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Competing Truth Claims

March 29, 2009

What do LDS think about other religious leaders who receive direct revelations and have written scriptures?

Take, for example, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

image [1]

Here are the similarities I find between the life and teachings of Rev. Moon and Joseph Smith:

Vision – “Moon claims that in 1936, when he was 16, Jesus Christ appeared to him on Easter morning on a mountainside in Northwestern Korea and told him that God had chosen him for the mission of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, a mission that Christ had only begun. Christ supposedly told Moon that he would be ‘the completer of man’s salvation by being the Second Coming of Christ.'”

Involvement With the Occult – “Moon admits communicating with familiar spirits by means of séances. [It is a well-known fact that Moon has participated in séances conducted by a spirit transmedium named Arthur Ford (a famous Philadelphian necromancer).”

Source of Authority – Moon teaches that “the Bible is not the truth itself, but a textbook teaching the truth.  Moon’s 536-page spiritual manifesto, Divine Principle (1957), is considered to be their scriptures (supposedly revealed directly to Moon by Jesus Christ), along with the Bible.  Divine Principle is considered to be the ‘third testament’ of the Bible, and superior to the Bible.  They also believe in continuing revelation.  Moon claims to have received new revelations from God; i.e., ‘I spoke with Jesus Christ in the spirit world. And I also spoke with John the Baptist. This is my authority.’ [HJB] Even Divine Principle is not the complete truth. ‘The Divine Principle revealed in this book is only part of the new truth. … as time goes on, deeper parts of the truth will be continually revealed’ (Unification Theology, p. 16).

Ultimately, Moon’s interpretations and teachings are considered to be the final and absolute source of authority. Moon’s teachings warn church members that life on earth is a continuous battle between good and evil — where they are the Chosen People — and everyone outside of the ‘True Family,’ including their biological parents, may be agents of Satan. Any person harboring doubts about Moon is deemed to be allowing himself to be part of the work of Satan.”

Christianity – “God is now throwing Christianity away and is now establishing a new religion, and this new religion is the Unification Church.”

Target of Proselytizing – “All the Christians in the world are destined to be absorbed by our movement.”

Marriage Essential For Salvation – “Marriage is the most important means of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Moon teaches that ‘God-centered families are the building blocks of a world of peace, stability, and love,’ and that only those who are married will be saved, or qualified, for the kingdom.”

Doctrines – (1) God: Rev. Moon denies the Biblical concept of the Trinity.  (2) Salvation: “Rev. Moon teaches “the ‘Law of Indemnity’ — that God’s children must pay for at least a part of their debt of sin before God will forgive them.  They believe a person earns his salvation through fasting, fund-raising, recruitment, and other such works.”  (3) Universalism: “Moonies teach that heaven is a realm of the spirit world and that hell is inconsequential because it will ‘pass away as heaven expands,’ and all mankind is redeemed.”

(All of the above quotes were copied from this site)

Insider Doctrines – “An outsider doctrine is presented to the general public or potential converts which is more palatable and likely to be accepted, while the insider doctrine, presented to members or those deep within a group — is something completely different. A classic example of this can be found in the Unification Church. It has long been a secret inner teaching within the Unification Church, passed on by word of mouth, that Jesus was an illegitimate child, conceived through Mary having sexual intercourse with Zachariah the father of John the Baptist”   (http://www.newcovpub.com/unification/examples.html)

Doing Good – The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by a member of the Unification Church found on www.unification.net.  This teaching is taken from an Exposition of the Divine Principle – Part II, Chapter 1, Section 3.4: “ I need to look at my attitude, motivation and purpose in every thought I think, every word I speak, every action I take, everything, everything, everything. In my every thought, word and deed, I need to check my attitude, motivation, and purpose. When I do things for the church, how come I get burned out? Well ask yourself, what’s your motivation? Are you doing it for God’s will, or for glory for yourself, for credit, for recognition? “Oh, I’m such a good person because I serve True Parents.” You really have to check your motivation in everything you do. If your motivation is impure, God cannot accept that offering. If you do it but you have a horrible attitude, “Oh, I’m serving God but I really don’t want to be here, ” then you had better not be there. There is no point. So we really have to purify ourselves and check ourselves moment by moment. Pray constantly to check our attitude, motivation and purpose in everything we think and feel and say and do. We are responsible for our feelings, we are responsible for our thoughts, for our actions and our words. I have to examine whether I am being unselfish and Godly, or whether I am being selfish and Satanic. To be able to distinguish clearly between good and evil in myself, I need God’s word. Father encourages us to read his words every day. Why? So that we can clearly know good from evil, and voluntarily choose the good.” (http://www.unification.net/damian/dja20021215.html)

Read the Book – Rev. Moon says, “How many times have you read the Divine Principle book? You have to constantly study and read this book every single day… If you happen to receive a spiritual revelation through reading a translated version of the Divine Principle book, it is far below the level of experience of those who are able to read the original text. In the future there will probably be thousands of different translations of the Divine Principle book. However, the original Korean language book is the root. This means that all of these various branches can be cut off someday and everyone must return to the original Divine Principle book in order to truly understand.” (http://www.tparents.org/Moon-Talks/moon-other/sm-dp.htm)

The following account suggests that the Unification Church applies the same test as Mormonism to discern the truth of the Divine Principle book:

“Not many years ago I was at the Unification Church headquarters in downtown Minneapolis meeting with a couple of members. We were discussing their sacred book Divine Principle. A young woman told me that if I read Divine Principle and prayed I would receive a burning in the bosom to show me that this great book was from God.” (Discerning Truth, Jay Howard)

Jesus said, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:5, 24-25).

Questions:

1)  Is this religion of God since it invites and entices to do good?  The Book of Mormon says, “That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:15)

2)  Would the Holy Spirit reveal to someone that they should be a part of this religion?

3)  If you do not believe the Unification Church religion is of God, how do you know this?  Have you personally read and prayed about the Divine Principle to seek God’s answer on this matter?  If not, why not?

4)  If you did read the Divine Principle and you received the same revelation that you did concerning the Book of Mormon, would you join this religion?  Why or why not?

Reference:

1. Photo was taken from this site which provides an overview of the facts of this religion.

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115 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 2:44 pm

    1) First, understand that the LDS Church teaches that there is some truth in all religions. In fact, Brigham Young told the Elders of the Church that it was their responsibility to go to other religions and discover what truth they have and bring it to the LDS people (one of the reasons I enjoy engaging in interfaith dialog – I learn from others’ insights).

    The LDS Church never claims to have the corner market on truth – Pres. Hugh Brown explicitly said we DON’T have the corner market on truth. We do have all SAVING truth that we need, but there is a lot of truth out there that isn’t addressed in our scriptures.

    So I would say – those aspects of the Unification Church which invite and entice to do good are of God. That doesn’t automatically make the entire organization and all their doctrine of God.

    It’s incumbent on every individual to seek the Spirit and exercise discernment to know which things are of God and which are not. The bottom line is – the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13).

    2) I’m not sure if this is a trick question since it’s phrased only in the affirmative. If God wanted someone to be a member of the Unification Church, He would reveal it to them through the Holy Spirit. The reverse is true – if He did not want someone to be a member of that Church, He would reveal it to them through the Holy Spirit. Again, it requires the Spirit to discern the truth.

    3) See my answer to 1. If Unification missionaries showed up at my door, I’d probably take their literature and read at least part of it. I hope I’d be humble enough to seek the Spirit as I read, especially after I just quoted Brigham Young about other religions and truth! I’ll admit, sometimes my pride gets in the way…

    4) The Holy Spirit would have to tell me that the Book of Mormon is false (essentially He’d have to tell me that I was deceived all these years about the Book of Mormon and that those answers really weren’t of God). If the Spirit told me the Book of Mormon were false and the Divine Principle were true, I’d probably join their Church.

    ———————–

    I believe that if a Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ then God will work very hard to get people into that Church. I know for myself (as a result of revelation from the Holy Ghost) that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today – we invite all to come and see for themselves!

    In discerning truth, we must always remember Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 2 –

    4. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
    5. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

    More to the point, Jessica – if you are going to engage in discussion with people of one religion and tell them they are wrong, it is incumbent upon you to have a good reason why they are wrong. To an LDS reader, that the Bible is backed up by history and the Book of Mormon is not is a poor reason for saying we’re wrong and amounts to trusting (selectively) in man’s wisdom – see all the comments from the last thread.

    If you haven’t received a spiritual witness that the Bible is true, I invite you to seek that witness from the Lord. I am confident He will give it to you.

  2. March 30, 2009 3:51 pm

    I think comparing the LDS to a suicide cult is pretty cheap of you Jessica.

  3. March 30, 2009 4:27 pm

    I don’t think the Unification Church is a suicide cult. Officially they deny it and teach that suicides go to hell. Sun Myung Moon’s son committed suicide, but he says he does not believe his son’s death was a suicide.

  4. March 30, 2009 4:37 pm

    I thought this was the group in South Korea that was on the news a few years back. My understanding was that they were planning a mass suicide.

  5. Piui permalink
    March 30, 2009 5:30 pm

    Moon has a new “bible” called the Cheon Seong Gyeong. He has declared it be the word of God. It is the law of “Cheon Il Guk” which started in 2001. CIG is the unified world under Moon and his organization’s influence which he has been working to promote for decades. He has placed four of his children in positions to run the organization after he dies.

    The Unification Church(or whatever it’s called this week) is not a suicide cult. Anyone not familiar with the UC is not paying attention. He owns the Washington Times and UPI wire service and brags about using his media to influence America. Moon has been the number one financier of the conservative movement in the USA over the last 30 years. Falwell and LaHaye took money from him in the past. George Bush 41 and son Neil have travelled the world promoting Moon’s “messianic” goals. Moon has at least 4 NGOs working to have the United Nations become a theocratic body as part of his “mission.”

    This will fill you in on some of the details.
    http://tinyurl.com/5aodgn

    This thing about the “Holy Spirit” will reveal something to you plays into Moon’s game. When someone points to something that is false in his teaching he tells them to pray about it and says maybe Jesus will tell you in a dream the truth. Most people who try hard enough will dream about a subject they suggest to themselves.

    Moon has called Paul a liar and Jesus a failure.

    Moon claims to be G-d’s personal agent on earth. You don’t need the Holy Spirit to know if that is true. Ask the widows in Japan who the UC has swindled out hundreds of millions of dollars, they’ll tell you.

  6. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 5:59 pm

    Moon called Jesus a failure, yet he’s supposed to be the 2nd coming of Jesus. LOL.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who calls Paul a liar and Jesus a failure is not God’s representative on earth.

  7. March 30, 2009 6:13 pm

    Nothing personal, but I’m not really interested in answering the questions, nor am I interested in learning about that religion. I’m also not that interested in being compared with it.

    On the flip side, Jessica, you at least seem to have an interest in Mormons. Is your interest only in trying to make them rethink their paradigm in order to see that they are wrong and you are right? Or are you also interested in seeking mutual understanding and considering where they might be right? I have to be honest. I could be completely wrong, but this comes across to me as a set up. Whether that’s the case or not, it just appears that way, and it’s also not obvious to me how this is an effective way of reaching out to Latter-day Saints.

