13
Sep
08

When Addition is not just Subtraction but Destruction

 

     Mormonism not only claims but emphasizes that it is adding to Christianity.  Some of this, it claims, is restoring original Christianity.  The rest, it claims, is truly new based on new revelation.  In either case, there’s a lot of “new” in Mormonism:  new scriptures, new doctrines, new rituals, etc.

     The question is:  are these additions good and helpful?  The title of this post already reveals my answer.  But I would like to explain my answer in an attempt to help members of the LDS Church better understand why I and others react so passionately to Mormonism.  We truly believe that the additions made by Mormonism do not just subtract from God’s message of salvation, but destroy it – and in the process, destroy many, many people.

     We do not see LDS doctrines as just new ingredients added to the “stew” of Christianity.  Ingredients that don’t suit our taste buds and therefore ingredients that we think would be better left out.  No, we see LDS doctrines as nothing less than arsenic added to Christianity, poisoning all who eat from it.  And it doesn’t take a whole lot of arsenic to have that effect.

     Obviously I don’t expect Mormons to agree with me.  In fact, I expect some will be pretty frustrated with me and even angry at me for saying this.  But that’s not why I am posting this.  I’m posting this because when LDS members casually talk about LDS doctrines as “new” or “adding to Christianity” and imply that that they aren’t that different, this comes off as callous and offensive to many Christians.  If that is what you believe – say it.  What I am asking is that it is said in such a way that demonstrates sensitivity to how seriously many Christians view these differences. 

     And yes, I need to strive to exhibit the same combination of honesty and sensitivity to you and your beliefs.

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128 Responses to “When Addition is not just Subtraction but Destruction”


  1. September 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Mark, do you think that we’re looking for acceptance from evangelicals as just another denomination that has enough correct beliefs to join the club? If so, then you do not understand what we are about.

    We believe the long prophesied restoration of Christ’s gospel has occurred. We believe that God has established His kingdom again on the earth with Christ as the head, living prophets and apostles as His mouthpieces on earth, and with authority to perform saving ordinances in His name. We believe more scriptures and revelation have been given to help clarify the confusion that resulted from the great apostasy. We invite all people to come and learn of this marvelous work for themselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    If you’re not interested and don’t believe, then that is your choice. What we don’t understand is why those of other faiths, such as yourself, feel like they are able to teach our doctrine to others. We don’t do this, if someone wants to know about our church they should come to us, if they want to know about yours then they should go to you.

    We also think it’s ridiculous that evangelicals tell others we’re not Christians. I know we don’t fit your definition of Christianity, but all that means is you should tell others we have differing beliefs on Christ.

    We believe in Christ as the Savior of all mankind. We believe we are members of His church. From our point of view it is not possible to be more Christian than to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  2. September 13, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Depending on what LDS you ask Mark, you might even say we are serving a dish with some similarities to what you were already eating, but we’ve removed that rotting side-dish that’s been giving you so much trouble too.

  3. 3 Stephanie
    September 13, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    It seems that Mormons are looking for acceptance in the sense that they want to be accepted and viewed in the mainstream culture as a Christian church. Many non-religious folks might lump Mormons into the Christian category because of the name “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” not having a clue what Mormons actually believe. But most Christians, as I’m sure you are aware, do not consider Mormonism to be a Christian church because of all the extra-ingredients Mark mentioned above.

    However, as you stated yourself, you don’t think it is possible to be “more Christian than to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” So it does seem to us that you are trying to force the rest of us to accept your Christian status, when, as Mark wrote, those extra ingredients are like arsenic and will, sadly, destroy anyone who is deceived by them.

    Have you ever taken a Comparative Religion course at the university? It is completely possible for someone to teach a religion outside one’s own personal belief. As Christians, we educate ourselves about other religions so we are equipped to counter them. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6. I would not be upset if you taught the beliefs of the evangelicals, as long as you presented them accurately. I strive to present the doctrines of the LDS accurately on this blog.

    “Having differing beliefs on Christ” is the very reason that we don’t consider Mormonism to be a Christian church. Mormons have changed, added, and distorted who Christ is. Mormons aren’t really worshipping the same Christ, but a false Christ. The Mormon Jesus is not virgin-born, is a spirit-brother of Satan, was not God from eternity, and is not one in nature, essence, and substance with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. No matter how much a Mormon loves the Mormon Jesus, it is a mistake that will end him in outer darkness.

    Finally, about the great apostasy. I understand the teaching of Joseph Smith about all churches having fallen away shortly after Christ’s time on earth, and the need for the gospel to be restored. But that is another false teaching. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away!” (Matthew 24:35) Jesus also said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). Always means continuously. There was never a time when the true church of Christ did not exist on this earth.
    Jesus says again, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Did Jesus lie? If the true church of Jesus disappeared, then the gates of hell would have prevailed over it.

    The additional scriptures and revelations that you have been given are false. There is no need today for prophets, priests, and apostles. Today, every single Christian is a priest. Christ destroyed the old way of things, and temples, prophets, priests, and apostles were rendered unnecessary when the curtain tore (at the moment of Christ’s death). Now, every single Christian is allowed believers direct access to God. Why do Mormons try to rebuild what God has destroyed?

  4. September 14, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Stephanie, I can’t speak for all, but I DO NOT want to be accepted as “mainstream” or “normal” or a “part of the club.”

    All I want is recognition for the belief in Christ that we have. That’s pretty much it.

  5. September 14, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Stephanie,

    You said: “I would not be upset if you taught the beliefs of the evangelicals, as long as you presented them accurately”

    Herein lies the problem. In this very post you included at least 2 major inaccuracies of LDS doctrine. And you appear fine just propagating these falsehoods as examples of what’s wrong with our beliefs with the intention of scaring others away from us. You believe that’s what we believe, but it is not. In the business world we call that FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing.

    If Christ destroyed the old way of things at His death, why did His apostles continue to preach the gospel, baptize with water, bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, appoint teachers and leaders in every region of the church, and carry on the work of Christ in every way? Why were more apostles called to fill the empty places?

    The apostasy was prophesied in the Bible (see Amos 8:11, 2 Thes. 2:3), are those prophesies wrong?

    The restitution was also prophesied in numerous places (see Isa. 11:11, Acts 3:21, Isa. 2:2, Dan. 2:44, Eph. 1:10, Rev. 14:6).

    God’s kingdom is organized and structured with Christ as the head. This kingdom has been established again by Him and we invite you to come with open minds and hearts to learn of this great work.

  6. 6 Berean
    September 14, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Seth,

    You can have recognition for serving the Mormon Jesus. You are free to do that just as much as the Jehovah’s Witnesses are free to serve the JW Jesus. Neither one of them is the same and they aren’t the Jesus of Christianity as laid out in the Bible. You’ve already stated to me that the teachings (god is an exalted man) of Joseph Smith are not found in the Bible and neither are many of the teachings of Jesus in view by the Mormons. The Bible speaks of “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4). There are many Jesus’ running around today and have been since the time of the real Jesus. Jesus and the disciples warned us about these frauds. If Mormons choose to worship a substitute they are without excuse (Rom 1:20) because they did not listen to what Paul said in Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Cor 11:4.

  7. 7 Berean
    September 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Reggie,

    What Christ did away with at His death was the Old Testament Levitical priesthood which was symbolized in Matthew 27:51. We have full access to the Father now through Jesus. Mormons claiming to have the Aaronic & Melchizedek priesthoods are invalid because they don’t meet the criteria for neither either of them, Jesus holds them exclusively now in Himself and we don’t need a priesthood to do our bidding before the Father.

    Apostles were ordained by the original apostles (eyewitnesses of the Lord Jesus) to help build the Church in the first century. These apostles built upon the foundation which was laid by Jesus (1 Cor 3:11; 12:28; Eph 2:20). Christians today are building upon that foundation as well that was laid down the Lord and the apostles. We aren’t building upon a new foundation.

    No, the apostasy prophesied in the Bible (2 Thes 2:3) is not wrong. Is the Mormon’s view of this prophecy not what they think it is. Yes! The Great Apostasy is one of my favorite subjects. If there was no apostasy as the Mormons say there was, then they have no reason for being here. James Talmage concurred with that and I agree. I have a simple question to ask:

    Did the gates of hell prevail against the Church? (Matthew 16:18)

  8. September 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Berean,

    When did the Nazi army “prevail” against the US army in Western Europe?

  9. September 14, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Berean,

    Do you believe the Church has continued uninterrupted from the time of Christ to the present?

  10. 10 Berean
    September 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Reggie,

    Thanks for an understandable and relevant question to the topic. If you can decipher what Seth is getting at you can clue me in. I thought my question was simple. To answer your question: Yes. I do believe the Church has continued uninterrupted from the time of Christ to the present. There have been times when there were great revivals in the Church and times of persecution. Through it all, Christ’s church has been here. The numbers may have been small and that fits times that have occurred in the Old Testament until now. If what Christ said in Matthew 16:18 is true, and it is because Jesus is God and God cannot lie, then the Church that he established and laid as the foundation has always been here and never went away as the Mormon position proposes.

  11. September 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Alright, I’ll be more clear.

    The Nazi army never ultimately prevailed against the US army. However, in the short term, the Nazis did, in fact prevail against US forces and did hand them a few defeats.

    That’s what the Great Apostasy is – a short-term defeat. But the Church will ultimately prevail. Thus, Matt 16:18 fits perfectly well within the Mormon narrative. The verse does not provide you with anything definitive to deny the Apostasy.

  12. 12 Mike
    September 14, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    I posted my rebuttle to this post on my blog, considering I didn’t want to end up off topic and talking about Nazi’s and WWII. Click on my name to go there.

  13. September 15, 2008 at 12:26 am

    There is only one point in using the analogy – to show that the verse in question has more than one meaning (and one of those meanings is totally compatible with the Mormon read). That’s it. I really don’t care to discuss WWII history here.

  14. September 15, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Mike, I don’t get the link on your name.

    Berean, I really didn’t know this was a belief among some evangelicals. Quite interesting.

  15. 15 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Christians, or evangelicals as you call them, don’t believe that the Great Apostasy has already happened as the Mormon Church says it has. That will happen in the future and it will not involve the church as a whole. The Mormon position is that there was a total and complete apostasy with the death of the disciples. I’m reading the statement right off of LDS.org website. Unless there was a complete apostasy of the church (no battles lost in the big war as used as an analogy above), then there is no validation for the Mormon Church to be here. James Talmage states this to be the case and I agree. Mormon scriptures make an apostasy impossible to happen. I’ve done quite a bit of research into this and have discussed this at the wards and in phone calls with the Church at Salt Lake.

    For there to have been a complete apostasy of the church then that means that the gates of hell DID prevail against the Church and Mormon apostles have stated that as well. I’ll be happy to share those references if you’d like to talk about this subject.

  16. 16 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 3:16 am

    It’s really a simple question: Yes or no. Did the gates of hell prevail against the church? Even if it was a “short term defeat”, did the church get prevailed against and cease to exist at anytime in history? Yes or no.

  17. September 15, 2008 at 5:32 am

    You have a habit Berean of researching out evidence of the most extreme reading of Mormon claims and then demanding Mormons defend them. You seem to consider an extreme position easier to knock down, therefore you deliberately try to force Mormonism to be equivalent with the extreme position and no other. You will not admit more nuanced Mormon reads on common issues because such positions make your job as critic more difficult.

    While I’m not saying that extreme Mormon positions are by any means indefensible, they are not the only possible positions for a believing Mormon to take. I do not always take them. Even if you can find a nifty little quote from an apostle arguing “position X,” I nonetheless maintain that Mormon belief allows for more than that.

    And honestly, even if you can establish that there was not a “complete” annihilation of Christ’s church, does that mean you are automatically off-the-hook?

    No it does not. Even if you dispose of the extreme claims of Mormons, the less extreme claims are still going to be a problem for you and may yet undermine the traditional Christian position. Simply knocking down the strawman of James Talmage does not automatically vindicate traditional Christianity. Traditional Christianity still has some serious historical problems even if you prove Talmage to be completely discredited.

    This is just lazy and fallacious argument on your part Berean.

    You are obligated to address Mormonism’s best, and most credible arguments. Not just the ones that you consider to be easiest to knock down.

  18. September 15, 2008 at 5:36 am

    It was a simple question Berean. But it was also a highly leading question, and chock-full of your own faulty assumptions.

  19. 19 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Obviously your answer reflects your sensitivity to the question because you know that saying “yes” implicates Jesus with telling a lie. Saying “no” puts the Mormon position of a great and total apostasy as a myth. There isn’t a whole lot of research that is needed on this simple fact. It’s on the “basic beliefs” section on LDS.org. When I ask Mormons questions about this they always say, “Wow, we’ve never thought about that before”. The “straw man” isn’t James Talmage. It’s in the standard works. Talmage only reinforces it. Yeah, it was a simple question, but it was a question that made you think and took you out of your comfort zone and you don’t like it like so many other Mormons. When it comes to intellectually laziness, who is the guilty party here?

  20. September 15, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Oh, I’ve thought about it Berean. It has nothing to do with my comfort zone. I just thought I’d point out that your assumptions are wrong – as they have been in past conversations.

    I don’t subscribe to the total apostasy model in the sense that absolutely everything in the existing Christian world went corrupt. I believe a lot of truth was preserved. However the proper line of authority was lost and corrupted. The process did not begin “as soon as the last apostle died,” but rather was in process even during the lives of the apostles. You even see this in the epistles as Paul attempts to police a church that has spread geographically beyond his ability or capacity.

    Essentially, the Church got away from the apostles. The Gospel was spread so rapidly that it was impossible to keep the proper lines of authority in place. Eventually these positions of authority were usurped by those with political motivations – clerical orders were bought and sold to the highest bidder. Gospel ordinances were intermingled with the popular rituals of the surrounding cultures, and the doctrines shifted and morphed.

    This corruption of the Church was pretty pronounced. Pronounced enough that Martin Luther recognized it and launched the Reformation. The whole Protestant movement is basically an admission that the Church had seriously gone astray – not just a “minor setback” – but completely jumped the rails. Protestant reformers made an attempt at course correction, but they were without the authority to do so and often ended up simply perpetuating their own errors.

    To answer your question, there is no specific point in time where the “gates of hell prevailed.” It’s a misguided question on your part. The whole thing was a long work in process. It didn’t happen the moment the apostles were dead – it was already in motion during their ministries. The deaths of the apostles simply formalized it. Priesthood authority had been passed on to local leaders, but authority for the centralized Church was gone and devolved into power squabbles and jockeying for position among various influential local leaders. With the root dead, the branches lived on for a while, but eventually the lifeblood of revelation was gone there too.

    The Apostasy was not essentially one of doctrine, but one of Priesthood authority. The doctrine jumped the rails later. Calvin’s incredibly messed-up T.U.L.I.P. is proof enough of an eventual doctrinal apostasy for me. But it was initially simply a matter of loss of the Priesthood.

    Then men eventually recognized that God was no longer talking for some reason. Like typical human beings, they tried to rationalize this with the innovative, but utterly misguided, notion of a “closed canon.” It was essentially an exercise in theological excuse-making. Ever since then, the surviving “Body of Christ” has been ruled by human philosophy dressed in Biblical clothing. God has been arrogantly informed that He has nothing else to say and has been told to shut-up. Meanwhile the learned scholars of the Christian world devote their entire lives to picking over the technicalities of words by those long dead. Whatever debt we owe to historical Christianity for preserving the Bible (no small debt – that), does not remove the fact that it is built upon a foundation of dead philosophy and dead ideas. Very much an “arm of the flesh” endeavor.

    Truly, your faith has a “form of godliness, but denies the power thereof.”

    And yes, we are here to change all that.

  21. 21 Brad
    September 15, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    do you think that we’re looking for acceptance from evangelicals as just another denomination that has enough correct beliefs to join the club? If so, then you do not understand what we are about.

    I beg to differ. I think the LDS church is looking for EXACTLY that. Many of the LDS I talk to are hell-bent on making sure they can be called Christians, not just Mormons. If they weren’t so concerned about it, why would the name matter? You can call me whatever you want to call me – doesn’t change what I believe internally. I don’t think Mormons are OK with that, though – I think they want to go the extra mile and have others admit that they’re Christians.

    If you’re not worried about the name, then drop the argument. How about that?

    with authority to perform saving ordinances in His name.

