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Should We Dwell on Similarities?

May 1, 2009

I think this article is good food for thought for Christians who are seeking to witness to Latter Day Saints.

Should We Dwell On Similarities?

By Bill McKeever

In recent years some within the Christian and Mormon community have been espousing a method of mutual understanding that urges dialogue revolving around common ground rather than discussions that make a clear distinction between Mormonism and the Christian faith. To imply that a Mormon could be wrong and run the risk of offense is considered by many in this camp as anathema. I admit I have my concerns about this new approach.

Am I surprised to hear Mormons expressing their appreciation to Christians who refrain from making them answer the hard questions? Not at all. No doubt many LDS like this new approach because it protects them from hearing things about their faith that may eventually cause them to rethink their positions.

However, it is apparent that not all Mormons agree with this new paradigm. Joseph Fielding McConkie, the son of Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie (1915-1985), has been critical of Mormons who choose to dwell on similarities rather than on those things that make Mormonism unique.

On November 5, 2005, McConkie spoke at the Joseph Smith Symposium in Palmyra, New York. The title of his talk was “Two Churches,” an expression taken from 1 Nephi 14:10 that reads, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil.”

Like his father, McConkie makes no pretense that he believes all professing Christian churches outside of the LDS Church fall within the parameters of the church of the devil. It is no secret that McConkie and I rarely agree on doctrinal issues but in this case, I think my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ need to listen carefully to three comments he makes:

1. “Perhaps we need to rethink the idea of seeking common ground with those we desire to teach. Every likeness we identify leaves them with one less reason to join the Church. When we cease to be different we cease to be.”
2. “Truth, however, is more important than harmony.”
3. “Any time we declare something to be true, we have picked a fight with that which is untrue… It is as certain as the night following the day that we will never be able to declare our message without opposition or without giving offense to some.”

I happen to agree with McConkie regarding the above points (though, of course, for different reasons). Shallow conversations that fail to define our unique positions do nothing to compel Mormons to see the importance of biblical teaching over “latter-day revelation” that tends to contradict it. While I am a strong proponent of displaying respectful behavior towards members of the LDS Church, I find it delusional to think that we can ignore the necessary message of the gospel and still somehow call this evangelism. At some point in their lives, Mormons need to confront the issues that separate their error from orthodoxy.

It is a temptation for Christians to take the easy path and merely be “friendly.” But is friendship alone really being “loving” in such cases? If we really believe Mormonism’s teachings are so egregious that its followers will not be able to enjoy eternity in the presence of our God and Savior, should we not do our best to present those differences?

Do we run the risk of offending some when we do this? Absolutely. The Gospel, by nature, is offensive to those who disagree. If a person is offended by the Gospel, it is proof that they need to hear what it has to say.

Reference:
http://www.mrm.org/similarities

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71 Comments leave one →
  1. Goldarn permalink
    May 1, 2009 5:14 am

    “Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.”
    Sam Brown, Washington Post

    If a person is offended, it is important to make sure the person was actually offended by the gospel, and not something the witnesser did.

  2. May 1, 2009 6:47 am

    Hmmmm. I understand this approach, but I have to say I disagree on some level with it. I speak from my experience both as a former LDS missionary and as one who has engaged in serious investigation of other faiths when I say that, for me anyway, beginning with common beliefs creates a critical foundation for further discussion.

    I don’t trust people who are so glued to their agenda that they refuse to see and/or acknowledge commonalities. It’s frustrating and phony talking to folks like that, and I actually go out of my way to avoid it. I don’t have enough emotional energy to start investing it in people who can’t have a polite, kind, agreeable conversation.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I think when you really build a friendship with someone, it will and must move beyond that. But by then, you’re friends; and mature, honest people don’t get offended over disagreements. And mature, honest people really listen to what a good friend is saying and take care to truly consider it.

    So I think Bill McKeever is missing the point when he says that there is no need to build mutual understanding and respect between Evangelicals and Mormons. Because if it weren’t for people being willing to build bridges of respect between our two groups, I would have NEVER, EVER for a single second even considered giving evangelicalism a second look as a potentially viable option.

    That’s because there’s no way to turn me off faster than by starting a conversation or relationship with guns blazing. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. To quote Sheniqua from last night’s Jerry Springer show, “You don’t know me well enough to be sayin’ somethin’ like that to me.” 😉

  3. faithoffathers permalink
    May 1, 2009 3:26 pm

    I agree with this article in some ways. I feel no obligation to neglect or ignore the differences between the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other faiths. To do so would be to apologize or “water-down” the restoration. I agree with Ezra Taft Benson who said in essence that the Book of Mormon is not on trial, the world is on trial. We don’t have to force anybody to accept the restored gospel.

    That being said, we have to take the Saviors words seriously when He said “blessed are the peacemakers….” That certainly counts for something and is important in following Christ.

    So how does one balance these seemingly competing virtures? I think the answer is declaring one’s beliefs with clarity and love, and leaving other faiths alone. This is in fact what Christ instructed the apostles to do when they asked Him about a faction of pharisees teaching certain doctrines. He said basically “leave them alone, if they are false they will fall. If they are true, they are with us.”

    I think evangelicals justify their considerable investment in time and energy in criticizing the LDS church by taking a few New Testament verses out of context. There are several verse often cited that instruct us to oppose heresy and clarify true doctrine. But those statements were made to members of the ancient church. The apostles were not saying “go out in the world and battle against all false doctrine of all religions.” They were trying to keep the church pure.

    It is ironic that these verses are used to justify criticizing the LDS church- a faith that EVs say is not even in the Christian church. So if the EVs are right and the LDS church is not Christian, they are not justified by the NT passages in their strident criticism.

    fof

  4. NChristine permalink
    May 1, 2009 4:20 pm

    Hi fof,

    The apostles were not saying “go out in the world and battle against all false doctrine of all religions.”

    I think you are absolutely right in the sense that the “heresy” being battled in the early church was from within the church (or recently-departed members). Indeed, if someone was classified as a “heretic,” they were not to be discussed with or dealt with at length (such as is done on this and other blogs) but rejected “after the first and second admonition” (Titus 3:5).

    I think the fact that Evangelicals in general feel, as you say, that the LDS church “is not even in the Christian church” is likely the very reason some of them make “considerable investment in time and energy in criticizing the LDS church” (and others spend considerable time reaching out to those of other faiths). It is based on love for sinners (which we believe includes both you and us!) and obedience to Christ. I cannot speak for others, but I am not “criticizing” the LDS church just to “keep the church pure” (I think you are right about that) but in order to help individual LDS find freedom in knowing the truth (John 8:32).

  5. faithoffathers permalink
    May 1, 2009 4:39 pm

    NChristine,

    Thanks for the response. I understand where EVs are coming from. The problem I have is when they claim to understand my religion better than I do and take upon themselves the role of presenters of my church to the world. This is supremely arrogant and anything but Christian. And it most often result in gross misrepresentation of what we hold sacred.

    In my opinion, it is simply silly to spend so much time criticizing one particular faith instead of declaring what should be the good news. Criticizing another faith is anyting but declaring the good news.

    Those who have exchanged posts with me know I do not spend time criticizing the EV doctrine or that of other faiths. I am not unique among LDS in that reguard. Frankly, in my opinion, the evangelical doctrines for the most part are a fairy tale based in mysticism, hellenism, tradition, mixed in with worship of the Bible. But it does no good to spend time arguing with them about what I think of their doctrine.

    I believe taking the higher road is what Christ wants us to do. If our doctrine is true, it will manifest itself in the lives of those who follow it. But the natural man in all of us edges us to “pick a fight” unfortunately. And this results in bickering over doctrine and the pursuit of what we perceive as victory.

    Not all people are like that of course, including yourself. And I appreciate that.

    fof

  6. NChristine permalink
    May 1, 2009 5:52 pm

    FoF,

    Thanks for your kindness. I do continue to feel that proclaiming the good news often involves differentiating truth from error for the sake of individuals–especially when we as Evangelicals believe it has eternal consequences for them. Thank you for communicating your thoughts in a calm manner–it is so appreciated.

    NChristine

  7. Tom permalink
    May 1, 2009 6:29 pm

    Where I always get confused is when it becomes apparent that under Ev doctrine, a Mormon can be saved while still a member of the LDS Church (Jessica and Gloria both agreed on this). If I am currently saved (and I believe I am) then why do I need to leave the LDS Church as long as I’m existing day to day in a saved condition (I believe one can fall from grace – not sure what others here believe on this point)?

    In other words, if I’m saved by grace and not of works, then why is leaving the Mormon Church requisite for salvation?

  8. May 1, 2009 6:34 pm

    I’m intrigued by this statement: “Mormonism’s teachings are so egregious that its followers will not be able to enjoy eternity in the presence of our God and Savior”.

    First off, I’m not offended by it, but, like I said, intrigued. I know you think Mormonism is “wrong”, while I’d tend to hold the opposite view. However, I, as a Latter-day Saint, don’t go so far as to believe that YOUR beliefs are so wrong (egregious? really?) as to keep you from enjoying eternity in the presence of God (whether God the Father or God the Son). So it makes me wonder here if you actually believe that there is some kind of doctrinal test in order to enter the kingdom. Are we saved by faith or by catechism?