  8. March 30, 2009 7:02 pm

    Hi Clean Cut! 🙂

    The purpose of the post is to evaluate how we discern truth from error. If you notice, the category of the post is “Discernment.”

    If you review my comment policy, I think you will see that I am convinced that Mormonism is wrong. I base my evaluation on my comparison of Mormon doctrines compared with God’s Word the Bible. I like to respectfully discuss my concerns with LDS and talk about the differences in our beliefs that cause us to form the conclusions that we do.

    Because there are competing truth claims out there that also claim a prophet who receives direct revelation, I wonder how LDS discern whether or not these other truth claims are valid – especially when that competing religion suggests an identical test to determine whether they are true.

    I thought this particular religion would be food for discussion because Rev. Moon has now officially declared himself to be the Messiah. According to Tom’s comment above, Mormons try to look for the good in all religions, and he said he would receive information from the Unification Church and pray to know whether it was true. He said God might reveal to someone that they are to join the Unification Church.

    I, on the other hand, would determine ahead of time that the religion was of the devil because their leader is claiming to be Christ! I am using Jesus’ words as my standard. This is not to say that there are not elements of truth in the religion, but if their leader is a false Christ I could never submit to him and his teachings.

    I hope this clarifies the purpose of the post. I thought the questions would generate a lot of discussion and allow us to talk about the differences in how we discern whether or not something is of God.

  9. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 7:10 pm

    Clean Cut – it DOES look like a set up (one reason I considered not responding). I guess we’ll find out by how Jessica responds.

    Either way – the Spirit is still the source of all truth. Some things are a lot easier than others to discern, thankfully.

  10. March 30, 2009 7:24 pm

    Tom said, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who calls Paul a liar and Jesus a failure is not God’s representative on earth. and “Some things are a lot easier than others to discern, thankfully.”

    Just an FYI on why I dismiss Mormonism as swiftly as you just dismissed the Unification Church. Here’s one example of many:

    JS said, “I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)

    How is this not claiming that Jesus was a failure?

    You might point out that the source I just cited was non-canonical. But I believe you just dismissed the Unification Church based on a non-canonical statement you heard from a blogger I’ve never even seen on this blog before. Did you check to see if the quote he provided was canonical?

  11. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 7:31 pm

    Jessica, you’ve misinterpreted some of my words –

    1. The Spirit testifies to me that Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible is true.
    2. The 2nd coming of Christ is to be similar to His ascension
    3. The Spirit confirms that anyone claiming to be Christ that didn’t descend from heaven in that manner isn’t Christ (and anyone that says Christ is a failure isn’t Christ or of Christ).

    You have to hear a church’s doctrine before you can condemn it, though. I agree, Moon claiming to be Christ is a deal breaker for me, too, but only because of 1-3 above. As I said, some things are easier to discern than others.

    By contrast, you’re taking your own interpretation of the Bible and applying your own understanding (not the witness of the Spirit) as the measuring stick for whether or not to reject someone else’s belief.

    Jessica, I think it’s great to use Jesus’s words as your standard, but you still haven’t addressed how you know they are divine in the first place. History can’t prove His divinity.

  12. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 7:46 pm

    I don’t know if the “Jesus is a failure” statement is canonical or not. All I said is that someone who claims Christ is a failure is not of Christ.

    Yes, HC is a historical (non-canonical work). Who knows if the scribe even quoted Joseph properly?

    Joseph prophesied on many occasions that the kingdom of God had been established on the earth again and wouldn’t be taken from the earth again. He does not say in the statement you quote that Jesus failed in saving all mankind. He does not say his own work is greater than the Savior’s atonement. Just that his (Joesph’s) work is unique in history. Every prophet’s work is unique, from Adam to John the Revelator to Thomas Monson. Each has his own specific work to perform. For that matter, yours and my work on the earth is unique.

  13. March 30, 2009 7:50 pm

    Tom, agreed.

    Now for what’s it’s worth, in the interest of fairness, some thoughts from FAIR. Because the quote in which Joseph Smith seems to boast is an interesting one. To understand the issues, we must remember:
 1. It is not based on Joseph’s own writing; it is an account written after his death
. 2. Joseph was using a scriptural passage by Paul, and applying it to his own situation–the idea of “boasting” was Paul’s, not Joseph’s.

    What was Joseph’s intent, and why did he use this approach? As it turns out, he was drawing from the Bible and applying its lessons to his own situation.
    In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. The statement about “boasting” was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians 11 to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:
 “Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking it as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly.” (2 Cor. 11:16-19, NASB)

    Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.

    In short, Joseph is using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)–he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.

    Whether you agree or not, you must at least acknowledge that what you’re trying to make it look like Joseph is saying simply won’t do, because it’s clearly not consistent with Joseph’s own (first person) words, teachings, and ministry about the Savior, as well as the words of the LDS cannon brought forth through Joseph and his successors.

  14. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 8:04 pm

    To ensure I’m totally explicit:

    I said that someone claiming Christ is a failure is not of Christ. I never said that would be my reason for rejecting the UC.

    Unless I could verify that Moon actually said that, it would not be my basis for rejecting Unification. From what I have read, his claim to be Christ is a belief of their Church, and based on what the Spirit has taught me, I reject the UC on that basis.

  15. March 30, 2009 8:07 pm

    Jessica, I bet you were just waiting to spring that Joseph Smith quote on us when you first wrote the post above. I’m sure you had it all planned out from the get go.

    Clean Cut’s right. This is just another self-satisfied, self-serving, smirking Evangelical set-up job. I wasn’t going to respond either because it was such a transparent example of Mormon-baiting. But, I’ll do it anyway. Let’s handle the infamous, scary quote from Joseph Smith that Evangelical counter-cultists seem to love so much:

    “I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)

    I don’t care if the scribe quoted Joseph correctly or not. If the LDS Church survives all the way to Christ’s second coming like it’s supposed to, guess what Jessica –

    Joseph Smith will have been right.

    The Church he started (under the authority, and by the power of Jesus Christ) will have lasted longer than the one started by the mortal Jesus.

    Tough beans.

    Now go cry about how Joseph thought he did something better than Jesus. I frankly don’t care.

  16. Tom permalink
    March 30, 2009 8:08 pm

    Clean Cut – thanks for giving the context of the JS quote.

  17. Exitmusic permalink
    March 30, 2009 8:39 pm

    It is important to note that Joseph Smith was an imperfect man. If we operate under the assumption that the quote is correct, then a case can be made that in this instance he simply let his pride get the best of him. The man spoke, not the mantle. I can accept that without reservation, because in all of the voluminous text that has been produced from Joseph’s life this is the only reference where Joseph claims to have done anything greater than the Savior. His life and teachings were representative of his master and the deep love that he had for Him. If he did say this (and I believe that he did), it only further demonstrates his imperfection. Not in the sense that what he said was wrong (technically it was true), but that it is irrelevant to his mission and unhelpful at best.

    Everything any modern leader has said should not be viewed with the same strict lenses as those with which we read Paul. We have a tiny fraction of the total words spoken by Paul (or any ancient leader) in his life time. What we get in the Bible is the essential doctrines, and most relevant and significant parts of the Gospel (at least in the NT). However, the same cannot be said for Joseph Smith or any modern church leader. Much of what they do and say is recorded by many people so that we get non-essential commentaries, anecdotes, and missteps in our church lexicon. This is why we boil it all down and canonize that which is truly relevant and significant.

    My guess is if Paul had lived in our times, there would be much more to criticize him about.

  18. March 30, 2009 11:34 pm

    And yes, I do think Joseph got carried away “unto boasting” in that quote. Part and parcel of the frontier culture he lived in. Probably he was out of line.

    Ask me if I care.

  19. March 30, 2009 11:52 pm

    Seth, You said, “Jessica, I bet you were just waiting to spring that Joseph Smith quote on us when you first wrote the post above. I’m sure you had it all planned out from the get go.

    Clean Cut’s right. This is just another self-satisfied, self-serving, smirking Evangelical set-up job.”

    I don’t know if you will believe me, but I honestly do not remember thinking of that quote when I wrote the above post. I did not think of it until I saw Tom’s comment “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who calls Paul a liar and Jesus a failure is not God’s representative on earth” and the comparison was brought to my mind. I find a lot of other things JS said boastful and egotistical as well. That particular one had to do with the failure of Jesus so it seemed relevant to the topic.

    You also said, “The Church [JS] started (under the authority, and by the power of Jesus Christ) will have lasted longer than the one started by the mortal Jesus.”

    I have to disagree with you (surprise, surprise) 🙂 as I happen to be a part of the one started by Jesus. It’s been going for over 2000 years now… sometimes under extreme persecution. Jesus promised that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He also promised to always be with His followers to the end of the world and to be with 2 or 3 whenever they gathered in His name.

    It requires faith to believe Jesus’ promises and to trust that He preserved His Word as He promised He would do: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33). It helps that we have 3 different gospel writers that remembered this promise and recorded it for us.

    Tom,

    I believe you misunderstood me in the previous thread. I’m not basing my faith on history. My faith is in Jesus. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin when the gospel was shared with me and I responded to the drawing of the Holy Spirit when I opened my heart and received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I agree with you that the Holy Spirit does lead us to the truth, but His leading is never disconnected from the written Word of God. We must worship God in spirit AND in truth (John 4:4). The points I was making on the previous thread regarding historical vs. non-historical had to do with the issue of Truth. What is true? Can I know something is true just because I prayed about it and had a feeling? As demonstrated in this post, other people pray and have feelings that their beliefs are true.

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it appears from your later comments on this thread that we both agree that the people in the UC are being led astray by their feelings. Would you say we agree on that?

  20. Exitmusic permalink
    March 31, 2009 12:28 am

    Jessica, you said: What is true? Can I know something is true just because I prayed about it and had a feeling? As demonstrated in this post, other people pray and have feelings that their beliefs are true.

    This question is leading to your conclusion that LDS will believe anything so long as they feel some kind of sensation that confirms it’s validity. This is patently incorrect. The mandate has always been to ‘study it out’ in our minds before coming to the Lord. We are exhorted to ponder and to think deeply upon the things of God before believing doctrine. I could pray to know if Muhammad was a prophet of God and potentially feel something. But who is to say that that feeling was not just a well-timed heartburn episode? This is why we are exhorted to think deeply, study, to use the minds that God gave us in order to discern those thins that are most likely to be true. Once we have found something that does not contradict that which we already know to be true (that there is only one Savior, for example), we can pray to receive further light.
    That being said, the testimony I have today was created over years. It developed in phases, some progressing and some regressing. There was never one moment where I suddenly said, “NOW I know.” I would pray, and feel a subtle peace. Then I would study more. Then I would hit a wall and go to God with questions. Over time I realized that God provided answers to every sincere inquiry I gave him. He still does. My faith is not blind.
    It should be said that any doubts I have had concerning my faith have revolved around the existence of God rather than the truth of the LDS church. In my eyes, the belief that Moses parted the sea and that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon are logically equivalent. The scientific method would give us all a failing grade.

  21. March 31, 2009 12:31 am

    A better Evangelical parallel to Joseph translating the Book of Mormon would be the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

    Both are equally unverified.