    “Saving ordinances”? But wait a minute, you all say the LDS church believes you’re saved by faith, not by works. Christians always say that Mormons are works-based, and Mormons are QUICK to say “no, that’s not true, we’re saved by faith just like you are.” Really? If you’re indeed saved by faith alone, then there would be no need for “saving” ordinances, would there? Now I’ll wait for the spin from you on this contradiction in terms and thought.

    If you’re not interested and don’t believe, then that is your choice. What we don’t understand is why those of other faiths, such as yourself, feel like they are able to teach our doctrine to others. We don’t do this, if someone wants to know about our church they should come to us, if they want to know about yours then they should go to you.

    For the very reasons that have been given to you and others on numerous blogs – b/c of the changing doctrines, the things that are hidden from new members that are later only revealed at the temple, things like that. It’s not hard – people should know the WHOLE truth about Mormonism before committing to it – not just the watered down missionary version. I know an 18 year old girl (former Mormon) who was in a class with me taught by another former Mormon twice her age (who was a member for 16 years or so), and she wasn’t aware of half of what he was saying, b/c she had not been exposed to it and didn’t even know the LDS church taught it. Is your doctrine a secret, is it privy only to those who reach a certain level? Mormons can complain about this all they want – but I can ask 5 Mormons a question and get 5 different answers, all of whom think their answer best reflects Mormonism, so it’s not as clear as you think.

    We also think it’s ridiculous that evangelicals tell others we’re not Christians. I know we don’t fit your definition of Christianity, but all that means is you should tell others we have differing beliefs on Christ.

    Which proves my earlier point. It’s BECAUSE of your differing beliefs on Christ (among many other things) that Christians say Mormons aren’t Christian!

    We believe in Christ as the Savior of all mankind. We believe we are members of His church. From our point of view it is not possible to be more Christian than to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Yes, from YOUR point of view. We believe your entire point of view is completely wrong.

  22. 22 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Direct from LDS.org on the Great Apostasy:

    “Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members, and other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. The apostles were killed and the priesthood authority – including the keys to direct and reeceive revelation for the Church – was taken from the earth. Because the church was no longer led by priesthood authority and revelation, error crept into church teachings. Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost, resulting in a period called the Great Apostasy.”

    Since my original question seemed to difficult to answer, I’ll then ask if the above quote from the LDS.org website is true? Was the gospel as established by Jesus Christ lost because the apostles were dead and priesthood authority was lost?

  23. September 15, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Berean, did you even read my post? Nothing in it disagrees with that official statement.

    Brad, for once I agree with you. On a limited point anyway… The impulse among Mormons to try and gain “mainstream acceptance” has always been a source of irritation for me. I don’t know how much of this is the members and how much is the leadership, but either way, it annoys me.

  24. 24 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Seth,

    When I posted yours wasn’t listed yet. After I submitted mine I saw yours. I wasn’t able to respond at that moment.

    My “assumptions are wrong – as they have been in past conversations”? I haven’t really gone into my position and research on this matter and you have concluded how I think and what that position is based an a few questions that I asked. Who is assuming here? My “assumption” wasn’t wrong when I asked you and the other two or three Mormons that seem to be on this blog if the teaching of god being an exalted man was in the Bible or the Book of Mormon. After days of long posts and rhetoric you finally stated that the teaching wasn’t in the standard works and was just revelation given to Joseph Smith. This revelation contradicted what he said earlier about the nature of God. When you finally gave me your answer, my response was: “Thank you for your honesty” and that was the end of it.

    If you agree with the statement of your Church, then at some point in time it has to be understood that “the gates of hell” did prevail against the Church and that there were no true believers following Christ. If priesthood authority was lost then the same thing applies.

    We haven’t told to God to “shut up”. We believe God can do whatever He wants. What we do know is that God will not contradict Himself and He will not lie. When the revelations of Mormonism are in direct conflict with the revelation that God gave in the Bible, we know that Mormonism is false. The Bible is the oldest revelation. Mormonism is new revelation and is new on the scene in world religions. Newer revelation has to be tested by the oldest revelation because God is going to tell us the truth from the very beginning. The Bible is full of revelation and prophecies in the Old Testament and the New Testament that have not come to pass yet. What does Mormonism have to offer other than the ficticious tale of Inidans that were supposedly Hebrews which has been debunked with DNA, no Mormon archaeology to support its claims in the Americas, Joseph Smith’s borrowed ideas from other works that came before him (Ethan Smith’s “View of the Hebrews”, Spalding’s “Manuscript Found”), plagiarism of the KJV Bible and looking into a magic rock in a hat for further revelation, etc, etc, etc?

    Your disdain for the Bible is obvious as it is to all Mormons. The overtones of disrespect are noted throughout the LDS standard works because it doesn’t fit with the Mormon’s view of things. When the Bible fits a certain opinion then the Mormons freely will quote from it. When it doesn’t it is discarded. What appears to me more and more on this blog, other blogs and in talking with Mormons in various places where I live and in Utah is that you all seem to have your own form of Mormonism. It’s Mormonism according to Seth R. Your positions are not authoritative and you don’t speak for the Church. I can read the standard works, church manuals, conference reports and the statements on LDS.org and know exactly what the position of the Mormon church is.

    You also have no priesthood authority because there is no Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood today. Jesus holds that exclusively as His own. The New Testament apostles were never given the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood was done away with by Christ on the cross at the atonement. Mormons don’t even meet the criteria for having the priesthood even if it were available. The New Testament apostles could not give or pass down the line to anyone something they don’t have. The Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood was not lost because it never was given to anyone. Mormons have an invalid priesthood.

    The Mormon claims of a total apostasy are ludicrous and are easily debunked by scripture both in the Bible and the LDS standard works. Mormonism “falls on its sword” on this one.

    I look forward to presenting the evidence for those Mormons that don’t have their own brand of Mormonism. There seems to be only a few Mormons on here talking amongst themselves and relishing in each others coziness. For the Christians that are on here they will find the information useful in exposing another lie (the great apostasy) of Mormonism for what it is.

    More later.

  25. September 15, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    “If you agree with the statement of your Church, then at some point in time it has to be understood that “the gates of hell” did prevail against the Church and that there were no true believers following Christ. If priesthood authority was lost then the same thing applies.”

    You see, that was the assumption that I was talking about.

    Why does the “gates of hell” prevailing necessarily mean that there would be no true believers left?

    The previous assumptions I referred to meant the assumption that orthodoxy is the only valid way to approach religion. The same assumption seems to be coming out here – you assume that an apostasy must mean an apostasy of orthodoxy. Basically, the pure and true orthodox code of Christ was corrupted – which, according to you, would mean an absolute collapse of the “Church.”

    The LDS Church has never contended that the Apostasy was, first and foremost, an apostasy of orthodoxy. We contend that the Apostasy refers to the loss of authority and revelation. The corrupted doctrines came later as a result of this foundational issue of authority and revelation. So even after the Apostasy officially went into action, there still could have been “true believers” and even “true teachings” in the existing Christian churches. I believe there are even such “true believers” and “true teachings” in the current Catholic Church, or Baptist Church, or Anglican Church.

    This is not primarily an Apostasy of orthodoxy. It is an Apostasy of Priesthood Authority – from which you get the other branches of the tree.

    You were trying to set up a false argument here where you could claim that Mormons are saying that a
    ALL Christian truth was completely corrupted after the apostles died. Then all you would have to do, is show that teachings of the apostles were, in fact, preserved by the Catholics, and then the Protestants and viola! Mormon claims are debunked!

    Sorry, but it’s not going to be that simple for you.

    Mormons have never claimed that traditional Christianity lost all truth or that they have not preserved parts of the true Gospel. Of course you have continuity between the apostles and what you are teaching today. That’s obvious and LDS have never argued otherwise.

    As it so happens, there are corruptions in current Christian doctrine. But neither I, nor ANY of the past LDS apostles have ever argued that you guys lost your way entirely.

    Like I said, you are trying to set up a strawman argument that you can easily knock down by incorrectly painting the LDS position as more extreme than it really is, slapping on a bunch of Protestant assumptions about orthodoxy onto the discussion, and then claiming an easy (and unearned) victory.

  26. September 15, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    And, by the way, I almost never use the argument that a particular Bible verse was corrupted when discussing the Gospel with Evangelicals.

    For example, when an Evangelical quotes John 1:1 to “prove” the nature of Jesus Christ, I COULD go and find arguments as to how this verse may have been corrupted, or a “later addition” to the Bible (some scholars have done so). But I do not. I do not question the validity of that scripture when discussing it. I enter the conversation on the common assumption that the verse is written basically the way it is supposed to be written and I argue from that basis.

    I do not “discard” the Bible whenever it is convenient.

    My constant argument has been that Mormons ADD to the Bible, but they do not CONTRADICT the Bible. We are in harmony with the Bible and I have tried to make that clear on numerous occasions. We have, however, received additional scripture and you can hardly blame us for using that additional scripture to better understand the Bible.

    If someone managed to excavate a new and original Pauline letter in Antioch, and all your theologians and scholars agreed that it was a genuine Pauline letter, would you not support an attempt to “better understand” Paul’s other letters in light of this new letter that has surfaced?

    We Mormons are doing the same thing. You can hardly accuse us of disrespecting the Bible when all we have done is attempt to re-read it in light of the further scripture God has provided.

  27. 27 Darrell
    September 15, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    “We Mormons are doing the same thing. You can hardly accuse us of disrespecting the Bible when all we have done is attempt to re-read it in light of the further scripture God has provided.”

    This is not true. First, your scripture was not excavated or verified. Your scripture was “translated” using a seertone that had been used in occult practices. Your scripture has changed numerous times showing how unreliable it is. Furthermore, there is substantial proof that The Book of Abraham is a complete joke as the papyra is a funeral text.

    The article of faith on the bible actually reads, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God, so far as it is translated correctly…”. The offical mormon position is very different from what you claim yours is above. Perhaps you hold the bible in a better light than the LDS church does as whole. However, in my discussions with you, when pressured on a piece of scripture in the bible that CLEARLY contradicts mormons teaching, you have always chosed to REDEFINE the bible scripture. You seek to change it’s meaning to better fit your paradigm. To make it worse you do not provide any basis for this redefinition other than your own presupposition that if it disgrees with LDS teachings than it MUST say something other than what it says. You did this with the scripture in Hebrews 13:8.

    Darrell

  28. September 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Darrell, you missed the point.

    All I said is what if you found new scripture that you consider valid – BY YOUR OWN CRITERIA.

    I never claimed your criteria are the same as ours.

    We have scripture that we consider valid according to our own criteria. It is not disrespecting the Bible to re-read it and re-interpret it by the light of other scripture that we have accepted.

    “you have always chosed to REDEFINE the bible scripture.”

    That’s because you were reading it wrong and making it say more than it actually says. I simply showed how the text is consistent with other God-given scripture. You do it all the time in reconciling Old Testament scriptures with New Testament scriptures. Why shouldn’t I do it with the Book of Mormon?

    I know it just kills you that the Bible might have more than one possible meaning or reading. But there it is. The Bible just isn’t as clear on all points as you think it is.

  29. September 15, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    And with Heb 13:8, I did provide evidence. Right out of the four Gospels in fact.

    Christ DID change. One year, he didn’t know how to walk and was crawling around on the floor. Next year he was walking.

    How do you reconcile the fact that Jesus did physically change during his mortal life with Heb 13:8?

    This isn’t disrespecting or redefining the Bible. This is simply taking what it says seriously.

  30. September 15, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Darrell, the same thing about seeking to “change it’s meaning to better fit your paradigm” could easily be said about many of the explanations used to support the evangelical point of view too. That’s the whole problem, there are dozens of religions that use the Bible as the sole source of scripture and they still can’t agree on most points of doctrine.

    Most of this discussion isn’t that helpful anyway. It’s like each side continues to believe that with a little more knowledge or evidence, the other side will understand. You might call it looking for the silver bullet. However the truth is that we’re dealing with faith based religion; so it takes more than knowledge to convince. For example, I believe the apostasy occurred, that the dark ages were a result of this, and that the protestant and renaissance movements and the raising up of this nation were part of God’s work to prepare the earth to receive the fullness of the gospel once more. This is part of my belief in the Church and fits with my understanding of the Bible. Even if I don’t understand all the details and I’m not 100% certain how it fits in with the verse about the gates of hell not prevailing against the church (though I have some ideas), my faith in the Church is not in question. I’m intelligent enough to understand the evidence against Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the entire restoration of the gospel. In my judgment (the most important one for me), those evidences pale compared to the many spiritual confirmations that I have experienced over many years of practicing and teaching LDS doctrine. I wouldn’t call it blind faith, I understand many things, but certainly not everything. That which I do understand makes perfect rationale sense and is in-line with the Bible as I understand it.

    On a somewhat related note, I read somewhere the other day that Mormonism is the only Christian religion in the US where increased formal education leads to more active involvement/belief in the church, instead of less. Unfortunately there was no reference to the data to back that up. Does anyone know anything about that?

  31. September 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve heard that one too reggie,

    But I don’t really think it’s a useful data point for our discussion. Education is not, and never has been, equivalent with having correct faith.

  32. 32 Darrell
    September 15, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    “And with Heb 13:8, I did provide evidence. Right out of the four Gospels in fact.

    Christ DID change. One year, he didn’t know how to walk and was crawling around on the floor. Next year he was walking.”

    I don’t want to sidetrack this blog with this but I am not sure if you recall the discussion as I do. Either that, or you just did not read my responses to this. The scripture in Hebrews 13:8 is not talking about Jesus’ physical body. It is talking about His divinity. The problem with Mormonism is you don’t consider him Divine in the true sense of the word. You consider Him to be a created being who is growing and changing. That does not mesh with this scripture.

    In addition, in our discussion you NEVER ONCE referred to the BOM. You always talked about your own thoughts on the nebulous “overarching God” that is unchanging. You redefined Hebrews 13:8 as not talking about Christ (even though it specifically refers to Christ). You said it applied to your “overarching” God. That is redefining the bible.

    “Most of this discussion isn’t that helpful anyway. It’s like each side continues to believe that with a little more knowledge or evidence, the other side will understand. You might call it looking for the silver bullet. However the truth is that we’re dealing with faith based religion; so it takes more than knowledge to convince. For example, I believe the apostasy occurred, that the dark ages were a result of this, and that the protestant and renaissance movements and the raising up of this nation were part of God’s work to prepare the earth to receive the fullness of the gospel once more. This is part of my belief in the Church and fits with my understanding of the Bible. Even if I don’t understand all the details and I’m not 100% certain how it fits in with the verse about the gates of hell not prevailing against the church (though I have some ideas), my faith in the Church is not in question. I’m intelligent enough to understand the evidence against Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the entire restoration of the gospel. In my judgment (the most important one for me), those evidences pale compared to the many spiritual confirmations that I have experienced over many years of practicing and teaching LDS doctrine. I wouldn’t call it blind faith, I understand many things, but certainly not everything. That which I do understand makes perfect rationale sense and is in-line with the Bible as I understand it.”

    Reggie,

    I can see where you are coming from on this but I view it very differently. There is NO PROOF for mormonism OTHER THAN the “spiritual experiences” you refer to. The problem with relying on these spiritual experiences is that EVERY RELIGION HAS THEM. If I, as a Christian, have a spiritual confirmation that my religion is true (which I have had) how does that mesh with a muslim who has a spiritual experience that tells him his is true (I have spoken with a few who have). We are talking about two completely different faiths/religions. We cannot both be right. Perhaps one of us is wrong and the other one has an experience that IS NOT OF GOD. There is a logical fallacy in relying on a feeling to prove your faith. It does not work. In addition, the bible warns about doing this. It tells us our hearts will fool us and that there would be religions which would preach false christs that were delivered by angels. It also warns about false prophets. That is what mormonism is… a false religion delivered by an angel, preaching a false christ.

    Darrell

  33. September 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    If I recall that conversation, I was simply saying that there are theoretically possible ways to reconcile Mormon theology with Biblical monotheism. I think that was my limited point in that conversation. I also seem to recall that I clearly prefaced those statements as being only my own opinion.

  34. 34 Darrell
    September 15, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    “If I recall that conversation, I was simply saying that there are theoretically possible ways to reconcile Mormon theology with Biblical monotheism. I think that was my limited point in that conversation. I also seem to recall that I clearly prefaced those statements as being only my own opinion.”

