Posts Tagged ‘Bible

12
Apr
13

We were created to extinguish suns?

More than once I have talked about Mormonism’s teaching that people can become Gods.  I have done that because quite a few LDS members have told me that is not what it teaches.  Instead many say they won’t become a god, but they will become like God.  Others have said that only Heavenly Father is a capital G God.

Therefore whenever I run across a statement in LDS literature that states that they can become Gods I sit up and take notice.  That happened again last week as I was reading the LDS Church’s currently used manual on the Pearl of Great Price.  On page 38 it contains the following quote from Brigham Young.

“It is brought together, organized, and capacitated to receive knowledge and intelligence, to be enthroned in glory, to be made angels, Gods – beings who will hold control over the elements, and have power by their word to command the creation and redemption of worlds, or to extinguish suns by their breath, and disorganize worlds, hurling them back into their chaotic state. This is what you and I are created for.”

I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely striking. It is obvious from quotes like this that Mormonism teaches that people can become Gods.

I also find this extremely dishonoring to God.  Look at how Brigham Young puts people on the same level as the one true God.  Just like him, they can by the power of their word, create, redeem, and destroy worlds.

The God of the Bible, the one true God, is not just God of planet earth.  He is the God of the universe.  He and he alone created everything in the universe.  He and he alone has the power to extinguish suns and destroy the universe. Most importantly of all, he alone redeems people.  And he did that, not by giving people the plan and power to attain his favor, but by sending Jesus to do it all for us.  His plan of salvation is glorious – because it is worked completely by him.

The God of the Bible is so much more glorious than the god(s) of Mormonism.  May many Mormons come to see that and glorify him for that.

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22
Feb
13

Becoming a God

Over the years I have repeatedly discussed with LDS members Mormonism’s teaching about persons being able to become a god.  The reactions have been varied.  Some readily admit that this is LDS teaching and they wholeheartedly accept it.  Most, however, try to qualify it and downplay it.  They have done this in two different ways.

The first is by saying that Mormonism teaches that they can become like God.  They claim that even though LDS Scripture clearly says that people can become gods.  The classic passage is D&C 132:20:  “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power and the angels are subject to them.”

That passage clearly states, in a number of different ways, that people can become gods.  And over the years many LDS leaders have pointed to this passage to teach this doctrine.  That, I feel, is proof enough that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods, or that when it talks about becoming like god – that is what it means.

The other way that Mormons have sometimes tried to downplay this teaching is saying that they would never become a capital G God.  Instead they say that they would be small g gods, thus implying a difference between the two.  But again, the question is: Is that what Mormonism teaches?  In the student manual on the Pearl of Great Price, a manual in current use, we find this quote:  “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.” (p. 4)  Note especially the use of the capital G – “evolving into a God”.

This quote is notable for two reasons.  One is that it is used in an official LDS Church manual.  Although all Mormons do not agree on the weight that such manuals carry, the LDS Church has repeatedly said that church manuals carry a lot of weight.  They state that they present the official teaching of the church.  That is only to be expected.  The normal practice is to consider official anything that is officially published by an organization.  It would be, for example, the silliest of arguments if an NFL player argued that the rulebook published by the NFL did not represent the official rules of the NFL and thus what he did wasn’t against NFL policy.

But this quote is significant for another reason as well.  It was given by the First Presidency of the LDS.  The First Presidency is the prophet and his two counselors.  It is the most authoritative body in the LDS Church.  Even though it was given in 1909 it is still pertinent as evidenced by it being quoted in a manual published in 2000.  Without a doubt we can say that Mormonism teaches that people can become a God.

Why am I making such a big point of this?  One is because it is denied by many LDS members today and thus it needs to be stressed to get an accurate picture of Mormonism.  Two is because it is another demonstration of the great gap that exists between Mormonism and the Bible.  But most importantly of all, I am pointing this out to illustrate the stark difference between the comfort given by Mormonism and the Bible.  Look again at that quote.  “Through ages and aeons” it says they evolve into a God.  That reminds me of one LDS man telling me that it would take him 10,000 eternities to become a god.

