Blogalogue

Blogalogue


The “Church of the Devil”?

posted by albertmohler

By Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
I appreciate Orson Scott Card’s response to my first entry, and his rather lengthy essay can serve to move the discussion along.
The first matter of concern is to clarify the question. When I asked, “Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy?,” I was stating the question exactly as it was put to me. The words “as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy” were part of my assignment, not my imposition.
At the same time, I was glad the question was asked in this manner, for it is the only way I can provide an answer that matters. The question could surely be asked in other ways and we could attempt to define Christianity in terms of sociology, phenomenology, the history of religions, or any number of other disciplines. In any of these cases, someone with specific training in these fields should provide the argument.
The question could simply refer to common opinion – do people on the street believe that Mormonism is Christianity? But then the matter would be in better hands among the pollsters.
In any event, the question was framed theologically, and it was framed by Beliefnet in terms of “traditional Christian orthodoxy.” With the question structured that way, the answer is clear and unassailable – Mormonism is not Christianity. When the question is framed this way, Mr. Card and I actually agree, as his essay makes clear.
In his words, “I am also happy to agree with him that when one compares our understanding of the nature of God and Christ, we categorically disagree with almost every statement in the “historic creeds and doctrinal affirmations” he refers to.”
Mr. Card would prefer that the question be put differently. I understand his concern, and if I were a Mormon I would share that concern and would try to define Christianity in some way other than traditional Christian orthodoxy. The reason is simple – traditional Christian orthodoxy and Mormon theology are utterly incompatible.
Mr. Card is gracious, even when suggesting that I misinterpret the Book of Mormon. He even suggests that I have not read it. The fact is that I have, and I have even studied Mormon theology in the course of my graduate studies. Reading the Book of Mormon was a fascinating experience. Nevertheless, if I were a Mormon arguing that Mormonism is Christianity, I would be very reluctant to suggest that those I am seeking to persuade should read the Book of Mormon. Nothing will more quickly reveal the distance between Mormon theology and historic Christianity.
Mormonism uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ. Mr. Card wants to define Christianity in a most minimal way, theologically speaking. If I were arguing the other side of this question, I would attempt the same. But Christianity has never been defined in terms of merely thinking well of Jesus. Mormonism claims to affirm the New Testament teachings about Jesus, but actually presents a very different Jesus from the onset. A reading of Mormonism’s authoritative documents makes this clear.
All these things point back to the reason the question is so important in our contemporary context. Mormons want their religion to be seen as another form of Christianity. In other words, they want to identify with what from their inception they sought to deny. There are advantages to Mormonism on this score, but this surely places them in an awkward position.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” as Mormonism is officially known, claims to be the only true church. As stated in the Doctrine and Covenants [1:30], Mormonism is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” According to Mormon teaching, the church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the “Church of the Devil.” Mormonism then claims that the true church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820s. This restored church was, Mormon theology claims, given the keys to the kingdom and the authority of the only true priesthood.
Why would Mormonism now want to be identified as a form of Christianity, when its central historical claim is that the churches commonly understood to be Christian are part of the Church of the Devil?
There is simply no way around the Mormon claim that the other churches hold to a corrupted theology and have no true priesthood – and are not true churches. Mr. Card may complain that traditional Christianity defines the faith in a way that rejects Mormonism. Fair enough. But Mormonism rejects historic Christianity as it makes it own central claim – to be the only true church, restored on earth in the latter days.
Mr. Card’s statements on baptism make this point clear enough, as does this statement from his essay: “In other words, at the level of religious practice we believe that we are the only Christians who act and speak with the authority of Christ today.” I sincerely appreciate Mr. Card’s straightforward statement of this fact.
I was genuinely troubled, but hardly surprised, when Mr. Card recalled his experience at the Templeton event. It is indeed a scandal that so many Christian churches and denominations allow priests, theologians, and bishops to deny the faith and still call themselves Christians – and even to remain in good standing in these churches. If these deny the faith and persist in their error, they are not Christians. Of course, the only way we know this is because we do have an objective standard by which to judge what is and is not Christianity, and that is the very “traditional Christian orthodoxy” that Mr. Card and Mormonism reject.
Finally, Mr. Card brings up the question of Gov. Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He states, “But let’s remember now why we are having this discussion. It’s because Mitt Romney is running for President of the United States, and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.”


Mr. Card also claims that I have “gone on record elsewhere as advising evangelical Christians not to vote for Mitt Romney, even though he’s the candidate whose life practices and whose professed beliefs are the closest to fitting the political agenda of many or perhaps most evangelicals.” That is not true. I did not advise evangelicals not to vote for Mitt Romney. I have argued that evangelicals should think carefully about this question and I have raised concerns about a Mormon in the White House.
Others will bring their own concerns. I am not interested in worries about Mormon temple undergarments and plural marriage. I do not worry about a Mormon president playing into apocalyptic scenarios with nuclear weapons. I am concerned that a Mormon in the White House would do much to serve the worldwide missionary cause of Mormonism. I do not worry that a President Romney would push that agenda from the White House. My concern is more about symbolism and perception. My concern is that of a Christian who does not believe that Mormonism is Christianity.
In other words, my concern is about as politically incorrect as one can get in these strange times. I believe that Mormonism does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only Gospel that saves.
I am thankful that the U.S Constitution excludes any religious test for public office, but this excludes any government test, and is not a constraint upon any private citizen’s electoral decision. I will fight for Gov. Romney’s right to be on the ballot and to serve if elected.
There are very many reasons to admire and appreciate Gov. Romney – starting right where Mr. Card points, with the Romney family. I, along with millions of fellow evangelicals, do admire the Romney family and respect his family commitments. The fact that so many other candidates fall short of his commitment is a sad commentary on the age – and on those candidates.
As I have argued over and over again, electoral decisions are contextual decisions. Will evangelicals vote for Mitt Romney? Time will tell, and the context will largely determine that decision. I will be glad to argue this further, but that is not the assigned question.
So, Mr. Card I thank you for your thoughtful and gracious response and I look forward to our continuing exchange.



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nowandlater

posted July 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm


Pretty meaty stuff. I can see this going back and forth for a long time. My fear is that too much of the details will not be talked about with much rigor (from both sides).
I think it could be useful to delve into defining what something means to oneself.
It seems clear that to assign a belief in Jesus as divine to Mormons means that others must accept them as co-followers in Christ. Is that the correct sense of the problem? What is this different Jesus? Is it one that did not heal the sick? Or is there some additional belief that invalidates Christ’s divinity that is very troubling to Orthodox Christians? If I say that the Word became Flesh as proof that God (the Son) changes is that too much of a different Jesus?
Very fascinating yet important items to discuss.



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B

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:15 pm


The problem with this argument is that “traditional Christian orthodoxy” is not the same thing as “Christianity”. One is a subset of the other, just as Mormonism is a subset of Christianity.



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Will

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm


I don’t think that’s a correct assessment. Elsewhere, Dr. Mohler has pointed out that you can pull together the Pope, the primate of any of the Eastern Orthodox churches, and a leader in a mainline protestant denomination. They will all agree on certain points that one might consider fundamental to Christianity. This keeps them as subsets of “traditional Christian orthodoxy.” They would certainly disagree on a great many things after that. But, they would agree on the starting points regarding the Trinity and Jesus Christ being fully God and fully man.
Mormonism, as he points out, doesn’t agree at these starting points and does not agree anywhere else at all, either. As a result, I don’t think one can consider Mormonism a subset of Christianity. There would have to be some significant and substantial commonality.



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HillRat

posted July 5, 2007 at 4:12 pm


I doubt that Catholicism, the world’s largest Christian Church, would survive your definition of traditional Christian orthodoxy. There are so many fundamental and foundational differences among “traditional orthodox Christians” as you define them that it boggles credibility to believe they subscribe to all the same doctrinal and theological tenents.
Your logic is flawed.



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Stuart

posted July 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm


However, Dr. Mohler’s problem stems from the fallacy that Mr. Card attempted to demonstrate in his first response. The “traditional, orthodox” Christianity that Dr. Mohler promotes is not the Biblical christianity.
Where in the Bible may one find the foundation for the various creeds adopted by man, one being adopted by a Pagan emperor. Anyone who has attempted to study early Christianity would know that there were a group of “Christians” who did not believe in the proposed Trinity, but that the Apostles and Bible teaches a doctrine that is presently taught by the Mormon Church. You will find more biblical passages that support the Mormon doctrine on the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. One should also consider that the Bible itself speaks of books that were not oncluded in our present Bible. Because they are not included in the binding of the Bible, are they not true?
This debate will continue to go on because these two bright men are not arguing the same issue. Mr. Card is attempting to show that Mormons hold the same values and beliefs as the “Christians” who walked and spoke with Christ and His Apostles. Dr. Mohler wants to show that Mormons are not “Christians” as defined by a group of priests and pagan emperors over a hundred years after Biblical revelation ceased.
Final thought: If God spoke to man for thousands of years through prophets and man (as shown by the Old and New testaments)and God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why has God seemingly changed His method (according to traditional, orthodox christianity)?



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Carl

posted July 5, 2007 at 4:46 pm


Obviously, those of us reading this “Blogalogue” don’t know how what question was presented to Dr. Mohler, or exactly on what basis Mr. Card was asked to respond. And I have no reason to doubt Dr. Mohler’s statement of the question as presented to him. However, what we do know is that Beliefnet decided to place the debate under the heading “Are Mormons Christian?” rather than the more nuanced question Dr. Mohler says he was asked to respond to (and the way in which he led off his original posting).
Unfortunately, this tactic–refining the question, but not emphasizing the limitation in the discussion, let alone the headlines–seems ever to be the resort of those who are all too happy to marginalize Mormonism by defining it outside the Christian fold (or even more negatively to cast it as a “cult”–for which an equally special definition has been appropriated by those who claim not to be using it in the Jonestown sense of the word, as if the general public draws such a distinction) because it so easily avoids having to confront the actual theological issues that divides Mormonism from “orthodox” Christianity as based on the Nicene Creed and related developments in the first few centuries of the Christian era. As Mr. Card clearly indicates, Mormons readily acknowledge the vast differences between “traditional Christianity” so-defined. But when the nuance of the question is abandoned by the headline (and not always clearly maintained in the arguments even when the nuance is acknowledged). As a result, perhaps one can at least acknowledge that those of us on the receiving end of such approaches are entirely without reason to believe that the blurring of the distinctions is at some level at least purposeful.



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frank lasky

posted July 5, 2007 at 5:11 pm


i would say that the definition of christ type religions is pretty simple. those that follow christ, and; or his teachings.
the bible is not hard to understand and we don’t need people explaining it to us. i can really see the problem . and that is that those that are dedating the morman religion. have never read the morman bible.
for they would experience a really different christ. for he appears to the mormans after he died on the cross. and gave them the sermon of the mount.and was moved by thier love for him. and stayed with them. for they would not let him leave.
i met two young traveling preachers of the morman faith. some twenty years ago. and what was amazing was one of these fine young preachers was a navaho indian.and i posed a question for him. how could an ancient , proud race as the navaho indians . believe in the
morman religion?
well it seems that the mormans were visited by a great , white , yellow haired man. that taught them to live in harmony and to irrigate and grow crops. this enabled the navaho to be independent and peace loving. when this man left he said he would return somday.. and the navaho believe he will. so much so that they build their hogas with the door facing to the east. so they might see him when he returns….
again the bible is written so an eight year old child can understand, it.don’t be afraid to read it . if god loves you . you will get your message from the written word.
god bless
you and yours



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Scot

posted July 5, 2007 at 5:22 pm


It seems like the two ideas being addressed here (in varying degrees of coherence) are:
1. Who gets to draw the circle for inside/outside or us/them?
2. How do we best draw these kinds of circles?
For this dialogue, it sounds like the Beliefnet moderators have drawn a circle that Dr. Mohler is comfortable with, but that Card resists. I would also question that particular circle (as a Mormon who is struggling to grow closer to the Jesus Christ, the Messiah). However, if we take the question by those terms, the answer is pretty straightforward—Mormon’s don’t fit inside that circle.
We could ask other questions about whether the tenets of “traditional Christian orthodoxy” fit within the circle of doctrines that God revealed through His Only Begotten Son. Are those beliefs within the circle of “Christianity”? And what about overlapping doctrines or beliefs from Islam and Hinduism or ancient Egyptian or Confucian ideas—are they inside or outside the circle?
At the largest level, we all belong in the same circle of God’s children. At the smallest level, we are all responsible for drawing our own circles and making decisions about who to include or exclude, including the matter of whether Mitt Romney belongs within the circle of “effective national leader”.
This brings up the second question again: How do we best draw these circles? If we follow Christ, then the answer is pretty straightforward again. We should be compassionate and generous in our judgments. Even at His most volatile, in cleansing the Jerusalem temple, the scriptures describe the Savior as calm and deliberate.
I appreciate Dr. Mohler and O. S. Card helping with an example of how we can have generous discussions about such important truths. And thanks to all the commentors who have added light to help us draw better circles.



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Matt Thorley

posted July 5, 2007 at 6:25 pm


Elsewhere in the blogosphere I have seen references to “Creedal Christians” and “Mormon” or “LDS Christians”. That seems to me to be a reasonable compromise that both sides could agree upon. Jesus Christ is so central to the theology and worship of Mormons that to deny they are “Christians” just seems silly. What else is someone who worships Jesus Christ, if not Christian?
Yet Mormons would be the first to agree that the very foundation of their religion lies upon rejection of traditional Christian Creeds. In their place, Mormon theology is based upon modern revelation. Hence the real difference is between the creeds and modern revelation. That difference obviously results in completely different concepts of Jesus Christ, as both “Mormon Christians” and “Creedal Christians” agree.



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CrossWise

posted July 5, 2007 at 7:23 pm


“The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro withersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was groveling in darkness.
[Brigham Young, Journal Of Discourses; vol. 5; pg.73]
It strikes me as odd that any Mormon should wish to “ship-over” with the Christian Church when their key founders had such a low view of it.
Is Mr. Card repudiating his own “Prophets” & “Apostles”?



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Mark

posted July 5, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Quote – “The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro withersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was groveling in darkness.
[Brigham Young, Journal Of Discourses; vol. 5; pg.73]
It strikes me as odd that any Mormon should wish to “ship-over” with the Christian Church when their key founders had such a low view of it.
Is Mr. Card repudiating his own “Prophets” & “Apostles”?”
The term “groveling in darkness” is referring to the fact that they were not being led by revelation as they had all pretty much claimed the canon to be closed and God was no longer speaking to man. This period is known as the DARK Ages, the Apostasy, or falling away. The Christian world was in darkness because the divine light of revelation was not present. This is what Brigham Young was referring to.



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Victor

posted July 5, 2007 at 8:54 pm


Why do Mormons want to be called Christians if they think the Christians don’t have all the truth? It’s because the word Christian means follower of Christ, which we are. We want to be called what we are. Are we orthodox Christians? No, by definition of the post apostle creeds. But then I wonder if the different denominations agree with them as well. I really wonder if the Pope and the Patriarch and the Archbishop and the President of the Southern-Baptist convention and Pat Robertson all got together they would all agree that the other fit the mold of ‘orthodox Christian’. From what I see of tele-Evangelists they don’t fit with what I have seen of the old creeds. (except the one that is always preaching about them)



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Will

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:09 pm


I thought I said this more clearly than I did. I might try again. It is not that the leaders of all different Christian (according to Mohler’s definition) faiths will agree on every point. For example- in what manner are we justified? They would all probably answer the question differently. Actually, Robert Letham makes a good point about the distinctions between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity in his book “The Holy Trinity.” He said (paraphrase) that the Eastern Church doesn’t simply answer the questions differently than the West did beginning with Calvin, Luther, and the Reformation. Rather, the Eastern Church asks entirely different questions. For example, the East focuses on Christ’s resurrection as conquering death, which is the great enemy. The West views the enemy more as sin, and Christ’s work was more important in conquering that. Now, that’s a nuanced example because both sides look at sin and death as related problems, but the focus is different.
Still, starting from God’s nature as one in essence and being, yet three distinct persons, they would agree. Similarly, they would agree that Christ is eternally God, begotten not made, and that he became fully man while remaining fully God. They can at least start from there. Of course, they don’t agree on everything.
Also, please don’t judge this according to the televangelists that are out there selling stupid pieces of cloth just to make a buck as a reference or standard for what a Christian is or should be.



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Will

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:39 pm


I also wanted to add this. One might say he wants to follow Jesus and tries to follow his teachings. The problem is that to follow a person, I think we really have to do it on his own terms. If say I follow the President and proceed to criticize him and claim to disagree with him on every single decision he’s ever made, I’m not really an authentic follower of him.
So that leaves the question, what does it mean to follow his teachings? What exactly were Jesus teachings? And what does it mean to actually follow him? Well, I don’t think that Jesus teachings were simply a new moral code. I think there was very much about how one ought to act. But if one says he follows Christ because he follows his teaching, he must prepared to show that he has followed these. For example, when asked what the greatest commandment is, he responds, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Or, in the sermon on the mount, Christ likens anger to murder, looking lustfully at another woman to committing adultery, and many other things. Basically, he points to the heart problem. Love your enemies, do not make oaths, don’t retaliate, etc., etc. So anyone who says following Christ is about following his teachings must be prepared to raise his hand and say he’s done this. I think everyone can put his hand down when asked if he’s ever loved God with all his heart, soul, and mind. By that standard, no one can rightfully claim to follow Christ or be a Christian. I suppose that leaves us with the conclusion that there must be something more to it.
In the end, I don’t think determining who actually is a Christian is important in so much as it might be an attempt to exclude someone from a group or club. I think it has more to do with trying not to give false assurances. The gospel is first and foremost (or should be) in the heart and mind of believers. For better or worse, those who believe the gospel (i.e. have faith that Christ is God the son who paid their debt for sin and became their righteousness) would usually think of those called Christians as those who share this belief. So the attempt is not to be restrictive for restrictions sake, but to identify those with whom these believers might fellowship, and those to whom they would witness.
I think Dr. Mohler identified this as his concern with Mitt Romney. In this thought, he is not thinking in terms of the nation he is a citizen of on earth but in terms of the kingdom to which he belongs eternally. It seems that he thinks this might confuse the message that Jesus Christ is not just a moral teacher, a revolutionary, or one who saved the world from some ambiguous something, but the Son of God, the Christ who saves all who will believe. I think the jury is still out on whether this would be a real effect of Romney winning the presidency. I can see his points, especially as it relates to how the world views Christianity, but I haven’t come to a conclusion as relates to this.



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Jim

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:03 pm


I am the first to confess that I am not the most educated stick in the woodpile, but I sure can read. Which begs me to ask the question of how someone like Mitt Romney could possibly be taken seriously as a leader in any form of government, especially the Presidency, when he is a Mormon and has allegiance to the type of doctrine that the Mormons hold ear at heart that dark skinned people are a cursed people and filthy and not able to enjoy the promises of heaven? In the various books they hold dear, dark skinned people are considered less than white skinned people and anyone who has a relationship with a dark skinned person is said to be cursed with destruction. They even believe that white skinned people are very pleasant and joyous and allowed great blessings simply because they are white. Now, when you read Alma and understand the history of this country, you cannot help but hear the bells of Jim Crow and lynchings and segregation and denial of the right to vote coming all over again. As a white male, I have to further ask the question of who Mitt Romney is talking about when he speaks about family values and strong military and banding together? Will I be condemned by Mitt Romney for loving an Indian woman out of New Mexico and denied freedoms because I associate with a dark skinned person? Mitt Romney is a disaster waiting to happen and surely his counterparts in the Republican Party are just waiting for this Fall to jump his sorry butt on these issues and throw him completely out of the race. If they don’t get him, Hillary will and surely Barak better speak up because the only thing Mitt Romney will look forward to doing is remaining true to his faith as he has publicly stated already. So don’t believe everything these POLITICIANS are saying to you these days just to get themselves into a position of power where they can kill some more innocent people who just wanted to be left alone and exercise their own homegrown terrorism behind the lines while they wave the flag and of course whistle dixie at the same time but at a low volume. Members of the Mormon faith such as Mitt Romney are evil waiting to turn back the clock of our bloody and shameful past of racial hatred and separatism!!!!!



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Tara

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:21 am


Would you be condemned for loving an Indian woman? No, you would not.
If Mitt Romney was a racist maybe you would be in private, but he could hardly forbid you from loving that woman or working because you associate with “a dark-skinned person.” There are checks and balances in our government, I don’t think that the Senate and the House would accept de facto rule, LDS man or not.
As for the heart of the matter, there are aspects of the LDS faith I don’t pretend to understand fully even as a Mormon, but I do know of several multi-racial couples that are high-standing members of the LDS faith. I am myself friends with many “dark-skinned people,” that fact does not bar me from being a good mormon. In fact, if I were so racist as to denouce friendships and relationships that were multi-racial, I would be a hypocrite. I am a product of one such match. A Chinese man and a white woman to be exact.
There have been misnunderstood statements, some interesting interpretations, and some bad examples. I do believe that you would find these in any religion. If you dig deep enough you find that most Christian faiths had problems accepting Native Americans (Aztecs, Mayans and Incans) and Africans as people. That is a mindset that is unacceptable now, but was perfectly credible during that time.
In effect, there is no way that Mitt Romney could prevent you from being friends with “a dark-skinned person” in any legal sense. Mitt Romney would not want to forbid a relationship just because it was multi-racial. He would most likely encourage your friendships, not discourage them.



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Christopher W. Chase

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:28 am


I find it very interesting that the President of a Baptist Theological Seminary appears to have repudiated the singularly most important theological contribution Baptists have made to Christian Theology–the doctrine of “soul competency” or “soul liberty.” If the original historical Baptist radicals were here to read this, they’d think Mr. Mohler was sent by the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church to condemn them for heresy.



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Bill Kilpatrick

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:43 am


My hat is off to Dr. Mohler, for maintaining a civil exchange of ideas, even if some of those ideas are rather prickly. There were, however, some comments he made that, to me at least, reflect a misunderstanding of Mormonism. They are as follows:
“[T]raditional Christian orthodoxy and Mormon theology are utterly incompatible.”
The strength of this statement depends on where, when and how one defines “traditional” Christian orthodoxy. Since the Great Schism between Catholic and Orthodox factions, there hasn’t been a single “tradition” by which to judge all others. And just five hundred years ago, a standard of “traditional” Christian orthodoxy would have excluded all forms of Protestantism – including the Baptists.
“[I]f I were a Mormon arguing that Mormonism is Christianity, I would be very reluctant to suggest that those I am seeking to persuade should read the Book of Mormon. Nothing will more quickly reveal the distance between Mormon theology and historic Christianity.”
So says Dr. Mohler but, for a statement as dramatic as this, it’s surprising that he doesn’t elaborate upon the point.
“Mormonism uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ.”
Are we speaking about the LDS Church or the Book of Mormon? I thought – after Dr. Mohler announced that “Nothing will more quickly reveal the distance between Mormon theology and historic Christianity” than a reading of the Book of Mormon – that he’d actually want to show and not simply tell. Instead, he pulls back to argue that Mormonly MERELY “uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ.” To be fair, Dr. Mohler, the Book of Mormon does a lot more than that. The book’s stated purpose, as set forth on the title page, is to “convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.”
With all due respect, anyone who merely sees “the language of Christian theology” and “references to Christ” has not read the book, at least not very well.
“Mr. Card wants to define Christianity in a most minimal way, theologically speaking.”
Well, there are all kinds of theology, including disputations regarding the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, but I would hardly call the Christianity reflected in the Book of Mormon “minimal.”
The “Christians” of the Book of Mormon are not “Christians” in name only, nor is their ticket punched by getting worked up at a revival and making a generic declaration of “Lord, Lord.” The “Christians” of the Book of Mormon are people who have received the word, had a mighty change of heart, repented of their sins and come forth, to the waters of baptism, to declare their sincere intent to follow the teachings of Christ, to the best of their ability, all the remaining days of their life.
The “Christians” of the Book of Mormon do not call themselves “Christians” because they’ve signed on to some esoteric definition of the Godhead, but because they believe in the central mission of Jesus Christ – to be born into the world, live a spotless life, serve others and share the sufferings of mankind, until being lifted up on the cross to redeem all who believe in him, by taking upon himself the sins of the world.”
Dr. Mohler can cherrypick theological issues all he wants, but if he thinks the central issue of Christianity is whether Father, Son and Holy Ghost are an incomprehensible three-in-one according to the creeds written centuries after Christ, I have to question his theological priorities.
If this is what “traditional” Christian orthodoxy is all about – maintaining an incomprehensible theological model of the Godhead – then maybe Mormons should concede the point. In fact, maybe Mormons should say, as LeGrand Richards did in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, that this is precisely what is wrong with the theological establishment that has taken over much of Christianity.
Jesus came, first and foremost, to preach repentance. He took up the words of John the Baptist: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” In his Sermon on the Mount, he said nothing about the nature of the Godhead. He said to love your neighbor – including your enemy. He said to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, treat women right, do good for the right reason, pray for the right reason – and to forgive. If having the right model of the Godhead was so important, one wonders why Christ spent so little time trying to define it for his disciples.
Christ came to change the relationship we have to ourselves, to God, and toward one another. He came to inspire us to do good, to put off our unrighteousness, to call us to new lives and to both show us how to do it and to give us another chance – a new start, with the grace and guidance we would need to make a lifelong journey. He did not come with a creed in hand.
“But Christianity has never been defined in terms of merely thinking well of Jesus.”
Nor does Mormonism.
“Mormonism claims to affirm the New Testament teachings about Jesus, but actually presents a very different Jesus from the onset. A reading of Mormonism’s authoritative documents makes this clear.”
That’s it? Dr. Mohler says that Mormons believe in “a very different Jesus” and says the proof is in “Mormonism’s authoritative documents”? That’s a pretty strong statement. One would expect Dr. Mohler to back it up with something – but instead, he simply pulls a kind of “drive-by” and moves on.
“Mormons want their religion to be seen as another form of Christianity. In other words, they want to identify with what from their inception they sought to deny.”
That’s not true at all. Mormons take issue with what Christianity had become, at the time Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join. That’s a far cry from saying that Mormons “from their inception” somehow “sought to deny” their status as Christians. Mormons have never been impressed with the theological establishment that sees Christianity in terms of fancy, legalistic, creeds that present the common man with airy and sometimes incomprehensible statements. But, for Mormons, that’s not Christianity – at least not the Christianity of the Bible. It’s, instead, a degenerative form of it, what might be called “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.”
“’The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,’ as Mormonism is officially known, claims to be the only true church….According to Mormon teaching, the church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the ‘Church of the Devil’ …. Why would Mormonism now want to be identified as a form of Christianity, when its central historical claim is that the churches commonly understood to be Christian are part of the Church of the Devil?”
Here is where Dr. Mohler again reflects a lack of understanding about a faith he so quickly denigrates. At least he has finally settled upon something specific, even if he has to pull two passages out of their proper contexts in order to make the point.
In the Book of Mormon, there is a reference to the Gospel, as it goes from the Jews (Christ and his Apostles) to the Gentiles (Christianity as it would emerge in Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa). Various prophets, in the Book of Mormon, prophesied of an apostasy that would occur at this critical junction. “Plain and precious truths” of the Gospel would be lost, and false – even pagan – beliefs would enter in. As Christianity went from being a Jewish sect to a Gentile, mostly European, one – a kind of dark ages would begin. The Book of Mormon uses the term, “Church of the Devil,” not to describe all churches – or even of one particular denomination – but of a church compromised by its attempt to fit in with the social and political world around it.
Martin Luther’s 16th-century complaints, about what Christianity had become by his day, were neither shallow nor unwarranted. Politics aside, Protestantism was built upon the bedrock truth that something serious had gone wrong in the body of Christ. Where Protestantism and Mormonism most differ is in the solution. Protestants sought to find their way back to the original teachings of Christ, by way of the Bible. The result, as Joseph Smith experienced it in his own day, was a never-ending battle over whose interpretation of the Bible should be considered definitive. Mormonism, on the other hand, is based on the view that the only way to “reform” Christianity was to “restore” it through new revelation. Mormonism makes a bold set of claims, one requiring a suspension of immediate disbelief to even consider, but its position is that the Christianity that gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition and the enslavement of indigenous peoples cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Christ – but neither can it be recovered by debating the proper interpretation of Bible verses.
“There is simply no way around the Mormon claim that the other churches hold to a corrupted theology and have no true priesthood – and are not true churches.”
Dr. Mohler misses the point, probably because he lacks enough knowledge of Mormonism to properly digest the chunks he has pulled out of context. Mormonism speaks of the true church and priesthood of God as having been lost from the Earth, leaving men to wander to and fro. A better-informed Dr. Mohler would know – and hopefully dislose – the great respect Mormons have for the Reformation. Mormon leaders have repeatedly claimed that men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, et al., were raised up for a purpose.
Without a generation and tradition of Bible study and individual choice, regarding what the Bible teaches, there could be no Restoration. Mormons are indebted to centuries of brave men and women who were willing to think for themselves, even at the risk of their lives. Mormons consider these men and women to have been great heroes. If Protestantism, with its endless debates, could not bring about a Restoration of the Gospel, the Church or the Priesthood – that doesn’t mean it didn’t have a divine purpose.
“Mormonism rejects historic Christianity as it makes it own central claim – to be the only true church, restored on earth in the latter days.”
Mormonism rejects the authority of Catholicism as well as the sufficiency of the Protestant Reformation. Something went wrong – back when apostles and revelation were replaced with bishops, councils and theological disputations. Catholicism says to follow the Pope. Protestantism rejects the Papacy but has little unity about much else.
Mormonism’s claim to be “the one true church of Jesus Christ” must be taken in context. It is not a Catholic call to return to the fold. Nor is it a Protestant boast that its theology is the most impervious to attack – as if Mormons were somehow smarter than everybody else. For Mormons, there was always only “one true church of Jesus Christ,” the Christian Church of the first century – a church run by apostles, who led that church by revelation, a church full of gifts of the spirit.
Mormons believe that church was lost – and they gleefully announce that it’s back. One can question such a claim. One can doubt or even reject it. But at the very least, one should understand the nature of the claim. Mormons have never accused anyone of being non-Christians. Their rejection of a “form of godliness” that denies (or lacks) the power thereof is not a judgment about people so much as a dissatisfaction with a path. As neither Catholicism nor Protestantism could provide a return of the Christianity Mormons read about in the Bible, they view their church as “the one true church of Jesus Christ” because they see it as having those things missing from both Catholicism and Protestantism.
“It is indeed a scandal that so many Christian churches and denominations allow priests, theologians, and bishops to deny the faith and still call themselves Christians – and even to remain in good standing in these churches. If these deny the faith and persist in their error, they are not Christians. Of course, the only way we know this is because we do have an objective standard by which to judge what is and is not Christianity, and that is the very “traditional Christian orthodoxy” that Mr. Card and Mormonism reject.”
I would again disagree with Dr. Mohler. If there is a standard which finds some Christians wanting – in terms of a gap between their modern doubts and the Christianity’s core principles – it does not hover around the proper understanding of the Trinity. It’s the lingering doubts over whether Jesus was divine, whether he atoned for the sins of the world, and of whether one has to believe in him to be saved. If we’re going to cast aspersions upon the Christianity of another person, let it be over something substantive and fundamental – not over how that person answers an essay question on the mystery of the Godhead.