    Again with the mormon qualification of “this is only my opinion”. Nobody ever speaks for the church. Even the apostles don’t speak for the church. Even when we are reading a speach they gave at conference you guys will say… “well, that was only their opinion.”

    Ok, so you still never addressed the scripture in Hebrews 13:8. It applies to Christ. You never addressed it other than to imply that it applied to your overarching God. That is an utterly false way of redefining the verse. This scripture directly contradicts mormon theology of a created Jesus who is growing and changing and has not always existed as God.

    Darrell

  35. September 15, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I’ve already told you that Jesus is not a created being in Mormon theology Darrell. Why do you keep saying it?

  36. 36 Darrell
    September 15, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    “I’ve already told you that Jesus is not a created being in Mormon theology Darrell. Why do you keep saying it?”

    That’s right. Avoid the question. Round and round we go.

    Darrell

  37. September 15, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    If you had a point Darrell, perhaps I could respond to it.

  38. 38 Berean
    September 15, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Darrell,

    I appreciate your efforts here, my brother in Christ. I am fully prepared as well as you are I’m sure to list numerous references from LDS leaders stating Christ to be a created being but it won’t do any good. This group here has their own brand of Mormonism. It’s partial theosophy and part something else. I don’t know what. It doesn’t matter. It would be said, “That is only Brigham Young/Joseph Smith/Bruce McConkie/Russell Ballard/ opinion” etc, etc, etc, etc, and on and and on it goes. I can read very clearly what it says in the LDS manuals that I have here and it’s quite simple to understand. If Mormons say it to each other it’s agreed upon. If a Christian says the same thing to a Mormon then it’s all wrong and that person is an anti-Mormon. Mormons say it and it’s not anti-Christian. It’s hypocrisy to the fullest.

    James Talmage talked in great detail about the Great Apostasy. He even wrote a book on it, but I doubt any of the Mormons on here have read it. Yeah, go ahead and bash James Talmage. He was only an apostle and he wrote the highly respected book “Articles of Faith” that is sold in every Deseret Bookstore I’ve been in. Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt could be referenced, but they mean nothing to this group on here unless it’s something that fits with their individual brand of Mormonism.

    Darrell, they don’t like simple, easy questions. They know their answers are self-implicating either way they go. Whose fault is that? It’s the Mormon Church. It’s their system. In the end, why bother? They have already stated that they have no problem worhipping a god that is an exalted man who lives on Kolob that is taught outside of scripture. Once a person has mentally and spiritually given themselves over to this false spirit it’s only the power of the real Spirit of the Bible that will bring them out of this.

    Reading the above statement that this group here doesn’t believe that Jesus is a created being shows just how misinformed, scripturally ignorant and “milk-fed” at Mormon wards they really are. It’s sad because of the eternal circumstances involved. When I went to a Mormon ward priesthood meeting I plainly asked if Jesus was God when he was born. They told me, “No” despite the references in Isaiah and other places. Is Jesus God or A god in Mormonism? He is A god and the references are numerous. Was he brought into existence by a male and female god (heavenly parents)? Yes, and the references are numerous. Is Jesus one of the spirit children of this heavenly union on Kolob? Yes, and so was Lucifer and the person that the Mormons refer to as the Holy Ghost…the references are numerous. Who cares? It’s Mormonism according to the individual church member now.

    I had a Mormon gentleman tell me last week something from D&C that was so off the wall and contrary to what the Church teaches that I had to call Salt Lake City to ask if it was true. What was my answer? Laughter on the other end of the phone. Apparently this individual was receiving revelation that the Church didn’t know about. When I asked this gentleman about it the next day he said, “Well, that is the opinion of Salt Lake City and I am entitled to have my own and change it whenever I want.”

    Unbelievable.

  39. 39 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Berean,

    I agree with what you are saying. I came up with a title I like for mormons because of their ability to switch positions at the drop of a hat. I have never seen anything like it in my life. You show them one scripture and they will say it means “x”. You then point out that “x” does not work because of something else in the bible… so they redefine it to mean “y”. You show them something one apostle says that does not line up with scripture and they will say it is only his opinion. In the next breath they will quote something else that apostle said IN THE EXACT SAME TALK and site it as authoritative. It is mind numbing! They can switch positions and positions at the drop of a hat.

    Seth did this to me in another thread. I pointed out that the bible says that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He said… no it doesn’t say that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever… it says that God is the same. I pointed out Hebrews 13:8 to him. He then came back with… it must be wrong or mean something else because Christ has changed. I said it was referring to Christ’s divinity and that hasn’t changed. He then switched positions to say that it is talking about a nebulous overarching God that encompasses all gods. Of course, he qualified this as “his opinion and not necessarily the opinion of the church”. So, he went from… “the bible doesn’t say it” TO “it must be wrong or mean something else” TO “it means a nebulous overarching god”. All this to avoid the logical conclusion that CHRIST HAS NOT CHANGED SO MORMONISM’S TEACHING MUST BE WRONG.

    Due to their ability to switch opinions and positions so rapidly, I have taken to calling them “SHAPESHIFTERS”… from my old days of loving science fiction.

    Darrell

  40. 40 Berean
    September 16, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Darrell,

    I understand exactly. I went through the same LDS “merry-go-round” about three weeks ago on this blog about the teaching of JS in which he said that the first principle of the gospel was to know the character of God and that god is an exaled man. I asked if this was true, and if so, please show me from the Bible or the Book of Mormon that teaching. The BoM introduction says that the BoM “is the most correct book on earth…and a man would get closer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book.” My point was this: If JS said that this was the first principle of the gospel then this is the starting point. This teaching must be in the BoM based on what the BoM introduction says.

    Seth and the others said that the Church doesn’t get into this and many Mormons deny it. However, this teaching is everywhere: King Follet Discourse, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church (Joseph Smith) just to name a few. Some Mormons admit that the teaching is true. Other say it isn’t while other Mormons get red in the face with embarrassment and start giggling while saying, “Yeah…well…uhh..you know…uhh.” Why the embarrassment? Why the intellectual dishonesty?

    I made a serious offer that if Seth or any Mormon could demonstrate to me that god is an exalted man in the Bible that I would personally drive to their city and let them baptize me and my whole family in the Mormon Church. Reggie quickly refused the offer and bailed on the discussion. Seth wouldn’t either but did try to explain the teaching away. After days and days of “dodge and deflect” and bloviating rhetoric Seth finally admitted that the teaching wasn’t in the standard works.

    In “Lectures of Faith”, lecture no.5, Joseph Smith states that the Father is a personage of spirit which completely contradicts D&C 130:22. This lecture was part of the Doctrines & Covenants from 1835 to 1921 until it was removed. I wonder why?

    Many Mormons I have talked to deliberately try to mislead me until they find out that I know what I am talking about. It’s verbal semantics. They won’t “give up the goods” until somebody draws it out of them. Mormon missionaries never tell the whole story to investigators. It’s only “milk” so they are not ready for “meat”. Give me a break. I say, “Give me facts before fiction”. I would sit in on Gospel Doctrines and Gospel Essentials classes and ask questions about the lesson. Mormons would come up to me afterwards and shake my hand and say, “Wow, those were some great questions. We never thought about that before”. Is that right? I find it hard to believe, but then maybe it’s true.

    One ward teacher asked me what I thought about the First Vision. I told him I had some serious questions about it after I had read an article in the January 1985 issue of the Ensign that detailed all the different accounts of this story as told by Joseph Smith. The story was different in 1832, 1835, 1838 and 1842. I pulled out the article out of my folder and gave it to him while we sat in the priesthood meeting. He slumped down in his chair and read it thoroughly. He asked to make a copy of it and he did. He then replied to me, “You know, (my name), this [Mormonism] may be a hoax.” I was shocked that he admitted that to me.

    I asked him how he came to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He told me that he watched the DVD “The Restoration”. He said, “(My name), I know that the movie was only actors, but when I saw the boy playing Joseph Smith go into the woods and see the Father and Son, I knew that this had to be a prophet.” I asked him, “That was it? You saw a movie that you said were only actors and now you know that JS is a true prophet? You’re kidding me right? What about Moroni 10:3-5?” He said, “Yeah, I did that later.” I couldn’t believe it. This man had sold off his soul based on what he saw in a 30 minute DVD that he stated were only ficticious actors. It reminded me of my wife watching “Castaway” with Tom Hanks. She was convinced that this was a true story. It took me a while to convince her that it wasn’t. I guess the parallels are similar.

    If Mormons today had the mindset of their elders from the past maybe we could get somewhere:

    “If a faith will not bear to be investigated, if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” (Mormon Prophet George Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol.14:216-217)

    “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will not stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, page 126)

    “…convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you’ll ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” (Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pages 15-16).

  41. September 16, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Berean,

    Are you joking? Just because we don’t agree with your “logical” arguments, doesn’t mean we’re not open to investigating our doctrines with reason. We invite all men everywhere to do so. Now just because you don’t believe it and since we see the gospel with such different paradigms what’s the point of wasting precious time in this pointless debate with you? I love some of the claims you’ve made: “silenced the blog”, he “bailed” on the discussion. People have lives you know. I’m not here to win anything, simply to correct the misrepresentations.

  42. 42 Berean
    September 16, 2008 at 3:16 am

    No, I’m not joking. You nor the others on here are serious about looking into anything. If you were you’d ask questions and you’d answer the questions that are asked. I answer every question that is given to me with happiness and interest. You don’t want to discuss the Great Apostasy, the priesthood, forgiveness, repentance, perfection and you didn’t want to discuss the nature of god either. I made no reference to “silencing the blog”.

    I’ll tell you when the blog went silent. It was the thread entitled, “The Miracle of Conversion” dated August 27th. I asked many questions and later referenced many texts from the Book of Mormon and D&C. My post numbers were 19-21. Stephanie even tried to get you and the other Mormons to wake up in her post #26 to no avail. The blog went silent for days. When everybody came back they still didn’t want to answer those questions because they were unsettling. I didn’t see your name anywhere on that discussion.

    You and the others wanted to talk about “softball” subjects like agency. Agency matters nothing if you have the wrong god, don’t know if you have eternal life right now, don’t know if you are completely forgiven if you died right now and so forth. I’ve got at life too…a very busy one. I take the time because I care about the Mormons and their eternal destiny because the Mormon people have been deceived by a false prophet and a false gospel. You may not believe that my intentions here are good, but they are. If I didn’t care I surely wouldn’t waste my time trying to talk to you and the other Mormons on here. I’d be like the rest of Christendom that has written off the Mormons and put them in the same camp as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Moonies: the camp of lost causes and no hope; given up for Satan and his eternal wrath in the lake of fire. Christians like Mark Cares, Stephanie, Darrell, Brad, myself and others are the rare ones in Christianity that are actually concerned enough to do something about it. People at my church think that I am out of my mind for caring about Mormons and for going to ward services to learn more and talk to Mormons to share with them. I don’t see any Mormons coming to my church for the same purpose.

  43. 43 Stephanie
    September 16, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Thanks, Berean. I look forward to continuing on this blog, but I’m going on vacation for a week. :) God Bless your efforts here, as well as the efforts of Brad and Darrell and Becki. I’ll be praying for everyone on this blog. I know lots of people are looking at this blog every day, even though only a few join in. See you all again soon. Stephanie

  44. September 16, 2008 at 4:49 am

    The reason you have trouble Berean is because you tend to ask leading questions that set the debate up on your own artificial terms. You also tend to load up the questions with your own assumptions which we do not share.

    Oftentimes, talking to you is like being asked “did you feel bad when you cheated on your wife? Yes or no only please!”

    And spare us your war stories about all your manly conquests. It’s vaguely like listening to that obnoxious guy in high school brag about all the cheerleaders he made out with. This isn’t about you and your awesome powers of spiritual kung fu. Neither is it about the inadequacies of your opponents.

    You asked when the gates of hell prevailed against the Church. I saw this question as proceeding from a faulty premise and pointed it out. You were assuming the phrase to mean something it was never meant to mean. I also accurately identified you as trying to set up a trap to have a debate on your own artificial terms. Now that we’ve disappointed you, you are pouting about how we’ve all wussed out.

    It’s not that I don’t have answers to your questions Berean. I just don’t like arguing on your terms, that’s all.

  45. 45 Brad
    September 16, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I would never go to an Evangelical meeting and try to do what you are doing. I have too much respect for the people there.

    And there’s another major difference between Mormons and Christians (at least the active ones who truly care, that is).

    If you TRULY believed there were eternal consequences for wrong beliefs – and those eternal consequences are Hell – then you would be doing everything you possibly could to try to tell others and give them the truth, so they could avoid those eternal consequences.

    As it is, Mormonism DOESN’T believe that to be the case, but Christianity does. Hell (or what you might refer to as Outer Darkness) will be populated with all those who do not believe in the one true God, the God of the Bible. In Christian view, this includes Mormons, among others. As such, that is the reason why Berean would be found in a Mormon ward trying to tell others – b/c of the eternal consequences that await. In the Christian paradigm, he’s doing what he ought to.

    When you say that you have “too much respect for the people there”, that is simply nothing more than a view based on your belief system, b/c in Mormonism, grave eternal consequences DO NOT await those of us in the Evangelical church, so why would you feel the need to tell us anything? We may not make it to the highest level of the heaven you believe in, but we’ll nonetheless make it. It’s a completely different, and we would say unBiblical, point of view.

    You believe you’re doing what you ought. So does Berean – and in fact, it’s BECAUSE he loves the people in the Mormon church that he’s doing it. We don’t expect you to understand it, Seth, b/c it’s not part of your beliefs.

    Incidentally, everything else Berean and Darrell said is absolutely correct. You and Reggie can deny it all you wish, but the points about accepting or rejecting what your own apostles and leaders have said, based upon whether it supports or detracts from your point of view, is absolutely spot on.

  46. 46 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    “Ah yes, the whole “lying for Jesus” thing right? Ends justify the means?”

    “Where can I sign up? Because brother, let me tell you, I’ve always wanted to belong to an organization like that.”

    You already are. Remember, “all truth is not good”. Only tell people the faith promoting parts. Lying for the Lord… that is the mormon church’s mantra!!

    Seriously, if you take issue with what Berean is doing then you need to take issue with what ALL of the apostles and Christ did in the Bible. They went into the synagogues to teach on a regular basis. They went to the temple courts to teach and convert regularly. They were tryign to convert the lost Jews over to Christ. According to your analogy they were immoral.

    Darrell

  47. 47 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Seth,

    Another point on this… you are in a glass house throwing stones. I live in the southeast. In our area of the country the LDS missionaries have attended meetings for other churches. This went on for a quite a while a few years back. They would go in, ask questions and talk with people about LDS beliefs and their church’s beliefs. They were trying to reach people and convert them to Mormonism (unsuccesfully I might add). It was a regular part of their missionary methods. I served as a stake missionary for over a year and was a ward mission leader for a couple of years as well. I worked closely with the missionaries who did this. It was something their mission president encouraged.

    That is the same thing the Berean is doing… you need to step off of your high horse on this one.

    Darrell

  48. 48 Brad
    September 16, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    What? Seth on a high horse? Never! He loves to be on his, telling everyone to get off theirs. That’s always rich…

    Ah yes, the whole “lying for Jesus” thing right? Ends justify the means?

    Sneak into other houses of worship on the pretext of either being a Mormon yourself, or being an “interested investigator” when your real intent is to secretly undermine as much of the Mormon faith as you can?

    Who’s lying, Seth? Berean never said anything about lying. Is there something inherently wrong with non-Mormons going to a Mormon church, asking questions that make the people there THINK and trying to convert them? Does the Bible say that’s not OK? I go to a Baptist church – if a Mormon would like to come into our church to try to do that, or to come into my Sunday School class I teach for the purpose of asking questions to try to plant doubt or get people to consider Mormonism, I welcome it. In fact, I’d love it. Come right into my class, I would say, and let’s have an hour long discussion on Mormonism. I’m all for it. Why? B/c I’m ready for it, and I know what I believe, and what you believe, and why it’s wrong, and I’m not afraid to share it with you. That’s why it doesn’t represent a threat to me. Are there some in my church it might affect? Sure – b/c they aren’t ready for it. Why would an LDS church not welcome questions that a non-Mormon has about it? Aren’t they ready to answer them?

