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Does the New Testament Support LDS Doctrines?

October 15, 2009

On the previous thread a couple of LDS commenters were discussing the relationship of the New Testament to LDS doctrines. One LDS commenter stated that she believed the New Testament is full of support for LDS theology and that some people have even joined the LDS church because they believed the NT supports the gospel taught in the LDS church.

A number of ex-Mormon Christian testimonies display the exact opposite conclusion from their study of the New Testament.

So I thought I would open up a discussion on this thread to find out from LDS just which passages/books of the New Testament they believe lend the most support to the LDS gospel.

I would also like to hear the reverse side as to which passages/books of the New Testament that non-LDS Christians believe are the most at odds with the LDS gospel.

To kick off the discussion I’ll throw out some major points off the top of my head. This is just going to scratch the surface, but I would probably list John, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews as the top 4 books that most contradict the LDS gospel in my opinion. In these books I am thinking specifically of teachings regarding old covenant vs. new covenant, the new covenant believer’s relationship to Christ instead of the law (Romans & Galatians), the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ offered freely to all who will repent of their self-made righteousness and will make the trade – their filthy rags for His riches of righteousness – and will humbly receive Him as their Savior and Lord. I’m thinking of the gospel as preached by the apostle Paul (I Cor. 15:1-11): Christ crucified = our sin’s remedy. Christ’s resurrection = the believer’s power to live a transformed life in the Spirit. I’m thinking of WHO Jesus is (esp. the book of John for this point). I’m thinking of the differences in dispensations between Old Testament and New Testament temples/priests/prophets (Hebrews).

I’m also thinking of the descriptions of early church worship, the purpose for the church, WHO has authority to keep His church and add to it and to prevent schisms in it Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:42-47, I Cor. 12:12-14, Eph. 1:22-23 and the limited authority He has given to prophets in New Testament times (I Cor. 14:3, 29-33, Heb. 1:1-2).

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. faithoffathers permalink
    October 15, 2009 8:33 pm

    Jessica,

    You realize you are opening up a can of worms- this is an open stage for any topic?

    I, like most others here probably, can think of many topics and doctrines.

    Starting first- the pre earth life: although EVs will disagree with our interpretation, I believe this doctrine is supported in the following passages:

    “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” Eph 1:4. We were chosen “before the foundation of the world.” It takes some tweaking to explain how that suggests something other than that we lived before this life- even before the “foundation of the world.”

    “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2 This certainly could be consistent with the Apostles believing that the blind man existed before this life.

    “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 1:6. How about those who DID keep their “first estate?” This fits the LDS doctrine perfectly. What is the “first estate?”

    “Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live.” Heb 12:9 Some argue that because the NT refers to God as Spirit that He therefore has no body. Here, we too are referred to as “spirits.” Two points- by inference, doesn’t this imply God has a body if we are “spirits,” yet have physical bodies? And- what does that mean that He is the “Father of our spirits?” This is clearly consistent with our doctrine of pre-mortal existence and our relationship to God in that realm.

    “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Rom 8:29

    (Not to mention Job 38:7, Num 16:22, Eccl 12:7, Jer 1:5- but those are OT).

    I know EV will disagree with our interpretation, but I think an objective observer could at least understand why we say this doctrine of pre-earth life is not contrary to the Bible.

    I hope this thread doesn’t evolve into a fight over intepretations. Maybe this could be a chance to at least understand why LDS claim we are not making up doctrines out of thin air.

    Other topics include the spirit world (spirit paradise vs. prison), universal resurrection, of course the faith vs. works issue (which hopefully doesn’t take over yet another thread), baptism for the dead, Priesthood, the apostasy and restoration, different degrees of glory, and church structure. The list goes on and on.

    fof

  2. Cordelia permalink
    October 16, 2009 5:02 pm

    Wow, I had no idea that my few comments on that other thread would inspire a whole new post! Sorry I’ve been away…I just started in with a nasty head cold yesterday, so I wasn’t able to be at a computer all day. I’m doing better today, so hopefully I can coherently respond to this thought-provoking post.

