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The "Original" Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

April 26, 2009
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Two months after Joseph Smith gave the King Follett Sermon that has been called “the culminating statement” of his theology [1] (where he revealed among other things the doctrine that God is an exalted man), he died in June, 1844.  He was killed while incarcerated on charges that he was trying to destroy a newspaper that had published a story on his polygamy and alleged that he was trying to set himself up as a theocratic king. [2] A succession crisis then ensued as Joseph Smith had not previously named his successor…

200px-Brigham-young

Brigham Young

250px-James_Strang_daguerreotype_(1856)

James Strang

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Sidney Rigdon

this

post

has

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umissues

…Or had he?

A small group of Mormons who call themselves “primitive” Latter Day Saints claim that Joseph Smith actually left a written revelation stating that James Strang was to lead the church as his successor.  Strang claims that he was visited by angels at the exact time of Joseph Smith’s death and was called by God to lead the LDS.

A full-time professional historian with an expertise in rare Mormon documents has concluded:

“the letter of appointment allegedly written by Joseph Smith just before he died, is authentic and genuine in all of its physical properties. Indeed, the letter is apparently in the hand of Joseph himself, and has a genuine Nauvoo postmark. The historical context, grammar, style, and content of the letter fit accurately into the life of Joseph Smith and the greater Nauvoo Mormon scene….There are remarkable, nearly exact, parallels in private letters written by Joseph Smith, to which no forger would have had access in 1844” [2]

The Mormons who follow James Strang believe they are “the true Mormon church” and they claim among their early members Joseph Smith’s wife Emma, his mother, his only surviving brother and his sisters, three of his apostles, the bishop of the whole church, the Nauvoo stake president, and the Book of Mormon witnesses.  They claim Brigham Young was a false prophet who was elected by a minority of members and that the organized LDS church is just a modern worldwide organization.  They state about the LDS church, “They no longer claim new prophecies, visions, revelations, or translations. You should join us if you prefer the Mormons in the days of the Prophet Joseph.  Since 1830, we have had no membership requirements except faith, repentance, baptism, and confirmation.” [3]

These “primitive” Mormons claim that their small membership is further evidence that they are the true church.  They cite Mormon scriptures that predict the true church would be a small number of Saints (D&C 45:28-30, Jeremiah 17:5-6, 2 Nephi 28:13-14, 21, 31-32, 3 Nephi 14:13-15) and they claim that the modern LDS’s large organization is evidence that they are following false prophets.  They claim as additional evidence the fact that James Strang found additional “lost” scriptures and translated them. They state, “We have3platesshad1 prophecies, visions, revelations, and translations, printed by James J. Strang in the Voree Herald andDiamond. Most of those which survived are published in the Revelations of James J. Strang and Book of the Law of the Lord. The Book of the Law of the Lord is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, and we believe it was translated from the brass plates of Laban taken by Nephi from Jerusalem.” [4]

These Mormons claim they do not have a living prophet today because their living prophets (Joseph Smith and James Strang) were martyred.  They have this to say about the mainstream LDS church’s claim to living prophets:

“Nothing in the scriptures ensures that [living prophets] would remain on earth at all times.  This is something that other Mormons are emotionally conditioned to believe without any scriptural basis.  We do not elect their replacements like other Mormons do.  Ours are chosen by written revelation in accordance with D&C 28:7; 43:4; 102:9.  A prophet must have the ability to prophesy, but the other Mormon leaders do not, or at least nobody can show us a prophecy.  Other Mormons admit they were without a prophet from June 1844 to December 1847, when Brigham Young was eventually elected as first president.  Consider the following quotes from Brigham Young, and decide whether you believe him.

  1. Journal of Discourses, 5:177
    “I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me that I am.”
  2. Journal of Discourses, 6:320
    “A person was mentioned to-day who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I wish to ask every member of this whole community, if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was? . . . Who ordained me to be First President of this Church on earth? I answer, It is the choice of this people, and that is sufficient.”
  3. Journal of Discourses, 13:166
    “It has been remarked sometimes, by certain individuals, that President Young has said in public that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet.”
  4. Times and Seasons, 5:618
    “You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles . . .”

Matthew 7: 15-20
“Beware of false prophets…

James Strang had the fruits of a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator. He continued to prophesy, reveal, translate, and see. He was ordained by angels, translated plates to whom witnesses attested, and was martyred in 1856.

Other Mormons have prophets that are like fig trees, that do not bring forth any fruit at all, and they produce no scriptures or commandments from God for which to even ask God to know if they are true.”   [5]

The Mormons who follow James Strang would have us consider the following fruits that he was the true successor of Joseph Smith:

Contrary to Brigham Young’s emphasis on the “Curse of Cain” doctrine, Strang pushed for equal rights for African Americans and he ordained them to the Priesthood. [6]  His church also became the first American religion to allow women to hold lesser Priesthood offices such as a teacher or a priest.  He even allowed women to wear pants in his settlements when hooped dresses were required apparel in American cities. [7]

“Like Joseph Smith, James Strang reported numerous visions, unearthed and translated ancient metal plates using the Urim and Thummim, and claimed to have restored long-lost spiritual knowledge to humankind. Like Smith, he presented witnesses to authenticate the records he claimed to have received. Unlike Smith, however, Strang offered his plates to the public for examination. The non-Mormon Christopher Sholes–inventor of the typewriter and editor of a local newspaper–perused Strang’s “Voree Plates”, a minuscule brass chronicle Strang said he had been led to by a vision in 1845. Sholes offered no opinion on Strang’s find, but described the would-be prophet as “honest and earnest” and opined that his followers ranked “among the most honest and intelligent men in the neighborhood.” Strang published his translation of these plates as the “Voree Record,” purporting to be the last testament of one “Rajah Manchou of Vorito,” who had lived in the area centuries earlier and wished to leave a brief statement for posterity. While many scoffed, two modern scholars have affirmed that the text on the plates appears to represent a genuine, albeit unknown, language. The Voree Plates disappeared around 1900, and their current whereabouts is unknown.

Strang also claimed to have translated the “Plates of Laban” described in the Book of Mormon. This translation was published in 1851 as the Book of the Law of the Lord, said to be the original Law given to Moses and mentioned in II Chronicles 34:14-15. Greatly expanded and republished in 1856, this book served as the constitution for Strang’s spiritual kingdom on Beaver Island, and is still accepted as scripture by Strangites.” [8]

Personally, I like some of Strang’s theological doctrines better.  For example, he insisted that God had always been God and that progression to godhood was impossible.

I’m convinced James Strang was still a false prophet, though.  For, just like Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, he also taught some heretical doctrines, although his differed from theirs.  He was a strict monotheist and denied the Trinity, the virgin birth, the eternality and deity of Jesus Christ, and God’s omnipotence.  Like them, he also started out as a monogamist (even speaking against polygamy) but, following in the footsteps of his forerunner, he later became a polygamist as well.

A person could research and evaluate all of the doctrines of the various prophets who started the various branches that each claim to be the original church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints….

HPIM3414

…Or they could opt for just following Jesus Christ and forgetting about man-made claims of exclusivity and superiority.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” – Jesus

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” – Romans 16:17

Questions:

1.  Why are the eleven witnesses for Strang’s translations rejected by mainstream LDS?

2.  What do mainstream LDS think of the Strangites’ claim that their prophet was apparently advocating for African-American and Women’s rights before anyone else?

3.  Is there anything to the Strangites’ claims that LDS are conditioned to expect a continuous succession of elected prophets (whether or not those prophets actually demonstrate the ability to prophesy)?

4.  Since Joseph Smith claimed there were too many denominations and he couldn’t determine which one was right, how did his work help to make the decision clearer for others?

Sources:

1.  As cited in Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 533.

2.  Wikipedia, Death of Joseph Smith.  (All pictures also hijacked from Wikipedia)

3.  The Original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints website, Questions Raised About James J. Strang

4. Ibid., Welcome page

5. Ibid., Scriptures

6. Ibid., Prophets

7. Ibid., African-Americans

8. Ibid., Women

9. Wikipedia, James Strang, Publications

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204 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2009 4:20 am

    Holy crap, someone call Rick Hurd. This kind of post is what he LIVES for.

  2. April 27, 2009 4:34 am

    Joking aside, I think the story of Mr. Strang is actually really fascinating. The whole concept of a modern-day authoritative prophet is hard for me to wrap my head around anyway (nothing specific to the LDS church…it’s a general and deep-seated distrust of all human leaders), but a succession crisis is an interesting twist on it.

    On the other hand, I guess early Christians faced a similar dilemma in approving and rejecting certain doctrines that were subsequently deemed heretical (e.g. divergent views on the nature of the Trinity), so maybe it’s not so different–we’re just closer in time to this particular controversy.

  3. April 27, 2009 6:49 am

    Whitney, it is never a joke to invoke the name of Rick Hurd.

    Never.

  4. April 27, 2009 12:54 pm

    The letter you refer to is a famous known forgery.

    here

  5. MadChemist permalink
    April 27, 2009 1:15 pm

    1. You do not mention 11 witnesses in the post. We reject Strang’s works because he is a false prophet, who claimed to have revelation when he did not. LDS scripture firmly teaches that there won’t be any secret ordinations, but that everything will be done by common consent.

    2. So did some atheists before some Christians. Does that mean the atheists were really from God and your Evangelical pastors weren’t? Only if you want to oversimplify the matter to confusion. I don’t think anything of it. I have no way of knowing why he did what he did, but in this matter he appears to have done what history would have justified. Good for him, that doesn’t mean he was God’s chosen prophet.

    3. Maybe today, but this explanation really oversimplifies to distortion the history of the so-called “succession crisis”. One “problem” for all of the other splinter groups is their repeated repudiation of doctrines that Joseph canonized (not just taught). Since nearly the beginning of the church, they had been informed that they would be lead “by common consent” and not by secret ordination (Joseph III) or letter (Strange). I don’t remember if it was reorganized or Strangites that started singing , “A church without a prophet, is not the one for me.” after the majority of the Saints departed, because the quorum of the twelve decided to keep the authority and not ordain a prophet yet (which they had canonical authority to do so). So to make the claim found in this question is rely to betray an ignorance of the history of the “succesion crisis”. Quite frankly, LDS place their understanding on statements by JS about the role of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that Joseph himself canonized, so I don’t really see how a secret letter (authenticated by Wikipedia, no less), should be able to undo LDS canon. It’s simply a matter of historical fact that the majority of the Saints decided to follow the Quorum of the Twelve, and left. Whatever those who remained did, was their choice, but it certainly wasn’t what the “Majority” of the saints chose to do. Canonically, scripture that existed at Joseph’s death said that the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorum’s of the Seventies had equal authority. When Joseph died, the FP no longer existed, and had no authority, thus rendering Rigdon’s claims out. The Quorum of the Twelve and the 70’s acted in conjunction, scripturally, the other splinter groups don’t have a leg to stand on.

    4. By teaching all men that it is their priviledge, duty, and requirement to learn to talk to God in faithful prayer, and learn from Him which organization He had authorized. Joseph told his own story about being confused, learning from the Bible that there was a way for him to gain knowledge (James 1:5) and sending out missionaries that in addition to teaching the truth as they understood it, also challenged all people to read and pray and ask God themselves. That way, he changed the truth claims from
    “I’m a preacher, believe me”
    or
    “I’m a theologian/scholar, believe me”
    or even
    “I’m a prophet, believe me”
    to
    “You have the ability to ask God to know the truth yourself.”
    And that is powerful, because now it is no longer an external force, but rather, a personal witness that leads Mormons.

  6. MadChemist permalink
    April 27, 2009 1:18 pm

    Poor Jessica taken in by a forgery.

    One of the most famous forgeries in LDS history is the alleged “Joseph Smith Revelation” appointing James J. Strang his successor. It was created in the 1840s, probably by Strang, and is now located at the Beinecke Library at Yale University. The motives of Strang, who hoped to succeed Joseph Smith, were clear. Equally apparent were the reasons for the forgery of a pamphlet attributed to Joseph Smith’s early associate, Oliver Cowdery. Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints, supposedly written in Ohio in 1839, first appeared in an anti-Mormon publication in 1906 (Anderson, pp. 20-21). Others have attempted forgeries for money, ego, or the desire to influence or alter history.

  7. April 27, 2009 3:23 pm

    MadChemist ~ It’s never been proven that the James J. Strang ordination letter is a forgery. The excerpt you cite by Max. J. Evans only appears at Light Planet and the official BYU web site, two extremely pro-Brighamite-LDS sources, and it does not say specifically where it gets that information. Merely Evans’s assertion. There is no consensus among historians on the document’s authenticity.

    See the Wikipedia entry on the letter for a summary of the debate.

  8. Tom permalink
    April 27, 2009 5:07 pm

    I think our debate here should be IF it is authentic, does it even really give him authority to lead the whole Church?

    The canon as developed by Joseph Smith says no (see MC’s response to 3).

    The letter itself isn’t explicit enough to draw the conclusion that Joseph intended Strang to be the next President – it uses none of the terms Joseph used in other sources referring to the leader of the whole Church – President, President of the High Priesthood, Presiding High Priest, prophet (or even apostle). It sounds more like Strang was to be a stake president at Voree. Bear in mind that even the prophet has a home teacher, a bishop, and a stake president to whom he reports on matters such as tithing, and I suppose even for temple recommends. Imagine interviewing Pres. Monson for a temple recommend…..LOL! 🙂

    MC has already addressed the “succession problem.” It was never really a problem for anyone who read DC Section 107. In the absence of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has authority to lead the Church.

  9. MadChemist permalink
    April 27, 2009 5:37 pm

    Yes, Jack, i recognized that and thought it would be just as fair to post this as it was for jessica to post the pro Strange-ite explanation.
    Now that both apologists are equally represented we can look at the Wikipedia claims.

    “Experts agree that the postmark on the letter is genuine”
    I haven’t been able to verify this based on the source because I don’t have time to read a 150 page document. Any other takers?
    “Some modern analysts have asserted that Joseph Smith’s signature on the letter’s third page is a forgery.[9][10].” This book has been checked out of my library.
    We could note that the equivalents of Gloria and Darrel are the former member who denounced the letter as a forgery.

    One former Strangite insisted that Strang’s law partner–the same “C. P. Barnes, Esq.” mentioned by Strang in The Diamond–helped Strang fabricate this letter and the Voree Plates, though no proof of this was ever produced.[11]

    One theory is that James Strang did indeed receive a letter of some sort from Joseph Smith, in which a blank sheet of paper was used for the envelope; Strang, according to this premise, discarded the contents of that letter and proceeded to author his “Letter of Appointment,” using the blank outer sheet for the final page of its text.[10] Such a maneuver would have assured Strang of an authentic postmark for his letter, even if its contents were bogus.

    I don’t know about Tom, but I’m not running off to join the Strangites, even if I am disaffected by the shallow Mormon membership. {g}

  10. MadChemist permalink
    April 27, 2009 5:38 pm

    Obviously, I messed those blockquotes up, sorry.

  11. April 27, 2009 6:06 pm

    Just curious – what kind of discernment strategies are LDS employing to determine Strang’s letter was a fraud? Has anyone prayed about this with sincerity and real intent or is this being dismissed because the external evidence seems convincing that it’s a fraud?

  12. April 27, 2009 6:35 pm

    I have read Strang’s translation of his plates. To me it contains nothing of substance at all. There was no spiritual feeling associated with it. For me it is easy to dismiss based on a lack of content.

  13. Tom permalink
    April 27, 2009 8:47 pm

    To me the letter is irrelevant – Joseph had made it very clear to the Twelve that he had given them the keys they needed to lead the Church (a well documented portion of Church history). Section 107 had already established the structure for Church government. The idea of common consent had long been established.

    As I said before – the letter IMO contains no substantive statement that indicates Strang was to be the next president of the LDS Church – it does not say he was to be a prophet.

    Either Joseph was a true prophet or he was not.

    If he was – then the Church government set up in Section 107 clearly describes who is in charge when the prophet dies, and thus only the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles could choose the next President.

    If he wasn’t – it doesn’t matter. Both Joseph and Strang are charlatans.

    So it all comes down to the question of Joesph as a prophet, just like every other topic we discuss.

  14. MadChemist permalink
    April 28, 2009 12:28 am

    Tom,

    Don’t you see Jessica’s ulterior motive?
    She wants to show that just as most mainstream LDS ignore the faith claims of the Strangeites, so do most Christians (in her opinion) ignore the faith claims of the LDS.

    What she doesn’t understand, is that the LDS feel that there is a difference between the LDS situation ignoring the strange-ites, and Christians ignoring LDS. That difference, is LDS believe that they can find out the truth from God, whereas most Evangelicals I’ve talked to don’t believe in a spiritual witness, but rather we have to trust our Pastors, theologians, scholars, translators of Bibles, and anything except God’s ability to reveal to us directly.

  15. April 28, 2009 1:01 am

    MadChemist said, LDS believe that they can find out the truth from God, whereas most Evangelicals I’ve talked to don’t believe in a spiritual witness, but rather we have to trust our Pastors, theologians, scholars, translators of Bibles, and anything except God’s ability to reveal to us directly.

    I don’t know Evangelicals that trust pastors, theologians, scholars, or Bible translators. Evangelicals trust that God is powerful enough to preserve His Word and to build His Church. His Word is powerful and speaks to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. I experience the Holy Spirit working in my life on a daily basis, but He especially speaks to me through His Word.

    Actually, I think the LDS view of discerning truth is way too simplistic. I take a more complicated view that involves counterfeit spirits. Every religion has a spiritual component. Otherwise they would just be social clubs.

    What causes people to be so convinced of their religion that they are willing to run planes into world trade centers? Because they have believed lies and are deceived by evil spirits.

  16. April 28, 2009 1:09 am

    MadChemist said, She wants to show that just as most mainstream LDS ignore the faith claims of the Strangeites, so do most Christians (in her opinion) ignore the faith claims of the LDS.

    Actually, I didn’t think of it in those terms but now that you mention it it’s not a half-bad comparison really. I think for the average Evangelical there is a lot of truth to this. But it’s not because they are trusting in their pastors. It’s because they feel they already have heard the truth directly from God, they are experiencing a real, authentic relationship with Him, and they don’t see that Mormonism has anything great to offer them.

  17. April 28, 2009 1:13 am

    MC,

    I know many Evangelicals who say God has told them through the Holy Spirit their faith is true.

    In addition, I know of Evangelicals who have prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and the LDS Church is true and say that God has told them it is false and to stay in their faith.

    I know Jehovah’s Witnesses who say God has told them their Church is true.

    I know Muslims who say Allah has told them their faith is true.

    You say that God has told you through the Holy Spirit the LDS Church is true.

    Why is your witness of truth any more reliable than the others? How do you know your’s is a true spirit of God and not a false spirit. Obviously, with the different faith claims of these different religions they cannot ALL be the truth faith. Many of their claims are too different for them ALL to be true. If Allah is God and Islam is true than Christianity is utterly false. If Mormonism is true than many of the teachings of Christianity are false and if Protestant Christianity is true than the LDS Church is not, as you say, the only true church on the face of the earth. Etc, etc, etc.

    The Bible tells us that false spirits will go about to deceive. How do you know the spirit that told you your faith is true is not a deceiving spirit?

    Darrell

  18. April 28, 2009 1:21 am

    “That difference, is LDS believe that they can find out the truth from God, whereas most Evangelicals I’ve talked to don’t believe in a spiritual witness, but rather we have to trust our Pastors, theologians, scholars, translators of Bibles, and anything except God’s ability to reveal to us directly.”

    MC,

    I could easily take a play out of your book and tell you to “stick to explaining your own religion and avoid trying to explain ours”. Because, as you like to say, with the above mischaracterization you are demonstrating how you have a seat on the “short bus”. 🙂

    Darrell

  19. MadChemist permalink
    April 28, 2009 1:49 am

    Jessica,
    I’m glad I was able to read your mind 🙂 I’m sorry if you think I see the world too simplistically and naively. Jesus said “ask and ye shall receive” or “let him ask of God if you lack wisdom.” and silly me, I take him seriously on it. I guess this can be just one more instance where the Evangelical gets mad at (is jealous of?) the Mormons because of their faith in Christ, they believe Him too much. How ironic.

    Darrell: you ask:
    “Why is your witness of truth any more reliable than the others? ”
    I haven’t received other people’s answers, I’ve only received my own. Have you ever read Lessing’s “Nathan the Wise.” ? I’d defintely recommend it. After you have, maybe we can talk about the parable of the ring. Reading a synopsis is not worth it, read the book, or at least the parable yourself.

    I’ve met only one Evangelical who has claimed to have had a revelation that their own Church was right, and that Mormonism was not. I said, I was willing to take his word at face value (without accusing him of hearing from a deceptive spirit). I don’t believe he has received a revelation like that, but I didn’t tell him that. I did take the time to point out that he could either claim to have received a revelation or not, but he couldn’t claim to have had a revelation and still say all revelation is from the devil.

    Jesus told us what his spirit would do, it would bring a rememberance and testify of truth. Paul told us what the fruits of the spirit are. I don’t think the devil can fake the fruits of the spirit. I know that he can fake appear as an angel of light too, but I don’t think he can fake the gifts of the spirit. I think that everyone can agree that, right or wrong, each individual is responsible to learn to hear that voice, and learn to understand who’s there.

  20. MadChemist permalink
    April 28, 2009 1:59 am

    Darrell,
    Are you trying to tell me that most Evangelicals believe they can receive revelation like the LDS do. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I was simply explaining “most Evangelicals I’ve talked to don’t believe in a spiritual witness.”
    I haven’t noticed it talking to the Evangelicals here. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I’ve never heard any Evangelicals talk about spiritual experiences in anything but a dismissive and negative manner. If I’m wrong, I’d love to hear it. I’m not lecturing ‘gellies on their beliefs Darrel, but as I mentioned before, out of the hundreds of Evangelicals I’ve ever spoken to, I’ve only heard 1 claim a spiritual confirmation of their religion choice. Statistically, it doesn’t seem like a significant percentage that do. I have met some wonderful, spiritual Evangelicals, btw, just not any who believe because of a spiritual experience.

  21. April 28, 2009 3:22 am

    MC,

    Almost every EV I know speaks about spiritual experiences and the vast majority I know will tell you that at least part of their belief in Christianity is due to spiritual experiences and “answers”. The difference between Christians and Mormons lies in how we judge the spirits. Christians believe that any “spirit” that is from God will not give you an answer or confirmation that violates what God has previously told us. That is one of the ways we can tell if a spirit is from God… by comparing what the spirit tells us with what God has already revealed. Many of the “revelations” that Mormonism claims are true violate what God has previously revealed and that is why I believe Mormonism is false. That is also how I can say the spirits who have spoken to…

    1. JW’s
    2. Mormons
    3. Muslims
    4. Stangites
    5. New Age Movements

    Etc, etc. etc.

    …telling them their faiths are true are not from God. They are deceiving spirits as they are revealing as true things which violate what God has already told us. God will not change… He will not tell us something today and “change His mind” about it tomorrow.

    You never really answered my question… how do you know the spirit that has told you Mormonism is true is from God? Could you not be deceived? Perhaps the spirit that has spoken to me is true or the spirit that has spoken to the Strangites is true? I know a Muslim who has told me that Allah has told him his faith is the only true faith. This man displays the fruits of the spirit VERY ABUNDANTLY. So, perhaps the Muslim faith is the only true faith? In addition, I have another friend who is involved in the New Age movement… his works are some of the most loving I have ever seen. Could the New Age movement be the only true church? My point is this… if you rely on good works/fruits as the ONLY test to judge spirits by you are leaving a large part of what The Bible tells us out and you are really left open to being severely misguided. Satan is very cunning and he can and will mask himself to deceive. He has done it very well in many of the “isms”… Mormonism included.

    By what OBJECTIVE standard do you judge spirits? You can’t trust your own heart… as The Bible tells us, it can deceive you.

    Darrell

  22. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 3:53 am

    Mad Chemist will henceforth be known as psychochemiker.

    Darrell:
    I invited you to first read the parable of the ring, and am now providing you a place to do that. After you read that, (which I also recommend to all my blogging friends here: Jack, Jessica, NChristine, Tom, Gundeck) we can return to this.

    http://psychochemiker.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/hello-world/

    Huge props to Jack for helping (and offering her help) to learn this blog stuff. Suggestions welcome.

  23. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 4:04 am

    Darrel, I can only say that I trust that Jesus told me the truth, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I can trust Paul when he told me the “fruits of the spirit” were “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    meekness, and temperance.” The Bible never gives us an objective test: the word objective is never written. I simply reject that there is a clear objective formula, and suggest that it’s meant to be a learning process where we learn to commune with God and learn truth from Him through His spirit.

    While I agree that Satan is cunning, and good at deceiving, I feel you are on unbiblica grounds when you suggest satan can immitate the true gifts of the spirit. Remember what Jesus said when the Pharisees accused him of being in league with the devil? Their argument is no different than your own. My answer is no different than Jesus’. The Bible doesn’t tell us Satan can imitate love. He doesn’t comprehend it. He doesn’t grasp the light, just like you do not comprehend my faith, which is firmly taught by Mormonism.

  24. April 28, 2009 4:42 am

    Psycho,

    I like the new name! I read the parable of the ring. Thank you for the link and I look forward to you explaining how you believe it applies to our current conversation.

    “While I agree that Satan is cunning, and good at deceiving, I feel you are on unbiblica grounds when you suggest satan can immitate the true gifts of the spirit.”

    I never said he could give you the TRUE gifts of the spirit… however, I do believe he is very crafty and cunning and can provide an immitation. What you are saying does not match up with reality. Look around you at all the different “religions”. There are many, many FALSE relgions (even by your standards) that APPEAR to give people peace, comfort, happiness, meekness, etc. These religions do this all the while denying Jesus is the Christ. Have you not ever met a Muslim who is very peaceful, meek and loving? You know not all of them fly planes into buildings. The vast majority of them and very peaceful and kind yet they will completely deny that Jesus is the Christ. The peace and love they display, while very real, is not a result of the fruit of the spirit.

    How do you know that the peaceful feeling you have is not really your heart deceiving you? Perhaps mother told us so often that we are supposed to believe “x” and as a result our hearts and minds are deceiving us into believing it. Is it any wonder that the majority of the world stays the religion they were raised in until the day they die? Could their hearts be deceicing them?

    Using the “fruits of the spirit” as your ONLY standard for judging truth is woefully inadequate and leaves you open to deception. While I believe it is a valid “part” of the test it is not the “only” part of the test. The Bible gives us several other ways to judge the truthfulness of spirit and prophecy. God has also given us His word in The Bible to judge spirits and prophecy by. He has told us in The Bible that “prophecy is subject to previous prophecy” and “not one jot or tittle will pass away until all is fulfilled”. We must compare what a spirit says with God’s accurate word, The Bible, and if it does not line up we can know it is false. Even though it may make us “feel good” or give us what appear to be a “fruit of the spirit” it is false. Again, our hearts can deceive us and we may “want” something to be true so badly that we deceive ourselves into believing we have received a “burning in the bosom”.

    I pray you will consider this.

    Have a good night!!

    Darrell

  25. NChristine permalink
    April 28, 2009 4:46 am

    MC…or psychoC…or whatever: 🙂

    Jesus said “ask and ye shall receive” or “let him ask of God if you lack wisdom.” and silly me, I take him seriously on it.

    Neither of these verses is talking about how to determine what is true. The former verse was spoken by Jesus in the context of teaching on prayer (Mt. 7:8-11). You seem to be a very logical person–does it seem logical that God would answer a prayer as to whether something is true when His Word already says clearly that it isn’t? I don’t get up in the morning and ask God whether or not I should steal something that day. I already know that I should not, based on His already-revealed truth.

    The latter verse (James 1:5) is in the context of teaching on trials–i.e., wisdom for enduring trials. It is not talking about asking God how to know if something is true. These scriptures do not support the LDS methodology for determining truth.

    If we have no biblical basis for this particular LDS method of determining one’s epistemology, then what basis is there? We are left with circular reasoning: This method of determining truth is true because…I believe it is true. I suppose one could add more circular reasoning for support: LDS Scriptures tell me this is a valid method of determining what is true. How do I know that LDS Scriptures are true? Because I used their method of determining truth in order to determine that they were true. This is not a valid way to determine what is true!

  26. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 12:20 pm

    I think PC would be a good nickname for the double-meaning psychochemiker.

    NChristine:
    While I agree with you about the context of the two scriptures I’ve quoted, I don’t see how that invalidates my point. Jesus said, when we ask in prayer, we’ll receive what we righteously seek. Is it wrong for me to ask God what the truth is? No. We were commanded to ask Him in James 1:5. So if I’m commanded to ask Him, and I ask Him in prayer, is it wrong for me to apply His promise? No. Further, if you believe that the Spirit will teach you the truth, is it wrong to rely on proven effects of the Spirit? I don’t think so.

    I can agree with some of the arguments about making it solely an emotional feeling. The problem for me, is that I hear Evangelicals saying everything is to be trusted above God’s revelation (other than the written text of the Bible). This happens when scholarly opinion, non-biblical Evangelical interpretations, non-biblical creeds, are placed above the Bible, and above God’s ability to give revelation to us. I would answer, that I don’t feel the LDS revelations contradict the Bible, but they certainly contradict Evangelical pastors, creeds, and some scholars. Therefore, I have no problem contradicting non-biblical things.

    It would be a double standard to say, you aren’t allowed to use formula’s found in new material.
    When the scribes and pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him where he got His authority, he didn’t say apply the test located in Isaiah. He gave a new formula, John 7:17. So given Jesus’ precedent, I have no problem using a previously unknown formula (even if I don’t think it was unknown).

  27. April 28, 2009 1:55 pm

    PC,

    IMO, it is wrong to place the creeds or scholarly opinion above the authority of The Bible. I do not do this nor do I personally know ANY Ev who does. Perhaps there are some out there but they are wrong. In my church our Pastor repeatedly appeals to the authority of scripture. He tells us to compare what he shares with us with The Bible and if we ever find him in error to tell him so..

    In addition, I believe it is just as wrong to place a “personal witness” above the authority of The Bible and unfortunately, this is exactly what Mormonism does. The spirit which confirms the truth of Mormonism is a false spirit because many of the teachings for which it is bearing wtiness do not line up with what God has already told us in The Bible. I have challenged numerous LDS on their doctrines by appealing to The Bible and many times they will resort to telling me “The Bible is not reliable because it has been changed” and instead they are relying on what “the spirit” has told them.

    As I have demonstrated, people from all different religions have appealed to “spiritual confirmations” or “personal witnesses” as the basis for belief. They cannot all be right. So, how is one to determine which one is correct? You have still not answered this question. Why is your spiritual confirmation that Mormonism is true correct and my answer from God that Mormonism is false incorrect? By what objective standard can you judge this? Your appeal to the fruits of the spirit does not work. I, as well as others including those of non-Christian faith, can appeal to those as well.

    If you cannot provide something more than a spiritual confirmation to determine truth than you really have no basis upon which to judge whether another person’s beliefs are right or wrong. If you are relying soley upon a spiritual confirmation yousrself than you cannot tell a Muslim their faith is in a false God if they have received an answer from “God” telling them Islam is true. You have to have something else to base your faith on!