  9. May 1, 2009 8:11 pm

    MY two cents on this issue (even though my opinion is not really even worth 2 cents!!) 🙂

    Christ said that He came as a sword to divide mother from father, sister from brother, etc. The truth is very offending to some people… it is important to realize this. We should never shy away from teaching and sharing the truth in order to keep “peace with others”. So often we want to find common ground and have peace with people and will do so at the expense of sharing the truth. In the process we often end up compromising saying “such and such” doesn’t matter. IMO, when Christ talks about peacemakers He is not talking about people who bring “peace” as the world defines it, He is talking about “peace” as God defines it. Remember Christ said, “My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth…”. His peace comes from having a real relationship with Him NOT from being in a peaceful relationship with those around you. A peacemaker brings people into a saving relationship with God… they bring TRUE ETERNAL PEACE. In fact, being this kind of peacemaker puts the individual in opposition to the world. That is what Christ meant when He said He came to divide mother from father, sister from brother, etc. A peacemaker as Christ meant it is not one who seeks peaceful relationships with others AT THE EXPENSE OF sharing the truth… it is one who seeks to bring others into a peaceful relationship with God (a peacemaker) REGARDLESS of whether or not it brings them out of a peaceful relationship with the individual.

    Darrell

  10. May 1, 2009 8:27 pm

    “So it makes me wonder here if you actually believe that there is some kind of doctrinal test in order to enter the kingdom.”

    IMO, the only test is having a relationship with Jesus Christ. The problem I see with Mormonism and the reason I left the LDS Church is it does not teach the Jesus Christ of The Bible. It teaches a Spirit Born Jesus Christ… a Jesus that was actualized by another God (Elohim). The Bible warns of “other Jesus’s” being preached and IMO that is what Mormonism does.

    I have heard this example in the past (and I don’t mean it to offend… just to clarify how I see it). If I pick up a rock, call it Jesus and say I am saved because I now believe in Jesus is that satisfactory? Of course not because you have to DEFINE what you mean by Jesus. When we get down to it the Mormon Jesus does not match up to The Biblical Jesus who has told us the following about Himself.

    1. He has ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD
    2. There are no God before Him
    3. There will never be a God after Him
    4. There are no Gods besides Him

    Bottom line, you can’t have a relationship with a God you do not know (even Joseph Smith said this).

    Darrell

  11. May 1, 2009 8:58 pm

    Well I appreciate your opinion, Darrell. Funny that you bring up “the Mormon Jesus”. My most recent post included thoughts on that very subject: http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/04/mormon-jesus-and-love-of-god.html

    Darrell, as for your four points, I’ve got a post on those very thoughts in the oven. I’ll just wait to address those for another time.

    As for my original question, I’ll be interested in how Jessica responds. Is this going to boil down to the “different Jesus” claim? All I can say to that is, well, it’s already been said:

    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/04/mormon-jesus-and-love-of-god.html

  12. May 1, 2009 9:18 pm

    Clean Cut,

    Thanks for directing me to your post. I checked it out. You keep saying that we think “you believe too much about Jesus”. As for what I think, that is not correct. Rather, I think the Mormon Church teaches a different Jesus… a Jesus who was Spiritually Born of another God (Elohim) and as a result HAS NOT ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD. The Bible specifically teaches otherwise. The rock example I give speaks to the heart of it… can a person just claim a belief in anything, call it Jesus and be in line with what The Bible teaches about Him? Of course not.

    Darrell

  13. Tom permalink
    May 1, 2009 9:27 pm

    So is the point to get us to abandon Mormonism or to accept Jesus Christ and be saved?

    Those are two different things, especially if it’s possible to be a Mormon and be saved as Jessica and Gloria said before.

  14. faithoffathers permalink
    May 1, 2009 9:36 pm

    The whole “different Jesus” issue is often the core of what the EVs claim disqualifies LDS from being Christians or being saved.

    Question- So if we recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the literal Son of God and the only means of salvation, if we worship God and dedicate our lives to Him, if we covenant with Him and take upon us His name, if we make every effort to keep His commandments and base our lives upon Him- if we do all these things it is not good enough if we were to have a belief about Him that is incorrect?

    In other words, we worship the same being and our lives look the same and we claim to have the same grateful, worshipful, humbling feelings and experiences with Him, we are going to hell because we believe He is literally the Son of God?

    If the answer from EVs is yes to all this, then yes, I suppose I worship a different God- one who values most highly the effort of a person to live as closely as possible to his conscience and understanding of truth. If EVs are right, not only are Mormons going to hell, but the majority of mankind. This is one of the many fundamental issues there are with the EV doctrine.

    fof

  15. May 1, 2009 9:49 pm

    “HAS NOT ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD.”

    Darrell, you’re simply wrong. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is the “Eternal God”. I’m not sure how you can read the Book of Mormon and come away with the idea that Jesus has not always existed as God.

  16. May 1, 2009 10:21 pm

    So it sounds like none of you guys believe in any form of individual soteriological inclusivism?

  17. May 2, 2009 12:05 am

    “HAS NOT ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD.”

    Darrell, you’re simply wrong. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is the “Eternal God”. I’m not sure how you can read the Book of Mormon and come away with the idea that Jesus has not always existed as God.

    First, there are many things the BOM claims which are not consistent with modern Mormon teachings (another one of my personal issues with the LDS Church). However, that is better left for another post. Sticking to your above point, are you claiming that the church does not teach that Jesus Christ was spiritually born and “grew” to become like unto God? In addition, what is mean by “Eternal”? It does not mean without beginning or ending as you are using it here. The definition of eternal is “no time”. The Mormon Jesus could exist outside of time yet still have a beginning (which is what the Mormon Church teaches).

    Darrell

  18. May 2, 2009 12:14 am

    “So is the point to get us to abandon Mormonism or to accept Jesus Christ and be saved?”

    I think Gloria has addressed in another post. The point is for someone to come to a saving faith in the REAL Jesus Christ. However, when one does this they typically will not remain in the LDS faith much longer. When my wife and I came to this point God began to open our eyes and we began to see the tremendous error in doctrine of the Mormon Church. We no longer felt right being there and being taught error. We did not want our kids being taught untruths. We had a tremendous desire to affiliate with fellow Christians and to grow in our relationship with Christ in a manner that was not possible in the Mormon Church. As a result, we left the Church. No one TOLD US we had to leave… we felt convicted by God and did it on our own. This is how I have seen it happen time and time again. I have never known anyone who came to accept the Christ of The Bible who was able to or wanted to remain in the Mormon Church. The teachings of the LDS church are simply too diametrically opposed to the teachings of The Bible on the nature of God and salvation.

    Darrell

  19. faithoffathers permalink
    May 2, 2009 2:36 am

    Darrell,

    I suppose we all think we are objective observers of the world. You said a couple of things that cracked me up.

    “I have never known anyone who came to accept the Christ of The Bible who was able to or wanted to remain in the Mormon Church.”

    It is hard to imagine a more subjective statement. Of course, there have been millions of people who have found the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and have been baptized into the church. Millions of people have been born in the church and have stayed in the church all their lives.

    You clearly relate to people who have experiences similar to your own. It is similar to buying a new car and realizing soon thereafter how many of those exact cars are on the road- something you didn’t realize before buying the car.

    I can say, parallel to your own statement, that I have never known anybody who came to know the true God and His son without joining the LDS church. This is simply my perspective of the world. And you have your own experiences and perspective as well.

    Have a good weekend.

    fof

  20. May 2, 2009 2:46 am

    Katie ~ beginning with common beliefs creates a critical foundation for further discussion. I really agree with this. I don’t see the article as saying we should never find common ground for discussion. I think the article is addressing those who only dwell on similarities to the exclusion of addressing differences. I don’t believe he’s saying you shouldn’t build relationships, but he says it’s “a temptation for Christians to take the easy path and merely be ‘friendly.’ But is friendship alone really being ‘loving’ in such cases?”

    I think if a person really believes the truth of the Bible with all their heart and they don’t seek to warn others then they aren’t loving others with God’s sacrificial love, but only a self-serving love.

    As far as the whole Emeth possibility… I don’t know. There’s nothing in the Bible about it that I’m aware of. I’m uncomfortable equating a C.S. Lewis theory with a valid soteriological position. I would never want to give someone false hope that they were saved if in fact they were not. All I can do is share what the Bible teaches and pray that others will consider these things very soberly.

    Clean Cut, FoF, & Tom,

    I don’t know the individual hearts of every LDS and it’s not my role to judge. I can only share the Biblical teaching on salvation and try to point out the differences between the LDS and Biblical gospels. Jesus said He was the only way to the Father and that a man must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

    Are there born again Christians among LDS? I hope and pray there are. As I’ve stated at other times, once a person is born again by the Spirit of God, the Spirit will lead them into all truth (John 16:13). I think an indication that an LDS has been born again is that they start to discern the false teachings in Mormonism and they begin to change their beliefs to align more closely with the Bible’s revelation of who God is, who we are, and what Christ has done for us. I think their testimony shifts from a commitment to “the Church” to a whole-hearted commitment to “Jesus Christ alone” and the advancement of His kingdom here on earth.