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CrossWise

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:13 am


Mark stated: “The term “groveling in darkness” is referring to the fact that they were not being led by revelation as they had all pretty much claimed the canon to be closed and God was no longer speaking to man. This period is known as the DARK Ages, the Apostasy, or falling away. The Christian world was in darkness because the divine light of revelation was not present. This is what Brigham Young was referring to.”
Honestly Mark, that is the most pathetically ridiculous attempt at revisionism I think I may ever have witnessed! The “Dark Ages” existed from about 476 AD to approx. 1000 AD. Your 2nd President/Prophet, Brigham Young lived from 1801 to 1877. To anyone but the willfully blind, he is clearly speaking of his own opinion of Christendom in his own times!
The term “dark Ages” was coined to describe the deplorable ignorance and resultant suffering upon common humanity in those times due to the fact that following the fall of the Roman Empire, much of the Art & Literature of civilization was plundered, destroyed and lost to the Barbarians. What was rescued was generally kept in Monasteries and Churches. These literary sources of “illumination” (especially the Bible) were locked up in now dead languages such as Koine Greek, Hebrew, and Latin until Schools of learning could once again be established. As far as Christianity is concerned: It was not until men like Tyndale, Wycliffe, and Luther started translating the Bible into the common tongue that the spiritual “darkness” began to lift. The “revelation” never ceased to exist, it was yet present, though not commonly available. When that revelation was finally freed from those archaic languages and delivered to the common man, the “renaissance” occurred, and the Reformation began in earnest. “Apostasy”?… to be sure, there was some of that: But never entirely, nor finally. God always preserves His Word, and His Remnant. It was no “new” revelation which ignited the call for reform in the Church; but rather a now renewed acquaintance with the old. And it turned the “powers that be” on their heads.
YES my Mormon friend; the canon has long been closed, and no “new revelation” has been needed. We only need to know, understand and submit to it rather than reject it in favor of our own. And even if the canon were yet open; the “authoritative works” of Mormon Church could never withstand the Biblical test of what was acceptable to be received into it. (Deu 13:1-5;18:20-22; Isa 8:20; Jer 23:28) And neither could the character of Mormonism’s so-called “prophets and apostles” stand up to those already known in the Scriptures.
Sorry, “No Sale”



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CrossWise

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:08 am


If only Mitt Romney were more like Brigham Roberts…
“Brigham H. Roberts is revered in Mormon history as one of the Mormon Church’s greatest theologians and historians. His six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church is still one of the most respected works of Mormon history. Roberts was a General Authority, member of the Mormon Church’s First Council of the Seventy, a group which is second only to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1898 he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, although he was never seated because he was a polygamist.”
Mr. Roberts my respect inasmuch as he, as a man of intellectual honesty first, who after examining the facts, came to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon was NOT of divine origin, and in fact a FRAUD
You can read his published conclusions for yourself in his work “A Book of Mormon Study”
Would to God more Mormons were as intellectually open & honest as he was!



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Joy Dawson

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:00 am


Why is this so difficult? If one believes in Jesus Christ and His gospel, then he is a Christian. The Bible is one history that teaches of our Lord; the Book of Mormon is another history (here in America) that teaches of our Lord and His dealings with another group of people.
All churches have differences in belief and ways of accomplishing worship and following our Master.
I’m not a Utah Mormon but I believe Romney would make a wonderful President. He has the moral fiber that this country needs.



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Nate

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:43 am


This debate will not advance until it is turned to the only absolute by which we can judge an “orthodoxy”.
Rome finds orthodoxy in the decisions of the church. The church is absolute.
Mormonism believes they are “orthodox” because they believe that they are returning to the true faith of Christ and the apostles. By what absolute do they believe this?
Protestants use the historic creeds and confessions as a tool to define orthodoxy. The key to protestant orthodoxy is that the historic creeds and confessions are submitted under the authority of Scripture. This is where Protestant orthodoxy and Roman orthodoxy differ. Protestants reject popes and priests unless they can be convinced by Scripture. They also would reject creeds and confessions unless convinced by Scripture.
Since in this debate it can not be agreed upon what is “orthodox” the question must turn to a debate of the absolute by which we can judge orthodoxy. Let the debate then turn to that absolute. Let the debaters define what Scripture has to say about salvation. Let us see if The Book of Mormon and Scripture can by reason be considered compatible. Let us see if Mormon doctrine can by reason be considered biblical. As a protestant christian I believe that orthodoxy must be judge by the standard of Scripture and that Mormonism is therefore not orthodox. It is easy for a person to call the historic creeds and confessions platonic. Let the debate turn to these particular questions. I propose the question of the doctrine of salvation as a place to start. If one or the other side by reason cannot be found to agree with Scripture then clearly they are not orthodox or Christian.



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TB

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:53 am


What we need is for God himself to come down and straighten this whole mess out. He could tell us what is right and who is wrong.I get the feeling though, that if he would do this, some would still reject his teachings as too radical a departure from what was traditional, orthodox and historical. Jesus and John the Baptist were killed for doing this. So was Joseph Smith.



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Joe M

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:15 am


LeGrand Richards knows about as much about traditional Christianity as the Dali Lama. And the only orthodox Christianity the Book of Mormon teaches is lifted wholesale from the KJV. Mormons were the ones to demonize traditinal Christianity, but now want to claim the label ‘Christian’ as they smugly assume restoration rights. And then play the victims. No sale indeed.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:19 am


Nate…excellent post.
I would encourage you to look in to the doctrine of salvation. What must be done in order to be saved? Faith alone? Faith and baptism? Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness despite not having a need to wash away any sins. Why was Christ baptized by John the Baptist and not just anyone? If John had the power to baptize unto reprentence, who today has such a power and where does one get it? From God? From going to school?
The Apostles performed baptisms for the dead (See 1 Cor. 15), who performs that today? Throughout the Bible, God has instructed men to construct temples to worship God, where are those temples today? The Savior established an organization with Prophets, Apostles, etc., where are the Prophets and Apostles today. If there was only supposed to be the original 12, then I ask why did Christ restore the group to 12 once again after Judas betrayed Him?
Who is man to say that God is forbidden from speaking to His children as He had done for thousands of years? Where in the Bible does it promote that revelation would seem to cease after thousands of years upon the death of the Apostles. If revelation did cease with teh end of the Bible, why do men follow the Creeds established by the Catholic Church hundreds of years after the Apostles as doctrine?
Where are the Priesthoods spoken of in the book of James? What did Paul mean regarding the restoration of ALL things? Who is the angel bringing the everlasting gospel? What did Isaiah mean when he prophesied of the truth speaking from the ground? Where is the temple on Mount Zion?
There are many questions that God may not have as yet revealed unto man, but to believe that the Bible is the end all, is well…actually sad. The “BIBLE” does not even contain all of the writings at that time…it wasn’t compiled until a few hundred years after the death of the Apsotles.
Since the Nicene Creed, man has struggled with understanding who God and Jesus Christ are. The various churches today do not exactly agree either. Yet…Christ taught that to obtain everlasting life we must KNOW God the Father and His Son.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:25 am


I wish there were people who actually read the BIBLE, you may learn a few things.
The easy thing about being an “Orthodox” Christian, is that if there is something in the BIBLE that doesn’t coicide with your teachings, one may just not pay any attention to it…or better say that one need not know but merely have faith.
Thank goodness great men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jospeh, Jacob, Isaiah, and JESUS himself (and I could keep going on) did not follow “orthodox” christianity. Had they just had faith alone…we wouldn’t be as blessed as we are today. They were men of action. Thank Goodness Christ in the Garden or prior to being nailed to the cross…didn’t simply say “You know…my works are not important, all is well as long as I beleive in the Father.”



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raptors fan

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:30 am


who do you guys think is better chris bosh or kevin garnett? lol



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Pops

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:52 am


A major clarification for Dr. Mohler — he somehow has the Book of Mormon completely wrong. I’m puzzled by that.
Another minor clarification for Dr. Mohler: Mormons don’t identify any particular organization or group of organizations as the “church of the devil”. The Book of Mormon teaches that there are two churches only — lower-case “c” — the church of the devil and the church of Christ. The church of the devil consists of all who follow Satan and fight the Lamb of God, regardless of to what organization they might profess allegiance. The church of the Lamb of God consists of all who follow Christ, again regardless of organizational alignment.
My perspective is that we Mormons haven’t “joined the fray” because we wish to be considered orthodox Christians. What we object to is the false notion that we don’t believe in Christ, because we do. We believe in the Jesus of Nazareth who is the Son of God and who atoned our sins. Think outside the Bible for a moment — there was a person who walked in Galilee, who lived the perfect life, who healed the sick and raised the dead, who lived a sinless life and provided the example we try to follow. We believe this with all our hearts and minds. We believe he was crucified and rose the third day, and today sits on the right hand of God the Father.
We celebrate and love our devout Christian neighbors, be they of what faith they may. We believe that there is no other thing that will heal our dying societies, nations, and world but sincere repentance and adoption of Christ as our God and Savior. If you wish to do so as a Baptist or a Methodist or a Lutheran or a Catholic or someone who is unaffiliated with any organized religion, God will bless you. He will hear your prayers, heal your soul, and bless your life.
If you wish to gain a better understanding of the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a good start might be the essay by Bill Kilpatrick above (3:43 am — get some rest, man!). You might also take a look at http://www.lds.org. If that’s too much for you, or you’re not interested, please follow Jesus of Nazareth. Read his words in the Bible, take them to heart, make them a part of your life. He wil bless you as you do.



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AC

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:55 am


A reason why I worry for the state of the souls of Mormon’s:
1) Stuart said, “Christ taught that to obtain everlasting life we must KNOW God
the Father and His Son.”
With this I agree. If a person must know who Christ is in order to be saved. As
has been said many times in this debate, if a person trusts and believes in and
obeys a Christ who is Lemon Iced Tea Snapple, that person is not saved for he believes in, and trusts, and obeys a false Jesus. It is not just *any* Jesus who saves, (the “Lemon Iced Tea Snapple Jesus” cannot save) but our faith must be in a very specific Jesus. But which one?
2) Paul had a very specific Jesus in mind when he said the following:
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so
say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9
The Lord Himself said,
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24
This goes to confirm that it indeed matters greatly who we believe Jesus to be iin order to be saved. We must believe in the Jesus that Bible proclaims, the specific Jesus that Paul preached. Those who believe in a “different Jesus” do it at their own peril.
3) If we are honest we will admit that the Jesus Paul preached varies greatly with the Jesus Mormonism preaches. Some major differences are that the Jesus Paul
preached is:
1) The Second Person of the Triune God
2) The one true God with no god formed before Him and no god formed after Him, from everlasting to everlasting He is God
3) The Creator of all things whether visible or invisible including Lucifer and
the rest of the angels as Nehemiah 9:6 and Psalm 148:2,5 so clearly states:
“Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens,
with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” Nehemiah 9:6
“Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts… Let them praise
the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.” Psalm 148:2,5
Meanwhile, Mormons believe in a Jesus that is “different” in at least these 3 crucial regards. The fact is that there is the Jesus that the Bible proclaims (the One who is Creator of Lucifer) and the Jesus that Mormonism proclaims (the one who is brother of Lucifer). With that said,
4) Mormons believe in a “different Jesus”. This is why I, and Christianity at large, worry for the state of Mormon’s souls. According to the Bible those who believe in a different Jesus are “accursed” and will “die in their sins”. Therefore I implore all Mormons on here to repent and trust the Jesus of the Bible! The Jesus proclaimed by The Church of the Brother of the Devil of Latter-Day Saints is a “different Jesus” that cannot save. The Jesus proclaimed in the Bible, preached by Paul, the Jesus who is Creator of all things including Lucifer, is the only One who can save and pardon sin. Repent and believe in Him for the full forgiveness of your sins. His death on the cross was sufficient to pay for all your sins once and for all! Otherwise, if you repent not, you will “die in your sins” as the Lord Himself said.
Thank you.



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Paul

posted July 6, 2007 at 12:01 pm


Dr. Mohler is correct in arguing that Mormonism is incompatible with traditional Christian orthodoxy. He speaks to the issue from the perspective of a theologian. The early creeds that Dr. Mohler refers to are commonly used as the benchmark for orthodoxy, so orthodoxy is a kind of theological shorthand to refer to conformance with these historic statements of faith. People may not like this, but that is how it is in theological discussion.
Mormonism may meet some definition of “Christian”. Mormonism may even be true. But “historical Christian orthodox” it is not. Not even Mr. Card contends this.



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Matthew S. Jacobs

posted July 6, 2007 at 12:34 pm


I think one very large question is being glossed over: do Mormons believe that Jesus is God? Not just the Son of God, or the Saviour, or Lord, but God Himself?
In the Scriptures, Jesus clearly identifies Himself as God (“I and the Father are One”; “I am”; “I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end”; John’s gospel saying that the Word (Jesus) was God; Jewish culture’s understanding of being the “Son” of God, making Himself equal with God).
This is not a creed, this is not an orthodoxy – these are Jesus’ words about Himself. If Mormons answer this question in the negative (which they do), then the debate is over. If they answer it in the affirmative, then the debate can continue regarding other issues.
Letting Jesus set the starting question of this “test” of Christianity might be a good idea.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm


AC well said.
First. Where is it in the Bible that Paul teaches that Christ is the second of three beings that make up one being (etc. etc.)? Where is the Trinity even mentioned in the Bible? Is it before or after the Apsotles touch the hands, feet and side of the Resurrected Savior? Also, seems weird that Christ, being a memebr of the Holy trinity of orthosox chrisitianity, ate fish with them. What a sight to see a material fish be eaten by a spirit. So is the spiritual Jesus coming down during the Second Coming or is Christ going to separate from the 3 and take on flesh again?
Second. So are we children of Christ or of God the Father. If God the Father, wouldn’t we be brothers and sisters of Christ, being that Christ is the SON of GOD, at least that’s what the Bible says. Or is there no difference between Christ and God (yes I know the Trinity tells you that), if so, I can understand why people have a problem following Christ. Some may think of Christ as a wacko, due to his praying to himself and speaking of himself as two different people. Sadly, one should rememeber the “Christians” who were murdered and forced to leave their homes during the time of the Nicene Creed because they continued to dispute the Trinity, claiming that the Apostles taught that there were three separate beings in the Godhood: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Third. Can you explain Revelations 1:6?
Fourth. Your second point is the same one that I discussed earlier, maybe on the Bio comment page. That scripture could be used by any religion. However, tell me what biblical doctrines, that doesn’t include the Pagan emperor’s Trinity doctrine, the Mormons do not seem to follow. In response, I could offer you a few as well?



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Rhonda

posted July 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm


My husband is of the Mormons faith..which is a >christian faith. I myself am a Indepentent Pentecostal,which mean’s i believe in 1 God and very expressive worship ,rather outloud or soft…but very expressive..as the Spirit come’s upon me.I just feel some the dress codes like not wearings pants,> or watching a movie or tv are mind of men wanting control. Nothing in God’s word to back it up…expect in the old Jewish law 1000s of yrs. ago…far as the dress code. I feel alot of my husband’s beliefs are beautiful,and he feel’s the same about my beliefs…for both of us…as each church are serving God in love. Godd ideal don’t you think?



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:05 pm


Matthew: I had a longer reply but the interenet went down. So I will only say three points.
1. Jesus is a God that is equal in Power and Purpose with the Fatehr (although again still a Son)..that is why people dont like Mormons because we beleive in more than one god. However, the Bible teaches that there are more than one: Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34. Also, look up the Hebrew translation of the first couple of words in Genesis.
2. Jesus is Jehovah of the OT…the Great I Am. Since the fall of Adam, Christ is the advocate between God and mankind, that is why it was Christ who was to perform the GREATEST of all SACRIFICES! Jehovah has authority to speak on the Father’s behalf because the Father gave him such authority, such a concept should not be difficult. Look at Corporate America, Families, etc.
3. The scripture that “the Father and I are One”…are they one in being or one in purpose. Well don’t take my word for it, but you may want to lok to the Bible where in the same chapter I beleive, Christ mentions that the Apostles, and I think all mankind, can become One with Christ as Christ is One with the Father. It does not seem that He is talking about our being, but if you think after death and the resurrection we became one giant orb with appendages, etc. go ahead. I personally think that I will resurrect, thanks to the Savior’s sacrifice, in the same way that Chirst did with a perfect physical body that could walk, talk, eat and be touched by other physical bodies.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:06 pm


It is amusing that the Mormon beliefs match best what Jesus said. I guess some would favor Paul over Jesus! I side with the words of Jesus first and foremost.
Here is what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene after being resurrected:
John 20:17
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Notice closely. “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father”. Christ’s could not have his physical body defiled, because his physical body had yet to be in God’s physical presence. If God the Father was not tied to the physical world, then why did Christ have to make sure his body was not defiled?
Also, notice Christ said after the occurrence of the Resurrection and to the first witness of his resurrection, he clearly stated his and our relationship with God. He tied these words to the hallmarks of Christianity and commanded Mary Magdalene to relay these precise words:
but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Those who deny what Jesus explicitly taught are not only arguing with Mormons but with Jesus himself! Jesus’ command to witness of him was to say that “He ascended to his Father and our Father” and to “His God and my God”. Sorry guys, the made of doctrine of Trinity is contrary to what Jesus taught!



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Paul

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:08 pm


Dr. Mohler is correct in arguing that Mormonism is incompatible with traditional Christian orthodoxy. He speaks to the issue from the perspective of a theologian. The early creeds that Dr. Mohler refers to are commonly used as the benchmark for orthodoxy, so orthodoxy is a kind of theological shorthand to refer to conformance with these historic statements of faith. People may not like this, but that is how it is in theological discussion.
Mormonism may meet some definition of “Christian”. Mormonism may even be true. But “historical Christian orthodox” it is not. Not even Mr. Card contends this.



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Pops

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm


Matthew Jacobs asks, “Do Mormons believe that Jesus is God?”, and then answers by asserting “If Mormons answer this question in the negative (which they do)…” — oops! Mormons answer it in the affirmative: we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Christ is Jehovah the Mighty God, Creator of the heavens and the earth and all things that in them are.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:11 pm


Very true Paul…the true debate is whether “historical Christian orthodox” is even Christian according to the BIBLE and JESUS.



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AC

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:12 pm


Stuart,
I will consider and attempt to answer your questions and pose some of my own later on tonight.
Looking forward to our exchange,
AC



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:15 pm


OK..



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:20 pm


I would like the critics to answer about the nature of Jesus only from the words of Jesus when he was upon the Earth and see what they come up with.
When you do this then the question becomes is Orthodox Christianity Christian?



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Athol

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm


One of the Mormons who posted a comment above suggested that we go to the LDS website to find out what Mormons really believe. That seemed like a good idea, so I did it. Sure enough, most of the statements I found there seem to support the idea that Mormonism is all about Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice for our sins, etcetera. That came as no surprise, given the church’s publicity campaign over the last five years or so, designed to convey the idea that it is “Christian.”
But this was not my first visit to the LDS site. I went there way back before their big “we’re just Christians” campaign began, and back then I read a whole different story, which included the idea that God was once a human being just like us, created by another god before him, and we will all become gods like him if we do certain things correctly. Back then, the language was more clear: the word “gods” was actually used to describe what good Mormons will be one day. Now I see they’ve changed it to read, “we can be like him,” but the meaning remains the same.
Given the fact that these ideas directly contradict several core teachings of the New Testament, and given the LDS desire to portray itself as “Christian” these days, I was not surprised that this doctrine is much harder to find on the site than it used to be. But it’s still there for you to read for yourself if you persist. The link is way too long to post here, so here’s how to drill down to it:
Go to http://www.lds.com
Click on “General Library”
Click on “Gospel Topics”
Click on “K”
Click on “Kingdom of Glory”
Click on “Additional Information”
Click on “Additional Online Materials”
Whew. If your clicker isn’t worn out yet, now click on “‘Eternal Life,’ Gospel Fundamentals, Chapter 36″
OR…you can just read the excerpts below, direct quotes I copied and pasted here from the LDS site a few minutes ago, which clearly demonstrate how incompatible Mormonism is with the teachings of the New Testament:
“Our Father in Heaven knows it is possible for all of us to live the gospel and receive eternal life. Since we are His children, we have the power to become like Him….
“In order to become like our Father in Heaven we must also receive ordinances given in the temple, known as the endowment. We need to be sealed there so we will be together with our families for eternity. We should then search for names and information concerning our dead relatives and give what we find to the Church, in order to have the necessary ordinances done for them in the temple….
“If we have faith in Jesus Christ and try to obey all His commandments, we will receive eternal life and become like our Father in Heaven. Becoming like our Father in Heaven is like climbing a ladder. We must start at the bottom and climb each step until we reach the top. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that if we want to become like our Father in Heaven we must learn how He feels, thinks, and acts. When we understand these things about Him, we can then learn all other things about Him, until we know how to become as He is.
[A pause to onsider what we just read. Becoming "as He is" includes knowing how God "feels, thinks and acts," and includes learning "all other things about Him." This, in spite of the fact that the Bible makes it clear God and God alone is without a beginning (eternal), and all-powerful and all-knowing. Yet we're going to know all things about Him, including how He thinks and acts? And this is supposed to be a Christian religion? That's just not possible. On the the direct quote...]
“It will help us to remember that our Father in Heaven was once a man who lived on an earth, the same as we do.
[Read that again, carefully. They're not saying JESUS was once a man. They're saying the FATHER was once a man! How can anyone who believes this possibly claim the same religion as the New Testament teaches?]
“He became our Father in Heaven by overcoming problems, just as we have to do on this earth. However, the Prophet Joseph Smith said we will not learn everything we need to learn while in this world. It will take us a long time after we complete this life to know all the things we need to know in order to become like our Father in Heaven.
“When we do learn to keep all of our Father in Heaven’s commandments, think how happy we will be as we return to Him and He tells us He is happy with the life we lived and we will become like Him and live with Him forever.”
Me again…. Whatever Mormonism is, it is not what the word “Christian” meant in Acts 26:28-29 where Paul called it “what I am,” or what the word meant in 1 Peter 4:16, when Peter used it. Nothing Peter or Paul wrote agrees with the teachings quoted above. On the contrary, as good Jews they would have been appalled at the very suggestion that a mere creature could ever become what the one and only Creator is.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:39 pm


Athol…thaks for going to the website and reading the various quotes you cited.
I think next you should read the BIBLE and you will see that the Mormon beliefs you are aghast with are actually the same teachings of the Bible.
Just to make it short…go to:
Psalms 82:6
John 10:34 (on this one read the few verses before and after for context then ask yourself who is more like the jews and who is more like Christ in that scripture?)