    FOF brought up many things that I see as supporting LDS doctrine, but I agree with his fear that this may evolve into a fight over interpretations. What I see as LDS doctrine taught plainly and simply throughout the NT is often excused and called incorrect understanding by those of the evangelical persuasion, and it also goes the other way.

    I do request that both sides of the issue maintain the attitude of “respectful conversations about the mormon faith,” which statement graces the head of this blog. =)

    Please also forgive me: I am a neophyte at blogging, so I’m unfamiliar with HTML tags, how to quote from other people’s comments, how to do links, and all that other fun stuff. When I cite a scripture, I’ll just write out the reference and I assume all have their own Bible handy or can use Google and read the references themselves if they so choose.

    I don’t have a ton of time (I’m writing as I have time in between my duties here at work), so I hope citing scriptures and what doctrine I think they support is sufficient. I can get into explanations later if there are questions.

    So, here goes!

    I see Hebrews 5, especially v1-10, as explaining the view of the need for an authority, which we refer to as priesthood. Christ chose His apostles and ordained them to go forth, as written in John 15:16.

    The far-reaching effects of marriage (i.e. that it can last throughout eternity) are found in the NT, especially in Matthew 19:5-6 and Ephesians 5:22-33. Also 1 Corinthians 11:11.

    Baptism for the dead is mentioned and, I think, is supported in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

    I see the belief in a literal resurrection, not just for Christ but for all mankind, in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.

    The oneness of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, is emphasized in the intercessory prayer in John 17. Christ also says that we can be as one with Him just as He is one with the Father.

    1 Corinthians 11, the first few verses, speak to me of the need to follow a prophet here on earth (Paul says “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”), as well as the need to perform certain ordinances that are outlined by that prophet.

    An angel preaching the everlasting gospel is spoken of in Revelation 14:6-7. I don’t understand why the gospel would need to be preached by an angel if it was already on the earth, thus illustrating that there was a general apostasy (I don’t feel like I need to go into that, as it has been hashed and rehashed over and over in the Great Apostasy thread a few posts back).

    I think that’s enough for now. Sorry, I’ll come back when I have more time.

  3. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 4:33 am

    It is hard to think of ex-Mormons as having any serious understanding of LDS doctrine given most have been excommunicated for cause. Few (none to my personal knowledge) left because they suddenly discovered the church was wrong. Most conversations reported to me, were based on erroneous understanding of actual LDS doctrine. Of course there will always be those who claim their case is different, but I suggest that when you get right down to it,it isn’t. This goes especially for former missionaries who entered the mission with little real understanding of what the job was or demanded. I should add that I am personally familiar with hundreds of former member stories as it was part of my secular job to interview people in trouble and in a heavy LDS area, many were former members. In the end, my experience suggests what I wrote above. The moral of the story is that ex-Mormons have a anti-Mormon bias, are looking for sympathetic ears and they tailor their tale to suit the audience. Sincere investigators are better off doing their own investigation sans the former member. Look for someone who does not have an ax to grind.

  4. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 4:45 am

    One other important thing: Some say Mormons are not Christian because we believe in multiple Gods. That comes from our belief that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings as they are described in the bible. The notion of a triune God where all three are actually one is a fourth century creation based on Greek philosophy and is not not biblical. Another is that we do not believe in the bible but have substitute the Book of Mormon. That is not the case either. We believe the B of M supports the bible and fills in many of the things which have been removed by men. There are many many other tings that separate traditional Christian doctrine from us, but not so far that one can say we are not Christian. You might find that asking us what we believe works best if you really want to know what we believe. You can go to one of our official web sites to find out too.

  5. November 1, 2009 4:55 am

    JLFuller ~ It is hard to think of ex-Mormons as having any serious understanding of LDS doctrine given most have been excommunicated for cause.

    This doesn’t jive with my own experience. The vast majority of the ex-Mormons I know are people who have left the church of their own initiative, who have either made the request to have their names removed themselves or stopped identifying as LDS even though their names are still on the rolls. Very few of them were excommunicated, and the few who were typically were excommunicated for reasons that had nothing to do with misunderstanding LDS doctrine; for example, not living by the church’s moral standards anymore. They knew perfectly well what the church’s doctrines on the matter were, they just disagreed with them.