  21. May 2, 2009 3:00 am

    “Are there born again Christians among LDS? I hope and pray there are. As I’ve stated at other times, once a person is born again by the Spirit of God, the Spirit will lead them into all truth (John 16:13). I think an indication that an LDS has been born again is that they start to discern the false teachings in Mormonism and they begin to change their beliefs to align more closely with the Bible’s revelation of who God is, who we are, and what Christ has done for us. I think their testimony shifts from a commitment to “the Church” to a whole-hearted commitment to “Jesus Christ alone” and the advancement of His kingdom here on earth.”

    Absolutely Jessica… well said. I have a couple of friends who are going through this process right now. They have come to Christ and nearly every day they see more and more issues with the doctrines of the Church. God is opening their eyes and they are finding it more and more difficult to listen to the teachings of the Church. It is amazing what happens when one shifts their commitment away from a “Church” to Jesus Christ alone. It is a powerful and wonderful experience.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  22. May 2, 2009 3:06 am

    “It is hard to imagine a more subjective statement. Of course, there have been millions of people who have found the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and have been baptized into the church. Millions of people have been born in the church and have stayed in the church all their lives. ”

    FOF,

    I am not sure what your point is. My statement was not that there aren’t people who have found the LDS Church and been baptized into it. Of course there are people who join the LDS Church everyday.

    My point is that those who become born again believers in The Biblical Jesus Christ will find it hard to remain in the LDS Church. My opinion, althugh subjective, comes from years of interacting with many who have gone through this process…. myself and my family included. I realize you will not agree with me because you hold the opinion that the LDS Church teaches the Biblical Jesus. Nevertheless, I hope you can see what I am trying to explain and how you mistakenly mischaracterized it.

    Darrell

  23. faithoffathers permalink
    May 2, 2009 2:31 pm

    Darrell,

    I am saying your definition of “coming unto the true Jesus” is subjective- it is influenced by the lens that is you. From my perspective, “coming unto the true Jesus” means accepting His restored gospel. It means recognizing His voice in the words and message of the Book of Mormon.

    My point is that your argument is essentially “I am right, and you are wrong.” And that of course is your opinion based on your experiences.

    You cited the people around you who agree with you (who have left the church). I simply cited the millions who have joined or stayed in the church. This does not prove either one of us correct.

    Evangelicals who focus on criticizing the LDS church really stretch to justify their activities. In my opinion, they are very unbalanced in their understanding and practice of Jesus’ message. One virtue can be given so much emphasis and power that it destroys other virtues. This, I believe, is the case with evangelicals whose “ministries” are focused on convincing mormons that they are wrong.

    It seems any verse that can possibly be interpreted to support strife and criticism is held sacred to the neglect of the bulk of what Christ said about loving one’s neighbor, turning the cheek, agreeing with thine adversary, and being a peacemaker. One’s ability and commitment to taking the higher road is a sign that they are a disciple of Christ. In other words- not having to win. But that is the basis of such “ministries”- winning arguments.

    The Spirit of God simply does not work that way. “Ye are a light;” “come, follow me”, “my sheep hear my voice.” I have never felt anything close to the Holy Ghost when arguing about religion or going back and forth with EVs or any other person of faith. It simply doesn’t work that way.

    And that is why LDS missionaries are not taught specifically about other religions and are strongly encouraged to avoid contending about such things- it doesn’t work.

    My feeling is that somebody who leaves the LDS church after such arguing or “studying” such literature is likely the person who would also leave an Evangelical faith for similar reasons. I recognize that that is my opinion- but I think it is true.

    Keep the faith

    fof

  24. May 2, 2009 3:11 pm

    Jessica,
    This is Bill McKeever we are talking about. He is not interested in building on common ground. His entire ministry is based on making Mormonism as strange as possible (most Mormons would hardly recognize their own faith if reading a description of it written by McKeever).

    Regarding the relationship test for salvation, I’ll just tell you that I have that relationship and I found it in Mormonism. I am not fooled, I am not an idiot, and I resent the implication of either. While I appreciate that we have theological differences, it is not your place to judge my relationship with God and you can’t tell it from a recital (biased or otherwise) of my theological positions. To do so ain’t Biblical.

  25. May 2, 2009 3:49 pm

    “I am saying your definition of “coming unto the true Jesus” is subjective- it is influenced by the lens that is you. From my perspective, “coming unto the true Jesus” means accepting His restored gospel. It means recognizing His voice in the words and message of the Book of Mormon.”

    FOF,

    I agree with part of what you are saying and, go figure, wholeheartedly disagree with other parts. There is no one who can honestly say they are completely objective. There is no such thing. We all bring our past experiences and perspectives to the table. However, I believe despite our experiences we can KNOW the truth by relying what The Bible tells us to do. What color is the sky? Blue of course. Now there will be a few crazy people who try to argue about it but the vaste majority will agree the sky is blue.

    Your argument about subjectivity applies to your formula of relying on the spirit as well. I have spoken with people from a wide range of faiths who ALL CLAIM that God has told them their faith is true and the others are false. They all appealed to “the spirit” as at least part of the basis for their belief. They cannot all be right. So what is going on here? You cannot say the spirit is telling them they have “part of the truth” because that is not what the spirit told them. The spirit has told each of these individuals their faith is “true” and the others are false. In addition, their faiths are diametrically opposed to one another… Islam, JW’s, Mormons, Catholic and Protestant. Entirely different faiths. So if a spirit(s) is telling all of them that their religions are right and the others are false then the spirit is lieing to all but one of them (or maybe all of them). The true spirit will not lie. So what is happening? Could it be that the spirit is a subjective experience? Perhaps 1 John 4:1 is correct when it says there are deceiving spirits about? I believe it is and some of these people are being deceived by a subjective experience, their hearts and a deceiving spirit.

    In addition to getting an answer from the spirit and looking at the fruit we are told in The Bible to compare prophecy with past prophecy to judge whether it is true. God has also told us to “love The Lord our God with all our heart, soul AND MIND”. We are commanded to use our mind when approaching God. It is a gift given from Him. This adds up to at least 4 ways we are told to judge truth…

    1. Fruits
    2. Spirit
    3. The Bible
    4. Our Minds

    Anything that leaves one of these out is in trouble and open to error. Mormonism encourages the discounting of The Bible by teaching it has been corrupted and is not reliable. I know you will argue with me but please understand I can back this claim up with a TON of quotes from MODERN prophets. In addition, when I discuss this with any non internet Mormon (internet Mormons are their own breed) they pull this card out. I show them something in The Bible which contradicts the Church teachings and they immediately say, “Well, The Bible has been corrupted by the removal of plain and precious truths and sloppy Jewish scribes. So I can’t trust it.” BTW, they are getting this quote almost word for word from past prophets.

    I could also make an argument that Mormonism discourages fully using your mind to approach God. When I was a member of the Church I was told over and over again to “stay away from Anti-Mormon literature” because satan will get a hold on your mind if you read it. I have a friend who went to see his Bishop this past week to discuss his struggles with the Church and his Bishop asked him “Why are you reading the Anti-Mormon literature” saying it was all lies from satan.

    However, when I started reading the dreaded Anti Mormon stuff and began researching it I quickly realized the vast majority of it is true. The real issue it the Church simply does not want to deal with it so it discourages people from reading it. You tell a Chapel going Mormon that JS married a 14 year old girl and most of them (in my experience) accuse you of spreading an Anti-Mormon lie. Why don’t people know this stuff… the TRUTH about their own Chruch’s history? Because the Church wants people to rely on what they tell them and discourages people from fully using their MINDS to evaluate truth and approach God.

    Bottom line, I believe when we use God’s entire formula… Spirit, Fruit, Bible, Mind – we can know the truth and rule out problems that result from our own colored glasses. Mormonism, IMO, purposely leaves out a large part of the formula and overtly focuses on a subjective experience to approach God. This is a perfect formula for allowing someone to be influenced by a false spirit.

    Darrell

  26. May 2, 2009 4:11 pm

    “Mormonism encourages the discounting of The Bible by teaching it has been corrupted and is not reliable.”

    There you go again. Don’t you see that you can be accused of misrepresenting an entire faith, here? You loose credibility that way. AT LEAST, say that “some Mormons believe” or “some Mormons say”, because some Mormons are wrong and some are right. I understand Evangelicals don’t all have the same, correct, understanding about the Bible either. See, for example my posts:
    “Are you telling the truth about the Bible?” http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2008/06/are-you-telling-truth-about-bible.html

    or

    Bart Ehrman: “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scripture and Readers Who May Never Know” http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/04/bart-ehrman-misquoting-jesus-scribes.html

    Now on to your formula. I’m pleased to say that I’ve used all four of your criteria, including the mind, and I’ve come to different conclusions than you. Apparently learning about Joseph Smith’s history or Helen Mar Kimball (or fill in the blank) was too much for you to adjust your paradigm. I adjusted mine:

    My Paradigm Shift-“Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling” http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-paradigm-shift.html

  27. May 2, 2009 5:25 pm

    “AT LEAST, say that “some Mormons believe” or “some Mormons say”, because some Mormons are wrong and some are right.”

    The BOM says plain and precious Truths have been removed from The Bible. Past prophets have repeatedly said The Bible is not complete, reliable and that there is barely one verse that has escaped corruption. I am not misrepresenting here. I am stating what has been taught by the LDS Church over and over again. You may not believe it yourself. If so, all I can say it Praise The Lord. Because, in reality, this is one of the points where reality does not line up with what the LDS Church has taught. Here are some quotes by past leaders to support my assertion.