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David Chiu

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm


I once encountered an elderly fellow in Taipei, Taiwan — he asked this question of me (an ordained ministered of the Lord Jesus Christ):
“How can you claim that ‘God so loved the world’ when you deny everlasting life to those who fail to ‘believeth in Him’”.
He really thought it was a telling point that there seemed to be a contradiction between universal love and conditional salvation!!
God really does love all of us perfectly, and no matter when or where we may have been born, He will grant us a full and fair opportunity to earn salvation as defined by the Lord in John 3:15.
Not matter how much we do, it is ultimately grace that saves — I thank God that He invites all.
Some may doubt God’s omnipotence, thinking that grace will not cover those who (as Mormons) accept Jesus as their personal Savior, the promised Messiah, and Lord.
I’m thankful to trust that He is not so limited.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 1:56 pm


Which unique Mormons belief invalidates that Christ is the only begotten Son of God?
crickets….
crickets….
The answer is none!
Also, if you look at the Mormon hymns that vast majority since our inception worhips Jesus! We have always worshipped him!



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Will

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Bill Kilpatrick,
I have a sincere response and question for you. I thought you had a thoughtful response.
You wrote, “If having the right model of the Godhead was so important, one wonders why Christ spent so little time trying to define it for his disciples.”
Respectfully, I think you’re missing something here because it seems to me at the most crucial time, Christ was doing just that. The Gospel according to John gives us the best portrait of Jesus in relation to the other members of the Godhead, I think. I thought of this because I am reading John and just finished chapter 17 myself. In John, he makes many statments about himself, who he is. But, in chapter 12, it seems, that he begins to talk in earnest of this relationship within the Godhead. When we get to his discourse in the upper room, his words and actions display this relationship extraordinarily. John 15 comes to mind in relation to the Father. John 14 and 16 in relation to the Holy Spirit. It seems to culminate with Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17. I call this the most cruicial time because it was done during the hours leading up to his betrayal and arrest. It seems that Christ spent a great deal of time defining the Godhead for his disciples.
I think a large part of our problem is that we tend to think ontologically first. We wonder about the essence of this mystery of the Trinity (supposing that Christ is defining the Godhead according to a trinitarian model). I listened to a sermon by a guy named Don Carson once about John 17, and he said that Jesus intention in chapter 17 is more practical. His intent is not necessarily for us to understand how he and the Father are one. Rather, the love that they have for one another (the intra-trinitarian love, as he called it) was the major point. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father. The apostle Paul uses trinitarian models in his greetings, as do the other apostles in the NT. When I think about this, I suppose I will nto be able to understand ontologically how this is, only that it is biblical that God is one and yet exists as Father, Son, and Spirit, all of whom are eternally existent.
Yes, the triune nature of God is incomprehensible. But we know that God is incomprehensible. His depth of riches and mercy and wisdom are too great. No one has known his mind. No one can council him. No one can give him anything that might merit repayment. Because all things are created by him, through him, for him, and to him. (Romans 11:32-36)
I don’t know if I would say that Jesus first and foremost came to preach repentence. I think John the Baptist certainly did in order to prepare the way for Christ. I think his primary message was to call men to faith in him. I think his primary work was to demonstrate God’s righteousness (i.e. live perfectly according to God’s law) that he might be both just and the justifier of all who would have faith.
Elsewhere, he says that he came to seek and to save the lost, he came for judgement that the blind might see and those who see would be blind, to save sinners, to be lifted up, to testify to the truth, to serve, and to give life abundantly.
My question comes from this next point. You wrote, “The Book of Mormon uses the term, ‘Church of the Devil,’ not to describe all churches – or even of one particular denomination – but of a church compromised by its attempt to fit in with the social and political world around it.” If this is the case, then Christianity became corrupted because it mingled with and mixed with pagan beliefs and other falsehoods. I could see this happening as Christianity did become the official religion of Rome and no longer was something one would be persecuted for. Here’s my question: if Mormonism is the recovery of that which was lost, is it not also in danger of such corruption? Has it not already been corrupted?
I certainly have a very limited knowledge of Mormonism and its history, but from reading the posts, some have claimed that Mormon tenets or doctrines (or the way they are stated) has changed over the years. The way it sounds, it seems they have become more closely aligned (in terminology at least) with other Christian beliefs. Is this the case?
Also, if the problem with early Christianity was that it became too involved with the social and political world around it, wouldn’t it be better if Mormons did not seek to be identified with Christianity as we know it? I understand that Mormons might want the name, but I would think they would claim it only as their own. Also, the involvement of Mormons in the U.S. political environment seems to indicate that this is happening.
Sincerely,
William Brown



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Will

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:49 pm


I neglected to write it in the paragraph about Christ’s primary work, though I was thinking it. I also think that his primary work was not simply the demonstration of God’s righteousness but also to die in order to pay the debt of sinners and to rise again, conquering death. In other words, to fulfill the law and conquer sin and death.



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Paul

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Whether orthodox Christianity is faithful to the Biblical witness to Christ is an interesting debate, but it is not the one that Dr. Mohler and Mr. Card are having. Rather, the issue is whether Mormonism falls within the bounds of traditional orthodox Christianity. The answer is clearly, “No”. From that starting point, there are many directions that the polemic can go, and I think that polemic can be good an healthy in the pursuit of truth. However, let us be clearheaded enough to admit that Mormonism diverges significantly from orthodox Christianity.
Those who believe the truth of either position certainly cherish that truth and are willing to argue–and perhaps suffer–for it; don’t minimize the importance of faith by pretending that we are all part of one big happy family.



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alan m rogers

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:01 pm


I’d say the whole debate is moot; it’s a matter of faith. In the end, God is going to decide who is/was Christian and who isn’t/wasn’t. Until then, all anyone can do, really, is think things through and do their best to follow Christ and his teachings – whatever they believe those to be.
Regardless of the Christianity of Mormonism or the alleged apostasy of either ‘traditional orthodox Christianity’ or of Mormonism, everyone I’ve read here seems to agree on two things:
1) God is not a limited being (however He may be defined by us).
2) Belief in Jesus (whatever the details of that belief may be) is central.
Past those points, everything is just the details. If you go to any congregation of Jesus-believing people (Mormon, Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, what-have-you), and asked each person there about their ontological beliefs in Jesus were, you would get a different answer.
I believe the substance of this debate is all a matter of faith, and I believe that questions concerning matters of faith and belief aren’t going to be answered – as in, we aren’t going to know, if anyone, is right or wrong – until the end of days.
Until then, I choose to respect the Mormon faith and hold to my own faith, because I believe that all who seek God will find Him. I don’t think that verse is open to interpretation. I believe I have sought him and am in the process of finding him. I also believe the same of everyone who has posted here.
I also believe it’s not our place to decide who is Christian and who isn’t. It’s our place to love our neighbor and – through that love – trust that they are seeking God as best they can when they tell us that is what they are doing.
But I also hold that this kind of dialogue is one of the best ways to explore the nature of faith and of belief. I think its an awesome thing how civil this has stayed and how well-spoken everyone has been. I’m glad I found this thread.
/alan



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:03 pm


No, wait a second. Whether Orthodox Christianity is actually following the words and teachings which came directly from Jesus (not second hand) is very relevant to the debate, because we need to first define what is Christian as Christ himself taught it.
From there we should compare Orthodox beliefs which some areas against this definition falters.
Then we can compare Mormon beliefs to this definition as well which seems to do pretty well.
If the words and teachings of Jesus are off the table then I think this discussion is pointless.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:04 pm


The Holy Bible is in God’s hands – what goes in or stays out is in His hands.
Jesus claims God-hood in the gospels.
Since that time, everyone has had to ask themselves “who do you think Christ is”
Christianity is based on faith, one thing to have faith in is that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one.
Mormons don’t believe this, therefore they are not Christian, or Christ followers.
What Mormonism presents is nothing new concerning the trinity, and just because other people were trying to define Christ’s nature years ago does not mean they were Christian. Islam states Christ was a prophet, Buddhists say Christ is an enlightened one. More important is to listen to who Christ says He is.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:08 pm


Untrue statement.
Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one “substance”.
Non-creedal Mormons, Christians if you will, believe that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one “in purpose”.



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AC

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:18 pm


Honest question…
In order to distinguish the historical biblical Jesus from the Mormon Jesus, maybe we can from now on, refer to him as “The Brother of Lucifer” as opposed to the biblical Jesus who is “The Creator of Lucifer and all things”. So this is my question, would it be fair to call the Mormon church, “The Church of the Brother of the Devil of Latter-day Saints”?



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AC

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:02 pm


Question for the Mormons…
Imagine if a man starts a “new” religion based off Mormonism. He asserts than an angel visited him and told him that Joseph Smith’s true revelation was lost and he will restore it. The restoration is as follows:
-Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity.
-Man cannot become gods.
-The Father was never a man.
-Christ is not the brother of the Lucifer but rather His Creator.
-Disregard the false books put forth by the apostate LDS church.
-The lost message given through Joseph Smith for the people was “Read your Bible and pray.”
Would it be OK if the followers of this “new” religion promoted themselves as Mormons? They believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God and they even believe in Joseph Smith. Are they Mormons?



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Tom

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm


Alan, a couple of posts up, states that the whole debate is moot because this is a matter of “faith.” The post goes on to describe a post-modern concept of faith – whatever is faith for you is your truth. This whole debate is like trying to make red become blue and blue become red. Each color is distinct. Mormon theology and traditional orthodox Christianity are distinct. God is defined in distinct ways in each theological framework. The same is true for Jesus.
Jesus told us clearly why he came, “…for this this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” John 18:37 “What is truth?” was Pilate’s classic response. That is question for us today. Pick your truth. I’ll go with traditional orthodox Christianity – and I have read “The Book of Mormon,” “The Doctrine and Covenants,” and “The Pearl of Great Price.” I’ve visited a Mormon temple and know about Mormon underwear. I believe in the truth that Jesus came to teach which in broad terms has been systematized in the creeds of the church. (Both Mormons and traditional Christians systematize basic beliefs – we would drown in the details if we didn’t.)
Choose your system, state your beliefs, but don’t try to say that all beliefs are true. Stand up and be proud to be a traditional Christian or a Mormon or a Hindu or whatever, just don’t give me that post-modern “can’t we all just get along” whishy-washy-ness.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:20 pm


Mormons look at the scriptures and tend to side with events and the “concrete” as possible interpretation of scripture. When Jesus says to Mary “My God and Your God” and when Stephen sees God the Father and Jesus standing next to each other, Mormons go for the concrete as possible explaination.
Orthodox Christians look at the scriptures and try to unify them through abstraction. Anyting that may not fit their interpretation becomes symbolic, abstract, or a mystery.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Yes. If they had some believed in the Book of Mormon. I would say they would be misguided Mormons nonetheless.
Question for the Mormons…
“Imagine if a man starts a “new” religion based off Mormonism. He asserts than an angel visited him and told him that Joseph Smith’s true revelation was lost and he will restore it. The restoration is as follows:
-Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity.
-Man cannot become gods.
-The Father was never a man.
-Christ is not the brother of the Lucifer but rather His Creator.
-Disregard the false books put forth by the apostate LDS church.
-The lost message given through Joseph Smith for the people was “Read your Bible and pray.”
Would it be OK if the followers of this “new” religion promoted themselves as Mormons? They believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God and they even believe in Joseph Smith. Are they Mormons?”



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P. Nielsen

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm


Dear AC,
From your comments you seem to be a devoted Christian. Let me ask you an honest question in response to your honest questions. Would you feel it fair for someone to characterize Jesus as “the mastermind of all evil”? It seems that you believe that Jesus created Satan. Fair enough. Many would take it further, and say this makes Him the mastermind of all evil. And [i]very technically[/i] (if I am not missing anything) they’d be right. He doesn’t commit the evil himself, per se, but He is the one who rules over all evil-doers, and lets them do their work, and even created them to do it (in your belief-system, as far as I understand it). And yet, “the mastermind of all evil” is not an appropriate title. It is inflamatory. It ignores the context of the doctrine it is based on. It promotes aspects of Christ’s works (creating Satan) in a way that is confusing, or could be misconstrued.
Similarly, characterizing Jesus as “the brother of Lucifer” is inflammatory, takes the doctrine out of the context that (in Mormon doctrine) all are children of God and existed before this life, and can be misconstrued.
Furthermore, I think it is wrong to say that Mormon’s believe in a different Jesus. They might believe wrong things according to you, but they certainly strive to worship the Jesus of Nazareth who died for the sins of mankind and was resurrected the third day. To continue to state otherwise is disingenuous.
Best wishes,
P. Nielsen



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AC

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:30 pm


Wait let me get this clear. You are telling me that if a “prophet” starts a new religion that says:
-BoM is false, as is Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines and Covenants etc.
-Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity
-The Father was never a man
-Historical Traditional Orthodox Christianity is correct
-And he says that the true revelation given to Joseph Smith was: Look to Christ, read your Bible and pray.
Are you saying that those who follow the new revelation and new restoration by this prophet would still be considered Mormons?
Very interesting.



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Will

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:44 pm


Tom (at 5:10), only the first paragraph and a half or so are intended for you.
You referenced Alan’s post. I know where you’re coming from with the post-modern rendering of Alan’s post, but it was not perfectly post-modern the way you describe it. What I mean is that he doesn’t say what is true is whatever is true for anyone person. He admits that what some believe is true may very well be false. He just claims that we don’t have an objective standard by which to discern what is perfectly right. He does think anyone who seeks will eventually find, but he also admits that at the end, some will probably be wrong and some will be right. In any case, just want to point out that you ought to be a little more fair.
In the end, I agree with you that we do have an objective standard by which to judge these things. We can know what is true and what is not. That objective reality is Jesus Christ. Is it a surprise to some that I didn’t say the Bible? I think the Bible is very much a part of that objective standard because it bears witness to Christ. In the end, we trust the Bible because Jesus essentially endorsed the scripture (albeit, some might find this a self-defeating argument since this endorsement is found in the Bible itself).
Anyway, many people are enamored with identifying following Jesus teaching as the most important thing. But Jesus did not only teach, he did that which we could not do. This is what really separates true belief in Christ from other so-called followers, I think. One says simply follow his teaching. The other belief rests on faith. I don’t mean just an ambiguous faith or belief. I mean faith that Christ did all that we could not do for us. He lived a life that we cannot live. He paid a debt we could not pay except through eternal condemnation. He conquered an enemy (death) that we were held captive by. It’s the difference between hoping in another and hoping in oneself.
Ultimately, true Christ followers will do their best to follow Christ’s teaching, amidst many and varied failures, because he is God is constantly conforming them to His image. The difference is in the hope and where it lies. Is it in one’s own efforts to follow the teachings of Jesus or in Jesus and what he did?



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:45 pm


Sorry i was away at lunch and missed so much.
First, AC…I was waiting until this evening but here you go. The answer to your question is NO…and why…because it goes contrary to the teachings of the BIBLE. I could go on…but there is no need to. The BIBLE does not teach the “One is substance,” never has and despite orthodox chrisitianity never will!
Second. If you want to refer to the “Mormon Christ” in such a way then I will respond to you as the “Brother of the Devil, formerly known as AC.” I may even give you a symbol in case you want to simply go by such a thing.
Where in the BIBLE does it say that Christ created Lucifer? Did Christ create you? If so, shouldn’t he be our Father? Seriously, has no one ever had a family member that turned against the principles of their family. Remember people, Job and the book of revelations teaches us that there was a war in heaven.
Third. If the teachings of Jopseph Smith are to be thrown away, then you should do the same with a majority of the BIBLE, because the teachings of Joseph Smith are consistent with Biblical teachings.
Fourth. Not once has anyone cited any scripture to show any truth to the Trinity doctrine. Maybe someone could use Christ’s baptism…oh wait, Jesus must have been throwing his voice to have the voice of the Father seem to come from heaven while Christ stood in the river with John. Or maybe the crucification…oh wait, Christ was talking to Himself again when he was commending His Spirit to the Father or asking forgiveness for the Romans who knew not what they were doing. Or, as has been mentioned earlier, use the appearance of Christ to any of His diciples after the ressurection. Oh wait, Christ told Mary Mag. that He had not yet ascended to the Father, or to the disciples when He said He goes to prepare a place for them in His Father’s many mansions.
Any response, brother of Lucifer, formerly known as AC?



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P. Nielsen

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:45 pm


nowandlater,
You asked: “Would it be OK if followers of this “new” religion promoted themselves as Mormons?” Well, whether or not it is OK, it happens often!
The answer, I think, lies in whether “Mormon” refers to a specific denomination (like “Baptist”) or to a broad belief system (like “Evangelical Christianity” or “Buddhism”). Most Mormons use the word ‘Mormon’ in the first way (as a denomination), and use ‘Mormonism’ to refer to the belief system.
In the example you gave I personally would be comfortable if they called themselves an offshoot of Mormonism, as I would be comfortable with any of you calling us “unorthodox Christians”.
————-
William Brown,
I hope Bill answers your questions (his original post was great) but in the meantime I’ll also take a stab.
You asked: “I certainly have a very limited knowledge of Mormonism and its history, but from reading the posts, some have claimed that Mormon tenets or doctrines (or the way they are stated) has changed over the years. The way it sounds, it seems they have become more closely aligned (in terminology at least) with other Christian beliefs. Is this the case?”
Mormon doctrines can change, as we believe in continuing revelation. We believe God continues to instruct us and teach us new things. However, I would warn you not to take what people claim here too seriously without consulting with someone of the faith to clarify (as you did here!). I think that nowadays we do build bridges more often than was sometimes done in the early days of the church, and some have interpreted this as us more closely aligning our beliefs with others. But, in reality, our core doctrines have not changed all that much; it is just that we are more clear now about them (I think) and less prone to say things that eventually lead to a fight. We are not as quick to point out that works are a part (necessary, but not sufficient) in the salvation process because we have learned (through sad experience) that this only brings argument. Instead we emphasize that we believe it is through Christ’s grace that we are saved (because that seems to get lost in the arguing). But we still believe Christ expects us to work as hard as we can (even if it is meager) and repent when we don’t.
And as for politics, our church doesn’t run countries. But its members are free (and encouraged) to be active in political matters.
Hope this helps,
P. Nielsen



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:49 pm


someone saying they are God means one thing if they are saying it to a Hindu, another thing if they are saying it to a Buddhist, and yet another thing if they are saying it to a Jew.
We need to keep the Judeo concept of God in mind when interpreting what Jesus claimed about His nature, substance, purpose, mission, etc.
and this interpretation needs to be consistent with the First Commandment – there is one God.
If Mormon’s or others don’t accept the trinity, then Jesus is at best a demi-god and at worst mere human. This doesn’t fit with how God defines Himself.
P.Nielsen: Satan is anti-creation, anti-love, anti-truth, anti-Love. Yes God created him, as God created all things, but to say God is the mastermind of evil would be to say that God is divided against Himself.
Anyway the point AC was making is that if Jesus is not God, yet He is more powerful than a human, somewhere around as powerful as an angel, well then it would be sort of analogous to perceive Him as being like a brother of Satan who likewise is created, is more powerful than a human etc.etc. It was a joke first, and an interesting thought second.



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P. Nielsen

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:49 pm


Dear AC,
No, because as I use the word, “Mormon” is the short-hand name of a specific denomination, like “Baptist”. But I wouldn’t have any problem with them claiming to have Mormon roots, or be an offshoot of Mormonism.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Wonderful post P. Nielsen.
Want anotehr reason why we promote only the core Christian values taught in the BIBLE…because Mormons were tired of having a so-called Christian nation persecute them, steal their property, and murder their leaders.
Remember the Prophets of the BIBLE did not always preach openly, neither did the Apostles…why.. because people persecuted them!



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:57 pm


Jason…Mormons do not believe that Jesus is a demi-god.
First. There is only One true god and who is that….Our Father for He is who mankind is to worship.
Because you like analogies, let me give you one that is pretty easy to understand. Fatherhood. I have a father. He is the father of all my brothers as well. My brother has kids and he is their father. My brother becoming a father does not diminsh his role as a son.
Our Heavenly Father is a God. We are his children and as such, we can, as stated in the BIBLE, become like HIM and become Gods too. However, that never changes that the Father will always be our ONE and ONLY God.
Second. Can anyone explain why Christ refers to the Father as a spearate being if the Trinity is true?? AC you willing to take it on.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm


Wait you have added things and have changed the apples to apples dynamic.
….
Back to the real world for a second.
Mormons emphatically believe the Bible is true! Translation of it could be an issue and it is an absolute essential requirement that Holy Spirit is used to interpret it all times, because various interpretations are still possible when using only the reasoning of man.
Mormons view is that inspiration and revelation from God is always greater than just the philosopy Sola Scriptorium alone. Jesus said that the Holy Ghost will leads us to all truth we take that literally and we hold that as the highest standard. It should however conform, match and makes sense in relationship to what God has revealed, but ultimately we do suscribe that living revelations which eminates from Jesus Christs to guide us.
Bottomline, we put Jesus through the power of the Holy Ghost at the head of our revelation to help us interpret the Bible, and all of other scriptures.



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P. Nielsen

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:02 pm


One last post and then I am out of here for a while.
Jason: In the Bible Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I.” Does that make Christ any less of a God? Not according to Mormon thought.
—————
Dr. Mohler, when you say “Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy?” you are using the word Christian in two different ways. Applying the second use of ‘Christian’ above, would you say we are unorthodox Christians, or non-Christians?
If the first, I don’t have any arguments with what you said (except perhaps your take on the Book of Mormon, and [perhaps unintentionally implying] we don’t worship Christ). But if the second, please answer the following questions:
What makes us non-Christian versus unorthodox?
Do these issues tie into salvation? In other words, do you believe Mormons will be damned for their (according to you) false beliefs about Christ if they don’t change them before they die?
Do you recognize that Mormons do claim (and sincerely strive, for the most part) to follow Jesus of Nazareth, even if they have (supposedly) incorrect beliefs?
What are the minimums of being a Christian, whether orthodox or not?
Are you claiming authority to speak for all orthodox Christians when you classify us as non-Christian “according to orthodox Christianity”?
Would all orthodox Christians agree with your assessment? If not, why claim authority to answer the question “according to orthodox Christianity” if they don’t agree on this point?



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:06 pm


Mormons believe that all of the righteous will become Joint-Heir with Christ in the most concrete sense possible as it states in Romans 8 and in Revelations.
Orthodox Christians don’t believe this. Again, is Orthodox Christianity Christian?



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:16 pm


I never said understanding the trinity was easy, how is it that Jesus is God, yet is weaker than the Father. As far as I know Christ says he and the Father are one, so Stuart I’m a little confused, are you reading the Holy Bible or the Book of Mormon, because they are different. can you provide the reference?
I do like analogies, saying we will become Gods is analagous to what Buddhists say, are Mormons Buddhist?



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:24 pm


First. Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the OT. Jesus said that we, including Himself, are able to have all that the father hath.
Second. I know that your only biblical scripture is the Father and I are one, but how about you continue to read in the Bible where Christ then states that the Apostles can be ONE with Christ as He is ONE with the Father. Is heaven one giant substance?
Third. Buddhists say what…you forgot to finish your illogical thought. However, it was a clever way of attempting to delfect the fact that you have no Biblical support.
Jason….please try to explain the Trinity and use examples from the BIBLE. I am personally tired of relying simply on a Pagan Emperor who thought he was the Sun God while encouraging the adoption of the Trinity Doctrine.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:28 pm


jason..I forgot to mention one thing you brought up. How is Jesus a God, yet weaker than the Father.
First. He is not weaker in any way…he has all power, knowledge etc. However, he is not greater than the Fatehr because the Father is just that, Christ’s Father. Such a relationship establishes such, may we call it seniority. Again, read the Bible, they include wonderful stories of father and son relationships.
OHHHHH…another gem I want to understand. What was the symbolism of the sacrifice of Isaac, if Christ is the same substance as the Father?



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm


Ps. 82: 6
6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
Matt. 5: 48
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
John 10: 34
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Acts 17: 29
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
Rom. 8: 17
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Gal. 4: 7
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Heb. 12: 9
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of fspirits, and live?
1 Jn. 3: 2
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Rev. 3: 21
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:41 pm


Jehovah is only one of the many names God goes by in the old testament



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:42 pm


thank you NowandLater…Biblical scriptures rather than words from a compromise presided by the Sun God.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Jehovah is only one of the many names God goes by in the old testament. Stuart I am reading you right, by saying Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the OT, you seem to be implying that there is a God of the NT. So there are two Gods?



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:50 pm


JEHOVAH translates into I AM I AM. Or more literalling I AM BECOMING (male tense), I AM BECOMING (female tense). It is Jesus speaking as the Word who later becomes Flesh.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:51 pm


the Creed was developed based on the Bible, not written by a Pagan. So it matters not who commissioned the Creed. The Bible says God rules all, jew and gentile, believer or not.
Isn’t it interesting that you accept some words written by Paul, but throw out the other words written by Paul about the trinity. Basically, you are saying that God’s word contradicts itself.
I have read these words, these words must not be taken out of context, but must be understood as a whole, as mentioned above with the aid of the Holy Spirit, through the confirmation of the Church.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:51 pm


You are correct jason…and the same person went by Jesus in the new Testament. That is why the OT prophets predicted that God would come and save the people (you can read about it a lot in Isaiah) and how he was the creator of the world. Then you read in the NT that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Look at John 10:33.



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:53 pm


What comments of Paul am I not accepting?



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:54 pm


If the Pagan Creed was based on the Bible, give me some scriptural basis??



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 6:56 pm


So a Pagan Emperor who considers himself to be the Sun God is capable of establishing Church Doctrine, yet people, and I assume you may be one, thinks it is impossible that God would call a prophet to preach God’s good word and to write additional scripture for mankind. How silly must those Mormons be to believe that God would actually do something He has done for thousand of years!



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TB

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:02 pm


Help! I have scoured my Bible and can’t find the word “Trinity” in it! I can’t even find the word “Bible” either!!
Chapter and verse please. I am in jeopardy of spending eternity in HELL!!
PS: John chapter 8 has me all confused. Is Jesus confused about his relationship to his father, I mean himself, or his son? If Jesus is confused, no wonder I am.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:09 pm


Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
John 8:58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.”
John 10:38: “But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
Revelation 1:17–18: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” This is seen as significant when viewed with Isaiah 44:6: “This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”
how about this written by Paul:
Philippians 2:5–8: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:18 pm


Thx jason.
First. The Philippians quote goes on to show you that Jesus is a God.
Second. Matthew scripture shows that they are three separate people. Unless that is the origin of Me, Myself, and I.
John 8:58- Further proof that Christ was Jehovah.
John 10:30: For the upteenth time, One is what? Being? No..purpose? Likely! That is why we can become ONE with Christ as well.
John 10:38- Read a bit farther and see that we can be in Christ as He is in us. I don’t think that means being the same single substance. See John 17:22.
JASON…Read 1 John 5:7 = For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. …. WHOA. WAIT!!! Any explanation?



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Dale

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:21 pm


Intellectualism is a very troubling thing. The brain squeezes the love right out of the discussion. It seems to me antithema to “debate” Jesus Christ. The very nature of the “debate” makes of us judges while it exposes the tremendous beam hanging from our eye as we wield the hatchet to remove the mote from our lost brothers eye. What I know of the Christ is this … He gave his life (all of it)to mend the broken, heal the sick, and deliver the captive. May we do likewise. The question for us all might be, “Am I more like Jesus or the Pharasee?”



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:22 pm


Why can no one understand Christ when he uses the term gods…God is a title.
The Bible follows the idea that the Firstborn gets the birthright, which was everything that a father has. Christ is the FIRST (being the Firstborn) and therefore an heir to all that the Father has. One of the things that the Fatehr has is Godhood! By following the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith and works), we can become joint-heirs with Christ. Therefore, like Christ, we can achieve Godhood and become Gods.