    Then brag to your friends about your conquests after you’ve done it and have a party where you all self-righteously sigh about how those Mormons are going to hell, but at least YOUR conscience is clear?

    I’ll be perfectly honest with you Seth. Do I believe Mormons are going to hell? Unfortunately, yes. Is my personal conscience clear on the matter? Absolutely – because I know that those I have the chance to talk to I take that opportunity, and the decision they make isn’t up to me, nor am I held responsible for it. If I forsake the opportunities laid before me, then my conscience wouldn’t be clear, but if I take them, then regardless of the outcome, yes, it is. Do I talk with others about conversations I’ve had with Mormons? Yes. We compare similar stories and situations, and learn from them. Do we generally find the arguments weak? Yep. Do we feel sorry for them, not personally, but due to the state of their eternal souls? Absolutely. I don’t do this for the fun of it, Seth – I do it b/c I feel led to do it. If you wish to take the view of a self-righteous party, that is your business, you’re welcome to it.

    Where can I sign up? Because brother, let me tell you, I’ve always wanted to belong to an organization like that.

    I don’t know what to tell you, Seth – b/c I don’t belong to an organization like that. If you find what you’re looking for, great.

    By their fruits shall ye know them Brad.

    Gee, I’ve never heard THAT before from a Mormon, Seth…

  49. September 16, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Yes Brad, it’s always about me and never about the issues, is it? I rarely manage to have an argument with you were you don’t eventually resort criticizing me rather than addressing the issues. I’ve long ago come to the conclusion that you simply don’t have an argument to make.

    Darrell, the apostles, when they went to the synagogue, did so openly, proclaiming to everyone exactly what they were up to.

    And who knows? Maybe Berean did the same thing. Maybe he did make it clear he was attending the LDS wards to challenge the false ideas being taught there.

    Somehow I doubt it, but he’s free to explain himself.

    At the moment, I’m wondering if I haven’t been giving him too much credit for being honest and up front.

    Boldness in proclaiming the Gospel is no excuse for lying.

  50. 50 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    “Boldness in proclaiming the Gospel is no excuse for lying.”

    You hit the nail on the head with that one and that is one of the main issues I have with the LDS Church. The half-truths/lies they tell.

    I don’t think Berean has lied about anything. I do not know him personally but I imagine if someone asked him what he thought about the LDS Church I am quite sure he would tell them he believes it to be false. He will have to answer that question.

    On the same token, when you ask a missionary how JS translated the BOM (as I have done), they tell you with the Urimm and Thummim. They tell a half-truth lie when they do that.

    I have issues with the LDS Church’s tactics as they have lied to me personally on may occasions. Berean’s tactics seem straightforward to me.

    Darrell

  51. 51 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    “And who knows? Maybe Berean did the same thing. Maybe he did make it clear he was attending the LDS wards to challenge the false ideas being taught there.”

    The missionaries I know did not disclose this when they attended the protestant churches here in town. Where they lying?

    Darrell

  52. 52 Brad
    September 16, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Seth, re-read post 50. All your comments were addressed. If you want to try to make the case of criticism or getting off-topic on arguments, that would be nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black, and you know it.

    I’m glad you don’t find me dishonest – I’m not. I’ll tell it straight out how I see it. Some may find that irritating, that’s OK. Personally, when I hear people doing it, whether I agree with them or not, I find it refreshing, in this day and age of political correctness. I’ll disagree with you on 99 out of 100 topics, but I’ll always be honest.

  53. September 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Where they in uniform Darrell? And why were they there?

  54. 54 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    “If you had a point Darrell, perhaps I could respond to it.”

    Ok, Seth, I am going to try this again. I want to try one more time to see if you can answer a question in a straightforward manner. Without dodging, diverting, getting caught up in semantics or switching subjects…

    In Hebrews 13:8 we are told that “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forvever”. In numerous verses in Isaiah chps 45-48 we are told that Jesus is our “God, Savior and there is no God before Him nor will there ever be a God after Him.”

    These two verses tell us directly that Jesus is our God, He is our only God, there never was a God prior to Him and there will never be another God after Him. They also say that Jesus, as our God, has NEVER CHANGED.

    This lines up very easily with Christian Theology. I do not understand how you can mesh this with Mormonism’s teachings on Christ. Mormonism teaches that Christ has not always existed as God. It teaches that Christ is a spirit born son (created) being of a God named Elohim. It teaches that Jesus progressed to become a God by being a valiant spirit in the pre-mortal life. It also teaches that we can progress to become Gods as well. All of these teachings fly directly in the face of the scriptures I pointed out.

    Now, without doging misdirecting or getting caught up in semantics, please tell me how you answer these contradictions.

    Darrell

  55. September 16, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I really don’t understand all of this fascination with the method used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. To me that way misses the mark because the important part is whether he was called of God to do it. Take another step back and the most important event is whether he experienced the first vision or not. If he did, then he was a true prophet who brought forth true books of scripture, and restored Christ’s true gospel and church to the earth. If he was not called of God then everything is false.

    So you guys can attack the individual doctrines and methods and character of the leaders all you want, but it doesn’t have any effect on those who have a testimony that this work is of God. I believe from studying his life accounts and teachings that Joseph Smith was called of God. This is reaffirmed every time I read the Book of Mormon; there’s no doubt in my mind that that book is way beyond the capabilities of a simple man creating it in such a short time. More importantly, reading the Book of Mormon brings me closer to Christ, and provides inspiration and insight into how the gospel applies in my daily life. In the same way that reading the Bible provides inspiration and insight, and with the same confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it is true.

  56. 56 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    “I really don’t understand all of this fascination with the method used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. To me that way misses the mark because the important part is whether he was called of God to do it. Take another step back and the most important event is whether he experienced the first vision or not. If he did, then he was a true prophet who brought forth true books of scripture, and restored Christ’s true gospel and church to the earth. If he was not called of God then everything is false.”

    The reason we were discussing the seerstone is because the church tells a half-truth about how he translated the BOM. They do not tell investigators about it on purpose… because the know it will decrease their conversion ratio. However, to your point, the First Vision is paramount. Unfortunately for the church, they tell a half-truth about that as well. They only disclose the 1838 version to investigators. They completely leave out the fact that JS told several different versions prior to that one…. again, this is on purpose because they know if they told investigators about the contradictions in all the different versions their conversion rate would drop. The very first version only discloses one being (I happen to believe this is the most accurate one). I think the first vision DID happen and that it was an angel that appeared to him (just as JS’s first account said it was). I do not think it was an angel of God I think it was an angel of the devil delivering another gospel with another Jesus as prophesied in Galations chapter 1:6-9.

    I can appreciate the fact that you think the spirit has revealed to you that the church is true. However, please read my post to you directly in #32. I think it addresses directly why I feel that you are misled in what “the spirit” is telling you.

    Darrell

  57. September 16, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    The “proof” you seek is not to be found in man’s understanding, but rather in living the doctrines. A false prophet won’t lead people to Christ. Obviously I believe that living these teachings brings a person closer to Christ, the true and living Christ.

    Also, there’s no evidence for many of the Biblical events, such as the Exodus, does that lessen your belief in the Bible?

    I also find the LDS doctrine logical. As contrasted with evangelical teachings which I find to be confusing, abstract, and sometimes mystical to the point of uselessness.

  58. September 16, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Darrell, I haven’t forgotten your question, but I’ll be a while in responding.

  59. 59 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Reggie,

    Acutally, there is plenty of evidence for Christianity… outside of the bible. There is evidence that the bible is a real historical document, there is evidence that Christ DID exist, that He DID rise from the dead, that all of the apostles WHERE REAL PEOPLE, etc. However, there IS NO PROOF for mormonism or it’s claims. In fact, it is just the opposite… there is ample evidence against it. The only support you have for your faith is a “spiritual witness” which many people of opposing faiths have claimed to have also. Again, it is very dangerous to rely on this “spiritual witness” as the bible tells us our hearts will deceive us. Are you right, am I right or is my muslim friend right? We have all had “spiritual witnesses” telling us our religions are true. So which one is? Whether or not you find mormonism’s teachings pleasing, comforting or logical is beside the point. The question is ARE THEY OF GOD. According to the bible that answer is no.

    Darrell

  60. September 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    As you read the Bible the answer may be no; as I read it the Bible supports the LDS doctrine through and through. In fact in all of our discussion here I keep hearing how we LDS only follow part of the Bible, but we’re not the ones explaining away the better part of Christ’s teachings, or the symbolism of the Old Testament, or the prophesies of the apostasy/restoration, or the structure of the Church, or the need for the priesthood, or the necessity of saving ordinances, or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, or the role of temples, or the nature of the Godhead, and on and on. In fact as I understand it you only need one verse to understand the whole of evangelical doctrine, at least the part that directs an individual’s actions: ye are saved by grace through faith.

  61. 61 Darrell
    September 16, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Reggie,

    You covered so many things there that it would take several blogs to address them all. Suffice it to say that I do not believe the bible agrees with the LDS position on these. Jsut the opposite in fact. However, I would love to discuss these with you.

    Let’s start with the nature of God… specifically Christ. I am having a discussion with Seth about that right now. Read my post #57 above. The LDS church has a huge problem with the nature of Jesus Christ. That is actually the “BIGEE PROBLEM” in fact. If the LDS Church had Christ right everything else would begin to fall into place. The bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God, has always existed as God, has never changed, there are no other Gods besides Him, no other Gods have ever existed except Him, and there WILL NEVER BE ANY GODS AFTER HIM. The bible in emphatic about this and the LDS church teaching directly contradicts every point of this.

    Read #57 above and give me your reponse while we wait on Seth.

    Darrell

  62. September 16, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    I think the point was still missed. If I believe Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God and he teaches a doctrine that appears to be contradictory to a statement by another prophet (or the same prophet at a different time), the question isn’t really how does one reconcile the two statements together, but rather, why did God feel it was necessary to now give us more revelation. Why is it important? How can it help one on their mortal journey?

    In this case I simply believe it represents an advanced understanding of the nature of God; it doesn’t invalidate His omnipotence or eternal existence, or unchanging ways. Instead it speaks more to the potential of humans.

    Have you studied any subject seriously? At the beginning a lot of advanced topics don’t make sense and often seem in direct contradiction to basic principles. Certainly God has many mysteries and we are to learn and progress line upon line.

  63. 63 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 1:20 am

    “I think the point was still missed. If I believe Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God and he teaches a doctrine that appears to be contradictory to a statement by another prophet (or the same prophet at a different time), the question isn’t really how does one reconcile the two statements together, but rather, why did God feel it was necessary to now give us more revelation. Why is it important? How can it help one on their mortal journey?

    In this case I simply believe it represents an advanced understanding of the nature of God; it doesn’t invalidate His omnipotence or eternal existence, or unchanging ways. Instead it speaks more to the potential of humans.

    Have you studied any subject seriously? At the beginning a lot of advanced topics don’t make sense and often seem in direct contradiction to basic principles. Certainly God has many mysteries and we are to learn and progress line upon line.”

    This explanation, unfortunately, goes completely against the bible. God tells us in the bible that we should ALWAYS compare new “revelation” to make sure it agrees with previous revelation. If the new revelation does not agree with old revelation it is false. That is one of the ways we can tell a false prophet. If the “supposed prophet’s” revelation disagrees with old revelation then the supposed prophet is false. As I demonstrated above, Joseph Smith’s teaching (supposed new revelation) on Christ completely opposes the bibles teaching on Christ (old revelation). Joseph Smith was a false prophet, who preached a false Christ and gospel delivered by an angel of the devil (as prophesied in Galations 1:6-9).

    Darrell

  64. 64 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 1:25 am

    “In this case I simply believe it represents an advanced understanding of the nature of God”

    Another point on this… there is a big difference between an advanced understanding and a direct contradiction. JS’s teachings are directly opposed to the bible’s teachings on Christ, as they are complete opposites. Christ cannot be a spiritually born being who progressed to become a god (as mormonism teaches) and at the same time be the ONE AND ONLY GOD THAT HAS EVER OR WILL EVER EXIST (as the bible teaches). You are straining at nats here.

    Darrell

  65. September 17, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Darrell, didn’t you learn anything from StarWars?

    “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” Obi-Wan Kenobi

    How often did those in the Savior’s time not understand or believe Him because they were holding onto the old way of understanding?

    God has given us many ways to detect true prophets: teachings that lead to Christ and understanding, the Holy Spirit confirming true teachings, prophesies that come to pass, bringing forth good fruits, and asking God through prayer that we may receive witness from Him. In every test Joseph Smith passes, so my faith in his teachings isn’t in doubt, therefore I’m looking for understanding of these new revelations.

  66. 66 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 3:06 am

    “In every test Joseph Smith passes, so my faith in his teachings isn’t in doubt, therefore I’m looking for understanding of these new revelations.”

    I am sorry but you are wrong… he fails because his revelation OPPOSES THAT OF THE BIBLE. He preaches a spiritually born (created) Christ who has not always existed as God and who is one of many gods. He also taught that man can become a god. Those revelation OPPOSE the older revelation and are therefore, false.

    Look for understanding all you want and you will never find it. The revelations of JS do not mesh with God’s word because they are false and will lead you to eternal hell. The only one you can trust in is God whose word (the bible) stands forever. To believe in JS because of a feeling you have is wrong, dangerous, illogical and unbiblical. There is only one explanation for the differences in what the bible teaches about Christ and what JS taught. ONE OF THEM IS RIGHT AND ONE OF THEM IS WRONG. The are opposites of one another.

    I find it facinating that Paul predicted this very opposition in Galations. It further demonstrates the majesty of God’s word. In addition, I find it sad that you are willing to cop-out this easily with the… “I just can’t explain it so I just choose to have faith” type of explanation. The truth is you CAN explain it but are unwilling to consider the truth.

    Darrell

  67. September 17, 2008 at 4:27 am

    So you’re saying you understand all of the mysteries of God then?

    I outlined all the reasons why I believe, and it’s not just faith. It’s asking God, following the teachings, pondering and searching the scriptures, receiving witness of the Spirit, judging the fruits; it’s all of the components, and they all line up, even if there are things I don’t understand perfectly.

    What is enlightening about the discussions here is the evangelical belief that all that is required for salvation is faith, as long as you also have a complete and correct understanding of the true nature of God. This is in opposition to the LDS belief that we’re judged more on what we do than what we know. It’s more important to implement Christ’s teachings in your life than to have perfect knowledge. Since most of the Bible deals with commandments, obedience, faith, sacrifice, in short human behavior, it’s clear that this was more important to the Biblical prophets as well.

  68. 68 Berean
    September 17, 2008 at 5:12 am

    Seth:

    You’ve made a lot of claims and statements on here that have no justification. You’ve accused me of lying, being a bully and a list of other nuggets of garbage. You weren’t there with me so you don’t know what happened. I will state what happened. When you assume, you will always come up losing.

    Your statement:

    “What’s nex? Luring 13 year olds out into the bushes where you demolish them with your powers of apologetics?”

    You’ve crossed the line here, Seth. Your innuendo is a no-brainer. I find this offensive, disgusting and repulsive. For you to imply this of me or even suggest it is outrageous. I’m going to tell you what I have in the past – grow up! Now a new suggestion – wise up! I’ve already had to rebuke you with Alma 5:30-31 for mocking me with the name calling in the past. Your so-called “fruits” that you boast about are starting to stink with rot right about now.

    Mark Cares:

    Are you moderating this blog? Is it anything goes on here? Are you okay with the statement made by Seth? I haven’t seen a comment from you anywhere on here so what am I supposed to think?

  69. 69 Berean
    September 17, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Part 1

    Darrell, Stephanie & Brad: Thank you for the support and for defending my honest and sincere efforts and intentions in what not only I do in witnessing to the Mormons, but also you in your approach with the Mormons. You got it right. Our Mormon friends did not.

    It appears that I have to clear my name since it’s been dragged through the mud by Seth. I have no problem giving “testimony” as to what has happened in the past and what I do now. I have nothing to hide. My intentions are honest and pure.