  22. MadChemist permalink
    March 31, 2009 12:57 am

    1) I submit that a religion can entice to do good without the entire movement being inspired by God. I hope Evangelicals can do the same, “No man can say Jesus is the Christ except by the Holy Ghost.” Does that mean everything they do is right or inspired, no.
    2) Not that I could comprehend.
    3) No, no spiritual confirmation. I’ve never felt the Spirit prod me to learn more about the Moonies. I believe I’m being true to the revelations I’ve been given. If I felt God telling me to learn more about the Moonies, either to learn about them or to correct them, I hope I would be humble enough to be obedient instead of relying on my own “intelligence.”
    4) First I would have to reconcile how both could be true at the same time. For me, there is no logical disconnect in believing both the BoM and the Bible, but there is a disconnect between believing the DP, the BoM and the Bbile.

    Further, I have to agree with those who’ve already expressed their disgust with the tone of this post. If 4/4 Mormons say it’s not a respectful dialogue, you may consider changing your tone.

  23. Exitmusic permalink
    March 31, 2009 1:01 am

    Sure. My point is simply that those that think that the beliefs of the LDS church are unsubstantiated or illogical should try such logical tests on what they believe to be true.

    Jessica, it appears to me that the logical conclusion of your faith requires the Bible to prove it’s own validity. If we are required to discourage the feelings that lead us to believe, we are left only with reason and judgment. That would be great if the Bible could be evidenced to be true. However, since it cannot, you must accept a hole in logic in order to be and evangelical or a mormon, or for that matter a member of Moon’s cult.

  24. March 31, 2009 1:32 am

    By the way Jessica, I have always considered you a nice person.

    That doesn’t prevent you from using arguments that I don’t think are helpful (or even particularly respectful), but it definitely counts for something.

    I have never been all that nice online, so I can respect it when I see it in others.

  25. germit permalink
    March 31, 2009 1:45 am

    Seth: you wrote

    Both are equally unverified.

    Dude, I think you’ve stepped a little too far. Yes, too much can be made of the archeological and historical evidences for the christian faith, and probably very few have chosen to be a disciple (for long) based purely on this foundation, BUT there are entire departments of major colleges, across a wide spectrum of religious and historical opinion that study biblical history. There’s a lot there to study.

    Meanwhile, back at the alleged Lamanite ranch……I’m not going to pound at this, but do I have to spell out the differences here ?? Again, historicity does not equal given by GOD, but to say they are EQUALLY unfounded is just not the case.

    GERMIT

  26. germit permalink
    March 31, 2009 1:54 am

    Clean Cut: you wrote

    2) I’m not sure if this is a trick question since it’s phrased only in the affirmative. If God wanted someone to be a member of the Unification Church, He would reveal it to them through the Holy Spirit. The reverse is true – if He did not want someone to be a member of that Church, He would reveal it to them through the Holy Spirit. Again, it requires the Spirit to discern the truth.

    THANK YOU, that’s exactly the point I have repeatedly made about LDS missionairies and their appeal to have those interested read the BofM. Well said…..

    GERMIT

  27. Exitmusic permalink
    March 31, 2009 2:48 am

    Germit,
    You are making a distinction here that is not necessary. Remember, the LDS church uses the Bible just as frequently and authoritatively as the Book of Mormon. If we were to base ALL of our beliefs on the BOM, you could still only state that you have more people dedicated to understanding Bible history. This again says nothing about truth.

    Our creation myth is the same as yours. Our Moses parted the same sea. Our Savior is your Savior. Are you saying that Joseph Smith and his work are less believable than the stories we read in the Bible?

    You said: ‘Again, historicity does not equal given by GOD, but to say they are EQUALLY unfounded is just not the case.’

    To the contrary. The fact that historicity does not equal given by God means that Mormonism and Christianity can be identified as equally unfounded by logical standards.

  28. March 31, 2009 4:52 am

    By the way Jessica, I have always considered you a nice person.

    Thanks Seth. I’ve always liked you too. Even when you’ve accused me of being a self-satisfied, self-serving, smirking Evangelical. 🙂 Truly, it made me smile. You’re just too likable, even when you’re trying to be mean. Plus, sometimes I get the feeling that you are more bark than you are bite.

    As far as helpful (or respectful) arguments, I’m sure we have drastically different paradigms about this. Just because it doesn’t seem helpful or respectful to you, doesn’t mean it’s not. It all depends on the paradigm.

  29. March 31, 2009 1:07 pm

    Exitmusic: your post is kind of puzzling to me; I can’t quite decide if you think the bible is on a solid foundation or not, and if so , why. My point earlier is that there are many thousands of people who, for an admittedly divergent set of reasons, study bible history and it’s culture. They can do som because there is something to study. Hotly debated, I admit, but studied. BofM “history” is another kettle of fish. Does that situation have anything to tell us about the relative truth claims ?? I’d say it does, though, as I’ve said, perhaps too much is made of historicity as THE apologetic. The older I get, the less convinced I am of that statement, but your book , from an historical standpoint seems made up. THe bible is in another category.

    SO: is JS and his work less beleivable? Ummmm…….oh, yeah.

    I’m not a word for word inerrancy guy: I’ll allow for some poetry and allegory in the bible. That doesn’t mean the whole thing is a collection of meaningful myths. Of course, that also doesn’t mean the miraculous can necessarily be PROVEN. But eyewitnesses on record as having seen some of them IS an assurance.

    Blessings and peace to you and yours.
    GERMIT

  30. March 31, 2009 2:15 pm

    germit,

    Mormons have just as much of an “eyewitness record” of the FAITH CLAIMS as you guys do.

  31. Exitmusic permalink
    March 31, 2009 2:45 pm

    ‘Mormons have just as much of an “eyewitness record” of the FAITH CLAIMS as you guys do.’

    Yep. And also Germit, are you still unaware that the Bible is as much a part of our canon as the Book of Mormon? Of course I think the Bible is a solid foundation. This is a misconception that I think many evangelicals have about us. They hear that JS said ‘as far as it is translated correctly,’ and they think we are dismissing it as insufficient. This is not the case.

    “But eyewitnesses on record as having seen some of them IS an assurance.”
    Fine, we have eyewitnesses as well that the Book exists and was translated by the power of God. We have eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ appearing in the flesh in these latter days.

    But again, none of these prove anything.

  32. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 2:48 pm

    Jessica,

    I hope you can understand why I misunderstood you in the previous thread. You said your knowing the Bible is true had nothing to do with praying and having the Holy Spirit testify to you, and that your faith was founded in a record that has been shown to be historical/true. Only in the current thread are you attaching any spiritual experience to your belief in the Bible as God’s word. To me there is still a logical disconnect – Jesus is the Savior, yes, and I am thrilled to know that you had a spiritual experience that convicted you of your sinfulness and His role as your Savior, but that doesn’t automatically mean “the Bible is the sole, inerrant word of God.” To me that requires a separate revelation from the Holy Spirit. Lots of things have been written about Jesus that aren’t true. Just because the Bible has been around for so long doesn’t automatically make it 100% true and inerrant. Especially when the text never claims it is inerrant and never claims it is the ONLY word of God.

    As for the Church founded by Jesus, I have never understood how Protestants can claim they are members of the Church Jesus started. Your entire foundation as a religious movement is in protest of the Catholic church, not a claim to be Jesus’s true Church (if I remember correctly both Roger Williams and Marin Luther indicated they had no authority to start a new church). I know Evangelicals hold to the “2 or 3 gathered in my name” principle, but by that standard you cannot condemn the LDS religion – we also gather in His name (and thus He is with us), so at worst we are another Christian Church that happens to have differing beliefs from yours. If you don’t buy into LDS differences then why does it matter? i.e. if you don’t believe we have any more authority than you, why does it matter? We gather in His name and worship, and we believe He is in our midst, too. If the 2 or 3 principle means what you say it means (and we DO disagree on that), then by your own logic we are gathering in His name and Christ is in our midst – Jesus made no denominational caveat to the statement.

    As for respect – “It all depends on the paradigm.” Yeah, so as long as your self-professed paradigm is “respect” then you can do whatever you want? The Crusades were fought over two different paradigms – both thinking they were doing God’s work. How about the Inquisition or burning people with Bibles hanging around their necks. “I totally respect you – in fact I respect you so much that I cannot allow you to have an English Bible because that is demonic and therefore I will burn you at the stake, with all due respect, sir.” You can’t fake respect.

    Do you want to know why I find this thread disrespectful? Because you have totally put words into my mouth! Go back to my first post. Let’s review my answers to the first three questions and how I find your use of my words offensive

    1) Somehow it’s a bad thing that I seek to have the Spirit to discern truth. Maybe you disagree, but using God’s word in discernment is still subject to the Spirit because only the Spirit can interpret the Word perfectly.

    2) This was obviously a trick question because you used my answer against me in a later argument. You made NO qualifications on the question. You didn’t say, “would the Spirit direct a Mormon or Evangelical…?” No, you said, would the Spirit direct “someone” to join that Chruch? All I did was state the principle that if God wants someone to join that Church, He’ll tell them, and if He doesn’t then He’ll tell them that too. What about an atheist? UC missionaries give him the Divine Principle. He’s thinking, “Hey, maybe there’s something to this whole God thing if He is speaking to people today.” How is the atheist to know whether to join the UC? The Holy Spirit. If you’re going to ask a general question, don’t force my answer into a specific box. THAT is disrespectful.

    3) Your quotes about the beliefs of the UC were from a non-canonical source (some random website). So if you read what I ACTUALLY wrote (not your interpretation of what I wrote) – I said I would evaluate their canon (not your summary of their beliefs) before claiming grounds for dismissing their beliefs. In considering their canon, I would seek the Spirit to discern what is false and what is true. God expects us to develop the gift of discernment, IMO. You can’t just pick up someone’s canon, read through it laughing about how awesome your beliefs are and how much theirs suck, and then say the Spirit told you it wasn’t true. I never said I would pray about their beliefs – just that I would seek the Spirit in discerning whether or not it was true. As I stated earlier, the claim of Moon to be Christ is a dealbreaker because the Spirit tells me it’s not true. Insofar as that belief is representative of what they ACTUALLY believe, I think it’s false, based on what the Spirit has taught me.

    If I ever found another religion compelling enough to consider leaving Mormonism, I would have to pray about it and seek God’s guidance. I’m guessing Darrell prayed a lot about his choice to leaven Mormonism. I fail to see how praying and seeking the LORD is EVER bad. Yet you brandish my statements as if it’s appalling that I would ever pray about something YOU don’t believe in.

    Somehow you twisted this all to mean that I was rejecting their religion based on a non-canonical source, so I have to allow you to do the same for Mormonism – you took my response to Piui totally out of the context of my original post. Somehow it’s lost on you (or you hoped we would ignore) that your source for their beliefs was non-canonical – you imply that it would have been OK for me to reject the UC based on what you told me but not on what Piui said because you’ve never seen him post here before (which I didn’t do anyway – I said I’d have to read at least part of the DP and hear their official beliefs). For all I know that website you quoted is run by a Catholic that wants to smear everyone that’s not Catholic. Or maybe you thought I would fall for you trap of rejecting it based on your words and then you would call me on the non-canonical bit (yet you found a way to call me on it anyway, even though I never said it, thus making it look like that was your intent from the beginning). If you wanted to say that Mormons reject other religions based on non-canonical sources just as you do for Mormonism, just say it! Don’t attempt to trap me into doing it and then call me out on it, especially when I didn’t do it!.