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Jason

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:31 pm


I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.
How does this line up with Jesus being ‘a’ God, and us at some point also becoming Gods?



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:43 pm


I apologize Jason…I thought you had read the previous comments today. here is a paste job:
Since the fall of Adam, Christ is the advocate between God and mankind, that is why it was Christ who was to perform the GREATEST of all SACRIFICES! Jehovah has authority to speak on the Father’s behalf because the Father gave him such authority, such a concept should not be difficult.
There are many times where Jehovah (Jesus) is speaking as the Father. I know you are about to mock such a thought, but you may want to read the BIBLE, where Jehovah tells Moses that Aaron will speak on his behalf. Jehovah then says that Moses would be like God and Aaron would be his prophet. The key to it all, is AUTHORITY.
That is why the Jews asked Jesus, on what authority do you speak such things. Christ then asks them on what authority did John the Baptist perform his work. AUTHORITY is essential and in the BIBLE the AUTHORITY of GOD is the priesthood. Aaron and his sons had such authority, that is why only those with that authority could go before the Holy of Holies in the temple. That is why James speaks of two priesthoods: that of Aaron and that of Melchisedek (the priest who Abraham paid tithes to).
Question Jason: Where is God’s authority today? Aaronic and Melchezidek?
Atleast the Pope claims to have the Aaroinc priesthood, but he does not claim to have the melchizedek priesthood. Joseph Smith had BOTH priesthoods restored to the Earth, according to Peter’s prophecy that in the latter day there would be a “restoration of all things.”



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:14 pm


Alright AC, I am gone for a bit…yet eager to see your responses and questions.



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Confutus

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm


We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. (Articles of Faith 8)
It takes quite a few verbal gymnastics to present a believer in the New Testsament as entirely non-Christian. A person without training in theological exegesis might get the impression that Mormon acceptance of the New Testament would qualify them as at least some kind of Christian.
In order to magnify the provisional acceptance of the New Testament into a claim that the Mormons worship a “different Jesus” than the New Testament, it’s necessary to ignore parts of what the New Testament itself says, nearly all what the Book of Mormon says, and the difference between the New Testament itself and theological interpretation of it.
From the Book of Mormon:
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who creigneth, who was, and is from all deternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty fmiracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the gblind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases. (Mosiah 3:5)
And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son (Mosiah 15:1-2)
…for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. (3 Ne 11:27)
Trinitarian Christians tend to become uncomfortable about the disctinctions among the persons of the Trinity in passages such as where the voice of God introduces Jesus as His Beloved Son at Jesus baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, of Stephen’s vision where he saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God, or the ppassage in John 17:20-22 where Jesus prayers for his followerers to be one even as he and the Father are one.
On the other hand, Mormons tend to get a little uncomfortable with distinctly trinitarian-flavored language in the Book of Mormon. The differences between New Testament teaching about Christ and Book of Mormon teaching about Christ are perhaps not as great as they are sometimes made out to be.



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Theophile

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:25 pm


A minute comment to Stuart — I think Pope Leo III said that he held the Melchezidek priesthood (“not… the inferior priesthood of Aaron” [correct? I need to check the source! Nibley has it!])… but in the words of Orson F. Whitney:
Many years ago there came to Utah a learned doctor of divinity, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I became well acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy, and was never weary of displaying his vast erudition. One day he said to me: “You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. If we are wrong, they are wrong with us, for they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we really have, as we claim, the apostolic succession from St. Peter, there was no need for Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the Gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the Gospel in latter days.”
To which, of course, Whitney agreed (and expressed his confidence in the Prophet’s validity)… but, as the Emperor in ‘Amadeus’ would say, “well… there it is.”



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:26 pm


Alright…sorry I was about to leave when I saw this. The Mosiah scripture demonstrates the previous idea that Christ could represent the Father, since he subjected His flesh to the will of the Father. Remember his words in the Garden while he was suffering for all of our sins “Thy will be done!”
The 3 Nephi scriptures coincides with the Biblical scriptures, they are not one in being. The same as the Biblical teaching that upon marriage, man and woman become one flesh. It is not one in being, but one in purpose!!



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Stuart

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:29 pm


Well Theophile, I may have been wrong about Leo III, but when I spoke with a Roman Cardinal in Italy in 2002, he admitted that the Pope did not claim the Melchesidek Priesthood, only the Priesthood of Aaron.



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Pops

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:44 pm


Understanding God and his economy from the Bible is like finding puzzle pieces and assembling them in the best way we can. Unfortunately, a lot of pieces are missing, forcing us to extrapolate and interpolate to fill in the gaps.
Did God create Heaven? If so, where did he live before he created it? Did God create Satan? How then can he be called perfect if he created the most evil being of which we have knowledge? What does the title “god” mean? How is it that Christ, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are one? Why is Christ called both the Father and the Son? Who are the angels? Why did God create us? Why did Christ bother with the resurrection if that isn’t really his form or nature? Why did he invite us to become one with Him, as he is one with his father? Why did Christ have to suffer to atone for our sins — he’s God, why can’t he just forgive us? Why did he have to die on the cross? What is death? Why doesn’t he talk to prophets today the same as he did throughout the Bible? Why should preachers preach to get gain — isn’t that priestcraft? Did Christ preach for monetary gain?
What Joseph Smith was called by God to do was to provide a lot more of the puzzle pieces, making a far more complete picture inasfar as we are able to comprehend or live in accordance with it. When some speak of “a different Christ” in Mormonism, they appear to imply that to arrive at the Jesus of Mormonism, one must subtract significant aspects from the Jesus of the New Testament and substitute different aspects that are contradictory. But that’s not at all correct. What the revelations to Joseph Smith accomplished was to fill in the gaps, to add to what was already known of Christ.
Of course there’s the single-substance trinity issue that seems to be the core of the “debate” here, but that has been adequately demonstrated to be a post-Biblical construct, and not really a genuine puzzle piece at all.



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nowandlater

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Mormon Exodus — put to historical pictures and to the song of the Prince of Egypt. Really, a shameful period of U.S. history where the state, Missouri’s ex-termination order, and the Federal government turned its back on the Mormons.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFcRkhFqGRI



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Rick T.

posted July 6, 2007 at 11:01 pm


Dear Brother Mohler:
Are you allowed to use the Bible in this Debate? If so, I would show from Scripture what Biblical & Christian orthodoxy is and how the Mormon’s do not match up to Biblical Christian orthodoxy.
In Jesus Christ,
Rick T.



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Anon

posted July 7, 2007 at 12:15 am


Pops, you got on my good side by quoting Chesterton. Love that guy!
Of course there’s the single-substance trinity issue that seems to be the core of the “debate” here, but that has been adequately demonstrated to be a post-Biblical construct, and not really a genuine puzzle piece at all.
I don’t intend to engage much further in this debate. I think I’ve said most of my piece, and the depression in my couch cushion is getting too deep. I haven’t read much of anything of the above posts, but happen to catch your name.
I would like to know just where it was demonstrated that the doctrine of the Trinity was a post-Biblical construct. I know that such a thing has been asserted, but as far as I know, no one has demonstrated such a thing. In fact, a reading of the Early Church Fathers will make it clear that the doctrine preceded the Bible. In the very first century, Christianity rejected the Gnostics as heretics based upon the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Keep reading Chesterton, though!



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Jestrfyl

posted July 7, 2007 at 12:19 am


Wow, from the length and energy indicated by these postings I can see why the LDS folks feel a bit outside of things. Many electrons were sacrificed just in the couple of days over this one. Here’s a thought…
My wife has a theory – in response to name droppers everywhere – It is not very interesting to hear about who you know or with whom you say you are associated. It is much more impressive to have that famous person or renowned group say they know or are associated with you. So to answer the question, Who decides is aperson or group is Christian – ask the one whose title is being tossed around so lightly. Short of doing that, our own answers are just sneezes in a hurricane.



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John Brown

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:07 am


Bill Kilpatrick–marvelous post. MARVELOUS.
AC–excellent question posed to us Mormons.
My answer to you is: “no way in heck are they Mormons.” And I think most Mormons would answer it the same way. In fact, the church itself is always trying to point out that all the current polygamist groups are not “Mormons,” and most of these folks think the Church went astray.
But I also agree with P. Nielsen in that it would be perfectly fine to say they’ve got Mormon roots or are Mormon offshoots. Nobody in the Church bats an eye at that.
Look, at the very beginning of this thread Matt Thorley made a small post, which seems to have been almost completely ignored. But Thorley and AC are talking about the same thing and it’s the crux of the matter.
This whole issue revolves around the right of a community to define itself, who and what are in and out. Many of those in specific Protestant communities want to make sure the definition of THEIR GROUP is clear. Other Christian groups don’t give a fig. But some do. And I think it’s almost unnatural to insist a group can’t define themselves. “Unnatural” meaning it just won’t work.
Mormons reject the creeds. We’re not “orthodox” or “creedal” or “traditional.” Of course, the sets of doctrine that fit into these categories has changed quite a bit over time, e.g. Protestants were once all heretics, theosis (the idea that man might become as God), a “non-Christian doctrine” to some now was common among Christians for centuries. The fact is the Christianity has had different definitions depending on when and where you lived. Nevertheless, Mormons do differ from these Protestant communities in ways that are significant to these specific communities.
On the other hand, Mormons, while wanting to certainly distinguish themselves from Protestants and Catholics and many other groups through history, still hold their belief in Christ as a central defining factor of THEIR GROUP.
So what to do?
Are they the exact same Christ theologically? No. While there may be huge overlaps, are there enough significant differences that they should distinguish themselves? I say yes.
But that shouldn’t preclude both groups from using the term “Christ” in some way. The key is finding terms that a majority in BOTH communities find accurate.
I think the way to start is to indentify the key things that distinguish. Creeds seem to do this. Restoration. Tradition. These are all concepts that seem to embody the key differences.
Anyone else have any ideas of the things that sum up the differences?
And then we can forget about taxonomies and focus the attention spent on that on the business of doing good and living joyfully.



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DJ

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:39 am


Ronda! that was beautiful, thank you for that. My husband is a convert, and he converted after we were married. i would have lived my whole life with him no matter what. All i have to say is that as long as i follow the example of Christ i will be al right.
remember the story in the bible the priest in the temple abotu to stone a women, “let the least of these cast the first stone?” how about we all just worship in our own way and when we get to heaven we will ask who is wright and who is wrong. how much you wanna bet that when we get there we willnot only not have to ask but it wont matter. Why? BECUASE WE MADE IT TO HEAVEN!!!!!
God bless you all
cant we all just get along



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CharlieE

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:02 am


Wow, I’ve read this entire string and I’ve been impressed by the debate on both sides. We’re not that distant in our beliefs. The question I ask…is why would revelation and prophesy end with the Apostles. Christ, through the Atonement, Death and Resurrection saved ALL mankind. Would he not have done so for those living on this american continent as well (even those who did not have the gospel)? It is well known that native americans have been on this continent for many thousand years. He did not just die for those of Greater Israel and the Central Med.



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Anon

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:02 am


Hello, all.
I have spent far too much time on this forum, and must move on to other pursuits. (Gasp! I heard the cheers from here. But I still may have a few loose ends. What? Now groans? Pah.)
However, I do have an appeal to make to you that you can accept or reject as your prudence directs. I would like to appeal to your honor, and I have absolutely no doubt that there is plenty of honor among you.
One thing that I have seen frequently on this forum is one claim or another that a doctrine did not exist until a specific time, usually several hundred years after Christ.
Now, I know that Mormons believe there was an apostasy, and I am not even building up an argument against the apostasy, but I am appealing to you to give these things proper scrutiny. I believe that Truth matters to you, so you shouldn’t be afraid of the Truth that proper scrutiny will provide. No one who is confident in their faith should ever fear Truth.
So when certain doctrines come up, and someone says, “Oh, that wasn’t a doctrine until 482 A.D.” I would ask you to pose the question–at least to yourself, “How do we know that?” In earlier posts I already explained that when the Councils of the Catholic Church officially articulated doctrine, they were clarifying doctrine that already existed. All of these doctrines were clarified as a result of a heretical idea causing confusion about them. So the Church stepped in to authoritatively affirm the doctrine as it was given to them in the Deposit of Faith. But in every case where a doctrine was articulated in a Council, the doctrine was already there.
It has been a common apologetic tactic among the Protestants to say that these doctrines were “invented” at those times. But I appeal to anyone reading this to ask the question: “How do we know this is when it was invented?” The Truth should not scare you, and it is not like finding out a few doctrines did indeed exist before those times will shatter the apostasy idea. I’m just asking that you give Truth a chance.
Again–I don’t want to make a big argument out of this. I am not presenting an argument here–I am appealing to you for rigor and scrutiny. I am appealing to your honor in allowing the Truth to be known.
And if there are a bunch of posts giving their refutations, I would appeal to you to not just accept their word as Gospel. Read the texts of the Early Church Fathers. Study the people and the thoughts of those who were actually there. But, most of all, don’t assume that the doctrine did not exist if you really have no tangible reason to think so.
God bless you all, and I hope to meet you all with joy in the final resolution of this before the One True Christ.



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SEB

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:09 am


The number of comments here is a clear indicator of what really should be the topic of discussion. It is interesting to read the numerous and varying perspectives arising from just a single question. With so many differing viewpoints, how is one to arrive at the truth? Does anyone really know the answer? God does.
Rather than debating a definition and semantics-based question of such minor importance, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to discuss something of real significance? How about the concept of a “gold standard?” Over the years, I have asked many non-LDS Christians about that. Namely, what is the gold standard or source of truth, and always the answer is the same, “The Bible”. And yet, what they really mean is, “an interpretation of The Bible” — their’s or someone else’s.
The Bible (and the Book of Mormon for that matter) is simply black ink on white paper and only has meaning through the lens or viewpoint of perspective. Does a particular perspective become truth simply because it is held by a majority? Those present at Nicea seemed to think so, for that’s how their creed was established. Subseqent ecumenical coucils were the same. In fact, their very purpose was to do away with divergent views.
In more recent centuries, divergent views or interpretation have resulted in numerous and branching denominations, some with common tenets, but each with slightly differing interpretations.
The LDS response to the “gold standard” question is not the Bible nor is it the Book of Mormon. It is revelation. It is great news that humankind once more has direct access to the word of God directly through His Prophets and Apostles.
Before more contemplation, I encourage you to read or listen to the words of His duly ordained representatives for yourself. You can find them here: http://lds.org/conference/display/0,5234,23-1,00.html



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Anon

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:12 am


Also, there has been some confusion on this forum regarding Catholic authority, so I thought the following explanation that I posted under a previous article would be valuable here, as well.
It should be clarified that Catholic authority includes three things. It includes Holy Tradition (the Deposit of the Faith), the Magisterium (the Pope and the College of Bishops), and the Holy Bible.
None of these things can override the others. The intended meaning of the Bible is inerrant, and the Pope does not have the authority to override that meaning. He also doesn’t have the authority to contradict the Deposit of Faith. He and the Magisterium do have the protection of the Holy Spirit in matters of doctrine and Sacraments. It is in this context that Catholic authority interprets Scripture.
The Bible also supports the other two. Paul tells us to hold fast to the Traditions that he teaches–both written *and* unwritten–and he also tells us (as quoted earlier) that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth. (Some translations say “pillar and bulwark.”)
All three are a complete and harmonious authority established by Jesus Christ Himself, and preserved by His Church and His inspired writers.



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Bill Kilpatrick

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:37 am


William Brown:
I enjoyed your comments, many of which I agreed with. With respect to Jesus’s discussion of the Godhead, you are right to quote from John, where Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” Ironically, Jesus later prays that his disciples “may be one, even as we are one.” Mormons see the unity of the father and the son as identical to the ideal unity Jesus hoped his disciples would share.
Also, I wanted to address two excellent questions you brought up:
“My question comes from this next point. You wrote, ‘The Book of Mormon uses the term, Church of the Devil, not to describe all churches – or even of one particular denomination – but of a church compromised by its attempt to fit in with the social and political world around it.’ If this is the case, then Christianity became corrupted because it mingled with and mixed with pagan beliefs and other falsehoods. I could see this happening as Christianity did become the official religion of Rome and no longer was something one would be persecuted for. Here’s my question: if Mormonism is the recovery of that which was lost, is it not also in danger of such corruption? Has it not already been corrupted?”
Yes, on both accounts. It is daily in danger of becoming corrupted and it has repeatedly been corrupted, requiring multiple efforts to go back and fix errors that drifted into the Church, or at least became dominant opinion in the surrounding LDS culture. Mormonism has never been immune to such errors and probably never will be, as long as people are fallible.
Mormons accept the idea of modern revelation but they have never believed in the infallibility of their leaders. While the “prophet” may receive a revelation, that revelation is not considered doctrine until it has been prayed over and accepted as such by the quorums of the Church.
The structure of the Church is set up not just to effectively administer Church affairs but also to act as a kind of break against the cult of leadership. The president of the Church has two counselors and together they form The First Presidency, but there is also a Council of the Twelve who quorum is equal to that of the First Presidency. There is also a Quorum of the Seventy that is equal to the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. Upon the death of the “prophet,” the First Presidency dissolves (neither of its surviving counselors succeeds to the presidency). Succession goes to the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, who then calls counselors of his own to form a new First Presidency.
This break against a cult of leadership is important because, while the president of the Church, acting as “prophet,” may receive and report a revelation, there are many ideas and opinions that blow through the Church like storm clouds through a region. One of the great mistakes, repeated in each generation, is to confuse opinions with doctrine and to assume that one’s own opinion is some kind of revelation.
The LDS Church is composed of people from all walks of life. Most of its offices are filled by volunteers. When someone is selected to act as a shepherd, he is supposed to adapt the Gospel message to changing circumstances and make sure people hear relevant and useful guidance on how to live Christlike lives in the modern age. But a person can get a big head, or mistake some unquestioned belief or opinion for actual doctrine. When this happens, Mormons themselves end up disseminating heresies and false doctrines just as much as anyone.
In Joseph Smith’s day, it was believed that there were people living on the moon. There’s an old claim running around that Joseph Smith claimed a revelation on the matter, but that claim is questionable. What is much more likely is that Joseph Smith bought into it, because it was “common knowledge” at the time.
Likewise, Brigham Young had a lot of embarrassing opinions about politics and race. As the Civil War heated up, he blamed the Union and went so far as to echo the racism of his time. He bought into the old chestnut about blacks as “the race of Cain,” something taught in many churches throughout the U.S.
One of the distressing issues for Mormons is in being able to distinguish between their admiration for Church leaders and a healthy recognition of their flaws. Because Brigham Young never questioned the racism of his time, he never asked for, or received, a revelation that might have straightened him out. What’s more, because of Brigham Young’s place in leading Mormons to safety in Utah, the Church has had a hard time distancing itself from Brigham Young’s flaws. Later Church presidents have sought to clarify Church doctrine while avoiding an outright condemnation of Brigham Young.
This has led to confusion, within the LDS Church, over where the Church stands on issues such as Civil Rights. In fact, during the 1950s, Mormons – like the rest of the country – were split over the issue. While almost all Mormons recognized the equal rights of all citizens, regardless of race or color, there were also Mormons – some of them in high places – who went back to Brigham Young’s old statements and used them to justify segregation.
There was a cultural issue that had less to do with race than with how Mormons prefer to behave. There is a passage in the Book of Mormon, where Jesus condemns the spirit of contention. Because of this, Mormons have an unusual aversion to contention – which includes a high distaste for public protests, such as picketing, marches, et cetera. Mormons write letters and preach sermons, but they are – temperamentally speaking – not big fans of street protest. Thus, when seeing the marches and protests of both the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, many Mormons formed a negative view of both – some even believing that the Communists were behind both.
Some of these people held high office within the LDS Church and used their positions to speak out. Because of their positions as “church leaders,” their admixture of politics, philosophy and opinion with scripture was both believed and tolerated. The Church, fearing contention and schism, was reluctant to address the situation directly, preferring to give indirect, general, counsel about such matters.
The result is a paper trail of embarrassing and counter-productive statements by any number of prominent Mormons who have put themselves on the wrong side of history, time and time again. It is a continuing embarrassment to the Church.
In fact, these statements can be copied and pasted into lists that can be promulgated and published as if they were definitive Church statements on the issues. In fact, in the century-and-a-half that Mormonism has been around, the debates and dialogues between Mormons about a variety of issue has created a kind of unwieldy Talmud full of jibber-jabber. Mormon thought is not a monolith but a complex blog of voices, most of which have been talking about the same general topics, with mostly the same general ideas – but with enough variation to produce both the silly and the sublime.
Mormons are told, repeatedly, to go to the scriptures and to pray about everything they discuss, but it’s a lot easier to simply assume the truth of some speculation because it comes from a friendly source or is attributed to somebody “high up” in the Church. So, doctrinal contamination is not something Mormons or the LDS Church are immune to. One of the arguments in favor of having living prophets is the never-ending necessity of course correction on a daily basis.
“I certainly have a very limited knowledge of Mormonism and its history, but from reading the posts, some have claimed that Mormon tenets or doctrines (or the way they are stated) has changed over the years. The way it sounds, it seems they have become more closely aligned (in terminology at least) with other Christian beliefs. Is this the case?”
I think Mormons are more sensitive today about the need for dialogue. When Mormons were being chased from state to state, and when the whole group had to leave the existing U.S. in order to keep from being massacred, there were a lot of hard feelings. As the federal government stepped in (to fight a vicarious battle against the South by slapping the Mormons around) Mormons adopted an “us versus them” attitude about the federal government – as well as the rest of the U.S.
Mormons weren’t “mainstream” until after Utah statehood and the whole battle over Reed Smoot’s seat in the Senate (Smoot, who was not a polygamist, was initially denied his seat over complaints that he was a Mormon). It took Mormon participation in both World Wars for Mormons to see a real ease in the public distrust of them. The fifties were very good to Mormons, partly because their Boy Scout ways aligned well with the nation’s during that period.
Missionary work, which has required Mormons to learn about the world, has dovetailed with development of Utah and the rise of Brigham Young University as a real place of learning. Mormons, by and large, remain more connected to their own story than to interfaith dialogue throughout Christendom, but Mormons are becoming more conversant because a number of issues are simply pseudo-issues. Some of these issues are simply a difference in semantics. Some of them are vocabulary differences. Some of them are the holdover of old prejudices, not just prejudices of other groups against Mormons but of Mormon prejudices about the rest of Christendom.
It is not enough to read the notes. You have to hear the music. By the same token, it’s not enough to pick a Mormon statement, out of context, and simply read it literally. You have to look at where that statement fits into a larger discussion, and of how that statement was interpreted within that discussion. This is very hard for many Protestants because they’re either used to reading the Bible literally or they’re used to grabbing up a specific passage as a kind of proof-text for their position. Mormons are guilty of the same errors, but are surprised when others do it to them.
“Also, if the problem with early Christianity was that it became too involved with the social and political world around it, wouldn’t it be better if Mormons did not seek to be identified with Christianity as we know it? I understand that Mormons might want the name, but I would think they would claim it only as their own. Also, the involvement of Mormons in the U.S. political environment seems to indicate that this is happening.”
I am, in fact, alarmed at the corrupting influence of politics on Mormon values. Mormons, unlike some groups, do not believe in retiring from the world, but in full engagement with it. The problem is that Mormons often assume they are right, by virtue of being Mormon – so they make the same mistakes other people have made. Mormons are quick to refer to the 1st Amendment in seeking protection of Mormon beliefs and practices, but are not so quick to see it as a protection to other people’s beliefs and practices. This human fallibility – and its accompanying blindness – is a continuing concern.
As for seeking to be identified with Christianity, I don’t think Mormons are doing exactly that. Mormons are seeking to push Mormonism. They just resent it when other groups have the audacity to tell them they’re not Christians. Mormons may be heretical, mistaken, odd, peculiar or as guilty of mixing scripture with the philosophies of men. Mormons don’t mind rejection, ridicule, dismissal, et cetera. It just bugs them when certain Protestants and Catholics say they’re not Christians.
In reality, your point is well taken. It doesn’t matter what other people call the Mormons. The Mormons would be better off ignoring those who defame, insult or label them – as this sort of thing has always been and will probably always be. But if Mormons get snippy about being told they’re not Christians, it’s because Mormons have never seen themselves as anything but.



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Edwin Joseph Moelder

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:38 am


Preexisitng God before the creation of the COSMOS is the salient point.
Jesus the Christ True God and True Man, perfect God and perfect man, fully God and fully man, The Grand Architect Of The Universe, The Light of The World, the preexisting everlasting eternal creator redeemer and sustainer of the cosmos.
http://moelder.freeservers.com



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:14 am


Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. wrote:

My concern is more about symbolism and perception. My concern is that of a Christian who does not believe that Mormonism is Christianity.

What about the symbolism of our two most evangelical presidents, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, being considered two of our worst presidents in modern times. What about the symbolism of so many people wanting to see George W. Bush impeached because his administration is so corrupt?
If Mohler wanted to hurt Mormon reputations he’d be better off voting for Mitt. Who ever gets the 2008 slot is doomed to at best mediocrity because of what Bush is leaving us, a deficit, an exhausted military, a huge problem in the Mid-East…



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LDSGems

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:03 am


Mohler’s comments are spot on. Mormon historically have declared Christianity as “of the devil.” Here are just a few teachings from LDS Church leaders:
“What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world”
- Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270
“…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.”
- Prophet Joseph Smith , The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60
“With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.”
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:199
“The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God”
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171
“Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.”
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176
“Christians—those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about—some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth, and at the same time preaching righteousness to the children of men. The poor devils, they could not get up here and preach an oral discourse, to save themselves from hell; they are preaching their fathers’ sermons —preaching sermons that were written a hundred years before they were born. …You may get a Methodist priest to pour water on you, or sprinkle it on you, and baptize you face foremost, or lay you down the other way, and whatever mode you please, and you will be damned with your priest.”
- Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 5:89
But let’s pretend for a moment that we don’t know anything about Mormon History or their declared doctrine. Just focus on the warm and Christian-looking Mormon Church of today.
1. What other Christian church requires the participation in Masonic temple rites for exaltation?
2. What other Christian church insists on a testimony of the Book of Mormon?
3. What other Christian church teaches its members that wearing church-made underwear is “an outward sign of an inward commitment to Jesus Christ?”
4. What other Christian church claims the writings of Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants are actually the words of Jesus Christ, even though they contradict the New Testament?
5. What other Christian church has temples closed to the public, where adults are “washed and anointed” while almost naked, to be cleaned from “the blood and sins of this generation?”
6. What other Christian church gives you a secret new name, signs and handshakes that are required in order to “pass the sentinels and guardians” in order to return to the presence of God?
7. What other Christian church has as part of its scripture, actual revelations from God demanding the practice of “The Law of Abraham” which is described as plural marriage and is the only way to achieve exaltation? (See D&C 132)
8. What other Christian church practices proxy baptisms of dead relatives and recognizes such baptism for dead people as valid?
9. What other Christian church has as a requirement of faith a belief that Jesus Christ literally visited pre-Columbian America and mercilessly killed men, women and children and then bragged about it? See: http://www.i4m.com/think/lists/mormon_terrorism.htm
10. What other Christian church requires a belief that Jesus and God are identical twins that literally visited Joseph Smith, telling him that ALL Christian churches are of the devil?
The clear answer is that IF the Mormon Church is Christian, it is unlike ANY OTHER Christian church. It is so far from what all other Christian churches practice and teach, that it is in a class by itself.