Compare that to the wonderful comfort the Bible gives.  As soon as believers die, they enter the mind-boggling bliss of God’s presence.  Instantaneously all pain and sorrow is replaced with perfect peace and joy.  There are no eternities of evolving and work.  Instead, instantaneously, there is absolute perfection and wonderful glory.

And the best part of it all is that Jesus accomplished all this for us.  He did everything to make us acceptable to God.  In him, right now, we are perfect and worthy in God’s sight.  This heavenly bliss is his gift to us.  To him, and to him alone, be all praise and glory!

09
Jan
13

Mormonism: A Self-Centered Religion

It’s a beginning of another year.  That means that members of the LDS Church will be studying the teachings of another one of their presidents.  In 2013 the spotlight is on Lorenzo Snow, who served as president of the LDS Church for three years from 1898 to 1901.  They will devote time the second and third Sundays of each month to study a compilation of his teachings which has been assembled in a brand new manual.

This coming Sunday they will be looking at chapter one entitled “Learning by Faith”. Towards the beginning of that chapter, President Snow says:  “The whole idea of Mormonism is improvement—mentally, physically, morally and spiritually. No half-way education suffices for the Latter-day Saint.”  Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Does that sound like something you would read in the Bible?  No, both would say that the whole idea is about what Jesus has done for us, not about how we are to improve ourselves.

Immediately following that quote, is this one: “It is profitable to live long upon the earth and to gain the experience and knowledge incident thereto: for the Lord has told us that whatever intelligence we attain to in this life will rise with us in the resurrection, and the more knowledge and intelligence a person gains in this life the greater advantage he will have in the world to come [see D&C 130:18–19].””

Again note the emphasis on what the person does.  The more knowledge they gain now, the greater advantage they will have in the world to come.

Again the question begs to be asked.  Did Jesus ever talk that way?  Is such an idea found in the Bible?  On the contrary, Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12 said:   “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  The contrast is obvious:  now our knowledge is incomplete but in heaven it will be complete. And this statement applies to all believers.  In heaven, some will not have greater knowledge than others – because it doesn’t depend on our attainment but on God’s blessing.

These are just two examples of a major difference between Mormonism and the Bible.  Mormonism consistently centers people on themselves: on what they have to do, on what they have to attain, on what they have earned.  But the Bible puts God in the spotlight and centers on his works for us and his blessings to us – even in the face of our sinfulness and unworthiness.

As I begin a new year, I pray that I can concentrate even more on God and his incredible works for me – especially his absolute forgiveness of me because of Jesus’ complete sacrifice for me.  I pray that I think more and more of heaven and exude confidence that I will be there – not because of anything I have done but because Jesus has done everything for me.  And I pray that more and more LDS people see that and experience the great joy of being worthy before God clothed completely in Christ’s righteousness.

15
Dec
12

How Much Do We Sin?

One of the many significant differences between Mormonism and biblical teaching centers on how much a person sins.  The December issue of the Ensign contains an article that clearly illustrates Mormonism’s view.  It is entitled, “Repentance: Making the Inside Clean”.  The author summarizes the need for repentance this way:  “As we go about our lives, we occasionally com­mit sins. But if we want to live with our Heavenly Father again, we cannot be unclean. We need to repent, which includes forsaking sin, replacing it with righteousness, and cleansing ourselves from the effects of sin.”

Later in the article, to make his point about repentance, he gives this illustration.

    “During my time as a bishop, I used the following visual to help explain what we need to do after we forsake a sin. Picture in your mind a bucket of water. That bucket represents you and me, and the water represents the Spirit, which can reside within us. The water can also represent our pure, worthy state.

    Now imagine that you have a brick and have dropped it into the bucket. That brick is like sin—it’s hard and rough and impure. As soon as it enters the bucket, it causes some of the water to slosh out. When we sin, we displace some of the good things in our life, like our peace of mind and some of our capacity

to feel the Spirit.

     Repenting is like taking that brick out of the bucket of water and making the water pure and clean again. But the repentance isn’t complete by just removing the brick, because the bucket is still not full. We must add more water to fill the bucket again.”

The Bible speaks so differently.  Look at Romans 3.