    1) LDS Apostle Orson Pratt also wrote: If it be admitted that the apostles and evangelists did write the books of the New Testament, that does not prove of itself that they were divinely inspired at the time they wrote…. Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, IN HIS RIGHT MIND could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original? (Divine Authority of the Book of Mormon, pp. 45, 47; read all of this pamphlet for a detailed attack upon the Bible).

    2) LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson said, “Many insertions were made, some of them ’slanted’ for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated” (As Translated Correctly, p. 4).

    3) Joseph Smith himself declared, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (T. of P.J.S., p. 327)

    4) Apostle Orson Pratt also claimed, “The Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike” (The Seer, p. 213).

    5) LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie: “The Church uses the King James Version of the Bible, but acceptance of the Bible is coupled with a reservation that it is true only insofar as it is translated correctly (Eighth Article of Faith). The other three (The B.of M., D.& C., and P. of G.P.), having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine p. 764).

    “Apparently learning about Joseph Smith’s history or Helen Mar Kimball (or fill in the blank) was too much for you to adjust your paradigm.”

    To be honest Cleant Cut, it wasn’t so much the problems with JS’s immoral behavior that sent me over the edge. It was really the contradictions with The Bible. When I saw the Church has witheld a lot of information from me I must admit I was angry at first. However, that in and of itself was not the issue for me. It was when I turned my life over to God and asked Him to guide me to the truth that things began to change. As I was reading The Bible I began to see numerous contradictions. The most important of which surrounds the nature of God and Jesus Christ. The teaching that Jesus Christ is spirit born and has not always existed as God is compeletly wrong. BTW, I responded to you on the other post about this very issue and look forward to continuing our discussion there.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  28. May 2, 2009 5:29 pm

    “BTW, I responded to you on the other post about this very issue and look forward to continuing our discussion there.”

    My mistake… it was not on another post. It was on THIS POST. I responded to you last night. See my above comment on May 2, 2009 at 12:05 am.

    Sorry!!

    Darrell

  29. May 2, 2009 5:32 pm

    Darrell, I read each and every single quote you just published. For the life of me I can’t understand what the problem is. All that those leaders are saying is true (see my post about Bart Erhman that I provided a link to above). But you can’t honestly be saying that Latter-day Saints therefore thus believe that the Bible can’t be trusted, can you? We just have a healthy and realistic view that the Bible is not perfect, at least in its current form. That is NOT to say that it is not inspired–IT IS. But we do not believe that it is inerrant and completely perfect. That’s just a fact.

  30. May 2, 2009 5:57 pm

    “But you can’t honestly be saying that Latter-day Saints therefore thus believe that the Bible can’t be trusted, can you?”

    If The Bible says “x” and the LDS Church teaches “y” which one is correct, in your view?

    Darrell

  31. May 2, 2009 6:00 pm

    Hi John C,

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    You said, “This is Bill McKeever we are talking about…His entire ministry is based on making Mormonism as strange as possible (most Mormons would hardly recognize their own faith if reading a description of it written by McKeever).”

    I have to disagree. Mormonism Research Ministries strives for accuracy in presenting Mormon doctrine. New Order Mormons would disagree with your assessment as well. They have MRM listed on their website as a “Useful Link”

    I don’t think they agree that MRM tries to make Mormonism as strange as possible or that “most Mormons would hardly recognize their faith if reading a description of it written by McKeever.” I don’t think that’s a fair or accurate assessment of MRM. The NOM website doesn’t have the GodMakers cartoon listed as a Useful Link. Now that might fall under the category of “making Mormonism as strange as possible.”

  32. faithoffathers permalink
    May 2, 2009 6:21 pm

    Jessica,

    I have to agree with John C. As an LDS, I have read and watched the videos from MRM. They are not an honest representation of who we are. I watched a 1 hour video outlining the LDS plan of salvation by Dr. White and not once did he mention Jesus Christ. Do they really pretend to be honest?

    Darrell- I appreciate what you are saying, but I have read everything you have read and studied everything you have studied. I have prayed about it and thought about it for years. My conclusions are different than yours.

    Humor me and assume the church is what it claims to be- the restored church of Jesus Christ. First, if that were true, it would make sense that all types of folks would come out of the wookwork to slander it and make it look bad. Second, if it were true, does it make sense that paying heed to those in the world that seek to defame Christ’s church and servants would be a bad thing?

    In other words, you bring up “lying spirits.” Should a person listen to those lying spirits to ensure he is being objective? Of course not, because although those sources of information claim to be objective, they are not and distort truth like nobody’s business. This is why members might be encouraged not to listen to “anti-mormon” sources. We are encouraged to learn all we can about church history, doctrine, etc. But only from reliable sources.

    I maintain that anti-mormon religionists are nowhere near following the method Christ taught regarding following Him and proclaiming His gospel.

    fof

  33. May 2, 2009 6:48 pm

    Jessica,
    Bill McKeever approaches Mormonism with deep suspicion and no sense of charity. I don’t question his facts, I question his interpretation thereof. Whether or not you have your facts straight interpreting them in ways that twist their meaning will make them appear strange. As an example, what if I told you that catholics engaged in ritualized cannibalism at their mass. It is technically accurate, but it completely misses the meaning of the Eucharist. That’s why I suspect Mormons wouldn’t recognize their own religion.

    New Order Mormons are often as deeply suspicous of the church as McKeever is, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they found his site useful. You do realize that they no longer believe in the church, right?

    In any case, I stand by my characterization of McKeever and his ministry. It may be something that only a Mormon can see, however.

  34. May 2, 2009 6:56 pm

    I thought the NOM position was they “no longer believe certain teachings of the LDS Church” and that they recognize “both good and bad in the Church and its doctrines.” At least that’s what they claim. Regardless, I think they are still part of contemporary Mormon culture whether you agree with them or not. They are often active members of the LDS church. I was merely pointing out that these other Mormons find MRM useful.

  35. May 2, 2009 7:02 pm

    Right, people who no longer believe the faith claims of the church find a ministry that argues against the faith claims of the church useful. It’s not that hard to figure out.

  36. May 2, 2009 8:40 pm

    “This is why members might be encouraged not to listen to “anti-mormon” sources. We are encouraged to learn all we can about church history, doctrine, etc. But only from reliable sources.”

    The problem is the church itself is not a “reliable source”. Listening to the church sources one can easily be led to believe that JS was a saint, he refused alcohol at all times (verses having a bar in his house and drinking wine the night before his death), BY had only one wife and never taught anything remotely like Blood Atonement or Adam God Doctrine, etc, etc, etc. It was not until I ventured into the dreaded Anti-Mormon territory I learned the truth on many of these issues. Then when I brought questions back to my Bishop, Stake President and friends regarding the above I was told I shouldn’t have read this stuff in the first place. I was treated like a sinner by many people in my ward for even having asked questions about TRUE INFORMATION. To this day there are several in my old ward who still claim my wife and I left the church due to sin and being led by satan. Hilarious!

    I will grant that in the past 5 years or so church affiliated organizations are finally beginning to address some of these issues (FARMS AND FAIR). However, the church itself still trys to pretend the issues don’t exist. They use FARMS and FAIR to address them all the while having plausible deniability when the information produced by these organizations is discredited.

    Avoiding the truth the way the Church does is to their own peril. Growth is slowing and people are leaving the Church at a vaste pace. Grant Palmer reported last year in an interview with John Dehlin that someone inside the Church office shared resignations are running about 100,000 per year. Could that be true? Well, we will never know because the Church refuses to supply such information even to it’s own members. However, looking at the yearly statistics shared in Conference it does seem reasonable.

    In addition, the approaches employed by FARMS and FAIR are, IMO, highly questionable and their conclusions are rather reaching. FARMS uses the discredit the messenger not the message tactic… choosing to rely repeatedly on Ad Hominem attacks. That is exactly how they approached “An Insiders View of Mormon Origins” a few years back. They attacked Grant Palmer personally. It was sad.

    In addition FOF, if the church is true why should one be afraid of learning the above information? Why run scared from it the way the church does? They must not have a lot of faith in God’s ability to reveal the Church is true if they think these facts are going to lead people away. Satan is the one who doesn’t want people to know truth not God. Since the Anti-Mormon information is in large part true and God is a God of truth, the Church should be fine sharing it with people IF they are really the true Church of God. “If” being the operative word here.

    FOF, you say you have researched and reached a different conclusion. I am curious about something and wonder if you would mind being honest and candid for a moment. Please don’t take what I am about to ask offensively. I am sincerely asking out of love and curiosity. When you began your research, had you prayed to God and turned your life over to Him first and foremost? I realize you were LDS (at least I assume so… correct me if I am wrong) and if you had been through the Temple you had consecrated your life to the Mormon Church. However, that is different from what I am talking about. In addition, when someone prays to know if the church is true they typically (at least if they are doing what the missionaries or primary teaches)have not turned their life over to God. Instead, they just jump in and pray to ask if JS is a prophet, the BOM is true, etc. That is vastly different than turning your life over to God and asking Him to lead you to the truth. There is a difference between approaching information having already consecrated your life to an organization versus approaching having given your life to God Himself. If you have a loyalty to an organization it will come into play. One needs to be first loyal to God and willing to follow Him wherever it may lead. So, did you have a conversation with God to let Him know you were loyal to Him above all else and were willing to follow Him wherever He wanted to take you? Or, where you loyal to the Church thus approaching the information with a presupposition that the Church is true?