    In any case, would you care to elaborate on what you mean when you say most ex-Mormons misunderstand LDS doctrine? Which doctrines are they misunderstanding?

  6. November 1, 2009 4:57 am

    The notion of a triune God where all three are actually one is a fourth century creation based on Greek philosophy and is not not biblical.

    Wrong.

  7. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 4:59 am

    If one is interested in understanding deeper LDS doctrine, you can go to FAIRLDS.org. There is so much of our doctrine and history that is not discussed you can take hours and hours of reading the high points and you will not scratch the surface. It is nothing like most people think it is. It is so deep and so broad, and I think complex, that some folks are mesmerized. You certainly can’t understand it or even get a feel for it in a couple of hours talking with someone about it.

  8. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:10 am

    Bridget,
    Can you show me where I am wrong?

  9. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:17 am

    Bridget
    Understanding doctrine means living it to the best of one’s ability. Living the teachings, scripture study and a belief that God will answer one’s sincere desire to know. We gain a testimony by living a principle. If we don’t live it we don’t get the testimony and without the testimony we can’t understand it. The underlying theme is that one has to be born again in order to understand the things of God. We are born again by living Christ’s gospel in its fullness. We can’t take the parts we like and say we are living the gospel. That is why some things such as homosexuality can’t work in the gospel. It violates Christ’s Gospel to be chaste. This is kind of a short hand version but I think it hits the high points.

  10. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:27 am

    Maybe I should go a bit further. The testimony I speak of is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. If you live the principles of the gospel you will gain a testimony of the truthfulness of that aspect by receiving the testimony of God through the Holy Ghost that that principle is correct. But, you have to actually live it. You learn how to live it by reading about it scripture and praying to God for a true understanding of that principle. You can’t do it all at once, it usually is done over time. You learn one principle and then add to that with an additional one. We say line upon line and precept upon precept. When we mess up, we fix it with the others we offend against and ask God for forgiveness and make every effort to learn from our mistake and not do it again. That is repentance.

  11. November 1, 2009 5:27 am

    JLFuller ~ I’m not interested in where I can find pro-LDS discussions of LDS doctrines. I have a degree from BYU, I’m married to an active, TR-holding Mormon, and I’m thoroughly familiar with FAIR. I even introduced one of their speakers for them at the 2004 Conference (he mentions this here).

    All I was asking is, which doctrines is it that you think ex-Mormons misunderstand, thus causing their apostasy? There are a lot of things out there which could be considered “higher doctrine” and I have no idea which ones you mean or why you think they misunderstand them.

    Can you show me where I am wrong?

    Read the article I linked to. It provides tons of evidence for the Trinitarian thought in early Christianity and Judaism, and none of it comes from the Council of Nicaea.

    On top of that, if you’re going to plead for people to consult official LDS and LDS apologetics sites like FAIR in their quest to understand LDS doctrine—which I completely approve of—you really ought to return the favor and consult traditional Christian leaders and apologists before you start dismissing our beliefs. The sound bytes you’ve been hearing from LDS apologists about how Greek philosophy has corrupted our notion of God aren’t the final word on the subject.

    Understanding doctrine means living it to the best of one’s ability.

    I disagree. Understanding a doctrine is a matter of the mind while living it to the best of one’s ability is a matter of choice plus action. I can reject and choose not to abide by LDS principles even though I understand them. I do it every day.

  12. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:37 am

    Over our lifetime of learning and perfecting principles and making them a part of our lives we can become more and more holy or righteous. We can be like the righteous and holy people in scripture.We become new people. Our old imperfections and sinful ways are removed. With righteousness comes a closeness to God and greater understanding of his works. It is a lifetime pursuit. It is a very real phenomenon we know as being born again. That is what we mean when we say one has to be born again to understand the things of God.

  13. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:44 am

    I am sorry. Apparently I misread you. The bottom line is sinfulness separates us from God. Without that closeness we cannot understand what he wants us to know. We are stuck with just our intellect and frail abilities to try to figure things out. That is why ex-Mormons can’t understand the fullness of doctrine. With most of them, all they have to do is start talking and you can tell right away.