    Darrell

  28. Tom permalink
    April 28, 2009 2:53 pm

    This discussion is humorous to me because LDS say “How do you know that YOUR interpretation of God’s word is the correct one?” There are many widely varying interpretations (even if you exclude the Mormon interpretation).

    You have to have something else to base your faith on!

  29. NChristine permalink
    April 28, 2009 2:59 pm

    PC: Thanks for the comments. What about my question re: praying as to whether I should steal something today (i.e., similar to asking God if something is true when He has already shown that it isn’t)? How could God possibly be expected to answer such a prayer?

  30. April 28, 2009 3:06 pm

    “There are many widely varying interpretations (even if you exclude the Mormon interpretation). ”

    Tom,

    You statement is only partly true. Christians allow for liberty in the non-essentials… should you take communion once a week or once a month, drink alcohol or abstain. In these areas you will find disagreement and we are fine with that. God has not made Himself clear in these areas so who am I to say someone else is wrong. However, in the essentials of the faith God has made Himself terribly clear and in these the Christian community is pretty much united. You will not find much disagreement among Bible believing Christians in this area… Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Non-Denominational, etc… we are pretty much united.

    The Mormon caricature of us “all disagreeing” is just not accurate.

    Darrell

  31. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 4:46 pm

    Darrel,
    Yeah, uh, you all agree completely about Faith vs Works.
    You all agree what date Easter should be held on.
    You all agree what kind of priesthood is held.
    You all agree the same thing about all of the ordinances.
    You all agree about the nature of God.
    NOT.

    The only thing you all agree on is that Mormonism is wrong.
    There are many many many different Christians beliefs out there and until you all recognize that your beliefs do not define all of Christianity, all of the Bible, or all truth.
    No text exists without interpretation, or are all the women truly silent in your church, Darrell?
    Because if you really let the text speak for itself, that’s what it says. You’ve probably (hopefully) interpreted that into something else.
    If you haven’t, you’re probably on Jack’s assasination list (for religious heretics, j/k).
    If you have, you’ve interpreted the text. I’m OK allowing you the right to interpret the text, but I’m not OK placing your personal, non-authoritative interpretation as equalling the word of God. Disagreeing with your interpretation of the Word of God is not the same as contradicting the word of God.

  32. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 4:48 pm

    I forgot Baptism, mode of worship, whether all the non-believers are saved or damned, whether the United States is being punished because of their view of homosexuality, oh and let’s not forget the current Episcopalian debate about homosexualiity. You all agree.

    I have a feeling, Darrell, that there are very few people with whom you fully agree on what it is to be a good Christian.

  33. April 28, 2009 5:38 pm

    PC,

    Sorry but you really are uninformed on this issue and you are not understanding what I am saying. I realize there are differences within Evangelical Christianity and I WELCOME THOSE DIFFERENCES. Some are more Arminian and some more Calvanistic… I am FINE with that and admit it!! The items we disagree on ARE NOT ESSENTIAL DOCTRINES. We allow liberty in those areas. All the items you mentioned as areas of disagreement (with the exception of the nature of God) are non-essentials. So we disagree… who cares!

    As for the nature of God I am sorry but you are simply wrong on this issue. Any Ev who does not hold to the teaching of One God eternally existing in three persons is WRONG. Period. They may claim to be an Ev Christian but their beliefs do not hold up to the faith. That would be much like someone claiming to be LDS but denying that JS was a prophet. They could one in name only however, I doubt very much you would consider them truly LDS.

    Not sure what you mean by Ev’s being in disagreement when it comes to Priesthood… we believe in the Priesthood of All Believers as taught in Peter. I don’t find disagreement in this area among Ev Christians. Sorry!

    The difference between disgreements among Christians and the disagreement between Christians and LDS lies with WHAT DIFFERENCES INVOLVE. Mormons disagree with us on ESSENTIAL DOCTRINES… doctrines that involve salvation and authority.

    BTW, I am still waiting for your answer to my question.

    Have a great day!!

    Darrell

  34. April 28, 2009 6:03 pm

    BTW, I did a post on my blog which touched on all the “supposed disagreements” among us Christians. Feel free to check it out.

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/thoughts-on-this-past-sunday/

    Darrell

  35. faithoffathers permalink
    April 28, 2009 7:31 pm

    Darrell,

    You said, “If you cannot provide something more than a spiritual confirmation to determine truth than you really have no basis upon which to judge whether another person’s beliefs are right or wrong.”

    I could not disagree more. Consider these verses from the New Testament on the subject:

    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

    “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:16

    “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. ” John 16:13

    “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26

    How did ancient prophets learn truth? How did Peter know Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God?

    I find the debate over faith vs. works between evangelicals and mormons very interesting in contrast with the current issue. EVs find it blasphemous to suggest that works have any role in obtaining salvation (oversimplication, I know). Yet, the same folks will claim we cannot rely completely on God to know His truth. Interesting paradox, don’t you think?

    But you are right about one thing here Darrell- humanity is left wondering who is right? You suggest that this question is answered by relying on something “other than spiritual confirmation.” My question is- how has that worked out? It is no better at narrowing all the available choices down to one obvious, clear answer for all people. In other words, which route will result in the least amount of confusion and the most clarity in answering the question of which church or religion is true?

    fof

  36. April 28, 2009 8:07 pm

    FOF,

    I agree with all of the verses you cited. As I mentioned, I do believe the spirit testifies to truth. The question is HOW DO YOU KNOW THE SPIRIT WHICH TESTIFIED TO YOU IS A TRUE SPIRIT FROM GOD? As 1 John 4:1 tells us, there are deceiving spirits about and we should not trust every spirit.

    We are supposed to test the spirit which we are receiving the answer from. One of the ways to do this is by the fruit that it bears. However, that is NOT ALL. We are also supposed to compare it’s revelation to previous revelation. As The Bible tells us “prophecy is subject to previous prophecy” and God’s word will not change. We should rely on what God has already told us and realize that He will not reveal something today which contradicts what He previously revealed.

    One should also bear in mind the commandment to “love The Lord with all our heart, soul and MIND”. How can you love God with all your mind if you check it at the door and rely soley on a feeling? This really opens one up to deception. Spirits can fool us by ministering to us and deceiving our hearts. We need to use ALL THREE… HEART, SOUL and MIND. That is the formula God has given us.

    We can know the truth by following what The Bible has told us to do. God’s formula which involves studying God’s word (The Bible), spending time with Him in prayer and comparing what we believe with The Bible. If it does not match up with The Bible than it is false.

    “But you are right about one thing here Darrell- humanity is left wondering who is right?”

    Correct… if a spirit has told you “x” is true and a spirit has told me “x” is false, how are we to judge which one is right? We have both received answers that we believe are from God but they are completely DIFFERENT answers. God would not tell one of us the Mormon Church is true and the other that it is a lie… if so, He is not being truthful with one of us. At least ONE of the spirits is a deceiving spirit. So, how are we to judge which one is right?

    “How has this worked out?”

    I think fairly well. It could be better but I am not going to judge God. He is sovereign and I am not. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world…. a third of the world. Most agree on the essentials but we certainly allow liberty in the non-essentials. That is pretty good if you ask me.

    Darrell

  37. April 28, 2009 8:11 pm

    “…which church or religion is true?”

    Simple! Christ’s Church is true. His Church is not a manmade organization that one must adhere to. It’s roles are kept in The Lamb’s Book of Life and is made up of all of the true believers in the true Jesus Christ. Those who have a saving relationship with Him… whether they be Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Non-Denominational, etc.

    Darrell

  38. psychochemiker permalink
    April 28, 2009 10:34 pm

    Darrel,
    We had a language disconnect.
    When I use the word Christian or hear the word Christian, I do not mentally replace it with Evangelicals as you obviously have and do.
    I use the universalist, dictionary definition of Christian, not the exclusionary, self-serving, and specialized defintion of Evangelical.

  39. April 28, 2009 11:56 pm

    PC,

    I use the word Ev because I consider myself Evangelical. And occasionally will use the word interchangeably. Sorry for the confusion… I meant nothing self serving about it. It is just the way I talk. One does not have to be an Ev to be considered a Christian in my opinion. All that is required is to be following the true Jesus Christ and to have a living relationship with Him. It does not involve a membership in any church or denomination.

    God Bless.

    Just curious… are you going to answer my question?

    Darrell

  40. Exitmusic permalink
    April 29, 2009 12:06 am

    Darrell,
    Just for clarification, since I haven’t had time to read all of the comments: what is your question for PC?

  41. April 29, 2009 12:52 am

    Exit,

    See these two posts…

    April 28, 2009 at 4:42 am

    and

    April 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    God bless.

    Darrell

  42. psychochemiker permalink
    April 29, 2009 1:30 am

    Fair enough, Darrell.
    My entire response was built on the differences within Christianity.
    You responded by calling me uninformed about the unity within Evagelicsm.

    I don’t think you’re asking a very good question. It is a leading question, that makes certain assumptions that I do not make. I’m fairly astute at picking up people’s ulterior motives in conversation (as we’ve seen), even when those motives are subconscious to one individual. If I feel like the questions are trying to manipulate an answer, I usually avoid answering them as posed. Sometimes it takes me a little bit of time to figure out an appropriate way to answer that I feel is true to how I feel, and still be acting correctly.

    Why is your spiritual confirmation that Mormonism is true correct and my answer from God that Mormonism is false incorrect?
    I have not received your answer Darrell, so I would have no idea how to judge it. Phrases like “I cannot read a sealed book.” jump into my head. Quite frankly, the view I take of inspiration is quite nuanced. I think people can misinterpret the revelations they receive, while still receive a true revelation. There is a possibility, that you did receive a good revelation, but you, like I have, have colored your revelation by your worldview, by your prejudices, fallen intellect, and weakness. I dont’ have access to your revelation, and therefore cannot evaluate it. I have access to a subset of your actions, your words, your reasoning, and they do not match the data I’ve received through my life or from the Bible. Therefore, I’m truly agnostic about your revelations, even while I reject your conclusions.
    I hope Jessica can recognize that my views on revelation are neither simplistic nor naive, but fairly nuanced. What I am unwilling to budge on, is whether God can reveal the truth to us. My God is big enough to do that. I will not limit Him simply because a pastor, creed, or evangelizer tells me I have to.

    Darrell. You are free to reject the fruits of the spirit. I find that a dangerous proposition. The Spirit trumps human concepts and reasoning in my mind. I’m not going to give up the Spirit of God just because Darrel is unconvinced. I remain unconvinced by the “You can’t trust what God reveals to you” argument.

    I do not need to provide any information for anyone else to judge my beliefs as right or wrong. Christ didn’t say that my purpose was to provide objective reasons for anyone. Peter was told that the Father revealed Jesus’ true identity as the Christ. That’s not data that withstands “objective” reasoning. If Peter were commenting on this board, I could imagine Darrel telling Peter, “How can I objectively know that you know that Jesus is the Christ, and don’t try to pulll any of that ‘God revealed it to me’ crap, I want objective evidence.” Please tell me I’m wrong, but that’s the reception, and feeling I get from talking to you.

    Further, I do not need to tell any muslims that faith is in a false God, regardless of any faith claims they have. That’s not was Christ called any of us to do. He’s called us to be His witnesses, to share our belief in His reality, divinity, and salivific powers. For LDS, it also includes sharing our testimony of the things we have that you don’t, but our purpose isn’t to damn others, or tell them they worship the wrong God, or in the wrong way, or anything other to invite them and teach them what we believe the truth is.

    You have to have something else to base your faith on!

    .
    So says Darrell. My reading of the Bible doesn’t lead me to the same conclusions as Darrell.

  43. April 29, 2009 2:49 am

    PC,

    Thank you for your response. Listed below are a few responses I have along with further questions.

    “There is a possibility, that you did receive a good revelation, but you, like I have, have colored your revelation by your worldview, by your prejudices, fallen intellect, and weakness”

    The possibility also exists, and is even stated within The Bible, that one of us is receiving an answer from a false spirit. Are you willing to concede this as a possibility?

    “You are free to reject the fruits of the spirit.”

    Again, you are misunderstanding my position. I do NOT reject the fruits of the spirit. I simply hold, as The Bible teaches, that they are not the ONLY part of the method of determining truth. Does that make sense? As I mentioned more than once, The Bible also tells us to judge prophecy by previous prophecy. God will not contradict Himself. He will not tell you one thing today and change it tomorrow. You must judge what you are told by comparing it to The Bible.

    “The Spirit trumps human concepts and reasoning in my mind.”

    We have been commanded to love The Lord with all our heart, soul and MIND. The spirit will reveal truth yet you can always use your mind to approach God. The two are not mutually exclusive. In addition, given the fact that you have been warned in The Bible about deceiving spirits it would be advisable to use the tools God has given you (your mind and His reliable unchanging Word) to make sure you are not being led by a false spirit.

    “I remain unconvinced by the “You can’t trust what God reveals to you” argument.”

    Once again, not my argument. My position is you can trust what GOD reveals to you however, how do you know the spirit which has revealed it to you is from GOD? If a spirit which I believe is from God tells me to go and blow up the local Wal-Mart should I do it? By the standard you appear to be holding I absolutely should because the spirit trumps reasoning.

    “Further, I do not need to tell any muslims that faith is in a false God, regardless of any faith claims they have. That’s not was Christ called any of us to do.”

    I tend to disagree with you. Christ absolutely did tell people when they were on the wrong path and we have been called by the great commission to take the message of Christ into all the world. Sometimes that involves demonstrating to people they are following false gods. Of course we should do this in a loving manner. Yet if we are unwilling to do it I would venture to say we are falling severely short on our calling. Some might even say we are unloving b/c we are willing to sit back and watch people perish.

    PC, you still have failed to answer my question. How do you know the spirit you are listening to is from God? Spirits have told some Islam is true, others JW is true, others that Mormonism is true, etc, etc, etc. The Bible has warned us there are deceiving spirits about yet you continue to talk as if all of these different spiritual witnesses are from God and just miscontrued by us humans. Are you unwilling to admit there are deceiving spirits? If not (and I truly hope not as The Bible has warned us about them), how do you KNOW the spirit you are listening to is a true spirit from God?

    Darrell

  44. psychochemiker permalink
    April 29, 2009 3:30 am

    Before you get too high on that horse, Darrel, please recognize that I have asked several questions in these comments that you have simply ignored. If I were to continually harp on them, I’d look like a fool. Get me drift?

    I know the spirit I listen to is the right one because as I learn more about the teachings of my Church, my desire to become even more like my Savior increases. The times when I am served the most in the Church I felt the most love from God, for God, and for my fellow men. When I am with my fellow Saints, I feel love and peace. As I read any of the LDS standard works (including but not limited to the Bible), I feel my faith in Jesus as both the Son of God and as our Savior grow. I also feel challenged, challenged for more humility and patience and charity, more obedience to God, and meekness to my fellow men.

    I’ll let you in on a secret, Darrell. The individual actions of some LDS people sickens me in they treat others. Collectively, the people at many Evangelical churches sicken me at how the treat people theologically. (And I’m sure for others the roles could be reversed). When I try and understand your faith, I do not feel the love of God coming through you, or Jessica, or NChristine. I feel emnity. I believe emnity is the fruit of pride, and not a fruit of the spirit. While sometimes I feel a disrespect from Jack, I don’t feel emnity. I don’t say this to judge any of you, nor do I feel that any of you, on the whole, are filled with hatred or emnity or pride, at least, no more than any Mormon I’ve met. I’m just letting you know what I perceive, sometimes the messenger’s presentation matters. You asked why I trust my revelation and why I don’t trust yours, That’s why. “By their fruits ye shall know them” Jesus said. And right now, I’ve tasted both fruits, and feel the first brings me closer to Christ, and while some others do come to Christ by your fruit, I don’t feel willing to trade the better for the good. If my life had been different, I can’t say I would have ended up Mormon. I hope so, because there are a lot of things that my family is genetically pre-disposed toward that I’ve been able to avoid because of the knowledge of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know what I know.
    That’s how I had to honestly answer that question. I didn’t want to, but you pressed, and you got it.

  45. Stephanie permalink
    April 29, 2009 4:20 am

    psychochemiker,

    I’ll confess to being a lurker on this board for quite sometime. I’ve read many of your well thought-out posts and have been so encouraged to see an active, seeking mind. I’m an evangelical Christian who has a great deal of love towards LDS. I’m sorry that your perception of Christianity is that we haven’t been showing the fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps my perception is wrong, but I don’t see the animosity and enmity that you see in posters on this board. I see people that are greatly concerned about your spiritual condition.

    Your posts tend to lean heavily towards logical/linear type arguments. I can see that perhaps you have a very analytical mind. However, in reading your responses I have noticed that your beliefs in Mormonism cause you to have somewhat of a “double mind.” On the one hand you strive earnestly to intellectually articulate your position with facts and details. And yet, on the other hand you base your beliefs upon emotional feelings. You accept Mormonism based upon a feeling you received and you reject Evangelical Christianity partially based upon your perception of its members treatment of you. I hope you don’t take that offensively, for I certainly don’t mean it that way. I just have wanted to point that out to you for sometime.

  46. NChristine permalink
    April 29, 2009 4:57 am

    PC,

    I do many things wrong. I do not, though, feel that I have enmity toward you—not at all. I have found myself praying for you off and on the past couple of days…and I have never even met you. Last night I literally sat up praying and worrying for several minutes before going to bed because I was concerned that a response I had just posted to you—intended to probe the issues as I perceived them—might be misinterpreted or cause offense. Because I believe in an eternal hell, I blog or converse ultimately because I am motivated by the description of the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20, after which all who are not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. It is in light of this that I participate in discussions with those of other faiths—because I long for them to escape the wrath the scriptures say is coming on all who have not taken refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ alone to escape the judgment we all deserve. It is so hard to convey personal feelings and motives on a blog, and perhaps this comment will not convey what I intend, either…. 🙂

  47. April 29, 2009 7:35 am

    PC ~ While sometimes I feel a disrespect from Jack, I don’t feel emnity.

    I hate all y’all.

    In all seriousness, I’m not really that nice of a person, at least not in my head. I’ve probably grumbled something negative about every person here. If you don’t get that in my writing, it’s because I’ve had years of practicing restraint to keep it in check. I’ve written on my blog about how awful my father was, but as much as I hate to admit it, in a lot of ways I am my father’s daughter and every bit as much of a [word that technically means illegitimate child] as he is. The difference is, I figured that out and have worked to keep it in check. He kind of just lets it all out, though he’s gotten better since his granddaughter was born.

    OTOH, I do think that Darrell, Jessica, Gloria and NChristine mean well and would sit down and have a (non-alcoholic) drink with anyone here should we meet in real life. Jessica especially always impresses me with her ability to be perpetually nice to people even when they clearly are laying into her.

    Point of all this being, don’t give me too much credit.

    We don’t always agree, but I’m glad you come around, PC. I look forward to reading your blog.

  48. psychochemiker permalink
    April 29, 2009 12:51 pm

    I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve never met loving Evangelicals before. I’m sure if I could sit down and meet any of you it’d be easier to see that love. And I’ve even met Christians where the spirit was more active in their lives than many Mormons I know. They exude love for their Savior and their fellow men. But even those wonderful and loving Christians haven’t been able to show that I would feel more of the spirit in their faith tradition than my own.

    I know some people who are very loving and Christlike. We all have good and bad. My post wasn’t trying to denigrate anyone, I just felt pushed, pushed further than a loving response to a “too honest one.”

    I don’t have great expectations for my blog, but thanks anyway Jack. I’ll probably use it more of a place to put my source material, and longer jabberings.

    Stephanie.
    I do recognize the disconnect between the “logical side and the emotional side.”
    Maybe I could explain my worldview. I’m a PhD student, in Chemistry, where everything I do is objective logical working. Unfortunately, I also believe, that human logic, left to it’s own devices disproves God. I’m not saying it really does this, but it selectively excludes the data that let’s us know there is a God. I think, maybe God made a world in which it is “logical” to be agnostic, and faithful to “believe.” I can’t logically prove God’s existence, but I know He exists. I can’t logically prove He loves me, yet sometimes, what I feel is overpowering. I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome my own disconnect between logic/emotion, But I know that I don’t claim a perfectly logical theology, and don’t require others to switch their faith just because I’m more logical. When I see attacks on my faith that don’t use good data reduction, I can attack the method, because in reality I’m not using that method. So for me, and my viewpoint, that’s the difference.

    In the end, I render my faith unto God, and use the logic He gave me to understand this world and Universe He created. Be patient with me as I find the right balance. If you have any suggestions, I’d be welcome to hear them.

    Oh, and it’s OK to lurk for a while. The longer you listen, the less likely you are to make the mistakes the rest of us do. 🙂 Eventually, you’ll find issues or comments that you want to express, and probably start your own eventually. But welcome Stephanie.

  49. April 29, 2009 3:53 pm

    PC,

    Thank you for responding. I really appreciate your honesty.

    I hold no enmity towards anyone on this blog or anyone in general for that matter. My purpose in being here and speaking out about the LDS Church is to help those who are lost. I have a great love for the LDS people as I myself was lost in legalism and bondage for years. I believe God has given me the experience of leaving Mormonism to better enable me to reach others. I feel nothing but love for you PC and I apologize if anything I say comes across as attacking you personally. I will never hesitate to call the LDS Faith what it is… however, I would never mean to attack you personally. I am certainly not the best writer (in fact I am pretty poor at it) so I can imagine that some of my comments might not come across the way I intend them. If you could hear me speak the words I imagine they would not sound that way.

    PC, my experiences during my last 6 years in the LDS Church could easily lead me to judge the Mormon Church in the same manner you speak of. When I started struggling with my Mormon faith is 2001 there were several people who judged me. Please understand at this point I believed the church was true however, I was struggling with some doctrinal issues and I reached out for help. When this came to light there were people who labeled me as “unrighteous”, “a sinner”, “under the influence of satan”, etc.. I could have easily taken this treatment to mean the LDS Church as a whole is false. My Christian friends, who knew NOTHING about my questioning of the LDS Church never judged me for being a Mormon yet my Mormon “friends” were judging me for having questions about the Mormon Church. It was a really strange place to be in. Does that, in and of itself, mean the LDS Church is false?

    My point is simply this… IMO, using ONLY the “By their fruits” test is not complete. For this same test can be turned around on you. I feel the spirit much more abundantly NOW in my church than I ever felt while Mormon. Since leaving the Mormon Church we have had some LDS friends visit our church and they have expressed how strong “the spirit” is in our worship services. Some have even gone so far as to say the spirit they feel in our church is much stronger and more wonderful than anything they have felt in the LDS Church. They also say the people are much more friendly that their Mormon friends. Does that, in and of itself, mean the LDS Church is false?

    The simple answer to this is “of course not”. You cannot look at a feeling and a feeling ALONE to tell you whether a church is true. “By their fruits” is only part of the test. You are leaving a lot of what God has told us out and that leaves you susceptible to the false spirits. I am not trying to bagger you here but you did not answer one of my questions in your previous post and I am really curious about this. Do you believe there are false spirits about who try and deceive? And if so, are you willing to concede the possibility exists that one of us is being deceived by a false spirit?

    Also, if there are any questions I have left unanswered I will be happy to try and address them. I do not intentionally avoid questions. Just remind me of them!

    Thanks and God Bless!!

    Darrell

  50. April 29, 2009 3:59 pm

    PC,

    Based upon your worldview I would like to recommend a book to you. You may have already read it but if not, pick it up. You might really enjoy it. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek.

    Also, have you checked out any of the info on Intelligent Design?

    Darrell

  51. NChristine permalink
    April 29, 2009 7:09 pm

    PC,

    Another book that I have often thought of as something you might really connect with is On the Reliability of the Old Testament by Kitchen. I purchased it not long ago and was very impressed both with its treatment and its subject matter (and its readability and interest level). It is about 1.5 inches thick and chock full of data from which you can draw your own conclusions.

  52. psychochemiker permalink
    April 30, 2009 1:20 pm

    Dear All:
    Thank you for your reading suggestions.

    I’ve just finished my first “real” post (and by real, I mean not just quoting someone elses work, but including my own thoughts and analysis). Here are my “Thoughts on the Parable of the Ring”.

    I write so much slower than you all, and pretty much had to ignore everything else. I don’t know how you all manage to right such intelligent and thought provoking posts. It’s harder than it looks, but thank you for inspiring me to try it. I don’t expect high visitor numbers or a high yield of posts, but this looks like a fun endeavor.

  53. rickhurd permalink
    June 13, 2009 2:37 pm

    On April 27, 2009 Whitney wrote: “Holy crap, someone call Rick Hurd. This kind of post is what he LIVES for.”

    No calls please, but my email address is ricksindexing@hotmail.com. I try to respond to anyone who is sincerely seeking truth.

    It is not what I LIVE for, but I do believe that the calling of Joseph Smith Jr. and James J. Strang were the most important historical events of the last 2000 years. To me, it is sweeter than the sweetest wine, and more beautiful that the most beautiful woman, which I just can’t seem to get enough of; for it is truth, and truth is what any honest person seeks.

    Before I begin, I want to make clear that I am not connected with, nor am I promoting any church. I think of churches in the same way I do mosquitoes, and try to avoid them all, which is almost impossible to do so. It is not my intent to convince those who have no ear for truth, but hope my efforts convey a message for those who are seeking truth and understanding.

    There are at least two churches that have descended from James J. Strang. One of them has a website at Strangite.org and claims to be “The Original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” The other, called “THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS (STRANGITES), has its headquarters in Artesia, New Mexico (P.O. Box 522 Artesia, New Mexico). I have heard that there are others located outside the USA, but have no contact information on any of them.

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
    established.” (Matthew 18:16.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1.)

    “And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be
    established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which
    shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the
    Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record-and all this shall
    stand as a testimony against the world at the last day”. (Ether 4:4.)

    “…I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them
    that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three God hath
    said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more
    witnesses, and he proveth all his words”. (2 Nephi 11-3.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 6:28.)

    “*REVELATION. The Angel of the Lord came unto me, James, on the first
    day of September, in the year eighteen hundred and fortyfive, and the
    light Shined about him above the brightness of the sun, and he showed
    unto me the plates of the sealed record, and he gave into my hands the Urim and Thummin. And out of the light came the voice of the Lord,
    saying, My servant James, in blessing I will bless thee, and in
    multiplying I will multiply thee, because I have tried thee, and found
    thee faithful. Behold, my servant James, I am about to bless thee with
    a great blessing, which shall be to those who love me, an immutable
    testimony; to those who know me not, a stumbling block; but to those
    who have known me, and have turned their hearts from me, a rock of
    offence.

    Go to the place which the Angel of the presence shall show thee, and
    there shalt thou dig for the record of my people, in whose possession
    thou dwellest. Take with thee faithful witnesses; for in evil will the
    unfaithful speak of thee; but the faithful and true shall know that
    they are liars, and shall not stumble for their words.

    And while I was yet in the spirit, the Angel of the Lord took me away
    to the hill in the east of Walworth, against White River, in Voree,
    and there he showed unto me the record buried under an oak tree as
    large as the body of a large man; it was enclosed in an earthen
    casement, and buried in the ground as deep as to a man’s waist, and I
    beheld it as a man can see a light stone in clear water; for I saw it
    by Urim and Thummin.”

    “TESTIMONY. On the thirteenth day of September, 1845, we, Aaron Smith,
    Jirah B. Wheelan, James M. Van Nostrand, and Edward Whitcomb,
    assembled at the call of James J. Strang, who is by us and many others
    approved as a Prophet and Seer of God. He proceeded to inform us that
    it had been revealed to him in a vision that an account of an ancient
    people was buried in a hill south of White River bridge, near the east
    line of Walworth County; and leading us to an oak tree, about one foot
    in diameter, told us that we would find it enclosed in a case of rude
    earthen ware under that tree, at the depth of about three feet;
    requested us to dig it up, and charged us to so examine the ground
    that we should know we were not imposed upon, and that it had not been
    buried there since the tree grew. The tree was surrounded by a sward
    of deeply rooted grass, such as is usually found in the openings; and
    upon the most critical examination, we could not discover any
    indication that it had ever been cut through or disturbed.

    We then dug up the tree, and continued to dig to the depth of about
    three feet, where we found a case of slightly baked clay, containing
    three plates of brass.

    The case was found imbedded in indurated clay, so closely fitting it
    that it broke in taking out; and the earth below the soil was so hard
    as to be dug with difficulty, even with a pickaxe. Over the case was
    found a flat stone, about one foot wide each way, and three inches thick, which appeared to have undergone the action of fire, and fell
    in pieces after a few minutes exposure to the air. The digging
    extended in the clay about eighteen inches, there being two kinds of
    earth of different colour and appearance above it.

    We examined as we dug all the way with the utmost care, and we say,
    with the utmost confidence, that no part of the earth through which we
    dug exhibited any sign or indication that it had been moved or
    disturbed at any time previous. The roots of the tree struck down on
    every side very closely, extending below the case, and closely
    interwoven with roots from other trees. None of them had been broken
    or cut away. No clay is found in the country like that of which the
    case is made.

    In fine, we found an alphabetick and pictorial record, carefully cased
    up, buried deep in the earth, covered with a flat stone, with an oak
    tree one foot in diameter, growing over it, with every evidence that
    the senses can give that it has lain there as long as that tree has
    been growing. Strang took no part in the digging, but kept entirely
    away, from before the first blow was struck till after the plates were
    taken out of the case; and the sole inducement to our digging was our
    faith in his statement as a Prophet of the Lord, that a record would
    thus and there be found.

    AARON SMITH, JIRA B. WHEELAN,
    J. M. VAN NOSTRAND, EDWARD WHITCOMB.”

    To view a facsimile of the plates plates of brass, see the following web address: http://www.strangite.org/Plates.htm

  54. June 15, 2009 6:50 pm

    Rick, it is SUCH a pleasure to see you back in the blogosphere. We’ve missed you.

    I actually have an honest question. You try to avoid churches, and yet you believe that Mister Smith and Mister Strang brought the Truth back to us. Since two churches now claim the Strang tradition, what keeps you from them? If it’s doctrine, why aren’t you starting your own ministry to spread the Truth? If it’s authority that those churches are missing, then what does that say about us humans? I mean, if the Truth can’t last past two generations, even with this sudden onslaught of prophets in the 1800s, is there even a point of having this divine plan?

  55. June 19, 2009 3:27 am

    Rick Hurd, I just want to say that… I think I love you.

  56. June 19, 2009 3:31 am

    more beautiful that the most beautiful woman, which I just can’t seem to get enough of

    You can’t get enough of beautiful women? Sounds like a common problem.

    We’ve missed you, Rick.

  57. rickhurd permalink
    June 21, 2009 12:56 am

    Missed me?…Really?

    To attempt to answer Whitney’s question(s):

    Whitney wrote: “You try to avoid churches, and yet you believe that Mister Smith and Mister Strang brought the Truth back to us.” Answer(s): I believe that Joseph Smith Jr. and James J. Strang were called by God. They did bring back some truth and reveal some more. What they revealed wasn’t all the truth that was lost, nor was it all the truth that will be revealed. Much more is to come.

