Posts Tagged ‘D&C

09
Feb
11

“The only true and living church”

 

This is a claim that the LDS Church makes about itself in numerous places.  For example, D&C 1:30 talks about “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” Years ago, when I first started talking with Mormons, this was something many stressed.  They didn’t want to be identified with non-Mormons.  Many reflected the thoughts of Bruce R. McConkie who wrote:  “a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 132) Note how in this brief statement he has three quite strong negative characteristics of Christianity and Christians:  “perverted”, “so-called”, and “apostate”.

In recent years, however, most members of the LDS Church have used much milder terms.  I can’t count how many have told me that, yes, I have the gospel, but I don’t have “the fulness of the gospel”.  Instead of characterizing me as belonging to a perverted and apostate Christianity and describing me as a ‘so-called” Christian, they see me as someone just lacking.  I just need a little something more.

But what approach is more faithful to LDS Scripture and its repeated statement that the LDS Church is the only true and living church?  The word “only” in that statement is very exclusive.  It rules out every other church.  No other church is true.  No other church is living.

If I say I am the only living person in the family, would it be appropriate for you to think that I have some family members who are sick, who just are lacking some medicine to get better?  That would be ridiculous.  The only way to take my statement is to think that the rest of my family is dead.

In the same way, by saying that the LDS Church is the only true and living church, LDS Scripture is saying that every other church is dead.  Therefore McConkie seems to be the one who is more faithful to LDS Scripture.

Here’s a question for my LDS readers.  I am a pastor in a conservative Lutheran church.  Am I a pastor of a false and dead church?  If not, please reconcile your statement with D&C 1:30.

 

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29
Jul
09

A PLAN OF SALVATION OR MATURITY?

              As is evidenced by comments on this blog, there exists a communication problem between Christians and Mormons.  Mormons complain that Christians don’t understand them.  Christians say the same thing about Mormons.  Charges of misunderstanding and misrepresentation fly back and forth.  Therefore I offer the following in the hope that is will both help Christians understand Mormonism’s plan of salvation and help Mormons understand some of the difficulties Christians have with it.

     Although, in Mormonism, it is referred to as the plan of salvation, from a Christian perspective it is easier understood as a plan of maturity.  Salvation, to a Christian, means going to heaven.  In Mormonism, as is evidenced by its plan, very few people don’t go to heaven.  Therefore, from a Christian perspective, almost everybody will be saved, even if they have no belief in Jesus.  The lowest kingdom of LDS heaven is the telestial kingdom.  “Telestial glory will be reserved for individuals who ‘received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus’ (D&C 76:84, 106).” (True to the Faith)  In other words, if a person rejects Jesus, in Mormonism, they will still be saved, according to Christian terminology.

     Why then does Mormonism have such a detailed plan of salvation?  Seeing it as a plan of maturity rather than as a plan salvation helps clear up some of the confusion for Christians.  The plan takes a person from being a spirit child in pre-existence, to growing maturity on earth as they overcome bodily temptations, to more maturity in the spirit world, until finally, the worthy ones reach exaltation and become gods.  Instead of talking about maturity, however, Mormonism prefers talking about a person’s progression. 

     Another Mormon expression that fits into this description is the description of themselves as “gods in embryo”.  Consider the following quote from the LDS manual, “Achieving a Celestial Marriage”.  The heading of this section is entitled “MEN ARE GODS IN EMBRYO.” 

     “’Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of our 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 of aeons, of evolving into a God.’ (The First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1908, p.81.)”

     If we truly think the differences between Mormonism and Christianity are substantial, then it is is important to try and communicate clearly with each other.  Hopefully this is one step in that direction.

03
Jun
09

Whom do Mormons worship?

   

    I pose this, not as a trick question, but sincerely.  To me, a non-Mormon, there are a couple of things that just don’t add up.  The one is that Mormonism teaches that the Father and Son are separate Beings.  It interprets their oneness that the Bible talks about as a unity of purpose or something similar, but never as a unity of being.  But what trips me up is a LDS Scripture like D&C 20:19.  “And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being that they should worship.” 