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P. Nielsen

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:42 am


Dear LDSGems,
First, you misrepresented those quotations. They were not speaking about the original Christian church, but rather about the corrupt Christian preachers and professors of the day.
Second, I imagine that you believe Protestants are Christians. Can you imagine what sorts of quotations we could come up with from John Wesley, or Martin Luther, or Calvin, about the Christian leaders of their day? You are condemning our history without putting it in the context of your own.
Finally, the rest of your questions also betray a lack of understanding about past Christian practices and worship methods. You have twisted LDS beliefs to make them sound worse than they are. Identical twins? Are you going to deny us Christian-ness because we believe Christ looks just like His Father???
Best,
P. Nielsen



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bornfree

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:00 am


Comparing LDS Beliefs with First-Century Christianity
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.php?table=transcripts&id=93



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:38 am


When the novelist Charles Dickens visited the Amazon before it set sail from London on June 4, 1863, to see what the Mormon emigrants were like, he noted: “I…had come aboard this Emigrant Ship to see what eight hundred Latter-day Saints were like…. Nobody is in an ill-temper, nobody is the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word, nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping, and down upon the deck in every corner where it is possible to find a few square feet to kneel, crouch or lie in, people, in every suitable attitude for writing, are writing letters. Now, I have seen emigrants ships before this day in June. And these people are strikingly different from all other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen, and I wonder aloud, “What would a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!’…I should have said they were in their degree, the pick and flower of England” (Dickens, pp. 223-25).
Dickens set down his impressions of Mormon emigrants in one of a series of essays that appeared at intervals between 1860 and 1869 in his weekly magazine, All the Year Round. He later published them in the chapter “Bound for the Great Salt Lake” in The Uncommercial Traveller. He concluded with:
I afterwards learned that a dispatch was sent home by the captain before he struck out into the wide Atlantic, highly extolling the behaviour of these emigrants, and the perfect order and propriety of all their social arrangements…. I went on board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it; and my predispositions and tendencies must not affect me as an honest witness. I went over the Amazon’s side, feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known influences have often missed [Dickens, p. 232].



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TB

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:09 pm


Can any of you answer this in one sentence without running off at the mouth?
Mormons- What constitutes being a “Christian”?
Catholics- What constitutes being a “Christian”?
Baptists (or Evangelicals in general)What constitutes being a “Christian”?
Athiests- What constitutes being a “Christian”?



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:27 pm


So, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., you don’t think Mr. Card is a “true” Christian, and no doubt he’s not a true Scott’s man either, but what about John Shelby Spong? Is he a “true” Christian?
Spong writes stuff like this:

The idea that a convicted felon, like Jesus, would be given a burial attended by such splendor is obviously not history. . . The probable fate of the crucified Jesus was to be thrown with other victims into a common, unmarked grave. The general consensus of New Testament scholars is that whatever the Easter experience was, it dawned first in the minds of the disciples who had fled to Galilee for safety, driving us to the conclusion that the burial story in the gospels is … legendary …

I bet Mr. Card wouldn’t think he was a “true” Christian either. Yet Spong too can spout your silly little magic words: “Jesus is Lord” and mean something by them.
Maybe if you keep digging you’ll find out that you’re the only true Christian on the planet and you will have to run for president yourself on those grounds.



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Will

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:28 pm


Thank you to P. Nielsen and Bill Kirkpatrick for your thought out responses to my questions. They were very helpful. You’re explanation for separating the cultural failures of men like Brigham Young and Joseph Smith from their religious teachings is helpful. I think Christians should be able to identify with these shortcomings. Jonathan Edwards, considered by many to be the greatest American theologian ever, owned slaves. Martin Luther wrote some anti-semitic polemic (although this is probably because he was a hot-head and was upset that they didn’t respond so quickly to the gospel as he suspected they would). Still, God has used broken vessels for great things for the advance of His kingdom. Paul was a murderer of Christians before his conversion. Peter lacked faith in many ways as God prepared and chastened him for his great work. Even now, he uses men with great shortcomings to display his power. I think it should give Christians hope (it certainly gives me hope) that we can be used by God for great things despite our obvious shortcomings. His grace is made perfect in weakness. I rejoice that by using weak and humble(d) men for His work, He is glorified. This is ever more important- that God be lifted up and men would become self-forgetful.
This is also what makes the gospel so sweet. Knowing what kind of frail people we are, prone to wander, given to error, and born in sin (we might differ on that belief?), that Christ redeemed us is a wonderful thought. So I can’t simply discount a man like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young because we might assert that they were great sinners and hypocrites. God has used men and women like that for his purposes, and if I would use those reasons to discount them, I must discount myself and everyone else as well. So, while we differ in beliefs, and I disagree with Smith and Young and Mormon theology, I think it is important that we do not use their past wrongs as evidence against them.
I do have one point to make. Bill, you mentioned that revelation has been integral in correcting Mormons while in their error. I wonder why this might have been so restricted to the Mormons? Wouldn’t God have used revelation similarly to correct any Christian wandering from the truth long before the 1800′s? I know that this is impossible to answer since no one knows the mind of God, nor can we presume to know why He might give, take, or do anything He pleases. I think Job gives that message pretty clearly. So, I suppose, if revelation was necessary, He might have desired to withhold it until many years later.
But what I think regarding this, is that the gospel is powerful and able to correct our wandering and misgiving without further revelation. Christians generally believe that the Christ is God’s final revelation (the NT documents being that which bear witness to him). We also believe that with the closing of the Canon of scripture, nothing more was needed. I would focus on this: that nothing more than the gospel is necessary to correct us in our error.
For example, Brigham Young made racist statements. Certainly, he was a product of his times. Luther did the same. Jonathan Edwards owned slaves. These problems might have been solved by carefully thinking through the gospel. God said to Abraham in His covenant with him that He would make Abraham a great nation and bless all the nations of the earth through him. Similarly, Christ said he must be lifted up and that he would draw all men to himself (since every single man and woman does not come to Christ, I suppose this must be more appropriately understood as all men in the sense of race). In Revelation, men from every nation, tribe, and language worship around the throne. If the gospel makes no distinction according to race, color, nationality, etc., than Christians are out of step if they make such distinctions. So, when Paul rebuked Peter for not standing against the message of the Judaisers that anyone who would become a Christian must be circumcised, essentially become Jewish, Paul asked him if they were preaching the same gospel. Since they both believed and preached the same message, Paul then told him that what he was doing was not in accord with the gospel.
There are other examples of how the gospel corrects our errors. For example, and I know this is not a very “modern” idea, but the Bible teaches that women are to submit to their husbands. This reflects Christ who submitted to his Father, even to death on the cross. It is not a submission that demeans them, but rather it is an honor because it is an opportunity to exalt Christ. Similarly, husbands are exhorted to love their wives as Christ loved the church. That is, Christ laid down his life for the church. The gospel shows us how husbands are to love their wives even to the point of death for them. The gospel shows us how wives ought to act toward their husbands (children to their parents too!). So when we reject this and seek to do otherwise, one might say, you are not acting in accord with the gospel.
When it comes to soteriology, the gospel is still right there to correct us. In our day, many believe that all will go to heaven, or that the only requirement is sincerity. The gospel teaches that there is no other name by which men are saved but Jesus name.
So, much of where we differ, I think, stems from our differing belief regarding the necessity of further revelation. I think the gospel as it has already been revealed is sufficient.
Thank you again for your responses. Sincerely,
William Brown



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:37 pm


TB asked:

Athiests- What constitutes being a “Christian”?

Anyone claiming to be a Christian, whether it be Adolf Hitler or Jim Jones.



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Will

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:39 pm


Norman Doering,
That’s somewhat of a low blow. John Shelby Spong is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination. That’s an entirely different problem altogether though. If you want Dr. Mohler’s opinion on Spong, I would suggest that you simply go to http://www.almohler.com and type the name into the search box. I don’t know if or what he has written about Spong, but I assure you it won’t be a favorable critique. In any case, by Mohler’s definition in his essays, what you just quoted certaily excludes Spong from Orthodox Christianity. There’s actually a better quote out there in which essentially denies every central tenet of Christianity in a single paragraph. It’s shocking and frightening that he’s considered an influential Christian leader by some. But I hardly think that Spong is a good example to use to prove that Mohler would exclude everyone in the world from Christianity. He’s pretty extreme.



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Will wrote:

But I hardly think that Spong is a good example to use to prove that Mohler would exclude everyone in the world from Christianity. He’s pretty extreme.

You seemed to have missed the point. Of course neither Mr. Card nor Mr. Mohler would consider Spong a Christian even though Spong considers himself one. The “point” was a joke. It actually supports Mohler’s point about how “using the language of Christian theology and making references to Christ” doesn’t necessarily mean much of anything. A lot of the people Mr. Card observed at the Templeton event were probably very much like Spong in their outlook.
It seems to me that if Mr. Card wants to dismiss Spong’s Christianity, he shouldn’t be to surprised if Mohler wants to dismiss Mormonism since they both come down to “you can’t simply proclaim some silly magic words like ‘I believe Jesus is Lord’ and be a Christian” in their eyes because it matters what you believe to some degree.
But make the degree to strident because you’re pulling dogmas out of your ass and you might find yourself the lone “true” Christian in your own eyes.



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Anon

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:52 pm


Catholics- What constitutes being a “Christian”?
Part of the problem here is this notion that a few words can sufficiently represent “What constitutes being a Christian.” Christianity *means* something–something rather expansive, and the extent of it’s nature is much bigger than a simple definition.
But I’ve beaten that dead horse enough. Those who would take me seriously about that are already taking it seriously.



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Anon

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:53 pm


-chuckle-
Of course, I don’t think it’s dead.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 4:47 pm


Let me see if I can put myself into the shoes or mindset of an Evangelical:
Belief in Jesus Christ constitutes salvation. End of story. Therefore if an Evangelical states that a Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, then that same Evangelical would have to admit that a Mormon is saved. An Evangelical however can not state that because they believe the Mormon faith is false.
How do they reconcile these two things they observe? They put a huge emphasis that the Mormons believe a different Jesus. The maximize any inkling of difference between the two concepts of Jesus between the faiths. So in their minds, a Mormons belief of Jesus is not a belief of a saving Jesus.
————–
Okay, not let me try to (imperfectly) communicate the idea of faith in Jesus within the Mormon faith:
Mormons do not feel threatened if others declare faith in Jesus. Mormons believe that ALL of mankind will be saved from Hell (except those who willfully with full knowledge reject Jesus Christ). In the Mormon view, they feel in a sense Evangelicals are right — confession that Jesus is the Christ saves one from Hell. However, as we read in Phillipians 2:11 “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Mormons believe universally everyone (except those noted above) who has died, currently living, or yet to be born will confess this and thus will be saved from Hell — They will be resurrected and they will dwell in the heavens without any works done on their part except the confession.
In the Mormon view, there is however another kind of Hell. Where we are spiritually seperated from God and must get to him as close as we can. Confession of Jesus is the starting point and this is where we part ways with the Evangelicals. Mormons believe that through the Holy Ghost we must internalize Christ within ourselves. We believe that Christ we will proactively work with us through his mercy. Baptism washes us clean. The Gift of the Holy is a blessing to have the divine right of God’s spirit with us. Our weekly sacrament services focuses on remembering Jesus. The work of the Temple helps us too internalize Christ like attributes within us even more.
So us Mormons would have ZERO, ABSOLUTELY NO problem with anyone who confessed to be a believer in Jesus. But on the other hand we would have no idea if that person has internalized Jesus in their hearts (Luke 12: 34). That would be up to Jesus to decide.



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Bob

posted July 7, 2007 at 5:55 pm


The whole point apparently is that some evagelicals are worried having a mormon president would help mormon missionaries. That seems to be the central issue. Has Harry Reid helped mormon missionary efforts? Did the number of converts in Massachusetts increase when Romney was Governor there? I have never heard of any evidence indicating this has happened. Therefore, why does anyone think having a mormon president will make any difference? It will not make any difference to people deciding if they want to become mormon or not. As soon as someone can show evidence for the theory that a mormon president will increase mormon converts then it would make sense to start a discussion about whether that is a reason not to vote for the most (otherwise) well-qualified candidate. Until then this is the stupidest argument and discussion. I’m not sure why I just wasted 2 minutes on it myself.



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Bob wrote:

As soon as someone can show evidence for the theory that a mormon president will increase mormon converts then it would make sense to start a discussion about whether that is a reason not to vote for the most (otherwise) well-qualified candidate. Until then this is the stupidest argument and discussion. I’m not sure why I just wasted 2 minutes on it myself.

I’d say that electing George W. Bush, whom so many consider corrupt and want impeached, probably has hurt the evangelical movement. If Mitt is any good as president he’ll make Bush look even worse. And Jimmy Carter wasn’t all that great either. Their best president was the very new-agey Ronald Reagan.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 6:19 pm


This doesn’t make sense to me. Belief is so personal. It sounds silly. Did we all become Masons, Catholics, Unitarians, Lapsed Jehovah Witnesses (Dwight Eisenhouser), Heretics (Lincoln), or Deists (Jefferson) because in many cases we have historically elected those types of presidents? No.



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P. Nielsen

posted July 7, 2007 at 6:27 pm


Dear William Brown,
You are welcome. You said: “So, much of where we differ, I think, stems from our differing belief regarding the necessity of further revelation. I think the gospel as it has already been revealed is sufficient.”
Sounds about right to me. I am just not so confident in my own ability to understand the gospel as taught in the Bible, nor interpret it correctly. I am just too prone to make mistakes. I believe that God’s spirit is absolutely necessary to even begin to undertake such an endeavor of interpretation and understanding. In other words, I need *new* revelation to even know whether or not I am understanding the *old* ones the way God wants me too (including whether or not God thinks the Bible is sufficient for our day).
Best,
P. Nielsen



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J. Jares

posted July 7, 2007 at 7:08 pm


Oh my. I think that both scholars have lost the question in too many words. It is silly to think that people who belong to a church entitled “Church of Jesus Christ” are anything but Christian. I grew up Morman (from a long-line of Mormans and in a Morman community) and the Bible (both new and old testaments) were a part of every day learning and living. I am no longer a part of that culture, but it is just obvious that the church and the people of the church (Mormans) are Christian.



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 7:14 pm


nowandlater wrote:

Belief is so personal. It sounds silly. Did we all become Masons, Catholics, Unitarians, Lapsed Jehovah Witnesses (Dwight Eisenhouser), Heretics (Lincoln), or Deists (Jefferson) because in many cases we have historically elected those types of presidents? No.

It’s not about lots of people adopting the beliefs of our presidents, it’s about reputation and prestige for your identity group. Mohler wrote:

I am concerned that a Mormon in the White House would do much to serve the worldwide missionary cause of Mormonism. I do not worry that a President Romney would push that agenda from the White House. My concern is more about symbolism and perception. My concern is that of a Christian who does not believe that Mormonism is Christianity.

“symbolism and perception” — I think that really means “reputation and prestige for your identity group” — he can say “we fundy Christians are the nations rulers” and he doesn’t want Mormons and atheists in the presidents club. Sort of like rooting for the home team.
It’s not going to work for him if he gets another fundy like George W. Bush.



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 7:19 pm


Mr. Mohler,
If you want your religion in office, why not vote for Al Sharpton? He’s a Pentecostal.



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AC

posted July 7, 2007 at 7:45 pm


AC well said.
Stuart asked, “Where is the Trinity even mentioned in the Bible?”
This is how we arrive at the Trinity…
The Bible teaches that there is one and only one God. Here are some verses that make that point super crystal clear:
“You believe that there is one God. You do well.” James 2:19
“The LORD our God, the LORD is one” Deuteronomy 6:4
“Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” Isaiah 43:10
“I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6b
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” Isaiah 45:5
With this fundamental and foundational knowledge that from everlasting to everlasting there is ONLY ONE God, neither was there a God formed before this ONE God, neither will there ever be another God formed after this ONE God firmly in place we see that Bible also says that:
The Father is God:
“Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father” Galatians 1:3a
The Son is God:
“the Word was God” John 1:1c
The Holy Spirit is God:
“Spirit of God” Romans 8:11
So while the Bible CLEARLY proclaims these 3 distinct Persons as “GOD” AT THE VERY SAME TIME it is made abundantly clear that “there is one God”. 1 Timothy 2:5a and “and there is no other” Isaiah 45:5.
**Anybody who denies that the Father is God and that the Son is God and that the Holy Spirit is God is also violating Scripture.
**Anybody who says there is more than 1 God violates all the Scriptures that MAKE IT OH SO CLEAR that there is ONLY ONE God.
**Yet anybody who denies that there are distinctions between the Father and Son and Holy Spirit (for example the Son prayed to the Father etc) is also violating Scripture.
The way the whole thing haromizes is as follows:
The Father is not the Son neither is He the Holy Spirit. The Father is God.
The Son is not the Father neither is He the Holy Spirit. The Son is God.
The Holy Spirit is not the Father neither is He the Son. The Holy Spirit is God.
Yet they are NOT 3 Gods. They are ONE GOD.
Stuart commented about the risen Christ, “Seems weird that Christ, being a memebr of the Holy trinity of orthosox chrisitianity, ate fish with them. What a sight to see a material fish be eaten by a spirit.”
I’m not even exactly sure what that means. The resurrected Christ had a body with bones and flesh.
Stuart asked, “Can you explain Revelations 1:6?”
Sure.It says, “To Him who loved us and washed[a] us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings[b] and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ”
It says that the Christ of the Bible (The Creator of Lucifer not the brother of Lucifer) loved us and washed us from our sins (those who repent and trust the Christ of the Bible). He has made us kings and priests to His (Christ’s) God and Father through His atonement. And to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Finally Stuart asked, “However, tell me what biblical doctrines, that doesn’t include the Pagan emperor’s Trinity doctrine, the Mormons do not seem to follow”
Calling the Trinity pagan doctrine is calling God’s revelation of Himself pagan, a HUGE blasphemy. Besides denying the OH SO CLEAR biblical doctrine of the Trinity… Mormons believe in a different Jesus than the one the Bible proclaims which means they are not even saved. Also, they preach “another gospel” that Paul warns us about in Galatians which makes them accursed. This “other gospel” is one that includes a different Jesus and also promotes salvation by works.
Stuart, my friend, it comes down to these two things:
1) You and I believe in TWO different Jesuses and TWO different gospels.
The Jesus that I believe in is the Second Person of the Trinity who is the one and only true God who is the Creator of all things including Lucifer.
The gospel that I believe in is that there is nothing good in and of myself. I deserve the wrath of God and eternal hell. But that God’s Son, the Second Person of the Triune God, died on my behalf and purchased my salvation with His own blood. As Revelation 1:6 says Jesus the Creator of all things including Lucifer, has loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood. There is no works that earn my salvation or contribute to it. It was a gift of God that I did not deserve and cannot earn. After saving me has put His Spirit inside of me that I should live a fruit bearing life for His glory. My good works are a RESULT and CONSEQUENCE of the salvation He has already given me by grace.
2) If your Jesus (brother of Lucifer) and your gospel (salvation by grace through faith, AFTER ALL YOU CAN DO) are true, then what will happen to me? I go to a lesser heaven? Big deal.
But if the Jesus that I believe in (Creator of Lucifer) and the gospel that I believe in (salvation by grace through faith, not of works) is true, then what will happen to you? You will burn in hell eternally.
That is why I beg you once more: Repent of all your sins including the good works you think you can add to salvation and belief in a different Jesus…. and turn to the Jesus of the Bible (the Second Person of the Trinity) to save you! Forsake your evil thoughts and ways and turn to the true Christ and He will abundandtly pardon and justify you. Or else you will perish.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:09 pm


Let me get this clear.
1. The Old Testament says there is only one God.
2. The New Testament demonstrates three divine personages.
3. There is no single passage which cleary interpets and resolves the dilemna.
4. The Trinity doctrine, agreed upon roughly 325 A.D., resolves this dilemna based on abstraction and interpretation.
5. I will go to hell if I don’t agree with #4, but I agree with 1 and 2?
Does that make sense? Why would God be so confusing if everyone’s salvation was in the balance?



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:21 pm


“symbolism and perception” — I think that really means “reputation and prestige for your identity group” — he can say “we fundy Christians are the nations rulers” and he doesn’t want Mormons and atheists in the presidents club. Sort of like rooting for the home team.
—————–
—————–
I doubt Al thinks that way. I think he fears that Mormon missionary work would be supercharged. But, I think he is dead wrong, because he is overlooking the fact that become a Mormon is for the weak-minded is nearly impossible. You really got to believe or you are easily dissuanded from doctrinal attacks or personal commitment issues (no alcohol, pre-marital sex, belief in the Book of Mormon, etc.). A Mormon president does not make that easy to swallow for the weak-minded. In fact, I fear, that the press would make it harder in some respects, because they would color things unfairly.



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P. Nielsen

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:28 pm


Dear AC,
First, I should say that Mormons have no problem with, and in fact *agree* with the doctrine that “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God.” We just don’t accept the creeds, which define this “oneness” in terms of “substance”.
I like those scriptures you gave. Let’s go through them.
James 2:19. Other, more literal, translations render this as “*Thou* believest that God is one. Thou doest well. The demons even believe, and tremble.” (Go to “Blue Letter Bible” to look up other translations.) It isn’t entirely clear from the context, at least to me, that “one” is in terms of “cardinality of substances.” It could mean “one” in lots of other ways. To give a parallel, Gal. 3:28 reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Reading this literally, we would come to the conclusion that the scripture *clearly* says we lose our gender, our heritage, and become one person. But the verse is speaking symbolically.
These same comments apply to Deut. 6:4. I should also mention that some Christian scholars have suggested that these verses, along with the Isaiah verses, were changed during the Hezekiah reforms.
The Isaiah verses could also be read symbolically. But, for the sake of argument, even if we read them literally, they say nothing about a singleness of “substance” as in the creeds.
Also, your proof-text that the Holy Spirit is God seems rather weak. Not that I disagree with you on the point–just that the scripture doesn’t say to me what it seems to say to you.
Now, let me ask a few rhetorical questions. Do you recognize the fact that there are scriptures in the Bible which, if read literally, imply the existence of multiple Gods? If not, try googling “Ye are Gods” or “God is a God of Gods”. If so, you recognize that this issue isn’t crystal clear, and something has to be said. And if that is the case, why quote the scriptures you did without addressing the other ones and pretending it is “oh so clear” in the Bible”?
And, as I said earlier, it is disingenuous to claim that Mormon’s worship a “different” Jesus. We worship the Jesus who died on Calvary, who was born of Mary. We may believe different things about Him, but it is the same being.
Best wishes,
P. Nielsen



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Joel Cannon

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:42 pm


TB asked:
Mormons- What constitutes being a “Christian”?
I can’t speak for all Mormons – only myself, but for me it simple.
A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The problem is that there exists a disagreement on these teachings (why else are there so many Christian demoninations). This is less a problem for myself than others, because I believe there is some Truth in all religions, and I respect anyone who is sincerely trying to do what is right. Unfortunately, religion can also be used to justify evil actions, but I will let Christ judge what is in people’s hearts.
What is interesting, is that Mormon’s (primarily Mitt Romney) are not being criticized for their actions, but their personal beliefs. It all feels very un-American.
I don’t have a problem with people who view Mormon’s as peculiar. But when people tell me I am not a Christian, it is not much different than telling me I belong to a Cult. It just feels like bigotry. If they want to make a distinction, then that is fine. Non-Creedal or Unorthodox Christiian are two examples that seem to fit.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 8:47 pm


There is just too much theological implications for an Evangelical, if one says that a Mormon believes the same concrete Jesus as they do but may be in error on some of the doctrines. It would imply that Mormons could be saved and they feel that is not even a possibility.



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Roy

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:04 pm


The incredible ease with which the Mormon Tabernacle choir, and other Mormons, misappropriate for their own glory hymns and songs written by devout trinitarian Christians exposes both their audacity and duplicity – which are very much at the core of this whole discussion. Songs INDISPUTABLY intended by passionate monotheistic Christians to praise and worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, in harmony with what Dr. Mohler describes as the “historical orthodox Christian faith” have routinely been hijacked by Mormons and falsely presented as though they endorsed their essentially polytheistic religion. This is plainly an abuse of the sincere intent of the hymn writers and shameful behavior on the part of Mormons. But the same pattern of misrepresenting authorial intent is also demonstrated when the Mormons proof-text the Bible. Their out-of-context method of manipulating the Bible is the same as that used by JW’s, only they each claim to “prove” virtually opposite points. The Jewish-Christian Scriptures, our Bible, are thoroughly and uncompromisingly monotheistic. Ask any devout Jew, read the Jewish rabbinical writings, read the the early Church fathers, or best of all, read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation IN CONTEXT, not in the out-of-context proof-texting manner ALWAYS used by Mormons. We now have the outstanding scroll of Isaiah from Qumran which predates the birth of Jesus and, like all the Bible, is emphatically monotheistic (read, for example, Isaiah 43:10ff.) proving that post-biblical writers did not invent monotheism – not that there was ever in any doubt among orthodox Christians and Jews. Mormons would be outraged if anyone quoted Mitt Romney out of context the way they do the Holy Scriptures. They are clearly trying to hijack the Bible and the “Christian” label using the audacious and duplicitous methods they have long used to steal so very many Christian hymns.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Which hymns require only a Trinitarian to sing honestly?
Hello! Are you serious?
Some of those hymns were written by Unitarians. Should they be banned too?
You guys are really reaching.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:42 pm


Let me get this straight:
If I sing “the Lord is my Shepherd” which is word for word Biblical text, then somehow it is dishonest because I don’t agree with a concept that is NOT word for word in the Bible?????
You guys are impossible to please!!!!!



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Norman Doering

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:49 pm


nowandlater wrote:

You guys are really reaching.

I agree.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:50 pm


I refer to you, Caesarea called Cornelius, from Acts 10.
He had NO IDEA about THEOLOGY or CREEDS. He was a Roman PAGAN who prayed earnestly and yet still God answered him. He did have to do any formulation of Diety. He didn’t have to figure out the trinity or one in substance. He had no clue!!!! Yet God heard him! More important is our heart and sincerity then correct doctrinal formulations. Mormons think that the heart is the most important, doctrinal formulations are not the most preeminent — a concrete Jesus is more important than an abstraction.
Also, even after talking to God’s Angel, this Roman soldier kneeled at Peter’s feet as if he was God. He still HAD NO CLUE! The angel didn’t bother to apply a litmus test on him. Yet we have those here who wish to do so at the expense of one’s love in their heart for Jesus!