    First, I didn’t sneak into any Mormon ward. I walked right in the front door with my backpack in my hand. I greeted those that wanted to shake my hand. Many did not because it was obvious that I was not a Mormon since I wasn’t wearing a suit. I did that on purpose so all would know that I was not a member. I didn’t want to disguise myself and put on a front. I would then walk right up to the front of the chapel and try to sit on the closest row to front that wasn’t already taken. This way I could meet the bishop or whoever else. Again, letting all know that I was not a member. It was obvious everywhere I went because the bishop or someone on the bishopric would come over and we would talk. They would motion for the missionaries to come running and to sit next to me. I made it very clear that I was not a member and that I had many questions that I wanted to ask about the Church and its teachings because I had done much studying on the subject over the years in addition to talking with Mormons during that time period.

    Second, I never bragged about anything. This was no conquest. There were no parties afterwards. There were no pats on the back from anyone or anything else. The few people that knew I was going didn’t want me going. They were fearful what would happen. Some family members, not understanding Mormonism, thought that I would be killed by the Mormons. They thought this because of Mountain Meadows Massacre. These family members didn’t understand and I told them they had nothing to worry about. Going to the wards was not a happy situation for me. These were always time of great spiritual stress and involved much time in prayer. It is spiritual warfare. I was saddened a great deal in what I was hearing and seeing. My heart went out for these people especially on testimony/fast offering Sunday. Listening to young children get up there and repeat a robotic statement pledging their allegiance to Joseph Smith that was obviously taught them by their parents was upsetting for me. As a child I was taught John 3:16. I also listened as an elderly woman got up there and sobbed how she had been praying for months for repentance and forgiveness, but still didn’t know if she has been forgiven. Nobody their had any words of consolation for her or did anything when she walked off the platform other than to say, “Amen”. Only one person at my church knew I was going to the wards and he really didn’t care. It wasn’t until much later that I told my Sunday school class and I did so to rebuke all of them for sitting on their butts, drinking coffee and eating donuts and not doing anything in witnessing for Christ. When the lesson came up a question was asked about how far one is willing to go to share the gospel with the lost of world. I used my situation as a challenge to them to do something for Christ. Like I said, they and most Christians don’t care about the Mormons so they thought I was out of my mind and still do. Nobody is interested in joining me. Nobody cares. I’m on my own and that is fine because this is the task that the Lord has given me. If I needed recognition, parties, self-glory or anyting else, I’d be in another line of ministry.

    Third, I did make it clear to those that I talked to that I had real issues, problems and questions about the religion of Mormonism. When I was asked about Joseph Smith I always said that I didn’t believe he was a prophet of God. I made it clear that I thought Mormons were on their way to outer darkness. That was very difficult to say standing in a ward, but I said it because it was true. All I got back were just stares. I asked to attend the Gospel Essentials or Gospel Doctrines class where one could ask questions. Most of the time I was taken to the Gospel Essentials class. I made it clear there again who I was and what I was doing there. Does one think that I walked into a ward and acted like some rambling idiot yelling at people? No, I was courteous and respectful of the people. I was never asked to leave. I was always invited back. Most people after the class would thank me for my questions. Yes, there were some that didn’t like the questions and they would always bear their testimony to shake off what I said or read. I was called on to read verses and I did. Most of the time the missionaries would come in and sit behind me or right next to me. The teacher sometimes didn’t have answers and would motion for someone to get the missionaries to come in and help out. They didn’t have the answers either, but would tell me would talk about it after the class. Sometimes we did. Sometimes we didn’t. We would go to the priesthood meeting after and continue talking. After that was over we would talk somewhere else. Sometimes it was in the chapel after all was done. When asked about the Book of Mormon being true, I would say, “I believe the Book of Mormon is true ONLY IN THOSE PLACES WHERE IT AGREES WITH THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE.” When the BoM says that there is only one God and that God is a Great Spirit, then I completely agree with it. However, the main theme and story of the BoM and how it came into existence I do not believe in and I made that clear. I also made it clear that I had not prayed the prayer of Moroni 10:3-5 and that I never would. I gave my many reasons why I would not.

    Fourth, I know that there are Mormons from time to time that will go to another church. It’s not for evangelism unless one is a missionary. Mormon missionaries are known to walk into churches and want to talk to the pastor during the week. I’ve had these pastors tell me so. Last year, we had an LDS family come to our church. They had young kids. The parents were active LDS, temple worthy and had their endowment, celestial marriage, sealings, etc., completed. The husband and wife walked into our Sunday school class and the man announced that he was a Mormon and that he had questions. You know what we did? We cancelled the lesson that day and did nothing but talk to them and answer their questions. They were having questions and issues about the Mormon Church and the teachings that they were learning about that were starting to disturb them. Some time later they did leave the LDS Church and became Christians. They accepted the real Jesus of the Bible as their Savior. This man was working for an LDS owned business here in our town. When he announced that he had left the Mormon Church he lost his job. It’s been very difficult for him ever since that time. They struggle financially and we help them all we can. His wife works at our church now during the week. The Mormons still come around to their residence and tell them that if they come back to the church that he will get his job back and that they will get all the financial help they need to be where they were before. They aren’t interested.

  70. September 17, 2008 at 6:40 am

    Berean, I asked you to clarify for me what you were doing, because what you said you were doing sounded fairly outrageous – especially taking aside people in the hallway to “expose” Joseph Smith. It painted the wrong picture for me, and I was not pleased at all and quite disappointed. I am actually glad to be mistaken here.

    But you did brag about your conquests. Just now. On this very thread.

    And I am still not convinced that your methods are not spiritual bullying of those with less Gospel knowledge than you.

    However, based on your response, I will retract my accusation of dishonesty or sneakiness. I am glad to be wrong on this score at least.

  71. September 17, 2008 at 6:43 am

    On that note, I would appreciate it if Mark would delete or edit my post(s) where I accuse Berean of dishonesty. It detracts from the conversation we are having here and serves no further useful purpose.

  72. 72 Berean
    September 17, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Why did I decide to go to the wards? There are many reasons:

    1) I had been praying for quite some time asking the Lord how I could serve Him more fully in reacing the Mormons. I had exhausted all that I knew to do. My address had been “blacklisted” by the missionaries and they wouldn’t come around here anymore. One day during my prayer/meditation time it came to me very clearly as if it was being spoken to me right into my ear. Matter of fact, it startled me. The answer? “Go to the Mormon wards and witness to the Mormons”. I immediately felt fearful of this idea because this seemed to be unchartered territory. I thought it too risky and crazy. I realized that the Lord was not going to ask me to do something that He knew I wasn’t equipped to do or that He wouldn’t help me. I gave this more prayer as I thought how I would go about this and prepare. As the days passed it became even more solid and known to me. I was given real peace and a sense of extreme boldness. The Lord had given me a task to do and I wasn’t about to say “no”.

    2) The eternal consequences are high. We are talking about eternity here. This is not a game. I have many Mormon friends up in Utah. I have known some of them for many years. I have a real burden, concern and love for the Mormon people that could not be ignored. To just “sit on my hands” and do nothing while my friends and other Mormons were marching full force in the direction of outer darkness I could not ignore. I had gotten to know many of the missionaries here where I live over the years. Where I live there is a ward almost on every street. The risks that I thought I would be taking by going to the wards seemed to pale in comparison with the eternal risk the Mormons were taking with their eternal destiny.

    3) I was following the Biblical guidelines as outlined in Acts 17:2; 18:28; 19:8-9. The apostles and Christians have always met the non-believers of the world on their turf. If one wants to talk with Mormons, one needs to go where the Mormons are. What isn’t a better place than a LDS house of worship the same way Paul and the others did just as it is recorded in Acts and other places? (By the way, I get my screen name from Acts 17:10-11. I stand firm on the scriptures of the Bible and will test everything I hear and read from others by it. [1 Thes 5:21])

    4) I was tired of hearing Mormons say: “If you want to know what Mormons believe, then ask a Mormon.” Sounds good to me. An LDS ward seemed like the best place to hear from the Mormons. When I decided to learn Mormonism I went to Mormon sources. I studied Mormon history, ordered all my manuals and church books from LDS Distribution in Salt Lake City, read the Ensign, read the LDS standard works and studied their doctrines, read the writings of the Mormon prophets and talked with Mormons friends. I had talked with missionaries, but they seemed not interested in dealing with my questions and would just run off. Some of them didn’t know much about their faith. Others were blatantly dishonest in the things they told me that did not line up with the teachings of the church. One Mormon gentlemen told me that the missionaries were only there to give the gospel and to baptize. If serious questions and learning wanted to be done, then I needed to attend the houses of worship. This was the last part of the puzzle that needed to be done: attend the ward and go to the classes and learn Mormonism from the Mormons. I would go to the ward and let the above stated be known. I made it clear to one High Council member at the ward that the missionaries had given up on me and would not answer my questions. He said that he would take over from there. He asked what my questions were and we began. My first question from the book of Alma he could not answer and instead threw his arms up in the air in frustration. He never did what he said he would do for me that day and in the days to come. He nor the others ever contacted me depite promises to do so and to answer the questions.

    More reasons could be stated, but the main ones are listed above. Let me be clear. I wasn’t appreciated and liked by many Mormons at the wards. I gave my real name every time I went to a ward and it got to be known. The missionaries knew about me and I’m sure they didn’t like me either. I had two of them come over with an elderly man one night who told me that he was going to be happy to see me thrown into hell while they flung open the door, stormed out and drove away while I just stood there with my mouth closed.

    I don’t expect to be liked or loved by the Mormons for stating the truth. I’ve done my homework on Mormonism frontwards and backwards. I’ve done my homework frontwards and backwards on the Bible first. I have a testimony and its very strong and Mormons are not able to deny or explain away what I have.

    Twenty-three years ago I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins because I realized that I was a sinner and that there was nothing I could do on my own to warrant forgiveness no matter how hard I tried in my own efforts. I could never be good enough. I realized that I was completely lost and did not have eternal life. I was scared everyday with the thought of what would happen if I died that day. I had no joy, happiness and peace. I had nothing. My life was a wreck without the Savior.

    I repented of my sins and accepted the perfection of Christ as my own and am now justified before God. I have been saved by His grace completely and now have the assurance of eternal life and forgiveness of all of my sins. My life hasn’t been a “bed of roses” since becoming a Christian. In many ways, it has gotten harder and that is because I am not of this world. Despite all the heartaches, tribulations and trials of this world I have peace with God. I have forgiveness of sins. I have eternal life. I know that if I were to die right this minute I have forgiveness and eternal life with Heavenly Father because His Word tells me that I do. I realize that the Mormons do not have this and it is for that reason why I labor for the sake of Christ in what I do for the Mormons. If I am hated by them for it, then that’s fine. I believe there will be those that will hear the message and if it’s because of a witness that I gave them, then I give God all the glory for it. I will cast my crown at His feet in the end. It’s because of gratitude for what the Savior has done for me that I labor in ministry for Him. He did for me what I nor anyone else could ever do. It is with pleasure and zeal that I serve Him at His disposal. My only purpose in this world is to serve Jesus of Nazareth. I love Him more than anyone or anything else.

    Berean

  73. 73 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    “I outlined all the reasons why I believe, and it’s not just faith. It’s asking God, following the teachings, pondering and searching the scriptures, receiving witness of the Spirit, judging the fruits; it’s all of the components, and they all line up, even if there are things I don’t understand perfectly.”

    Reggie,

    Let’s take a look at the above items that you rest your testimony upon.

    1) Asking God/Reveiving the witness of the spirit – I have already addressed this one. It does not work. I, as a Christian, have done the same thing and have been told by God that my faith is true. I have a Muslim friend and Jehovah’s Witness friend and they both say THE SAME THING… that they have asked God and have been told that their religions are true. If you rely upon this… how can you determine who is right… they cannot all be.

    2) Following the Teachings – This, unfortunately, does not work either. I have lived the teachings of Christianity for some time and have received blessings for doing so. I have friends of other faiths (Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) and they all say that living the teaching’s of their faiths has brought numerous blessings into their lives. HOW CAN THIS BE A DETERMINATION OF TRUTH?

    3) Pondering and searching the scriptures – Searching the scriptures is great to give you KNOWLEDGE that will help you to make sure you faith is PROPER. It is great to help your faith be “orthodox”. Unfortunately, you have come to the conclusion that JS is a prophet IN SPITE OF what the scriptures say. You ahve laid this aside as “a mystery” that you cannot understand now. I showed you what the bible teaches about Christ and how JS’s teaching contradict this. I also demonstrated to you, through searching and pondering the scriptures, that the bible tells us to determine the truthfulness of new revelation based upon old revelation. New revelation, if true, will NEVER contradict older revelation. God is a God of order and will not allow that. However, in spite of the contradiction between JS’s “revelation” and what the bible says, you have still determined that JS is a prophet. It does not appear that you are using “searching and pondering the scriptures” to lead you to anything other than your PREDETERMINED conclusion. IF anything in the scriptures contradicts what you already believe you lay it aside and rely upon a predetermined conclusion that JS is a prophet so he must be right.

    4) Judging the fruits – This does not work AT ALL. Look at the fruits of EVERY MAJOR FAITH ON EARTH and they are all good. Christianity, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, etc. ALL lead people to living good, wholesome lives. Overall, the fruits OF ALL OF THEM are good. However, they all TEACH DIFFERENT THINGS AND CANNOT ALL BE TRUE. You cannot determine whether someones faith is correct based upon what they do. I have an atheist friend who’s morals are some of the most upstanding ones I have ever seen. Is his “faith” true because his fruits are good? of course not. This does not work.

    Your system for determining that the mormon church is true does not work. Unfortunately, all of the items you listed above could lead you to determine that ANY church is true. Are you willing to lay your eternal destiny on a conclusion that is based upon faulty determinates?

    Darrell

  74. 74 Brad
    September 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Berean,

    Well said! While I know you don’t seek the spotlight or congratulations, I do applaud your efforts with the Mormons. I absolutely can relate to you as it comes to what you said earlier about your SS class. I also teach SS, and one of the hardest things for me is the inactivity I see on a weekly basis, the complete apathy that resides in the church. I have often thought about going to a Mormon ward to do exactly what you do. You’re right, Mormons often say “if you want to know about Mormonism, ask the Mormons”. So that’s a good idea. Heck, I’d love to drag my whole SS class to the church, and have them do the same! And I further like what you did when the Mormons visited your SS class – scrap whatever you had planned and address their questions. I mentioned earlier that that is exactly what I would do as well, and in fact would welcome it. Truth is, that only works if the teacher is prepared and knows enough about it to be ABLE to answer the questions. One reason why I have studied on it so much.

    I’d love to talk to all the Seth’s and Reggie’s of the world, IN PERSON. It’s so much easier to do so. Seth and Reggie, you both have bought in hook, line and sinker to the whole thing. Seth keeps making reference to us, and the fact that we view ourselves as still being able to have a “clear conscience”. You know why that is? Because we are trying our best to explain to you where the Mormon religion goes wrong, how it truly doesnt’ conform to the Bible, and why it has you destined for a state of eternal punishment – and that’s all we can do. We can’t, and wouldn’t, force you to believe – that has to come from you. God draws all unto Himself, but only some will freely accept what He freely offers. That choice is always up to the individual. You both, as well, have that choice. And myself, Darrell, Berean, Stephanie, any other Christian, would LOVE to see you make that choice. But we have no control over it.

    What if – think for just a minute with me – what IF, everything you believe about Mormonism is wrong? Just think about that for a second. What if, for the sake of discussion, what we’re telling you is correct, and Mormonism really IS wrong? What then? COULD you pull away from it, if that were the case?

  75. September 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Brad, I have thought about that question actually. And fact is, if you were to convince me that the LDS faith is false (which you have not), I can pretty-much guarantee that your religion is about the last place I’d go.

    Believe it or not, the Bible narrative is objectively just as unbelievable the LDS narrative. Tear down faith in the Restoration, and it’s not really all that hard to extend the same logic to the Resurrection.

    Berean,

    I have to say this, because your crowd just never misses a chance to accuse us of it…

    How do you know your “warm fuzzy feeling” about going to LDS wards wasn’t just Satan talking? How come you get a free hall pass on “feelings” but any LDS who tries to appeal to them gets dismissed?

  76. 76 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    “Believe it or not, the Bible narrative is objectively just as unbelievable the LDS narrative. Tear down faith in the Restoration, and it’s not really all that hard to extend the same logic to the Resurrection.”

    Sorry but this is not true. There is PLENTY of objective outside eveidence to determine the reliability of the bible narrative. There is ABSOLUTELY NO objective proof that anything in the BOM ever happened. The bible is history… the BOM is not.