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

Note how all-inclusive these words are:  “none, none, none, all, together”.  There is no idea here of sinning occasionally; or of being in a pure state; or having just one brick at a time dropped into the bucket.  From the Bible’s standpoint the water in the bucket is already filthy and a veritable downpour of bricks falls continually into the bucket.  None are righteous – they have together become unprofitable.

That is emphasized throughout the Bible.  The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6 laments about how unclean he is.  The apostle Paul in Romans 7 talks about how wretched he is because of his failure to do the good.  The Bible pictures people not as occasionally sinning, but as constantly sinning.

This is no minor difference either.  If we think that we only sin occasionally then much of the burden falls on us to stop sinning and to make right the wrongs we have committed.  That is exactly what Mormonism does.  In the last analysis, even though it talks about Jesus’ atonement, Mormonism places the emphasis on what we have to do.

But when we see ourselves as the Bible pictures us, all we can do is plead for mercy and help.  We realize that all we can do is make the problem worse by piling up more and more sins!  And that is why Christmas is so special.  Christmas is God’s answer to our pleas for help.  Jesus came to earth so that we could go to heaven.  Jesus came to do everything for us.  He kept all the commandments perfectly – not just to give us an example to follow – but much more importantly as our substitute – in our place.  Because Jesus kept the commandments perfectly for me, I can know say that I have kept the commandments perfectly.  And then he died to wash away all our sins.

Turning from emphasizing what I have to do and instead trusting that Jesus has done it all for me is what true repentance is all about.  This Christmas see that Jesus came – not to show you what you have to do – but to do it all for you.  See that and have a most joyous Christmas.

 

15
Nov
12

Revelation through Feelings

The November issue of Ensign, the monthly magazine of the LDS Church, contains all the talks given at the recent General Conference.  Therefore it is an important issue and one that many members will study for the next six months.

One talk that caught my eye was by Elder Craig C. Christensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy.  It was about the Holy Ghost and how he “communicates to our spirits through feelings and impressions” (p. 13).  He talks about how his six-year old son received a strong feeling as they toured an LDS temple before it was dedicated and how he was experiencing the influence of the Holy Ghost.  The following quote from that article summarizes well his message.

“As inspired thoughts come into our minds, we know them to be true by the spiritual feelings that enter into our hearts. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. . . . While we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling . . .’” It is through these sacred feelings from the Holy Ghost that we come to know what God would have us do, for this, as stated in scripture, “is the spirit of revelation.” (p.14)

Revelation through feelings, as this talk illustrates, is an important component of Mormonism.  And it’s another thing in a long list that reveals the great difference between Mormonism and the Bible.  According to the Bible, it is the place of the Holy Ghost’s revelation.  It is the Spirit-filled word – it is the lamp which shows us our way – it is where Christ is revealed to us.  Mormons would agree with that (adding the caveat “as far as it is translated correctly).  The difference, however, is that the Bible claims to be the only source of revelation.  Isaiah 8:19-20 is just one example of that.  And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

On top of that, feelings can be so fickle – and wrong!  During my ministry, I can’t count how many times I talked with individuals who weren’t concerned that they were violating a direct command of God contained in the Bible because, “it felt right”.  Or “I prayed about it and God said it was OK.”  Just a couple of talks later in the Ensign, Elder Bowen talks about the guilty feelings that he still sometimes has 22 years later over the accidental death of his son.  He shares that, not because he wants to legitimize those feelings, but to say how they weren’t warranted. My point is: how come those feelings weren’t from the Holy Ghost revealing to him that he actually was guilty of doing something wrong?

Some of my LDS friends have sincerely said they feel sorry for me because I only have the Bible to rely on.  I understand where they are coming from.  But I don’t think they understand when I reply how thankful I am that I only have the Bible to rely on.  There God has told me everything I need to know for salvation and for living a life to his glory. There the Holy Spirit has revealed to me wonderful truths about God and his love for me.  There the Holy Spirit reassures me that I will live with Heavenly Father for all eternity solely because of what Jesus has done for me – even when I don’t feel like I’m going to.  Thank God that he has given us the sure rock of his holy Word on which to base our faith!