    Whitney wrote: “Since two churches now claim the Strang tradition, what keeps you from them?” Answer(s): The same thing that keeps me from all churches–priesthood authority, or rather lack thereof.

    Whitney wrote: “If it’s doctrine, why aren’t you starting your own ministry to spread the Truth?” Answer(s): God has not called me to do so. I lack priesthood authority. Besides, who would listen?

    Whitney wrote: “If it’s authority that those churches are missing, then what does that say about us humans? I mean, if the Truth can’t last past two generations, even with this sudden onslaught of prophets in the 1800s, is there even a point of having this divine plan?” Answer(s): I know of only two prophets in the last 2000 years, James J. Strang and Joseph Smith Jr.

    I do not have all the answers. I do not claim to know the mind of God. Without a prophet who can go directly to God and ask questions and receive answers back, than I, like everyone else, can only present theories, and back those theories up with scriptural and historical evidence. The following is only a theory–a theory that has not as yet been disclaimed. I hope it helps to answers questions for those who sincerely seek for truth and understanding:

    I believe that the priesthood authority was reestablished through Joseph Smith Jr., but died out upon the death of James J. Strang, or shortly after his death. Many have quoted the following as “proof” that the priesthood authority remains on earth today:

    D&C 13:1
    1. Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I
    confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the
    ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and
    of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this
    shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of
    Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in
    righteousness.

    First, the above promise was made only for the Aaronic priesthood.
    There is no similar promise anywhere for the Melchizedek priesthood.
    Second, such an “offering” seems to have been made by the Aaronic priesthood on Beaver Island, Michigan, under the administration of
    James Strang, on every July 8 in the years 1852 – 1855 AD.

    Here are two references from the newspaper which was
    published on Beaver Island, the “Northern Islander:”
    Northern Islander, Volume 2, Number 12
    July 8, 1852
    CONFERENCE.
    The General Conference opened the morning of the eighth
    at sun rise, by a most solemn sacrifice. The following
    persons brought victims: …
    Bros. … acted in the Priest’s office, and slew the
    victims.
    The Deacons, … prepared a splendid feast. Tables were
    spread at 1 o’clock for four hundred and eighty-eight
    persons, the families of those that offered. And at the end
    of the feasting the Priest at the head of the table said–
    LORD GOD! I have come into the land which thou gavest to
    thy saints: I have heard thy law, and have entered into
    covenant with thee to keep thy commandments, and I have
    eaten of the sacrifice before thee as a witness forever.

    ——————–
    Northern Islander, Volume 5, Number 5
    July 19, 1855
    CONFERENCE.
    We have not been able to find room for even a synopsis of
    the proceedings of the July Conference in this No. The place
    of meeting was in the splendid Enoch Park, and the first day
    was occupied by the prophet in preaching.
    The morning of the second day, very early, all the heads
    of families came to the place of the sacrifice, and offered
    their victims. Upwards of 200 victims were slain. Preaching
    and eucharist occupied the forenoon, during which the feast
    was prepared, and tables spread in the park, sufficient to
    accommodate the whole assembly.
    We have never seen tables at this place so loaded with
    the good things of the land, and never in any place seen
    such general abundance, and every voice was joyous. Among
    the guests were a large body of Indians. More remained than
    was eaten.
    The Conference continued in session five days, there being two discourses daily, except the last day, which was
    entirely occupied with business.

    Note that the 1852 sacrifice was made by those who “acted in the
    Priest’s office”.
    Therefore, in my opinion, there has been no scriptural impediment to
    the priesthood being entirely removed from the earth. This could have
    happened at any time after 1856.

    Third, there were plain warnings concerning the demise of the church,
    that God’s spirit would be withdrawn from the earth, and that
    priesthood calling would cease:
    D&C 1:33
    33. And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even
    the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not
    always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts.
    D&C 33:3
    3. For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and
    it is the eleventh hour, and the last time that I shall call
    laborers into my vineyard.
    D&C 63:32
    32. I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my
    Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.
    —–
    The word “offering” almost always refers to some kind of a
    “sacrifice”, Genesis 4:4, 8:20, 22:2, 35:14, etc. See D&C 84:31 where
    the expression “offering and sacrifice” is used.
    Annual animal sacrifices were made on Beaver Island in accordance with
    the following revelation:
    Book of the Law of the Lord
    Law 40:3-13
    3. The day that James, the Prophet of God, was established
    King, and sat upon his throne, is a notable day; it shall be
    kept in remembrance forever.
    4. As oft as this day returneth shall all the Saints
    assemble together. It shall be a holy convocation. They
    shall assemble in their Temples, and in their Synagogues,
    and in publick places, to offer a thankoffering, an offering
    of praise unto God, because he has given the Kingdom to the Saints.
    5. The King shall, therefore, offer a heifer, without
    blemish; in the presence of the congregation shall he offer it. In the morning shall he offer it, and the same day shall
    it be eaten: he and his household shall eat of it. Not a
    bone of it shall be broken: they shall eat it with bread,
    and seasoned with herbs.
    6. After this manner shall all the children of the Kingdom
    sacrifice: every man a heifer, or a lamb, or a dove. Every
    man a clean beast, or a clean fowl, according to his
    household.
    7. Ye shall take the victim of the sacrifice which ye shall
    offer, and shall bring it before the Lord in the presence of
    the congregation, and shall bring it to the Priest, and
    shall say,
    8. I profess this day unto the Lord God, that I am come
    into the Kingdom which he promised by the mouth of all the
    Prophets: praised be his name for his glorious goodness, and
    his great power.
    9. And the Priest shall slay the victim, and thou shalt
    say, We were a people, few in number; scattered among our
    enemies: they killed our Prophets, murdered our brethren,
    robbed us of our possessions, and banished us from among
    them; but God has made us a Kingdom: and the fear of us is
    upon those who hate us.
    10. When the Gentiles evilly entreated us, and afflicted
    us, and thrust us out, we cried unto the Lord God of our
    fathers; the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our
    affliction, and sorrow, and homelessness; and he gave us
    this land for an everlasting possession; and hath made us a
    Kingdom: and now have I brought unto him this victim for a
    thankoffering, and a perpetual memorial.
    11. And thou shalt eat of the sacrifice: thou and thy
    household, and thy neighbour; but the stranger, though he
    dwelleth in thy gates, and in thy house, shall not eat of
    it: thou shalt eat it with herbs, and the Priest with thee,
    in the congregation of the Lord; it is a holy convocation,
    and a feast unto the Lord: ye shall do no servile labour
    that day.
    12. And when thou hast eaten, thou shalt say unto the Lord
    thy God, I have come into the land which thou gavest to thy
    Saints: I have heard thy Law, and have entered into covenant
    with thee to keep thy Commandments; and I have eaten of the
    sacrifice before thee as a witness forever.
    13. Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and
    bless us this day, even all the children of thy Kingdom; and
    the land which thou hast given us, and establish us forever.
    Note that they were told to “offer” the above sacrifice, Law 40:4,7. The sacrifice is specifically referred to as an “offering”, Law
    40:4,10.
    Note that the sacrifice was made by a “priest”, Law 40:7,9,11. This
    was presumably an Aaronic Priest, one of the “sons of Levi”.
    Therefore, this sacrifice ought to have satisfied the condition of D&C
    13:1 for the priesthood to be later “taken from the earth”.
    The above revelation was given in February 1851. The sacrifice ought
    to have been offered on July 8, 1851, but there does not seem to be
    any mention in the Northern Islander or in the Beaver Island Record of
    such a sacrifice.
    However, there is evidence that it was observed on every July 8 from
    1852 to 1855. Here are two references from the newspaper which was
    published on Beaver Island, the “Northern Islander”, which show that
    this was indeed observed on at least two occasions:
    Northern Islander, Volume 2, Number 12
    July 8, 1852
    CONFERENCE.
    The General Conference opened the morning of the eighth
    at sun rise, by a most solemn sacrifice. The following
    persons brought victims: …
    Bros. … acted in the Priest’s office, and slew the
    victims.
    The Deacons, … prepared a splendid feast. Tables were
    spread at 1 o’clock for four hundred and eighty-eight
    persons, the families of those that offered. And at the end
    of the feasting the Priest at the head of the table said–
    LORD GOD! I have come into the land which thou gavest to
    thy saints: I have heard thy law, and have entered into
    covenant with thee to keep thy commandments, and I have
    eaten of the sacrifice before thee as a witness forever.

    ——————–
    Northern Islander, Volume 5, Number 5
    July 19, 1855
    CONFERENCE.
    We have not been able to find room for even a synopsis of
    the proceedings of the July Conference in this No. The place
    of meeting was in the splendid Enoch Park, and the first day
    was occupied by the prophet in preaching. The morning of the second day, very early, all the heads
    of families came to the place of the sacrifice, and offered
    their victims. Upwards of 200 victims were slain. Preaching
    and eucharist occupied the forenoon, during which the feast
    was prepared, and tables spread in the park, sufficient to
    accommodate the whole assembly.
    We have never seen tables at this place so loaded with
    the good things of the land, and never in any place seen
    such general abundance, and every voice was joyous. Among
    the guests were a large body of Indians. More remained than
    was eaten.
    The Conference continued in session five days, there
    being two discourses daily, except the last day, which was
    entirely occupied with business.

    Note that the 1852 sacrifice was made by those who “acted in the
    Priest’s office”.
    Therefore, in my opinion, there has been no scriptural impediment to
    the priesthood being entirely removed from the earth. This could have
    happened at any time after 1856. I think that it actually happened in
    about 1860.

  58. NChristine permalink
    June 21, 2009 3:04 am

    Hi Rick,

    Welcome (back)! 🙂

    I believe that the priesthood authority was reestablished through Joseph Smith Jr., but died out upon the death of James J. Strang, or shortly after his death.

    The Bible is very explicit about who has authority over Christ’s church, and how long that authority is to continue. I wrote about this in a previous post post found here, and I would welcome your reading and commenting on it!

    I was interested to see the issue about sacrifice, since I did not know literal sacrifice was a Strang belief/practice. How does that work with Hebrews 10, which indicates that Christ was sacrificed once for all (and thus that no more sacrifices are needed)?

    11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

    12But this man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

    13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

    14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

    15Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

    16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

    17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

    18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 10:11-18).

    NChristine

  59. rickhurd permalink
    June 21, 2009 10:35 am

    Before I began I would like to point out that in my first posting on this Blog I pointed out that an angel of God showed to James J. Strang where metal plates were buried under an oak tree, and that James J. Strang obtained 4 witnesses that gave their testimonies to how they dug up those plates. I also pointed out that having witnesses to such a miraculous event was consistent with what was written in the Bible (Matthew 18:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:1.), and that it was also consistent with the Book of Mormon (Ether 4:4 and 2 Nephi 11-3.) and the Doctrine and Covenants (6:28.). Those who have rejected the testimonies of those 4 witnesses, must also reject the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. I also posted the following revelation, which was given to James J. Strang: “…Behold, my servant James, I am about to bless thee with a great blessing, which shall be to those who love me, an immutable testimony; to those who know me not, a stumbling block…”

    Nchristine wrote: “The Bible is very explicit about who has authority over Christ’s church, and how long that authority is to continue. I wrote about this in a previous post post found here, and I would welcome your reading and commenting on it!” Please try to understand that I am very busy, and that it is all that I can do to take the time to respond to one Blog or forum at a time, and even than it is difficult for me to find time even for that.

    Nchristine wrote: “I was interested to see the issue about sacrifice, since I did not know literal sacrifice was a Strang belief/practice. How does that work with Hebrews 10, which indicates that Christ was sacrificed once for all (and thus that no more sacrifices are needed)?” Answer(s): I would first like to point out that the revelation given though Joseph Smith Jr. (Doctrine and Covenants 13:1) was fulfilled through James J. Strang.

    The following was extracted from the 1856 edition of the Book of the Law of the Lord (BLL), which should answer your question(s):

    6. Sacrifices continued in all ages, from Adam till Christ; but there has been a wide field of argument as to the propriety of their continuance subsequently.

    7. The general, thought not quite universal, sentiment among Protestants is, that no form of sacrifice should be offered since the offering of Christ for the redemption of mankind.

    8. Romanists hold that the Eucharist, as often as it is repeated, is an offering anew of Christ a sacrifice for the sins of men; and in supporting their theory, offer some testimonies, clearly enough showing that, in all the ages, the chosen of God will offer unto him acceptable offerings; (Mal. i, 11.Rev. viii, 3;) but fail to show that that in particular is the offering spoken of.

    9. Both Protestants and Romanists are in the dark in this matter; not only for want of a proper understanding of the true nature of a sacrifice, but also of the prerogatives of the Priesthood, in all its divisions.

    10. It is the prerogative of the Melchisedek Priesthood to offer certain sacrifices, and to administer certain ordinances and sacraments. Wherever that Priesthood is found, there those sacrifices, ordinances and sacraments may be looked for.

    11. The Melchisedek Priesthood existed in the times of the Patriarchs, and offered sacrifices. The same Priesthood, during the continuation of the Jewish nation, existed in the persons of several Prophets, who erected and sacrificed on altars at other places, than the sanctuary in the keeping of the Aaronick Priesthood, (1st Kings xviii, 3038. 2d Sam. xxiv, 25. Jud. vi, 25, 28. xiii, 16-20,)
    which the Aaronick Priesthood were forbidden to do. (Deut. xii, 1014.)

    12. Jesus, as well as most of these Prophets, came of other tribes than that which held the Aaronick Priesthood, and it is witnessed of him that he is a Priest after the order of Melchisedek. (Ps. cx, 4. Heb. v, 6, 10. vii, 17, 21.)

    13. His Apostles were made partakers of the same calling, (Heb. iii, 1. Matt. xvi, 18, 19. xxviii, 18, 19. Eph. ii, 20,) and inducted into the same Priesthood; for they were of tribes to which the Aaronick Priesthood did not pertain, and administered sacraments and ordinances over which it had no power.

    14. The Apostles, therefore, are Priests after the order of Melchisedek. Being inducted into that Priesthood, they have power to administer the sacraments, and offer the sacrifices which pertain to it.

    15. And it is particularly worthy of remark, that the only offering made by Melchisedek, of which the Bible makes any mention, is that of the bread and wine, (Gen. xiv, 18,) which is everywhere recognized as a sacrament, if not a sacrifice.

    16. It is, therefore, clear from the testimonies in the Bible, without reference to any other revelation or law, that the rites peculiar to the Melchisedek priesthood continue.

    17. Christ himself is the one sacrifice, great above all others, offered once in fact; offered ever in symbol; who was offered, not upon an altar, nor by a Priest, after the manner of all instituted sacrifices, but a natural sacrifice; yielding himself, who had done no sin, to the wrath of sinners; that by his sufferings he might bring them life.

    18. This is the true and proper idea of a sacrifice. It is a something valuable given, or yielded up to be destroyed, as the sole or necessary means of saving something else. From this natural, originated all sacerdotal sacrifices.

    19. And as the Eucharistick Sacrifice is a symbol of the natural sacrifice of Jesus, so sacerdotal sacrifices are all voluntary offerings, in lieu of natural sacrifices. Instead of being burdensome to those who offer them, the design and effect of the institution of sacerdotal sacrifices, is to diminish the necessity for the natural. (BLL p. 108-109.)

  60. NChristine permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:57 am

    Hi Rick,

    Please try to understand that I am very busy

    Yes, I know blogging can make one crazy. Matters of authority are certainly very important, though. You yourself have cited the lack of priesthood authority as a reason you believe the various churches to be wrong. In consideration of your time, let me give the “authority” post in a nutshell:

    –JS claimed the church had lost authority after the death of the apostles.

    –However, Jesus said this before He ascended into heaven: “All power [Greek: authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

    –Jesus went on to say this: “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

    If Jesus holds all authority, and if He promises to be with His followers until the end of the world, then where is the lost authority? He still has it! And He is still with those who belong to Him!

    It does not matter how small the number of true followers are (e.g., during the Dark Ages), for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

    I would love to discuss further the sacrifice issue or the Melchizedek priesthood. But the authority issue seems more basic, don’t you think? How do Jesus’ words allow for an idea of “lost authority”? Rather than trying to figure out about restoring a priesthood, shouldn’t we be following the One who still has all authority?

  61. rickhurd permalink
    June 22, 2009 4:03 am

    Before I begin, I want to convey to those who are seeking truth and understanding that those who have rejected the Book of Mormon must also reject the Bible because Inside every Book of Mormon is the following testimony made by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris:

    “…And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel
    of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes,
    that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon…”

    Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris held to their testimony until the day they died (see An Address to All Believers in Christ by: David Whitmer.)

    In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
    established.” (Matthew 18:16.)
    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1.)

    Nchristine wrote: “You yourself have cited the lack of priesthood authority as a reason you believe the various churches to be wrong.” That isn’t the only reason why I think the various churches are wrong.

    Nchristine wrote: “”–JS claimed the church had lost authority after the death of the apostles.” I have never read that.

    Nchristine wrote: “–However, Jesus said this before He ascended into heaven: “All power [Greek: authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).” Are you trying to convey that no one had priesthood authority after Jesus ascended into heaven?

    Nchristine wrote: “–Jesus went on to say this: “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).” Jesus didn’t tell you or I that.

    Nchristine wrote: “If Jesus holds all authority, and if He promises to be with His followers until the end of the world, then where is the lost authority? He still has it! And He is still with those who belong to Him!” I am not trying to convey that Jesus does not have authority. Nor am I trying to convey that Jesus isn’t with those who follow him and keep his commandments. I don’t think you understand what priesthood authority is.

    Nchristine wrote: “It does not matter how small the number of true followers are (e.g., during the Dark Ages), for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).” Again, I do not think that you understand what priesthood authority is.

    If someone used your name without your permission, would you like it? Say, for an example, if I went to your friends house and told him that you sent me over to borrow his car for you, when you haven’t, and your friend would be stupid enough to let me take his car, than I would be a thief because you hadn’t given me permission to borrow his car. That is somewhat how it is when someone uses the name of the Lord without his permission. Again, I quote from the 1856 edition of the Book of the Law of the Lord, so that those who are seeking truth and understanding will have a better understanding of things pertaining to the Lord:

    “God has appointed a door to the priesthood; a call of God by revelation, and an ordaining by the hands of his ministers; (Heb. v, 4. Ex. xxviii, 1. 1st Tim. iv, 14. Acts vii, 35;) and Christ declares that he that comes not in by the door, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber. (John x, 1.)” (BLL p. 21.)

  62. June 22, 2009 4:12 am

    Hey Rick, thanks for all of your answers. So I have one more follow-up question (and I know you’re busy!).

    It seems to me that accepting your position on the loss of authority would entail a certain…hopelessness? That seems like a strong word, but if authority is absent from the earth, then where does that leave all of us? If every attempt at pursuing God’s truth is without a leader, so to speak, do we just need to keep hoping that another Restoration will arrive to redeem those of us caught in the interim?

    Or would you say that we’re better off following the few modern revelations that we do have and stop worrying about whether or not we have a proper institutional church in which to do so?

  63. rickhurd permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:33 am

    Whitney wrote: “It seems to me that accepting your position on the loss of authority would entail a certain…hopelessness?” Answer(s): No. Hope for a better life in the next.

    Whitney wrote: “That seems like a strong word, but if authority is absent from the earth, then where does that leave all of us?” Answer(s): My advice is to follow Jesus Christ who was/is God by learning and obeying His commandments, having faith on his name, read what little scriptures there are, fast and pray often, and stay away from organized religion if you can.

    Whitney wrote: “If every attempt at pursuing God’s truth is without a leader, so to speak, do we just need to keep hoping that another Restoration will arrive to redeem those of us caught in the interim?” Answer(s): The leader is Jesus Christ. He showed us the way. There will be another prophet(s) to come. Wait upon the Lord, have patience, overcome and endure to the end. This life is short, and then there is forever. This is a probationary period. Very little “fruits” are being chosen in this era, I think.

    Whitney wrote: “Or would you say that we’re better off following the few modern revelations that we do have and stop worrying about whether or not we have a proper institutional church in which to do so?” Answer(s): Those who are seeking truth in an institutional church are “barking up the wrong tree.”

    Most think that churches are good for society. That is not what scriptures state. I will leave you with the following to ponder:

    1 Ne. 22: 23
    23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

    2 Ne. 26: 20
    20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.

    2 Nephi 26:21
    “And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and
    strifes, and malice.”

    2 Nephi 28:3
    “For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are
    built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other:
    Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and
    not unto the Lord.”

    2 Nephi 28:12
    “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine,
    their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up;
    because of pride they are puffed up.

    2 Ne. 28: 13
    13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

    Morm. 8: 33
    33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.

    D&C 10: 56
    56 But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center.
    28 Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
    29 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands;
    30 And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.
    31 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.
    32 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.
    33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.
    34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
    35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
    36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
    37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
    38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
    39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
    40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
    41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.

  64. Stephanie permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:21 pm

    Most think that churches are good for society. That is not what scriptures state. I will leave you with the following to ponder:

    You have only quoted from the BoM. I don’t that the Book of Mormon is the inspired Word of God. Can you please refer me to sources from the Bible which state that the church is not God’s plan for this dispensation?

  65. Stephanie permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:23 pm

    oops. 😦

    Sorry for not proof reading. That should say “I don’t believe that the Book of Mormon is the inspired Word of God.”

  66. June 22, 2009 9:15 pm

    OK, I’ll bite. If I don’t accept the BoM because I do not beleive Joseph Smith Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and the rest of the witnesses to the BoM, why do I have to reject the Bible?

  67. rickhurd permalink
    June 22, 2009 9:47 pm

    Stephanie wrote: “You have only quoted from the BoM. I don’t that the Book of Mormon is the inspired Word of God.” Many have said the same thing about the Bible.

    To make sure everyone understands what Stephanie has rejected. In a privious post I wrote the following “…I want to convey to those who are seeking truth and understanding that those who have rejected the Book of Mormon must also reject the Bible because Inside every Book of Mormon is the following testimony made by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris:

    “…And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel
    of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes,
    that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon…”

    Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris held to their testimony until the day they died (see An Address to All Believers in Christ by: David Whitmer.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
    established.” (Matthew 18:16.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1.)”

    So, did Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris conspire to lie? Or did they really see “an angel of God came down from heaven”?

    Others have rejected Jesus Christ, who also had witnesses to miraculous events which were recorded in scripture:

    “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known
    unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were
    eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father
    honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the
    excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
    And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him
    in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
    whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth
    in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your
    hearts:” (2 Pet. 1: 16-19. (KJV.))

    “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took
    Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as
    he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment
    was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men,
    which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his
    decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they
    that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake,
    they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came
    to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it
    is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.”
    (Luke 9: 29-33. (KJV))

    Stephanie wrote: “Can you please refer me to sources from the Bible which state that the church is not God’s plan for this dispensation?”

    2 Timothy 4:3-4
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound
    doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
    themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and
    shall be turned unto fables.

  68. June 22, 2009 10:20 pm

    Isn’t the definition of a fable something like: stories that lack any historical basis? Sounds like the BoM…

  69. Stephanie permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:09 pm

    So, did Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris conspire to lie? Or did they really see “an angel of God came down from heaven”?

    Rick, less reputable people have had visions of seeing an angel coming down from heaven. The apostle Paul warns the Galatians of those that would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    But though we, or an angel from heaven , preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    What is this gospel? Paul explains the gospel to the Corinthians this way

    1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

    2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

    3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

    4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

    6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

    7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

    8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time (I Cor 15:1-8).

    Where do we see evidence in the Bible that Christ was going to appear in the New World providing more Scripture there? Paul commanded the Galatians to reject any other gospel than that which they had received–even in the event that an angel from heaven preached that gospel. The BoM is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” It is absolutely critical to consider whether or not there even should be such another testimony.

  70. rickhurd permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:14 pm

    Jessica wrote: “Isn’t the definition of a fable something like: stories that lack any historical basis?”

    Fable:
    1. a short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters; apologue: the fable of the tortoise and the hare; Aesop’s fables.
    2. a story not founded on fact: This biography is largely a self-laudatory fable.
    3. a story about supernatural or extraordinary persons or incidents; legend: the fables of gods and heroes. (Source: dictionary.com)

    Christmas with Santa Claus, and Easter with the Easter Bunny, which is nowhere mentioned in the scriptures, are such examples.

  71. June 23, 2009 12:06 am

    2. a story not founded on fact: This biography is largely a self-laudatory fable.

    Sounds like the BOM to me.

    Darrell

  72. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 1:43 am

    Darrell,

    Since you think the BOM is a fable, do you think Joseph Smith truly believed he really had the golden plates from Moroni, or was he consciously aware that he was making everything up?

  73. June 23, 2009 2:20 am

    Dear Rick,

    It makes me happy that you’re here. Carry on.

    Love,
    -BJM

  74. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:04 am

    It’s funny how similar the arguments made against the BOM are to those made against the Bible. Have you seen any of the modern atheist websites out there? You better not, it can be upsetting. Kind of like a Mormon visiting MRM.org. They thrash the Bible with some pretty convincing arguements. Some of the brightest historians and scholars in the world consider the Bible a fable. Truly, being a Christian requires faith indeed, even though all of us here have our reasons for believing the Bible.

    But as you continue typing your drive bys on the BOM, giving each other cyber high fives, remember that your Bible is suffering brutal attacks in the same way by people who argue that according to some laws of physics men cannot walk on water because the viscosity of water’s surface tension is not sufficient to support sandals of less than a minimun of 1/3 leather thickness, or something Archimedes-esque and far too logical like that…

    There is a reason that Christian numbers in the US have seen a pronounced dive as more and more people buy into these convincing anti-God/Bible arguments and become agnostic secularists. The Bible’s supernatural assertions are exhibit A for many of these folks.

    I just find it ironic. Pehaps poetic in a dark way.

    I guess we’ll have to watch the numbers over the next generation, the trajectory is not good for Christians. Mormonism is not your problem and you’ll see that one day when Washington and Hollywood atheists dictate your society. LDS would follow up by saying that the Christ and the Bible will benefit then from the Book of Mormon as another witness of his divinity. But why should anyone take a fable seriously?

  75. Stephanie permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:23 am

    Ethan,

    Very interesting comment. I think that this is actually one of the reasons that Mormons who leave the LDS church often lose faith altogether. I think there is some viewpoint that if faith in one set of beliefs is wrong than all belief is ignorance.

    I’ve been a born-again Christian since I was a little girl. I remember going through periods of my life where I doubted Christianity, Jesus Christ, the Bible, etc. However, there is always a bottom line for every person. My bottom line was that I couldn’t look out into nature and deny that there was a God. I absolutely believe without a shadow or minuscule of a doubt that the universe affirms the existence of a divine power. After all, something must be eternal. Is it matter or is it a deity? So, coming from the viewpoint that there must be a God I have to remain a lifelong investigator into Who that God is and what He means in my life.

    I agree with you that the Scripture has come under a lot of persecution especially recently. However, I can’t agree that it is the same as the BOM. You said, Some of the brightest historians and scholars in the world consider the Bible a fable. If the Bible is a fable, then it is at least composed of real people, real events, real locations, real circumstances, and real history. There is a big difference in denying the miraculous claims about the Bible and denying its historicity.

  76. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:54 am

    “If the Bible is a fable, then it is at least composed of real people, real events, real locations, real circumstances, and real history. There is a big difference in denying the miraculous claims about the Bible and denying its historicity.”

    According to an atheist that argument is like the kid wearing a recognizable cape telling the kid with a lesser known cape he won’t be able to fly.

    If “evidence” is your hang-up, I would argue that there is plenty of evidence for the BOM, even if the historical setting for it is less well known than the Holy Land. I often hear people say there is absolutely no evidence for the BOM. That is patently false. The evidence for the BOM has only been increasing. Within just the last 20 years we’ve seen remarkable evidences emerge.

    Like the Bible, God has set it up so that there is just enough evidence to have a balance of reason and faith, but not so much evidence that humanity is forced to believe. Apparantly you don’t see what I see, perhaps you really don’t want the BOM to be true. In that case it never will be for you.

    You know, like the Bible.

  77. Stephanie permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:08 am

    According to an atheist that argument is like the kid wearing a recognizable cape telling the kid with a lesser known cape he won’t be able to fly.

    I love your comments, Ethan. 🙂 You have some very funny ways of making your point. 🙂

    In all seriousness though your statements have SERIOUS contradictions. As an argument for your faith you are arguing that the atheists have excellent arguments against your faith. How much sense does that make? Now, if you want to tell me that today you became an atheist then we can use those arguments. However, my impression is that you are flying around with the lesser known cape still.

    Stephanie

  78. June 23, 2009 4:18 am

    I don’t think you have to adopt a point of view to recognize its strengths. Especially when religion is involved. In fact, people that refuse to recognize the strengths of their opponents do themselves and their own arguments a disservice.

    And I think Ethan makes an excellent point. The criticisms lobbed at the Book of Mormon are very nearly identical to those lobbed at the Bible (okay, not identical, but it’s been stated above), and if you’re trying to convince a person that first is false, you better be prepared to defend the second against the exact same attacks. Otherwise you’re just reverting to “well, because I know the Truth,” which isn’t very persuasive minus actual testimony from the Spirit. I’ve seen enough of my jack-Mormon friends abandon all belief because once you let your entire paradigm shift and see one part as crap, it’s pretty hard to swallow something that makes equally fantastic claims.

  79. Stephanie permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:22 am

    They thrash the Bible with some pretty convincing arguements. Some of the brightest historians and scholars in the world consider the Bible a fable. Truly, being a Christian requires faith indeed, even though all of us here have our reasons for believing the Bible.

    One more thing I wanted to add. 🙂 Everyone has a few pet peeves. One of my pet peeves is parents who don’t vaccinate their children. Actually, that isn’t the pet peeve in itself. An informed decision is at least a respectable decision. But, what really burns my britches are parents who are misinformed about vaccines, have only read the “con” literature, have only received information from chiropracters/naturopaths. Usually if I ask why they didn’t vaccinate the answer is something like, “I don’t know what all the arguments are, but I just know the arguments are really strong against it.” Instead of citing specific objections–such as the mercury issue, or the vaccines in the jet contrails –these parents just have formed their opinion based on their trust of the anti-medical establishment.

    In the same way, instead of actually presenting arguments from the “anti-Christian/LDS/faith” side you are saying, “they have great arguments.” Since this is a discussion board lets bring up the arguments and address them one by one. Actually, this could be beneficial to both you and I. Most atheists have equal disdain for LDS and Evangelicals so I don’t think we will have to worry about discrimination. 🙂 But, instead of overgeneralizing I think we should focus on specifics.

    Stephanie

  80. NChristine permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:40 am

    Hi Rick,

    Are you trying to convey that no one had priesthood authority after Jesus ascended into heaven?

    This passage does not bifurcate between “priesthood authority” and another kind of authority. It simply says that Jesus has “ALL authority.” ALL authority would, of necessity, include any so-called “priesthood authority.”

    Jesus didn’t tell you or I that [re: that He would be with us unto the end of the world].

    Jesus made this promise, however, in the context of talking about future disciples. And He made the promise without an end (unto the end of the world). Further, Matthew 18:20 promises the same thing without any possible restriction to only first century believers: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Just “two or three” – no restrictions!