    “Brad, I have thought about that question actually. And fact is, if you were to convince me that the LDS faith is false (which you have not), I can pretty-much guarantee that your religion is about the last place I’d go.”

    So, if the LDS church is not true… then Christ is not true. Scary perspective.

    Darrell

  77. 77 Berean
    September 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Brad,

    Thanks for the kind words. You’re right, I’m not seeking back-pats or words of congratulations. I merely state what I have done in the past to motivate Christians to get off their back-sides and stop with the apathy. I, like you, am a teacher. I’m not really a Sunday school teacher even though I have substituted before. I teach counter-cult classes. It’s a long story. Anyway, I was asked this past summer if I would teach a summer enrichment class on Mormonism at another church here in town. It would be for nine weeks. It was a 1,600 member Baptist church. By the time it was all said and done I had only 10 people on my class roster. The Mormon population in my time is very large. We have a temple here. The Christian churches simply do not care and have written-off the Mormons as a waste of time. I don’t agree with it or like their attitude, but it’s a fact sadly enough.

    There aren’t many of us around so keep up the good work!

  78. September 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    So Jesus was a real person Darrell? So Jerusalem was a real place?

    Well of course they were. But the fact that Jesus was a real person doesn’t make him the Son of God any more than the fact that Joseph Smith was a real person makes him a prophet.

    As it so happens, I think there actually is a fair amount of objective evidence for what happened in many places in the Book of Mormon. But I’m not going to bother bringing them up since you’d simply dismiss them as “apologetics” (apparently the only apologetics you are willing to take seriously is your own).

    “So, if the LDS church is not true… then Christ is not true. Scary perspective.”

    Maybe so Darrell, but it’s pretty common in the LDS Church.

    You ever been over to exmormon.org?

    Lots and lots of atheists or agnostics over there, and they think you’re just as full of crap as the Mormon missionaries. These Evangelical ministries to the Mormons have done a great job of creating a lot of new atheists. In fact, in my experience (which is purely anecdotal) most people who read your anti-Mormon literature campaigns and take them seriously actually just jettison God altogether rather than join up with their local Evangelicals.

    When Mormons do actually join up with Evangelicals, my experience is that they do so mostly for emotional reasons. Becki’s story is a good example. She felt she wasn’t feeling God’s love in her LDS wards and drifted to Evangelicalism instead. But I don’t really see much of a reasoning process behind her conversion – except insofar as she accepted counter-cult narratives as a supplement to decisions she had already made for purely emotional reasons. I do see that kind of ex-Mormon and, believe it or not, I actually prefer that kind to the atheist kind. The atheists are just so bitter and jaded about life.

    But the Evangelical counter-cult movement does a great job of killing religion in a person generally. They do a wonderful job of de-programming any faith you may have. They do this on the ignorant and misguided assumption that their own faith is “logical,” “historical,” and “reasonable.”

    It’s a charming conceit, but completely off-base. Once you have been taught how to doubt the Book of Mormon, it’s oh so easy to apply the same faith-destroying tools to the Bible.

    Lighthouse Ministries, Mormon Research Ministries, The Godmakers….

    I’ve heard them all quoted and cited with barely suppressed delight by avowed atheists.

    Keep up the good work fellas.

  79. 79 Berean
    September 17, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Seth,

    I don’t know where you get your information, but I never stopped people in the hallway and confronted them about Joseph Smith. I asked two questions when I was in the hallway:

    1. Where are the restrooms?
    2. Where is the Gospel Essentials class?

    I see you have labeled your past slanderous comments as a “mistake”. Knowing Mormonism and it’s toned down version for the word “sin” as a “mistake” or “trasgression” or “blunder”, I understand why you say some of the things you do. I’m not saying what you said to me was a sin, but it could be classified as bearing false witness against me and a few other things in the Sermon on the Mount which is sin. I leave that up to you and your own personal convctions.

    However, I will tell you this: you seem to have a lot of pride. You want Mark Cares to erase your comments, but you will not apologize to me for your “over the top” remarks. Do a word search on the word “pride” in the Bible and find out for yourself what there is to say about it. You crossed the line big-time with what you implied with your statement. I will be happy to answer your questions at some point in the future after you have apologized to me on this blog for slandering me.

    Mark Cares:

    I’m still asking you to make some statement about this. I would like to know if there is any moderation on this blog or if this is a free-for-all with no accountability? Thank you.

  80. September 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Actually, while I haven’t pursued the subject myself, from what I understand those who go looking for evidence of Christ outside of the Bible have a very hard time finding anything to support the Biblical accounts.

    Now everything I shared on ways to recognize the truth is from the Bible. Do you not believe the Bible, or the power of the Spirit? I understand how those from other religions believe the same and I have shared my thoughts on the Spirit of Truth being able to testify of truth and goodness, where ever it is found.

    I suppose you believe like Mark that the only way to know the truth is to study it yourself? Well on that I have two thoughts. First I have studied and I’m sticking with the LDS doctrine; I believe it’s much more in-line with the entire Bible. Second, every religion has first class scholars that continue to disagree, I don’t know about you but I know that I can’t compare in knowledge with most of those guys.

    So what is a common person to do? I say follow the God given advice: ask and ye shall receive, look for witness from the Spirit, follow the teachings and you will know, study and ponder the teachings in your heart and mind.

  81. September 17, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Berean, you flatly stated that you talked to a guy in the hallway afterward and presented the standard “different accounts of the First Vision” material. That’s what I was referring to.

  82. September 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    By the way, hopefully I’ll have an answer to Darrell sometime today.

  83. 83 Brad
    September 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Reggie, if you haven’t pursued the subject yourself, how do you know that “those who go looking for evidence of Christ outside of the Bible and have a hard time finding anything to support the Biblical accounts” is true? Further, who are the “those” that you speak of? I am one of “those”, and I didn’t have a hard time, and other “those” that I know of also didn’t have a hard time. Further, how did you find out about the “those”, if you’ve admittedly not “pursued the subject yourself”?

  84. 84 Darrell
    September 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Seth and Berean,

    For anyone who takes the time to reasearch it, there is ample evidence for the historocity of the bible. There is ample evidence that Christ existed, THAT HE DID PERFORM MIRACLES, DIE ON THE CROSS and RISE FROM THE DEAD, etc. If anyone wanted to take the time I would be happy to point them to several resources that you reasearch to discover this fact. It does not take blind faith to believe in the bible and the stories it portrays as truth. Mormonisn, however, does require blind faith… none of the cities can be found, the millions of nephites and lamanites reamins cannot be found, there is no evidence for reformed egyptian, the papyra for the book of abraham has been decoded as an egyptian funeral text, etc., etc., etc.

    I have spent quite a bit of time on exmormon.org and several other websites of that nature. The reason people become atheist when leaving mormonism is NOT because of the counter cult ministries. They become atheist because THEY ARE JADED BY THE LIES OF MORMONISM. When the come to realize they have been lied to they immediately start to distrust organized religion in general. They reach the point where they will not even consider anything… they start to say… well, “if mormonism is a lie I guess I can’t trust anyone in religion.” I have family who has done something like this. Mormonism is what causes them to do this. We in the counter cult ministries simply share the truth… mormonism is a lie.

    Fortunately, I personally know of many people who have left mormonism due to counter cult ministries and have come into a relationship with Christ. Seth, counter to what you claim, it has nothing to do with “an emotional reason”. It is due to coming to a knowledge of the truthfullness of the bible and developing a personal relationship with Christ that grows out of having a true knowledge of Him.

    Darrell

  85. September 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Just like I said, I’ve read some claims that the lack of evidence for Christ’s story is very thin if non-existent, outside of religious texts. But having not pursued it myself I can’t expound any further. If you have pursued it and found it then I think that’s great. I’m simply saying don’t assume that just because more people believes the Bible that it has more historical/scientific support than a less widely believed text like the Book of Mormon. I have heard scholars talk about the complete lack of evidence for the Exodus and the world wide flood. But again, I haven’t pursued it in depth myself. And of course we all know about the lack of scientific evidence to support the Creation.

  86. September 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Oh, you mean the witnesses to Christ’s ascension Darrell?

    Let’s see… where else can I find witnesses to a miraculous event….

    Oh yes, got it. The Mormon witnesses of miraculous events.

    So I guess that settles it. The Mormon story must be true. After all, they’ve got witnesses.

  87. September 17, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Interesting that the Pharisees’ response to Christ’s miracles was almost identical to the response you guys give to Mormon miracles:

    “they said he hath a devil… by the power of Beelzebub he doth…”

    How do you know that Jesus wasn’t just some Satanic impostor performing miracles to try and turn people from the true Jewish Yahweh?

    Ironic how well the arguments you use on us work on you too.

  88. 88 Brad
    September 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Just like I said, I’ve read some claims that the lack of evidence for Christ’s story is very thin if non-existent, outside of religious texts.

    Actually, you didn’t say that, you said you “understood” certain things, but didn’t say HOW you understood them, which is what I was asking you. Further, you didn’t really address anything I commented on, but that’s your choice.

    But having not pursued it myself I can’t expound any further.

    I’ll agree with that.

    If you have pursued it and found it then I think that’s great.

    I’ll also agree with that.

    I’m simply saying don’t assume that just because more people believes the Bible that it has more historical/scientific support than a less widely believed text like the Book of Mormon.

    I don’t assume that. I didn’t say anywhere that I assume that. The number of people who believe something is not necessarily an indicator of something’s truthfulness, anymore than it is an indicator of something’s error. There are many reasons I believe the Bible, and many why I don’t believe the BOM. Historical & scientific support is just one facet that allows me to believe the Bible and not the BOM.

    I have heard scholars talk about the complete lack of evidence for the Exodus and the world wide flood.

    Which “scholars” are these? There’s actually great evidence for it. As a Mormon, I’m assuming you also believe these 2 events to be completely true?

    And of course we all know about the lack of scientific evidence to support the Creation.

    No, Reggie, WE don’t “all” know about that at all. In fact, when viewed from both a scientific and logical viewpoint, there’s marvelous evidence for Creation. I could suggest several books to you, if you’re interested. The fact that YOU say that “we all know” about this supposed lack of evidence, makes me think you might not believe it. Is that the case?

  89. September 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Brad, do you know of a scientist who is not a Christian that believes in the creation? The scientific evidence is at best underwhelming. Even though for those who look properly there is much to be found. Here’s part of Alma 30:44 – “The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

    I do believe in it fully. And I don’t believe at all in the evolutionary creation either. Just making the point that the scientific evidence is not enough to convince anyone.

    Regarding the events of the Bible, I do believe they occurred. I’m not entirely convinced that it was a world wide flood, it may have just been the face of the land, instead of the whole earth, but that’s just a matter of semantics and isn’t faith promoting or destroying in either case. But, you’ll never find a scientist that believes it based on the evidence, for there isn’t any.

  90. 90 Brad
    September 17, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Reggie, for someone who admitted they haven’t done research into it, and are only going off of what they’ve read or heard, you sure make a lot of bold assertions using absolutes regarding evidence for/against Creation. Doesn’t really mesh well with your earlier statements.

    I don’t know many scientists, period. As to whether they believe in Creationism or not, as I’ve stated before, their belief or non-belief doesn’t mean that it (Creationism) is true or false. You yourself were trying to make the argument that just b/c more people believe the Bible, doesn’t make it true, and I agree. The same can be said here. People deny plausible, credible, solid evidence all the time, usually for volitional reasons.

  91. 91 markcares
    September 17, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Berean:
    I’m sorry I didn’t answer you sooner. I also apologize for not more closely monitoring the comments. All I can plead is press of many duties. But I would respectfully ask all involved to help me out and please speak respectfully. It saddens me that I will have to take a more active role in policing this blog.

  92. September 17, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Hey I didn’t say that about the Creation, only about proof of the New Testament accounts. I’m no scholar on the subject, but I have read a number of articles from scientists who believe in the Creation and certainly I’ve read a good deal about what we know on the theory of evolution. Not to mention attending public school in the good old USA with its evolution based system.

  93. September 18, 2008 at 12:19 am

    OK… so it took a bit of thinking to wrap my brain around it, but I think I may have something of an answer to Darrell’s question.

    First off, we have to be clear on what we are talking about, so I’ll try to define things clearly. I imagine Darrell will be rolling his eyes in anticipation of another semantics game but, tough. You can’t just assume that the meaning of a scripture is plain and assume that everyone must share your own read on it. I would ask that you please not try to read more than what I am saying into this explanation. I’m trying not to argue from a particularly Mormon or Evangelical point of view here with these definitions. I’ll do that later.

    First, there are several different ways to speak of Christ in Heb. 13:8:

    1.The man Jesus. Jesus is a name given to the mortal person.
    2.Christ. Christ is a title which denotes the anticipated Jewish Messiah.
    3.Yahweh or Jehovah. Jehovah is the name of God. Evangelicals view this name as denoting the One God and not a pre-mortal Jesus as distinct from God the Father (which is what the Mormons believe).
    4.God or Eloheim. The title of the One God for both Evangelicals and Mormons.

    Which one is Heb. 13:8 referring to?

    You may think the answer to this question is obvious since the scripture itself uses the words “Jesus Christ.” But it really isn’t.

    Can the verse be talking about “Jesus” (meaning the mortal person)? I would say it probably is not. I’ve already pointed out that the mortal “Jesus” was born, and grew into a man (Luke 2:40). So obviously he was changing in a physical and mortal sense.

    Not only that, but both Mormons and Evangelicals will probably agree that for Jesus to be born of Mary, he must have been “created” in the flesh. Evangelicals will say this matter that formed Jesus was entirely derivative from God the Father, Mormons might say it was organization… It doesn’t matter. The mortal “Jesus” was clearly created at some point. So Heb. 13:8 cannot be referring to this aspect.

    It also cannot be talking about “Christ.” “Christ” is a term that denotes the Jewish Messiah. A role that God was to fulfill in the person of Jesus. This role, while probably preconceived in the mind of God from the beginning, was still not existent or manifest until Jesus was born and fulfilled the prophesy of Messiah. Therefore, “Christ” was also created and Heb. 13:8 cannot be referring to that either.

    The verse cannot be talking about God/Eloheim specifically because it uses the words “Jesus Christ.” If Paul meant God generally, he probably would have said so plainly. Now, Paul may have been involving “God” by implication, since Christians believe in a unity between God and Jesus Christ. But the verse is not specifically talking about this designation. The verse cannot be talking about Jehovah/Yahweh for the same reason. Yahweh is God before the incarnation. “Jesus Christ” is God incarnate. And Jesus Christ is who Paul is talking about.

    So where does that leave us? Heb. 13:8 proves to be a problem not only for Mormons, but even for creedal Christianity. You can’t apply Heb. 13: 8 as an ONTOLOGICAL statement of Jesus Christ without violating the creedal proposition that God is uncreated. Obviously both the body and role of Jesus Chrsit WAS created. So, if you take Heb. 13:8 as a declaration of ontology, an Evangelical is going to have problems. But how do Evangelicals get around this?

    Well, first off, you simply don’t read Heb. 13:8 as a statement of ontology.

    After all, Paul isn’t just talking about “Jesus” here in this verse. Neither is he talking about “Christ” here in this verse. Rather, he is talking about “Jesus Christ.” Both words together.

    This is very important. What Paul is talking about is the combination of both the mortal incarnation of God (“Jesus”) and fulfillment of the prophesies regarding the Jewish Messiah (“Christ”).

    In short, what Paul is talking about, is God’s grand revelation of Himself to all humankind in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul is not saying that the human Jesus never changes. Nor is he saying that the Messiah never changes. What he is saying is that God’s manifestation of Himself to us (John 14:9), and His intent to save us through that manifestation never changes. It is the revelation, not the personage that is unchanging.

    This is a tricky distinction to make, so I hope people read through it carefully before firing off responses.

    And so you know, this is not just my own idea. I actually got it from a traditional Christian Bible commentary discussing Heb. 13:8:

    “v 8 is not to be interpreted as an acclamation of Jesus’ timeless ontological immutability, corresponding to the assertion that the Son remains ὁ αὐτός, “the same,” in 1:10–12 (as asserted by H. Montefiore, 242; P. R. Jones, RevExp 82 [1985] 400; cf. Grässer, Glaube, 23; Buchanan, 233). The reference is rather to the immutability of the gospel message proclaimed by the deceased leaders in the recent past (see Michel, 490 and n. 2; P. E. Hughes, 570–71). Although the preachers change, the preaching must remain the same. The unchangeableness of the revelation is a consequence of the
    transcendent dignity of Jesus Christ, the originator of the preaching (2:3) (so Thurén, Lobopfer, 183).