     The things that strikes me are the singulars (only God. . .only being).  Who is the only being that this verse refers to?  Who is the only being that should be worshipped?  Does this refer to Heavenly Father or Jesus?  It seems pretty clear to me that this scripture states that only one God is to be worshipped and, according to Mormonism, “one God” and “one being” can’t refer both to Heavenly Father and Jesus.   Therefore my question:  whom do Mormons worship? 

     Or more pointedly, would it be accurate to say that Mormonism does not teach worship of Jesus?  The brief article on worship in the manual, True to the Faith, at the very least, causes one to ask that question.  It quotes Moses 1:15:  “Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.”  In the next paragraph it specifically mentions that prayer is one way to worship the Father.  A little bit later it says:  “As you reverently partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, you remember and worship your Heavenly Father and express your gratitude for His Son, Jesus Christ.”  Again, as a non-Mormon, I find that distinction between Heavenly Father and Jesus quite striking.

       The bottom line is that D&C 20:19 states that only one being is to be worshipped.  In light of that, I think it is only fair to ask, whom do Mormons worship?

06
Apr
09

No Blessings without obedience?

     Mormonism teaches:  “Justice is the unchanging law that brings consequences for actions.  Because of the law of justice, you will receive blessings when you obey God’s commandments (see D&C 130:21-22).”  (True to the Faith, p. 91)

      D&C 130: 20-21 says:  “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated – And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

      Many Mormons have cited or referred to this teaching to emphasize that blessings have to be earned.  For example, Bruce R. McConkie wrote:  “The law of justification is the provision the Lord has placed in the gospel to assure that no unrighteous performance will be binding on earth and in heaven, and that no person will add to his position or glory in the hereafter by gaining an unearned blessing.”

      No unearned blessings.  Every blessing predicated upon obedience.  Does that always hold true in Mormonism?  What about resurrection?  “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected – saved from physical death (see 1 Corinthians 15:22).  Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit with the body in a perfect, immortal state, no longer subject to disease or death (see Alma 11:42-45).”  (True to the Faith, p.139)

     I have trouble reconciling the resurrection of all people with Mormonism’s teaching that every blessing is predicated on obedience.  I think it is fair to say that “the reuniting of the spirit with the body in a perfect, immortal state, no longer subject to disease or death” qualifies as a blessing.  Since all and not just some, according to Mormonism, receives this blessing, I wonder how that blessing can be predicated on obedience.  What obedience did Hitler give in order to receive a body in a perfect state, no longer subject to disease or death?

     I think this is an important point.  If the blessing of resurrection is not predicated on obedience, cannot other blessings, including the blessing of forgiveness, also not be predicated on obedience?    That’s what the Bible says:  “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”  (Romans 4:7-8) 

02
Jan
09

Repentance and Marriage

 

     One of the differences between Mormonism and Christianity is that each defines repentance differently.  A key characteristic of repentance as defined by Mormonism is the abandoning of the sin of which a person is repenting.  For example, the popular True to the Faith manual says:  “Abandonment of Sin.  Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough.  The Lord has said, ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them.’ (D&C 58:43).  Maintain an unyielding, permanent resolve that you will never repeat the transgression.  When you keep this commitment, you will never experience the pain of that sin again.”

     In spite of this definition, numerous Mormons have responded to the abandonment of sin as an ideal to shoot for, but not as real requirement to attain.  In other words, many Mormons quickly reject the thought that their repeating the sin they repented of reveals that their initial repentance was not genuine.  But isn’t that what that says?  If they truly repented according to the definition cited above, they would “never experience the pain of that sin again.’

     Spencer W. Kimball said:  “There is one crucial test of repentance.  This is abandonment of the sin.”  (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 163) He then proceeds to quote the same D&C passage quoted above but strengthens it by emphasizing the words “forsake them”.

     That word forsake reminds me of the marriage vows people take.  They vow to forsake all others and remain faithful to each other.  I don’t think any wife would accept the following from our husband:  “I agree that forsaking all others would be ideal, but I don’t think it’s very practical.  You will have to expect me not to always forsake all others.”

     Forsake.  Abandon.  Those are absolute terms.  If Mormons takes Mormon scripture, seriously, then they better take seriously the fact that it says repentance means forsaking the sin.  Spencer W. Kimball also said:  “Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin.  To try with a weakness of attitude and effort is to assure failure in the face of Satan’s strong counteracting efforts.  What is needed is resolute action.” 




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