    Jesus said ALL authority is given to Him (priesthood or any other kind). And Jesus said He would be with even “two or three” gathered His name. I very much appreciate you telling others to follow Jesus Christ, have faith in His name, etc. However, to have faith in His name we must believe what He says!

    I don’t think you understand what priesthood authority is.

    I am sure I do not fully understand what LDS-style priesthood authority really means. However, to proclaim a needed authority, one must establish a missing authority. And to do that, one must contradict Jesus Christ.

    If someone used your name without your permission, would you like it?

    The Scripture says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13).

    This is not a restriction to a certain “permitted” few who can use His name! This says “whosoever.”

    Or how about this verse?

    “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). This, likewise, belongs to “as many” as receive Him and believe on His name.

    Or how about John’s statement to the readers of His gospel? His readers were not the original disciples. John wrote, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).

    Anyone can have life through the name of Jesus, and anyone can have His daily presence! It is available to all, for He still has all authority, and He still makes His offer to anyone who will come to Him!

  81. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 8:39 am

    Stephanie,

    “But, instead of overgeneralizing I think we should focus on specifics.”

    The point I was making is true, whether you want to admit the similarities or not. The attacks made on the BOM are identical in nature to the attacks on the Bible.

    Without getting cluttered by specifics (google atheism at your peril, then visit MRM.org and note similarities), the point I was making is that even though atheists do love to thrash both the BOM and the Bible, your camp has embraced the anti-BOM arguments, all the while failing to realize how those same arguments are condemning the divinity of the Bible.

    The problem is that the arguments you are making against the BOM are basically the same as those made against the Bible, with the exception of known histories. However, authenticating the “historical” part is NOT what makes the Bible divine, if you left the Bible at mere histories the atheists would love it. Since authenticating the “known history” aspect is what seperates the BOM from the Bible in your view, you have to limit your critic to that “non-divine” aspect or risk condemning the Bible.

    My position is that the atheists are wrong, period. Not only when the BOM is attacked, but for the Bible as well. You are the one that is looking at this with “serious contradictions,” in step with the atheists on the one hand, and denouncing them for doing the same thing on the other.

    I hope that was clear, it is vital to understand the double standard you are applying.

  82. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:02 am

    Here are a few specifics. You are already familiar with many of the BOM attacks. But, in case your wondering: Yes, the atheists thoroughly take the Bible (the infallible Bible) to the mat relentlessly for greivous contradictions and inconsistencies.

    WARNING! You don’t have to click here, use at your own risk because a lot of it actually makes as much sense as the anti-LDS sites do, but you need to see how this argument mirrors your BOM attack. If they make you sick, welcome to our world!!:

    http://www.atheists.org/Biblical_Contradictions

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    I say this not as a petty attack to destroy your faith in the Bible (the Bible is still true), but as a response to your constant arguments that the BOM somehow contradicts itself in a “fatal” way, “proving” it is wrong. Two peas in a miserable anti-Christ pod.

  83. rickhurd permalink
    June 23, 2009 12:24 pm

    Stephanie quoted “But though we, or an angel from heaven , preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.[(Cor: 8-9.)]” as evidence that the Book of Mormon shouldn’t be accepted as scripture. This is a common ploy used by those who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I would first like to point out that the Book of Mormon does not pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon makes the gospel of Jesus Christ more plan and easy to understand. The second thing that I want to point out is that the appearance of angels was recorded numerous times in the Bible, and that nowhere in the Bible does it state that there would be no more angels appearing to others.

    “Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?” (Moroni 7:36.)

    Now lets go over the quote made by Stephanie in contexts:

    The apostle Paul was addressing the churches of Galatia:

    1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
    2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
    3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
    4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
    5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    The apostle Paul marveled at those in churches of Galatia that they were soon removed from the grace of Jesus Christ unto another gospel:

    6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    There were some that troubled those in the church of Galatia by perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ, which wasn’t another gospel of Jesus Christ, but a perverted version of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

    7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    The apostle Paul warned the people in the churches of Galatia that if he, or those who were with him, or even an angel from heaven preached any other gospel unto them than what they had preached that they would be accursed:

    8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    The apostle Paul asked those who were in the churches of Galatia if the gospel that he preached to them pleased men, and went on to state that if it did please men than he wouldn’t have been a servant of Jesus Christ:

    10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    How much different was the gospel that Paul preached that didn’t please men than what is preached in the modern day churches? The modern day churches are no different than businesses. The bigger the lie that is taught from the pulpits the deeper their listeners reach into their pockets to give them money. If they told them the truth, they would stop giving money. They are not the servants of Jesus Christ; they are the ones who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ; for they tell them what they want to hear to get gain and praise from the world.

    The apostle Paul went on to say to those in the churches of Galatia that what he preached to them was not of man; that he did not receive it from any man, but was taught by revelation from Jesus Christ, which is how Joseph Smith Jr. and James J. Strang receive it:

    11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
    12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    The apostle Paul went on to say to those in the churches of Galatia that before he was called by revelation that he persecuted the followers of Jesus Christ:

    13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
    14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

    The apostle Paul went on to say to those in the churches of Galatia that he was called by God, which is how James J. Strang and Joseph Smith Jr. were called:

    15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

    “God has appointed a door to the priesthood; a call of God by revelation, and an ordaining by the hands of his ministers; (Heb. v, 4. Ex. xxviii, 1. 1st Tim. iv, 14. Acts vii, 35;) and Christ declares that he that comes not in by the door, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber. (John x, 1.)” (BLL p. 21.)

  84. rickhurd permalink
    June 23, 2009 2:41 pm

    NChristine wrote: “Anyone can have life through the name of Jesus, and anyone can have His daily presence! It is available to all, for He still has all authority, and He still makes His offer to anyone who will come to Him!”

    I agree, but I still don’t think you understand what priesthood authority is, and I will leave it at that because I don’t think it was meant for you to understand these things as yet, but what I will try to convey to you is that Jesus Christ didn’t teach that after a person comes through him by the use of his name and has his sins forgiven, that that person can continue sinning. One must learn and obey the commandments of God, who was/is Jesus Christ.

    Many have taught that the commandments were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross. This is a false doctrine. The Laws of Moses were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross, not the Ten Commandments.

    The Ten Commandments were spoken in God’s own voice DIRECTLY to all
    the people of Israel, Exodus 19:19, 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:12,33,36,
    5:4,22,24. These are called the “commandments”.
    When Paul wrote about the “law”, he was referring to the Law of Moses,
    which is the ADDED statutes and ordinances about unclean foods, animal
    sacrifices, and so forth, that were given INDIRECTLY through Moses.
    Paul wrote that the ADDED law was to last only “til the seed should
    come to whom the promise was made”, namely Jesus Christ:

    Ezekiel 20:24-25
    24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had
    despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and
    their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.
    25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good,
    and judgments whereby they should not live;
    Galatians 3:19
    19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of
    transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the
    promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand
    of a mediator.

    Note carefully that the “law” was ADDED because of TRANSGRESSION
    against the Ten Commandments. It was ADDED until the crucifixion of
    Jesus Christ, and then it was removed. But the “commandments” remain.
    What Paul taught is more plain from this version of his teaching:

    Acts 13:16,39
    16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said,
    Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
    … 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all
    things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of
    Moses.

    Paul wrote at a time when the problem was convincing people that the
    Law of Moses had been ended, and convincing them that atonement by
    animal sacrifices had been replaced with atonement by faith in the
    sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But Paul did NOT teach that the Ten
    Commandments had been ended, but rather he affirmed them. For
    example:

    Romans 13:9
    9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not
    kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
    witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other
    commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying,
    namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Ephesians 4:28
    28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him
    labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that
    he may have to give to him that needeth.

    Ephesians 6:1-3
    1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is
    right.
    2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first
    commandment with promise;
    3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long
    on the earth.
    1 Corinthians 7:19
    19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing,
    but the keeping of the commandments of God.

    Paul continued to cite the Ten Commandments, without the least hint
    that they were “done away” or “abolished”.

  85. Stephanie permalink
    June 23, 2009 5:27 pm

    The problem is that the arguments you are making against the BOM are basically the same as those made against the Bible, with the exception of known histories. However, authenticating the “historical” part is NOT what makes the Bible divine, if you left the Bible at mere histories the atheists would love it. Since authenticating the “known history” aspect is what seperates the BOM from the Bible in your view, you have to limit your critic to that “non-divine” aspect or risk condemning the Bible.

    The exception is not only “known histories” but fulfilled prophecy. Would you dismiss the fact that the Old Testament foretells the virgin birth of Christ (Isa. 7:14), His birthplace of Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), His betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, that He would be preceded by a forerunner (John the Baptist) (Mal. 3:1), His scourgings and vicarious sacrifice (Isa. 53:5), the piercing of His hands and feet (Psa. 22:16, Zec 12:10)?
    What of the entire chapters that are devoted to Messianic prophecy, such as Psalms 22? The practice of crucifixion was unknown at the time of David’s writing. The Daniel prophecies are another example of the precise way that Jesus fulfilled not only the Messianic prophecies but also fulfilled them according a specific prophesied calendar. Theologians estimate that more than 300 OT prophecies were fulfilled in Christ. How is it possible that He could not be the culmination of all that the Jews had been looking for?

    I suppose it is possible to accuse deceivers of going in later and editing the Biblical texts to make Jesus seem more credible. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, which pre-date Christianity, makes that a hard accusation to believe.

    Stephanie

  86. June 23, 2009 5:55 pm

    “Since you think the BOM is a fable, do you think Joseph Smith truly believed he really had the golden plates from Moroni, or was he consciously aware that he was making everything up?”

    That is a good question. However, I think the question misses the central point in this conversation. In reality, the vailidity of the BOM has nothing to do with whether JS had real Golden Plates or made the whole thing up. The Bible teaches there are evil spirits about who seek to deceive – some of whom will even go so far as to disguise themselves as angels of light making you think they are from God. Some of these spirits will try to bring other gospels and pervert the Gospel if Jesus Christ. Therefore, the central issue is not whether JS received real Golden Plates from an “angel”; rather, the central issue is whether the Gospel brought by JS is the same gospel or another gospel. I, of course, am of the opinion it is another gospel.

    Your question is a good question though and I have my thoughts on it – personally, I believe a “spirit”/”angel” DID appear to JS in the first vision. Although, I believe it was one being, not two – as that appears to be a later change.

    Darrell

  87. June 23, 2009 5:57 pm

    Stephanie–

    I think you’re glossing over non-Christian objections again. First, there are plenty of Jewish folk who embrace the Old Testament–and its prophesies–and still reject the New Testament. Second, atheists can pick apart all sorts of things in the Bible–starting with the idea of a virgin birth. So claiming that fulfillment of prophesy gives Christians the “win” on having a divine product on their hand is hardly persuasive with those who subscribe to another belief system, or who reject religion altogether.

  88. June 23, 2009 6:09 pm

    Ethan,

    IMO, the historicity of The Bible and the lack of historicity of the BOM completely changes the validity of the atheist arguments against our respective faiths. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying their arguments carry any weight in the first place. Nevertheless, the fact that we can know with relative assurance that The Bible is a real document about real people who really existed at some point in the space/time continuum puts it on an entirely different playing field than the BOM.

    On my blog, my friend Billy carries on regular conversations with atheists. Most of their arguments are pretty easily rebutted. Have you ever read “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek? It demonstrates all to well the central problems with Atheism and why THE ONLY faith which can be True is Christianity. It is truly a wonderful book.

    Darrell

  89. Stephanie permalink
    June 23, 2009 6:10 pm

    Now lets go over the quote made by Stephanie in contexts:

    The apostle Paul was addressing the churches of Galatia:

    How much different was the gospel that Paul preached that didn’t please men than what is preached in the modern day churches? The modern day churches are no different than businesses. The bigger the lie that is taught from the pulpits the deeper their listeners reach into their pockets to give them money. If they told them the truth, they would stop giving money. They are not the servants of Jesus Christ; they are the ones who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ; for they tell them what they want to hear to get gain and praise from the world.

    Permit me to disagree, Rick. 🙂

    The perverted form of the gospel is described not in just the first few verses, but in the entire rest of the book. The problem that they were dealing with at Galatia was not that they wanted a pleasing gospel….they were legalists!

    Paul said, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye would not obey the trust, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (3:1-3). Unfortunately for the Galatians they are begun in the “liberty which we have in Christ Jesus (2:4)” but had sought to regulate their faith with the admixture of the law. Theirs was a complete misunderstanding of the law. “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (3:21b). What would be the reason for the death of Christ if, by following the law, men could become righteous?

    What then is the purpose of the law? Further on in the chapter Paul explains, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (3:24). This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it clearly separates faith and works in the act of justification.

    The book of Galatians is such a critical book in the world today and I think it is under-read by believers at large. There are so many legalists which would pervert the gospel of Christ by adding parts of the law to their faith! I’m aware of one “Christian” group that was popular years ago that had a whole handbook of “dos and don’ts.” They are not practicing the “liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.” Does this mean that the Christian life is a free-for-all? I can do whatever I want because it’s all good in the end because I said a prayer when I was 3 and therefore I’m safe from hell? NO!! Actually, to use the words of Paul, “God forbid!”

    What shall we say then? Shall we continue is sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:1-3).

    Rick, even a simple misunderstanding of the “liberty which we have in Christ” is a serious offense in the eyes of God! This is perversion of the gospel—mixing law with grace.

    Stephanie

  90. June 23, 2009 7:00 pm

    Ethan, your June 23, 2009 at 9:02 am post went into the moderation queue. I have just retrieved it.

  91. June 23, 2009 8:38 pm

    “On my blog, my friend Billy carries on regular conversations with atheists. Most of their arguments are pretty easily rebutted.”

    Don’t get cocky Darrell.

    There’s always someone out there smarter than you. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn myself.

  92. June 23, 2009 8:43 pm

    “Don’t get cocky Darrell.”

    None intended. There are some extremely smart atheist/agnostics out there – Bart Ehrman comes to mind. I am sure many of them could talk me in circles. Notice I didn’t say “I can easily rebutt their arguments.”

    I just thank God for creating and giving us people such as my friend Billy, Josh McDowell, Norm Giesler, Frank Turek, etc. The way they handle the atheists is incredible.

    Darrell

  93. June 23, 2009 8:46 pm

    Well, I’ll have to check them out sometime.

    It was really just a warning from one believer to another. Not all atheists are like fish in a barrel.

  94. Stephanie permalink
    June 24, 2009 1:09 am

    WARNING! You don’t have to click here, use at your own risk because a lot of it actually makes as much sense as the anti-LDS sites do, but you need to see how this argument mirrors your BOM attack. If they make you sick, welcome to our world!!:

    Ethan, thank you for providing these links. I have reviewed the information and provided my responses to your first link below. I feel that the errors of the atheists in their “contradictions” fall into a couple of main categories.

    1. Taking the passage out of context. For example, not honoring the culture, setting, type of Scripture (prophecy, history, poetry, etc), intended reader, etc.

    2. Misunderstanding the difference in dispensations between the New and Old Testaments.

    ON THE SABBATH DAY
    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” — Exodus 20:8

    “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” — Romans 14:5

    Jesus re-affirmed all but this commandment in the NT. The OT example of a Sabbath rest is a foreshadowing of the rest that believers find in Christ. The early NT believers worshiped on the first day of the week in honor of the day that Christ rose from the dead.

    ON THE PERMANENCY OF THE EARTH
    “… the earth abideth for ever.” — Ecclesiastes 1:4

    “… the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Peter 3:10

    Ecclesiastes 1:4 doesn’t begin with an ellipses. This is the entire verse, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” This is a contrast and comparison verse. Remember, Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon, a man who had tasted all the riches of the world but at the end of his life called it all “vanity.” The passage continues, “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. This is a comparative statement saying, in essence, “generations of men change, but the earth remains unchanging.” Psalms 102:25-27 offers the comparison of the earth to God, “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

    ON SEEING GOD

    “… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30

    “No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18

    The description of Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel of God is just one proof of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Here Jacob wrestles with Someone who has taken the form of a man. The author of Genesis doesn’t dispute Jacob’s understanding that he had, in fact, wrestled with God. For those of us who believe that Jesus is God this is no contradiction at all! Has anyone looked upon the face of God the Father? No. In fact, Moses was well aware that it was not possible to look upon the face of God and live. In the burning bush example Moses hid his face from for he was “afraid to look upon God (Ex. 3:6). During the receiving of the Ten Commandments God hid himself in smoke.

    When John clarified that “No man hath seen God at any time” he was declaring the absolute supremacy of the NT revelation. Here is the rest of the verse, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” We should trust the revelation of God through His Son Jesus because He has intimate knowledge of the Father.

    ON HUMAN SACRIFICE

    “… Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God…” — Leviticus 18:21

    [In Judges, though, the tale of Jephthah, who led the Israelites against the Ammonoites, is being told. Being fearful of defeat, this good religious man sought to guarantee victory by getting god firmly on his side. So he prayed to god] “… If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31).

    [The terms were acceptable to god — remember, he is supposed to be omniscient and know the future — so he gave victory to Jephthah, and the first whatsoever that greeted him upon his glorious return was his daughter, as god surely knew would happen, if god is god. True to his vow, the general made a human sacrifice of his only child to god!] — Judges 11:29-34

    God detests human sacrifice. There is no way of overstating that fact. He considers it an abomination. Does this mean that he condoned and, in fact, orchestrated the death of Jephthah’s daughter? There is more than one way to understand this passage and the assumption that the girl was slaughtered is not the majority Evangelical view (at least, in my understanding). Note that in the passage the daughter of Jephthah requests a period of time to “bewail my virginity” (v 37, 38). Further, the fact of her virginity is brought up again in verse 39, “and she knew no man.” This concept of her virginity is a strange one compared to the loss of her life! If she were fearful of being slaughtered I think that her virginity would be the last thing on her mind! Verses 39-40 offer more evidence that she was not offered as a human sacrifice, “And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.” Adam Clarke suggests that we do not have the correct translation of the phrase “To lament the daughter of Jephthah.” He says, “I am satisfied that this is not a correct translation of the original לתנות לבת יפתח lethannoth lebath yiphtach. Houbigant translates the whole verse thus: Sed iste mos apud Israel invaluit, ut virgines Israel, temporibus diversis, irent ad filiam Jepthe-ut eam quotannis dies quatuor consolarentur; “But this custom prevailed in Israel that the virgins of Israel went at different times, four days in the year, to the daughter of Jephthah, that they might comfort her.” This verse also gives evidence that the daughter of Jephthah was not sacrificed: nor does it appear that the custom or statute referred to here lasted after the death of Jephthah’s daughter.” I believe that it is more likely that she was consecrated to a life of service at the tabernacle.

    ON THE POWER OF GOD

    “… with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

    “…The LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” — Judges 1:19

    The book of judges deals with the Israelites capture of the land. There were ups and downs but in reading the whole it is evident that their successes and failures were tied directly with their trust in God. God’s allowance of victory was always dependent upon their faith. Refer to these NT examples of people who failed by their lack of faith: Matt. 14:30; Matt 17:19-20.

    ON DEALING WITH PERSONAL INJURY

    “…thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ” — Exodus 21:23-25

    “…ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Matthew 5:39

    Once again, this is a difference between the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus was showing Himself as the fulfillment of the law.

    ON CIRCUMCISION

    “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” — Genesis 17:10

    “…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” — Galatians 5:2

    Again, an Old Testament/New Testament contrast. Refer to the book of Galatians and Hebrews for an understanding of the difference in dispensations.

    I think it is really important to look at what the atheist’s accusations are. I don’t want to be anyone’s fool. If my faith is wrong I welcome you to point it out. What would be the profit of living a life dedicated to Christ if it is all for naught?

    One more thing…I never have visited mrm.org. 🙂

    Stephanie

  95. Stephanie permalink
    June 24, 2009 2:31 am

    Sorry, one more thing for clarification. The topics with bold print are quotes from the website. The block quotes are my comments.

    Stephanie 🙂

  96. Ethan permalink
    June 24, 2009 2:42 am

    Interesting comments from everyone. Darrell, I’ve seen that book at Wal-Mart of all places, I admit I was winged in by it’s title. Next time I’ll give it a look. I’m sure it is an argument that can be applied generally to all religions.

    I just purchased a new book by a well known BYU professor/apologist entitled “80 Evidences for Joseph Smith.” I don’t know JS bashers….I’m only on page 10 and it is selling me wholesale. I’ve gotta say, good evidence is certainly there…

    Have a nice Tuesday evening!

  97. June 24, 2009 2:46 am

    Well done Stephanie! Perhaps Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel can hire you to help with their next book!! 🙂

    Darrell

  98. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:39 am

    I agree, but I still don’t think you understand what priesthood authority is, and I will leave it at that because I don’t think it was meant for you to understand these things as yet,

    I know there are many things I do not understand. 🙂 But Jesus Christ said He has ALL authority “unto the end of the world.” Saying there is some type of missing authority seems like contradicting Him, doesn’t it?

    The Laws of Moses were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross, not the Ten Commandments.

    I agree that the Ten Commandments (with the exception of the one about the Sabbath) represent moral issues. The breaking of them is still sin. But the problem is we are unable to keep them! In Romans, Paul shows how one of the Ten Commandments showed him his sinfulness and inability to please God:

    But now we [true believers in Christ] are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me (Romans 7:6-9).

    In fact, Paul ends this description of a person under the Law by crying out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Sure – we should not lie, or covet, or steal. But Paul says man in his natural state is unable to do this. And Jesus made the demands even higher: Never mind adultery; don’t even lust! Never mind murder; don’t even call your brother a fool! Never mind just loving your neighbor; love your enemy! Such commands are impossible for sin-prone people like us! Indeed, true righteousness cannot be obtained through keeping the law — but not because there is something wrong with the law. The “something wrong” is us!

    How can people live righteously, then? Paul tells the Galatians, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). When someone becomes Christ’s through faith in Him, they become “dead to sin” and “alive to God” by identification with Christ (see Romans 6). Someone who does not truly belong to Christ cannot be truly righteous before God.

    Paul then tells those who belong to Christ, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh….if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Love, joy, etc., is produced by the Spirit in the life of a true believer who is walking in the Spirit. That is why Christians are to serve “in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter [law]” (see Romans 7 above).

    Jesus Christ didn’t teach that after a person comes through him by the use of his name and has his sins forgiven, that that person can continue sinning.

    I utterly agree! The apostle John said this to believers whose sins had been forgiven:

    My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments (I John 2:1-3).

    Christians should not sin, but if they do sin, they have an Advocate who paid the price. Further, keeping His commandments is evidence of truly knowing Him (but it is not the way to know Him).

    I appreciate you standing for what is right re: the Ten Commandments. But how are you doing trying to follow them? How about Jesus’ ratcheting up of the Ten Commandments with His commands re: heart issues? None of us can do it! Look at what Jesus says:

    “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He alone can make us righteous through faith in Him and Him only.

    NChristine

  99. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:39 am

    Hi Rick,

    Oops…forgot to include who I was talking to in the previous comment. It was you. 🙂

  100. Stephanie permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:52 am

    I just purchased a new book by a well known BYU professor/apologist entitled “80 Evidences for Joseph Smith.” I don’t know JS bashers….I’m only on page 10 and it is selling me wholesale. I’ve gotta say, good evidence is certainly there…

    Thanks for the recommend, Ethan. Is it titled, “Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting Joseph Smith?” If so, I purchased a copy myself from FAIR. Maybe we can discuss it when we’ve both read it? 🙂

    Stephanie

  101. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 4:43 am

    Hi Ethan (and Seth),

    The problem is that the arguments you are making against the BOM are basically the same as those made against the Bible, with the exception of known histories. However, authenticating the “historical” part is NOT what makes the Bible divine, if you left the Bible at mere histories the atheists would love it. Since authenticating the “known history” aspect is what seperates the BOM from the Bible in your view, you have to limit your critic to that “non-divine” aspect or risk condemning the Bible.

    I am not sure this is exactly true. (Yes, I know — surprise, surprise.) 🙂 But let me say why. Christian scholars will often debate atheistic, agnostic, or liberal scholars – famous ones such as Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, or Gerd Ludemann – on the resurrection of Jesus, the existence of God, the reliability of the New Testament, etc. (For examples, see videos of Gary Habermas debates—they are quite interesting, really–or read transcripts or listen to audio of William Lane Craig debates.) What I’ve noticed from my limited interaction with debates on the resurrection is this: atheists seem to grant many historical claims of Christians (Jesus died by crucifixion, the disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus, the skeptics Paul and James were suddenly converted early on, etc.). Their main objection to the Christians’ conclusions about those facts (i.e., that a real resurrection must have happened) involves some version of “miracles don’t happen.” I am not downplaying their logic or the individuality of objections; it just seems to me that this is the main theme. That’s where the historical facts weigh in on the “divine” aspect you talked about, Ethan. I have observed more than one Christian debater emphasize that not having a good alternative explanation for those accepted historical facts makes a normally unlikely event (actual resurrection) more probable. And indeed, it doesn’t seem atheists really try to advance an alternative explanation. There are many out there, such as the “hallucination theory” or the “swoon theory,” and they all have problems. In fact, they start to get downright improbable when trying to explain multiple group hallucinations by the various groups who saw the risen Jesus together.

    So I guess I am trying to say that historical factuality has great bearing on whether or not the “divine” elements of the book are probable or not.

  102. June 24, 2009 5:33 am

    NChristine,

    You see, that’s where both the atheists and the Christian apologists are completely off the mark. This whole thing about “proving” the existence of God is really just an irrelevant sideshow to the question of religion. But both atheists and their opponents act like it’s the main event.

    Here’s something for you to chew on Christine.

    Even if you could prove the existence of God, that doesn’t mean I or anyone else would worship him.

    I consider this whole quest by Christian apologists to prove God’s existence to be both prideful and insecure at the same time. Stop worrying about proof and get on with the REAL business of worship!

  103. Stephanie permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:18 am

    Even if you could prove the existence of God, that doesn’t mean I or anyone else would worship him.

    It depends Seth. Examine the wonders of nature. Examine the marvel of the human body. Look up into the star-studded sky. If a God created all of this how amazing is that? Science is able now to clone–but who can create? Even if we never did know anything at all about God as revealed through His Word wouldn’t you worship the Creator of the universe? Even if we knew nothing of His love and righteousness wouldn’t His power alone be sufficient cause for our adoration? What would you demand Him to create so that you might have a reason to worship Him?

    I’m a documentary fan (a little bit of a nerd). Every time I see a documentary on animals I am just so amazed at the unique characteristics of every individual species. Look at the variety of animals that exist! But, I think that the most profound creation is that of the human body. I remember when I was taking Anatomy and Physiology in college that one student raised their hand and questioned our professor if the particular topic of the day could be linked with human evolution. His response was so telling to me. This was a secular college and a secular professor. But his answer was something like, “Yes. If you believe in evolution.” Although I’ve probably forget everything I learned in that class I can honestly say I have never been so amazed at the complexity of life. If it takes me a whole year to study a topic and I still don’t get it shouldn’t I worship the Creator who designed us this intricately?

    I think that your statement is a might cheeky, Seth.

    Stephanie 🙂

  104. rickhurd permalink
    June 24, 2009 8:48 am

    Nchristine wrote” I agree that the Ten Commandments (with the exception of the one about the Sabbath)” I totally disagree. Nowhere in the Bible can you find that the sabbath commandment has been done away with. Some have pointed out that some in the church met on the first day of the week, which is true, but nowhere in the Bible can you find that the sabbath commandment has ended. The true followers of Jesus Christ keep all the commandments. They don’t get to pick and choose which ones to keep. That is what separates them from the rest of the world, is to trust in the name of Jesus Christ and obey his commandments. Those who do not keep his commandments are not his followers.

    Luke 6:46-49
    46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things
    which I say?

  105. June 24, 2009 3:39 pm

    OK Stephanie. Keep in mind. I’m a believer in God. So yeah, I enjoy sunsets and starlit nights and all that too. Yes, it all puts me in a very religious mood.

    But that’s not good enough if you’re talking about proving God.

    Sunsets don’t prove God exists. Neither does the complexity of microorganisms and sea otters.

    The theist takes the question of a vast and incomprehensible universe and basically punts by shoving it off onto an incomprehensible God. But that’s just a quick fix if you’re talking about empirically accounting for the universe. Until you can explain and account for GOD, you cannot really say you’ve proven his existence empirically. Since God is beyond human comprehension, this works great as a stalling tactic.

    “Why don’t you make me?”
    “No, you make me.”
    “No, you”
    “You”
    “You”
    “You infinity”
    “Rrrgh”

    It’s basically the same argument tactic that Christian apologetics uses here. It essentially says “you infinity” and of course, the atheist has no real response.

    But that doesn’t mean the argument wasn’t silly anyway. The fact remains that until you can fully explain God, you cannot empirically establish him. Punting the question of universal origins off onto some unknown quantity doesn’t solve things in an empirical argument.

    Take the common Christian apologetic of infinite regress of causes. The idea being that we know everything in the universe has a cause. Therefore, there had to be a First Cause, because otherwise, we’d get this infinite regress of causes and never arrive at the present moment.

    Setting aside the fact that this is really just an elaborate form of question-begging, let me ask:

    What caused God to create the universe? Why was he one day the kind of being who doesn’t create universes, and the next moment a being who now creates universes? What made the change?

    You see the Kalam Infinity apologetic (as it is called) doesn’t get rid of the problem of infinite regress of causes. It simply designates a starting point for our universe by fiat, and then boots the problem of infinite regress back onto an unknowable God.

    That’s just a tad convenient, wouldn’t you say? But the problem didn’t go away. It’s still there and until you can actually explain God, the problem remains.

    Now, back to question begging – why does everything in the universe need a cause?

    The Christian apologist will say “because it’s self-evident.”

    Well, it isn’t self-evident. I see no reason why the universe can’t be just as eternal as God is. And neither does the atheist. Saying it had to have a start is really just begging the question. Until you can explain the Cause, you cannot explain the effects.

    I’ve been listening to Rob Bowman’s lectures on Christian apologetics. So far, he’s covered the “Rationalist” and the “Classical” approaches as he terms them and so far, I’m not particularly impressed with either (keep in mind, he says there are other approaches that I haven’t gotten to yet). In each instance, there are some rather crucial premises that are assumed as “obvious” when they really aren’t.

    Which has brought me to the point where I think a good chunk of Christian apologetics has been seriously astray for almost one thousand years. You are trying to prove a being that is ultimately beyond comprehension.

    It doesn’t work. Which relegates both the Classical and Rationalist models of Christian apologetics to essentially a pointless theological vanity project. Your own theological Tower of Babel, as I’ve pointed out before.

    I believe in God because I experience him and because I enjoy him. It’s really just that simple. I don’t put on pretensions to having proven him, and I consider the whole debate to be a rather silly dead end anyway. What is worshipful in God is what is experienced. He has already declared himself to be beyond proof anyway. Why this constant attempt to rip back the veil, and expose him to the unflinching gaze of science and logic?

    It’s not going to work. And you are losing believers because of it. If you don’t count those shallow circuses called mega-Churches, American Evangelicalism has been in a tailspin for quite some time now.