  14. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:53 am

    I read through some of the paper. It is not at odds with what I said. If you are saying that ex-Mormons are like the righteous of other denominations and therefore have a solid understanding of LDS doctrine,I have to say I fail to see the connection. Righteous behavior is not necessarily a solid understanding of doctrine one does not understand. What I say is that in order to understand the fullness and depth of LDS doctrine you have to be more than a good person. You have to follow the principles laid out in order to understand. You can’t understand LDS doctrine by being a good Catholic. You can be a good Catholic but that doesn’t get you to the point where you know enough and faith enough to get the nuanaced understanding that only comes from adhereing to the principle.

  15. JLFuller permalink
    November 1, 2009 5:58 am

    I wish I could edit my comments after posting. Pardon the error.

    What I posted: “Righteous behavior is not necessarily a solid understanding of doctrine one does not understand.”

    What I should have written: Righteous behavior does not necessarily beget a solid understanding of doctrine one does not completely understand or believe.

  16. November 1, 2009 7:39 am

    JL this is part of an article from JEWS FOR JESUS wed site.

    III. God Is Three

    How Many Persons Are There?

    If the Hebrew Scriptures truly do point to plurality, the question arises, how many personalities in the Godhead exist? We have already seen the names of God applied to at least two different personalities. Going through the Hebrew Scriptures, we find that, in fact, three and only three distinct personalities are ever considered divine.

    1. First, there are the numerous times when there is a reference to the Lord YHVH. This usage is so frequent that there is no need to devote space to it.

    2. A second personality is referred to as the Angel of YHVH. This individual is always considered distinct from all other angels and is unique. In almost every passage where He is found He is referred to as both the Angel of YHVH and YHVH Himself. For instance, in Genesis 16:7 He is referred to as the Angel of YHVH, but then in 16:13 as YHVH Himself. In Genesis 22:11 He is the Angel of YHVH, but God Himself in 22:12. Other examples could be given.5 A very interesting passage is Exodus 23:20-23 where this angel has the power to pardon sin because God’s own name YHVH is in him, and, therefore, he is to be obeyed without question. This can hardly be said of any ordinary angel. But the very fact that God’s own name is in this angel shows His divine status.

    3. A third major personality that comes through is the Spirit of God, often referred to as simply the Ruach Ha-kodesh. There are a good number of references to the Spirit of God among which are Genesis 1:2, 6:3; Job 33:4; Psalm 51:11; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 11:2, etc. The Holy Spirit cannot be a mere emanation because He contains all the characteristics of personality (intellect, emotion and will) and is considered divine.

    So then, from various sections of the Hebrew Scriptures there is a clear showing that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God: the Lord YHVH, the Angel of YHthere is a clear showing that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God: the Lord YHVH, the Angel of YHVH and the Spirit of God.

    As it say’s ( there is a clear showing that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God). Not a God.

    The whole article is here http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/1_8/jewish

    So you saying ( The notion of a triune God where all three are actually one is a fourth century creation based on Greek philosophy and is not not biblical). This makes no sense.

  17. Stephanie permalink
    November 1, 2009 1:10 pm

    JLFuller

    Welcome! And thank you for all your comments! 🙂

    The original topic of this discussion was “does the New Testament support LDS doctrine?” This is a very valid question to ask because many ex-Mormons who leave the church do so for biblical reasons. They found that when they read the NT it did not jive with church teaching. Jessica was asking LDS to explain what verses or passages help to define LDS doctrine from the NT. What passages from the Bible do you find teach LDS doctrine?

    Stephanie

  18. November 1, 2009 2:01 pm

    JLFuller ~ I read through some of the paper. It is not at odds with what I said.

    I don’t see how you can say that. It provides numerous examples of Trinitarian thought and ideas in pre-4th century writings, which directly contradicts what you said.