    Not that it matters if I did do it – that argument amounts to “You do it too.” Not a good argument if you wish to claim some moral high ground, especially when I strive NOT to do that to any religion, and I don’t find it respectful for someone to say that Joseph Smith is a false prophet just because you have taken a statement out of context from a non-canonical source. It’s ludicrous, even laughable, that someone should have to resort to such an obscure source, take it out of context, and use that as justification for rejecting an entire religious movement that claims to be the one true Church of God. Why not just pray and ask the Lord? Then come and tell me what your answer was. I don’t really care if the Lord tells you yes or no – I just want you to consult Him on the matter, not your interpretation of the Bible and some obscure, out of context, non-canonical quote from HC or TPJS or JD or any other source.

    Mormons expect you to interact with our canon in discussing our beliefs, just as we cite your canon in discussing your beliefs. We allow you the privilege of defining your canon, and we expect the same privilege to define our own canon.

  33. March 31, 2009 4:38 pm

    I am a former mormon, now sold out for Jesus Christ. I read this post and was amazed at the similarities between the gospel of Mr.Moon and the gospel of Joseph Smith. Very similar. I think the enemy just recycles false doctrines and teachings. All the cults have “other” books that they prefer over the Bible. All the cults teach that the bible is not correct or not translated correctly — the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Moonies all have their own books they say are “correct”.
    Interesting.
    God is faithful, I pray daily for my friends in the LDS that their eyes may be opened. Perhaps it’s time I start praying for those in all the cults. If Jesus opened my eyes after 19 yrs in the LDS church, He can certainly do it for others!
    Praising Him,
    Gloria
    < John 3:16

  34. Tossa Cromwell permalink
    March 31, 2009 4:41 pm

    I am a member of the Unification Church and I promise that we have nothing to do with mass suicides. We do “mass weddings”.

  35. March 31, 2009 4:48 pm

    Gloria, do you realize how condescending that sounds?

    Actually, you failed to understand Tom’s point above. It’s good practice to base your summary of a religion on their own cannon–not from a critics summary of a religion. And as Tom wrote, “You can’t just pick up someone’s canon, read through it laughing about how awesome your beliefs are and how much theirs suck, and then say the Spirit told you it wasn’t true.”

    The religion of Joseph Smith? “”The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith]

    It’s actually not that hard to come up with a summary which makes ANY religion look bad. See the link on my most recent blog post, or go directly to “LDS bishop tackles truth, Evangelical Christianity” at http://adventures-in-mormonism.com/2009/03/24/lds-bishop-tackles-truth-evangelical-christianity/

  36. March 31, 2009 5:14 pm

    germit, not that I care all that much, but you attributed a quote above to me–something I did not say. (fyi)

  37. March 31, 2009 5:36 pm

    Hello, clean cut. I am sorry my comment offended you. 🙂 I am not suprised. 🙂 As a former active LDS, I can not in good faith say that the gospel of the LDS is the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Big differences. As I tell my dear LDS friends, I love the mormon people, but do not love their message. I was very active in the LDS church and served a full time mission. I was sealed in the LDS temple and am very very familiar with it’s teachings and doctrines. I am not speaking just to speak, but from expierence.
    If you think my post was condescending, you probably did not take out your endowments prior to 1990, when the LDS temple movie displayed a “pastor” as an agent of satan/lucifer. Is that not offensive? Was joseph Smith not condescending when he pronounced that all creeds and christian churches were an abomination? ( History of Joseph Smith)
    Why is it that the LDS can make offensive remarks about Christianity but yet no one can touch their church? That sir is hypocritical. The truth can stand to be examined closely.
    As I said before, my heart aches and longs to see the LDS embrace Jesus , and be free from a false system of worship. May God bless you and open your eyes to see the truth in Jesus.
    God bless,
    gloria

  38. March 31, 2009 6:17 pm

    Gloria, you crack me up! You’re apparently bringing a lot of baggage to this conversation. I’m not sure how you twisted my personal remarks (about you coming across as condescending) into how you think the LDS Church as an institution is offensive and hypocritical.

    I’m aware of the pre-1990 temple ceremony and the “pastor”. I’m also aware that the Church changed that in 1990. (Do you really want to criticize us for something that was changed and is no longer a part of current LDS thought?) This is 2009, and you’re using that as justification that it’s okay to be offensive? No, being offensive is offensive no matter who dishes it out–two wrongs don’t make a right. The irony of this, however, is that I wasn’t even offended by your comment! I just asked if you realize how condescending it sounded.

    And no, I’m not going to let your personal attitude somehow reflect on “the Evangelical Christian Church” (in general) and conclude that it is condescending–just your comment. I’m not going to dig up sometime somewhere when an Evangelical Christian leader or even Church was out of line and say that I am therefore justified in any approach to Evangelicals today, because I’m engaging with individuals here–not a movement.

    It’s interesting to note, however, that in the interest of trying to sound more credible you felt it necessary to state your “credentials”. Yet one does not “take out endowments”–we receive an endowment.

  39. March 31, 2009 6:30 pm

    I’ve heard the phrase “take out endowments” from Mormons before.

  40. March 31, 2009 6:37 pm

    Hi Jack–I have too. And those Mormons immediately loose some credibility in my eyes.

  41. March 31, 2009 6:43 pm

    Why? I figured it was just an LDS idiom.

    Whenever I state my credentials on my ability to dialogue with Mormons, I try to make mention of the fact that I have seen The Princess Bride.

  42. March 31, 2009 6:57 pm

    To my LDS friends: Probably deserves its own thread, but I do realize that you have your witnesses, and there are some very specific reasons why they are not considered credible by some. Then again , the audience at Acts thought Peter to be drunk with wine, so there will always be naysayers. Personally, I consider some of the baggage around the LDS group of 11 to be troublesome, but that’s no surprise. I won’t pull the thread far, but some of your witnesses did not think very highly of JS by the end of their days, tho they still spoke well of the “Golden Bible”; hmmmmm…… not the most consistent of reports…..that’s like “we like the OT , but Moses, not so much……” if you can live with that…..

    Exit: yes, I’d not forgotten the Bible is in your canon, but Mormons, in my experience are all over the board as to how authoritative it is… it would not be hard for me to produce some quotes if you think I’m just making this up. Some seem to have a high regard for it, some might use it for a doorstop. As to the official view, JS seems to have given it , in the form prior to his translation, a very mixed review. I’m seeing a whole lot of ambivalence, canon or not;.

    Tom: you wrtote
    if I remember correctly both Roger Williams and Marin Luther indicated they had no authority to start a new church)

    why would they need to start a new church. the old one was still around, and I don’t mean the Roman Catholic church, per se; Luther talked about an apostasy, but never the kind of apostasy that the LDS use.

    clean cut: sorry for the misattribution; I think that was a TOM quote. SORRY

  43. March 31, 2009 7:18 pm

    Clean Cut,
    Many LDS say they “took out their endowments” that means the first time they went thru the LDS temple. For me that was in May of 1990. At that time I took out my endowments. That is very commonly expressed in the LDS Church. I have also heard it said “received my endowments”. So I have heard both stated/shared by LDS endowed members.
    As for the pre-1990 temple ceremony, it is a fact that the LDS temple movie showed/depicted a Christian pastor as an agent of satan, and why is that? Perhaps because the LDS believe that all of Christianity is wrong and all their creeds and doctrines an abomination. That is no secret, as Joseph Smith states that boldly in his History.
    I have no ill regards to the LDS people, but I do wish to make a clear stand that I detest their message and that is because I beleive it deceives people to believe that they can become “gods” and become exalted. That is a lie from the pit of hell, and that is precisely the lie that lucifer told Eve in the garden of eden and also the lie that go lucifer kicked out of heaven ( Isaiah 14).
    I love the LDS people, and I merely stated my “Credentials” so that folks here would know that I understand LDS doctrines , and am not just blowing steam or spreading false rumors about their doctrines or agenda.
    Again, I will pray that the Lord does open your eyes and the eyes of the LDS to see the truth in our Lord Jesus.
    God bless,
    gloria 🙂

  44. March 31, 2009 7:20 pm

    I am also told that, like Mr. Moon, Joseph Smith was known to wear shoes. And clothes!

    Gasp!

    This can’t just be a coincidence!

  45. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 7:20 pm

    Yeah, I can’t stand the term “take out my endowment.” It’s not in our literature – canonical or historical. It’s a colloquialism, to be sure, but it’s unofficial and not the correct way to refer to the endowment.

    Jack – you’re practically a “just add water” Mormon. LOL

    Gloria – I think you should be more careful in interpreting what Joseph Smith said about creeds and churches. It is true that we don’t think other churches are the true Church of Jesus Christ (no surprise, you don’t think we are either). Most churches think all others are wrong, so that, in and of itself, shouldn’t be offensive.

    But what did Joseph actually say? Joseph did not say “All other churches are an abomination.” Joseph Smith paraphrased the Lord as saying “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt.” The creeds are an abomination and their (the creeds’) professors are corrupt – because they take something non-biblical and exalt it above (or equal to) the Bible. You can’t claim “sola scriptura” AND also claim the creeds (the words of men) are authoritative. In the words of Stephen Robinson, the creeds are a “philosophical idol.”

    I realize that not all Christians accept the creeds as authoritative. Joseph’s statement doesn’t apply to those non-creedalist Christians!

  46. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 7:23 pm

    Germit – if you’re going to quote me, do it right!!!!! 😉

    Historically, by the time of Martin Luther, if not the Catholic Church, what WAS the church of Christ? (it’s an honest question – I really don’t know to what you’re referring)

  47. March 31, 2009 7:27 pm

    Tom,
    I am a “non creedalist” Christian. 🙂
    My “Creed” is the bible not the wesminister confession or the apostle’s creed.
    I am a Christian, and foremost a disciple of Christ Jesus.
    I fellowship at a non denominational Christian church that is focused on Jesus.

    I guess Joseph’s statement doesn’t apply to me then?

    Not that I really care one way or another, but I just wanted to share that many Christians do not ascribe to creeds of any sort.

    God bless,
    gloria
    < john 3:16

  48. March 31, 2009 7:28 pm

    Gloria, I appreciate your recent clarification. You might think this is splitting hairs, but I see a big difference in what you thought you quoted from the history of Joseph Smith and what Joseph Smith reports the Lord actually told him from the real Joseph Smith History. I believe the exact quote is, “I was answered that I must join none of them [the then-current churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:19)

    In other words, it’s not the churches themselves that were an abomination, but the creeds, which were being taught as the word of God, when clearly only the Bible is. The churches were just wrong–meaning, not the one “exclusive ecclesiastical, authority-bearing agent for our Father in heaven in this dispen­sation”, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it.

    Now, having said that, I don’t believe Mormons should go out and say other churches are all wrong. It’s not that clear-cut, not that black and white to me. My paradigm allows other churches to have much truth–just not a fullness of truth. I readily acknowledge that many churches sprung up, not because of the Great Apostasy, but in spite of, to counteract the Great Apostasy. In other words, I think most Christians are doing the best that they know how.