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Stuart

posted July 7, 2007 at 9:58 pm


AC
First. Constantine was a PAGAN!! That is the truth and nothing can alter that. But…I guess that death-bed confessions of faith is sufficient for you, because I forget that FAITH alone is enough. Forget that Christ said that believe and obey Him get eternal life. WAIT!!! Obey is that an action or as James call it, a WORK? Read the BIBLE and you will see that Christ often calls the people to not just believe but to FOLLOW. What was the problem with the rich man who believed in the Savior, but was unwilling to do what….ohh yeah, unwilling to act upon that faith. Was Abraham blessed for merely believing or by acting according to that faith.
Second. I know that I have to repeat myself and if you want, look back to a previous comment for more detail. You admit that the BIBLE teaches that there are 3 sepaate GODS. You are right that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are Gods. And you are right that the Father is OUR one and only God. God = a title of godhood, similar to Father is a title of Parenthood.
All mankind has only 1 God, the Father. That is why Christ taught us to pray to our Father in Heaven, we were not commanded to pray to Christ, or so-called Saints. The Father is our GOD, and only GOD!!! Analogy: I have a father, I also have a brother. My brother has children and is their father. My brother being a father does not take away the seniority or respect owed to his father, who is also mine.
Third. Why is it so bad that Christ would be our brother. That fact makes it ohhh so much more amazing that Chirst would be willing to die for me, so that we could fulfill God’s plan (AC…in your view, what is God’s plan…simply to have us praise Him for eternity?, If so, how sad!) Christ told Mary Magdalene that He was going to His Father and Our Father. Those words cannot be discarded and I may not be so bright, but if someone shares the same FATHER, then they are brothers and/or sisters.
Fourth. How is Christ doing His Father’s business if they are the same? Also, how was it the Father’s will and not Christ’s, if they are the same?
Read the Bible and ask why you church or other orthodoc christian religions do not do half of the things that Christ and the Apostles taught (baptism by immersion, laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, the Prisethod, Prophets, Apostles, Temples, Baptsims for the Dead?)
Fifth. If you think the BIBLE is all the doctrine Christ taught, tell me what did Christ teach during his days with the Apostles after His ressurection?? HUH??
Good try, AC. May want to propose more!



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Joel Cannon

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:22 pm


On January 1, 2000, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the following declaration. Titled “The Living Christ,” this declaration bears witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and summarizes His identity and divine mission:
“As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
“He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
“He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
“We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
“He rose from the grave to ‘become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ (Ephesians 1:10).
“Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: ‘His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
” ‘I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father’ (D&C 110:3–4).
“Of Him the Prophet also declared: ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
” ‘For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
” ‘That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (D&C 76:22–24).
“We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—’built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone’ (Ephesians 2:20).
“We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
“We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles, that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son” (Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3).



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AC

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:30 pm


I’m exhausted from a long day so I wont address everything (at least not right now). I will reiterate one thing though…
Mormons and Christians believe in two different Jesuses and two different Gospels.
The Christian Jesus is:
1) the Second Person of the One (and only one) Tri-Une God
2) The Creator of all things including Lucifer
3) has always been God, from eternity past to eternity future, there has never been a time when He did not exist as God. He did not “grow” into His Godhood and He did not acquire His divinity or power from anyone else
The Christian Gospel is:
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. We cannot add to or contribute at all in any way to our salvation. Even our faith is a gift from God. By grace through faith the sinner becomes a new creation with a new heart and new desires. By grace alone through faith alone a sinner passes from death to life and from being a child of the devil,disobedience, and wrath to being a child of the living God. By grace through faith the sinners becomes a new creation created in Christ Jesus for good works to the glory of God the Father.
Mormons believe in a different Jesus and different Gospel than the one mentioned above. Therefore…
If Mormons are correct then Christians will spend eternity in a lesser heaven.
But if Christians are correct then Mormons will spend eternity in the lake of fire.
That is all I have to say for now. Good night everyone.



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Jesse

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:49 pm


nowandlater, you assume much when you say that Cornelius had NO IDEA about THEOLOGY or CREEDS. Nowhere does the Bible teach this. It is just as possible that Cornelius had knowledge of Jewish religion – Romans were not stupid – in fact, they were very religious allowing the religions of their conquered to be practiced (along with all others). More importantly is the fact that God TOLD Cornelius to send for Peter. This is in line with God’s Providence ensuring the salvation of His elect.
Joel Cannon, you wrote that “He (Jesus) taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence.” I may have missed this, where in the Bible did Jesus teach that we existed prior to being born? You’re going to have to help me with this.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 10:59 pm


I am curious, do you apply abstraction to this account or do you go for the concrete explanation?
—-
John 20:17 “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
—-
Jesus’ description is clear here. Abrstraction to make it fit the Trinity doctrine just creates confusion.
Also, can someone from the Orthodox camp, please explain to me why Jesus couldn’t be “touched” if the physical universe was not somehow relevant to God the Father? If you could only answer this question of mine that would be very useful for your argument.



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:04 pm


“nowandlater, you assume much when you say that Cornelius had NO IDEA about THEOLOGY or CREEDS. Nowhere does the Bible teach this. It is just as possible that Cornelius had knowledge of Jewish religion – Romans were not stupid – in fact, they were very religious allowing the religions of their conquered to be practiced (along with all others). More importantly is the fact that God TOLD Cornelius to send for Peter. This is in line with God’s Providence ensuring the salvation of His elect.”
Ah..no…He kneeled down in front of Peter as if he was God. He was screwed up in his thinking. Peter corrected him.
I find it curious that an Angel was someone that was NOT able to instruct theology? If an Angel visited you, wouldn’t you think one’s insight into theology would someone be greater???? In this case it didn’t happen. This just shows you that God cares about concrete world first and then he clears up theology as one goes along!



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nowandlater

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:25 pm


“Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. We cannot add to or contribute at all in any way to our salvation.”
Agreed, Agreed, Agreed, but I hear this from Evangelicals a lot.
But what Evangelicals don’t usually talk about is Rewards (which they also believe when you pin them down on it) which Jesus also frequently talks about which are based on works. So when a Mormon is talking about works he is really focusing on the rewards, because to him, Salvation is a already given!



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Laura

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:31 am


We are PROUD MEMBERS of THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS…I sugget if you have questions that you go to these sites for more understanding… http://www.lds.org AND http://mormon.org….
Maybe these will help explain our beliefs. WE DO BELIEVE IN GOD AND JESUS CHRIST….Try to understand before you judge…you may just be surprised….May you be Blessed in all you do in your life and I wish you peace and happiness…Sincerely, Laura



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Joel Cannon

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:42 am


Jessee asks – where in the Bible did Jesus teach that we existed prior to being born?
We believe that we are the spiritual children of our (literally) Heavenly Father. Before we were born on Earth, we lived with him as spirits (aka angels). We will return as spirits when we die.
The disciples understood that we existed before we were born (they had studied Jeremiah), and they asked Jesus if a blind man was afflicted because of choices he had made in heaven.
I assumed that everyone that read the bible believed that babies were sent from heaven. Is there some passage in the Bible that would lead someone to believe that we had no pre-mortal existence?
I do not share these scriptures with you expecting to change your mind, but to help you understand how a sincere student of the bible might draw different conclusions than yourself.
Jeremiah 1
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
John 9
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Ephesians 1
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Revelations 12
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Acts 2
8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
Ecclesiastes12
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Acts 17
29 Forasmuch then as we are the aoffspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto bgold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
(there are many others, but I hopes these suffice).



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Singh

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:45 am


Here is a question for Baptists that I have never gotten a concise answer on.
From what I gather of Baptist theology salvation is attained by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Personal Saviour and as the Son of God and as God. (Though I am not phrasing it very gracefully). In the Baptist faith there is no sacrament, there is no penance, there is not rite for which salvation is dependent upon. (If I am wrong feel free to correct me, that is just the understanding I have had from many theological discussions with Baptist friends and not-so-friends). If this is true, why do Baptists always have a bone to pick with Mormons?
Mormons believe in the three necessary tenets for Salvation under Baptist Theology, that Christ is 1)their personal Saviour, 2) the Son of God and 3) God. While they might believe that Jesus and the Father are separate, it does not lessen the Divinity of Christ in their theology. Given this, Mormons have as much claim to Salvation as Baptist.
The only counter I have had to this from a Baptist Friend is, “But Mormons do not believe in the true Jesus” or “Mormons do not believe in the Trinity”. Mormons and Baptists tend to go back and forth on the concept of saved by grace or works. Baptist strongly believe in salvation by grace and grace alone. I find a quagmire here for Baptist. Suddenly salvation is determinant not just on the mantra of confession stated above (the three points), but on a proper knowledge of the nature of Christ. Attaining the proper knowledge sounds a lot like a work to me. Grace is conditioned on knowledge instead of faith.
Assuming that the three points are fulfilled and Mormons, with all their false doctrine in the eyes of Baptists, are heirs of Salvation through Jesus Christ, why is man trying to distinguish who are and are not Christians. If Christ has saved a man is that man not a Christian, a child of Christ as well.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:56 am


“But if Christians are correct then Mormons will spend eternity in the lake of fire.”
That is absolutely not true of the Catholic Church. It is probably true of most evangelicals and others of the Baptist ilk, but the Catholic Church doesn’t even make judgments about “lesser heavens” or lesser or greater rewards. ALL of that is left to the judgment of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and when the fundamentalist-style Christians say that Mormons are doomed to hell, they are actually doing something that is FORBIDDEN for Orthodox Christians. (I say Orthodox because I’m pretty sure the Eastern Churches say the same.)
Anyway-I thought the Mormons should know. (I’m not going to join in the arguments here–I’ve read a lot of them, and they just aren’t worth my time. They are completely out of control. I’m only giving this as information about the Catholic Church. I don’t care if the other guys don’t believe it, and I don’t care why they don’t believe it.)



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Mike Bennion

posted July 8, 2007 at 2:42 am


Will quoting Robert Letham:
Actually, Robert Letham makes a good point about the distinctions between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity in his book “The Holy Trinity.” He said (paraphrase) that the Eastern Church doesn’t simply answer the questions differently than the West did beginning with Calvin, Luther, and the Reformation. Rather, the Eastern Church asks entirely different questions. For example, the East focuses on Christ’s resurrection as conquering death, which is the great enemy. The West views the enemy more as sin, and Christ’s work was more important in conquering that. Now, that’s a nuanced example because both sides look at sin and death as related problems, but the focus is different.
The LDS doctrine is actually a reconciliation of these two ways of seeing. We believe that “as in Adam all die even in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22) But we also believe that Those who show faith in Jesus Christ by keeping his commandments, become one with Him and the Father. John Chapter 17. Thus Christ overcomes death for all who ever lived, live now, or will live. And He overcomes Sin for those who love him and keep his commandments.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 8, 2007 at 2:58 am


Roy made this comment today, July 7:
“read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation IN CONTEXT, not in the out-of-context proof-texting manner ALWAYS used by Mormons.”
Roy, my friend,
“ALWAYS” is a pretty powerful word. Are you absplutely sure that this is what every Mormon, every where, in every tiem always does?
Please come over to our blog at http://truthrestored.townhall.com/Default.aspx
See our conversation with “Virginia Daddy”, a member of the McClean Va Bible Church.
Let’s see who used the widest variety of scriptures, from the greatest number of sources. Let’s see who developed plausible assertions supported by Biblical evidence.
You are welcome to try your hand at it.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 8, 2007 at 3:27 am


AC made this comment on July 7, 2007 7:45 PM
“That is why I beg you once more: REPENT OF ALL YOUR SINS INCLUDING THE GOOD WORKS you think you can add to salvation and belief in a different Jesus…. and turn to the Jesus of the Bible (THE SECOND PERSON OF THE TRINITY) to save you! Forsake your evil thoughts and ways and turn to the true Christ and He will abundandtly pardon and justify you. Or else you will perish. (Emphasis Mike’s)
Mike’s response:
AC, you said: “REPENT OF ALL YOUR SINS INCLUDING THE GOOD WORKS you think you can add to salvation”
So you actually believe that Jesus and Peter taught us to sin, by doing good works, in light of the scriptures quoted below? And by the way, isn’t repentence a work? oooh….is that evil too?
John 14:15 if ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14: 21 that hath my commandments, and keepeth them.
John 15: 10 if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.
John 15: 14 my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command.
Eph. 6: 2 Honour thy father and mother . . . the first commandment with promise.
1 Tim. 1: 5 end of the commandment is charity.
1 Jn. 2: 3 we know him, if we keep his commandments.
Mark 16: 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.
Luke 3: 21 Jesus also being baptized.
Luke 7: 30 rejected the counsel of God . . . being not baptized.
John 3: 5 Except a man be born of water . . . he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 2: 38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you.
Acts 10: 48 commanded them to be baptized.
Acts 22: 16 be baptized, and wash away thy sins.
Titus 3: 5 saved us, by the washing of regeneration.
1 Pet. 3: 21 baptism doth also now save us.
AC You said: “the Jesus of the Bible (THE SECOND PERSON OF THE TRINITY)”
I thought the trinity was ONE. John 17 might give you an out here.
Three persons, one in power, majesty, might, love, purpose. I see all that in these Biblical verses. I don’t even see the word “trinity” in the Bible. But I believe that God is “one” as defined by John 17.
AC said: “turn to the true Christ and He will abundandtly pardon and justify you. Or else you will perish.”
Jesus said: Mark 16: 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.
Peter Said: Acts 2: 38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you.
Mike says: I have turned to the true Christ. He’s the one who commands me to do works that AC calls evil. Who’s Jesus would you rather follow?



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Rotorhead

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:03 am


I am deeply saddened by this type of discussion amongst professors of Christ. Whether or not “Mormonism” (the aggregate of imperfect sinners belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) is Christian may require Christ Himself to so declare if anyone is to break the dogma espoused in this blog. I search the Bible and like statistics, can manipulate any of the data to support either a yes or now position as I choose. By modern definition, would you consider Abraham a Christian? He had more than one wife or at least he sired a child with a different woman while married to Sarai, would that be considered appropriate christian behavior. Or how about Moses and Joshua? They were directly responsible for the destruction of thousands of God’s children, and the taking of their property. In fact, the Bible is full of these “seemingly” contradictions with “The Ten Commandments”.
My goodness, why so many different “Christian” religions today? Could it be that God is the God of confusion? Or doesn’t really care so long as each one professes Christ? Or just maybe these Mormons are on to something. Maybe He (God) who makes the rules (Commandments) can change the rules as He sees fit based on omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, all of which He perfectly possesses.
How personally grateful I am for the Jew, Catholic, and Protestant who have all contributed to the richness of my faith in God. Each group has had saints (and I guess devils too unfortunately) who have carried the flame of Faith forward so that today, I could benefit from their multitude of sacrifices.
As I have read your blog postings I am amazed at the one lacking element…Charity or the pure love of Christ in the definition of a Christian. I am no trained theologian, but I do know that the Apostle Paul, who I believe was a true Christian affirmed that if we had not Charity we were nothing, including a Christian. In my Bible it says “Charity suffereth long, is kind; envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, …Charity never faileth.” We stand in judgement of each other and yet we know so little about what we speak. “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face…” Is it charitable to contend against one another’s doctrinal beliefs? I know Christ died for my sins according to the scriptures; I know he was the God of the Old Testament; I know he was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures…and I praise Him everyday for that ultimate charitable act…and yes I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray every day that I might be more charitable as I struggle through this time we call life. I also pray that all you who claim to be “Christian” will not just claim it, but act Christian as well; for the scriptures tell us that even the devils “know” that Jesus is the Christ…and that doesn’t unite them to His cause one bit!!!
with deepest regards,
Your Mormon brother in Christ



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Julia Mason

posted July 8, 2007 at 4:03 am


The problem with any organized religion is that they argue about how to practice faith in the God and his Son that they believe in. Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, First Christians, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., etc., think they are the utimate Christians. Does God and Jesus really care as long as we follow His teachings?
I compare this debate with the those whose aim is to destroy any who will not follow their ideology…as seen in the Middle East. Mormans support “One Nation Under God”. “Nuff said!”



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Maureen

posted July 8, 2007 at 5:01 am


I believe Jesus keeps it simple for a reason….. for simple minded people like me. Simple faith in what jesus did on the cross for us all is what “Christianity” is. There is nothing else! His precious grace sustains us! Thank You Lord for keeping it simple!



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Donna

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:30 am


Anyone who reads the Book of Mormons knows the it has alot of the what is said in the Bible wriiten in it too.
As for a Mormon President , He can’t do much more harm to our country as past presidents have done.
I’m not a Mormon but I have the Book of Mormons along with the Bible.



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Debbie

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:50 am


For nowandlater who erroneously posted way on back that “Mary Did you Know” was written by Meril Osmond. Mark Lowery, Christian comedian and singer would be very interested to know that the song he wrote years ago is now being credited to someone else. I believe that is called plagarism. It is possible that Merrill heard the version that Michael English sang and decided to re-record it for the Mormon public. For the record, Mark Lowery wrote it and Michael English sang it. Check copyrights to verify what I just said. – yes, I went to the youtube sight and listened to it. It is without a doubt the song that Mark Lowery wrote.



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 11:59 am


“For nowandlater who erroneously posted way on back that “Mary Did you Know” was written by Meril Osmond. Mark Lowery, Christian comedian and singer would be very interested to know that the song he wrote years ago is now being credited to someone else. I believe that is called plagarism. It is possible that Merrill heard the version that Michael English sang and decided to re-record it for the Mormon public. For the record, Mark Lowery wrote it and Michael English sang it. Check copyrights to verify what I just said. – yes, I went to the youtube sight and listened to it. It is without a doubt the song that Mark Lowery wrote.”
My apologies, I look at Donny and Merril’s record and saw the song there. I had no idea that Mark Lowery wrote it.



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Jesse

posted July 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm


I agree, nowandlater, that Cornelius’ theology was skewed; but he certainly had an idea of theology.
It is not that an Angel was not able, but God has determined that man (who has experienced salvation first hand) will use the preaching of the words as the means whereby men will hear the message of salvation by repentance and faith in Christ.
Joel, God “knowing” us from before the foundation of the world is part of His knowing that we would be born and His choosing us to salvation. Some of your scriptures (Rev. 12 & Acts 2 to name two) do not even seem to hint and man’s existence prior to birth. As far as the others, I disagree with your interpretation but I do appreciate your posting them so I can see the basis of your belief.



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vineseeker

posted July 8, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Mormons believe as God was they are,, as God is,, they will become,,,,,,,,,,As my belief as a Christian,, I believe who God was I will never be as He is I will never become, HE changes not He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow,,,,,,,,,I was never created to become Him,,,,,,,,,,I was created to ultimately worship and praise him.. the Saying as God was we are and as God is we will become, is to close to a conversation that the serpent had with Eve in the garden….As a christian my belief, that scripture acknowledges as being true, is that I am not, nor will I ever be God,,,,,,,,,,,



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 3:51 pm


Interesting.
When Jesus says he is “The Way”, one significant way we see that is that we followed him before this life, this life and then the next. Anywhere, He existed, we existed and must follow Him through out the path that he hath trod.
If Jesus existed before this life, then we existed. If He was born, then we were born. If He died, then well will die. If He was resurrected, then we through his power will be resurrected. If He returns to the presence of the Father, then we through His Mercy and the Love in our hearts will return to the Father.
Truly, Jesus is the Way of all mankind and we take the absolute broadest point of view of this not a narrowly defined view of it.
The Great Jehovah, the Great I AM, or more literally the Great I AM BECOMING, became all the Father has willed for Him who had no beggining and has no end. And we must also follow Him.
Eccl. 12: 7
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.



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Kay

posted July 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm


I remember reading in the bible where the modern day scholars of Jesus time were arguing and debating over issues they believed kept people out of heaven or at the least disapproval from God. I love the manner in which Jesus handled them. Remember?
The Church of Jesus Christ boasts many members with wonderful hearts. I lived in Utah for 10 years as a single parent mom with 3 children while I went back to college for both my undergraduat and graduate degrees.
My neighbors the Mormon’s were wonderful to me and my children. While I am not Mormon and was baptized a Seventh Day Adventist when I was 14 I still repspect and love the people who so kindly favored my children during some of the roughest times of my life. Many a time when I could barely keep food on the table, a roof over our heads and deal with a car broken down did my kindhearted neighbors step up to the plate and assist me. You see they believe the widowed and the fatherless are to be watched over by the church like it says in the bible. When the local bishop kindly offered to take my youngest son to his tee ball games when I could not attend I was over joyed my son would not miss out on his favorite sport just because mom could not be in two places at one time.
I was emotionally and spiritually supported by my beloved Mormon friends while many of my Christian friends were not empathetic or concerned one way or another, lukewarm at best and indiffernt for the most part. My own church members also stepped up to the plate in the form of extending offers of rides and taking my children on outings with the church however we are addressing my mormon friend’s and thier religion. Deciding whether or not they are Christians based upon intellectual determinations rather than by biblical standards….I believe the Bible says “by their fruits…”
Anyone can belong to the “right” church…only the followers of Jesus whose behaviors show the fruits of the spirit truly know Jesus. This makes them Christians by the good books definitions. It is so simple a child can understand it. Thank heavens the 12 disciples were not required to have graduate degress to follow Jesus or we might not be having this discussion right now.
Be Blessed In All You Do!
Kay
Loveandkindess are not a weakness, they are wisdom in action.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm


Vineseeker said:
Mormons believe as God was they are,, as God is,, they will become,,,,,,,,,,As my belief as a Christian,, I believe who God was I will never be as He is I will never become, HE changes not He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow,,,,,,,,,I was never created to become Him,,,,,,,,,,I was created to ultimately worship and praise him.. the Saying as God was we are and as God is we will become, is to close to a conversation that the serpent had with Eve in the garden….As a christian my belief, that scripture acknowledges as being true, is that I am not, nor will I ever be God,,,,,,,,,,,
Mike’s reply:
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/godhood.htm
below is one of four comments from the above link. Go to the link to see the other three.
by W. John Walsh
First, you need to read the rest of Genesis chapter 3. In Genesis 3:22, it states “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil… “. Therefore, as the Lord himself says, Satan told Eve a half-truth. The Adversary lied when he said that Eve would “not surely die”, but he told the truth when he said that she would become “like God, knowing good and evil.”
To spread the false notion that Latter-day Saints do not show proper reverence towards the Godhead, anti-Mormons often tell people that Latter-day Saints believe that they will become co-equal, or on the same level, with God and no longer worship him. This misrepresentation is a twisting of an LDS doctrine called exaltation, a doctrine which the Bible clearly teaches.
Latter-day Saints believe our Heavenly Father has given us this mortal life to become more like him. Those who are true and faithful in all things will sit in the throne of Christ. (Rev 3:21) They will have the name of God the Father placed upon them (Rev 14:1) We believe that they shall be “heirs of God, and joint-heirs of Christ” (Rom 8:17). What shall the faithful inherit? ALL THINGS according to scripture (Heb 1:2) (See Heirs of God and Joint-Heirs with Christ)
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
“For I [am] the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I [am] holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)
We call anyone who sits in the throne of God, has God’s name and attributes, and who has inherited all things (i.e. – power, dominion, knowledge) from God—–a god.
Hence the scripture, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods….I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Psalms (82:1,6)
While we believe that the faithful will enjoy a life similar to our Heavenly Father, we also believe we will still be subject to and worship the God of Heaven, which is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Furthermore, while we will be “gods, even the sons of God” (D&C 76:58), we will never be at the same level as them or stop worshipping them, but we will be like them and enjoy a quality of life similar to theirs.



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Arthur Sido

posted July 8, 2007 at 5:53 pm


“Rotorhead”,
“As I have read your blog postings I am amazed at the one lacking element…Charity or the pure love of Christ in the definition of a Christian. I am no trained theologian, but I do know that the Apostle Paul, who I believe was a true Christian affirmed that if we had not Charity we were nothing, including a Christian.”
I am glad you believe Paul to be a true Christian.
You mistake Christian charity with indifference. Paul indeed called on us to be charitable.
Paul also warned us to beware the savage wolves who taught false doctrines.
Paul also said those who preach another Gospel are anathema and accursed.
Having Christian charity does not mean letting error passing itself off as Christianity go unchallenged. The bulk of the writings of the New Testament after the Gospels warn of dealing with false teachings. Talk of being a Christian is one thing, but given what mormon authorities have taught over the years and in light of what goes on in mormon temples, mormonism stands at direct odds with Biblical teachings.
Mr. Card raised the question in his post, who gets to define “Christian”? Well, Jesus Christ does and He has in His Word, and if you deny what His Word teaches, then you forfeit the right to call yourself a Christian.



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SingingOwl

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:17 pm


This is a very enlightening and interesting discussion.
I disgaree with Al Mohler on many subjects, but not this one! Mormons did not used to refer to themselves as “Christians.” This is (relatively) recent. They were “saints” or “Mormons” or “brothers and sisters” but did not seek to identify with the larger church world. Of course, the larger church world was happy to oblige and even to treat the Mormons with disdain.
I speak from the perspective of an evangelical female pastor who married a former Mormon. I (we) interacted with his Mormon family and friends, with many missionaries and home teachers and bishops over the years. I have read and studied Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. As I said, I absolutely agrees with Al Mohler that Mormons are not Christians if by that we mean “orthodox Christians.” Mr. Card, whose writing I love and recommend, agrees.
The Book of Mormon is a sad attempt to write in King James English. There is simply no comparison between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Rev. Mohler is correct that the book is not a wonderful advertisement of the LDS church. I find most Mormons do not know what their church teaches on many subjects. They can hardly be criticized for this–the LDS church is a veritable maze of sometimes conflicting doctrine.
As for what Kay said, this is sad. The main reason my husband’s family began to investigate the LDS church was because they received help in a time of need. Their Baptist neighborhood church was less charitable, even telling the children they were “bastards” because their dad had been married before. Such things ought not to be, and must cause great grief to God’s Holy Spirit!



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:58 pm


Someone earlier mentioned Satan in the garden of Eden.
Well, what does “Satan” translate into? It translates into “The Accusser”. He was the one who accussed God.
If one reflects upon the most damaging sins in our society then one can see how accusatory they sound.
Accusatory things like this which cause even good people to fall:
Why should I wait to have sex before I get married, you are stopping me from finding out if I am compatible?
Why should I repent and change my life? No one, not even Jesus can understand me.
That old fool man who claims to be a man of God, why should I listen to him? I know more than him about my own life.
The Bible is just old history. It can’t help my life today.
The Jews need to give back our lands. They lie, kill, and murder, we want our lands back.
An Accusser routinely short-circuit steps and think of the leave out charity. To them the ends justify the means.
Satan, told them they could acquire knowledge from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge Good and Evil and be like God, but he left very crucial elements. Knowledge of good and evil did not bring them the fruit from the Tree of Life. Man good know all that is good and evil, and yet he still builds the nuclear bomb and uses it. Such knowledge falls short of Life! Likewise man could design precise doctrinal formulations about God, but yet he can still fall short. Even the devils know precisely who Jesus is but yet they fall short.
Don’t get me wrong, misunderstanding doctrines can be a stumbling block, but as we see “just” partaking of the Tree of all Knowledge of Good and Evil DOES NOT lead to the Tree of Life. There is is something more than that. Something more piercing. Something more essential. What is it? It is a pure heart. It is the pure love of Jesus Christ. It is charity. All else fails. Even if one spoke with the toungue of angels expounding with perfect clarity on the Bible and doctrine, it is all naught compared to the charity and love of Jesus Christ. To us Mormons, we feel everything is focused on that and to acquiring that.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 8, 2007 at 7:23 pm


I could not disagree more with Singing Owl’s assesment of the Book of Mormon.
Link to
http://scriptures.lds.org/
For an on-line edition of the LDS Scriptures, including the Book of Mormon and the King James Version of the Bible.
See for yourselves what the Book is like.