    God Bless.

    Darrell

  37. May 2, 2009 9:59 pm

    “Please don’t take what I am about to ask offensively.”

    Uh huh…

    “So, did you have a conversation with God to let Him know you were loyal to Him above all else and were willing to follow Him wherever He wanted to take you? Or, where you loyal to the Church thus approaching the information with a presupposition that the Church is true?”

    That is a false dichotomy. Just so you know.

    “when someone prays to know if the church is true they typically (at least if they are doing what the missionaries or primary teaches)have not turned their life over to God. Instead, they just jump in and pray to ask if JS is a prophet, the BOM is true, etc. That is vastly different than turning your life over to God and asking Him to lead you to the truth.”

    I’m curious about the vast difference part that you are arguing for, mostly because I think it is hogwash (as an example, if “god” lead someone to become a Buddhist, would you argue that it wasn’t “god”?). But setting that aside, how on earth do you know what people have “typically” done when they pray? Who gave you the right to pass judgment on the spiritual status of thousands of people whom you don’t know? Is that really an element of “respectful conversation”? If so, I’d like to point out that most of the Evangelicals I know who are named Darrell were inbred, nose-pickers who fell away from the Lord’s True Church because the signs in the blood of the goat they slaughtered directed them to do so. Of course, I don’t believe in looking for signs in slaughtered goat blood, but apparently all those Evangelical Darrells feel it is best way to find God’s path for them. Crazy, no?

  38. May 2, 2009 10:36 pm

    “as an example, if “god” lead someone to become a Buddhist, would you argue that it wasn’t “god”?.”

    Did you read any of the above comments I made which led up to this? If so, you would already know the answer to your question.

    “But setting that aside, how on earth do you know what people have “typically” done when they pray?”

    Well, if you read what I posted you would know that I am basing this upon the fact the LDS Missionaries nor Primary teach an investigator or child to give their life to God or Jesus. Instead they jump right in and teach them to pray to know if the Church/BOM is true and JS is a prophet. How do I know this… based upon my experience in the Church and serving with the Missionaries giving the discussions.

    I argue this putting the cart before the horse. First you need to give you life to God THEN you need to ask Him to take you to the truth. You need to be loyal to God first. Afterall, He is the way the Truth and the Life… not the LDS Church.

    “If so, I’d like to point out that most of the Evangelicals I know who are named Darrell were inbred, nose-pickers who fell away from the Lord’s True Church because the signs in the blood of the goat they slaughtered directed them to do so.”

    Can you give me some of their phone numbers? Perhaps we are related. 🙂

    Really, come on.

    “That is a false dichotomy. Just so you know.”

    No, it is not. God told us to put NOTHING before Him. If we are loyal first and foremost to a Church then we have placed it in God’s place. You cannot be loyal to God and something else equally.

    Think about what happens in the Temple when you agree to obey the Law of Consecration…. “You do consecrate your time, talents and everything with which The Lord has blessed you to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” It does not say you consecrate your time, talents, etc to God… it says to the Church… big difference.

    Darrell

  39. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2009 10:49 pm

    “you would know that I am basing this upon the fact the LDS Missionaries nor Primary teach an investigator or child to give their life to God or Jesus.”

    Of course they do, unless you mean something more specialized that devoting yourself to God. This is a blatant lie by my standards, but you may have something more specific in mind than what your language indicates.

    I don’t think that the covenants of the temple prove your point as the whole point of the temple is to symbolically come into God’s presence. Coming to God is what the temple is about. Of course that covenant is one of the covenants made therein, but it is a step in the process, not the culmination. I understand my relationship as being to God first, my family second, and to my church third. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the Mormon you are talking to, but that’s the way of it. Making blanket statements about what Mormons do or do not believe can be as offensive as making blanket statements about what Evangelicals believe. Please be more careful in your rhetoric.

  40. May 2, 2009 10:50 pm

    Darrell, I see what you’re trying to say, especially in that last example. But I’m not sure members see it the way you’re seeing it. For us, Jesus Christ set up his Church. Naturally our loyalty to Him is first. See for example my post “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ”: http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/02/behold-i-am-disciple-of-jesus-christ.html

    But if this is His church–the body of Christ–then making a covenant of consecration to His Kingdom is also seen as consecration to Him and for Him. We view it as more than just an institution–it’s Christ’s kingdom. So I’m sympathetic to what you’re saying–and it’s a good point–but I hope I’m providing another way of looking at it that’s not mutually exclusive.

    Totally irrevelant, but I’m still curious, did you happen to serve an LDS mission?

  41. May 2, 2009 11:09 pm

    “Of course they do, unless you mean something more specialized that devoting yourself to God.”

    I tend to disagree. Please show where they talk specifically about this in the discussions. I own them and cannot find it.

    Darrell

  42. May 2, 2009 11:22 pm

    To be exact, I just went back and reviewed the first discussion. It does not talk about giving your life to God. Instead, it talks about the plan of salvation, JS and the BOM. It then says to invite the investigators to pray to know if JS it a prophet and the BOM is true. Again, cart before the horse.

    Darrell

  43. May 2, 2009 11:23 pm

    Darrell, as a missionary (assuming you were one), did you not teach that part of coming to Christ was also to come into Christ’s kingdom?

    PS: You mentioned the “discussions” but the Church currently uses “Preach My Gospel”.

  44. May 2, 2009 11:35 pm

    CC,

    Thanks for trying to explain it. While I respect your opinion I tend to disagree. This is one of my major issues with the LDS Church. It tends to place ITSELF in God’s place and this shows in covenants and in the attitude of many members.

    I have a friend who is struggling as a Mormon right now. He is having discussions with his spouse surrounding His questions regarding what The Bible says and how is contradicts (in his opinion) the teachings of the Church. Guess what his wife comes back with over and over again… “But the Church says this so it must be right.” When the Church says something does that AUTOMATICALLY mean it’s true? What about what God says in The Bible? Or, is she, like many other LDS, approaching The Bible with the a priori position that the Mormon Church is right DESPITE what The Bible says. Is the Church God?

    As I just mentioned in my above response to ANONYMOUS the first discussion starts down this path of getting people committed to the Church first and foremost and it continues all the way through the Temple in the Law of Consecration. Christ did not say the Church is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The wording in the Temple is very unfortunate and very telling in my opinion. Consecrating oneself to anything except God is idolatry and despite how much faith you have in the LDS Church, it is not God.

    Darrell

  45. May 2, 2009 11:54 pm

    Darrell, now this is starting to get silly. You’re starting to get all preachy and put words in our mouths as if we REALLY don’t believe that Jesus is the way, but rather a Church. Baloney. You have every right to your own opinion, but it gets downright discouraging when what we’re trying to tell you is simply disregarded.

    I’ve heard people say it’s the Mormons that are blind, but I’m starting to see some blindness in yourself. You’re blinded by your own experience with Mormonism. You can’t even see it in any other light, or in light of how Mormons themselves see it. Don’t you understand that Mormons do not disagree with John 14:6? Please don’t force your paradigm onto ours.

    I understand you’re a passionate evangelist, but I was under the impression that this was a place to have a respectful conversation and seek mutual understanding. But I’m sensing that you only want to throw back into our faces that ultimately “you’re wrong, I’m right”–which gets old–just like repetitive talking points. It’s almost as if you feel “Well, after all is said and done, I know I’m right, so what more is there to understand?”. How unfortunate. After all, we all have areas where we can improve, but constant and nagging criticism just gets old.

    Is there anything good that you see in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

  46. May 3, 2009 12:13 am

    Darrell,
    Christ features prominently in the old first discussion, alongside God the Father, prophets, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. In Preach my Gospel, there isn’t an established order so I would figure that the missionaries would tailor the message to the interests of the investigator. I don’t have a clue what you are referring to, but it isn’t anything like my experience.

    I don’t think you are interested in what CleanCut and I are saying. I get that you disagree, but your opinion isn’t the sum total of truth and you obviously aren’t an unbiased observer here.

  47. May 3, 2009 12:30 am

    CC,

    Not trying to come across as preachy. Sorry if I sounded that way. You are correct, I am very passionate about my belief that the LDS Church is false. Having been involved in it for many years and God opening my eyes to the truth has given me a tremendous passion to reach those who are misled.

    Do I see any good in the Church? Well, of course I believe the Church teaches good morals. Their morals are in line with what Christ taught, with a few minor exceptions. So yes, I do see some good in the Church and many other world religions which teach good morals. Nevertheless, bad doctrine is still damaging as it tends to keep people away from coming into a relationship with the Jesus Christ of The Bible.

    BTW, I asked you a question in my comment above on May 2, 2009 at 5:57 pm. If you get a chance, I would love to hear your answer on this.

    Have a good night!!

    Darrell

  48. May 3, 2009 1:03 am

    “I get that you disagree, but your opinion isn’t the sum total of truth and you obviously aren’t an unbiased observer here.”

