Archive for the 'Joseph Smith' Category

25
Apr
12

What a difference a “not” makes!

One of my favorite Bible passages is Romans 4:5.  “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”  The whole context is brimming over with comforting statements reassuring us that God forgives us through faith.  For example, the very next verse says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”  It is obvious that righteousness without works is Paul’s theme in this section.

But that is not how Joseph Smith translated it.  His translation, also called the Inspired Version by theLDSChurch, translates verse 5 this way.  “But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works, but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”  Besides having no basis for such a translation, it violates Paul’s line of thought.  In the very next chapter, for example, Paul speaks in a similar way about justifying the ungodly when he writes: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”  (Romans 5:6)

This is not the only time Joseph Smith did that either.  Another beautiful example of how quick God is to forgive us is seen when the prophet Nathan comes to King David to confront him about his adultery.  After he laid in on the line and also told David that there would be earthly consequences for his sin, we read:  “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.  And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”  (2 Samuel 12:13)  It’s striking how quickly Nathan reassures David of forgiveness.

But not according to Joseph Smith.  He translated it, “hath not put away thy sin that thou shalt not die.”  Once again the little word “not” changes the sense completely.  It drains it of comfort for us.  It robs God of great glory.

A lot of Mormons today shy away from statements like the following what Spencer W. Kimball wrote in his classic book, The Miracle of Forgiveness.  “It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when.  It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you.  That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.”  I don’t know why they shy away from such statements.  To me, such statements are accurately reflecting the way Joseph Smith translated the Bible.

The way Mormonism talks about forgiveness and the way the Bible speaks about it are totally opposite.  I rejoice along withSt. Paulthat God justifies the ungodly, that to the one who doesn’t work, his faith is credited as righteousness.

14
Feb
12

Joseph Smith – Part Two

Lesson 4 of the Teachings of George Albert Smith, the lesson that will be studied this coming Sunday in Relief Society meetings and priesthood quorums throughout the LDS Church, is about Joseph Smith.  Since I talked about whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet in my last post (please see), in this post I am going to focus on what he was supposedly told in his first vision – a subject that lesson four addresses.

I found it interesting that when President George Smith talked about Joseph’s first vision of the heavenly Personages, he quoted the first and last parts of Joseph Smith – History 1:19 but not the middle section.  (Joseph Smith – History is part of LDS Scripture, as it is contained in the Pearl of Great Price.)  Especially noticeable by its absence was the reference to the existing churches’ creeds, namely, the words:  “and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight”.  Because of that, Joseph was commanded not to join any existing church because “they were all wrong”.

Let’s just take the most widely used creed at that time, the Apostle’s Creed.  “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.”

According to LDS Scripture, that is an abomination.  What is so abominable about that?  According to Mormonism’s god, it is.  In addition, most Christian churches still use and agree with that creed.  That means that, again to LDS Scripture and to Mormonism’s god, they are all wrong.  Why then do so many Mormons today say that Christians and Mormons believe the same thing?  I was just talking with a man yesterday who told me that it took three months of pretty regular discussions with his good LDS friend before his friend would admit that there were differences in their beliefs.  How many times haven’t Mormons told Christians that they believe the same things – but that they just have the fullness of the gospel?

Let me put it as simply as I can to any Mormon reading this.  Do you agree with your Scriptures – do you agree that the Apostles’ Creed is an abomination?  If you do agree, please tell me specifically why it is an abomination.  Wouldn’t warning me of its abominable teaching be the loving thing to do?

 

09
Feb
12

Joseph Smith

This Sunday, in their Gospel Doctrine Classes, LDS members will be studying 2 Nephi 3-5 from the Book of Mormon.  This section is famous because it contains a supposed prophecy of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. (I say, “supposed”, not to be unduly disrespectful, but to be clear that I do not believe this to be a true prophecy.)

One of the most common flashpoints between Mormons and Christians is their vastly different views of Joseph Smith.  Mormonism’s viewpoint is probably best summed up by one of their scriptures.  D&C 135:3 states:  “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”  This is not an obscure reference but one that is quoted frequently.  For example, the LDS manual True to the Faith, in its brief treatment of Joseph Smith, quotes it.  That Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God is part of every Mormon’s testimony.

Because of Mormonism’s emphasis on Joseph Smith, his life has been the subject of intense scrutiny over the years by both Mormons and non-Mormons.  Fawn Brodie’s No Man knows my history is still considered one of the best treatments of his life.  Interestingly, Mrs. Brodie was raised Mormon. Many have followed in her footsteps with the result that there is an immense amount of material available on his life.  One topic that has especially been in the spotlight has been his polygamy.  In her book, Mrs. Brodie lists the name of 48 women who were his wives but also makes the comment that research indicates that he was sealed to 66 or 67 living women.

One popular argument Mormons make to prove that Smith was a true prophet is the position that nothing else can explain how an unschooled boy/young man could produce the Book of Mormon.  But the same argument could be used to “prove” that Mohammed was a genuine prophet.  He too was unschooled.  He too claimed to receive revelations from God.  He too claimed to be a prophet of God.

What does the Bible say about determining whether or not somebody is a true prophet?  The most important thing to examine is not the person’s lifestyle or his claims, but his teachings especially what he teaches about the gospel.  “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you then that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

As has been amply demonstrated on this blog and elsewhere, there is a huge difference between the gospel proclaimed in the Bible and Mormonism’s gospel.  The biblical gospel simply consists of the good news (the word gospel means good news) that salvation comes through trusting solely in what Jesus has done for us: his perfect life led for us, his sacrificial death as payment for our sins.  Mormonism’s gospel is far different.  “In its fullness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.” (True to the Faith, p. 76)

Because Joseph Smith preached a vastly different gospel, he is not a true prophet of God.  Rather, according to the Bible, he is cursed.  Instead of having “done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it”, the sobering truth is that, because he was a false prophet, he has done more than most persons who have ever lived, for the damnation of people.

I realize how harsh that comes off.  But that is my sincere and heartfelt conclusion.  And that is why biblical Christians continually plead with Mormons to listen only to the Bible.  For, if they continue to follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, they will suffer the consequences of that for all eternity.




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