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 8:39 pm


Below is an exerpt from this link. Feel free to look it over.
http://www.fairwiki.org/index.php/Latter-day_Saints_aren%27t_Christians#Saints_claim_to_be_Christian_only_recently.3F
Saints claim to be Christian only recently?
This claim is absurd. The critics depend on their audience not knowing much about LDS history for this claim. Enemies and members of the Church have long known that Church members consider themselves “Christian” (italics added in all cases):
1830
“They call themselves the church of Christ, and the only church of Christ. All professing Christians who do not adhere to their system, they consider as formalists; ‘having the form of Godliness, but denying the power’”.[3]
1831
“Old Joe . . . and several others . . . admitted [that the new faith] was an improvement in Christianity”.[4]
1832
The Mormonites “say the Millennium is soon to commence and that Christ is to come personally and take up His residence with them. . . . In its general principles this sect entirely coincide with others which have from time to time sprung up in Christendom”. [5]
1833
There is “a civil war between the Mormonites and their brother Christians”. [6]
1834
“Brother Joseph . . . went on to show the brethren how wicked and unchristianlike such conduct [among them] appeared before the eyes of truth and justice”.[7]
1835
“the doctrine promulgated by the ‘latter day Christians’ in the newly discovered Bible”.[8]
1836
“This morning a minister from Conne[c]ticut by the name of John W. Olived called at my house . . . . [He] asked me wherein we differ from other Christian denomination[s]”.[9]
1836
“they have the appearance of being devout Christians. . . . They call themselves ‘Latter-day Saints,’ and profess to be the only true church, to have the only gospel order, consisting of apostles, elders, bishops, etc., etc., which several orders of the Christian hierarchy have been distinctly brought to light in the Book of Mormon”.[10]
1837
“a large society of Christians who style themselves ‘Latter-day Saints’ or Mormons.” (Painesville Republican, vol. 1, no. 31, 15 June 1837).
1838
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”.[11]
1839
“This sect took its rise, A. D. 1830, in the county of Ontario, and State of New York. In April of that year, the society was organized as a Christian Church”.[12]
1839
The Mormons “were singing a hymn as other good Christians are wont to do . . . . [One of them offered] a very good Christian prayer . . . . [which petitioned that the Mormons might have] Christian fortitude.” (Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer, vol. 3, no. 17, 27 July 1839)
1840
“We want no religion but pure Christianity”.[13]
1840
The citizens of Nauvoo are “a people, professing to be Christians.” (Quincy Whig, vol. 3, no. 13, 25 July 1840).
1840
The Mormons retain “many truths which are held in common by different denominations of Christians.” (The Alton Telegraph, vol. 5, no. 46, 14 November 1840).
1841
“I understood from [the Mormons] as follows, . . . that they did not discard the Bible as used by other Christian sects”.[14]
1842
“the great Christian city of Nauvoo”.[15]
1842
Mormons “are Christians in the fullest sense of the term, believing in the Old and New Testaments.” (The New York Herald, vol. 7, no. 419, 16 May 1842).
1842
Mormons are described as – “A Christian sect in Illinois.” (Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review, vol. 7, no. 25, 18 June 1842; emphasis in original).
1842
“All these letters and documents [about the Mormons] disclose a most extraordinary movement in human affairs. What they mean we can hardly tell, but is it not time for some great religious revolution, as radical as Luther’s, to take place in the Christian world?…Unlike all other Christian sects, they adopt at once all the modern improvements of society, in art and literature; and from their singular religious faith give the highest enthusiasm to the movement at large. There is nothing odd, or singular, or absurd about them.” (“Wonderful Progress of Joe Smith, the Modern Mahomet.—Spread of the Mormon Faith, and a New Religious Revolution at Hand,” N.Y. Herald (17 June 1842); emphasis added).[16]
1842
“Mr. Whitney then asked if we acknowledged any to be Christians except those who embraced our doctrines and joined our church.” (Orson Hyde letter, Times and Seasons, vol. 3, no. 18, 15 July 1842, 849).
1843
“So far we are agreed with other Christian denominations. They all preach faith and repentance. The gospel requires baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, which is the meaning of the word in the original language—namely, to bury or immerse”.[17]
1843
Joseph Smith, in a public discourse, compared the Mormons to other denominations of Christians. (New York Spectator, vol. 46, no. 46, 23 August 1843).
1844
The Mormons are “calling themselves Christians . . . . Christians, as they claim to be.” (The Warsaw Signal, NS no. 4, no. 121, 6 March 1844).
1844
“The [Saturday] Courier should for the sake of truth and consistency, strike its flag of neutrality in RELIGION, while it wages a war of extermination against the Mormons; the only sect in Christendom, who in this nineteenth century can exhibit the irresistible evidence of martyrdom, in support of its cause”.[18]
1853
Now, we ARE believers in the Bible, and in consequence of our unshaken faith in its precepts, doctrine, and prophecy, may be, attributed “the strangeness of our course,” and the unwarrantable conduct of many towards this people. Come, my brother Presbyterian; come, my brother professors of every persuasion of long standing and popular distinction in the world, who are dubbed with the word “ORTHODOX;” come, we are all good Christians; I find no fault with you—why should you find fault with me?[19]
1854
“Mormonites . . . . call themselves Christians, it is true” (The Daily Globe, vol. 6, no. 261, 5 October 1854).
1859
We, as Christians, are divided and subdivided into many systems varying in doctrinal points. This one says, “I am right;” and that one says, “I am right;” another rises up and varies, more or less, from the doctrines of the Church he has left, and says he is right.[20]
1861
“…who is there that was not startled when he heard that a sect, affecting to be Christian beyond all other sects, which had sprung up in broad day from admidst the civilization of the United States…”[21]
1863
Should you ask why we differ from other Christians…Are all this people, in the Scriptural sense, Christians? They should be. Do they all serve God with an undivided heart? They should. Many of them do, seeking daily to do his will.[22]
1864
The Latter-day Saints differ from their Christian brethren.[23]
1866
Now, we as Christians desire to be saved in the kingdom of God.[24]
1866
President B. Young preached a very interesting and instructive discourse, in which he showed that professing Christians believe all that the Jews believe, which appertains to life and salvation, and have accepted principles in advance of the Jews, including faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and that the Latter-day Saints receive all believed in by other professing Christians, appertaining to life and salvation, accepting, as a part of their religious faith, principles in advance of them which are taught in the Scriptures. He touched upon the history of the Jewish people, showing the penalties which they had incurred by disobedience to the commandments of God, and pointing to the promises made to the patriarchal fathers concerning them. And deduced that if the condition of professing Christians is to-day better than that of the Jews, for believing more of the revelations of God, so the condition of the Saints is preferable to that of the other inhabitants of Christendom, in accepting all the revelations which the Lord has been pleased to give. [25]
1866
“On one occasion one of the native brethren who had been persecuted, claimed his rights as a Swiss citizen, and the question was brought up in the Swiss Congress, Are the ‘Mormons’ Christians? After some discussion, the conclusion was arrived at that they were, and must accordingly be protected.”[26]
1870
Have you embraced truth, Latter-day Saints? Have you anything different from other Christians?[27]
1871
If you should have visits here from those professing to be Christians, and they intimate a desire to preach to you, by all means invite them to do so. Accord to every reputable person who may visit you, and who may wish to occupy the stands of your meeting houses to preach to you, the privilege of doing so, no matter whether he be a Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Free-will Baptist, Methodist, or whatever he may be; and if he wishes to speak to your children let him do so. Of course you have the power to correct whatever false teachings or impressions, if any, your children may hear or receive. I say to parents, place your children, as far as you [p.196] have an opportunity to do so, in a position or situation to learn everything in the world that is worth learning. You will probably have what is called a Christian Church here; they will not admit that we are Christians, but they cannot think us further from the plan of salvation as revealed from heaven than we know them to be, so we are even on that ground, as far as it goes.[28]
We are preaching to the people far and near; our Elders are traveling through the earth; strangers are coming here, and we are declaring to them that the Gospel of the Son of God is true. Whether they believe or not, it is no matter. That book (the Bible)contains the words of the Almighty…. I know of the bright promises which he gave to his disciples anciently. I live in the possession of them, and glory in them and in the cross of Christ, and in the beauty and holiness that he has revealed for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men. I do wish we would live to them, and may the Lord help us. [29]
1872
We, as Christians, believe in God, in Christ and in his atonement, in repentance and obedience, and in receiving the Spirit.[30]
“we take the liberty to believe the Bible, which our fellow Christians, generally throughout the world, profess to believe in…”[31]
“We are looking for him [i.e. Second coming of Christ]. The Christians of all denominations expect that he will appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The Latter-day Saints expect this in common with all other Christians.”[32]
1876
These are only a few reflections, when we take into consideration our Christian religion.[33]
Brother Cannon speaks of Christians. We are Christians professedly, according to our religion.[34]
“How shall we, as Christians, reconcile these words of our Savior with the reception everywhere given by the world to Messrs. Moody and Sankey? They are, professedly, Christian ministers, yet they are largely entertained by the world, extolled by the world, and apparently loved by the world….”[35]
“But Joseph Smith reiterates the Savior’s promises. He has no fear of being proved a false teacher. He professes to be a Christian minister called and sent of God….”[36]
“Immediate revelation was the life of primitive Christianity, and when that ceased to be given to men, Christianity waxed feeble, waned and died. With the restored Gospel came immediate revelation, and Christianity was born again upon the earth.”[37]
1881
We are a Christian community; we believe in God and in Jesus Christ…[38]
1892
“What a singular sort of ‘Christian community’ that must be that will not tolerate an unorthodox Christian society in its midst!”[39]
“The insinuation in this [written attack on the LDS by a Protestant minister in SLC] is to the effect that a ‘Mormon’ is not a Christian, and the ‘Mormon’ religion is not a Christian religion, and further that the Supreme Court of the United States has virtually so decided…. But if a ‘Mormon’ is not a Christian then there are no Christians in America…. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is at least as fairly entitled to the appellation of a Christian as a member of the Presbyterian Church”[40]
“[with reverence to Revelation 1. 12] We accept—as all Christians do—that God inspired the words ‘to see the voice.’”[41]
1907
If it be true Christianity to accept Jesus Christ in person and his mission as divine; to revere him as the Son of God, the crucified and risen Lord, through whom alone mankind can attain salvation; to accept his teachings as a guide, to adopt as a standard and observe as a law the ethical code he promulgated; to comply with the requirements prescribed by him as essential to membership in his Church, namely, faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost,—if this be Christianity, then are we Christians, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church.[42]
1956
We are not Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish, and yet this disclaimer should not be taken to mean we are not Christian. You who heard the powerful address of President Clark this morning will know that we are Christians, for central to everything we believe and teach is our faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We are grateful for our Judeo-Christian heritage, for the Holy Bible which we accept without reservation as the word of God, except as to some errors that have crept in through translations.[43]
Clearly, the Church has “claimed” to be Christian for a long time, and even hostile critics realized it. To insist that this is a new, public relations move is false.



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Kitty Benfield

posted July 8, 2007 at 8:42 pm


I have been “saved” through belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior and that he is truly the son of God. I believe that Jesus is the Savior, that he was born of the Virgin Mary, and came into this world to save us from our sins. I have also been Baptised. Does this mean that I am not a Christian? I am also a member of the Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We believe this, so how can we not be christians?
Thank you for listening.
Kitty Benfield



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Bill Kilpatrick

posted July 8, 2007 at 8:55 pm


“Mormons believe as God was they are,, as God is,, they will become,,,,,,,,,,As my belief as a Christian,, I believe who God was I will never be as He is I will never become, HE changes not He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow,,,,,,,,,I was never created to become Him,,,,,,,,,,I was created to ultimately worship and praise him.”
Wow. Sounds like a lot of fun. If that works for you, great. Enjoy. But I have to tell you – with absolutely no sense of shame – that I rather like the version of God as more than just an object of worship. I like the idea of a loving Heavenly Father who raises his children up, to reach their full potential, and who created children whose potential is so much greater than anything you could possibly imagine.
Instead of feeling as if God’s glory is threatened by man’s unlimited potential, I think it does greater justice to the benevolence and wisdom of God as well as to his magnificence as Creator. Is God lessened by the fact that humanity is now spread out across the globe, that men have landed on the moon, that we can split atoms and clone sheep? Was God more majestic when men struggled with fire or lived in caves?
If you want to quote verses out of Genesis, consider these:
“And God said, Let us make man IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man IN HIS OWN IMAGE, IN THE IMAGE OF GOD created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD MADE HE HIM; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and BEGAT A SON IN HIS OWN LIKENESS, AND AFTER HIS IMAGE; and called his name Seth:” (Genesis 5:1-3)
When I read such words, I don’t get bent out of shape. I don’t cry, “Blasphemy!” I revel in the dignity this gives to mankind. I’m reminded of the words of the Psalmist:
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” (Psalms 8:3-6)
With such an excellent legacy comes great responsibility. Not surprisingly, the Bible couples man’s dignity with his obligation to follow divine counsel:
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; WALK BEFORE ME, AND BE THOU PERFECT. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, AND WILL MULTIPLY THEE EXCEEDINGLY.” (Genesis 17:1-2)
When I read these words, I imagine a good man being raised beyond his own sense of self – and the limitations of his time and place – to be tutored, trained, perfected and tried. This is what I think it means to “walk with God.” Not surprisingly, similar words are spoken of regarding Noah:
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was A JUST MAN AND PERFECT IN HIS GENERATIONS, AND NOAH WALKED WITH GOD.” (Genesis 6:8-9)
A similar type of training was conducted with Noah’s ancestor, Enoch, who is only spoken of briefly but whose mention is spectacular:
“And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch WALKED WITH GOD: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:21-24)
I really like that “walk with God” stuff. It reminds me of Native Americans, living close to the ancestors, accepting their tutelage as they try to live the spiritual life. Big surprise, then, that Moses would remind the children of Israel, “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 18:13)
No wonder that Solomon, in his temple dedication, reminded the people of his day, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.” (1 Kings 8:61) Ironically, they were words that Solomon, himself, should have listened to:
“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.” (1 Kings 11:3-5)
Notice, here, that “perfect” isn’t synonymous with “flawless.” Men are men. As Paul spoke of the weakness of the flesh, there are always human frailties and fallibilities. The point is to struggle through it. If the covenant were offered only to those who were literally “perfect,” nobody would qualify for, as Paul points out, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Still, human frailty is not an excuse for decadence. As Paul went on to say:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:1-5)
So, even when one is struggling in other areas, a person who is honest and sincere in his faith may find the grace he needs to continue the walk. As we learn in the book of 1 Kings. Speaking of King Asa, it says:
“And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was PERFECT with the LORD all his days. And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels.” (1 Kings 15:13-15)
When Job is first introduced, we are told: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was PERFECT and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (Job 1:1)
Lest we attribute this to an editor’s note or a translator’s error, the text even has God speaking of Job as follows:
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8)
“Perfect,” as we come to see it used here, is not about flawnessness so much as sincerity, a point even Job, himself, makes clear:
“If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.” (Job 19:20-21)
As the Psalmist makes clear, “perfection” is to be found in abiding by the divine tutorials of a Perfect God who knows the end from the beginning. He begins as follows:
“I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
He continues with the trials of those who walk with God:
“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.”
He describes the deliverance of those who call upon God:
“Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet….Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.”
But in acknowledging the saving hand of the Lord, the Psalmist also acknowledges the covenant relationship:
“He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me …. he delivered me, because he delighted in me. The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
Lest we consider him boastful in this, the Psalmist explains:
“For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.”
Echoing the Beatitudes that Jesus would deliver in his Sermon on the Mount, the Psalmist says:
“With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.”
The Psalmist then turns back to God, acknowledging his hand and his grace:
“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” (Psalm 18)
This is exactly what I’m talking about when I speak of walking with God and of striving to be perfect. It’s not about hubris or ego. It’s about accepting the gift provided, which is the way by which a person can rise above their own mortal limitations through the grace and guidance of a loving Heavenly Father.
As the Psalmist later rejoices:
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalms 19:7-10)
Not surprisingly, the Psalmist says: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The LORD WILL PERFECT THAT WHICH CONCERNETH ME: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” (Psalms 138:7-8)
As Johnny Cash would later sing, “I’m just a chunk of coal, O Lord, but I’m going to be a diamond someday.”
This is why, in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, he caps the whole thing with the line, “48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
It’s why, when approached by a young man with great possessions, one who had followed the commandments all his days, “Jesus said unto him, IF THOU WILL BE PERFECT, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
Mormons don’t look at Christianity as the mere acceptance of the proposition that Jesus is the Christ. They see it as a journey, a refiner’s fire, where men are called to leave behind their old ways and take up the great adventure of learning to follow the path of the Master.
Mormons don’t consider it accidental that Jesus called men to walk with him, disciples who were then sent out as apostles, to invite others to take on the path.
They also don’t consider it accidental that as Christ walked on water, Peter would want to do so as well, but could only do so through the power of Christ. When he tried to do it himself – and lost faith – he was sank like a rock. But with Christ’s outstretched hand, he could do impossible things.
To the Corinthians, Paul said, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:1)
In a later epistle, Paul would say:
“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.”
This sets up a very interesting discussion about the refining and perfecting process of tribulation:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: FOR MY STRENGTH IS MADE PERFECT IN MY WEAKNESS.”
From this experience, Paul came to the following conclusion:
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12)
Paul ends up telling the Corinthians, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
To the Ephesians, Paul explains the purpose of the Church: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, UNTO A PERFECT MAN, UNTO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
To the Colossians, Paul spoke of “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; THAT WE MAY PRESENT EVERY MAN PERFECT IN CHRIST JESUS.” (Colossians 1:28)
To that end, Paul sends the postscript: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, THAT YE MAY STAND PERFECT AND COMPLETE IN ALL THE WILL OF GOD.” (Colossians 4:12)
In Paul’s tutorials to Timothy, he reminds him that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Mormons are fond of James 1:5 (“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God”) but sometimes forget the tutorial in verses 3 and 4: “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. BUT LET PATIENCE HAVE HER PERFECT WORK, THAT YE MAY BE PERFECT AND ENTIRE, WANTING NOTHING.”
Peter, himself, prayed that “the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, MAKE YOU PERFECT, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
My favorite of these passages comes from John’s epistles:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and IT DOTH NOT YET APPEAR WHAT WE SHALL BE: but we know that, when he shall appear, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)



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Marty

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:03 pm


“Christian” has become the cultural label many folks assign to describe their religious preference even though they do not actively practice this faith. They typically consider the familiar options(Buddism,Islam,Christian, etc). They often default to the religious persuasion associated with their heritage, most of whom have a “Christian” history. It is also politically correct to call oneself a “Christian.” So, “Christian” has become a cultural label. In fact, there may be more “cultural” Christians than those who hold to a traditional “orthedox” belief system. It is this politically correct, cultural Christianity that Mormans want to participate in. Their history is one of being an outcast, a group outside the mainstream. They want to be known as just another one of the good old Christian options.
Unfortunately it is not a cultural definition that God will use on the last day and final judgment. On that day, we won’t set the standard, He will. Those who were “Christian” in name only, and not fully committed followers of Christ will understand the difference.



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Quest4Christ784

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:06 pm


I really love the discussion going on in this Blogalogue. Either side must represent the most important of the Fruits of the Spirit which is Love. I agree with Dr. Mohler. Mormons unfortunately have rejected Traditional Christian Orthodoxy, (lets predate that to before the Catholic Church and place traditional Christianity where it originated.. at Jesus Christ, or the first churches of the Book of Acts). Mormon teachings also emphasize that they are from the Old Testament Priestly line of Aaron, the Aaronic Priesthood or later established by Peter, James and John the Melchizedek Priesthood. Those are facts… here are some more. At Mormon.org the character of Joseph Smith is a lie. The shame of the story is that the man was a murderer, molester, rapist, thief, cheat, and often instigated riots against authority. (Christians; Biblical should be submitting to authority, doesn’t always happen, but Biblically) The website claims that his death at the hands of a mob interrupted his run for Presidency where his cause was ‘just and noble’ for the betterment of religious activity in America. The problem with the above is that the man was arrested for a crime, not major (Violating the Freedom of the Press) His death is then viewed as him being martyred. He fired the shots, that killed people in that mob, now according to the tenants of Mormonism, he can’t go to the Celestial Kingdom, yet I have heard he is the ‘Expception’. My Question is this, why would this man be chosen to complete a Testament already deemed complete, then be given the special authority to basically do whatever he wants at seemingly no punishment? If I am inaccurate in that please correct me. I am ordering at the moment the Book of Mormon, I am going to be attending the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Dr. Mohlers Seminary) I have a high interest in this topic, however, even after attempting to get through the Book of Mormon the very first page talked about the ‘completeness of the Bible’ Using that term ‘Complete’ why then is there any need by their own admission for ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ’?
Hoping that people would see the True Gospel of Jesus through all of this
~Joshua~ (Kurly if you’re replying to this post)



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Rotorhead

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:10 pm


As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for over 30 years now, I feel qualified to “know” what I believe. For members of other religions to tell me what I believe is not only absurd, but down right “unChristian” and insulting!
The Book of Mormon is probably the only book that has received so much negative review from so many, who haven’t even read it! Ah, but then that is the usual Modus Operandi of those “bearing false witness”.
I read it! From cover to cover, and know of its God inspired authenticity…for myself…not because someone convinced me or brain washed me. And anyone who is honest and truly willing to pay the price, can find out for themselves the truth of this marvelous work and wonder called the Book of Mormon. I would hope those who condemn “Mormonism” as a false cult would at least speak from a position of personal credibility having studied the material they condemn rather than parroting someone else’s ignoranance. Case in point is the obviously uninformed comment above that Mormons just recently began claiming themselves as Christian…wow, what asteroid has he been living on? Joseph Smith, the modern day prophet who was the instrument in God’s hands to “RESTORE” the original Christian theology back to the human family has done nothing but claim its Christian origin. Anyone with eyes to read can clearly see that on the front cover of the Book of Mormon it reads, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. The index alone has 5 pages of references to Jesus Christ for a book that is only 531 pages long. Quite an accomplishment for an unschooled back woods boy of 1800 New York to do. “And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye–for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.” Page 117 Book of Mormon.
Rotorhead



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Big TIme

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:34 pm


My opinion on this is that in the Christian bible (KJV)where it states that not one “jot or tittle” (a jot is the line crossing the T and a tittle being the dot over an i or j) shall be changed. When used here a “jot or tittle” means even the smallest detail. So, it says that not even the smallest detail should be changed in the Christian law.
Now the way I understand it, John Smith (opinion – John Smith? – sounds like an alias of someone who wants to hide their real name) was given these “golden plates” that “added” to the laws of God. Also, why did these “plates” conveniently disappear? I know it is said that the world was not ready for them; so why did they show up in the first place.
ALSO, when John Smith first had them he had to run with them to avoid some people who wanted to intercept him and John Smith fought them off. I hope he didn’t put the plates down where one of the others could have taken them. But tell me how a man tuns such a long distance (I have heard distances of up to three miles) unless he is in great shape. I do not believe that even ANY of the runners today could take that much extra weight and run for even a mile at an even pace and make it.
In other words, Mormonism is (in my humble opinion) just another “cult” that has sprung up to take advantage of people who are lost.
If people are lost, just let them pray and God will answer.



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Jim

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:55 pm


What is the prophet who speaks falsely called and what is his/her punishment to be if we wish to follow First Covenant? (Deut 18). One who claims to speak for God is held responsible by God ultimately but those who follows presumptuous prophets are not blameless either. A prophet is either always correct when speaking for God or he/she is not a prophet from God and therefore a false prophet worthy of death.
John 14.10 quotes Jesus claiming to be the good shepherd of which YHWH claims. Jesus is claiming the perogative of God and therefore claiming deity. You cannot claim the perogative of God without beingable to be God.
Jesus very specifically made a claim to being YHWH, not just sent from YHWH in John 8.58ff. The Jews at the timeknew exactly what Jesus claimed and wanted to stone Him. He NEVER denied what they thought or attempted to correct them or to show He wasn’t a blasphemer claiming to be YHWH. Jesus didn’t just claim to be the Son. He didn’t just claim to be holy and different from other men. He never claimed being just ontologically begotten. He claimed deity quite clearly and claimed to be YHWH by claiming YHWH’s divine name.
The trinity is not mentioned specifically in the Bible for sure but, the teaching is there by other words and ideas. That isn’t some hopped up claim from later centuries and ‘pagan’ Roman rulers or the like. The language of the creeds may not be straight from Scripture but the teachings are so.
Jim
Jim



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:55 pm


“The shame of the story is that the man was a murderer, molester, rapist, thief, cheat, and often instigated riots against authority”
Ah, that is inaccurate very much so.
Let’s take just one example.
You say he murdered? Why? Because when the Mob started shooting into the cell he fired back? So self-defense is murder? I think if you are going to use such criteria to evaluate the man, then I don’t think it will be at all accurate! We make no claims that he was Jesus but we also know he was a very good man.



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 9:59 pm


“So, it says that not even the smallest detail should be changed in the Christian law.”
1. Please list Christian law.
2. Please list the denominations which have not altered Christian law.
In this exercise, under your definition, you will discover that nearly all sects would be defined as a cult. Sorry, just got to point that out.



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:07 pm


I think those who wish to say that Mormons are not Christian, I think the most effective thing to say is:
While in their hearts they maybe Christian by their acts and worship, their doctrine is such a stumbling block that they are blinded by that they do not understand the doctrinally true nature of Jesus and his totality.
I would disagree with that statement, because I do think that our doctrine is the most correct. But I don’t think you can honestly argue with us about our love and commitment to the Savior.



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Jim

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:14 pm


Please note the following corection to my last post. It should read, “He never claimed being ontologically begotten” and not, “He never claimed to be just ontologically begotten”
Jim



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:20 pm


Here is the text of our Sacrament from our weekly worship service. We take this very, very, seriously and somberly. We do it, word for word and every week without fail. When we miss it, it is for me, one of the worse feelings in the world. It is our spiritual bread manna:
—————-
—————-
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
—————-
—————-
—————-
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.



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Alex S. Leung

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm


Thank you, Dr. Mohler for the concise response to Card’s comments.
I, also, along with the other “Christians” here would like to know why Mr Card would suppose that Mormons would like to join the “church of the devil”. If you truly believe that you are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, why would you now want to be identified with us Christians and churches who are according to your Doctrine & Covenants not true churches?
I, also, am scratching my head.
SDG,
Alex S. Leung
http://www.sixsteps.org/



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nowandlater

posted July 8, 2007 at 11:39 pm


Ummm, so wanting to be accurately described as Unorthodox Christian means that Mormons are joining other Churches?
Card didn’t ask to join churches, just be accurately described. If accurately describing us means that suddenly we are Protestants or Catholics or Greek Orthodox, then I did not see that leap in the argument.
Let’s be clear the inaccurate assertion that the Church of the Devil in Book of Mormon means Christian, is way off base. It is on base to say those who use the Church to get monetary gain, political power, and prestige is of the devil. Those who only draw close their lips to God but their hearts are far from God are of the Devil. Even some regular Mormons who abuse their positions would fall under that category.
Also, what is so awful about unique truth claims? Many sects of Christianity have unique truth claims. They claim to be the ONLY true Church of God. Why do the Mormons get singled out for this claim? I don’t think that is fair.



