’m trolling even though it’s clear we’ll never come to an agreement, even to disagree apparently. I think I’ve been quite direct here in asking and anwering questions, I’m not trying to lay traps or confuse anyone.

    Anyway, do all mainstream christians believe that you have to correctly understand the gospel before your faith can bring on saving grace? Also, if that’s true and a church isn’t the steward over correct interpretation then who or what is?

  83. 83 JLFuller
    August 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Reggie
    E-mail me privately if you will.

    Jack
    jack@eta1.com

  84. 84 markcares
    August 23, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Reggie:
    Because of the number of comments here, I am not quite sure what question you asked that you want answered. I think it’s your question about what church has the true gospel, At least that is the one I am going to address here.
    For the sake of clarity, let me first tell you the definition of gospel I am using. The gospel is the specific, powerful good news (the word gospel means good news) that Jesus has fulfilled the law perfectly for us and has paid for all our sins with his death resulting in God freely and fully forgiving us. Included in my definiton is that people are saved by grace alone which excludes man’s works making any contribution to their salvation.
    Now to your question about the true church. Any church or individual who believes that has the gospel. Yes, there are many doctrinal differences between the various Christian churches but they all agree on this point. If they don’t agree on that point, then they are no longer Christian – even if they make that claim, as is the case with some on the liberal end of Christianity.
    I realize that Mormonism stresses that there is only one true church and thus many LDS think there has to be one true visible church on earth. We believe, however, that becoming part of the true church is not conditioned on any membership in a visible church, but it is a matter of a person believing the gospel as defined above.


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