14
Oct
10

CHRIST CENTERED CHURCH?

      I have been reading the LDS teacher’s manual for the 12 and 13 year old Sunday School course entitled “Preparing for Exaltation”.  I like to read materials for that age level because they stick to the basics of Mormonism and explain those basics quite simply.  In short, I think they give me a good and fair reading of basic Mormonism.

     The very first lesson deals with Mormonism’s Plan of Salvation complete with a simple diagram.  Here is the encouragement given to the teacher.  “Explain that Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation provides a way for us to gain a body, learn by experience, show that we will obey his commandments, and return to him stronger and wiser.  Emphasize that this plan is given because of Heavenly Father’s great love for us.”

     I found it incredibly striking that coming to know Jesus as our Savior is not even mentioned as one of the purposes of the plan of salvation.  In fact, in the five large pages of instructions for this lesson there is no mention of Jesus’ atonement or any reference to Jesus’ saving work.  To be fair, later on in the course there is one lesson on Jesus’ atonement.  But only a very small minority of the 45 lessons talks about what God has done for us.  A quick overview would say that well over 90% of the material is aimed at teaching what they have to do.

     I find that so depressing.  What a contrast to the Sunday School material my congregation, and thousands of other congregations, use.  Those materials put the emphasis not on what we have to do, but on what God has done for us.  They emphasize that God didn’t give us a plan of salvation which we have to work, but rather he gave us salvation complete in Christ.

     Over the years, numerous Mormons have confided in me that it bothered them that they did not hear more about Jesus in the LDS Church.  Manuals like this one back their comments up.  It takes more than having Jesus in your name to make you a Christ-centered church.  Christ centered churches center their talk on him.

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5 Responses to “CHRIST CENTERED CHURCH?”


  1. 1 Ralph Peterson
    October 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Humm,

    Not seeing what you don’t want to see.

    Just a small sample from the manual.

    Lesson 1

    Explain that this year in Sunday School, class members will learn about Heavenly Father’s plan for us, Jesus Christ’s role in that plan, and what we must do to return to them when our earth life is over.
    . . .
    Point out that the scripture names two things as God’s work—to bring to pass immortality and eternal life.
    . . .
    Heavenly Father knew that we would need directions to help us find our way back to him, so he provided the plan of salvation as a kind of map for us to follow.

    Lesson 2

    Jesus volunteered to be the Savior of the world and help fulfill Heavenly Father’s plan.

    Lesson 4

    To help class members gain an appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its role in enabling us to gain exaltation.
    . . .
    The Atonement of Jesus Christ is at the center of the gospel. Through the Atonement, we have the opportunity to repent and gain exaltation.
    . . .
    Jesus Christ did an even greater thing: he gave his life to save the spiritual lives of everyone on earth. This lesson will discuss Jesus Christ’s role as our Savior.
    . . .
    Jesus Christ was with Heavenly Father before the earth was created and that he was chosen in the premortal world to create the earth and become our Savior.
    . . .
    Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of Heavenly Father (Heavenly Father was the father of Jesus’ physical body as well as his spirit) and that he was the only person to lead a sinless life on earth. Explain that these two qualities—his Godhood and his sinlessness—were necessary to enable Christ to atone for our sins and be our Savior.
    . . .
    . . . because of Christ’s Atonement for us, we are unconditionally saved from physical death.

    You are missing the elephant in the room.

  2. 2 Echo
    October 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Ralph said: “Humm,Not seeing what you don’t want to see… You are missing the elephant in the room.”

    Actually, your not seeing what Mark is saying, is that because you don’t want to see what Mark is saying? I can ask you that, but I won’t presume you don’t want to see it because it is a SIN to presume this about others just as it is a sin when you presumed this about Mark.
    Romans 2:23-24 “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of YOU.” Ralph, why do you who claim to be justified by the law disobey the law? I can’t be justified by the law, the law only reveals my sin. I admit that truth about myself! Why then do you teach and proclaim that man can only be justified by the law when you yourself don’t obey the law? Obey it! Then preach it! Otherwise you cause God’s name to be blashphemed among unbelievers and YOU will be held accountable by God for that! Do you not see this deadly serious charge being held against you?

    What Mark is saying is that in these LDS lessons, “YOU” are the “elephant in the room” rather than “JESUS”.

    For as Mark explains, the emphasis is on a plan of salvation which we have to “work” rather than having the emphasis on a salvation given to us that is COMPLETE in Christ. And the material you posted only proves what Mark said as being true.

    Try and understand Mark’s point before sinfully accusing him of something he is NOT guilty of because you are breaking the commandment by bearing false witness against your neighbor!

    You gave this quote: “Explain that this year in Sunday School, class members will learn about Heavenly Father’s plan for us, Jesus Christ’s role in that plan, and what we must do to return to them when our earth life is over.”

    The Elephant of YOU is this: “what WE MUST DO to return to them when our earth life is over”
    If Jesus were the Elephant it would read “what JESUS HAS DONE so that we may return to him when our earth life is over”… NO “YOU”

    The Elephant of YOU in the room: “Heavenly Father knew that WE WOULD NEED DIRECTIONS TO HELP US FIND OUR WAY BACK TO HIM, so he provided the plan of salvation AS A KIND OF MAP FOR US TO FOLLOW.”
    If Jesus were the Elephant it would read: “Jesus followed the directions on the map and in so doing he has brought us back to him, ” NO “YOU”

    The Elephant of YOU: “To help class members gain an appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its role in ENABLING US TO GAIN EXALTATION”
    If Jesus were the Elephant it would read: “Jesus has gained exaltation for you, in your behalf, and he has given it to you as a gift all apart from anything you do”

    The Elephant of YOU: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is at the center of the gospel. Through the Atonement, WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO REPENT AND GAIN EXALTATION”
    IF Jesus were the elephant this would read: “Jesus has gained exaltation for you, through the atonement, HE has already forgiven you for all your sins, something you could never gain on your own as is made clearly apparent by your inability to follow the map and keep all the commandments”

  3. 3 Echo
    October 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Ralph, If God does not justify the ungodly, you are lost and without hope. Because by your own actions on this blog you now have the world as your witness testifying against you! They will testify that your a sinner because that is what you are.

    And he who sins in ungodly. No unclean thing can enter God’s presence.

    You have no hope in Joseph Smith, you have no hope in “YOU”

    Jesus is your only hope. He justified the ungodly! Believe it!

  4. 4 gloria
    October 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Hmmm.. the manual is titled : ” Preparing for Exaltation” and it’s for 12 & 13 yr olds?

    Wow. So so glad my children are out of that church! Phew!

    Jesus is the Way,

  5. 5 Echo
    October 22, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Gloria said: “Jesus is the Way”

    Gloria is right. Jesus “IS” the way, Jesus does not provide a map to show the way. He “IS” the way.

    John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I AM THE WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Jesus didn’t say: “No one comes to the Father except through overcoming their sins by following the map. Instead he said: “No one comes to the Father except THROUGH ME”

    John 10:9 “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved”


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