    “God, the Father of us all,” Ezra Taft Benson said, “uses the men of the earth, especially good men, to accomplish his purposes. It has been true in the past, it is true today, it will be true in the future.” Elder Benson then quoted the following from a conference address delivered by Orson F. Whitney in 1928: “Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of His Church to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else.

    “God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too ar­duous for any one people.” Elder Whitney then pointed out that we have no warfare with other churches. “They are our partners in a cer­tain sense.”

  49. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 7:32 pm

    Wow, great quotations, Clean Cut! I tried to make a similar point earlier using the Bible but apparently all Mormon interpretations of the Bible are false (tongue in cheek).

    Gloria – I’m glad you don’t believe in any of the creeds!

  50. March 31, 2009 7:40 pm

    Nope, I sure don’t.

    I hold the Bible to be God’s standard of Truth. His word will not return void and endures forever.
    That my friends is my “creed”. 🙂

    God bless,
    gloria

  51. March 31, 2009 7:46 pm

    Gloria, you and I would apparently disagree with what it means to become “gods” or “like God”. There’s plenty of disagreement even within the LDS Church over this, since we’re very short on the details and anything beyond simply “becoming like God” is speculation. However, surly in all your time in the LDS church you didn’t get the impression that we can replace God or supplant him as “equals”, right? For me, the scriptures are very clear that the goal is to become “one” with Him (John 17), “joint-heirs”, and partake of the “divine nature”. Since we believe we are literally children of God, I have no problem we will be “gods”. After we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, sanctified, and then finally after the glorious resurrection, we will be “gods” because we’re of the family of God and because through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he overcame the effects of the Fall and put us back “at one” with God.

    Nonetheless, you and I will still probably have to just agree to disagree on this point.

    However, I’d like to seek one further clarification. You seem to allude to this idea that you never knew the Savior while you were LDS and that we Latter-day Saints cannot or have not “embraced Jesus”. I wonder if you truly mean that I cannot in good faith say that I am, first and foremost, a “disciple of Jesus Christ”? Because that is precisely the declaration I strive to make in my life and also in my words. (see http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/02/behold-i-am-disciple-of-jesus-christ.html)

  52. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 8:04 pm

    Yes, Clean Cut, just because someone “did not” or “could not” find Jesus Christ during their time in the LDS Church doesn’t mean that no member of the LDS Church has found Christ.

    Essentially, I find that people use their misunderstanding of the doctrine as a scapegoat for accusing us of not truly following Jesus Christ.

  53. March 31, 2009 8:11 pm

    Hi, clean cut.

    I agree that not all LDS believe that in the doctrine of eternal progression as taught officially by the LDS church.
    I certainly had friends who didn’t aspire to becoming a ‘god’ and having eternal increase.

    With that said, I was one of those LDS who most certainly believed that I was clothed, annointed and washed to become a queen and priestess to my husband and to one day become a “god”. ( that was I was taught in the temple)

    My husband, who remains LDS most certainly believes that he will progress if he is faithful and endures and keeps his covenants and will become a “god” like his father in heaven.

    I know that there are LDS who do not agree with this, but it is official doctrine of the LDS church.

    D & C 132 clearly teaches that “they shall become gods” verse 20 . That is faithful LDS, who have entered into the new and everlasting covenant shall receive/ obtain powers, dominions, kingdoms, thrones, etc. and become “gods”. That is according to LDS doctrine found in their cannonized scriptures.

    This is the goal of faithful LDS. At least it was my goal when I was LDS and it remains my husband’s goal.

    Are you saying that this is not your goal?

    I know that thre are LDS that don’t wish to obtain that, but that is the goal of many faithful LDS, and as I said most certainly was my goal, until I found the truth in Jesus.

    I look forward to your response,
    gloria

  54. March 31, 2009 8:16 pm

    Tom & Clean Cut,
    My first experience with Jesus was in 2000, when I was given the good news by some Christian friends. At that time I was very active. ( and remained so until I officially left in the fall of 2007)
    I believe that mormons can be “born again” or “saved” while being a mormon. I certainly was. I gave my life to Jesus, while I was LDS. But, I did not *stay* LDS.
    I officially left the LDS in Nov of 2007 and resigned in August of 2008.
    I was born again, as a Mormon, but Jesus truly did reveal to me the truth and my eyes were opened to see the false teachings of the LDS church.
    I believe Jesus can save anyone at any time……. but if a person is truly saved, the Lord will open their eyes and reveal truth to them.
    God bless,
    gloria

  55. March 31, 2009 8:19 pm

    Tom ~ Jack – you’re practically a “just add water” Mormon. LOL

    Every time a Mormon says something like this to me, I swear and then God kills a kitten.

    So, let’s refrain from baptism jokes. Think of the kittens.

  56. March 31, 2009 8:37 pm

    Bridget,
    How very very cool you went to BYU, as an evangelical christian. I read your posts about going to school there- girl you rock. That would take some courage.
    Glad you are here.
    God bless,
    gloria

  57. March 31, 2009 9:25 pm

    what WAS the church of Christ? (it’s an honest question – I really don’t know to what you’re referring)

    very good question: and this is GERMIT’s take, I’m not well read on Luther, though he’s on my “read him before I die” list

    the church was, at that time what it has always been: those who have come into a saving relationship to GOD through HIS SON Jesus; I know , cliche ridden and all, but I’ll maintain that GOD has never wanted an institution, HE has hungered and thirsted for relationship; where two or more are gathered in HIS name, under any number of banners, really, THERE HE IS. and that is “the church”. I’m not saying that organizing into a recognizable group or denomination is wrong, but I’ll uphold the difference from group X or group Z and “the church”. GOD knows HIS sheep, and they know HIM, so this is only confusing to us, not HIM.

    Granted, nearly most of these “born again ones” , at the time of LUTHER, were probably Roman Catholic, but I’d be surpriesed if there weren’t other groups that enjoyed Jesus-lovers; I’m thinking the ORTHODOX tradition goes pretty far back as well. There would have been, and still are, some true worshippers there as well.

    Hope this helps…..though I suspect this answer doesn’t quite satisfy… 🙂

    As an aside: it does not sit well with GERMIT when any ev. group cops the same attitide of “we’re GOD’s best and brightest…” that is just not supportable, in my opinion.

  58. March 31, 2009 9:30 pm

    Clean Cut: I look forward, in a month or two or three, to get back to reading Mormon history, esp. Rough Stone Rolling. I will be surprised, OK, not so pleasantly, if JS ACTUALLLY made the distinctions as you have them. I think he was much more negative to the GROUPS AND the CREEDS. But this is my impression from what I can remember…..and I’m not going to the bank on that. I’ve heard the line of thot you give before, I’m not sold on it….yet.

    the shed blood of the LAMB to all who cry out for mercy.
    GERMIT

  59. March 31, 2009 9:45 pm

    Okay, so here’s a question that’s been bugging me lately. If the Church really is just a community of true believers and all that, when and where did the concept of a formalized Priesthood even come from? Catholics say they have it because they got it from Peter, Orthodox say they have it because they got it from Peter, Mormons say it was lost and they got it back from Peter, James and John. But Protestants and Evangelicals argue it never existed? So who made it up, then? Is there a point in history at which this concept just kind of “shows up”? Is there really no evidence there was ever Priesthood structure?

    Or maybe you guys have a different definition of Priesthood, and then the hierarchical structure was made up later?

    I have no rhetorical point to make here; I really want to know the answer to this.

  60. March 31, 2009 10:14 pm

    Katie langston: excellent questions, all of them

    historically, I’m not sure about the “where”, though as an ex-Roman Catholic, you think I’d have studied that out by now (I haven’t…ooops) that’s on my “check it out while reading church history” list ; my best guess is that a formalized priesthood came into being sometime after Constantine, and was some kind of admixture with the surounding culture….that’s a rough answer, I know.

    As to the NT: there are only two priesthoods mentioned (three if you count the high priest of the Jewish religion, but those references are frankly less than complimentary, as I recall)

    1)the priesthood of Jesus, described in some detail in HEBREWS

    2)the priesthood of all believers ….and for those whose eyes roll at this second one: yes , I’m making some assumptions about who the “kingdom of priests” is referring to in 1st Peter.

    For me, it’s only as organized, or disorganized, as GOD has spoken it to be; so I’m interested in the history of the Catholic priesthoods, and Orthodox; but only as an important sidenote. I’ll take my cues from what the NT has told us. Something ADDED to that is….uh-oh.

    I’ve got an early church history book in the works by Latourette; more on this later.

    the kindness of GOD to all who call on HIM
    GERMIT

  61. March 31, 2009 10:20 pm

    Katie: a quick PS

    the ancient competing priesthoods of both the orthodox and the Roman Catholics shows, to me, that man is restless to ADD to the simplicity of the gospel with some kind of institution. I don’t think this is that different from Israel sqawking for a KING when they already had GOD the FATHER……for them, HE wasn’t enough….GOD went with it, giving them their choice.

  62. March 31, 2009 10:26 pm

    Good question, Katie. I haven’t actually studied the history on when people began claiming priesthood authority and ordaining people to the priesthood, because the systems taught by the LDS church and RC church aren’t clearly present in the Bible. I’ll try to find out for you.

    My own feelings on how Protestant authority works… you know how some LDS women will say that they hold the priesthood through their husbands *groan*, and some fringe feminist sorts will even go so far as to say that women can give blessings by their husband’s priesthood, no ordination necessary? That’s actually not so far from how I think the priesthood works for us. Protestants interpret the passages about the church being the Bride of Christ quite literally, and we hold His priesthood. My own belief is that this power comes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit/gift of the Holy Ghost.

    I’ll try to see if I can find out about the actual history of it for you though.

  63. March 31, 2009 10:27 pm

    Heh. I was also thinking priesthood=Israel needing a king, Germit.

  64. March 31, 2009 11:10 pm

    Religious ceremony and symbolism adds a richness to life. That’s reason enough for a formalized Priesthood in my mind.

  65. March 31, 2009 11:12 pm

    Even if the power it supposedly gives you is all make-believe, Seth?

  66. Tom permalink
    March 31, 2009 11:24 pm

    The priesthood given to Aaron was described as an everlasting Priesthood. I think it’s safe, regardless of your religious persuasion, to assume that it exists in some form or another today.

    “And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” Ex. 40:15

    We know the priesthood was changed in the gospel dispensation (Heb. 7) because Jesus (of Judah) held the Priesthood. What other changes to the priesthood may have been made in the gospel dispensation are not entirely clear.

    The LDS church teaches that apostle, elder, bishop, and deacon as mentioned in the new testament are offices in the priesthood Thus, we believe that the idea of priesthood organization is found in the NT. So when it speaks of ordaining elders, part of that ordination was a conferral of the priesthood, and by extension, when Christ said “I have chosen you and ordained you” we take that to mean, at least in part, that He gave them the Priesthood. The definition of “ordain” is “to invest with ministerial or priestly authority” (American Heritage Dictionary). In the LDS vernacular, authority and priesthood are intimately connected, so to confer authority is to confer Priesthood. Indeed, “to ordain” in the LDS Church has come to mean “to confer a priesthood office.”

