Both Mormonism and Christianity talk about having faith in Jesus.  But, as with so many words and phrases, each means something differently by that.

     James E. Talmage, who was an LDS apostle, defined faith this way:  “Primarily, and in a theological sense, we are considering faith as a living, inspiring confidence in God, and an acceptance of His will as our law, and of His words as our guide in life.”  Apostle Joseph B. Wirthlin put it this way:  “We each should develop the faith of Nephi to do the things the Lord has commanded [see 1 Ne. 3:7] knowing that all commandments are given for our good.” 

     When Christians talk about faith in Jesus, however, they are not talking about accepting His will as our law or even His words as our guide in life.  The first and primary things Christians think about when faith comes up are not Jesus’ words but his works.  To Christians, having faith in Jesus means trusting that what Jesus did he did for us and because Jesus has done those things, we are already acceptable to God.  So much so that faith in Jesus, for Christians, includes the thought of abandoning any reliance on our own works.  But note that any mention of Jesus’ works for us is completely absent in James E. Talmage’s words – even though he is describing faith “primarily”. 

     Although both Mormonism and Christianity talk about having faith in Jesus, they have two different objects in which they place their faith.  In order to understand each other and not talk past each other, it is important to see this difference.  It is not enough to agree that both talk about having faith in Jesus.  The telling question is: faith in Jesus’ what? 

5 Responses to “FAITH IN JESUS’ WHAT?”

  1. August 21, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Mark have you seen the movie National Treasure? In that movie they use some special glasses to view invisible ink. Only when they first tried they didn’t realize they weren’t using all of the lenses. So they saw a message and thought they saw it clearly, but full understanding didn’t come until they used all of the lenses together.

    LDS believe that an apostasy occurred after the death of Christ and the apostles. During this period there was no one with authorization from God to preach the word. This period is known to us today as the dark ages, for truly the light of God was not in the world and much human knowledge and progress was lost. Prophesies of this apostasy are recorded in the Bible:

    Amos 8: 11 – “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:”

    2 Thessalonians 2:3 – “Let 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;”

    During this period of time the original writings that today comprise the Bible were mishandled. Some were translated incorrectly and some were deliberately altered for the gain of man.

    However God would not leave the world in this state. In preparation for the coming of the Lord He would again establish His kingdom, send forth His word and His chosen servants to enlighten the world from the mistakes of the dark ages, and gather His people. This was also prophesied in the Bible.

    Act 3:21 – “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

    Daniel 2:44 – “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

    Isaiah 2:2,3 – “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
    And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

    Isaiah 29:14 – “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

    The Book of Mormon has been given as another witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Lord, to support the Bible, and to clarify the teachings that were altered by man. This was also prophesied.

    Ezekiel 37:19 – “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.”

    Rev 14:6 – “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,”

    The LDS message is that we celebrate your faith in Christ. We rejoice that you believe in the Bible as the word of God and look to the Savior to live. We say that the Lord’s prophecies regarding the last days are being fulfilled. So come, bring the understanding you have and complete the picture with the lens that has been missing since the apostasy.

  2. 2 Jay
    August 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Sorry if this sounds nit picky, but Talmage and Wirthlin aren’t defining faith as you suggest. What they are doing is giving examples of how people that have faith may behave. So if we have faith we live with confidence in God, accept His will and follow Christ’s teachings the best we can. Wirthlin is saying that if you have faith you will do what God commands you to do. Again this is not a definition of faith, it is a manifestation of faith. Mormons (and other non-Mormon Christians I’ve talked with) believe that faith is believing in something you can’t see but is true. This is the current definition of faith among Mormons and has been since the publishing of the Book of Mormon, where it can be found.

    You seem to imply that Mormons think more of Christ’s words than his works.

    “The first and primary things Christians think about when faith comes up are not Jesus’ words but his works. “

    This is simply not the case in my experience in Mormonism. Christ’s words are extremely important, that’s how He communicated with the Jews (and us today through scriptures), however, His actions are arguably even more important. His words alone will not save us from sin. Without action His words would only be good advise because without paying the price for all sin we would all still be lost.

    When it comes down to it non-LDS Christians and LDS members believe in the same person called Jesus who is described in the New Testament. He was born of Mary, Joseph was His father, He died on the cross, etc. There really is no getting around that.

  3. 3 markcares
    August 21, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    By saying that Talmage isn’t defining faith but giving examples is taking his words out of context. The context is his explaining what faith is. Another quote from him: “The predominating sense in which the term faith is used throughout the scriptures is that of full confidence and trust in the being,pruposes, and words of God.” Notice again the absence of any reference to Jesus’ works.

  4. 4 nebula0
    August 23, 2008 at 5:39 am

    I think you make an important point here that Mormons tend to not ‘get’ and is related to a much larger theological problem. As I see it, this all stems from the Mormon idea that God is not a different kind of being from us created things at all, but rather we are all coeternal and God is an exalted man, one of us, all grown up. He will help us to become like he is, and sure, we need his help to progress, but it is inherent in our nature, by virtue of who we are, that we can become gods- that is our end, our telos. On the other hand, Christianity posits that we are different kinds of being than God is, we are finite, He is infinite, and the only way to transcend that gap is through God, the infinite and truly eternal, to help us out. In fact, if God willed it, we’d stop existing altogether. THis is quite a leap from the Mormon notion of the eternally existing intelligences.

    Thanks for sharing.

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August 2008

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