05
Jun
12

Revelation

Chapter 11 of the Teachings of George Albert Smith deals with revelation.  One of its main emphases is Mormonism’s teaching that the Lord gives revelation for the church only through the church president.  “Let us remember that the President of this Church has been officially designated as the pilot of the Church here in mortality to represent the Master of heaven and earth.”

Its other emphasis is that each member can receive personal revelations conditioned on keeping the commandments and living a godly life.  Most of the time this revelation is said to come through their feelings.  The manual True to the Faith puts it this way:  “we often describe a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling.’” (p.144)

It also addresses the fact that this is something that the Mormon Church has received criticism on.  “By the unbeliever, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ in all ages of the world have been considered a peculiar people. When the Lord has spoken through his servants, there have been at different periods of time many people in the earth who have said, ‘I do not believe in revelation.’ This age is no exception to the rule. The thousands, yes, the millions, of our Father’s children who live in the earth are but repeating the history of the past when they deny that God has revealed again his will to the children of men, and say that they have no need of any further revelation.”

Obviously, I would be placed in that grouping.  But, just for the record, I do believe in revelation.  I believe that the Lord is still powerfully and wonderfully revealing himself and his will in the Bible.  It tells me absolutely everything I need to know for my life now and for eternal life.  In my personal devotions, I am just finishing a thorough study of the first three chapters of Ephesians.  Talk about a breath-taking revelation of God’s grace!  As I studied those chapters once again, the Lord revealed anew to me the greatness of his love for me – how he did absolutely everything so that I will live with him for all eternity.  Verse after magnificent verse reveals the unsearchable riches we have in Christ.  In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.

And what was so striking was, not once was there a qualification of having to be worthy for all this.  In fact, Paul talks about the wonderful grace given him to be an apostle even though he was the least of the saints.  Not once was there a condition of having to keep the commandments.  No, the entire focus is on what God had done for me through Christ.  The only imperative verb (command) in the entire first three chapters is to remember our former state before Christ. That’s it.  The rest is a description of God acting for me.

What God has done for me in Christ – that, my friends, is the fullness of the gospel.  That is true revelation.  That, and the rest of biblical revelation, is all the revelation I need.

16
May
12

Scriptures

Chapter ten of the Teachings of George Albert Smith is about the scriptures and the encouragement to use them.  Whenever the Scriptures are the topic, one of the most visible lines of demarcation between Mormonism and Christianity appears seeing that Mormonism includes three other books as Scripture; namely, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

This has also been one of the most hotly debated topics between Mormons and Christians.  Understandably so.  Nothing influences people’s beliefs more than what they consider the word of God.

Over the years, many Christians have listed many problems they have with LDS Scriptures. They have cited the lack of archaeology proof for the Book of Mormon; its similarity in many places with the King James Version; the Book of Abraham in reality being a funeral Egyptian text to name just a few.

One thing that I always have found curious is that the books of Abraham and Moses in the Pearl of Great Price are supposedly the correct version of the similar accounts in Genesis.  If that is correct, why didn’t Jesus point that out when he walked the earth?  We know that the Genesis account as is contained in the Bible is the one that the Jews of Jesus’ day used.  We know that from the Dead Sea Scrolls and other sources. If that account was as corrupted as indicated by the Pearl of Great Price, why didn’t Jesus correct it?  I suppose somebody could claim that Jesus’ correction was one of the plain and precious truths that Mormonism claims were taken out of the Bible.  But that is very difficult to believe.  Just think of how Jesus’ Jewish opponents could have used that to incite the crowds!  “He’s changing our Scriptures!”  It’s difficult to believe that all traces of that could be wiped out, not only from the Bible, but from ancient history.

I doubt, however, that this argument will have much effect on most Mormons.  After all, accepting books as Scripture are more a matter of belief than reason.

Over the years I have found a better way of showing the differences between the Bible and LDS Scriptures.  It is emphasizing the unique and glorious message of the Bible that salvation and my living with heavenly Father is entirely, completely, 100% God’s gift.  That we don’t have to do one single thing to receive that – that we can’t do anything to receive it.  When it comes to being accepted by God the only thing that counts is what Jesus did for me. The more I emphasize that, the more I hear from Mormons wanting to learn more.  That shouldn’t surprise me.  Because, as the Bible says, that gospel message is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.




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