    Your explanation for why people leave the church seems awfully convoluted and doesn’t leave any room for someone to leave over honest doubts about the church. But that is in fact why many people leave. I’ve known plenty of people who were active, faithful, practicing, believing Mormons, reading their Scriptures, wearing their garments, attending church regularly, praying every day, going to the temple every month, until they ran into something in LDS history or doctrine which they just couldn’t reconcile. Even then, they usually continued to go through the motions for a while and continue living the principles while they tried to decide what to do.

    This is from an online survey in which ex-Mormon respondents were asked to name the top seven reasons for why they left the church. The 10 most common reasons given were:

    63% (56) General disbelief of Joseph Smith as a chosen prophet
    51% (45) General disbelief of the Book of Mormon
    48% (43) Emphasis on blind faith / Obedience to church leaders
    37% (33) Book of Abraham
    35% (31) Found more peace outside the religion
    32% (29) Polygamy
    32% (29) Desire to uphold personal ethics
    31% (28) LDS/religious logical fallacies/manipulations
    30% (27) LDS vs. feminist views
    29% (26) Book of Mormon archaeology

    An online survey should certainly be taken with a grain of salt, but this matches pretty well with my own experience on why ex-Mormons have said they left the church. They don’t leave because of moral transgressions, petty disagreements with local members, or willful denial of their testimonies. Those reasons are wishful thinking on the part of the faithful.

  19. Soy Yo permalink
    November 1, 2009 11:06 pm

    JLFuller – “It is hard to think of ex-Mormons as having any serious understanding of LDS doctrine given most have been excommunicated for cause. Few (none to my personal knowledge) left because they suddenly discovered the church was wrong. Most conversations reported to me, were based on erroneous understanding of actual LDS doctrine. Of course there will always be those who claim their case is different, but I suggest that when you get right down to it,it isn’t.”

    I am always amazed by statements like this. Back-door ad hominem attacks like this one are unfortunately the norm these days. It is as if those in the LDS church are saying, “We know that we cannot deny their claims so let’s keep others from taking them seriously by labeling them as lazy, uneducated members who fornicated or something fell into some other type of serious sin.” What a joke! I feel sorry for any member who really believes what JLFuller said.

    My main reasons for leaving the LDS Church after 29 years are too many to list but a few of the main points include:

    1. Faith vs. Works – The LDS doctrine offers no assurance of salvation and does not line up with Biblical teachings. In contrast, if you look at the body of work in the Bible, you see that salvation is attainable for anyone who puts their trust in God and surrenders their will to His. No need for LDS priesthood, temple marriage or ordinances needed.
    2. Joseph Smith’s legitimacy as a prophet. The list of issues with Joseph Smith is very long but at the top of the list has to be his distortion of the biblical God, his history in the occult, Book of Abraham, unfulfilled prophecy, his practice of polygamy while denouncing it publicly. Tie all that in with how the LDS leadership over the years has distorted the true history of how the church started and its non-faith promoting story and you have a real and growing problem.

    Once I started to do my own research, using older LDS publications compared to what is taught today, I could not ignore it. As I talked to other members about some of the things I found, it became obvious that many did not know about the darker side of Mormonism either. They reacted like most, disbelief and even anger at me for showing something that might “damage their faith”.

    I found my way out of the LDS church, had my name removed from the records and after about 1 year of searching, managed to regain my faith in God. Now, I have found a freedom that I never experienced as an LDS. I give all the credit to God for my salvation because it was certainly something that I could not do on my own.

    JRFuller, try to not just follow what others tell you. I think if you look at ex-mormons with a more open mind, you will find a very different story then the one you claim.

  20. Soy Yo permalink
    November 2, 2009 12:25 am

    Oh…to answer the actual question of the blog, NO the New Testament DOES NOT support the doctrines of Mormonism. The more I read the Bible the more I see the holes in Mormon Doctrine.

  21. JLFuller permalink
    November 8, 2009 1:26 am

    The challenges to LDS theology and the bible are addressed here. http://en.fairmormon.org/50_Answers#Answers_to_50_Anti-Mormon_Questions.

    I urge civility and caution against employing demagoguery when discussing theological matters. It does not serve Christ’s interest but rather Satan’s.

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