    That is a skim of the surface of the LDS view. I’m (still) working on an essay about the LDS view of authority, priesthood, and ordination in the NT. As always we testify that the LDS view of priesthood was given by revelation from God – inasmuch as one believes the DC is revelation one will believe the LDS viewpoint.

  67. March 31, 2009 11:52 pm

    I don’t think the fact that Mormons have something which they call “Aaronic Priesthood” which they give to every male member regardless of lineage really gives them much of a one-up on us. I mean, the Jews aren’t too happy with the idea.

    (Jewish apologists, BTW, are CRAZY)

  68. March 31, 2009 11:56 pm

    Tom, you said “If you wanted to say that Mormons reject other religions based on non-canonical sources just as you do for Mormonism, just say it! Don’t attempt to trap me into doing it and then call me out on it, especially when I didn’t do it!”

    I think you have misunderstood me and assumed that I was trying to trap you. Please believe that I was not – that was not the intent of my post. I shared earlier that my purpose was to generate discussion about how we discern truth from error. When you made the comment you did, I saw what appeared to be a contradiction and I pointed it out. Please don’t take it to be more than it was.

    As far as the Spirit’s role in guiding us into all truth. I agree with you on that point. Where we differ is in our understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, how we hear His voice, and the conclusions we have drawn from the experiences we both believe we have had with Him

    To me, it is unhelpful to say “God told me so” when the other person’s response will be, “Well, God told me the opposite.”

    It doesn’t allow for any objective points to be discussed. That’s why I try to steer away from these kind of arguments and is why I was pointing to historical reasons on the previous thread – something objective to point to rather than a back-and-forth about subjective experiences/feelings/revelations that are in contradiction with each other.

    To clarify what appears to be a misunderstanding: I most certainly do have spiritual confirmations that are real and I cannot deny. The Holy Spirit does speak to me, but I have learned to discern His leading from that of counterfeit spirits by immersing myself in the scriptures. This is how I discern truth from error. Heb. 5:14 says,“For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness for he is a babe, but strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

  69. April 1, 2009 12:07 am

    In other words, Jessica, it sounds like you’re saying that you take your spiritual impressions/feelings/ideas and compare them with the Bible. And if they don’t match up, then you discern those feelings to be not of God. Yes?

    Jack, interesting thought on the Priesthood of Believers. I will need to study this more. If you (or anyone) have some resources that delve further into this topic, I’d appreciate it. 🙂

  70. April 1, 2009 12:13 am

    Yes, Katie, I think you summarized that better than I did! 🙂

    Also, after I posted that comment I realized that Heb. 4:12 is probably a better verse to quote regarding the role of the Word in discernment:

    “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

  71. germit permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:42 am

    Tom: I can see where you arrive at the idea, but I could just as easily start up , at GOD”s request of course, a new restored church, and all NT references to missionary or one who travels could be part of my (the LORD’s) priesthood. I mean, why not ? I would, of course, be acting on revelation…. my point being: your interpretations of what elder,pastor, deacon, etc are being read INTO the text; there simply is no explicit connection to priesthood.

    Your point about the D and C is well taken, if that’s GOD”s word, then I have what I need, don’t I ??

    the changes to the priesthood mentioned in Hebrews, esp. ch 7 are very specific, and very revealing as to why this priesthood setup did not carry over into the new covenant: it didn’t have to because it was culminated in Jesus, the ultimate, and everlasting Priest. Hebrews is quite clear on that.

    PS to JACK: if we’re sharing a brain, I know who’s getting the AIG bailout, and it aint you.

  72. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:49 am

    Jessica, thanks for the clarification. As long as you will allow me to live true to the revelation the Holy Spirit has given me, I have no problem with you following what He tells you. I’ll let God work out the rest.

    A few questions still remain – I don’t yet understand how you determine what is scripture in the first place. We have the Bible, yes, but the Bible doesn’t say there will never be more scripture. Nor does it claim to be inerrant. I haven’t been able to tell yet if you believe in Biblical inerrancy.

    It still seems to me that by your logic, where 2 or 3 Mormons gather in His name, He is in the midst. Why are we condemned if He is in our midst? I have felt Him there in our midst, and I’m certain it wasn’t an evil spirit. So if your logic is true, how am I damned for an honestly held belief about my Lord?

  73. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:56 am

    Germit – I think Hebrews describes ONE change in the Priesthood. It doesn’t rule out the possibility of men still holding the priesthood and acting authoritatively for God. There is the high priest debate, but that is only one office in the priesthood.

    I agree the NT text doesn’t explicitly say apostles, etc. are holders of Priesthood office. Our interpretation hinges on whether you believe the DC, as I stated. And the DC clearly outlines the need for priesthood organization.

    Germit – what did the Lord mean in your opinion when He said the priesthod He gave Aaron was everlasting? To me it means it wasn’t done away with in the gospel covenant but still continued in some form, even thought the responsibilities would have to be different since the law of Moses was fulfilled.

  74. April 1, 2009 12:59 am

    “Even if the power it supposedly gives you is all make-believe, Seth?”

    You’re switching the target Jack.

    Your original premise was that ALL believers share in the power of God, right?

    So the power I have as a Priesthood-holder would NOT be “make believe” by your assessment. It would be quite real.

    What would be “make believe” in your estimation is that said power is somehow limited to me.

  75. germit permalink
    April 1, 2009 1:14 am

    Tom: let me look at Exodus and get back to ya…

    thanks for the back and forth…..

    about Hebrews: that would have been a GREAT place to explain this alleged “continued priesthood” , it’s odd to me that the author, while banging away for several chapters doesn’t touch it…..but an argument from silence …yada..yada…. I know 🙂

    more later
    GERMIT

  76. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 1:23 am

    It’s not just an argument from silence, Germit. It’s the intent of the Book of Hebrews – my understanding is it was a letter to Hebrew converts to convince them that they no longer needed to live the Law of Moses. So delineating a bunch of specifics about Priesthood wasn’t the purpose. Despite my frustration about Paul’s inability to just a sentence already, he was a pretty good writer – he didn’t dilute the point with side details, which, although true weren’t a support for his main point. I on the other hand suffer from that problem – I want to include ALL details.

    I boast that if I had written Hebrews we wouldn’t have this problem because I would have delineated ALL the specifics.

    Somebody, PLEASE take that out of context! 😉

  77. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 1:25 am

    *to just END a sentence already…

  78. MadChemist permalink
    April 1, 2009 3:46 am

    Tom thinks he’s a better disciple than Paul. Quick, let’s Martyr him, we owe it to Jesus to persecute him. Doesn’t Tom know that God removes the worldview and agency of biblical authors, otherwise they couldn’t write the ONLY, INFALLIBLE, COMPLETE, (magical) WORD of GOD. {ends channeling Evangelical anti-Mormons}.

    Jack,
    Dude, it was a joke. Obviously your lack of belief in the inspiration of the Book of Mormon “should” be a greater stumblingblock to “being Mormon” than having seen “Princess Bride.” should be more important. Even the ever lacking in humor MadChemist saw that.

  79. April 1, 2009 3:54 am

    Not to quibble, but I honestly don’t think Hebrews was written by Paul.

    Seth ~ Your original premise was that ALL believers share in the power of God, right?

    Oh, now Mormons want in on our priesthood of believers?

    Okay. It’s definitely possible that your power is real. It’s the idea that it was conveyed to you literally by human hands through ritual which I would find to be make-believe.

  80. April 1, 2009 3:58 am

    MadChemist ~ It’s okay, I knew you were joking. I was joking in return. It didn’t really make me swear.

    I think I need a “Jack is joking” emoticon to signal this stuff.

  81. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:02 pm

    Jack – glad you were joking in return – I couldn’t quite tell. But for the record, I was never that big on kittens anyway…

    Well, whoever wrote Hebrews, I could have done it better.

    I’ve heard it said many times that we don’t know for sure who wrote Hebrews, but most people just end up saying Paul because it’s easier I guess. I think the lack of a long-winded intro is proof positive it wasn’t Paul!

  82. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:36 pm

    Also, Jack, (or any other evangelical that cares to answer),

    What importance do you ascribe to “laying on of hands?” It seems to me that in the Bible it does have importance in conferral of responsibility (Num 27, Deut. 34:9), with sending people forth to preach (Acts 13:3), with healing (Mark 5, Acts 28), and in connection with conferral of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8). Also, the OT talks about anointing in connection with receiving the priest’s office, which almost certainly was done with the hands. I don’t think conferral – in the general sense – through a “ritual” of laying on of hands is an abiblical concept, so I’m not sure why Jack criticizes it so sharply as to say it is a “make believe” transfer of authority.

    I realize that there are counterexamples of the Holy Ghost falling on someone without laying on of hands. I’m merely asking – what was the importance of laying on of hands in the instances where it IS mentioned? Clearly it played some role in Christ’s Church (both OT and NT).

  83. April 1, 2009 1:39 pm

    Tom: I think you are not only mixing authors, but the direction of epistles as well. You might want to consider how “Jewish” the early church was. I don’t think you’ve got the major intention of the book exactly right, maybe part of it. Think about the NT: were the Jews encouraged to give up dietary restraints or circumcision ?? Not exactly, they were encouraged to not require the GENTILES to go thru those practices, and were reminded that their standing with GOD (both Jew and Gintile) was now a product of faith, not works of the law. This did not preclude the Jews from still going to temple (while there was one), eating Kosher, etc.

    the PRIESTHOOD part of the law was another story (so maybe in that respect, you’re on to something) The whole point of HEBREWS is TRUST JESUS becauser HE is the ultimate HIGH PRIEST, better than anyone we ever had before and here’s why…… and of course there is no hint of going from Jesus to some other kind of priest, or the same “kind” but handed down….
    since the priesthood was closely tied to the sacrificial system and the law, the law was about to get amended big time: the sacrifices are now not necessary. I’m thinking that there were still PARTS of the law that remained as part of the Jewish religious practices , but not as a requirement to “please GOD”.

    these are incredibly rough thots, forgive the jagged format and content

    PS: yes, the best scholarship on the author of HEBREWS says: we dont’ know, but very probably not Paul…

    Looking at Exodus later today
    GERMIT

  84. April 1, 2009 2:10 pm

    Tom ~ I believe the laying on of hands is an external token of a spiritual ritual or blessing. I actually think the idea is quite lovely and I’m a huge advocate of practicing it, I just don’t think it’s required for God to act like Latter-day Saints do.

    FWIW, evangelicals do regularly practice the laying on of hands to pray for the sick and commission missionaries and new leaders, and sometimes just to pray for someone who is troubled, not unlike a blessing. We also practice anointing the sick with oil, especially in the Pentecostal tradition. I don’t think I’ve ever seen leaders anointed with oil in conjunction with ordination, but it could happen. Some denominations also practice foot washing, which I’ve never tried but I kind of want to.

    Admittedly I don’t see the laying on of hands practiced very often for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit/baptism in the Spirit. Sometimes Pentecostal churches will make altar calls asking people to come forward and pray to be baptized in the Spirit and they’ll do some laying on of hands for that, but they expect you to speak in tongues afterward. I don’t believe tongues is necessary for the gift of the Holy Spirit so I’m not wild about that. This is an area of doctrine and practice where I think evangelicals could do better.

    I don’t see why you don’t like Hebrews. It’s one of my favorite books in the New Testament. The authorship isn’t that big of a deal, I’m just annoying like that.