    God is no longer believed in because people are not personally experiencing him. And so far, Christian apologetics seems obsessed with cold and ugly logic to sell a God that just doesn’t appeal to people anymore.

    Until you can connect EMOTIONALLY, and EXPERIENTIALLY it just ain’t happening. Sorry.

    Stephanie, you asked a key question:

    “shouldn’t I worship the Creator who designed us this intricately?”

    If he’s a jerk – no, you shouldn’t worship him. And that’s precisely your problem, and all modern Evangelicalism’s problem. I’m not going to bend a knee to whoever has the biggest stick. Coercion and manipulation doesn’t really jive with me, you see.

    So we’re back to my question: Even if there is a God, why should I worship him?

  106. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 5:15 pm

    Hi Seth,

    You see, that’s where both the atheists and the Christian apologists are completely off the mark. This whole thing about “proving” the existence of God is really just an irrelevant sideshow to the question of religion. But both atheists and their opponents act like it’s the main event.

    I guess I may have confused the issue by mentioning “the existence of God.” Please note that my comment was specifically referring to questions on the resurrection of Christ. Ethan had postulated that any demonstration of the Bible’s historicity had nothing to do with its “divine” elements. I think the resurrection of Jesus is a good example of historical elements providing a lot of probability to the “divine” elements (in this case, the resurrection of Jesus).

  107. Ethan permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:41 pm

    Christine,

    Excpet that the “resurrection” of Christ does nto fall under the historical aspect I was talking about. An atheist would be quick to point out that Christ never rose at all. Either his body was removed by the disciples to create a rumour, etc.

    The only things that are able to be absolutely “historical” in the Bible are some places, people and socio-political events. That is the only thing that separates the Bible from the BOM. Good BOM scholars will tell you that there are evidences of the “historical” aspect of the BOM that continue to emerge.

  108. rickhurd permalink
    June 24, 2009 7:50 pm

    Concerning the historical aspects of the Book of Mormon. Many believe that the Book of Mormon is a historical record of the people of the Americas, and try to prove or disprove it upon these merits, but that is not what the Book of Mormon states. The Book of Mormon states that the land that they upon was an island in the sea:

    2 Ne. 10: 20
    20 And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an ISLE OF THE SEA.

    Where in the Americas does the sea divide the land?

    2 Ne. 10: 20
    20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the SEA DIVIDES THE LAND.

    Why would the entire South American Continent be set aside for a game preserve?:

    2 Ne. 10: 21
    21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.

    Perhaps part of the Book of Mormon describes the Americas, but I have yet to figure out what part.

    Those who try to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon by history, through archaeology or by DNA are “barking up the wrong tree.”

  109. June 24, 2009 8:13 pm

    Even if you historically prove the resurrection (which Christian apologists haven’t), you still haven’t established that Jesus was the son of God.

  110. June 24, 2009 8:14 pm

    Oh boy, we are getting to some fun stuff now!! The historicity of The Bible and it’s application to the claim of the resurrection is a fun topic!

    Does the resurrection have any historical aspects to it? IMO, yes, absolutely! Check out some of Gary Habermas’s writings. He is the world’s leading expert on the study of the resurrection. In addition, Lee Strobel’s wonderful book “The Case for Christ” has a whole chapter dedicated to this topic – I believe he interviewed Habermas in that chapter.

    Here is my two cents – what is the study of history, if not the study of what happened in the past with the goal of trying to determine what was MOST LIKELY to have happened given the evidence we have. This is exactly what we do when looking at the resurrection. Christians claim the resurrection was a real event that took place at a cerain point in space and time. We claim it was a part of HISTORY. We have historical writings both inside AND OUTSIDE The Bible about it and we can study those sources in order to determine if the resurrection was likely to have happened or not. That is a study of HISTORY.

    There are many things about the events that took place after Christ’s crucification which can only be explained by the resurrection – the dramatic turn around of the disciples, the empty tomb, etc. Gary Habermas goes into GREAT detail on this topic and lays out a pretty convincing argument for the historicity of the resurrection.

    As far as all the atheist “theories” go, they are, quite honestly, ridiculous. The “swoon” theory is so far fetched as to make it more of a miracle than the resurrection itself. Think about it – a man suffers scourging which, in and of itself, KILLED people time and time again. At this point he would have been in hyperbolic shock and would have been unlikely to survive had he not been nailed to the cross. He is then made to carry an unbelieveably heavy cross to his place of death while being beaten the entire time. He is then nailed to this cross and a short while later one of his lungs is punctured. Yet somehow, after all this, this man PRETENDS to be dead!! He then unwraps himself from his grave clothes, comes back to his followers (keep in mind he would look pretty ragged at this point) and convinces his followers that He is God!! This man would look as if he had been beaten to a pulp. How could he possibly give his followers enough confidence to stand up to the Roman and Jewish powers? He would look TERRIBLE! YEt, the disciples went out and preached Him to be God and many suffered death as a result. All this to follow a man who looked as if he had had the crud beaten out of Him? Seriously!!

    Logically, the likelihood of surviving scourging and crucifiction is astronomical. To do so and then be able to convince your followers that you have power over death and are God Himself is simply unbelievable. he would have been in no condition to instill confidence in the disciples. Ridiculous.

    Got to get back to work. I will address the “empty tomb” theory later. It has some tremendous problems.

    Darrell

  111. Ethan permalink
    June 24, 2009 8:24 pm

    Rick,
    I view the BOM as someone who has written a lot and knows the realities of it. For me it is not so much the historical parts either. Why do I believe the BOM is real? Here is a simplified equation that I can’t shake in my head:

    Joseph’s age, education, knowledge and background + Complexity of the text + Testimonies and accounts from witnesses and scribes + Timeframe of its writing + prevelant ancient sturctures, language and culture in the text = Joseph could not have written it.

    The same equation with the sum of “Joseph DID write it” does not add up logically. An argument that Satan wrote it is more likely. But I reject this view for many other reasons I won’t go into here.

    Basically, in spite of critics attempts to shrug off the BOM as fiction, I can’t accept that the farm boy whipped it out between farm chores. No way.

  112. Ethan permalink
    June 24, 2009 8:46 pm

    Darrell,
    You make an interesting point about the disciples. I agree with you completely. Why in the world would these men have been so dedicated to Christianity if they did not truly believe the divinity of Christ? None (except a few) really apostatized or doubted.

    To me that is a burning question when you consider if these men were part of some conspiracy with Jesus to bamboozle people. If they had KNOWN Christ was ordinary, or had removed his body from the tomb to create an illusion of resurrection, why would they all end up staying true, even if meant ridicule and even death? It’s powerful logic.

    The only place we differ is in applying the same logic to the JS story. The three witnesses endured similar scorn for their faithfulness. Even when they were bitter after leaving the church and had every reason to throw Joseph under the bus, they STILL did not deny the BOM! That is staggering.

    Why would they fiercely support it if they were not convinced about it? It pretty much rules out any conspiracy theories about the witnesses. Whatever the truth is, you have to admit that these men KNEW in their minds that the BOM was real. It was real for them.

  113. June 24, 2009 9:00 pm

    Ethan,

    Those are good questions and I agree with you they are worth asking. Here is my take – I believe they (including JS) were all fooled by a deceiving spirit. And here is the thing – being fooled is not uncommon even in our day. Look at Muslims – many are willing to suffer death and even inflict it upon themselves. All for what? The truth? Of course not!! They are fooled by a clever lie and are willing to die for it. The difference for the disciples is they could not have been fooled – either Christ rose or He didn’t. There really is no in-between.

    1 John 4:1 as well as MANY, MANY other verses warn us about deceiving spirits coming to preach other Gospels and other Jesus’s. We are told to compare the Gospel that a supposed angel brings with the gospel which has already been preached. The gospel delivered to JS, IMO, is a very different gospel.

    Darrell

  114. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:30 pm

    Seth and Ethan,

    For some reason we are having trouble communicating…or maybe I’m having trouble communicating. 🙂 I was not saying that the resurrection itself is empirically or historically “proven.” Rather, I was saying that there are historical facts surrounding the resurrection agreed upon by virtually everyone. These facts require some sort of explanation, and Christian scholars argue that the best explanation for those facts is the resurrection of Christ. For example, according to Habermas (The Case for the Resurrection of Christ), about 75% of all NT scholars, no matter their stripe, agree there was an empty tomb, while virtually all agree on the death of Jesus by crucifixion, the disciples’ belief that they had seen the risen Jesus, and the sudden conversion of Paul and James. So if one does not accept the resurrection explanation of the facts, then one needs to come up with an alternative explanation. But as Darrell began to point out, this is very hard to do. So the weight of the historical facts (e.g., the empty tomb) begins to point toward the divine explanation for those facts.

    Let me know if i start to make sense yet…. 🙂

  115. rickhurd permalink
    June 24, 2009 10:16 pm

    Darrell wrote: “Joseph’s age, education, knowledge and background + Complexity of the text + Testimonies and accounts from witnesses and scribes + Timeframe of its writing + prevelant ancient sturctures, language and culture in the text = Joseph could not have written it.”

    Knowing this, it is hard for me to understand why anyone would reject the Book of Mormon. I think the main reasons why most reject the Book of Mormon is because of anti-Mormon rhetoric and the Brighamite church.

    Darrell failed to mention the three witnesses Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris who swore that they seen an angel, and held to their stories until they died, which is similar to the four witnesses who dug up the Voree Plates.

    The reason why I originally believed the Book of Mormon to be true is because Joseph Smith Jr. told me it was. Or rather, someone who I perceived to had been Joseph Smith Jr. appeared to me in a vison-like dream and told me that it was true. Before then, I had rejected it.

  116. June 24, 2009 10:55 pm

    Rick,

    Why do you believe the Voree Plates (Book of The Law, correct?) to be true?

    Also, I have never read about the 4 people who dug up the Voree Plates. You say they are similar to the 3 witnesses to the BOM. Did they go there entire lives without rejecting Strange as a prophet and Book of The Law as the word of God?

    Just curious. I will need to do some research on them.

    Darrell

  117. June 24, 2009 10:57 pm

    Why do you believe the Voree Plates (Book of The Law, correct?) to be true?

    Rick,

    I guess what I am really asking is, if you are willing to share, did you have a vision similar to the one you had for the BOM which told you the Book of the Law was true as well?

    Darrell

  118. Ethan permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:02 am

    “So if one does not accept the resurrection explanation of the facts, then one needs to come up with an alternative explanation. But as Darrell began to point out, this is very hard to do.”

    It’s not really that hard, I’m going to call you guys this one. You are trying to argue that people should accept the resurrection on historical data. The idea of being able to somehow prove emprirically the supernatural events of the Bible is just not possible. No matter how many times you reason it out.

    This does not mean it did not happen, just that not many atheists/agnostics (OK, the majority of Americans) are going to look at the limited evidence and conclude that “obviously” he came back to life. Trying to prove this just sounds silly.

    The only way people are going to accept the Bible’s or the Book of Mormon’s fantastic claims is through the testimony of the Holy Spirit, not CSI. “…flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matt 16:17

    This is why I tell anti-Mormons to stop attacking the BOM McKeever style with Bill Maher tactics. To know if the BOM is true you need to put away the Indiana Jones hat and absorb the message. If it suports the NT (which it does. Not contradicting any more than the Bible contradicts itself), the way it clearly does to millions, then accept it by the Spirit. That’s why missionaries urge this approach. The bible is no different.

  119. Stephanie permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:18 am

    I believe in God because I experience him and because I enjoy him.

    Until you can connect EMOTIONALLY, and EXPERIENTIALLY it just ain’t happening. Sorry.

    Seth, you wrote a very interesting thought provoking post. I enjoyed reading your perspective.

    Here is my take on the “experience” issue. Falling in love is one of the most intense feelings that a human can experience. Maybe you don’t know the girls I know but a lot of people out there think that every new boyfriend is “the one.” All of their hopes, dreams, plans for the future are wrapped up in their object of affection. Usually statements are made like, “I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life” and “This is forever love” and “We are each other’s soul mates” and “This was a match made in heaven” and other such sentimental nonsense ad nauseum. However, life shows that the experience of falling in love rarely happens just once to a person. Why else would the description of “first love” be used so often? We fall into and out of love at an alarming rate. Unfortunately this also carries over into marriage. In America we have a divorce rate around 60%! Clearly something is wrong! How does the feeling that this was a “forever love” translate 5 years down the road into “irreconsilable differences?”

    I am not discounting the experience factor for I find that it is an enormous part of my own spiritual life. I do feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, I have felt the power of conviction, of discernment, of warning against danger, of encouragement to hold my tongue, of assurance and security. I have had chills when listening to worship songs. I have cried during sermons. However, I have also had chills and cried during Hallmark movies.

    I think that experience should always be tempered with truth.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

  120. NChristine permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:32 am

    Rick,

    Nowhere in the Bible can you find that the sabbath commandment has been done away with. Some have pointed out that some in the church met on the first day of the week, which is true, but nowhere in the Bible can you find that the sabbath commandment has ended.

    It seems to me that the New Testament treats the Sabbath commandment much differently than the other Ten Commandments. I am certainly willing to change my mind on this (or any) topic if persuaded by Scripture, but to my current understanding the Scripture seems pretty clear on this point.

    1. Paul says that regarding “one day above another” or regarding “every day alike” is a matter of personal conscience.

    One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it….For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself (Romans 14:5-7).

    2. Christians are told not to let anyone judge them regarding whether or not they observe sabbaths or other holy days:

    Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ (Colossians 2:17-18).

    3. The writer of Hebrews shows that the idea of the “Sabbath” is fulfilled in the Christian’s rest from his/her own works (and trying to become righteous thereby):

    For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest….There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Hebrews 4:4-10).

    This is very similar to what Jesus said to those who were burdened with trying to keep the Law (along with the many traditions the self-righteous Pharisees added to it): “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus offers rest because God declares us righteous, apart from works, when we believe on Jesus Christ only (Romans 4:5). That doesn’t mean we then live unrighteously! But the New Testament tells us over and over that righteousness cannot be achieved through works, for we sinful humans are unable to consistently, fully, untaintedly do right.

  121. rickhurd permalink
    June 25, 2009 2:06 am

    Darrell wrote: “Why do you believe the Voree Plates (Book of The Law, correct?) to be true?” Answer(s): The plates used in translating the Book of the Law into the English language were different than the Voree Plates. James J. Strang carried the Voree Plates with him and shown them to numerous people. He let people handle them, and even newspapers carried the story. The plates used in translating what was translated into the English language within the Book of the Law of the Lord were seen by only a few. You can find their testimonies in the front matter of the 1856 editions of the same.

    The reason why I believe the Voree Plates to be true is because of the testimonies of the 4 witnesses who dug up the plates, and because no one has ever been able to prove them as fakes as yet.

    Darrell wrote: “Also, I have never read about the 4 people who dug up the Voree Plates. You say they are similar to the 3 witnesses to the BOM. Did they go there entire lives without rejecting Strange as a prophet and Book of The Law as the word of God?” Answer(s): My first post on this Blog quoted the testimonies of the 4 witnesses who dug up the Voree Plates along with a link tp where you can view a facsimile of those plates.

    My research into the 4 witnesses who dug up the Voree Plates concluded that all four left the church, but I did not find any evidence that they ever denied their testimonies. The same can be said of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

    Darrell wrote: “I guess what I am really asking is, if you are willing to share, did you have a vision similar to the one you had for the BOM which told you the Book of the Law was true as well?” Answer(s): No.

    Most who believe that James J. Strang was Joseph Smith’s legal successor believe that the people in the church, not James, screwed up. They think that he was sort-of infallible like most Catholics think of the Pope, and most Brighamites think of Joseph Smith Jr. I don’t think that way. I think that some of the people who were in the church, and James J. Strang screwed up. Regardless, James J. Strang suffered a very painful and prolonged death, and the church suffered, too.

  122. June 25, 2009 2:48 am

    “It’s not really that hard, I’m going to call you guys this one. You are trying to argue that people should accept the resurrection on historical data. The idea of being able to somehow prove emprirically the supernatural events of the Bible is just not possible. No matter how many times you reason it out. ”

    Ethan,

    A few things to think about…

    We are not talking about empirically proving the resurrection. Empirically proving ANYTHING in history, religious or not, is fairly close to impossible. Empirical proof involves testing something repeatedly to show that when “x” occurs, “y” will happen. That is not possible when it comes to an historical event such as the resurrection, for you cannot setup a situation and test it to see if a “resurrection” will happen. To be exact, empirical proof is not used for most things in life. Rather, most things are accepted as being true “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    What those such as Habermas seek to show is that based upon the evidence we have, the only logical explanation is that Christ rose from the dead. Although the arguments used are based upon the evidence we have, they have nothing to do with empirical proof and, IMO, the argument is EXTREMELY sound.

    Ethan, don’t be so quick to discount these types of arguments as having no benefit in bringing people to Christ. In reality they have benefited many, many people. Modern society has done a wonderful job in compartmentalizing Christianity into a “faith only” category. Something that can be true for some but not true for others. Hogwash!! Either it is true for all or false for all. Subjective truth is self-contradictory. As a result of this post modern crap, some people need help in over coming the supposed intellectual barriers to Christianity before they can fully engage it with the hearts. They need to see that the idea of Christianity being totally subjective is utter hogwash. It is not a soley emotional religion and has many, many intellectual aspects to it. It IS possible to be an intellectual Christian. – for Christianity is not just religious truth, rather it is TOTAL TRUTH.

    You should check out Lee Strobel’s book “The Case For Christ”. He is perfect example of this type of situation. The book is based upon his journey out of atheism into Christianity.

    We can approach God with our minds AS WELL AS our hearts. Doing so allows us to give ourselves FULLY to God. Too many people worship God with their hearts on Sunday and then go back to work on Monday morning to worship the worldy, secular, post modern crap of modern society Monday through Sat with their minds. It is a sad way to live.

    Darrell

  123. rickhurd permalink
    June 25, 2009 2:53 am

    NChristine wrote: “It seems to me that the New Testament treats the Sabbath commandment much differently than the other Ten Commandments. I am certainly willing to change my mind on this (or any) topic if persuaded by Scripture, but to my current understanding the Scripture seems pretty clear on this point.”

    What day do you think Jesus Christ observed? Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Or not? That alone should put an end to any further questions concerning this matter.

    Exodus 20:8-10
    8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    10 But the SEVENTH day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:
    in it thou shalt not do any work, …

    Saturday: The SEVENTH day of the week (The American Heritage Dictionary
    of the English Language.)

    The scripture says “Remember the SABBATH DAY”, something that most
    Christians have forgotten. Exodus 20:8 is a veiled prophecy that
    someday people would forget to keep the Sabbath.
    The Sabbath was a “perpetual covenant”:

    Exodus 31:16
    16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath,
    to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a
    perpetual covenant.

    Isaiah warned that the earth will be burned and the inhabitants will
    be scattered, with few men left, because they have transgressed the
    laws, changed the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant:

    Isaiah 24:1,5-6
    1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it
    waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the
    inhabitants thereof.

    5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof;
    because they have transgressed the laws, changed the
    ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
    6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they
    that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants
    of the earth are burned, and few men left.
    The “everlasting covenant” here in Isaiah 24:5 is translated from the
    same Hebrew words as the “perpetual covenant” referred to above in

    Exodus 31:16.
    Daniel warned in prophecy that men would think to make changes to the
    “times and laws”:

    Daniel 7:21,25
    21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints,
    and prevailed against them;

    25 And he shall speak great words against the most High,
    and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to
    change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand
    until a time and times and the dividing of time.
    This is a clear warning that the “times and laws” should NOT be
    changed.
    The Sabbath is supposed to be kept as a memorial of the creation:

    Genesis 2:3
    3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:
    because that in it he had rested from all his work which God
    created and made.

    Exodus 20:10-11
    10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:

    11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea,
    and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:
    wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    Exodus 31:12-13,17
    12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
    13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying,
    Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between
    me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know
    that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

    17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for
    ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on
    the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
    The seventh day was BLESSED and SANCTIFIED. It is NOT the same as the
    other days of the week.

    There has been no other commandment or revelation from God that has
    changed the day to any other day of the week. Those who deliberately
    observe the Sabbath day on some other day of the week do so by their
    own initiative, or by the influence of false tradition. They do it in defiance of the word of God.

    It is necessary to keep the Sabbath in the way that God commanded in
    order to demonstrate our love of God. Those who refuse to do this are
    demonstrating their disrespect for the creation of heaven and earth.

    John 14:23-24
    23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he
    will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will
    come unto him, and make our abode with him.
    24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the
    word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent
    me.

    Matthew 19:17
    17 … if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    Luke 6:46

    Mark 7:9
    9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the
    commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

    1 John 2:3-4
    3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his
    commandments.
    4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his
    commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    Again, nowhere in the Bible can you find that the Sabbath commandment has ended. Not even in the New Testament. What you are trying to convey is a falsehood. You are perverting the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, which is to have faith in the name of Jesus Christ and obey his commandments.

  124. June 25, 2009 2:55 am

    ” It IS possible to be an intellectual Christian.”

    What I meant to say is it IS possible to be an ‘intelligent’ Christian.

    Darrell

  125. June 25, 2009 3:03 am

    “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath”

    I am not one of the children of Israel to whom the Sabbath covenant was made. I am a Gentile who has been grafted in and I am a partaker of the new covenant. When the legalistic Jews tried to impose the Jewish law on the Gentiles, the apostles got together and considered the matter and this was the decision:

    “if seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well” (Acts 15:28-29).

    The NT does indeed have teaching related to the new covenant believer’s relationship to the Sabbath. NChristine has pointed out some of the passages already. One of the strongest passages on this is Romans 14:5-6. “One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord, and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”

    There’s liberty in the new covenant for differences of opinion on these matters, but one thing is clear. We are not to judge one another regarding how we observe days (Col. 2:16).

  126. June 25, 2009 3:25 am

    Darrell,

    I haven’t read Habermas, but I have heard him described by Rob Bowman. Just today, in fact.

    He comes from the “evidentialist” tradition of Christian apologetics.

    And I’m pretty sure you’re misrepresenting his position by saying that he seeks to show that the only logical explanation for the evidence we have is that Jesus rose from the dead.

    The evidentialist works in PROBABILITiES, not certainties. What Bowman said about Habermas and other evidentialists is that they seek to show that Jesus rising from the dead is the MOST LIKELY explanation for the facts we have. None of them assert it’s the only logical explanation.

    And one other thing. You first write:

    “We are not talking about empirically proving the resurrection. Empirically proving ANYTHING in history, religious or not, is fairly close to impossible.”

    Then you write almost in the same breath that Jesus rising from the dead is the only logical explanation based on the facts.

    Umm… Darrell… That IS empirically proving the resurrection.

    Make up your mind.

    And I could also turn your dig on relativism around on you. I might point out that the conservative Christian obsession with objective truth is the sign of an ultimately insecure faith. An inability to believe anything that you don’t think is air-tight.

  127. June 25, 2009 3:27 am

    I’m also confused about your last point. Are you trying to say that religious relativists only worship God on Sunday, or just people who only worship him with their hearts?

  128. rickhurd permalink
    June 25, 2009 9:50 am

    Jessica wrote: “I am not one of the children of Israel to whom the Sabbath covenant was made. I am a Gentile who has been grafted in and I am a partaker of the new covenant. When the legalistic Jews tried to impose the Jewish law on the Gentiles, the apostles got together and considered the matter and this was the decision:

    “if seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well” (Acts 15:28-29).

    So, does that mean that I can hate God and my neighbor, take the name of God in vain, forget about the sabbath day being a holy day, dis-honor my mother and father, murder, commit adultery, steal, lie and covet the material things of my neighbor’s? Good thing you cleared that up for me. Life will be so much easer for me from now on.

    And people go to their churches and pray to their gods and wonder why their world is in such a mess.

  129. June 25, 2009 2:07 pm

    Seth,

    I don’t see the huge distinction between “Logical Explanation” versus “Best Possible Explanation”. I suppose one could make the argument that the “Best Possible Explanation” does not necessarily have to be the most “logical one”; however, we have then changed the discussion into something entirely different. Bottom line, the logical and best possible explanation for the events is the resurrection.

    “Umm… Darrell… That IS empirically proving the resurrection.”

    Empirical Evidence, as noted on Wikipedia, is based upon observation. To prove something empirically is to test it repeatedly to determine what happens. This is a central tenant of the scientific method. We cannot do this with history for we cannot go back and “observe” whether Christ rose from the dead or not. The argument for the resurrection is not based upon “empiricial” evidence; rather, it is based upon the historical evidence which we analyze logically. There is a huge difference.

    “And I could also turn your dig on relativism around on you. I might point out that the conservative Christian obsession with objective truth is the sign of an ultimately insecure faith. An inability to believe anything that you don’t think is air-tight.”

    I do despise the notion of relative truth, for it do not exist and is a contradiction in terms. If something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, at all times. Because God is a God of truth, I do not believe He would give us one truth which would contradict another. As for approaching God with our minds – I believe it is perfectly OK and, in fact, has been commanded of us. Approaching God with your mind is not a REPLACEMENT of faith, rather it is an enhancement to it. IMO, those who shy away from the idea of approaching God with their minds do so for various reasons. Some do it because they are afraid that if they try to approach God with their minds what they discover as a truth in reality might contradict a spiritual truth they hold dear – the Catholic Church’s treatment of Galilieo is an example.

    Our society has a serious bifurcation and compartmentalization of “faith/religion” versus “universal truths”. Faith has been compartmentalized into an “unprovable/relative truth” realm. The secularlists tell us we can have our faith as long as we hold that it is really just a “relative truth” that is not applicable to all. Hogwash! Christianity is not a relative truth – it is TOTAL TRUTH.

    Darrell

  130. June 25, 2009 3:23 pm

    Oh, relativism never asserts there is no absolute truth.

    It simply asserts that, as a practical matter, mortal human beings are incapable of obtaining it – in its fullness.

  131. June 25, 2009 3:29 pm

    I’ll admit that empirical” probably wasn’t the best choice of words (although what you are doing still could be said to be empirical – in that you use logical proofs based on what you empirically observe to be true today to arrive at conclusions about the past). Perhaps it obscures more than it clarifies.

    Empiricism or mere logical deduction, it doesn’t really matter. You are still trying to coercively unmask a God who has already declared himself to be beyond such attempts. You are trying to prove God on a factual basis.

    This simply doesn’t work. Unless the person already emotionally connects with God, all the “facts” in the world aren’t going to add up to a hot cup of jack squat. These facts you throw out are really just mere trivia in the end. Without faith, that’s all they ever will be.

    With faith, the facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are profoundly powerful. Without it, it’s nothing more than mere historical trivia.

    It is mere vanity to think you are going to force worship of Jesus through rattling off trivia at people.

  132. June 25, 2009 3:59 pm

    Seth,

    You are misunderstanding what I am saying and, in the process you appear to be falling for the modern relativist argument that religion is all about faith and has nothing to do with real truth.

    I am not saying that religion is not about faith, rather I am saying it is NOT ONLY about faith. Do I accept Jesus as my Savior simply because I think His resurrection is a reasonable deduction given the historical evidence. Or course not. I still have to accept it based upon faith because I cannot know with 100% certainty that it happened. There are very, very few things in this world that we can know with 100% certainty because we can’t empirically test them. For example, can any of us say with 100% certainty that WW1 actually happened? We have history books that talk about it but the honest answer is “no” we don’t know this with 100% absolute certainty. Nevertheless, we make a reasonable deduction and in the process excercise “faith” and say we believe it did. The amount of faith required to believe this is rather small because we have ample evidence which points to the fact that WW1 DID in fact happen; however, it is faith nontheless.

    We do the same thing with Christ – we can analyze the evidence (historical and spiritual) and determine whether or not to place our FAITH in Him. It is not that faith is not required, faith is absolutely required; however, we now have an INFORMED INTELLIGENT FAITH. This is completely different from sticking our head in the sand and believing just because of an emotional feeling/mom told me so/preacher or prophet said so/ etc. In addition, I might add that when all the evidence is taken together, the amount of faith required to believe in Christ and follow Him is SIGINIFICANTLY LESS than the amount of faith required to make the leap to atheism.

    Darrell

  133. June 25, 2009 4:10 pm

    Hi Rick,

    You said, “So, does that mean that I can hate God and my neighbor, take the name of God in vain, forget about the sabbath day being a holy day, dis-honor my mother and father, murder, commit adultery, steal, lie and covet the material things of my neighbor’s? Good thing you cleared that up for me. Life will be so much easer for me from now on.”

    All of the 10 commandments are repeated in the NT with the exception of the Sabbath commandment. I think this is significant, don’t you? So, considering that the commandment is not repeated in the NT, along with the specific NT scriptures I have cited regarding the Sabbath, I have concluded that the Sabbath commandment was unique to the covenant God had with Israel and was a foreshadowing of the Sabbath rest that new covenant believers now can have in Christ. He is our Sabbath rest as Hebrews 4 talks about. He promised “come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” – we rest in Him from our own works.

    There are so many things in the OT that foreshadowed their NT fulfillment. For example, we don’t perform animal sacrifices anymore – that was a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

    All of the other things you mentioned pertaining to loving one’s neighbor and loving God – all of those commands are repeated in the NT. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

  134. June 25, 2009 4:15 pm

    “Do I accept Jesus as my Savior simply because I think His resurrection is a reasonable deduction given the historical evidence. Or course not. I still have to accept it based upon faith because I cannot know with 100% certainty that it happened.”

    So basically, you get yourself most of the way Mr. Spock style, and then faith simply “tops you off?” Kind of that last little bonus amount to get you there?

  135. NChristine permalink
    June 25, 2009 4:26 pm

    Empiricism or mere logical deduction, it doesn’t really matter. You are still trying to coercively unmask a God who has already declared himself to be beyond such attempts.

    Seth, it seems to me that you are confusing two issues: the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ. I don’t mean to speak for Darrell, but it seemed to me he was discussing evidences for the resurrection of Christ, not the existence of God. This is important, for the Scripture is clear that God has revealed Himself most fully in Christ. So when you talk about “trying to coercively unmask a God who has already declared himself to be beyond such attempts,” that doesn’t fit with the issue of Jesus, who “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), who gives “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6), etc. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God, for He is God (John 1:1). That doesn’t sound like a God who “has declared himself to be beyond such attempts” — He deliberately sent His Son to reveal Himself. And it is that revelation — in the aspect of His resurrection, which was not “done in a corner” (as Paul put it) — about which we are speaking.

  136. June 25, 2009 4:46 pm

    Yeah, and I’m already telling you that Jesus resurrection definitively proves nothing about God.

  137. Ethan permalink
    June 25, 2009 5:59 pm

    Seth is absolutely right. There is ample “evidence” for evolution as well. Enough to allow many intelligent people to declare it as truth. The truth concerning the resurrection, parting of the Red Sea, or God’s very existence will always be just beyond the pale of scientific evidence.

    Sorry, every shred of historical circumstantial evidence that you so seriously toss around as unrefutable proof for these events would not hold up in a court of law for one second, I’m a little shocked by your position on this.