    Well said John. This is how I feel Darrell. I, at least, TRY to see things from your perspective. I don’t get that same vibe from you. Frankly, it’s downright insulting to question our commitment to Christ when we’ve made sacred covenants with Him and we know in Whom we trust. I, for one, have wept with tears from the love and joy I felt in the presence of the Savior as he ministered to his other sheep as recorded in 3 Nephi, specifically chapter 17. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/3_ne/17

    Waving the hand and resorting to this “wrong Jesus” crap, beyond being insulting, is simply a conversation stopper. It doesn’t get either one of us anywhere.

    As for your previous question, if you truly want to understand rather than accuse, you need to listen more, and listen to more than one side of the debate. But let me answer your question, which I had overlooked. No, there was never a time when the Son was not/did not exist. To say otherwise is heresy. Please do not forget this. In the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine of Covenants, the Son is described as being “from eternity to eternity without beginning or end,” so no we do not believe there was a time when the Son was not.

    Is this so hard to understand? Please allow me to make an additional suggestion. Do yourself a favor before making any other flippant retort and take the time to do a thorough reading of this post: http://mormoninsights.blogspot.com/2008/10/jesus-is-everlasting-to-everlasting.html

  49. May 3, 2009 4:09 am

    CC,

    “Waving the hand and resorting to this “wrong Jesus” crap, beyond being insulting, is simply a conversation stopper. It doesn’t get either one of us anywhere.”

    I am sorry if you take it that way. Nevertheless, having been Mormon and now being Christian, I see the differences in the teachings and spirit of these two religions and it is what I believe to be true. The Mormon Church teaches a different Christ as prophesied in The Bible.

    It is obvious I have gotten under your skin a bit. For that I apologize. Am I trying to understand your way of thinking… yes. But more importantly I am trying to challenge you (and the lurkers who might be reading this) in hopes of helping you see the truth about the Mormon Church.

    Despite your claim otherwise, the LDS Church has taught and continues to teach that Jesus Christ was spiritually born of God the Father and grew to become like unto God. For you to say the Church teaches He has always been God is simply not true. Again, you and the writer of the website you sent me to, might believe He has. If you do praise God. I am glad you believe this. Honestly I am. 🙂

    But please don’t try to claim this is a wholesale doctrine of the entire Church. There are WAY too many talks and writings by current and past LDS leaders which teach otherwise. For example:

    “Jesus is Jehovah. He was the God of the Old testament. He was born as a spirit son in premortality, the first so born. He grew in grace and power there until he stood as one “like unto God”.” – The Life and teaches of Jesus and his Apostles Pg 15 Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

    This is just one of many, many official Church publications which teach that Jesus Christ GREW to become like unto God.

    I understand your desire to present the church in the best light possible. However, in the process you need to be honest about what the position of the Church is. As for your scriptures using the words Eternal and Everlasting to describe Jesus, check this article out on LDS.org.

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=dd428c6a47e0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    The words Eternal and Everlasting in your scriptures are not meant to describe a Jesus Christ who has always existed as God. Rather the article says “…since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.” You can’t use these words in your scriptures to support a Mormon Christ who has always existed as God for the church does not view them that way.

    God bless and have a good night!!

    Darrell

  50. May 3, 2009 4:33 am

    Oh wow.

    Darrell, I just read the article you linked to.

    Jesus Christ is not the Father of the spirits who have taken or yet shall take bodies upon this earth, for He is one of them. He is The Son, as they are sons or daughters of Elohim. So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation.

    That is NOT the Jesus I know. That is NOT the Jesus of the Bible.

  51. May 3, 2009 4:34 am

    “I get that you disagree, but your opinion isn’t the sum total of truth and you obviously aren’t an unbiased observer here.”

    In an effort to extend an olive branch here… I can wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. I am by no means unbiased (no one is) and I don’t know all truth. Only God does. I am doing my best day by day to grow in knowledge through studying The Bible and spending time in prayer with God. My hope is He will continue to mold me into the person He wants me to be and that He will use me to serve Him wherever He wants me.

    Have a great night!

    Darrell

  52. May 3, 2009 5:34 am

    Darrell, the frustration you sensed was merely over the fact that you seem to want only to preach, not listen. I tell you what I believe and you say “no that’s not what you believe”.

    You did this over on your other blog. You said: “The trinity teaches both the Oneness of God (which Mormonism violates by stating Christ has NOT always existed as God) and the threeness of God (He has chosen to manifest Himself eternally as 3 persons). This is what The Bible teaches as truth… why not just believe it instead of trying to read something else into it?”

    I reject this. Mormonism as taught by Joseph Smith and LDS scriptures does not teach that Christ has not always existed as God. This is the wrong argument for you even to make. Rather you should use Joseph Smith’s actual statement that there are “three Gods.”

    Furthermore, I really try to get orthodox Christianity right, and God doesn’t manifest HIMSELF (PERSON) in three persons. In other words, under orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, God doesn’t manifest HIMSELF in three persons, because then you have One Person manifesting HIMSELF in three persons. That is Christian heresy which was rejected over and over again. That is Modalism. To be “orthodox” one must say that God exists eternally in three persons, or God is one Being existing eternally as three persons. Or use the formula “one ousia, three hypostases.” Once you use “manifest,” then you’re getting dangerously close to violating the correct understanding of the Trinity. And if you can’t get orthodox Christianity right, it’s no wonder you can’t get Mormonism right.

    Moreoever, you’re confusing two separate issues within Mormonism, that of eternal existence and spirit birth. Two entirely different (and not mutually exclusive) things. For more on spirit birth, I’ll refer you to http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/15/tripartite-existentialism/

  53. May 3, 2009 5:44 am

    Jessica, it should be no big surprise that “Jesus Christ is not the Father of the spirits who have taken or yet shall take bodies upon this earth”, for that honor belongs to God the Father, or Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Now naturally Mormons believe additional things about Jesus than traditional Christians. That should come as no big surprise either. We believe the same New Testament teachings about Jesus, but we have an additional understanding.

    I like the way Stephen Robinson put it:

    “Evangelicals often accuse Latter-day Saints of worshipping a ‘different Jesus’ because we believe some things about Jesus that cannot be proven from the Bible. However, I would point out that John thought Jesus was crucified the afternoon before Passover (John 19:14; 18:28), so that the Last Supper was not the Passover meal, while Matthew, Mark and Luke say Jesus ate the Passover with the disciples and was crucified the morning after (Mark 14:12, Matthew 26:17-19; Luke 22:13-15). Is John (or the Synoptics) writing about a ‘different Jesus,’ or do they simply disagree on the details concerning one Jesus?

    “If some Christians think Jesus had siblings and other Christians think that he did not, or if some think he stayed in Egypt for years while others think it was merely for weeks or months, do they worship different beings? If I think Jesus liked his veggies and you think he didn’t, are we therefore talking about two different people? Some Evangelicals, like the Mormons, do not accept the Nicene and Chalcedonian definitions, I am told, but limit their Christology to the New Testament data. Do these people also worship ‘a different Jesus’ than other more creedal Evangelicals, and are they therefore not Christian?

    “This charge, that people worship ‘a different Jesus’ if they disagree over any detail of his character or history, is simply a rhetorical device, a trick of language. All I can say to it is that Latter-day Saints worship that divine Son of God of whom the apostles and prophets of the Old and New Testaments bear record, and we believe all that they have to say about him. There is no biblical information about the Son of God that the Latter-day Saints do not affirm. If Evangelicals truly worship ‘a different Jesus’ than this, I shall be greatly disappointed.”

  54. May 3, 2009 5:47 am

    One more thing, Jessica. While I don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Father of my spirit, but rather my Heavenly Father (a separate being), Jesus Christ still has an essential role as father of my spiritual rebirth. Mormons would do well to emphasize that relationship rather than His premortal life as our Elder Brother (but where he was still God–I am not).

    Elder M. Russell Ballard, in a talk entitled “Building Bridges of Understanding”, cautioned members of the Church:

    “We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the pre-mortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn’t go far enough in terms of describing the Savior’s role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don’t view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ’s divinity…

    “Now we can understand why some Latter-day Saints have tended to focus on Christ’s Sonship as opposed to His Godhood. As members of earthly families, we can relate to Him as a child, as a Son, and as a Brother because we know how that feels. We can personalize that relationship because we ourselves are children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. For some it may be more difficult to relate to Him as a God. And so in an attempt to draw closer to Christ and to cultivate warm and personal feelings toward Him, some tend to humanize Him, sometimes at the expense of acknowledging His Divinity. So let us be very clear on this point: it is true that Jesus was our Elder Brother in the premortal life, but we believe that in this life it is crucial that we become “born again” as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant.”

  55. May 3, 2009 12:19 pm

    One point, for clarity’s sake, unless you use icons in worship and/or the head of your church is a patriarch, you don’t belong to an orthodox Christian religion. Carry on!

  56. May 3, 2009 12:48 pm

    CC,

    “And if you can’t get orthodox Christianity right, it’s no wonder you can’t get Mormonism right.”

    You need to read my resonse to your question on my blog. Using the word manifest does not automatically enter one into modalistic heresy. Modalism teaches One Person appears AT DIFFERENT TIMES BUT NEVER SIMULTANEOUSLY in different modes – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Much like an actor putting on different masks to play different roles. My use of the word “ETERNALLY” prevents me from entering into modalism by demonstrating that God ALWAYS exists as these three persons. In addition, I never said One “PERSON” manifesting as three persons. I said One GOD meaning one being. Sorry if I confused you.