  85. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 3:18 pm

    I actually love Hebrews. It all came out of my poking fun at myself.

    http://jessicasheley.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/competing-truth-claims/#comment-1133

  86. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 3:25 pm

    Germit – you are right – I didn’t exactly say that properly. Here’s an excerpt from the LDS Bible Dictionary about Hebrews:

    Epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish members of the Church to persuade them that significant aspects of the law of Moses, as a forerunner, had been fulfilled in Christ, and that the higher gospel law of Christ had replaced it. When Paul returned to Jerusalem at the end of his third mission (about A.D. 60), he found that many thousands of Jewish members of the Church were still “zealous of the law” of Moses (Acts 21: 20). This was at least ten years after the conference at Jerusalem had determined that certain ordinances of the law of Moses were not necessary for the salvation of gentile Christians, but had not settled the matter for Jewish Christians. it appears that soon thereafter, Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews to show them by their own scripture and by sound reason why they should no longer practice the law of Moses. The epistle is built on a carefully worked-out plan. Some have felt that the literary style is different from that of Paul’s other letters. However, the ideas are certainly Paul’s.

    ——————–

    Whether Paul or no, I see Hebrews having a very specific purpose and I don’t think it was intended to give a dissertation on priesthood offices and organization.

  87. GERMIT permalink
    April 1, 2009 6:31 pm

    Tom: I generall liked your post except for

    Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews to show them by their own scripture and by sound reason why they should no longer practice the law of Moses.

    as far as the SACRIFICIAL system, and even the priesthood in its older form, I could go with this…..but my (admittedly gentile) question is, weren’t there parts to the law OUTSIDE of this that remained permissable, even if not mandetory for Jews (diet, circumcision, celebration of holidays, etc) I’d be curious to check the history on this, and as a sidenote: my Messianic Jewish friends have no qualms about fully celebrating Jewish feast days, and keeping a Jewish Sabbath. Does this fit into the conversaton anywhere ???

    Just wondering
    GERmIT

  88. April 1, 2009 7:06 pm

    Germit, I’m late in commenting but I wanted to commend you in your desire to read “Rough Stone Rolling” in order to better understand Joseph’s thought about other Churches. That fact is that Joseph was all for gathering truth from wherever it came from. He once said that “the inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence, we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” On another occasion he asked: “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. . . . We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true ‘Mormons.'”

    Richard Bushman is probably as familiar with Joseph Smith’s thought as anyone. Bushman points out:

    “At some level, Joseph’s revelations indicate a loss of trust in the Christian ministry. For all their learning and their eloquence, the clergy could not be trusted with the Bible. They did not understand what the book meant. It was a record of revelations, and the ministry had turned it into a handbook. The Bible had become a text to be interpreted rather than an experience to be lived. In the process, the power of the book was lost. . . . It was the power thereof that Joseph and the other visionaries of his time sought to recover. Not getting it from the ministry, they looked for it themselves.

    “To me that is Joseph Smith’s significance for our time. He stood on the contested ground where the Enlightenment and Christianity confronted one another, and his life posed the question, Do you believe God speaks? Joseph was swept aside, of course, in the rush of ensuing intellectual battles and was disregarded by the champions of both great systems, but his mission was to hold out for the reality of divine revelation and establish one small outpost where that principle survived. Joseph’s revelatory principle is not a single revelation serving for all time, as the Christians of his day believed regarding the incarnation of Christ, nor a mild sort of inspiration seeping into the minds of all good people, but specific, ongoing directions from God to his people. At a time when the origins of Christianity were under assault by the forces of Enlightenment rationality, Joseph Smith returned modern Christianity to its origins in revelation.”

  89. GERMIT permalink
    April 1, 2009 7:40 pm

    At a time when the origins of Christianity were under assault by the forces of Enlightenment rationality, Joseph Smith returned modern Christianity to its origins in revelation.”

    I’m thinking I could also substitute “John and Charles Wesley” where you have “Joseph Smith” and I could run with that. The First Great Awakening had not morphed into new testament christianity, in my opinion, so (this may surprise some) GERMIT feels that JS actually had a LOT of legitimate complaints as to the religion of his day. I’m not keen with the direction he took, but the Reformation needed more reforming…..

    So far as I can tell, I consider R. Bushman a first rate historian.

    GERmIT

  90. Tom permalink
    April 1, 2009 8:41 pm

    Germit – I don’t think the 1st century Church ever told its members “Thou shalt not practice the Law of Moses.” So I agree, the wording “should no longer practice the law of Moses” is inaccurate (we don’t hold the LDS Bible Dictionary as canonical or 100% doctrinal, just to clarify).

    I would say your analysis is spot on – some aspects were fulfilled and no longer practiced (i.e. sacrifice), and the remainder were permissible but not mandatory (fantastic way of phrasing it, germit!). I boast that you could have written that section better than Bruce R. McConkie. (he didn’t necessarily write it, but he was one of the main ones that helped put our BD together)

    Tangentially – the LDS Church encourages members to maintain their cultural heritage, traditions, and identity insofar as they are not in conflict with Church doctrine (i.e. Word of Wisdom, etc.). I expect a Jewish convert to Mormonism would be encouraged to continue observing feast days, and I personally am highly supportive of people like your friend doing so.

  91. April 1, 2009 9:14 pm

    As a missionary in Japan, I was told there was nothing wrong with Japanese converts keeping the elaborate shrines to their ancestors that many Japanese households keep, nor with lighting incense or other things – just as long as the convert understood that they weren’t worshiping the ancestors or praying to them instead of God, it was all good.

  92. GERMIT permalink
    April 1, 2009 9:36 pm

    not too lavish with the praise, TOM, or else GERMIT will get what my pastor refers to as “the big head”. I think that’s an Alabama or Georgia thang.

    busy day at work, Exodus may have to wait till tonight.

    blessings on you and yours
    GERMIT

  93. April 1, 2009 10:54 pm

    “This is the goal of faithful LDS. At least it was my goal when I was LDS and it remains my husband’s goal. Are you saying that this is not your goal?…I look forward to your response”.

    Gloria, since this comment strand has gone in so many different directions, you can read my thoughts on “Becoming Like God: some things I know and some things I don’t” at http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/01/becoming-like-god-some-things-i-know.html

    Thanks!

  94. April 2, 2009 4:47 am

    Hi Tom,

    You said, A few questions still remain – I don’t yet understand how you determine what is scripture in the first place. We have the Bible, yes, but the Bible doesn’t say there will never be more scripture. Nor does it claim to be inerrant. I haven’t been able to tell yet if you believe in Biblical inerrancy.

    I do believe in Biblical inerrancy. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Tim. 3:16). If the scriptures were inspired (literally, God-breathed) then how could they have any errors in the original autographs? I think there may be some copyist errors as a result of the transmission process, but they are not significant and do not affect any doctrine. I believe God did exactly what He promised: He preserved His Word (Psalm 12:6, Isaiah 40:8, 59:21, Matthew 24:35/Mark 13:31/Luke 21:33, I Peter 1:23-25). The vast majority of the over 5,000 Greek NT manuscripts extant today are in very close agreement with only minor variations. Also, the Spirit testifies to my heart the authenticity and infallibility of God’s Word by its life-giving power in changing my own life and the lives of others, and its power in revealing the person of Christ so that I and others can personally encounter Him and know Him through reading His Word.

    As far as whether other scriptures could be written – I don’t see a specific verse stating it isn’t possible, but we don’t have any more eyewitnesses alive to write scriptures about Christ. Ephesians 2:20 states that the church is built upon the “foundation of the apostles and prophets.” A foundation is not something you repeatedly build, but something that is laid once and then built upon.

    You could say that someone could have a vision, like John, but then John ended his book of prophecies with a very strong warning not to “add unto these things”… (Rev. 22:18)

    He ended his book of prophecy concerning the last days by stating the next thing on God’s calendar: the second coming of Jesus. We don’t have any scriptures telling us to look for a prophet who will prepare the way for the 2nd coming of Christ and we are not to add to John’s book of prophecy… We also know that men will try to counterfeit the scriptures (2 Thess. 2:2) so we are on the lookout for anything that has the signs of being a counterfeit.

    As far as an internal, prophetic piece of evidence for the canon – look at the book of Isaiah. It’s sometimes referred to as “the little Bible.” As the Bible has 66 books, Isaiah has 66 chapters. As the OT has 39 books and the NT has 27, the book of Isaiah is divided into two major sections: The Assyrian Period (1-39) and The Babylonian Period (40-66). Similar to the theme of the OT, the first 39 chapters of Isaiah deal with the theme of God’s judgment. Similar to the theme of the NT, the last 27 chapters of Isaiah deal with the theme of God’s salvation and contain all the Messianic prophecies about Christ.

    It still seems to me that by your logic, where 2 or 3 Mormons gather in His name, He is in the midst. Why are we condemned if He is in our midst? I have felt Him there in our midst, and I’m certain it wasn’t an evil spirit. So if your logic is true, how am I damned for an honestly held belief about my Lord?

    I do not know the heart of every individual LDS member. I hope and pray there are many LDS who, like Gloria and Darrell, were born again while still in the LDS church. What I have observed about born again Mormons, however, is that they seem to become very bothered by the false teachings in Mormonism and they seem to eventually end up either leaving or being forced to leave.

    As I said in an earlier comment, God wants us to worship Him in spirit AND in truth (John 4:24). Jesus pointed to His words as Truth (John 8:31-32, 42-43, 47; 17:17).

    As for the Holy Spirit leading us in different directions, I don’t see how that is possible. He is either lying to one of us or one of us is deceived. I don’t see any other possibility from Scripture.

  95. April 2, 2009 7:01 am

    “If the scriptures were inspired (literally, God-breathed) then how could they have any errors in the original autographs?”

    Because He only INSPIRED them.

    He didn’t dictate them verbatim.

  96. MadChemist permalink
    April 2, 2009 8:42 pm

    Any argument about the original autographs is moot because we don’t have them. No one has them. That is simply fact.

  97. April 2, 2009 9:12 pm

    I have them. Don’t worry though, I’ve put them on the tank of my toilet for safe keeping.

  98. April 2, 2009 9:22 pm

    Jack: sure hope you mean the UPPER part of the tank…a la Godfather Part II at the restaurant…..hmmm, turns out the eye-taliens DO have a say in things… 🙂

  99. April 2, 2009 11:08 pm

    germit ~ I can never get through the first Godfather movie, and I’ve certainly never seen the second one. Talking with me about The Godfather is a little like this.

    The video game was pretty good though.

  100. April 6, 2009 1:33 am

    One of your links goes to Biblical Discernment Ministries ( http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm ).

    Though the material on the Unification Church may be accurate, I would be wary of using this site, which condemns just about every group that doesn’t hold to the site’s doctrinal statement.

    Persons and groups condemned on the site, in very strong terms, include not just Mormons and Moonies, but:

    –Martin Luther — teachings lead people to hell
    –Campus Crusade for Christ
    –Chuck Colson
    –C.S. Lewis
    –John MacArthur
    –J.I. Packer
    –a number of specific denominations

    The list is long. Basically, if you don’t agree with the author on a number of secondary issues, you will burn in hell.