    Frankly, in some way it reflects the approach you take to interpreting the Bible in absolutist terms. There is no way to prove that the Bible means exactly what you say it does, especially when LDS have very valid differing interpretations. This is an interesting peek into the Evangelical mindset.

  138. June 25, 2009 6:07 pm

    “…Mr. Spock style…”

    Fortunately, I have used evidence, logic, and deduction to come to the conclusion that Mr. Spock does not exist – instead, I believe he is an imaginary character. Naturally, I realize there are those in this world who choose NOT to use evidence, logic and deduction and instead simply have “faith” that he does in fact, exist. Neverthless, I disagree with them.

    Seriously though… I am not really sure why you have such an issue with this. Can you give me some insight into your concerns on this matter?

    To say we need to leave our minds out of the matter of religion is fraught with numerous problems. Not the least of which is God has commanded us to love Him with our minds. If we are to rely ONLY upon faith and not our minds, there are many crazy things which can result. For example, what of JS’s prophecy that “little men dressed like Quakers live on the moon?” Do you use your MIND and logically determine JS to be in error? OR do you blindly believe it despite the fact we have found no little Quakers on the moon?

    Further to Christine’s point, keep in mind that there is a difference between demonstrating logically that God necessarily exists and fully learning ABOUT that God from logic and evidence. The Bible tells us in Romans 1 that all creation screams that God exists. We can know from looking at creation and studying it that it is absolutely necessary for God to exist. That is the approach Intelligent Design takes. What logic and nature CANNOT tell us and never will tell us is WHO God is. We will never fully comprehend God – it is impossible for the finite to fully comprehend the infinite. We can apprehend Him but never fully comprehend Him.

    This is, by the way, one of the issues I have with Mormonism. Some Mormons will say that because they cannot fully COMPREHEND the Biblical Christian teaching of the nature of God, it cannot be true. JS as a result, lessened God to be more comprehendable – he taught Him to be an exalted man. Easily comprehendable but nevertheless, false.

    Darrell

  139. June 25, 2009 6:11 pm

    “There is ample “evidence” for evolution as well. Enough to allow many intelligent people to declare it as truth.”

    I mentioned “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” before… pick it up. Also, if you have not read it, check out “Darwin’s Black Box”. The theory of evolution is fraught with problems. The fact that evidence is pointing to an absolute beginning to the time/space continuum to start with. Check it out and you may change your tune on this one.

    Darrell

  140. June 25, 2009 6:12 pm

    “For example, what of JS’s prophecy that “little men dressed like Quakers live on the moon?””

    Darrell, do you deliberately pick the stupidest arguments in the counter-cult arsenal?

    No one has even proven he said this. And if he did (which is quite possible) there is zero evidence it was ever a “prophesy.”

    I have it on good authority that Thomas Jefferson had a few superstitious fancies as well.

    Or is this a part of your ongoing theme of “Joseph was only a prophet if the outhouse smelled like roses after he left?”

  141. June 25, 2009 6:13 pm

    “The fact that evidence is pointing to an absolute beginning to the time/space continuum to start with.”

    Like that proves anything Darrell.

  142. June 25, 2009 7:10 pm

    “Darrell, do you deliberately pick the stupidest arguments in the counter-cult arsenal? No one has even proven he said this. And if he did (which is quite possible) there is zero evidence it was ever a “prophesy.”:

    Seth,

    Do you see the irony here? You appear to be talking in a fairly negative manner about “evidence” in matters of faith, yet now you follow with the fact that there is “zero EVIDENCE” to support JS’s statement. If this is all a matter of faith why would you look to evidence?

    Darrell

  143. June 25, 2009 7:12 pm

    “The fact that evidence is pointing to an absolute beginning to the time/space continuum to start with.”

    “Like that proves anything Darrell.”

    If the universe had a beginning, which the evidence appears to point towards, then it necessitates a creator. This creates HUGE problems for the evolutionist crowd.

    Darrell

  144. June 25, 2009 8:45 pm

    “If the universe had a beginning, which the evidence appears to point towards, then it necessitates a creator. This creates HUGE problems for the evolutionist crowd.”

    No, it doesn’t.

    In fact, the idea of a universe that sprung to being out of a Maker is hugely problematic. What was God doing before he suddenly decided there needed to be a universe? And why did he feel this need?

    Was everything less than perfect already?

  145. June 25, 2009 8:48 pm

    And it’s never been my position that logic and evidence are irrelevant. Logic is quite handy actually. For showing that the Calvinist God is a manipulative, arbitrary narcissist for example.

    Handy stuff logic.

    But my assertion is that you are misusing it by making it the sole arbiter of belief. It seems you merely pay lip-service to other methods of faith. Rather your almost sole emphasis seems to be on evidence we all will be forced to acknowledge rather than anything else.

    I guess this makes sense, given how you felt burnt by Mormonism. But honestly, you sound more like a jilted divorcee than a believer in many of your arguments.

    You’re never going to have a good marriage until you learn to trust again Darrell.

  146. Ethan permalink
    June 25, 2009 9:21 pm

    “The theory of evolution is fraught with problems.”

    I agree. However, the case made for the theory of evolution, even with it’s missing pieces, is compelling. All I am pointing out is that the pro-evolution crowd uses the same argument you’re using for the resurrection. Basically saying, “look at all of these random puzzle pieces, by seeing how the known evidence fits together we can safely say that we certainly know, WITHOUT DOUBT, that the missing areas really are……”

    The problem is they don’t know. The missing pieces could be something entirely different altogether.

    I have serious issues with people who try to read a text, look at historical accounts, or whatever, and then try to come off like they have the only correct interpretation of the event. It’s close-minded and grossly ignorant.

    I agree with you that there is absolute truth. However, there is not enough historical evidence around (including the Bible folks) to claim that you have discovered the one and only possible meaning of everything. I reject that idea.

  147. June 25, 2009 9:49 pm

    Ethan,

    So, what you are saying then is that although there is an absolute truth, there is no way to know what it is?

    Seth,

    “You’re never going to have a good marriage until you learn to trust again.”

    On the contrary, I have a lot of trust; however, the object of my trust has changed. I no longer trust the LDS institution or the arm of man (JS and other modern day “prophets”) – my trust has now been placed in God and God alone. Oh and my marriage – it is BETTER THAN EVER! For I am the bride of the one true God!!

    “But my assertion is that you are misusing it by making it the sole arbiter of belief.”

    You are still misunderstanding and misconstruing my position. Evidence is not the SOLE ARBITER of belief. Evidence enhances ones belief. Just as I was pointing out about JS – I know you don’t like the example but it is all too true – should we believe there are little Quaker men on the moon just because he said so? Of course not!! If realilty does not match with one’s faith then there are problems. For God is not the God of one’s belief only. He is the God of EVERYTHING. He would not give us reality which says one thing (There are NO Quaker men on the moon) and then expect us to believe another thing (There ARE Quaker men on the moon b/c JS said so).

    Your position on the universe is another example. The evidence is leading towards the reality that the universe had a beginning – which goes right in line with what Christians have said FOR 2000 YEARS. There is no getting around this fact. Einstein did not like this reality but he eventually gave into it and CHANGED HIS BELIEF as a result. Because of his worldview HE WANTED an eternal universe; but the fact is, the evidence does not point towards this. Your statement shows you don’t like this idea:

    “In fact, the idea of a universe that sprung to being out of a Maker is hugely problematic. What was God doing before he suddenly decided there needed to be a universe? And why did he feel this need?”

    I realize Mormon theology leads many LDS to the belief in an eternal universe. So what do you do when confronted with evidence which demonstrates it may not be true? One’s reaction can be very telling. Do you act like the Catholic Church did when Galileo pointed out that the earth orbits the sun?

    Darrell

  148. Ethan permalink
    June 25, 2009 9:53 pm

    The moon men thing is way overblown. I agree with Seth that IF he really said that (and we have no proof, I think it was actually BY who was accused of this, not JS) it was never a “prophesy”, perhaps naive 19th century speculation as was common in those days.

    If you are trying to imply that JS was out of touch with science you must not be familiar with his verified teachings. Since we were talking about how you dislike relativity, all of our science books credit Albert Einstein with discovering the theory of relativity. The truth is the Joseph Smith first taught aspects of the theory of relativity 100 before Einstein. You should read this article about other scientific bull’s eyes that JS hit:

    http://rsc.byu.edu/JSAlvinBensonModernScience.php

    I want to be a farm boy when I grow up!

  149. Ethan permalink
    June 25, 2009 9:57 pm

    “So, what you are saying then is that although there is an absolute truth, there is no way to know what it is?”

    Yes.

    Although I would clarify by stating that there is CURRENTLY no way of proving what that singular truth is with the scant details we currently have. For some reason God has no revealed all the answers to the universe.

    It’s the same problem scientists face with the unified theory. They are still searching for the discoveries that will explain how EVERYTHING works and can be predicted in the universe.

  150. June 25, 2009 11:36 pm

    Ethan,

    My point had nothing to do with JS being ignorant. My point was how ludicrous things can get if one takes the position that “faith” IS ALL one needs to know truth. Many people followed (and continue to follow) false prophets such as JS; most of who teach some incredibly false truths – men on the moon, Christ will return within “x” number of years, etc.. It is possible to have faith in false things. Using one’s mind to evaluate the teachings one is considering to follow is a GOOD thing and has, in fact, been commanded of us.

    “So, what you are saying then is that although there is an absolute truth, there is no way to know what it is?” Yes.

    I am not sure if you realize, but your position is self-defeating. You are claiming to have the very knowledge you say it is not possible to have in order to put forward your position. You claim we cannot know absolute truth – if so, how can you make this claim? You are claiming AS AN ABSOLUTE TRUTH that ABSOLUTE TRUTH CANNOT BE KNOWN.

    Personally, I believe that absolute truth is knowable. Christ told us HE is the way, the truth and the life – why would He tell us something we cannot know? I find your’s and Seth’s position very interesting – it is very similar to the extreme secular/humanist/post modern position, although directed toward’s an additional aspect. Post Modernism/secularism teaches that faith truths are not absolute – they are realitive and we cannot know whether they are true or not. However, they teach that scientific truths are absolute and are the only things we can know for sure.

    However, you and Seth appear to be taking the position THAT ALL TRUTHS are unknowable – scientific as well as religious. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding, for this is an EXTREME position.

    My position is simply that TRUTH – religious as well as physical/scientific – is absolute and knowable in so far as God has allowed us to obtain it. God has given us 3 things in which we can approach and learn about Him – His Word, the Spirit and our minds. Why not use all three? To pit the mind against God is to say that God doesn’t intend us to use it. I believe we need to use our mind IN CONJUNCTION WITH the Word and the Spirit to approach God. For He has told us “Love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Don’t pit one against another; rather, use them all and approach God with ALL your being.

    Lastly, let me finish by saying that although I believe my faith and the God I worship is the correct one, it does not mean that I believe I know all truth or that I am right about everything. All I am saying is that truth is knowable. In addition, I am not of the opinion that having truth gives one the right to become ARROGANT. In reality having the truth carries with it the responsibility to do quite the opposite – we need to treat others with respect, honor and love. Everyone is entitlted to their opinion and their opinions should be respected and tolerated. Nevertheless, tolerance does not mean that everyone’s opinion is EQUALLY VALID. There is only ONE valid opinion and that is the one which coincides with the truth.

    God Bless!!

    Darrell

  151. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:52 am

    “You are claiming AS AN ABSOLUTE TRUTH that ABSOLUTE TRUTH CANNOT BE KNOWN”

    ab·so·lute: adjective. “free from imperfection.”

    So yes, that is absolutley true. We do not have a perfect knowledge of the universe, the atonement or God. Do you Darrell? If so we need to get you a book deal pronto.

    It’s an absolute truth that currently no man has access to the absolute truth of these matters. God has not given us such a comprehensive understanding.

    After all of our furious typing on this subject, you have not really proven anything. Unless it is that you really believe that your brand of “truth” is the correct one.

    If you took all the historical evidence about the resurrection and squared off against an atheist in a court of law you would get destroyed. That’s not how God works, “proving” things.

    I do believe the resurrection happened. But this is only AFTER I combine logic, evidence, the witness of the HG and my FAITH in everything else I know about Jesus’ story. But there simply is no evidence that is going to cause people to be compelled to believe he came back to life.

  152. NChristine permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:45 am

    If you took all the historical evidence about the resurrection and squared off against an atheist in a court of law you would get destroyed. That’s not how God works, “proving” things.

    I don’t think that courts of law usually deal in historical evidence. I could be wrong. But debates do frequently occur on this topic between Christians and atheists, and I wouldn’t say that the Christians get destroyed. Here’s a link to a recent one between Gary Habermas and Dr. Arif Ahmed from Cambridge. There are nine parts. If you click on this link, that particular debate is the second set of videos.

  153. June 26, 2009 2:24 am

    Ethan,

    I believe you failing to see how your claim is self-defeating and therefore, illogical.

    You claim it is absolutely true that we cannot know absolute truths about God.

    My response: Your claim is in an of itself an absolute truth claim about God. Therefore, it defeats itself and is illogical.

    In addition, you are making a “nothing more than” claim which is not possible without “more than” knowledge. In order to be confident that we can’t and don’t know an absolute truth about God you yourself would first HAVE TO KNOW AN ABSOLUTE TRUTH about Him. Otherwise you could not possibly know whether someone has an aboslute truth about Him or not. You cannot claim “nothing more than” without first having “more than” knowledge. It is illogical.

    Darrell

  154. June 26, 2009 2:29 am

    “But this is only AFTER I combine logic, evidence, the witness of the HG and my FAITH in everything else I know about Jesus’ story.”

    I am with you here buddy!! That is exactly the formula I use. Where you and I appear to disagree is in the weight of the evidence and the effect that evidence can have in helping people overcome the intellectual barriers to the resurrection. While you claim that evidence doesn’t help people, I happen to know it can and does. Don’t be so quick to discard the value of apologetics, evidence and logic. They were all created by God and they can and do help bring people to Him. More so today than ever they can be used to overcome the secularist post modern crud that is thrown around today.

    Darrell

  155. June 26, 2009 2:45 am

    “I could be wrong. But debates do frequently occur on this topic between Christians and atheists, and I wouldn’t say that the Christians get destroyed.”

    I actually attended a debate a couple of months ago on the subject of the resurrection. The debate was between Michael Licona and Bart Erhman of all people. Licona held his own and, at least according to the attendees, came out on top. Billy did a couple of posts on the debate on our blog. Check them out…

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/thoughts-on-ehrmanlicona-debate-part-1/

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/thoughts-on-ehrmanlicona-debate-part-2/

    Darrell

  156. rickhurd permalink
    June 26, 2009 3:51 am

    Jessica posted: “All of the 10 commandments are repeated in the NT with the exception of the Sabbath commandment. I think this is significant, don’t you?”

    Absolutely not. The Sabbath commandment was mentioned numerous times in the New Testament:

    Mark 2:27
    27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and
    not man for the sabbath:

    Matthew 12:8
    8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

    Mark 2:28
    28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

    Luke 6:5
    5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also
    of the sabbath.

    Mark 1:21
    21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the
    sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

    Luke 4:16
    16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up:
    and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the
    sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

    Luke 4:31
    31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and
    taught them on the sabbath days.

    Luke 23:56
    56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments;
    and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

    Acts 13:14
    14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch
    in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day,
    and sat down.

    Acts 13;42,44
    42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the
    Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them
    the next sabbath.

    44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city
    together to hear the word of God.

    Acts 17:2
    2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three
    sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

    Acts 18:4
    4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and
    persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

    The Commandment was given in Exodus 20:9-11, and
    nowhere repealed. There is NOTHING anywhere which says that we “don’t
    have to” keep the Sabbath.

    Jesus gave instructions to keep the commandments:

    Matthew 19:17-19
    17 … if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    18 … Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit
    adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
    witness,
    19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love
    thy neighbour as thyself.
    It is clear that he was speaking about the Ten Commandments.

    James wrote that all of the commandments are one united
    package, and that they cannot be separated:

    James 2:10-11
    10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend
    in one point, he is guilty of all.
    11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do
    not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill,
    thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    Jessica posted: “All of the other things you mentioned pertaining to loving one’s neighbor and loving God – all of those commands are repeated in the NT. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

    Jesus Christ was referring to one of the Ten Commandments when he said “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (See Lev. xix:18.).

    James J. Strang translated this law into the English language from the plates of Laban:

    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself thou shalt not revile him, nor speak evil
    of him, nor curse him: thou shalt do no injustice unto him; and thou shalt
    maintain his right, against his enemy: thou shalt not exact rigorously of him, nor
    turn aside from relieving him: thou shalt deliver him from the snare and the pit,
    and shalt return his ox when he strayeth: thou shalt comfort him when he mourns,
    and nurture him when he sickens: thou shalt not abate the price of what thou
    buyest of him, for his necessity; nor shalt thou exact of him, because he leaneth
    upon thee: for in so doing thousands shall rise up and call thee blessed, and the
    Lord thy God shall strengthen thee in all the work of thy hand. (Book of the Law of the Lord p. 24.)

  157. June 26, 2009 4:01 am

    Darrell, I don’t think either of us are advocating for jettisoning logic and evidence altogether. Neither do I think either of us talking about completely marginalizing emotional and intuitive connection with God (at least, I’m not – I’m not altogether sure about you yet).

    It’s a matter of focus and a matter of what you think is most productive in reaching out to people.

    It seems to me that you prefer the evidentialist branch of Christian apologetics. People like Gary Habermas and such.

    This is not the branch I favor. At least, not in public debate. I find it personally rewarding to ponder on the evidences for Christ and the Restored Gospel. But it’s not something I find particularly potent in public defense of the faith. I think ultimately, it fails to reach out to the hostile listener.

    Evidentialism is nice for people who ALREADY believe for other reasons. It doesn’t really work on anyone else as far as I can tell. At least, only rarely does it work.

    I haven’t heard much about Plantinga, but from what little I have heard of him, I think my approach might jive a bit more with him.

    I’ll have to see. I’m halfway through Rob Bowman’s survey of different Christian apologetic methods, and finding it interesting. So far, we’ve covered Rationalism (pure logic – without reference to external fact), Classical (kind of the C.S. Lewis approach), and Evidentialist (which is possibly the most popular method today among Evangelicals). There are others, he hasn’t gotten to yet. But I’ve got a long drive back to Utah tomorrow to see my sister get married in the Salt Lake Temple. Maybe I’ll hear it then.

    An maybe I’ll see Aaron Shaff at Temple Square or something. That would be neat.

  158. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 4:03 am

    Darrell,
    I think maybe we are actually on the same page, I can’t be sure.

    We both seem to agree that belief requires some combination of evidence, reason, faith, hope, etc. Are you suggesting that men can comprehend God and His mysteries? If so, that is where we diverge. I believe the Bible says a lot about men not being able to comprehend (absolutely) God. Maybe that concept and the resurrction are two different discussions.

    Anyway, this debate seems to be getting more semantic than substantial

  159. June 26, 2009 4:17 am

    Hi Rick,

    I am trying to understand your position. Do you believe in the new covenant? Do you see any change occurring between the covenant God made with the children of Israel and the new covenant? Galatians is very clear on this change. In Galatians Paul urges the Christians not to fall back under bondage to the old covenant. There has been a change since Christ came and fulfilled the righteousness of the law.

    I agree with you that Jesus kept the Jewish law perfectly. Galatians explains that Jesus was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). However, Jesus was often breaking the Pharisees’ man made laws regarding the Sabbath. Most of the verses you cited from the gospels are all instances where Jesus was actually breaking the Pharisees’ laws that they had added to God’s law. Jesus was showing them that He was Lord even over the Sabbath day. Man-made religions love to make all kinds of special rules regarding the Sabbath.

    Paul says it is bondage to go back under the law and specifically to “observe days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal. 4:10).

    Colossians 2:14-15 talks about the glorious work that Jesus has done to redeem us from the curse of the law:

    “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of our flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

    In light of Christ’s perfect work of “blotting out” those “ordinances that were against us, which were contrary to us” (i.e. the law), Paul urges us not to allow anyone to judge us according to the OT law (v. 16 which I already quoted) and he specifically says we are not to allow anyone to judge us regarding how we observe the sabbath for he says these things are “a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”

    In other words, the OT law was a shadow that pointed to the fulfillment in Christ. The OT believers looked ahead with faith. We look back in faith.

    I have no problem with someone preferring to observe Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week as a day of rest. I think a principle of one day a week of rest is a good idea. However, in light of the NT commands that have been given to us, we are not to judge one another regarding how we observe days. This is very clear.

  160. June 26, 2009 4:25 am

    Have a safe trip, Seth. Give Aaron a hug for me if you see him, I know I’m his favorite person and men who barely know each other love nothing better than hugging.

  161. rickhurd permalink
    June 26, 2009 4:47 am

    Jessica,

    I am not judging you on what days you keep. I am only trying to convey a message to those who seek truth and understanding. I am using you, but I am doing so in a good way. I am in no way judging you. I know that you don’t understand. I don’t think that God inended you to understand as yet.

    Many have taught that the commandments were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross. This is a false doctrine. The Laws of Moses were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross, not the Ten Commandments.
    The Ten Commandments were spoken in God’s own voice DIRECTLY to all
    the people of Israel, Exodus 19:19, 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:12,33,36,
    5:4,22,24. These are called the “commandments”.

    When Paul wrote about the “law”, he was referring to the Law of Moses,
    which is the ADDED statutes and ordinances about unclean foods, animal
    sacrifices, and so forth, that were given INDIRECTLY through Moses.
    Paul wrote that the ADDED law was to last only “til the seed should
    come to whom the promise was made”, namely Jesus Christ:

    Ezekiel 20:24-25
    24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had
    despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and
    their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.
    25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good,
    and judgments whereby they should not live;

    Galatians 3:19
    19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of
    transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the
    promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand
    of a mediator.

    Note carefully that the “law” was ADDED because of TRANSGRESSION
    against the Ten Commandments. It was ADDED until the crucifixion of
    Jesus Christ, and then it was removed. But the “commandments” remain.
    What Paul taught is more plain from this version of his teaching:

    Acts 13:16,39
    16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said,
    Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
    … 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all
    things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of
    Moses.

    Paul wrote at a time when the problem was convincing people that the
    Law of Moses had been ended, and convincing them that atonement by
    animal sacrifices had been replaced with atonement by faith in thesacrifice of Jesus Christ. But Paul did NOT teach that the Ten
    Commandments had been ended, but rather he affirmed them. For
    example:

    Romans 13:9
    9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not
    kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
    witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other
    commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying,
    namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Ephesians 4:28
    28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him
    labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that
    he may have to give to him that needeth.

    Ephesians 6:1-3
    1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is
    right.
    2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first
    commandment with promise;
    3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long
    on the earth.

    1 Corinthians 7:19
    19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing,
    but the keeping of the commandments of God.
    Paul continued to cite the Ten Commandments, without the least hint
    that they were “done away” or “abolished”.

  162. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 4:58 am

    Jessica,

    I hope you don’t mind me jumping in. Why are you removing the commandment to observe the sabbath and not the others? This seems like buffet style Judeo-Christianity, selecting the ones you want to observe. The 10 commandments (law) that were engraven (in stone, symbolic of permance) were never intended to be “fulfilled.” There is a good reason U.S. Christians are fighting the Supreme Court to keep monuments to this law in their lobbies and town squares.

    Where in the Bible does it say that, of the 10 commandments, the sabbath law is somehow unique and able to be done away with? I have always understood the 10 laws to be universal. If the new covenant removes the sabbath then it stands to reason that stealing, adultery and lying are fair game as well. How do you reconcile this? Can you show that the sabbath law is unique?

    If this is true then any Christian who goes surfing or attends NASCAR events on the sabbath is breaking commandments in league with adultery and killing.

    Also, when the NT disciples condemn the “Law,” how do you know they are not talking about the non-Biblical Pharisiac law that developed, Talmud style, after the OT? We know that by the time Jesus arrives the Jewish “law” had mutated into something almost perverse. Remember, there were 500 dark years between the OT & NT (a cyclical, biblical precedent for the LDS claim of apostasy & restoration).

  163. June 26, 2009 5:02 am

    Ethan,

    I actually can understand Rick’s position better than the LDS position on the sabbath law. Rick is arguing for the actual literal Sabbath law – to be observed on the 7th day of the week as the commandment was given. At least this is somewhat of a consistent position and I can understand why he sees it the way he does.

    I would ask you – how do you reconcile the fact that the LDS church has changed the 7th day commandment to the 1st day of the week without any authorization in scripture?

  164. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 5:04 am

    Seth,

    Nice, we’re going to be at Temple Square tomorrow, too. Grab lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe and eat out on the Main Street patio under the temple, one of the best kept new secrets in SLC. Pure Heaven

  165. NChristine permalink
    June 26, 2009 5:24 am

    Also, when the NT disciples condemn the “Law,” how do you know they are not talking about the non-Biblical Pharisiac law that developed, Talmud style, after the OT?

    Sorry, Ethan. I hope you don’t mind me jumping in on your jumping in…or whatever. The NT writers don’t condemn the Law, they just say that it was (1) fulfilled in Christ and (2) cannot provide righteousness simply because we sinners can’t live up to the perfection required.

    If you look at this passage from Paul, it is clear that he includes the 10 Commandments in his definition of “Law”:

    But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

    What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet (Romans 7:6-7).

    So the 10th Commandment is included in Paul’s discussion of the Law that “now we are delivered from.” Does that mean now we can covet? No — Paul tells us that Christ’s death made it possible “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

    This has two aspects for me as I read the NT. On the one hand, there is the judicial act whereby God declares righteous those who believe on Christ (see Romans 4:5 regarding this). So I believe that when I first trusted Christ as my Savior, God “legally” declared me righteous based upon Christ’s own righteousness and His death on my behalf.

    But then daily I still struggle with sin. So the NT tells me that I am to “walk in the Spirit” (Romans 8, Ephesians 5, etc.). I find that when I live with my eyes fixed on Jesus, trusting in Him not only for my judicial righteousness before God but for my practical sanctification (pragmatic, day-to-day righteousness), that “the righteousness of the law…is fulfilled” in me. People walking in the Spirit of God don’t covet, or kill, or commit adultery…but not because they are following a Law. It’s because they are connected to God Himself, who is righteous.

    One of my favorite Scriptures is I Corinthians 1:30, which says, “But of him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” When we belong to Jesus, then He is made our very righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This is why Jesus is so very precious to me.

  166. June 26, 2009 5:29 am

    Hi Rick,

    You said, Paul continued to cite the Ten Commandments, without the least hint that they were “done away” or “abolished”.

    Paul did cite many of the ten commandments with the conspicuous exception of the sabbath commandment. His other teachings on the sabbath are in direct contradiction with your position (i.e. Rom. 14:5-6, Col. 2:16, Gal. 4:10, etc).

    I Cor. 3 refers to the doing away and abolishment of the law. It actually uses the terms “that which is done away” (v. 11) and “that which is abolished” (v. 13) in reference to the law.

    I’ve gone through 2 Cor. 3 and underlined the contrasts and comparisons between the old covenant and the new covenant. The old covenant was of “the letter”; the new covenant is “of the spirit.” The old covenant was a “ministration of death” and “ministration of condemnation”; the new covenant is a “ministration of the spirit.” The old covenant resulted in death, the new covenant brings life.

    The conclusion of the matter in 2 Cor. 3 is that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (v. 17).

    The Laws of Moses were done away with when Jesus Christ died on the cross, not the Ten Commandments.
    The Ten Commandments were spoken in God’s own voice DIRECTLY to all
    the people of Israel, Exodus 19:19, 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:12,33,36,
    5:4,22,24. These are called the “commandments”.

    As I mentioned before, I am not one of the children of Israel and I was not part of the covenant God made with Israel. I’m a Gentile who has been grafted in and is a partaker of the new covenant. How do you know there is a distinction between the 10 commandments and the rest of the Mosaic Law? Where is this distinction made? As NChristine pointed out above, Paul lumped the ten commandments in with his generic use of the term “the law” as noted in Romans 7:6-7.

    While the Sabbath commandment is never given to new covenant believers, Jesus did add a new commandment:

    “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

    Is it possible that an over-emphasis on the old covenant Sabbath commandment is causing some to overlook Jesus’ NEW commandment?

  167. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 5:31 am

    Jessica,

    It’s a good question. There are whole denominations that have sprung up around this very issue (7th day adventist). As Jews themselves, Jesus and his disciples observed the Jewish Sabbath. In Luke 4:17-23 we read that Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. It should be noted that the modern Christian tradition is to attend church/mass on sunday, we also see this trend in the NT. It is not an LDS-only concept.

    I would point out Acts 20:7 where a meeting of Saints took place on Sunday with Paul clearly preaching during the meeting, indicating it was a religious gathering. Sunday seems to be chosen because it was the day of Jesus’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Revelation 1:10). Also, it was probably selected as a way to distinguish themselves from the Jews. Sunday was called “the Lord’s Day.” There are many other arguments for why LDS observe on Sunday. A brief visit to FARMS or FAIR can bring up lengthy articles.

    This is all beside the main point. Whether or not it should be Saturday or Sunday is really a separate issue. Let’s say for arguments sake that LDS observed on saturday, you still have to account for one of the 10 commandments being unjustly overlooked in your theology. You have removed the commandment to observe the sabbath altogether.

  168. June 26, 2009 5:41 am

    Whether or not it should be Saturday or Sunday is really a separate issue.

    Hi Ethan,

    I think Rick and I would agree that this is not a separate issue. This is the MAIN issue. The sabbath commandment was all about the DAY that the sabbath was to be observed on. The commandment was not related to an arbitrary day of the week. The commandment was specific to the 7th day. I think it is really inconsistent for churches to argue for the keeping of the Sabbath and then observe it on the 1st day of the week. I don’t think a very good case can be made except for some narratives in the NT that indicate believers were meeting on the first of the week (such as the ones you’ve cited). This doesn’t prove they weren’t also still keeping the Sabbath (which is probably what Rick would say they were doing).

    Also, just so you don’t misunderstand my position. I am not removing the commandment altogether. I believe the old covenant Sabbath is symbolic of the new covenant believers’ rest in Christ from their own works (Hebrews 4). Because the Holy Spirit now resides in me, I am in a totally different position than the old covenant believers. I don’t just keep one day holy. I keep every day holy. I am commanded to and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit constantly urges me to. I also worship and serve on the 1st day of the week (the Lord’s Day) along with other new covenant believers, but I find some differences between the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath.

  169. June 26, 2009 5:56 am

    Alas, the wedding is on Saturday. Tomorrow, we’re just doing a lot of driving.

  170. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 6:23 am

    I don’t think that the day of the week is really important to the LDS. We have selected Sunday because of modern revelation and because that is the day settled upon as the most meaningful with regard to Christ, and also because there is plenty of Biblical and early Chrisitan precedent to Sunday worship. When I spent a semester in Israel to study the Bible we held our LDS services on Saturday to be in sync with the Jewish community. LDS branches in Muslim countries, such as Egypt, meet on Friday, the Muslim holy day. The day is not important.