    William Lane, “Word Biblical Commentary,” vol 47b.
    Here’s the link to the book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Word-Biblical-Commentary-Vol-Hebrews/dp/084990935X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

    From what I’ve heard, this guy isn’t any sort of closet Mormon, or even a part of the “liberal wing” of Christianity. The commentary is quite conservative and respected. His language took a bit of work for me to pick it apart. But I think I’ve represented what he is saying pretty well.

    Incidentally, you can also use the same thinking on the Isaiah chapters you listed that talk about God not changing. They are generally not statements of ontology. God may explicitly change His mind from time to time, but he remains reliable for salvation and deliverance. The Isaiah declarations, such as those in chapter 45, are always made in a context of who you should rely on. The answer always being, of course, that God is the one who is absolutely reliable.

    By the way, I am not citing William Lane for support of this read of Isaiah. I have no idea if he would agree with me or not. The Isaiah interpretation is my own interpretation and attempt to make sense of what revealed scripture I have. But I don’t think I’m far off base in describing a respected creedal Christian position in my explanation of Heb. 13:8. It’s not a statement of ontology. It simply cannot be without refuting Evangelical beliefs in an uncreated God.

    Incidentally, another way an Evangelical might get around Heb. 13:8 implying a created God would be to assert that Jesus Christ’s human-ness was also uncreated. But I don’t know any Evangelicals who are willing to take that position. You’d have to eradicate the distinction between Creator and creation to take that position.

    Once you take this read of Heb. 13:8, problems for Evangelicals disappear. Paul is not claiming that Jesus never changes, but rather that God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus is eternal and the same – past, present and future.

    But the problems for Mormons with this verse also vanish. It allows us to freely claim that the form of the person of Jesus may have changed in the past, but the revelation of God’s character that He represents does not change.

    I’m not done talking about Mormon beliefs on this matter. But I think that bit will do for now. Sorry for the holdup.

  94. September 18, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Thank you for deleting the above comment of mine Mark.

  95. September 18, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Darrell, somehow I missed your comment (currently 47).

    Fair enough. It’s not hard for me to believe Mormon missionaries capable of such behavior.

    I will say that I find this method just as objectionable when it’s a Mormon doing it as when it’s an Evangelical doing it. Church is meant to be a sanctuary for like-minded believers where they can participate in a community of shared assumptions, goals and beliefs. I just feel like my presence in an Evangelical congregation trying to challenge that community would be inappropriate.

  96. 96 Brad
    September 18, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Seth, your presence in a Christian church would never be inappropriate, it would be welcomed.

  97. 97 Berean
    September 18, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Seth,

    Still no apology or restitution for breaking the commandment in Exodus 20:16?

    “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

    That now makes you a commandment breaker and you haven’t denied yourself of all ungodliness (Moroni 10:32); you are now not perfect (3 Nephi 12:48); you aren’t doing what the Lord commands (1 Nephi 3:7); You haven’t done all you can do (2 Nephi 25:23); You didn’t repent and do the commandments so you won’t be forgiven (D&C 1:31-323); You now cannot go where the Father is (D&C 25:15); You haven’t completed the 5 steps of repentance and you haven’t repented and forsaken your sins (D&C 58:42-43). You didn’t repent so you won’t be saved (Alma 5:30-31); Now you’re headed to outer darkness (Alma 34:30-35).

    You need to pay attention to detail. Read post #40. Where do you get “hallway”? I was talking to a ward teacher in his classroom before we went to the priesthood meeting. I think it’s pretty safe to say that you have let it be known to all here who read this blog what kind of person you are. When you have no argument and no defense for your position you have to make it personal with unwarranted accusations against the other person. You are very prideful and cannot admit when you have wronged another person. You have no credibility at all with me any longer.

  98. September 18, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Yes Brad, but I would not feel good about going there with the intention of picking arguments with people. I might attend to simply listen in and hear what is being said. If I said anything, it would simply be to ask for clarification on what THEY believe.

    If I were to privately talk to a person, I would not try to convince them of the Great Apostasy. If they did admit to being convinced of Evangelicalism’s illegitimacy based on a brief conversation, I would actually not be pleased. Rather, I would be alarmed that the person’s religious commitments were so fickle and weak. I would probably end up trying to convince the person that the Evangelical argument is actually a lot stronger than they are thinking it is!

    Berean, I have already apologized for being being mistaken about your intentions based on the additional information you provided (see comment #70). I am not going to apologize for deliberately slandering you, for the simple fact that I did no such thing.

  99. September 18, 2008 at 4:19 am

    As for restitution, the comments were deleted, as I requested. I can’t do much more for you than that.

  100. September 18, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Actually, re=reading #70, I don’t think it is as clear as it could be. So…

    Berean, I apologize for mistaking and misreading your intentions and actions.

  101. 101 Berean
    September 18, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Seth,

    I forgive you.

  102. 102 Darrell
    September 18, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Seth,

    I read your response to my question late last night. I have been busy with work but I want to respond to you.

    I appreciate you taking the time to think about this. That is encouraging. Unfortunately, I think you have taken the scripture in Hebrews 13:8 and have twisted it. You have actually read something into it that is not there. When I read the bible I read it in order for it to TELL me what to believe. I read OUT of it. It appears that you are doing the opposite. You are not reading the bible to TELL YOU what to believe, rather you are reading it to try and find a way for it to CONFIRM TO YOU WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY CHOSEN TO BELIEVE. Because of this you are sometimes forced to read something INTO scripture that is not there to try and find meanings there that do not exist. This is one of those cases.

    I used my Greek and Hebrew Dictionary and a Lexicon to further clarify this scripture. In the Pauline letters, Jesus Christ is used as a PROPER NAME not as a split title as you portray it. Jesus is not used to reference the “man” side and Christ the “Messiah” side. It is used together as a proper name for our God… Jesus Christ. That is one of the reasons I referenced Isaiah 43-46 and asked you to use those as well. Isaiah tells us who our God is. Isaiah 43:3 says “For I am the Lord, your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” So, who it our God? Our Savior, Jesus Christ!

    Now, the question becomes is there more than one God? Mormonism teaches that God was once a man who had a god himself and then he progressed, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of his god, to become a God himself. Mormonism also teaches that we can do the same thing. We can progress, just like our God did, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to become gods. Does this line up with scripture? We know that our God is Jesus Christ our Savior… but can there be more gods than Him?

    Let’s look at Isaiah 43:10-11… they read “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” Let’s look at one more, Isaiah 44:6 says “I am the first and the last; apart from me there is no God.” We are clearly told here that there are NO OTHER GODS besides our Savior, Jesus Christ. There were not gods prior to Him, nor will there ever be any gods after Him.

    In addition, let’s look at Malachi 3:6. It reads, “I, the Lord, do not change.” This further backs up what Hebrews 13:8 says… Jesus Christ, our Lord, our God, does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

    On a side note, you also mentioned in your post that God can change his mind. Specifically, you said “God may explicitly change His mind from time to time…”. This is actually incorrect. We are told in Numbers 23:19… “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.” This verse, in addion to refuting your claim that god can change his mind, also refutes mormon theology that god was once a man.

    So, let’s recap this. The bible tells us:

    1) Jesus Christ is our God and Savior
    2) There was no God prior to God
    3) There will never be another God besides God
    4) Jesus Christ, our God, does not change
    5) God does not change His mind

    All of this goes directly against Mormonism’s teachings. Here is the bottom line… either Mormonism is incorrect OR the bible is incorrect. Which one is it?

    Darrell

  103. September 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I don’t see that your distinction of the “proper name” changes my analysis at all. A proper name is often used to encompass different aspects of a person. In this case it simply encompasses both aspects of who Jesus is. My argument still stands. Heb. 13:8 cannot be talking about the ontology of Jesus without violating your own creedal requirement (and the Mormon requirement) that God be “uncreated.”

    You wrote:

    “Now, the question becomes is there more than one God?”

    I think you’re getting ahead of the argument here. You still haven’t really addressed the points I brought up in my post. We can argue about polytheism later, once we’ve already covered what I actually wrote.

    Not that this issue is irrelevant of course. Inevitably this discussion is going to HAVE to deal with the ontology of God generally, and not just Christ.

    But for now, you’ve got a problem.

    You’ve read Heb. 13:8 as an ontological statement. But as I’ve pointed out, that is simply impossible. The only way the verse can be read without causing serious problems for you own theology (note, I’m not talking about Mormon theology, but Evangelical theology) is to read it as a statement of how the REVELATION of God to humanity’s salvation personified in Jesus Christ is what is eternally unchanging, not the person of Jesus himself.

    This isn’t just my own ideas. I’m going from traditional Christian scholars here. For instance, Bredan Byrne (past member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission under John Paul II) writes in his article “Christ’s pre-existence in Pauline Soteriology” (Theological Studies, June 1997, Volume 58, Issue 2):

    “By the same token, it is important to stress that in speaking of pre-existence, one is not speaking of a pre-existence of Jesus’ humanity. Jesus Christ did not personally pre-exist as Jesus. Hence one ought not to speak of a pre-existence of Jesus. Even to use the customary expression of the pre-existence of Christ can be misleading since the word “Christ” in its original meaning simply designates the Jewish Messiah, a figure never thought of as pre-existent in any personal sense. But in view of the Christian application of “Christ” to Jesus, virtually as a proper name and in a way going beyond his historical earthly existence, it is appropriate to discuss the issue in terms of the pre-existence of Christ, provided one intends thereby to designate simply the subject who came to historical human existence as Jesus, without any connotation that he pre-existed as a human being.”

    And then Catholic theologian Roger Haight writes in his article “The Case For Spirit Christology”, Theological Studies, June 1992, Vol. 53, Issue 2:

    “And with the clarity that historical consciousness has conferred relative to Jesus’ being a human being in all things substantially like us, many things about the meaning of Incarnation too can be clarified. One is that one cannot really think of a preexistence of Jesus. … But one cannot think in terms of the preexistence of Jesus; what is preexistent to Jesus is God, the God who became incarnate in Jesus. Doctrine underscores the obvious here that Jesus is really a creature like us, and a creature cannot preexist creation. one may speculate on how Jesus might have been present to God’s eternal intentions and so on, but a strict preexistence of Jesus to his earthly existence is contradictory to his consubstantiality with us, unless we too were preexistent.”

    This is not just something I made up to justify Mormon beliefs. Your reading of Heb. 13:8 as a statement of ontology creates a very serious problem for traditional Christian Christology (which Evangelicals are a part of). A lot of traditional Christian scholars actually reject the reading of Heb. 13:8 that you advocate here for precisely this reason. You can’t read Heb. 13:8 the way you are suggesting it should be read, and still have an uncreated God.

  104. 104 Darrell
    September 18, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Seth,

    I did address your arguement. Perhaps I did not make myself clear. If so, I apologize. It is this simple. Jesus Christ is God. In His divinity Jesus Christ does not change. That is what Hebrews 13:8 is addressing and falls into Christian theology quite well. No problem for me. A major problem for Mormonism.

    Darrell

  105. September 18, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Um… no… you haven’t.

    All you’ve said is – “you’re wrong and I’m right.” You provide no reasoning behind your read on the scriptures (other than a few Old Testament prooftexts that talk about GOD, not Jesus). You just assert that the meaning is obvious and that meaning is what you say it is.

    This is not even close to addressing my argument. If you don’t know the answer, or need more time for a response, just say so. I can wait.

  106. September 18, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    By the way, it doesn’t hurt the Evangelical exegesis of the Bible to read Heb. 13:8 the way I’ve suggested.

    It actually helps Evangelical exegesis, believe it or not.

    Don’t shoot yourself in the foot just for the sake of “confronting the Mormon.”

  107. 107 Darrell
    September 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Seth,

    Let me try this again. I am reading Hebrews 13:8 to refer to Christ’s divinity. I am not quite sure how you can say that forces me into making Christ a created being? Christ’s divinity HAS NOT CHANGED. He was divine prior to taking on flesh, divine in the flesh, and is now divine as the risen Christ. We, Christians, believe that Christ existed, as God, prior to taking on flesh. It does not create a problem for us theologically to read Hebrews 13:8 this way.

    You are really trying hard to redirect this discussion. Now, how about addressing my questions for you. The bible creates huge problems for mormonism’s theosis theology and the theology that God was once a man, grew to become a god.

    Darrell

  108. September 20, 2008 at 5:00 am

    I’m not sure exactly what you think “divinity” entails. But Heb 13:8 definitely seems to be referring to the person of Jesus Christ and not just an attribute to him. So I still think reading this as a statement of “Revelation of God personified in Jesus” is the best way to handle the verse – for both of our faiths. But, I don’t want to really quibble about it. If you read it as divinity, that’s fine for our purposes.

    But I would point out that reading Heb. 13:8 in the way I’ve outlined does eliminate any problems this verse might otherwise pose for Mormon theology. Christ could very well have progressed from “intelligence” to “spirit” to “physical mortal” to “resurrected being” and the eternal unchanging nature of God’s revelation of Himself to us would yet remain. It is the Revelation of God and His intent and ability to save us that is eternal.

    But even if you read the verse as talking about Christ’s divinity, it still does not pose a problem for Mormons. But first we have to be clear on what exactly Mormons think that Christ was.

    The starting point is probably the Book of Abraham, chapter 3. In verses 18-19 it talks about a certain hierarchy among spirits (or “intelligences” if you like). Here’s an excerpt:

    “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”

    These intelligences are, of course eternal and uncreated (see D&C 93:29). And Abraham 3:18-19 talks about there being a hierarchy among them, with God being at the top. This hierarchy is further reinforced by verses 22-23. Abraham is included among the “noble and great ones.”

    Clearly Jesus was among the noble in great ones, in fact, he is described as being “like unto God.” It’s in verse 24:

    “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;”

    This is, of course Jesus speaking. Later in verse 27, Jesus is described as one “like unto the Son of Man.”

    Now, based on these scriptures, I cannot find any evidence that Jesus was ever (no matter what form he was in) ever anything less than “divine.” You can imply that he was “just like us” but you can only imply it. It just isn’t there. The Mormon scriptures in question single Christ out and distinguish him from us from the beginning. So, where does this idea that the “Mormon Jesus” was ever anything but divine come from?

  109. September 20, 2008 at 5:01 am

    The elephant in the room, of course, is Joseph’s King Follett Sermon. If you want to go into that now, we can. But the discussion will shift away from Jesus, and more toward the nature of God generally.

  110. 110 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    “I’m not sure exactly what you think “divinity” entails.”

    Let me clarify… GOD. There is only one being who is divine and that is God. Jesus Christ has always existed as God. There are no other Gods before Him and there will be none after Him. See my Isaiah verses.

    “The elephant in the room, of course, is Joseph’s King Follett Sermon. If you want to go into that now, we can. But the discussion will shift away from Jesus, and more toward the nature of God generally.”

    You seem to think when we are talking about Jesus we are not talking about the nature of God. That is what I have been getting at from the very beginning. It is at the heart of the difference between Christianity and Mormonism. When we are talking about Jesus we are talking about God and His nature.

    JS’s King Follet discourse ALONG WITH the subsequent teachings of LDS prophets down to this day on this subject are the elephant in the room. Your church teaches that God was once a man just like us who progressed to become a God. His first spirit child was Jesus Christ. That teaching means that God and Jesus Christ HAVE CHANGED and it goes against all of the verses I pointed out… many of which you have not addressed (Various verses in Isaiah 43-46; Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8 – you can also reference Malachi 3:6).

    “Christ could very well have progressed from “intelligence” to “spirit” to “physical mortal” to “resurrected being” and the eternal unchanging nature of God’s revelation of Himself to us would yet remain. It is the Revelation of God and His intent and ability to save us that is eternal.”

    The verse does not say ‘God’s revelation’ to you is the same yesterday, today and forever. It says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” This is also backed up by the other verses I quoted. All of them point to the fact that Jesus Christ is our God, there are no other Gods but Him, He is unchanging, and does not change His mind.