  101. April 6, 2009 12:35 pm

    Keven N: I like the hoodie

    GERMIT

  102. Tom permalink
    April 6, 2009 3:27 pm

    Jessica,

    1. I fully agree that the Lord preserved His word and brought forth the scriptures we have today. However, the text never says ALL of God’s words will be preserved in infallible form and come forth in ONE book that will be possessed by men on the earth (maybe I’m over-interpreting your position but that seems to be what you are saying). The text does say God’s words will be preserved forever, which does not require that we have all of them today – some may be preserved to come forth at a future date. The Biblical text and Biblical history do not give us license to assume that ALL of God’s words are contained in the Bible.

    1a. John supposed that the world could not contain all the writings that would exist if all the works of Jesus were recorded. That’s either literal or figurative – either way it indicates there is much more that we don’t have.

    1b. We have mention in the Bible of several documents not included therein which were apparently important: The Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13, 2 Sam. 1:18), Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), Book of Nathan the prophet, Book of Gad the seer (1 Chr. 29:29, 2 Chr. 9:29), Book of Shemaiah the prophet (2 Chr. 12:15), another epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9), Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16), another epistle of Jude (Jude 1:3), a prophetic document written by Enoch (Jude 1:14). Either these writings were not the word of God, or we must take a different interpretation on what the Lord means when He says “my word shall not pass away.”

    1c. My study of Biblical history indicates that the early Christian Church held as authoritative many documents which are not in our current Bible. Either i) the early Church got it wrong and those writings really weren’t the word of God, ii) the documents were the word of God but were lost or corrupted and thus not included in the 4th century canon, or iii) imperfect men decided not to include them in the 4th century canon even though they were the word of God.

    2. Chapter divisions are imposed on the text after the fact. While the 66 chapters of Isaiah can definitely be symbolic of the books of the Bible (and that’s probably what preparers of the English Bible had in mind), it’s not good logic to say that must mean that God wants us to only have 66 books of scripture. I am unaware of any information that indicates Isaiah himself created 66 distinct divisions. In essence, it seems to me the chapter divisions were set after the canon had been decided. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here.

    3. Rev. 22:18-19 has been hashed over so many times that I am probably not the first to point out the following:

    3a. God never said HE would not add to the canon of scripture.

    3b. The antecedent of “these” is “the prophecy of this book” (the Greek for “these things” is just a pronoun – no new noun is introduced). The Greek word biblios (or biblion, a diminutive of biblios) originally meant “the inner bark of the papyrus plant.” This bark was used to make the scrolls on which ancient authors wrote. “Biblios” was used to denote a “sheet or scroll of writing.” Thus, “this book” – “this scroll” – is the book of Revelation, not the entire Bible (which didn’t exist yet). Note that John does not say “the book in which this prophecy will be included.” He gives no indication that he is prophesying about a collection of books (or scrolls) that will exist in the future. He just says “this book” (“this scroll”). Reference: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, Abingdon Press, 1986.

    3c. I cannot follow the logic of saying that John was writing Rev. 22:18-19 to conclude forever the canon of scripture – I am unaware of any historian that places Revelation as the last book written. If Rev. 22 means no more scripture will ever be written, what are we to make of the portions of the NT written after Revelation?

  103. April 6, 2009 6:23 pm

    Germit:

    It’s a sweatshirt, not a hoodie. But thanks anyways.

    Kevin N

  104. April 6, 2009 7:10 pm

    Kevin: Sweatshirt……cool….if it doesn’t say “GO Chargers” or “GO Patriots”, I still like it…..if it says “GO Broncos” , then…..nah…can’t repeat that in nice company…. 🙂

    GOD strengthen us to use our sweat-shirts……
    GERMIT

  105. April 7, 2009 3:19 am

    Tom,

    I did not intend to say that the warning in Rev. 22:18-19 was referring to the whole Bible. I’m sorry if I was unclear. I believe if you will re-read my post you will see that I was specifically referring to the book of Revelation and its uniqueness in being full of end-times prophecy. In fact, it’s the only book in the Bible that is composed entirely of apocalyptic literature.

    Considering this fact, the dating of the book seems semi-irrelevant, but the traditional dating of John does place it as the last NT book written.

    “Eusebius, in summing up the tradition of the Church on this subject, assigns John’s exile to Patmos, and consequently the composition of the Apocalypse, to the latter part of the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD).” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

    “The date of the Revelation is given by the great majority of critics as A.D. 95-97.” Smith’s Bible Dictionary

    In any case, even if an argument can be made that the book of Revelation was not the last NT book written, the very fact that Revelation is a unique book – the only Biblical book full of apocalyptic literature – should cause us to take very seriously just exactly what is meant in Rev. 22:18 when it says not to add unto “these things.” Just exactly what is this referring to? John had just written “these things” concerning the end times – the last days.

    Curiously, we do not find any prophecies foretelling of a “total” apostasy, or a “restoration,” or a new doctrine that would radically alter our understanding of God in the last days. These, and many of Joseph Smith’s other claims, are a severe addition or subtraction from the prophecies recorded in the book of Revelation concerning the last days. Indeed, I do not know of any prophecies anywhere in the Bible concerning a prophet who would appear in the last days to reorganize Christianity and its doctrines. I only find prophecies concerning false prophets who would seek to steer people away from the one true God and from Jesus Christ His Son.

    As I said in my earlier post, I don’t see a specific verse stating it isn’t possible to have more scriptures. But in addition to the reasons I cited above, God’s revelations are never going to be in contradiction with what He has already revealed. Polygamy isn’t going to be okay today and not okay tomorrow. Marriage isn’t going to be totally unnecessary for salvation one minute and completely essential the next. There isn’t going to be a “great gulf fixed” between heaven and hell one day and opportunities to move up to different levels of heaven the next.

    “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

    In order to deal with many passages in the book of Isaiah, LDS claim God is “the only God of this universe.

    The Bible clearly declares that He is the only God period. Who ever was or ever is or ever will be! (Isa. 43:10, 44:6-8, 45:21-22, 46:9, etc.)

    The book of Revelation makes this clear as well (Rev. 1:8, 11, 17-18, 22:13) and God will deal with anyone who tries to change these revelations He has given of Himself.

    Are there prophets today? Does God still speak today? You bet! I totally believe He does! But He does not contradict Himself.

  106. MadChemist permalink
    April 7, 2009 3:35 am

    Jessica,
    Can you provide one verse from the Bible that specifically condemns polygamy? Even Martin Luther recognized that it was western society’s abhorance with polygamy that prevents it. Not the Bible. That’s why he suggested to the King of England to take another wife instead of divorcing. Of course, the king just decided to kill his wife. yes, western civialtion is truly doing the chrsitian thing….

  107. April 7, 2009 4:02 am

    “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24)

    “a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (I Tim. 3:2)

    “if any be blameless, the husband of one wife” (Titus 1:6)

    In speaking of divorce, Jesus gave God’s original plan on the sacred relationship between one man and one woman:

    “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” (Matthew 19:3-11)

    Jesus’ entire argument rested on the foundation of the two becoming one flesh as God’s design from the beginning. Polygamy falls completely outside this picture.

    On the flip side, I would like to see any Bible verse that specifically commands polygamy.

  108. germit permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:54 am

    Nice replies Jessica; let it be clearly stated that the standards for leadership are given to us in Scripture as something for ALL men to strive for and hold up as holy, so not only does GOD expect this from HIS leaders, HE includes it in HIS word that we might know (all of us, leaders and not) what kind of behavior honors HIM. JS hung with this…for awhile…and then tired of obedience, pure (or IMPURE) and simple. And along came the ‘revelation” to justify himself.

    Sorry , Joe, you can appeal all you want to what GOD ALLOWED (not commanded) in the OT all you want; the standard in the NT is clear and we are all without excuse.

    GERMIT

  109. germit permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:57 am

    PS: the evidence that even JS was somewhat aware of his sin was the hesitancy and obscurity that surrounded what he was doing….first: oh NO , I’m not connected to other women…..later, “well, maybe I am. maybe GOD wants that..” and later “sure, and GOD said it was OK….” (these are paraphrases)

    less than honest, because he was less than virtuous . period.

    GERmIT

  110. April 7, 2009 5:01 am

    Wonderful post Jessica and can I “amen” what germit wrote. The Bible is very clear about marriage. God intended it for “one man and one woman” and the “twain” shall be one……….
    From the begining this was the case, and Jesus clearly taught that. Eve Was created for Adam not Eve and Betty and Sue…. but Eve, one wife. If God felt plural marriage was so essential to salvation, then he would have created more than one helpmeet for Adam.
    The Bible gives very good examples of what happens when men & women do not stick to God’s plan for marriage — every example of plural marriage in the bible ends up with dsyfunctional families, envy, and an entire nation being a ‘thorn’ in the side of Israel, because Sarah would not wait and rest on God’s promise to provide a child. Oh if only Abraham had not ‘hearkened’ to sarah…. sorry LDS , the Bible does not promote plural marriage, it clearly shows how tragedy ensures in the life of believers when they step away from God’s plan.
    God bless,
    gloria

  111. April 7, 2009 5:12 pm

    I hope that those participating here don’t get the wrong idea that all LDS are defenders of polygamy. That’s hardly the case. I agree that monogamy has always been the ideal. Polygamy was only an exception to the rule. (And I dare say that some of the early and zealous LDS leaders got carried away with its importance once they arrived in Utah).

  112. MadChemist permalink
    April 26, 2009 4:39 pm

    Jessica,
    Do you know the difference between proof-texting and reading something in context?

    1 Timothy and Titus says no more than that a “Bishop” should have only one wife. Some have interpreted that to mean “not be divorced.” It certainly is not a command against polygamy. Othwerwise the word Polygamy (or polygyny or something similar) would have been in the sentence, along with a command not to practice it. Subject verb object, that’s how we form and read English sentences.

    We certainly can agree with you that Jesus was against divorce, and also that in the Garden of Eden God formed the ideal, Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Eve, and Edith. So those verses were in context and we agree with them.

    But God certainly did command Polygamy in the Old Testament.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levirate

    In Judaism, a levirate marriage (Hebrew: yibbum) is mandated by the Torah (Pentateuch) (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) which obliges a brother to marry the widow of his childless deceased brother, with the firstborn child being treated as that of the deceased brother. However, there is another provision known as halizah (Deuteronomy 25:9-10), which enables either party to avoid the levirate marriage. According to some opinions in Jewish law, yibbum is strongly discouraged and halizah is preferred, although Scripture itself prescribes a curse on anyone who disobeys the practice.

    Unless you don’t believe those verses are God’s word, in which case we have a more interesting discussion to have.

    I agree with CleanCut, we’re not trying to say that Polygamy should be practiced today, I’m just saying, let’s be a little more intelligent with how we use scripture other than to misread it and say “The bible never has God command someone to practice Polygamy” when it is obvious, I mean, so obvious even an Evangelical should be able to see it.

  113. MadChemist permalink
    April 26, 2009 4:40 pm

    It would be great if everyone could read up on proof-texting and how to avoid it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prooftext

  114. October 14, 2009 1:28 am

    Interesting… hey, you might be interested in my post on Moon (which you might conclude is on the moon 🙂 See: http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/messiah-moon/

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