    For a better understanding of modalism I would recommend this explanation at CARM. It does a good job of defining it.

    http://www.carm.org/apologetics/heresies/modalism

    You continue to assert Mormonism does not teach that Jesus never existed as God. I am curious about your understanding of Jesus prior to His spirit birth. Are you saying when He existed as an intelligence, before God the Father formed Him/spiritually birthed Him He was fully God? If so, how do you explain the teaching, as I pointed out above, that “Jesus GREW to become like unto God”? If He was fully God as an intelligence why did He need to be formed and why did He have to grow to BECOME like God? You cannot point to the words eternal and everlasting in your scripture to support your position because, as the talk I linked to above demonstrates, the church says those words are used to describe the fact that Jesus’s creation is eternal and everlasting in nature not that Jesus Himself has always been fully God.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  57. May 3, 2009 8:11 pm

    Clean Cut,

    You’re right. I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like this was new information or that I didn’t know Mormons believed this, but sometimes the way something is worded makes a greater impact. In my view, the pre-e doctrine strips Christ of His uniqueness and makes Him common.

    You have expressed an interest in gaining greater understanding so I hope this will help you to better understand why this doctrine is so horrendous to me:

    Historically, throughout the church age, many heresies have revolved around making Christ common. Some make Him common by insisting He was only human, not Divine. Some, like Mormonism, make Him common by making Deity common. By exalting the nature of man (i.e., all humans are literal sons and daughters of God and “gods in embryo”), the exclusively unique nature of Christ’s Deity is brought low and made common.

    The Bible portrays a unique one-and-only begotten Son of God, who is God. The Bible doesn’t say He was the only begotten in the flesh. Mormonism has added that addendum to account for the contradiction between Mormon theology and the Bible. I worship and serve an uncommonly unique Christ who created all things “visible and invisible,” including my own spirit. Therefore, He is most assuredly the Father of my spirit. I am human, He is Divine. I am the creature, He is my Creator. I am an adopted child of God; He generates directly from God and He is God.

    I hope that helps you understand why I see such a glaring difference in our views of Jesus. No offense to Stephen Robinson, but this is infinitely greater than whether or not Jesus liked veggies. To even make such a comparison says something about the value Robinson places on these hugely significant differences.

  58. May 3, 2009 8:57 pm

    Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot…and I think I have to reject the idea that correct theology is essential to salvation. That just seems crazy to me. I know lots of people, evangelical, Mormon, and otherwise, who have a deep and abiding love of Christ…who rely on His grace for salvation…who put Him first…who serve Him earnestly, not as an attempt to “earn” anything, but out of pure love…

    And you’re telling me that if, when they confess Jesus as Savior, they don’t grasp with 100% clarity exactly what that all entails, they’re still damned?

    Then that means I’m damned and have no hope for salvation, because the idea that I can ever completely comprehend God or be 100% accurate in my theology seems impossible.

    Wouldn’t you say that it is the believer’s relationship with Christ–which centers entirely on their heart condition–that matters…NOT if they articulate it the “right” way?

    Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that incorrect theology can prevent you from having a saving relationship with Christ. (FWIW, I think I’ve been in that situation.) I also think it’s fair to say that certain belief systems may contain more error than others, which could prevent a larger number of followers from ever developing that saving relationship. And I would also add that when someone truly and earnestly seeks after Christ, their heart will be drawn to discover more and better truth about Him. But who am I to tell God how He must reveal Himself to His followers? And, most importantly, who am I to judge the condition of another’s heart?

    That’s why I get very, very uncomfortable saying who believes in what kind of Jesus or who gets to go to heaven as a result. I figure that’s God’s domain. Right?

  59. psychochemiker permalink
    May 3, 2009 9:41 pm

    Wow. Katie, Amen and Amen. I guess you recognize what it is to know someone wiser sits at the Judgement Seat.

  60. May 4, 2009 12:49 am

    Well, Jessica, I guess I’ll forgive you for false beliefs. 🙂 After all, I believe we are saved by faith, not by catechism. God’s grace is sufficient.

  61. May 4, 2009 1:37 am

    Darrell asked: “How do you explain the teaching, as I pointed out above, that “Jesus GREW to become like unto God”?

    I don’t explain it because I don’t believe it. The authorless quote you refer to is sandwitched between two legitimately cited quotes from Joseph F. Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith–which teach that Jesus was God before he came to earth and that he is God now. But this quote is commentary, supposedly written by one of the manual writers: “Jesus is Jehovah. He was the God of the Old Testament. He was born as a spirit son in premortality, the first so born. He grew in grace and power there until he stood as one “like unto God.” (Abr. 3:24).

    Abraham 3:24 actually says nothing of the sort. Abraham 3:24 actually says: “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.” So, how does this citation support the sentence preceding it? Answer: It doesn’t.

    Perhaps this manual should be retired or revamped. This is an assertion that is simply unsupported by any LDS scripture or teaching of Joseph Smith. It was origionally published in 1978, and this quote is by a nameless curriculum writer. Can you find anything more recent, say, within the last 10 years?

    By any means, there is nothing binding about a manual being published by the Church. The manual states:

    Send comments and corrections, including typographic errors, to
    CES Editing, 50 E. North Temple Street, Floor 8, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-2722 USA.
    E-mail: ces-manuals@ldschurch.org
    Second Edition, Revised
    © 1978, 1979 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
    All rights reserved
    Printed in the United States of America

    Why does it ask for corrections? Answer: Because a manual is not a statement of doctrine. Manuals do not contain new doctrine. Manuals strive to teach what is in the scriptures. This is clearly a mistake as it does not teach what is in the scriptures or what Joseph Smith taught and unless someone can show me where this is taught in the LDS scriptures, then I don’t see how anyone can claim this is scriptural.

    As for being the “firstborn”, Doctrine and Covenants 93:21 says: “I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn”.

    You’ll also find references to Christ being the firstborn also in Col. 1: 13-18:

    13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
    14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
    15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [prototokos] of every creature:
    16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
    17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
    18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn [prototokos] from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

    Heb. 12: 23
    To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

    The Greek word in these verses is prototokos. It also shows up in Hebrews 1:5-6 and Revelation 1:5.

    Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten [prototokos] into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

    Revelation 1:5
    And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten [prototokos] of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

    Thus, I have no problem in saying that Christ is both the Eternal God AND the Firstborn.

    Darrell, I’ll stick to the the standard works (our cannon) for correct doctrine 10 times out of ten. That’s all I’ve quoted. The Standard Works and the words of living prophets take precedence over commentary in a manual.

  62. May 4, 2009 1:57 am

    And an AMEN to Katie. I pity the vast majority of Christians who do not have a proper understanding of the Triinity if indeed the “real”, “saving” Jesus must be conceived in (post-biblical) Nicene terms.

    (And by post-biblical, I mean where the heck in the Bible does it talk about the “dual” natures of Christ? And WE’RE the ones that are not biblical? That’s a two-way sword. And frankly, I refuse to make judgements about another’s salvation).

  63. May 4, 2009 2:46 am

    “I don’t explain it because I don’t believe it. ”

    CC,

    Good to hear. And I mean that sincerely. 🙂

    Here are some questions then…

    Mormonism teaches that Jesus Christ once existed as an intelligence which God the Father formed/spirit birthed into the pre-mortal Jesus. Since you state that you believe that Jesus Christ HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD, is it your position that while He existed as an unformed intelligence He was fully God?

    darrell

  64. May 4, 2009 2:56 am

    “I think I have to reject the idea that correct theology is essential to salvation. ”

    “Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that incorrect theology can prevent you from having a saving relationship with Christ. ”

    Katie,

    I agree with both of your above comments. I do not think a person has to garner a completely correct theological position to be saved. All that is necessary, IMO based upon what the Bible says, is a saving relationship with The Biblical Jesus Christ. That being said we must be very careful to define the Jesus Christ of The Bible. The Bible itself warns that False Christs would be preached. We cannot ignore that fact.

    Is it possible that God will save those who do not believe in The Biblical Jesus Christ? Yes. Am I willing to risk the salvation of others to this POSSIBILITY? No. I would rather trust in what The Bible says and do my best to spread the word.

    In addition, once you have seen the joy that comes to those who leave the confines of legalistic Mormonism for Jesus Christ you actually want to help others NOT ONLY to bring them assured Eternal Salvation. You also want them to experience the joy of that relationship in this life.

    Darrell

  65. May 4, 2009 3:44 pm

    “Since you state that you believe that Jesus Christ HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD, is it your position that while He existed as an unformed intelligence He was fully God?”

    I don’t particularly have a position on this. I don’t know how it all worked out and I haven’t thought through any possible implications. However, I hope that what I have said is at least enough to convince you to stop perpetuating caricatures of Mormonism. For now I’ll just trust you to understand that I’ve reached the limits of my personal understanding of the details.

  66. May 4, 2009 7:24 pm

    CC,

    Thank you for responding. I can appreciate the fact you have not thought through the implications of whether Christ existed as God while an intelligence. I would encourage you to really think about this. In all honesty Christology is at the heart of my issues with the LDS Church.

    Let me sum up what has gotten us to this point in the conversation regarding Christ’s spirit birth. At that point I would like to share a few more thoughts.

    1. I assert The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS teaches Jesus Christ has not always existed as God because they teach that He was spiritually born/formed by God the Father.