    “The starting point is probably the Book of Abraham, chapter 3. In verses 18-19 it talks about a certain hierarchy among spirits (or “intelligences” if you like). Here’s an excerpt:

    These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”

    Now you are going extrabiblical on me in order to prove your point. I do not accept the Book of Abraham as having any authority. It was a made up “translation” of a funeral text. You cannot use the Book of Abraham to prove mormonism is correct. That is circular logic.

    Where in the bible does it say that Jesus Christ or God existed at anytime as an “intelligence”? There are no verses that say this. In fact, the bible says the exact opposite… that Jesus Christ, YHWH, our God, our Savior does NOT CHANGE. He has always been God, there are no other Gods but Him.

    “The Mormon scriptures in question single Christ out and distinguish him from us from the beginning. So, where does this idea that the “Mormon Jesus” was ever anything but divine come from?”

    Are you honestly saying the LDS church has never taught that Jesus Christ or God the Father PROGRESSED TO BECOME God?

    Darrell

  111. September 20, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    You asked me to outline how Mormons deal with Heb. 13:8.

    It only makes sense to use Mormon scripture to do so. You were asking me how I dealt with this verse. It makes no sense to prohibit me from using Mormon scripture to explain my beliefs.

    “The verse does not say ‘God’s revelation’ to you is the same yesterday, today and forever. It says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”

    I already explained to you that the words “Jesus Christ” in this context must be referring to what his personage represents, rather than whatever physical or spiritual form he had.

    Question Darrell, can an “intelligence” as described in the Doctrine and Covenants be God? Why not?

    “Are you honestly saying the LDS church has never taught that Jesus Christ or God the Father PROGRESSED TO BECOME God?”

    No, but I am saying that Mormon scriptures do not teach that Jesus was anything other than divine. They give us no reason to believe that.

  112. 112 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    “I already explained to you that the words “Jesus Christ” in this context must be referring to what his personage represents, rather than whatever physical or spiritual form he had.”

    Only under your theology. The words Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:8 and the word Lord in Malachi 3:6 are referring to the SAME THING…God… Jesus Christ. Christ was God before taking on flesh, God while in the flesh, and is God today. Look at Isaiah. He says in there who He is… Our God/our Savior. In Malachi He says he does not change. Then in Hebrews 13:8 He says the same thing. While in the flesh, Christ identified Himself as the Great I AM… YHWH (See John). In all these scriptures, He is referring to Himself as God who does not change. When you take ALL of the scriptures I have pointed out together they all point to the same thing. When you start contorting them to fit a false theological position as you have done, you end violating at least one of them in the process. The only way to interpret them all and keep them all in line is one way… Jesus Christ is God – He does not change – There is no God but Him… EVER.

    “Question Darrell, can an “intelligence” as described in the Doctrine and Covenants be God? Why not?”

    Answer these questions for me and I think you will have your answer…

    Who “formed” the intelligence into Christ under mormonism?

    Take a step even further back… who formed the intelligence into the being God the Father under mormonism?

    Darrell

  113. 113 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    “You asked me to outline how Mormons deal with Heb. 13:8.”

    Actually, I asked you about Hebrews 13:8 IN ADDITION TO all the verses in Isaiah. They go hand in hand.

    Darrell

  114. September 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Who formed Christ’s body Darrell?

    You have to admit that Christ’s body was derivative in some sense. Why is this somehow less problematic than Christ being given, or taking up spirit form? Your Christ is just as derivative in his changes of mode as ours is.

    Why does this distinction make your Christ less derivative than our Christ?

    And to answer the question, did you not even read the D&C citation I provided? It plainly says that intelligence is not created, but is eternally existent. If Christ did any changing, it was simply to take on a spirit form (although the scriptures I cited make it far from clear that Christ even participated in this change under Mormon doctrine), and then to take on a physical form.

    Why is a spirit transformation more upsetting to you than a physical transformation?

    Neither of them requires Christ to be anything less than divine – EVER.

  115. September 20, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I would also say that the Isaiah verses do not demand an assertion that God’s form never changes either. If they do, you Protestants have some serious problems with your created Christ.

  116. 116 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Seth,

    Answer my questions… you are avoiding here. Under your church’s theology…

    Who took the intelligence that existed and “formed” or “organized it” it into Christ?

    Who took the intelligence that existed and “formed” or “organized it” into the being that became God the Father?

    Darrell

  117. 117 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    “If they do, you Protestants have some serious problems with your created Christ.”

    You are showing how little you understand Christianity. We do not believe in a created Christ. Christ is eternal as the bible teaches.

    Darrell

  118. September 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    In physical form, Christ most certainly was created. This is obvious.

    “Who took the intelligence that existed and “formed” or “organized it” it into Christ?”

    I see nothing in Mormon scripture that says Christ was ever organized from intelligence into spirit form. Mormon scripture is likewise silent on the subject of whether God was so organized or not. For all we know, God did it himself. There are no answers to these questions, only speculations.

    Who created Christ in physical form Darrell? And why does the physical creation not trouble you, yet the supposed spiritual creation does? Why is one more theologically problematic than the other?

    Your Christ is every bit as derivative as ours is. The only difference is the idea of when and at what stage Christ was derivative. Your derivative stage is when Christ was conceived inside of Mary.

    What I’m trying to point out here is that your scriptures on the eternality of God are referring to something other than His mode of existence. It has to be, or your physically “created” Christ just doesn’t work.

  119. September 20, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    If your Christ can remain eternally divine, in spite of a physical creation, why cannot our Christ remain eternally divine in spite of a spiritual creation?

  120. 120 Darrell
    September 20, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    “I see nothing in Mormon scripture that says Christ was ever organized from intelligence into spirit form. Mormon scripture is likewise silent on the subject of whether God was so organized or not.”

    I want to make sure I understand what you are saying here before I respond. Because the above statement appears to contradict what you said earlier. Are you saying that the LDS church does not teach that Christ was organized or spiritually begotten of God the Father? Are you also saying that the mormon church does not teach that God the Father was organized or spiritually begotten from another “God”?

    Darrell

  121. September 21, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Darrell, I am aware that you can find general authority statements supporting (or seeming to support) all of the propositions that you list above.

    But saying that Bruce R. McConkie said something in “Mormon Doctrine” is not the same thing as saying what “the Church” as a whole is teaching or has taught. Likewise, what the Church as a whole is teaching or has been teaching is not necessarily what the scriptures themselves demand.

    I have nowhere tried to argue what “the Church” is or is not teaching. Neither have I tried to argue what some or most Mormons believe. I have only tried to argue what the scriptures themselves demand. Because that is what my belief is based on.

    And the scriptures simply give few real answers on this subject. As far as I can tell, as far as Mormon SCRIPTURE is concerned, the Father and the Son have always been God.

    But this line of thought probably belongs on Mark’s newest post about sources of LDS authority.

  122. September 21, 2008 at 3:19 am

    I have also tried to argue that being begotten – either physically or spiritually – does not necessarily threaten Christ’s divinity. Even if he was spiritually begotten of the Father, it does not lessen his divinity.

  123. 123 Darrell
    September 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    “I am aware that you can find general authority statements supporting (or seeming to support) all of the propositions that you list above.

    But saying that Bruce R. McConkie said something in “Mormon Doctrine” is not the same thing as saying what “the Church” as a whole is teaching or has taught. Likewise, what the Church as a whole is teaching or has been teaching is not necessarily what the scriptures themselves demand.

    I have nowhere tried to argue what “the Church” is or is not teaching. Neither have I tried to argue what some or most Mormons believe. I have only tried to argue what the scriptures themselves demand. Because that is what my belief is based on.”

    Seth,

    You are correct that I can find statements from prophets to support what I am saying. In addition, I have church teaching manuals and Priesthood/Relief Society manuals (the one from THIS YEAR in fact) that completely support what I am saying. That is why I find your position so intriguing. You are actually proposing something that goes completely counter to what your church teaches. It sounds as if you really are something other than Mormon. Are you involved with Sunstone Magazine by any chance… or Dialogue?

    Now, just so I understand you correctly… are you saying that it does not matter if a prophet says something (for example, coffee and tea are the “hot drinks” as defined in the word of wisdom) that it does not matter and is not authoritative unless it is IN the 4 canonized mormon scriptures?

    The church clearly teaches that Christ is a spiritually born son of God the Father. The church also teaches that God was once a man who progressed to BECOME a God. No matter how you slice it, THAT TEACHING DOES NOT MATCH WITH THE BIBLE. By taking that position they are saying:

    1) There is more than God (god the father had a god)
    2) God the Father has not always been God (he PROGRESSED to become a god and is an exalted man)

    Those two things violate all of the verses that I cited as well as several others.

    Now, if you want to throw the church’s teachings out as speculation because it is not supported by your scripture then what prevents you from throwing all the other mormon teachings that are not in scripture out? There are plenty of those.

    In addition, if this is the position you take, what is the need for a Latter Day Prophet? If you are only bound by canonized scripture and if you can’t trust what a prophet says as truth why do you need them?

    Darrell

  124. September 21, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    “Are you involved with Sunstone Magazine by any chance… or Dialogue?”

    I have a Dialogue subscription. But I don’t think I’m “involved” with them (whatever that means).

    “Now, just so I understand you correctly… are you saying that it does not matter if a prophet says something (for example, coffee and tea are the “hot drinks” as defined in the word of wisdom) that it does not matter and is not authoritative unless it is IN the 4 canonized mormon scriptures?”

    No, but explanation is probably better saved for Mark’s other post.

    For myself, personally, I’m not convinced that it is necessarily required by LDS scripture that there ever be a time when God was not “God.” I am aware this is a popular interpretation, but I’m just not convinced. I certainly have never heard anyone authoritatively teach that God was ever a “sinful man” – which is how Evangelicals sometimes caricature our position. We have precious little information on what exactly God was doing before he made us His spirit children.

    That said, the idea that God had a father, who had a father, who had a father, etc… is not particularly upsetting to me. I think you can apply the same rationale that traditional Christians use to make the Old Testament “One God” allow three beings, to Mormon ideas of many divine beings as well. If we can reconcile the verses in Isaiah with 3 gods in One God, why not more? Why does perichoresis only work for three? Why not dozens or thousands, and so forth?

    If you can have three (Father, Son, and Spirit) without the universe descending into chaos, why should the Mormon universe be any more chaotic, just because there are more?

    Mind, I am far from swayed toward one cosmic view or another. But I don’t find either theologically problematic. And I will do my best to defend several different viable views in Mormonism, even if I do not personally share them. As I’ve studied more, I might find myself taking a more firm position. But right now, my own personal theology is still very-much a work in progress.

  125. September 21, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    “In addition, I have church teaching manuals and Priesthood/Relief Society manuals (the one from THIS YEAR in fact) that completely support what I am saying.”

    “Support?” Or “demand?”

    I’m aware that a lot of King Follett Sermon made it’s way into the current EQ/RS manual (on Joseph Smith). But I wasn’t aware of other statements more explicit than what is in the King Follett Sermon.

  126. 126 Darrell
    September 22, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Seth,

    You simply refuse to give staightforward answers to any question I ask. It is almost as if you are afraid to take a stand.

    Just answer my question… when the church teaches something that is not in the scripture, is the church authoritative or is the scripture authoritative?

    The church has taught and continues to teach today, that God was once a man like you and I and that he progressed to become a God. That is not in your scriptures. So, do you believe what the church teaches or not? A simple yes or no will do.

    It is clear that the LDS church teaches things that are not supported by your 4 canonized scriptures. I am just trying to find out which one you hold as the authority and which one you believe. Take a stand.

    Darrell

  127. September 22, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Very well, it won’t kill me to repeat myself on the other thread.

    I generally hold the scriptures to be of greatest force, and then judge the statements of General Authorities by how well they match up with scripture.

    So I give highest priority to the standard works.

    That said, I have no objection to a modern prophet giving instruction beyond the scope of the standard works which is still in harmony with them. For example, the late Pres. Hinckley spoke out recently against racism that lingers among some in the LDS Church. Racism is not something specifically covered in the standard works – except by implication. Yet I still hold Hinckley’s remarks as binding for me – even “scriptural.” I find nothing in the standard works that contradicts his condemnation of racism.

    Another less lofty example would be Hinckley’s call several years ago to avoid multiple ear-piercings. Now, I and a lot of other members found this call to be a bit on the micro-managing side (and many Evangelicals found it distasteful in its apparent emphasis on “works”). But I did not find it really at odds with scripture and felt it still needed to be respected.

    Keep in mind Darrell, it’s a rather rare occurrence for a modern LDS prophet to expound pure theology. And almost unheard of for him to put forth completely new theological material. Most of the modern prophet’s work is focused on guiding Church programs, teaching existing scripture, and giving injunctions for proper behavior and belief. So realistically, there’s not a lot of opportunity for modern prophets to really clash theologically with the standard works, or with the original source material from Joseph Smith. Something to keep in mind when speculating about possible conflicts.

    Generally speaking, apostles and other general authorities of the Church have been a little more freewheeling in throwing out bold doctrinal statements expanding on existing sources. Bruce R. McKonkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” would be a good example. Then there are people like James Talmage, Orson Hyde, and B.H. Roberts who all wrote doctrinally important books covering some new ground. But I’m always careful in reading these sources. Apostles have often felt free to give their own personal opinion rather forcefully. To some it may look binding. But I don’t always view it as such.

    Take Spencer W. Kimball’s book – The Miracle of Forgiveness (which he wrote as an apostle).

    I am not willing to give an unqualified acceptance of that book. Yes, I find him “authoritative.” But I do not find him necessarily “binding” or of more force than a careful and correct read of the standard works. I am not willing to say where or if Kimball contradicts the standard works (need more of my own personal study before making such assertions). But if he does, I am willing to jettison that portion of the book in favor of the standard works.

    I treat most books from Apostles this way. Some, like “Articles of Faith” by Talmage, have been adopted officially and re-adopted so many times that they hold much more weight for me than, say one of the late (and prolific) Neal A. Maxwell’s books. But all in all, I tend to treat such books more as “authoritative commentary” than binding dogma. There’s something the Jewish tradition has called “rabbinic commentary” on the Torah. That’s more or less, how I view books by authored and published by apostles. Rabbinic commentary. Highly persuasive, spoken from a position of authority, worthy of the utmost careful consideration, but not on the same level as original scripture – and certainly not of higher importance.

    Now, what to do with Church manuals?

    The most honest answer I can give is – I don’t know.

    The reason is, it’s so hit-and-miss as to what sort of quality you are going to get with a Church manual. On the one hand, the “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” series we’ve been using in adult Priesthood and Relief Society meetings for the past few years are quite excellent. Very high quality, careful in picking quotes from past Presidents and giving them context, and overall a very good job. On the other hand, other Church manuals…

    I’ve actually taught from the youth and Primary versions of certain manual series, and… to be frank… The quality absolutely stunk.

    Horrible manual, full of inane teaching suggestions, overused stories of dubious value or doctrinal worth, and not always careful about presentation or context of quotes… I hated teaching from this manual. I will praise the day when they finally retire it, and give us a better manual.

    Does this mean I’d dismiss material in it just because I don’t like the series? No. But I’d be willing to take it with a large grain of salt, because my unfounded suspicion is that this particular manual didn’t have all that great of a vetting process. Either that, or it’s just an old and obsolete manual series that the Church has not had funds or resources to address yet, so instead makes small revisions rather than the complete overhaul the series desperately needs.

    Put simply, I’m deeply ambiguous on some Church manuals. If I really felt that one was simply wrong doctrinally (using the standard works as a measuring stick), I probably would not adopt the teaching. I don’t even hold the Standard Works to be inerrant, there’s no way I’m going to hold Church manuals inerrant.

    One more thing. You wrote:

    “It is clear that the LDS church teaches things that are not supported by your 4 canonized scriptures.”

    I disagree with that statement. There is a difference between a teaching being DEMANDED by scripture, a teaching being SUPPORTED by scripture, and teaching being REFUTED or CONTRADICTED by scripture.

    My argument was that the notion of God going through an identical process to us is an idea that can be “supported” by scripture, and is not “refuted” by scripture, but is also not “demanded” by scripture. I hope that clarifies things.

    But I have never found anything in official LDS teachings that had no support in scripture. I’m just saying the scripture doesn’t always demand a particular teaching either.

  128. 128 Darrell
    September 22, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Seth,

    I will continue this discussion with you on the other blog. That will keep things simple for both of us.

    Darrell


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