    I would agree with Paul who said that we should not get hung up on which day of the week to observe: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days. Col 2:16. notice the plural “days.” It is not limited to a specific day. The important thing is observing the commandment to keep the sabbath holy.

    Christine,
    “People walking in the Spirit of God don’t covet, or kill, or commit adultery…but not because they are following a Law. It’s because they are connected to God Himself, who is righteous.”

    So, if I undrstand correctly, you are saying that Jesus has fulfilled or done away with all OT laws, including the 10 commandments. Also, that there is no need for these commandments as law because a person truly following Christ would not kill, etc. Correct?

    What if a sincere person who has accepted Jesus as Lord gets really mad one day and kills someone? Is that person still free because without any law to break, there can be no consequence? If his works, in this case very bad, have no bearing then that person is not accountable and it will not affect his salvation.

  171. Ethan permalink
    June 26, 2009 6:28 am

    In other words, it’s like saying that for years drivers were required by law to stay under 65 mph. Now, we have a new police chief and all the laws are going to be done away with. People who respect the chief will never want to drive over 65 mph, even though there is no law prohibiting it.

    If this scenario happened today what do you think would result. I would buckle up more often!

  172. June 26, 2009 7:59 am

    Question for all of ya’ll.

    The word sabbath means to rest.

    Sab·bath
    Pronunciation: \ˈsa-bəth\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English sabat, from Anglo-French & Old English, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbāth, literally, rest
    Date: before 12th century
    1 a: the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians b: Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship
    2: a time of rest

    The Definition for rest is.

    1rest
    Pronunciation: \ˈrest\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German rasta rest and perhaps to Old High German ruowa calm
    Date: before 12th century
    1: repose, sleep ; specifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
    2 a: freedom from activity or labor b: a state of motionlessness or inactivity c: the repose of death
    3: a place for resting or lodging
    4: peace of mind or spirit
    5 a (1): a rhythmic silence in music (2): a character representing such a silence b: a brief pause in reading
    6: something used for support
    — at rest
    1: resting or reposing especially in sleep or death
    2: quiescent, motionless
    3: free of anxieties

    My peace of mind or spirit, free of anxieties. Comes from two things. Reading the Bible and deep sea fishing. For some people it could be surfing, for some it will be going to nascar races. If we find peace of mind or spirit, free of anxieties doing these things. How are we not observing the Sabbath.

  173. rickhurd permalink
    June 26, 2009 10:48 am

    Ethan posted: “I don’t think that the day of the week is really important to the LDS. We have selected Sunday because of modern revelation and because that is the day settled upon as the most meaningful with regard to Christ, and also because there is plenty of Biblical and early Chrisitan precedent to Sunday worship.”

    The Sabbath commandment was restored to its proper place under the leadership of James J. Strang, who was Joseph Smith’s legal sucessor.

    Ethan posted: “I would agree with Paul who said that we should not get hung up on which day of the week to observe: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days. Col 2:16. notice the plural “days.” It is not limited to a specific day. The important thing is observing the commandment to keep the sabbath holy.”

    Think about this, how are you going to keep anyone from judging you by what days you observe? Answer, you can’t. Therefor Paul was obviously telling the people in the church to keep these days in such a way that others wouldn’t be able to find any fault, i.e, don’t be a glutton, a drunkard and keep the sabbath days so holy that no one can find fault. With respect to the rest of the holidays and the new moon festivals, I think they have been lost over time and will one day be restored, but the Sabbath commandment was a sign to all of Israel, which is what the church referred to itself. A good example of this can be found in the following letter written by Lucy Mack Smith, who was Joseph Smith’s mother:

    “Nauvoo, May 11, 1846.
    “My Dear Son-For so I must call you; as the church has passed through much affection, and it pains my heart that it should suffer more. The Twelve (Brighamites) have abused my son William, and trampled upon my children, and have also treated me with contempt. Now mark it, these men are not right. God has not sent them to lead this kingdom. I am satisfied that Joseph appointed James J. Strang. It is verily so. Now, Brother Reuben, I exhort you for the love you have for the truth, to hear my voice, and warn the saints concerning these things, and your reward shall be doubled in the heavenly world. This from your mother, Lucy Smith,
    “Mother in Israel.”
    “This is to certify that we, the undersigned. members of the Smith family, fully accord with the sentiments expressed above.
    “W.J. Salisbury,
    “Catherine Salisbury,
    “Arthur Milliken,
    “Lucy Milliken.’

  174. NChristine permalink
    June 26, 2009 8:49 pm

    Ethan and Rick,

    What if a sincere person who has accepted Jesus as Lord gets really mad one day and kills someone? Is that person still free because without any law to break, there can be no consequence?

    The standard for life in the Spirit is no lower than the standard for life under the Law — indeed, it is much higher. Paul told the Corinthians they were “the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone [i.e., the 10 Commandments], but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). God’s law is written on the heart of New Testament believers, and if they sin against God, then He will deal with them (Hebrews 12:6-7).

    This is not a new concept to the New Testament. In the late 6th century BC, the LORD gave the prophet Jeremiah this prophecy,

    Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

    But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD”: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

    If people want to follow the old covenant, then they are on their own. God doesn’t write His laws in their hearts or make them “a new creature in Christ.” They have no grace, no Christ. They fall under the same category as the Galatians, to whom Paul said, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Those who seek to find righteousness through the Law can’t say, “Oops, I messed up today…but God knows my intentions.” It doesn’t work that way — because they are “fallen from grace,” so perfection (without grace) is demanded. As Rick noted, “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

  175. Rick Hurd permalink
    June 28, 2009 2:33 am

    I would first like to point out that the Book of Mormon makes it clear that there is a difference between the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments, which includes the Sabbath commandment:

    Jarom 1: 5
    5 And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

    NChristine posted: “The standard for life in the Spirit is no lower than the standard for life under the Law — indeed, it is much higher. Paul told the Corinthians they were “the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone [i.e., the 10 Commandments], but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). God’s law is written on the heart of New Testament believers, and if they sin against God, then He will deal with them (Hebrews 12:6-7).”

    That doesn’t mean that the Ten Commandments ended with the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The law of Moses ended with the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, not the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are still in effect for all followers of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in the Bible which states otherwise. You are at liberty to choose to follow Jesus Christ, and he will give you grace to obey his commandments if you trust in him to do so.

    Those who obey his commandments have a good understanding:

    Ps 111:10
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

    Those who say that they know God and don’t keep his commandments are lying:

    1 John 2:3-4
    3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his
    commandments.
    4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his
    commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    NChristine posted: “This is not a new concept to the New Testament. In the late 6th century BC, the LORD gave the prophet Jeremiah this prophecy,

    Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

    But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD”: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).”

    NChristine is mistaken. This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. For the most part, “the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” have rejected Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon makes this more clear, but NChristine has rejected the Book of Mormon and the New Testament which clearly states:

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
    established.” (Matthew 18:16.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1.)

    Three witnesses swore that “… we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates…”

    Jesus Christ also had witnesses. The same spirit that causes those to reject the Book of Mormon, also caused those to reject Jesus Christ:

    “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known
    unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were
    eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father
    honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the
    excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
    And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him
    in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
    whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth
    in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your
    hearts:” (2 Pet. 1: 16-19.)

    “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took
    Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as
    he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment
    was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men,
    which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his
    decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they
    that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake,
    they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came
    to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it
    is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for
    thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.” (Luke 9: 29-33.)

    Having witnesses was important throughout the Bible:

    “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony
    of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the
    testimony of one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6.)

    “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the
    testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Hebrews 10:28.)

    “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or
    any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the
    matter shall be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15.)

    “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or
    three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19.)

    Having witnesses was also important throughout the Book of Mormon:

    “And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be
    established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which
    shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the
    Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record-and all this shall
    stand as a testimony against the world at the last day”. (Ether 4:4.)

    “…I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them
    that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three God hath
    said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more
    witnesses, and he proveth all his words”. (2 Nephi 11-3.)

    The Doctrine and Covenants also records the importance of having witnesses:
    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 6:28.)

    James J. Strang obtained witnesses who dig up the Voree Plates:

    “*REVELATION. The Angel of the Lord came unto me, James, on the first
    day of September, in the year eighteen hundred and fortyfive, and the
    light Shined about him above the brightness of the sun, and he showed
    unto me the plates of the sealed record, and he gave into my hands the
    Urim and Thummin. And out of the light came the voice of the Lord,
    saying, My servant James, in blessing I will bless thee, and in
    multiplying I will multiply thee, because I have tried thee, and found
    thee faithful. Behold, my servant James, I am about to bless thee with
    a great blessing, which shall be to those who love me, an immutable
    testimony; to those who know me not, a stumbling block; but to those
    who have known me, and have turned their hearts from me, a rock of
    offence.

    Go to the place which the Angel of the presence shall show thee, and
    there shalt thou dig for the record of my people, in whose possession
    thou dwellest. Take with thee faithful witnesses; for in evil will the
    unfaithful speak of thee; but the faithful and true shall know that
    they are liars, and shall not stumble for their words.

    And while I was yet in the spirit, the Angel of the Lord took me away
    to the hill in the east of Walworth, against White River, in Voree,
    and there he showed unto me the record buried under an oak tree as
    large as the body of a large man; it was enclosed in an earthen
    casement, and buried in the ground as deep as to a man’s waist, and I
    beheld it as a man can see a light stone in clear water; for I saw it
    by Urim and Thummin.”

    “TESTIMONY. On the thirteenth day of September, 1845, we, Aaron Smith,
    Jirah B. Wheelan, James M. Van Nostrand, and Edward Whitcomb,
    assembled at the call of James J. Strang, who is by us and many others
    approved as a Prophet and Seer of God. He proceeded to inform us that
    it had been revealed to him in a vision that an account of an ancient
    people was buried in a hill south of White River bridge, near the east
    line of Walworth County; and leading us to an oak tree, about one foot
    in diameter, told us that we would find it enclosed in a case of rude
    earthen ware under that tree, at the depth of about three feet;
    requested us to dig it up, and charged us to so examine the ground
    that we should know we were not imposed upon, and that it had not been
    buried there since the tree grew. The tree was surrounded by a sward
    of deeply rooted grass, such as is usually found in the openings; and
    upon the most critical examination, we could not discover any
    indication that it had ever been cut through or disturbed.
    We then dug up the tree, and continued to dig to the depth of about
    three feet, where we found a case of slightly baked clay, containing
    three plates of brass.

    The case was found imbedded in indurated clay, so closely fitting it
    that it broke in taking out; and the earth below the soil was so hard
    as to be dug with difficulty, even with a pickaxe. Over the case was
    found a flat stone, about one foot wide each way, and three inches
    thick, which appeared to have undergone the action of fire, and fell
    in pieces after a few minutes exposure to the air. The digging
    extended in the clay about eighteen inches, there being two kinds of
    earth of different colour and appearance above it.

    We examined as we dug all the way with the utmost care, and we say,
    with the utmost confidence, that no part of the earth through which we
    dug exhibited any sign or indication that it had been moved or disturbed at any time previous. The roots of the tree struck down on
    every side very closely, extending below the case, and closely
    interwoven with roots from other trees. None of them had been broken
    or cut away. No clay is found in the country like that of which the
    case is made.

    In fine, we found an alphabetick and pictorial record, carefully cased
    up, buried deep in the earth, covered with a flat stone, with an oak
    tree one foot in diameter, growing over it, with every evidence that
    the senses can give that it has lain there as long as that tree has
    been growing. Strang took no part in the digging, but kept entirely
    away, from before the first blow was struck till after the plates were
    taken out of the case; and the sole inducement to our digging was our
    faith in his statement as a Prophet of the Lord, that a record would
    thus and there be found.

    AARON SMITH, JIRA B. WHEELAN,
    J. M. VAN NOSTRAND, EDWARD WHITCOMB.”

    Unlike the plates used in translating the Book of Mormon into the English language, the Voree Plates were shown to many.

    To view a facsimile of the plates plates of brass, see the following web address: http://www.strangite.org/Plates.htm

  176. NChristine permalink
    June 29, 2009 3:30 pm

    Hi Rick,

    The idea that the New Covenant is not yet fulfilled (at least partially – I agree that Israel’s full acceptance of this covenant has not yet happened) is not correct scripturally. The book of Hebrews makes clear that “now hath he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). The writer then goes on to quote the “new covenant” passage from Jeremiah that I already quoted. Jesus is later called the “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (12:24), who shed “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (13:20). Read the entire book of Hebrews; it is clear that the New Covenant is indeed now in effect. Indeed, Jesus said so during the last supper before his crucifixion: “For this [the cup] is my blood of the new testament [literally, covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

    As for Gentiles, Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that their inclusion in the body of Christ was a “mystery” not revealed until Christ — that is, “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).

    You are at liberty to choose to follow Jesus Christ, and he will give you grace to obey his commandments if you trust in him to do so.

    Rick, you say very similar things to teachings of 1st century religious Jews. Paul made this clear to them: “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). That’s great that you have and teach the commandments. But do you follow them perfectly?

    Paul asked the 1st century Roman Jews, and I ask you, “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (Romans 2:23). As you yourself quoted, whoever keeps the whole law, and yet offends “in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Have you offended in one point? Have you kept perfectly all the 10 commandments as described by Jesus? That is, have you ever been angry with your brother without a cause? That’s murder. Have you ever lusted? That’s adultery. Have you ever coveted? Lied? I’m not trying to be personal or unkind. 🙂 Rather, I am pointing out to you what Paul pointed out to the Jews of his day. That is, you have and promote the law, but that is not the point. Do you follow it perfectly? If not, you are “guilty of all.”

  177. Rick Hurd permalink
    June 29, 2009 6:55 pm

    NChristine,

    Let me make sure that I am getting this correct. What you are trying to convey is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments have been abolished? And instead of obeying the commandments of God, you think that it is your feelings as to what you think is right and wrong is what takes president? And that the new covenant that Jesus Christ made with you is to accept him, and that you do not have to obey the his commandments? And that no one can completely obey his commandments, so why bother learning them non-the-less obey them?

  178. NChristine permalink
    June 30, 2009 3:25 am

    Hi Rick,

    No, much of what you said is not what I believe. 🙂 Here’s what I am saying: If you choose to try to obtain righteousness under the Old Covenant (which the NT writers call “the law”), then you have a problem. The problem is that you are not righteous before God. I don’t say that to be personally offensive but out of truthfulness and caring. 🙂 There are two sure reasons in the scriptures for saying this.

    First, the apostle Paul states, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Law was given to prove to us our sinfulness, but following it cannot produce righteousness, says Paul. Why? It’s not because the commandments don’t matter, as you seem to be thinking I am saying. No — Paul says that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). Rather, the reason righteousness does not come by the law is that we break that good law. You seem to tacitly admit that you do not perfectly follow the law. (Indeed, no one but Christ ever has!) And thus you stand before God in sin. So according to the NT, you cannot achieve righteousness by following the law. Instead, the good and holy law has shown us for what we are — sinners.

    The second reason I know you are not righteous before God is this: if you choose to try to attain righteousness under the Old Covenant (the Law), you have no remedy for your sin. The Old Covenant requirement for forgiveness was the same as the New Covenant requirement: “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22). So you must have blood shed for you if you are to be forgiven. But whose blood can be effective for you, who are trying to follow the Old Covenant, in order to be forgiven for breaking God’s law?

    Can you follow James Strang and make animal sacrifices, as they did under the Old Covenant? Well, Hebrews tells us that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats [i.e., animals] should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Those OT sacrifices only looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice rather than being effective themselves, so animal sacrifices will not help you obtain forgiveness for breaking God’s law. In fact, sacrificing any animal in a location other than the temple was an abomination under the Law — and there is no Jewish temple now.

    What about Christ’s sacrifice? Will that be effective for you? Not if you are under the Old Covenant. Jesus was very specific that His blood “is the blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). If you choose the Old Covenant when God has a New Covenant in force, then Jesus’ blood will not help you. Further, Paul told the Galatians (who were also turning toward the Law to seek righteousness by following it), “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

    So how can you be prepared to stand before a holy God? You have admitted that you have broken God’s law. James 2:10 tells us that when we break even one command (which we all have), that we are “guilty of all.” You have no blood by which to have your sins atoned for. The New Covenant is your only hope. I would love to talk about that covenant with you.

  179. Rick Hurd permalink
    June 30, 2009 11:00 am

    NChristine,

    I guess I am not making myself clear. What I am tying to convey is that there is a difference between the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments. The Commandments remain in effect. The Law of Moses ended with the death of Jesus Christ. Sacrifices were performed under the leadership of James J. Strang because he was commanded by God through revelation to perform them. I believe that in the future sacrifices will be offered again, but not until there is an authorized priesthood to perform them.

    Parts of the Book of the Law of the Lord that were translated into the English language were parts of the law of Moses. James J. Strang assumed that they were new revelations given to the church. I believe that this assumption was one of the many mistakes James J. Strang made.

    Parts of the plates of Laban were translated into the English language by James J. Strang. These plates also contained the Ten Commandments given to Moses. They are still in effect. The following are those commandments which are still in effect:

    Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, and with all thy strength: thou shalt adore him, and serve him, and obey him: thou shalt have no other gods before thee: thou shalt not make unto thee any image or likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters of the earth, to bow thyself unto it, or to worship it: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto, nor adore anything that thine eye beholdeth, or thy imagination conceiveth of; but the Lord thy God only; for the Lord thy God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, from generation to generation, even upon all that hate him, and showing a multitude of mercies unto them that keep his commandments.

    Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: thou shalt not usurp dominion as a ruler; for the name of the Lord thy God is great and glorious above all other names: he is above all, and is the only true God; the only just and upright King over all: he alone hath the right to rule; and in his name, only he to whom he granteth it: whosoever is not chosen of him, the same is a usurper, and unholy: the Lord will not hold him guiltless, for he taketh his name in vain.

    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy womanservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six ages the Lord thy God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh age: wherefore the Lord thy God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it: thou shalt keep it holy unto him, that thou forget not the Law, nor be found keeping the company of the vile, nor be despised by the righteous.

    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: thou shalt not revile him, nor speak evil of him, nor curse him: thou shalt do no injustice unto him; and thou shalt maintain his right, against his enemy: thou shalt not exact rigorously of him, nor turn aside from relieving him: thou shalt deliver him from the snare and the pit, and shalt return his ox when he strayeth: thou shalt comfort him when he mourns, and nurture him when he sickens: thou shalt not abate the price of what thou buyest of him, for his necessity; nor shalt thou exact of him, because he leaneth upon thee: for in so doing thousands shall rise up and call thee blessed, and the Lord thy God shall strengthen thee in all the work of thy hand.

    Honour thy father and thy mother: give heed to their commandments, obey their laws, and depart not from their precepts: reverence their age, and seek unto their house all the days of thy life: exalt not thyself against them, nor withhold to build up their house above thine own: honour and obey the King and the Judges, and the rulers, and all that are set in authority; for they are as fathers among the people: that they may be a fear unto evil doers; and the Priest also, who stands before the Lord, that he may instruct thee: and thy days shall be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

    Thou shalt not kill: thou shalt slay no man in malice; neither thy child, nor thy wife, nor thy bondman, nor thy bondwoman, nor thy servant: nor the child of thy servant: neither shalt thou slay thine enemy, except thou admonish him, and entreat him, and he hear thee not, and God give him into thy hand: thou shalt only slay him in lawful war: and if any man trespass against thee, and break through, and do violence, thou shalt not slay him in revenge. If thou overtake him in the trespass, thou mayest resist unto blood; but except thou slay him in the trespass, thou shalt deliver him to the Judge; he shall judge him, and the hand of the officer shall be on him.

    Thou shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not in any wise lie with the wife of thy neighbour; and if she seduce thee, thou shalt resist her; that thou pollute not thyself, and make not the place of thy house unclean, and destroy not the house of thy neighbour, and that thou cause no violence in the land: thou shalt not lie with the wife of the stranger; neither shalt thou lie with the wife of thine enemy; lest thy children be scattered abroad, and know not thee, nor the fear of thee be upon them, and they be strangers to the covenant of God, and the whole land be corrupt, and thine offspring be destroyed with the wicked.

    Thou shalt not steal: thou shalt not trespass upon anything that is thy neighbour’s, to take it from him, nor to destroy it: neither shalt thou trespass upon the stranger that dwelleth within thy gates, to destroy his substance, nor to take it from him; for to thee he looketh for justice, and a shield round about all that he hath; and the fear of the Lord thy God is upon him also, and to his righteousness he also seeketh: neither shalt thou overreach him by cunning, nor by stratagem, to take his substance from thy neighbour, nor the stranger within thy gates. Remember that ye were strangers, and were oppressed, and oppress not the stranger, lest his cry ascend to God against you.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness: thou shalt not speak falsely before the King, nor before the Judge, nor in the assembly of the Princes, nor in the presence of the Ruler, nor unto the Minister of the Law, nor among the multitude; nor in the ear of thy friend, nor to thy wife, nor thy child, nor thy servant: neither shalt thou withhold the truth from the King, nor the Judge, nor him that is set in authority: for thus shall righteousness be established in all thy borders.

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s inheritance: thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, nor his bondman, nor his bondwoman, nor his manservant, nor his womanservant, nor his horse, nor his carriage, nor the instruments of his labour, nor the produce of his land, nor the things that he has made, nor the treasures that he has in store, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s: thy desire shall not be upon them, to take them by stealth, nor by fraud, nor by cunning, nor by violence: neither shalt thou covet that which belongeth to the stranger that dwelleth within thy gates; but thou shalt improve thine own, and thy desire shall be unto it; lest thou be corrupt, and the hand of thy neighbours be against thee, and the cry of the poor ascend to God against thee.

  180. NChristine permalink
    July 1, 2009 4:58 am

    Hi Rick,

    The issue is this: Have you broken those 10 Commandments? If so, does that not make you guilty? How can you be absolved of this guilt? You say animal sacrifices are not for now. You have said that you are not under the New Covenant, for which Jesus spilled His blood. So this is a very great concern. What if you were to die this very night and stand before the holy Judge of the living and the dead? What answer could you give to Him for breaking His law? What atonement could you present, and who will take your case before His throne?

    Paul said, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12). That is not good – for that law condemns you (as it does me)!

    If we do not admit our sin but seek to establish our own righteousness, we are like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:10-14). He prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

    Jesus instead pointed to the obvious sinner in the parable (the publican) as the one who was made righteous before God: “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [literally “made righteous”] rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

    Righteousness before God cannot be obtained through self-righteousness, for we have broken God’s law and are therefore sinful. We cannot be forgiven or made righteous until we humble ourselves and acknowledge our deep sin and guilt. Righteousness was provided for us through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, who “was made sin for us” even though He had never sinned, so that “we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). That is the amazing trade that God offers those who will humble themselves before Him who alone can make us righteous through faith in Him.

  181. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 1, 2009 10:12 am

    NChristine,

    I don’t think that you understand what I am trying to convey. Nor do I think you understand what Jesus Christ tried to convey.

    There is a difference between the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments. Sacrifices predated the law of Moses, and will one day be reestablished, but that time has not yet arrived.

    It is true that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world, and that those who accept this have their sins forgiven, but that does not mean that you can keep on sinning. After a person comes to Christ and has his sins forgiven he must learn and obey his commandments. Sure a person will stumble for it is only human nature, but he must strive to overcome and endure till the end of his life. He cannot deliberately break any of his commandments. Doing so is a very serious sin.

    When you die you will take with you the character you developed in this life. A person who has lived a godly life will develop a God-like character. A person who has lived a sinful life will not obtain a God-like character. The following revelation given through James J. Strang makes this more clear:

    “He alone is one. Thou shalt love him with all thy heart, and with all thy mind,
    and with all thy strength. Thou shalt adore him, and serve him, and obey him; and beside him, thou shalt have no other God: for he alone hath immortality, and omniscience, and omnipotence, and omnipresence. He alone is one; and they who obey his law, shall be like him” (Book of the Law of the Lord p. 63.).

    2 Nephi 2
    Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

  182. NChristine permalink
    July 2, 2009 4:25 am

    Hi Rick,

    Let me ask you a question. Do you believe that following the 10 Commandments makes you righteous? If you do believe that, then what happens if/when you break one or more of them? If following them does not make you righteous, then what does make you righteous?

    Thanks.

    NChristine

  183. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 2, 2009 11:40 am

    Yes, I believe that if a person obeys all of God’s commandments than that person is righteous person. If a person understands God’s commandments and tries to obey them but breaks any of them due to weakness or ignorance but acknowledges his mistakes and tries to do better, than that person is still a righteous person, but if a person intentionally disobeys any of God’s commandments than that person is not a righteous person.

    I believe that anyone who that thinks that all he has to do is accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and not obey his commandments are ignorant of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that those who teach such doctrine are doing the devil’s will.

    Now, let me ask you a question(s): Why have you rejected the Book of Mormon even though the New Testament states:

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be
    established.” (Matthew 18:16.)

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be
    established.” (2 Corinthians 13:1.)

    And inside every Book of Mormon can be read the following:

    Three witnesses swore that “… we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates…”

    Why do you rejected the Book of Mormon? Why have you rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ?

  184. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 4, 2009 5:10 pm

    More on James J. Strang:

    1. And now it appears that this letter was written on this
    wise: In February, in the year eighteen hundred and
    forty-four, James J. Strang, in company with Aaron Smith and
    under his teaching, visited Nauvoo, the city of the saints,
    and there was more fully instructed by Joseph Smith, Hyrum
    Smith, and Sidney Rigdon in the gospel.

    2. On the twenty-fifth day of February, in that year, he
    was baptized by Joseph Smith, who gave him the gift of the
    Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and blessed him with
    many and great blessings, and said, “I seal upon thy head,
    against God’s own good time, the keys of the Melchizedec
    Priesthood,” and afterwards, but in the same ordinance,
    “Thou shalt hold the keys of the Melchizedec Priesthood,
    shalt walk with Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, and shalt talk
    with God face to face.”

    3. And on the third day of March, in the same year, he was
    ordained an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
    Day Saints, by the laying on of hands of Hyrum Smith,
    according to the testimony of the Spirit of prophecy and the
    word of the Holy Ghost, and he said, “I perceive, by the
    Spirit which is within me, that thou shalt carry the gospel
    with the Spirit like flaming fire to many nations, and by
    thee shall God save the pure of his people.”

    1. On the twenty-seventh day of June, 1844, at five and a half o’clock, in the afternoon, James J. Strang was in the Spirit, and the Angel of God came unto him and saluted him, saying:

    2. Fear God and be strengthened and obey him, for great is the work which he hath required at thy hand. Go on in hope and strength, and falter not, and he will sustain thee, and thou shalt triumph, for the voice of the Lord, by the mouth of Joseph, will he fulfill.

    3. And the Angel of the Lord stretched forth his hand unto him and touched his head, and put oil upon him and said, Grace is poured upon thy lips, and God blesseth thee with the greatness of the Everlasting Priesthood. He putteth might, and glory, and majesty upon thee, and in meekness, and truth, and righteousness will he prosper thee.

    4. Thou shalt save his people from their enemies when there is no arm to deliver, and shall bring salvation when destruction walketh in the house of thy God. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore thy God hath anointed thee with oil and set thee above all thy fellows.

    5. Thy words shall be like sharp arrows in the hearts of the wicked. Thou shalt rebuke those who pervert the word of thy God. Thou shalt preach righteousness and the sublime mysteries in the ears of many people, and shall bring the gospel to many who have not known it, and to the nations afar off.

    6. Thou shalt drive backward and put to shame those that do evil, and the workers of iniquity shall fall. They shall be cast down and shall not be able to rise. With purity will the Lord thy God arm thee, and purity and truth shalt thou teach.

    7. Keep the law of the Lord thy God in thy heart, and none of thy steps shall slide. With thee is the fountain of truth. In thy light shall the people of thy God see, for thou shalt speak his word unto them, and from thy lips shall thy receive it.

    8. The blessing of their God shalt thou put upon them, and his curse upon evil doers, if, after being oft rebuked, they repent not, and before my people shalt thou go to lead them into my ways, for unto thee has the Lord thy God given salvation,

    9. In righteousness shalt thou rule. Thou shalt redeem the poor and the needy from suffering and violence, and to thee God giveth judgment for them. Thou shalt deliver the prey from the spoiler, for God, thy God, has put them in thy hand.

    10. And in weakness will he make thee strong. Thou shalt rule among his people. Thou shalt break in pieces the rod of the oppressor and the yoke of the unjust ruler. They shall flee away, but the way of peace shall they not find.

    11. While the day of the wicked abideth, shalt thou prepare a refuge for the oppressed, and for the poor and needy. Unto thee shall they come, and their brethren who are scattered shall come with them, and the destruction of the ungodly shall quickly follow, for it already worketh. Go thy way and be strong.

    Nauvoo, June 18th, 1844.
    My Dear Son:–Your epistle of May 24th, proposing the planting a Stake of Zion in Wisconsin and the gathering of the Saints there, was duly received, and I with most of the brethern whose advice I called in were of opinion that you was deceived by a spirit not of this world, great but not good. Brother Hyrum however thought otherwise, and favored the project, not doubting it was of God. I however determined to return you an unfavorable answer for the present. But Oh the littleness of man in his best earthly state! Not so the will of the Almighty. God hath ruled it otherwise, and a message from the throne of grace directed me as it hath inspired you, and the faith which thou hast in the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, hath been repaid to thee a thousand fold, and thou shalt be like him; but the flock shall find rest with thee, and God shall reveal to thee his will concerning them.
    I have long felt that my present work was almost done, and that I should soon be called to rule a mighty host, but something whispers me it will be in the land of spirits, where the wicked cease from troubling and the bands of the prisoner fall off. My heart yearns for my little ones, but I know God will be a father to them, and I can claim face to face the fulfillment of promise from him who is a covenant keeping God, and who sweareth and performeth and faileth not to the uttermost.
    The wolves are upon the scent, and I am waiting to be offered up if such be the will of God, knowing that though my visage be more marred that that of any it will be unscarred and fair when archangels shall place on my brow the double crown of martyr and king in a heavenly world.
    In the midst of darkness and boding danger the spirit of Elijah came upon me, and I went away to inquire of God how the Church should be saved.
    I was upon the hill of the Temple. The calm father of waters rolled below changeless and eternal. I beheld a light in the heavens above, and streams of bright light illuminated the firmament varied and beautiful as the rainbow, gentle, yet rapid as the fierce lighting.
    The Almighty came from his throne of rest. He clothed himself with light as with a garment. He appeared and moon and stars went out. The earth dissolved in space. I trod on air and was borne on wings of Cherubim. The sweetest strains of heavenly music thrilled in my ear, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requiem of martyred Prophets.
    I bowed my head to the earth and asked only wisdom and strength for the church. The voice of God answered, My servant Joseph, thou hast been faithful over many things and thy reward is glorious, the crown and sceptre are thine and they wait thee. But thou hast sinned in some things, and thy punishment is very bitter. The whirlwind goeth before and its clouds are dark, but rest followeth and to its days there shall be no end. Study the words of the vision for it tarrieth not.
    And now behold my servant James J. Strang hath come to thee from far for truth when he know it not, and hath not rejected it but had faith in thee, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, and to him shall the gathering of the people be, for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin and I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River in the lands of Racine and Walworth, and behold my servants James and Aaron shall plant it for I have given them wisdom, and Daniel shall stand in his lot on the hill beside the river looking down on the prairie, and shall instruct my people and shall plead with them face to face.
    Behold my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion, and my servant Aaron shall be his counselor, for he hath wisdom in the gospel and understandeth the doctrines and erreth not therein.
    And I will have a house built unto me there of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by many mighty works, and the name of the city shall be called Voree, which is, being interpreted, garden of peace, for there shall my people have peace and rest and wax fat and pleasant in the presence of their enemies.
    But I will again stretch out my arm over the river of waters, and on the banks thereof shall the house of my choice be. But now the city of Voree shall be a strong hold of safety to my people, and they that are faithful and obey me I will there give them great prosperity and such as they have not had before, and unto Voree shall be the gathering of my people, and there shall the oppressed flee for safety and none shall hurt or molest them.
    And by this shall they know that I have spoken it: the people there and the owners of the land shall show kindness to them, for great calamites are coming on the church and such as have not been, and if they scatter the ungodly of the world shall swallow them up, but if they gather to my city of Voree there will I keep them under the shadow of my wings, and the cities from whence my people have been driven shall be purger with a high hand for I will do it, and my people shall be again restored to their possession, but dark clouds are gathering, for the church is not yet wholly purged.
    And now I command my servants, the Apostles and Priests and Elders of the Church of the Saints, that they communicate and proclaim this my word to all the saints of God in all the world, that they may be gathered unto and round about my city of Voree and be saved from their enemies, for I will have a people to serve me.
    And I command my servant Moses Smith that he go unto the saints with whom he is acquainted and unto many people, and command them in my name to go unto my city of Voree and gain inheritances therein, and he shall have an inheritance therein for he hath left all for my sake, and I will add unto him many fold if he is faithful; for he knows the land and can testify unto them that it is very good.
    So spake the Almighty God of heaven. Thy duty is made plain, and if thou lackest wisdom ask of God in whose hands I trust thee, and he shall give the unsparingly, for if evil befall me thou shalt lead the flock to pleasant pastures. God sustain thee.