    2. You take issue with my accusation. You believe Jesus Christ HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD and believe this to the official teaching of The LDS Church. To support your position you point to the fact the BOM refers to Jesus as the Eternal God and “from everlasting to everlasting”.

    3. In response to this I pointed you to a recently republished article by the First Presidency from 1916. In this article it specifically states Jesus Christ is referred to as Eternal and Everlasting “…since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.” Eternal and Everlasting are in reference to His creations NOT Him. The use of these words in the BOM & D&C in reference to Jesus does not support your use of them to claim the Church holds He has always been God.

    ————————————————————

    To further support the above, I would also like to mention that D&C 132 refers to Man’s progression to Godhood and says we shall be referred to as “Everlasting to Everlasting”. Does the use of these words mean that when man makes it to godhood he has always existed as God? Of course not.

    ——————————————————–

    4. I also pointed you to a Church Published Manual which specifically says Jesus “grew” to become like God.

    5. You state you believe the wording to be an error and do not believe what it purports to teach (PRAISE GOD!). You reiterated you believe Jesus has always existed as God and believe this to be the official position of the Church as well.

    6. I asked you… “Since you state that you believe that Jesus Christ HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AS GOD, is it your position that while He existed as an unformed intelligence He was fully God?”

    7. To which you responded that you don’t know.

    Please let me know if I left anything out.

    That brings us to this point. You claim my position is a caricature and ask that I stop sharing it. How is my position a caricature? I don’t see that you have proven your position that the Church officially teaches that Jesus Christ has always existed as God. You believe the Church teaches that Jesus Christ was once an intelligence and was formed/spirit birthed into the pre-mortal Jesus yet when I ask you if He was God while an intelligence you state you don’t know. If you don’t know if He was God while an intelligence then you CANNOT LOGICALLY SAY you believe He was always God. If He has ALWAYS BEEN GOD than He had to be a God while He was an intelligence. Do you see the inconsistency in your position?

    Further to my point, you state you believe the manual I cited to be in error. Am I just supposed to take you word that it is an error? Has the Church officially retracted the statement? If not, why should I believe it to be in error? At this point we are left with what the Church has published up to this point and it simply does not support your assertion.

    Lastly, let’s say I go along with what you are saying and hold for the moment that the LDS Church does officially teach that Christ has ALWAYS existed as God. We still have major problems. For if He was a God while an intelligence He most certainly was not The God of The Bible. The God of The Bible is taught to be Self-Sufficient and lacking of nothing. As an intelligence Christ had to be formed/spirit birthed/actualized by another being… Elohim. Therefore, He was not self-sufficient. In addition, He was obviously lacking in something since He had to be formed into something better… A spirit child. Lacking both of these attributes of God as taught in The Bible leads to numerous other problems. For a God that is not self-sufficient cannot be immutable, omniscient or omnipotent. Numerous problems.

    CC, please understand I readily accept that YOU believe Jesus Christ has always been God and I am overjoyed to hear this! My challenge to you is to compare your beliefs with those of the Church to check their congruency. In addition, give some more thought to the implications of a spirit born/formed Jesus. I for one believe the implications are huge.

    God bless!!

    Darrell

  67. May 4, 2009 10:23 pm

    Darrell, although I believe that Christ has always been God, I have to say it really doesn’t matter to me as much as it seems to matter to you whether or not he was always God or whether at some distant time before my own personal “beginning” he became God. What matters to me most is His atoning sacrifice. That is the central tenet of my faith and upon which the entire Plan of Salvation hinges. That is truly all that matters. That sacrifice was made by a God. It was not a sacrifice of man or animal, it was a sacrifice of the Lamb of God—“God Himself” as the Book of Mormon teaches: “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people” (Mosiah 15:1). He was God and is God. That’s what matters.

    Alma 34:9-10 states: “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.”

    That’s what matters to me. It was an “infinite and eternal” sacrifice. Nothing short of this would “suffice for the sins of the world” (verse 12). I don’t care so much for “proper theology”, “Christology”, or the history of God, as extreme as that probably sounds to you, because that’s not what saves. I care to learn more of and focus on the central foundation of all human history—Christ’s atonement.

    It’s my position that Jesus has always been God because that’s what the scriptures say. But for me, it wouldn’t even matter if that weren’t the case (although I believe it is). Why? Because the crucial fact and central foundation is my saving faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ–the Son of God and God the Son–my Savior and Redeemer. I’ll praise his name forever for his victory over death and hell. His atonement is central to my life as a disciple of Christ, as I now seek to “become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). Mormons, in general, care more about orthopraxy than orthodoxy.

    Now, apparently you think that the Church’s official position (although I don’t know what makes you an expert on the Church’s “official position”) is that Jesus Christ is referred to as Eternal and Everlasting ONLY “since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.” That’s certainly one good reason why he can be called that—one way of looking at it–but it’s also not the only way of looking at it. Don’t look past the mark here.

    I’m also aware that there are other interpretations that others are at liberty to believe (because there is no “official Church view” on this) which also can align with the scriptures. Some believe that “the Father became the Father at some time before ‘the beginning,’ as humans know it.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism). And I understand there are some issues with our understanding of the original words in the biblical manuscripts which were translated into English as our “eternal”. For example, Stephen E. Robinson writes: “The biblical concept of ‘eternity’ is problematic, and most constructions translated ‘forever’ or ‘eternal’ actually read ‘to the end of the age’ or just ‘to the age.’ Indeed, the words usually rendered ‘forever’ or ‘eternal’ are the Greek and Hebrew words for ‘age’ (aion and olam respectively). First-century Jews understood eternity to consist of successive ages or eons—all within the parameters of the beginning and the end.” (“How Wide The Divide?” p. 90)

    The point is that, yes, there are various ways of interpreting this (some that seem more correct than others) but there will probably never be an “official” statement on this because for Latter-day Saints it’s not really an essential element of the gospel to understand. Thus it would be a caricature to say “Mormonism teaches….” only one stated or official position, when clearly there are multiple interpretations on some of these things even within Mormonism. As long as we’re all clear on what is actually in our scriptures and on those few things the Church actually has an official position, we’re okay. I’m sure one day we’ll find out what it really was like where the scriptures tend to be silent, but that day probably won’t come while we’re on this side of the veil. In the meantime, it would be helpful to understand that various interpretations exist without necessarily contradicting scripture.

    Apparently I need to clarify why I said “I don’t know” and on what exactly I said I don’t particularly have a “position”. And I need to clarify this because I don’t want to be misunderstood. Like Joseph Smith said, “I want liberty of thinking and believing as I please.” Taking a “position” or subscribing to a “creed” boxes you in. Basically, as Mormons we can believe whatever we want about spirit creation. Some believe that our spirits were created (or organized) from existing intelligence. Others believe that our spirits are uncreated, and refer back to the fact that “intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:29). For a robust discussion on this very issue within Mormonism, I’ll refer you back to that post again at By Common Consent.
    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/15/tripartite-existentialism/

    Many, like Blake Ostler, take a position that Jesus was uncreated, and again to quote the introduction to the Book of Mormon, “is the Christ, the Eternal God.” That’s probably where I line up too. If I believe that Jesus was always God (I do), than OF COURSE he would have been God as an “intelligence”. Why I said I have no particular position was in reference to knowing anything about him being an “unformed” or “unorganized” intelligence—the scriptures don’t state that. Therefore, I don’t claim to know anything about Jesus as an “unformed”, “unorganized”, or “uncreated” intelligence. I thus go with what the scriptures actually say.

    I believe that Jesus, as intelligence, was God, or as Abraham put it: “like unto God”. Why do I believe this? Because clearly in those passages (Abraham 3:22-24) there is a difference between all the rest of us “intelligences” and the “One like unto God”. I interpret that to mean that Christ was just like God the Father—who I also believe to have always been God. And as an aside, our scriptures teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost make up the “one God” we worship.
    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?search=%22one+god%22&do=Search

  68. May 4, 2009 11:13 pm

    “Many, like Blake Ostler, take a position that Jesus was uncreated” – where did he state that, CC? You have got me curious.

    Would you then believe that God the Father was not before God the Son?

  69. May 5, 2009 3:17 pm

    My perspective is that they were both always God. Just as Christ was God before this world was, so too was God the Father, regardless of the state of his progression.

    As for Ostler, I’m sure you’re familiar that he has multiple books and articles which you can links to on his own website.

  70. May 5, 2009 3:38 pm

    Darrell and Todd: Note that creedal traditionalists like yourselves also believe that Christ is begotten of the Father as the Son of God — including his divine nature. Just what “begetting” means in the various creeds is vague to say the least. However, it is sure that it means that the Son is dependent on the Father for his existence in some generative sense in the works of Athanasisus who is largely responsible for the creedal view of the Trinity. Look here: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/752#more-752

    Just for the record, I assert that both the Father and the Son are eternally divine. However, there is a priority of the Father in the sense that the Father offers his love to the Son, and in each moment of eternity the Son has freely chosen to fully return that love. They both offer their love to the HoIy Ghost and the HG has freely chosen in each moment of eternity to return that love. It is in virtue of this loving interpenetration of freely cooperating wills that these three are one God and also have been eternally one God. Now they are inviting us into this same relationship.

  71. May 5, 2009 4:47 pm

    Wow, Blake. I REALLY like how you put that.

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