    Joseph Smith.

    This letter is in the archives at Yale University. Joseph Smith’s signature is on the letter. An independent group of handwriting experts came to the conclusion that the signature was genuine (See THE TEACHINGS OF A MORMON PROPHET p. 250-263.)

    Some have claimed that the letter does not state that Joseph Smith Jr. appointed James J. Strang to be his successor. The letter clearly states that James J. Strang would be like Joseph Smith Jr. who was “the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” And to make this even more clear, the letter goes on state that Joseph Smith Jr. was the “the Shepherd and Stone of Israel.”

  185. NChristine permalink
    July 8, 2009 3:49 am

    Hi Rick,

    Yes, I believe that if a person obeys all of God’s commandments than that person is righteous person.

    The apostle Paul said no one can become righteous by obedience to the law:

    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [literally, made righteous] in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

    Why can obedience to the law not make anyone righteous? Because the standards of the law are the standards of a holy God: perfect holiness. You disagreed by saying this:

    If a person understands God’s commandments and tries to obey them but breaks any of them due to weakness or ignorance but acknowledges his mistakes and tries to do better, than that person is still a righteous person, but if a person intentionally disobeys any of God’s commandments than that person is not a righteous person.

    This is not the law — 10 Commandments included — as given by God. He never once said that if someone “acknowledged his mistakes and tried to do better,” but actually broke one of the commandments, that he was still a righteous person. James said that breaking only one commandment makes the transgressor “guilty of all” (James 2:10). Is someone who is “guilty of all” a righteous person? Have you broken a command? Have you coveted? Lied? Does that not make you “guilty of all”? Does it not make all of us “guilty of all”?

    In Romans 7, Paul makes it clear that even if someone does not want to sin, it is sin all the same.

    For the good that I would [want to do] I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

    This sounds like sins of “weakness and ignorance,” doesn’t it? Did Paul think those were overlooked by God – that he was still righteous since his intentions were to obey God? Look at how he described the person in this situation:

    For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord.

    Even if someone has the intention not to sin, breaking a command is still sin, and it makes them a captive of sin! It seems that the version of righteousness you described involves re-writing the requirements of God’s commandments so that you can meet them. 🙂 The verdict of God’s commandments is that you and I (along with all the rest of the world!) are guilty before God. When we change God’s commands so that we avoid this verdict, we are not submitting to God. Paul said this of the 1st century Jews:

    “…they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth….[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:2-11).

    One quick note about the 2 or 3 witnesses and why I don’t accept the BoM witnesses or the Strangite witnesses. Jesus was sentenced to death at the testimony of two witnesses that Matthew calls “two false witnesses” (Matthew 26:60). Will we accept their testimony just because they agreed together?

  186. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 11, 2009 10:49 am

    NChristine posted: “One quick note about the 2 or 3 witnesses and why I don’t accept the BoM witnesses or the Strangite witnesses. Jesus was sentenced to death at the testimony of two witnesses that Matthew calls “two false witnesses” (Matthew 26:60). Will we accept their testimony just because they agreed together?”

    Let us compare Matthew 26:60 with the Book of Mormon witnesses to see if there is any truth to what NChristine posted:

    Matthew 26:59-60
    59Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
    60But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

    “Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto
    whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of god the
    father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain
    this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the
    Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came
    from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they
    have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath
    declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is
    true. And we also test6ify that we have seen the engravings which are
    upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God,
    and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel
    of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes,
    that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we
    know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus
    Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and
    it is marvelous in our eyes, nevertheless, the voice of the Lord
    commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be
    obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these
    things. And we now that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our
    garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the
    judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the
    heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the
    Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
    Oliver Cowdery,
    David Whitmer,
    Martin Harris.”

    “It is recorded in the American Cyclopaedia and the Encyclopedia
    Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of
    the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied
    their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind,
    that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part
    thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or
    Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died
    reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of
    Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last
    words were, “Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of
    Mormon.” He died here in Richmond, Mo., on March 3rd, 1850. Many
    witnesses yet live in Richmond, who will testify to the truth of these
    facts, as well as to the good character of Oliver Cowdery. The very
    powers of darkness have combined against the Book of Mormon, to prove
    that it is not the word of God, and this should go to prove to men o
    spiritual understanding, the Book is true.” (Extracted from the book
    An Address to All Believers in Christ by: David Whitmer.)

    The witnesses that testified of digging up the Voree Plates that James J. Strang translated into the English language were even more convincing. Unlike the plates used in translating the Book of Mormon into the English language, the Voree Plates were shown to many.

    “…Go to the place which the Angel of the presence shall show thee, and
    there shalt thou dig for the record of my people, in whose possession
    thou dwellest. Take with thee faithful witnesses; for in evil will the
    unfaithful speak of thee; but the faithful and true shall know that
    they are LIARS, and shall not stumble for their words.” (Extracted from a revelation given to James J. Strang 9-1-1845).

    NChristine posted: “This is not the law — 10 Commandments included — as given by God. He never once said that if someone “acknowledged his mistakes and tried to do better,” but actually broke one of the commandments, that he was still a righteous person. James said that breaking only one commandment makes the transgressor “guilty of all” (James 2:10). Is someone who is “guilty of all” a righteous person? Have you broken a command? Have you coveted? Lied? Does that not make you “guilty of all”? Does it not make all of us “guilty of all”?”

    NChristine, like many others, does not understand that there is a difference between the laws of Moses and the Ten Commandments. The laws of Moses ended with the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and are no longer demanded of those who follow Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments are still in effect. There is nothing in all the scriptures that state otherwise.

    1 John 2:3-4
    3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his
    commandments.
    4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his
    commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him.

    I think that N Christine has been miss-informed by one of the many false prophets who have risen in this age.

    Matt. 24: 11, 24
    11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
    • • •
    24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

    And obvious example of one of these false prophet is Pat Robertson, who was the founder of the 700 club.

  187. NChristine permalink
    July 11, 2009 11:56 pm

    Hi Rick,

    NChristine, like many others, does not understand that there is a difference between the laws of Moses and the Ten Commandments. The laws of Moses ended with the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and are no longer demanded of those who follow Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments are still in effect.

    This distinction does not change the verdict of “guilty” for all of us! When James said that breaking one command equals being “guilty of all,” he was including the Ten Commandments. Look at the context:

    For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law (James 2:10-11).

    So if we break one of the Ten Commandments, we are “guilty of all.” Have you broken one of the Ten Commandments? Does that not make you “guilty of all” — along with the everyone else?

    The NT is clear that we must admit our guilt in order to be saved. Paul said, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Jesus did not come to save “righteous” people (since there are none, nor would they need saved if there were). He came to save sinners! If we don’t admit to being a sinner, then we don’t have any claim on Christ’s salvation. So…are you one or not? 🙂

  188. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 12, 2009 2:27 am

    NChritine,

    God knows that I am not perfect, but it is none of your business what sins I may or may not have committed.

    Again, there is a difference between the laws of Moses and the Ten Commandments. James 2:10-11 is referring to the Ten Commandments. Not the laws of Moses. If you wouldn’t have rejected the Book of Mormon, you would be able to understand this easier.

    The New Testament went through an editing process by the Catholic Church:

    1 Nephi 13 26-29

    26] And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

    [27] And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

    [28] Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.

    [29] And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest — because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God — because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

    The early church, that is, the church shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, didn’t even have the New Testament. Some of them may of had parts of it, but the New Testament wasn’t compiled until a later date.

    Why are you allowing Satan to deceive you? Why have you closed your mind to understanding and truth? You have no scripturally sound reason for doing so.

  189. July 12, 2009 6:34 am

    There’s a difference between admitting your guilt under the Law of Moses, and claiming you aren’t still bound by ANY of it.

    Likewise, there is a difference between saying the Law of Moses is not enough for salvation and calling it completely useless.

  190. NChristine permalink
    July 17, 2009 2:51 am

    Hi Rick,

    You said–

    God knows that I am not perfect, but it is none of your business what sins I may or may not have committed.

    I absolutely agree! 🙂 No offense was intended, nor was I wanting to know your business. The Scripture makes it clear that God’s salvation is offered to guilty sinners, and I haven’t been sure whether or not you consider yourself one. You explained that you believe you are righteous based upon observance of the 10 Commandments. On the other hand, you seem to acknowledge that you have broken one or more of them (as we all have). But breaking them doesn’t make people righteous; it makes them guilty (which includes all of us)!

    Further, you acknowledge that James 2:10 is talking about the 10 Commandments. That shows that in God’s eyes, your breaking of one of the 10 Commandments makes you “guilty of all” (just as it makes us all “guilty of all”).

    You then argued that if you try to keep the 10 Commandments but broke one anyway (i.e., non-intentionally) that was acceptable. But as quoted above, in Romans 7 Paul shows that breaking one of the 10 Commandments non-intentionally (that is, not wanting to break it) is still sin and brings death.

    The Scripture makes it clear that we are extremely unrighteous. Would you agree? I know this sounds as though I am trying to judge you; I am not at all! When Jesus specified who He had come for, He narrowed it to sinners. He said He “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). This is an ironic statement, for He was talking to the Pharisees, who only thought they were righteous: the Scriptures say they “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). Obviously Jesus didn’t think they were righteous. But their self-righteousness (not acknowledging that they were sinners) kept them from Jesus. Likewise, even today Jesus only receives those who acknowledge they are not righteous in and of themselves.

    As for the BoM, I know that is very important to you. Because we both accept the Bible–though differently–as Scripture, it seems a good place to start before getting to the BoM. 🙂

    NChristine

  191. NChristine permalink
    July 17, 2009 3:04 am

    Hi Seth,

    I would encourage you to read/study the following NT passages: Romans 6:14-18, 7:1-6, and 8:1-4; Galatians 2:15-21, 3:1-29, 4:1-7, and 5:17-24; and II Corinthians 3:2-18. 🙂

    Have you read Galatians? It’s a short read and a nutshell of the gospel Paul said was given him “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).

  192. July 17, 2009 5:10 am

    Yes – I’ve read Galatians. I’ve read the entire New Testament many times.

    Nothing in there really convinced me that just because Jesus arrived we now had to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  193. NChristine permalink
    July 17, 2009 6:03 am

    Hey Seth,

    Sometime when you’re not just in “watchdog function” mode, maybe we can discuss this, huh? 🙂 You might get bored with the “grace vs. works” theme, but apparently Paul didn’t, as he devoted huge sections to it.

    NChristine

  194. July 17, 2009 2:33 pm

    Yeah… well, I’m not Paul.

  195. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:42 am

    NChristine posted: “As for the BoM, I know that is very important to you. Because we both accept the Bible–though differently–as Scripture, it seems a good place to start before getting to the BoM.”

    This blog is titled ilovemormons under the subtitle the-original-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints, yet NChristine wants me to disregard the Book of Mormon.

    It is hard for me to understand the narrow mindedness of these modern-day “Christians.” They throw out most of God’s revealed writings, including most of the Bible, and form their ideologies on a few selected texts from the New Testament. Don’t they understand that the early church didn’t even have the New Testament, and that they had to go on other writings? Even the New Testament reveals that they did. The following is just one example:

    “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”(JUDE 1:14-15.)

    “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (1 Enoch 1:9.)

    But just for you, NChristine, I will try to stick to the Bible.

    Yes, I agree with you that Jesus Christ came for the un-righteous, not the self-righteous (There is a big difference between the righteous and self-righteous). And yes, I agree with you that in-order for a person to have their sins forgiven they must acknowledge before God that they have sinned. I also agree with you that the law of Moses is impossible to keep, and that it was done away with by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What I strongly disagree with you on is that the Ten Commandments were part of the law of Moses, and that they have ended. Nor do I agree with you that the Ten Commandments are impossible to obey. One must overcome, and with the grace of Jesus Christ it is possible to do so.

    It is my opnion that those who teach that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and that all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ into their lives and not obey his commandments, are some of the most wicked and perverted people that live in this age. The media is saturated with those who teach this perversion. “Now I want you to pray with me this prayer, and acknowledge that you are sinners and accept Jesus Christ into your lives. Now that you have done that, send me your money…”

  196. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 18, 2009 3:21 pm

    Seth R posted: “…there is a difference between saying the Law of Moses is not enough for salvation and calling it completely useless.”

    I agree. Especially for those living in this age. Have you ever read the ingredients in bacon? It is enough to pickle your brain.

    James J. Strang was given the following revelation January 17, 1845:

    “Be ye faithful, O ye children of the kingdom, for this
    is the covenant between me and you. I will remember you in
    mercy and in blessings if ye serve me. And this will I do.
    Behold I the Lord have spoken it. I will give unto my
    servant James the plates of the book that was sealed, that
    he may translate them for you. Yea, unto the faithful is
    this promise. Serve and obey me, and I will give unto him
    the plates of the ancient records which are sealed up, and
    he shall translate them unto you; and this shall be a
    witness between me and those that serve me; and unto my
    servants who serve me faithfully, yea, unto whom I will,
    shall he show the plates, and they shall be faithful
    witnesses unto me, and thus shall my words be established.”

    The church had been promised that if they were faithful, James J. Strang
    would translate the sealed record, but they were not faithful and the sealed record was not translated by James J. Strang. Instead, James J. Strang translated portions of ancient Book of the Law of the Lord, and used it for his entire system of government on Beaver Island, Michigan,
    starting in about 1850. In my opnion, this was one of the many mistakes he made. Most “Strangites” do not believe that it was a mistake.

  197. NChristine permalink
    July 18, 2009 6:34 pm

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for your responses. I would like to clarify a few things about what I am saying and what I am trying to get at.

    What I strongly disagree with you on is that the Ten Commandments were part of the law of Moses and that they have ended.

    I agree with you that breaking one of the Ten Commandments is still sin. I believe I have stated this more than once before. Most of the Ten Commandments are repeated as commands in the New Testament, and they reflect the character and morality of a righteous God. Committing adultery, or committing murder, or lying, etc., are just as sinful for the New Covenant believer as they were for the Old Testament one.

    However, there is a difference between obeying the requirements of a holy God and believing one attains righteousness by doing so. As I have already stated, the Scripture says that breaking even one command makes us “guilty of all” (James 2:10). So if we have broken even one of the Ten Commandments, then righteousness cannot be attained by keeping them, for we have already blown it.

    There were two aspects to the Ten Commandments, as there were to the rest of the Mosaic Law. On the one hand, they were commands to be obeyed. In this aspect, it is clear from the NT that some of the commands are still to be obeyed — even ones not in the Ten Commandments, such as “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Secondly, though, the Ten Commandments and other Mosaic laws were the human responsibilities under the Old Covenant, which promised blessing for obedience and judgment for disobedience. In other words, they were the means by which one was supposed to become righteous — the “end of the bargain” that the humans were supposed to hold up. In terms of this second aspect (the Old Covenant), the apostles make it very clear that it did not produce righteousness. Why? People broke the Old Covenant by not obeying the Law (Ten Commandments included). Paul combines the Ten Commandments with the rest of the law of Moses when referring to the “covenant” aspect of those commandments. In II Corinthians 3:7, he talks of the “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,” and he says it is “done away” (3:11). Clearly this is referring to the Ten Commandments, which were the only laws “engraven in stones.” Paul says that the ministration (ministry) of the Ten Commandments/Law is “done away” — not the principles of those Commandments. In other words, the ministry of the Old Covenant which required that righteousness be attained through perfect keeping of the law (including the Ten Commandments) has been done away, and in its place is a ministry by which righteousness is legally imputed by God on the basis of faith in Christ’s perfect sacrifice.

    In the New Testament view, people stand condemned on the basis of disobedience to God’s laws, including the Ten Commandments (e.g., see Romans 2:11-24, 7:7-25). They therefore cannot become righteous merely by keeping those laws that they have broken (though that does not give them an excuse to continue breaking them). God is just and cannot just “overlook” sin. So He sent His Son to live perfectly (perfectly obeying the Law–all of it) and died as a substitute for us — taking on Himself the punishment for our breaking of the Law. When one places faith in Christ, Paul says that person is identified with Christ’s death and resurrection. They “become dead to the law by the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4). (When he says “dead to the law, he continues just a few verses later to quote one of the Ten Commandments.) What does this mean? It means that those who are “in Christ” are no longer condemned under the law because they are “dead.”

    Now, does that mean believers can just sin because they are “dead to the law”? No — the apostle Paul put it this way to the New Covenant believers who had been saved by grace through faith in Christ: “What then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” New Covenant (New Testament) believers are now “alive unto God” (7:6) and thus are to walk in obedience to the perfect and holy God who engraved the Ten Commandments on stone and has now engraved His commands on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33, II Corinthians 3:3).

    I fully agree that followers of Christ must walk holy lives. I can say honestly that I seek to live before God with a clear conscience and am highly respected as a devoted Christian in my “real life.” I say this not to brag — since I know that my righteousness before God comes from Christ alone (I Corinthians 1:30) — but because I have gotten the idea that you view me as a libertine. 🙂

    The issue is not whether or not God’s moral commands are still in effect. The issue is how one becomes righteous. You have stated that you believe you are righteous based upon obedience to God’s commands. I ask again, how can that be? If you have broken one or more, how can you be righteous based upon your obedience to His commands? I am not telling you to break them (God forbid!); rather, I am saying you need another way of becoming righteous. Jesus said that “remission of sins” is based upon the New Covenant (Matthew 26:28). You seem to be relying on the Old Covenant to attain righteousness but hoping to get the “remission of sins” from the New Covenant. But Jesus is the “mediator of the New Covenant” (Hebrews 12:24), and His blood is “of the New Covenant” (Matthew 26:28). Here is Paul’s description of how one becomes righteous under the New Covenant:

    Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [Greek: “made righteous”] in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

    Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    Being justified [made righteous] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

    Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

    To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:19-28).

    There’s more you addressed on this topic, but this is too long already! I look forward to your feedback.

    NChristine

  198. Rick Hurd permalink
    July 19, 2009 2:43 am

    NChistine posted: “it is clear from the NT that some of the commands are still to be obeyed — even ones not in the Ten Commandments, such as “Love thy neighbor as thyself.””

    “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is one of the Ten Commandments. Although it is missing from both Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, Jesus Christ included it:

    Matthew 19:19
    19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love
    thy neighbour as thyself.

    Matthew 22:37-39
    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
    with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
    mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy
    neighbour as thyself.

    The missing commandment is misplaced in the Old Testament, but it can
    be found in the Book of Leviticus:

    Leviticus 19:18
    18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the
    children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as
    thyself: I am the LORD.

    The historian Josephus explained that the Jews had developed a
    superstition about not writing the Ten Commandments in their entirety:

    Antiquities of the Jews
    Book III, Chapter V, Section 4
    4. … And they all heard a voice that came to all of
    them from above, insomuch that no one of these words escaped
    them, which Moses wrote on two tables; which it is not
    lawful for us to set down directly, but their import we will
    declare.

    Because there is a missing commandment in the lists in Exodus and
    Deuteronomy, there has been a disagreement about the correct way to
    number the commandments. The Catholics, Protestants, and Jews each
    have a different numbering of the commandments. They each try to make
    ten, when only nine are actually listed, but they each solve the
    problem in a different way.

    Catholic Numbering – #10 is split:
    9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.
    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.

    Protestant Numbering – #1 is split:
    1. I am the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods
    before me.
    2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Thou
    shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

    Jewish Numbering – #1 is split, but in a different way:
    1. I am the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the
    land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
    2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not
    make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not bow down
    to them, nor serve them.

    Nchristine posted: “…However, there is a difference between obeying the requirements of a holy God and believing one attains righteousness by doing so…You have stated that you believe you are righteous based upon obedience to God’s commands…”

    So, are you saying that those who try to obey God’s commandments are not righteous people?

    Lets get this straight:

    On July 2nd Nchristine asked me the following quesiton(s) “Let me ask you a question. Do you believe that following the 10 Commandments makes you righteous? If you do believe that, then what happens if/when you break one or more of them? If following them does not make you righteous, then what does make you righteous?”

    On July 2nd I responded: “Yes, I believe that if a person obeys all of God’s commandments than that person is righteous person. If a person understands God’s commandments and tries to obey them but breaks any of them due to weakness or ignorance but acknowledges his mistakes and tries to do better, than that person is still a righteous person, but if a person intentionally disobeys any of God’s commandments than that person is not a righteous person.”

    Nchristine posted: “…I can say honestly that I seek to live before God with a clear conscience and am highly respected as a devoted Christian in my “real life.”…”

    My grandmother, who was a very devout Catholic, was also very much respected as a devoted Christian. She had an idol of the “Virgin Mary” that she often prayed to. I still think of her as a righteous person. She, like you, didn’t understand. Try obeying all of God’s commandments like he commanded you to do, and see if you are still “highly respected as a devoted Christian.”

    Nchristine posted: “…Paul combines the Ten Commandments with the rest of the law of Moses when referring to the “covenant” aspect of those commandments. In II Corinthians 3:7, he talks of the “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,” and he says it is “done away” (3:11). Clearly this is referring to the Ten Commandments…”

    No, you are misunderstanding what the apostle Paul was writing about, and perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ, again. Lets take a closer look:

    II Corinthians 3:7,11
    7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold THE FACE OF MOSES FOR THE GLORY OF HIS COUNTENANCE; WHICH GLORY WAS TO BE DONE AWAY;
    11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

    Now do you understand? It wasn’t the Ten Commandments that the apostle Paul referring to that was glorious and was done away, but “THE FACE OF MOSES” that was the glory that was “TO DONE AWAY.”

  199. Michael Mattei permalink
    July 19, 2009 11:47 pm

    You excised three scriptures there:

    7But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,

    8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

    9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

    10For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.

    11For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

    Or the CEV version:
    7The Law of Moses brought only the promise of death, even though it was carved on stones and given in a wonderful way. Still the Law made Moses’ face shine so brightly that the people of Israel could not look at it, even though it was a fading glory. 8So won’t the agreement that the Spirit brings to us be even more wonderful? 9If something that brings the death sentence is glorious, won’t something that makes us acceptable to God be even more glorious? 10In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. 11The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away.

    See this passage is showing that the glory of the Old Covenant, which made Moses’s face glow temporarily, is eclipsed by the greater glory of the New Covenant. In short, the old agreement, the old testament law, was what was done away. The covenant is what will not fade or be done away.

    Let’s not forget 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.

    5Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    No matter how good we are of ourselves, it is not enough. It is God’s actions which make the salvation of the New Covenant possible.

  200. NChristine permalink
    July 22, 2009 3:06 pm

    Hi Rick,

    Sounds as though you have an interesting theory re: the 10 Commandments. I do find it interesting but don’t see anything in Scripture to support it. Also, the Scripture presents numerous other commands that were part of God’s “moral law” (versus “ceremonial” and “civil” laws) that are still required of New Covenant believers. Many of these commands are not included in the 10 Commandments. For example,

    –“Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:4, quoted by Jesus as the “first and greatest commandment”)

    –“Be ye holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44, quoted by Peter in I Peter 1:16)

    –“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him” (Deuteronomy 6:13, quoted by Jesus during His temptation)

    –“Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 6:17, also quoted by Jesus during His temptation).

    In addition, some of the 10 Commandments and other commands were interpreted by Christ, who said that lust is equal to adultery, that anger without a cause deserves the same punishment as murder, and that we must love our enemies as well as our friends.

    So I believe we are held responsible for more than just the 10 Commandments, though they are perhaps a good “summary list” of human responsibilities toward God and humans. Perhaps you would agree.

    However, the exact enumeration of the commands does not need to be agreed upon in order to answer your question, which is this: So, are you saying that those who try to obey God’s commandments are not righteous people? I would answer this question by noting that the Scripture makes two facts clear:

    –Just “trying” to obey God’s commandments is not enough. Let’s say that to be righteous before God, one has to only follow the 10 Commandments plus “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The question is, have any of us kept all of these? You have agreed that James 2:10 is discussing the 10 Commandments when it says, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” So … if we “try” to obey God’s commandments, but break even just one, are we therefore righteous? Not according to the Bible — we are “guilty of all”! In other words, we are guilty of breaking every single one of the other 9+ commands—murder, adultery, and idolatry included! Being “guilty of all” is not the definition of a righteous person!

    –The Scripture also gives us a definitive answer regarding whether anyone, based on their own deeds, is righteous at all. It clearly states, “There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one….For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23).

    I agree that following the commandments of God is good—if one actually follows them perfectly. His commandments are holy and pure. However, if one teaches the commands and holds to them, but breaks one of them (e.g., “Do not covet”), that person is not righteous according the Scripture. The Bible says that all humans are in this predicament – all of us are unrighteous of ourselves and need to be made righteous. Jesus Christ was “made sin for us” so that we “might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). We sinners must be made righteous by God through Christ. The Bible communicates that God only justifies (declares righteous) people who acknowledge that they are not righteous in themselves and who cast themselves upon His Son as their substitute. God then makes the trade: the sinner is “made the righteousness of God” as Christ was “made sin for us.” Only this is true righteousness – the righteousness of Christ. All other righteousness is “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

  201. July 23, 2009 5:41 am

    NChristine said, The Bible communicates that God only justifies (declares righteous) people who acknowledge that they are not righteous in themselves and who cast themselves upon His Son as their substitute.

    We must do this ever single day because we all sin ever single day. No matter how righteous, our how good a person we are. By sinning we negate all the good we do.

    Praise God for his free gift GRACE.

  202. rickhurd permalink
    July 25, 2009 9:33 am

    I was raised catholic, and was taught some very twisted and perverted doctrine, but none of that doctrine I was taught was as sick and twisted as this doctrine of grace without keeping the commandments of God is all that is required for salvation. Those who understand that the Book of Mormon is true, understands that you must keep all of God’s commandments, overcome all sin and endure to the end.

    For those who have rejected the Book of Mormon, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, but in-brace the Bible as the word of God. I post the following:

    Concerning righteousness, the Bible makes it clear that works, which include keeping his commandments, are required for salvation:

    Matthew 5:20
    20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall
    exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye
    shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 7:21
    21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
    enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will
    of my Father which is in heaven.

    Matthew 19:17
    17 … if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Matthew 25:34-36,41-43,46
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand,
    Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
    for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was
    thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took
    me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:
    I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,
    Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared
    for the devil and his angels:
    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was
    thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye
    clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but
    the righteous into life eternal.

    Revelation 22:14 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the
    gates into the city.

    Concerning the doctrine of grace, I post the following:

    Ephesians 2:1,5,8-9
    1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses
    and sins;

    5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us
    together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
    yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    From the context, it is clear that Paul was writing about the “grace”
    that comes to people at a time when they were still sinners, when they
    were first converted.

    Paul wrote that we should not “boast” about that “grace” being given
    to us due to our own righteousness. But he was writing about our
    sinfulness BEFORE OUR CONVERSION.
    Many are called by God’s grace, but few will be chosen for eternal
    life:

    Matthew 22:14
    14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
    God gives some people the grace to keep the his commandments in an
    acceptable manner. Those who wail and moan about how impossible it
    is, or who insist that righteousness is unnecessary for salvation,
    obviously do not have that grace.

    Absolute perfection is not required. Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus
    Christ will atone for sins committed: (1) before our conversion, (2)
    in ignorance, or (3) due to weakness. But there will be no excuse
    given for those who will not even try.

    Overcoming the devil is not an automatic thing. We are required to
    RESIST the devil:

    1 Peter 5:8-9
    8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
    as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, …

    James 4:7-8
    7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and
    he will flee from you.
    8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse
    your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double
    minded.

    If you resist the devil, he will flee from you. But if you teach the
    false gospel of “salvation by faith alone”, then you are embracing the
    devil who will drag you down the depths of hell.

  203. July 26, 2009 4:12 am

    rickhurd said, but none of that doctrine I was taught was as sick and twisted as this doctrine of grace without keeping the commandments of God is all that is required for salvation. Those who understand that the Book of Mormon is true, understands that you must keep all of God’s commandments, overcome all sin and endure to the end.

    It’ so nice to meet some one as prefect as Jesus.

    You said it best:
    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

    Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    1gift
    Pronunciation:\ˈgift\
    Function:noun
    Etymology:Middle English, from Old Norse, something given, talent; akin to Old English giefan to give
    Date:12th century
    1 : a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
    2 : something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
    3 : the act, right, or power of giving

    A Gift is without compensation.

    com·pen·sate
    Pronunciation:\ˈkäm-pən-ˌsāt, -ˌpen-\
    Function:verb
    Inflected Form(s):com·pen·sat·ed; com·pen·sat·ing
    Etymology:Latin compensatus, past participle of compensare, frequentative of compendere
    Date:1646
    transitive verb
    1: to be equivalent to : counterbalance
    2: to make an appropriate and usually counterbalancing payment to
    3 a: to provide with means of counteracting variation b: to neutralize the effect of (variations)
    intransitive verb
    1: to supply an equivalent —used with for
    2: to offset an error, defect, or undesired effect
    3: to undergo or engage in psychological or physiological compensation

    What is the work God requires.

    Jhn 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

    Jhn 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    We do our best but as i said: We must do this ever single day because we all sin ever single day. No matter how righteous, our how good a person we are. By sinning we negate all the good we do.

    Praise God for his free gift GRACE.

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