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OldMountainGoat

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:05 am


DENY MORMONS LEGITIMACY
What a remarkable bit of candor. Mohler writes, “I am concerned that a Mormon in the White House would do much to serve the worldwide missionary cause of Mormonism.”
The nation will be choosing a president, but Mohler has more important priorities: the protection of man-made creed and incoherent consensus.
Mr. Mohler, let a vibrant faith in Christ speak for itself. I can’t help but imagine you hold up in an ancient castle guarding a pile of dusty bones.



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another anon :)

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:09 am


About the “adding and subtracting from the word” scripture in revelations. I can’t seem to make that make sense. First of all, that “ultimatum” was given in Deut. 4:2. I think everyone believes at least in the books of the bible after Deut. 4:2. Otherwise we’d all be Jewish and following t he law of Moses. Oh… and Christ would not be who he says he is… because he added to the worlds and scriptures that came after Deut. 4:2.
Second of all… when John wrote the book of Revelations, the bible didn’t even exist. The bible was compiled years later. (325 AD at the Council of Nicaea)So how could John have been speaking of adding and taking from the bible when the bible did not even exist? Maybe he was talking about all the revelations that he knew of at the time… and he took a guess or had revelation that they would be compiled into one book and that his book of revelations would be deemed the last book. So maybe that’s a good explanation. Except that John knew of other writings that were divine as well. 1 Corinthians is actually the second letter written to the Corinthians. Where is the first one? What about all the books that are referenced to in the bible as scripture… are those not considered a “jot or a tittle?”
Many scholars even believe that the book of Revelations was not the last book the John wrote. That would be a pretty self incriminating statement if he really meant it to mean that revelation has ended.
Last of all, the Protestant canon and the Catholic canon in don’t even match up. The Protestant Bible or canon contains 66 books. And the Catholic Bible contains 73. Well… that means that to Catholics, Protestants aren’t Christian because they have removed from the bible. And to Protestants, Catholics aren’t Christian because they have added to the bible just as the Mormons have. (https://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/bible/prcot.stm) These are some interesting questions. What did John really mean in his book?



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Joel Cannon

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:26 am


Big TIme wrote -
“So, it says that not even the smallest detail should be changed in the Christian law. ”
lets look at your reference in context -
KJV Matt 5-
17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
  18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
  19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is preaching in the Sermon on the Mount – and he references those that accuse him of destroying (changing/clarifying) the law, and he teaches that he is just fulfilling the law – and then gives a number of examples of the commandments.
Joseph Smith generated the same criticism when he was doing the same sort of clarification in modern times. As a messenger of the Lord, he is doing no different than Jesus or any of the Prophets before him.
If you insist that Jesus literally meant that there would be no new scripture when he spoke these words about the Old Testament – then you are invalidating the entire New Testament that was written after his death.
I don’t expect you to change your opinion about me being a “cultist”, but at least I hope that others can see that we sincerely try to apply the teachings of the Bible in our lives.



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Bryan Stout

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:52 am


What I like most about the exchange between Dr. Mohler and Mr. Card is the desire for respect and candor shown on both sides. Both attributes are essential for any meaningful dialogue. Even with them, there are real obstacles to communication because of differing theological worldviews. People on either side of the debate often think, “Why would they say that?” because they think certain things are naturally implied, but the other side doesn’t. I hope most of these unstated assumptions can be brought out into the open, so that misperceptions can be cleared up.
As a believing Mormon, these are some points I’d like to understand better about Dr. Mohler’s views:
1. What does he think the Mormon belief in an apostasy of the Christian church means?
(E.g. does he think we believe all Christians are going to hell? He certainly dwells on this point a lot, and apparently draws harsher and more rigid conclusions from our scriptures than we do. I want to know what those conclusions are.)
2. How would he define “Christian as defined by Christ at the last judgement”? Would this be the same as the definition of “Christian as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy”?
(I get the impression that Dr. Mohler uses “Christian” to mean “those who are saved”, as well as “those with traditional orthodox belief”; and that the latter is a prerequisite for the former. I don’t think all this would be a concern for him if he didn’t think salvation was on the line. I suspect that he is really arguing the issue “Who is saved and who is damned?” — not as a hidden agenda, but as a natural outgrowth of what he thinks it means to be Christian. Is this correct?)
3. Does he think that an orthodox view of God and Christ is necessary for a truly worshipful attitude toward them?
(Dr. Mohler implies that while we use Christian terms and refer to Christ a lot, it only comes down to “merely thinking well of Jesus”. This baffles me. He apparently does not accept our assertions that we not only believe in Christ as the Son of God and the Savior, we also commit our lives to following him, and look to and rejoice in his Atonement as the only means of forgiveness from our sins. I understand why he would think we are heretical in our doctrine. I do not understand why he would think we are shallow or insincere in our discipleship.)
4. How can he believe that “the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is not the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or the one through whose death on the cross we can be saved from our sins”?
(To see how frequently the Book of Mormon teaches those concepts, just look in its index under “Jesus Christ–Only Begotten Son”, “Jesus Christ–Son of God”, “Jesus Christ–Death Of”, “Jesus Christ–Resurrection Of”, “Jesus Christ–Savior”, “Jesus Christ–Redeemer”, and “Godhead” (for references to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). Because of this, when I read the quote above from his first post, I could only conclude — like Mr. Card — that Dr. Mohler had not read the Book of Mormon. On learning in his second post that he had read and studied it, I was dumbfounded. I don’t even know how to ask about its underlying assumptions. I really do hope Dr. Mohler explains his thinking on this more. Unlike the comments about Mitt Romney, this is pertinent to the assigned topic.)
I do not expect Dr. Mohler or Mr. Card to change each other’s minds. What I hope for is an example of people who listen to each other closely in order to understand, rather than listening to look for ways to counterattack. I do hope for breakthrough moments where either may say, “Oh now I understand your concern!”, and move on to change how they think and speak of the other’s views. Even this much will take a lot of patience and good will on both sides.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:53 am


QuestforChrist784 said this:
I am going to be attending the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Dr. Mohlers Seminary) I have a high interest in this topic, however, even after attempting to get through the Book of Mormon the very first page talked about the ‘completeness of the Bible’
Mike’s response:
Here are the Title Page, Introduction and the First Page of the Book of Mormon. I challenge anyone to find the words, “completeness of the Bible”, mentioned by QuestforChrist784. So then Sir, which Book of Mormon were you reading? You apparently attempted to only get through the first page. I can see that you indeed have a “high interest” in the topic.
THE HAND OF MORMON
UPON PLATES
TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI
Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.
An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.
TRANSLATED BY JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
First English edition published in 1830
INTRODUCTION
The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.
The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.
In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.
Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”
We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.
THE FIRST BOOK OF NEPHI
HIS REIGN AND MINISTRY
An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life. He taketh three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family. Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews. The account of their sufferings. They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife. They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness. The course of their travels. They come to the large waters. Nephi’s brethren rebel against him. He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship. They call the name of the place Bountiful. They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth. This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record.
CHAPTER 1
Nephi begins the record of his people—Lehi sees in vision a pillar of fire and reads from a book of prophecy—He praises God, foretells the coming of the Messiah, and prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem—He is persecuted by the Jews. About 600 B.C.
1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.
3 And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.
4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.
5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.



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VoiceCryingOut

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:26 am


Mike Bennion puts forth: “I challenge anyone to find ‘the completeness of the Bible,’ mentioned by QuestforChrist784.”
The words don’t appear verbatim. However, under INTRODUCTION, first paragraph, we find: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness [sic] of the everlasting gospel.”
According to this description, the BoM contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel.
“…as does the Bible…”
Therefore, the Bible contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel.
I believe this is what QuestforChrist784 was alluding to. This leads me to a few sincere questions: How can one book contain the fullness of an account (and by definition be the complete picture), and yet another book be said to contain the same “fullness?” Logically, this cannot be so. Either one is the complete picture, or the other is. Otherwise, an accurate statement should read: The two books together contain the fullness of the gospel.
By Joseph Smith’s own accounting, “…the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” If this is so, then why is the Bible even necessary in the Mormon’s religious construct? Why not just suffice with the BoM?
Regards,
JN



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Bill Housley

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:27 am


Ok, this was fun and informative.
Dr. Mohler said that the question “Are Mormons Christian”, was couched to him in terms of “traditional Christian orthodoxy”. However, the title of this debate that is seen by me and the rest of the public viewers says simply “Are Mormons Christian?” without any other qualifier. I do believe that he is being truthful in this claim, which makes this revelation even better.
It is a perfect metaphor for what I have experienced in private debates on this issue with traditional Christians on countless occasions. Basically it is that traditional Christian experts recognize (and Dr. Mohler openly admits that he recognizes) only the much more restrictive version of the word “Christian”, over that which is recognized by the general populous (even their own people on the street) to whom these words go out.
We really are dealing with two different, perfectly valid definitions of the word “Christian”, just as he says we are. Lofty, learned, Orthodox Christian experts like himself claim a more “purist” view. They even go so far as to claim the term “Christian” as if it were a trademark, an exclusive logo for themselves and say they are confused why the Mormons, with a system so different from theirs, who reject their teachings and authority utterly, would want to use THEIR label!
The answer is simple, Mormons, (and I think just about everybody else) think that the label of “Christian” doesn’t belong to any one sub-group of Christ-believing folk, no matter how many times Dr. Mohler and others choose to assign it to themselves only. Some Christians seem to have forgotten that the true founder of all of our different versions of Christianity was born in a stable, to peasants, and generally disagreed with the stodgy, learned, arrogant experts of His time. I think I recall he even called them names on occasion. ;-)
As for this “different Jesus” thing, I’ve heard that line before. I was only taught about one Jesus; the one spoken of in the Bible.
As for the politics discussion, I think that Mitt Romney running for President does promote the LDS faith because it prompts this kind of honest, open discussion. I’ve found that the Mormon faith thrives best in such an atmosphere. I don’t think that Mitt Romney actually BEING President promotes the LDS faith at all because the office seems to tarnish anyone who sits in it, no matter how honestly they serve, and that would probably end up tarnishing the LDS religion by association.



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Rotorhead

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:51 am


To “Voice Crying Out”, Et Al,
You seem an honest seeker of truth…
My own explanation of Why there are two books (Bible and Book of Mormon) having the “fulness” of the Gospel is simply because God plays no favorites in this world…He loves ALL His children and wants them ALL to have access to the power of His Son Jesus Christ’s Atonement. The Bible is proof that He communicated that love to His children through prophets of the “Old World” or eastern hemisphere. The Book of Mormon is proof that He communicated that love to His children through prophets of the “New World” or Western hemisphere. The fact that Joseph Smith stated that the Book of Mormon was “…the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book…” was simply his way of saying that unlike the Bible or other ancient writings, the words of the Book of Mormon were directly translated from their original into English thereby eliminating any translation errors that you find going from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German, etc., etc., and finally to English. So… as far as the Bible is “translated” correctly, it does contain the word of God and what a blessing it has been to the world. You have to admit though, that even in modern Christiandom, there are different versions of the Bible due to “someone” trying to “interpret” the Hebrew, the Greek, etc. into modern english…if you do a comparison of these different versions, there are substantive differences…
I challenge anyone professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ, if they have the courage, to read the Book of Mormon for themselves BEFORE condemning it to heresy???? It will be time well spent, I promise.
rotorhead



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Bill Kilpatrick

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:11 am


I saw a video clip where Mitt Romney was asked by a group of concerned citizens which book he would turn to if he had a problem – the Bible or the Book of Mormon? When he said he’d turn to both, the follow-up was which book he’d give the greater weight.
The idea that it’s got to be one or the other is about as useless as the idea that you’d turn to a whole book of scripture, in examining an issue, rather than connecting with the story or sermon most on point.
If I wanted some ideas on how to relate to my neighbor, I’d go to the Sermon on the Mount. If, on the other hand, I were going through a personal crisis – where I felt pulled in different directions – I’d re-read that part of Genesis where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his own son.
It’s not a question of conflicting authority, or of conflicting allegiance, so much as a question of which story or sermon most fits the situation.



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Edwin Moelder

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:05 am


THE HOLY TRINITY and THE DEITY OF JESUS THE CHRIST
Faith Alone – Free Grace Alone – Christ Alone – Holy Scripture Alone
Every explanation of the Holy Trinity is an explanation of the Deity of Jesus The Christ. If one is going to trust God some understanding of God is essential.
Upon encountering those who consider themselves Christian and those who may be seeking the Lord I find that most do not give a clear or even rudimentary explanation of the Holy Trinity a complete understanding of which can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Once I am able to see the awakening of a desire to discuss the subject and move beyond a rudimentary discussion of Holy Scripture into the miraculous work of the disciples of the first centuries, from whom much valuable study and supporting information on the Holy Trinity can be found in the old creeds, I find it difficult to get to that information with a pilgrim once the word Catholic is mentioned.
I find myself struggling with the Anti-Catholic bigotry, slander of the Theotokos and Jewish Supremacy of those deluded by End-Time Heretics, rather than discussing how effective the Athanasian Creed can be in refuting the early Gnostic statements which are repeatedly raising an ugly Anti-Christian head.
The confusion about the Holy Trinity opens a window for cultic leaders to mislead new pilgrims about the nature of God superficially using scripture having a hidden agenda to promote some other non-biblical practice and promoting a Church much like we find described in Ezekiel Chapter 8.
http://moelder.freeservers.com/TheHolyTrinityandTheDeityofJesusTheChrist.html



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MG

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:19 am


“The fact is that I have, and I have even studied Mormon theology in the course of my graduate studies. Reading the Book of Mormon was a fascinating experience. Nevertheless, if I were a Mormon arguing that Mormonism is Christianity, I would be very reluctant to suggest that those I am seeking to persuade should read the Book of Mormon. Nothing will more quickly reveal the distance between Mormon theology and historic Christianity.”
I will take his word for it that he has read the book. Having said that, as a person that has read the book more times than he can count (and also that has studied the Bible and compared the two extensively) his summary statements of what the Book of Mormon are so patently incorrect that only 2 conclusions are possible:
1) He says he read the book, but only read certain parts
2) I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he read it from cover to cover. If so, his bias was so great that he grossly misinterpreted what he read, much like an atheist reading the Bible looking to take pot shots instead of striving to understand it.
Let me just quote a few verses:
“For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord.” (Helaman 4:24)
“Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.” (2 Nephi 25:13).
“And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Alma 34:8)
“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.” (3 Nephi 11:14).
“And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matt 26:6)
This last reference is food for thought. If this is the work of Satan, he’s doing a poor job. Creating a book that testifies that
1) The Bible is the word of God (yes, it does say that, see 2 Nephi 29)
2) That Christ died on the cross (see above)
3) That He took upon Himself our sins. (see above)
4) That He rose on the third day (see above)
Seems counterproductive. You do not have to read the entire book to get a feel for the message of Christ in the Book of Mormon. You can simply look in the online topical guide where the Bible and Book of Mormon are crossed referenced. Look at all the “Jesus Christ” topic links and judge for yourself.
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/tg/j/contents
We have no fear of anyone reading the Book of Mormon and comparing it to the Bible and studying it closely. In fact, there are copious Bible footnotes in there, hardly an effective tactic to “hide” the discrepancies.
As for the theological class, this is the equivalent of saying I know all about Sunni Muslims, I took a course from the Shiite Academy and they told me all about it. Do you go to the Pope to get an understanding of the Baptist faith? Do you ask the Pentecostal Pastor if the Catholic church is true? Do you ask the Pharisees if Jesus is the Messiah? You know what you’re going to get. Go to the Catholics to learn of the Catholics, to the Baptists to learn of the Baptists, and to the Mormons to learn of the Mormons. Then you can assess the message on the merits without the antagonistic slant. Skepticism is not a synonym for objectiveness, it is the antithesis of it. It is the posturing for a position, the closing of the mind. If Dr. Mohler wants to take a well-presented course on LDS theology and history, I suggest he attend and LDS Institute program where he can take year long courses of the Book of Mormon, Church History, Old Testament and New Testament and talk to those who have spent their lives studying the subjects for understanding, not for purposes of tearing down alone.
Finally, even if somehow someone was convinced the LDS theology was false, that does not make them correct. If the Hindu proves the Buddhist is wrong and that Buddhism is a heretic sect, does that make Hinduism true? To argue that a philosophy (The Trinity) is old does not make it true. Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, are all older than New Testament Christianity. The problem with spending your energy on proving others false is that you stop asking yourself if you are on the right path. The LDS church spends little time picking apart other denominations, we simply declare the message. The message certainly has implications. It does not mean all other religions are going to hell. We do not believe that (even if they believe the LDS are going to hell). It is a question of sanctioned authority. In the words of Gamaliel:
“And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)



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Mike Bennion

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:33 am


JN said:
Mike Bennion puts forth: “I challenge anyone to find ‘the completeness of the Bible,’ mentioned by QuestforChrist784.”
The words don’t appear verbatim. However, under INTRODUCTION, first paragraph, we find: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness [sic] of the everlasting gospel.”
Mike’s response:
Then don’t be intellectually dishosnest by putting ‘ ‘s around the words completeness of the Bible.
I don’t have time to respond to the Fullness of the Gospel topic now. I’m on the way to work. I’ll address that later this evening.
Mike



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Norman Doering

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:35 am


Every explanation of the Holy Trinity is an explanation of the Deity of Jesus The Christ. If one is going to trust God some understanding of God is essential.

You only think that because Xenu, the alien ruler of the Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling DC-8s and stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs to release these alien souls which still causes ill-effects on humans to this very day, like your religious delusions.



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Luke Hinton

posted July 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm


The struggle to define Christianity and preserve its truth has mostly disappeared, and because there is no more fight to cling to what it is true, historical Christianity is almost lost in this world. As evangelicals, our fight is to cling to the historic Jesus, the real Jesus of Nazareth because without facts, we (evangelicals) claim nothing superior to Mormons or any other faith/religion. Without historical truth, we have nothing in which to put our faith (our faith is not a blind faith). In one of the earliest Christian creeds Paul records that Jesus died, was buried, rose from the dead, appeared to the disciples, 500 brothers at one time, and to James and Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). If these claims were false or exaggerated, there would be numerous people who could have questioned the supposed eye-witnesses of the Christ. Two of the gospel writers walked with Christ, and the other two (Mark and Luke) recorded their gospels from testimonies of apostles. Luke labors diligently to support these gospel events with real historical places, people and other events. My point is this, if this same Jesus, who did miracles, died, and rose again is the historical Jesus then any claims about Jesus contrary to the ancient records of Jesus are false and evil. Therefore, if the Book of Mormon claims that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) yet ancient texts record Jesus being born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), we know that the Book of Mormon is not a supplement the Bible nor is it Scripture. Rather the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, and therefore, the “Jesus” of the book of Mormon is not the true historical Jesus. If the Bible says that Jesus ascended and would return in the same manner (Acts 1:11), then when the Mormons claim that Jesus went to America, we know that Mormonism is not historical and is therefore not real. The historical Jesus did not go to America. If Mormons contradict ancient Biblical records of who Jesus was, His nature and purpose, then the Book of Mormon is false. In conclusion, to trust the “Jesus” of the Book of Mormon for salvation is to trust a fictional person, an idol. If one trusts the historical Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, then he is trusting the real Person who came, lived a sinless life, died on a cross, was buried, rose again, and presented Himself alive with many proofs (Acts 1:3, it was not hearsay!). Biblical and historical Christianity is based on the historical Jesus Christ, and therefore, Mormonism is not Christianity.



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Eric Withers

posted July 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm


It has been said that we should refer to Psalm 82 and John 10 to see that the Bible is somehow compatible with the Mormon doctrine that all who follow their teachings are on the path to godhood. Well, John 10 is actually referring back to that which was said in Psalm 82, so let us consider the actual context of that chapter. Since those of you in the LDS cult are so devoted to the King James Version, I will quote for you that version below.
Psalm 82
1God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
3Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
I find it very troubling that Mormons would try to use this passage as a defense of their false doctrine. Can anyone say context? Any honest evaluation of this Psalm reveals that when psalm 82 refers to the “gods,” it is actually referring to those who are judges or rulers in their day. It was a message to those in power, particularly to those who were wielding their power unjustly. And it is a message of judgment.
Those who were in positions of power and authority were using their positions in a way that was dishonoring to the only true God. They had judged unjustly and were giving honor to the wicked. God rebukes them for this and tells them to live justly by defending the poor and the fatherless, caring for the afflicted and needy, rescuing them all from the hand of the wicked.
These men who were rulers, those who should have known and honored the ways of the only true God, understood nothing of His nature. They did not understand the moral order that God had established, and thus were not abiding by it. And because they had abandoned the principles of God, the whole of earthly society was crumbling. The foundations of the earth were being shaken.
These men had received their authority from God, and were sometimes called “gods” (or in the same context often “son of God”) as a symbol of honor. However, they would die like every other man, and would fall like every other ruler on the face of the earth. They had thought too highly of themselves and forsaken the ways of God. This passage calls them to repent of their evil ways and turn back to righteousness. And what is the conclusion of it all?
“Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”
The psalmist is ultimately praying for God to hasten His coming, deal with wickedness in the earth (specifically these wicked rulers), and to establish once and for all His final and authoritative rule over all the nations.
I fail to see how a passage of true Scripture like this could in any way be used to defend such a heretical teaching as that of the LDS cult, that all who follow the ways of the Mormon church will become gods themselves. Such teaching is simply not true to the text!
This is a psalm of judgment against the wicked, and a call for God to deal with them quickly and establish His rule. Ultimately, those things will happen. The Lord Jesus Christ will return and establish His kingdom on the earth, and all those who have rejected the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God Himself, will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire. Every one of us should accept this warning, and as 2 Corinthians 13:5 states, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”



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VoiceCryingOut

posted July 9, 2007 at 3:30 pm


Mike Bennion’s response to JN/VoiceCryingOut’s post July 9, 2007 4:26 AM:
“Then don’t be intellectually dishosnest [sic] by putting ‘ ‘s around the words completeness of the Bible.”
By this, I’ll assume you were referring to QuestforChrist784′s original post and not my attempt to clarify what he/she was questioning about the Book of Mormon. Certainly nothing in my post was intellectually dishonest.
I look forward to your response to my original post.
Regards,
JN



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GB

posted July 9, 2007 at 4:38 pm


Luke 12:04 pm Why do you misquote from the Book of Mormon? Is it to deceive people? I hope it is only because you are ignorant.
Alma 7:10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, AT Jerusalem WHICH IS THE LAND of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. (emphasis mine).
Clearly the Book of Mormon description of Jesus’ birth place is accurate.



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Bryan Stout

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:06 pm


To Luke Hinton,
Hello! I enjoyed your post. Your historical approach is very similar to what most Mormons use. We appeal to the same scriptural accounts you did as historical witnesses to Christ’s life, miracles, death, resurrection, and appearances.
Regarding your first objection: In the Book of Mormon, the Nephite people constantly and consistently refer to the place their ancestors came from as “the land of Jerusalem”. (To see this, go to http://scriptures.lds.org/ and do a search on “land jerusalem”, searching in the Book of Mormon.) So when Alma 7:10 says Christ “shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers”, it is specifying the part of the world, not the particular town. Even those Nephites who doubted the prophecy used the same language: “It is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so … why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem? Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem?” (Helaman 16:18-19)
I am not sure what your second objection exactly is. We do not believe Jesus sailed to the new world during his life, if that’s what you mean. He appeared to the Nephites after his resurrection and ascension to heaven. We believe the angels’ word in Acts 1:11 will be fulfilled (probably in the Second Coming), but that does not exclude other appearances, such all the ones mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor 15. Are you saying that Christ’s appearance to the Nephites contradicts the Bible because the Bible does not mention it? This is no more troublesome than the fact that the two nativity accounts in Matthew and Luke do not refer to each other — some scholars conclude that they are therefore not historical, but we don’t.
Regards,
Bryan



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GB

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:37 pm

GB

posted July 9, 2007 at 5:56 pm


Eric Withers it appears that Jesus has a different take on Psalms 82 than you.
Jn 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
You say “Any honest evaluation of this Psalm reveals that when psalm 82 refers to the “gods,” it is actually referring to those who are judges or rulers in their day.”
Yet Jesus said “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;”
Something about what Jesus said seems incompatible with what you said.



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nowandlater

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:36 pm


Matt. 5: 48
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
>>>>
Jesus commands us to be perfect. I don’t think Christ gives us empty commands with no purpose. In reality being perfect for man is impossible, but nothing is impossible for two people if one person is Christ. I believe, if we are faithful that Jesus Christ will be mindful of us and will (maybe billions and billions of years or more) strengthen us and make the impossible for us possible.
>>>>
Rom. 8: 17
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him,
that we may be also glorified together.
Gal. 4: 7
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Heb. 12: 9
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:
shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
1 Jn. 3: 2
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Rev. 3: 21
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father in his throne.



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nowandlater

posted July 9, 2007 at 6:42 pm


I am reposting this question I posted before because no one has addressed it. How does this account fit under the Trinity lense? Why is Jesus not being touched such a big issue? Please attempt to explain. Remember this is His first appearance after resurrection. I don’t think these are throw away words are ideas but are very Germaine to this discussion.
—-
John 20:17 “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
—-
Jesus’ description is clear here. Abstraction to make it fit the Trinity doctrine just creates confusion. If the Trinity doctrine is clear here please illustrate how.
Also, can someone from the Orthodox camp, please explain to me why Jesus couldn’t be “touched” if the physical universe was not somehow relevant to God the Father? If you could only answer this question of mine that would be very useful for your argument



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Jim

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:52 pm


The conclusion to all that is being stated here is that we have so many questions about the pureness of the Mormon faith, yet we are willing to once again vote for someone in spite of the strange and I’ll say completely misguided beliefs indicative of the Book of Mormon. That book alone is indicative of being outside of God’s desire, which is to love your enemies and to have no respect of persons.
If the Book of Mormon, which is only some guy’s attempt at making it look like he was being directed by God and inspired to write the Book of Mormon – willingly endorses segregationist ideas and derogatory attributes to people who happen to be of darker skin, then that is nothing more than evil in its purest form; and our country’s history should have taught us that we should walk away from such deeply held beliefs and walk away NOW!
I agree that what we are currently witnessing in the White House is very poor and selfish judgement, but we should never vote for somebody simply because he is saying all the things he knows you want to hear just to get what he wants. We tell our daughters to watch out for guys like that, but then when we see it happening right in front of our faces, we pretend it isn’t happening just to make ourselves look as if we are supporting good, christian values. If Mormons were indeed anything that should be leading this country, then this blog would not be as HOT as it is today – because there will be no need to debate anything, as all of our questions would be answered.
If any of you know anything about the Bible, you know that indeed these are the end times. In knowing that, there is a warning about false prophets coming forward in this day. In knowing that, the indication of being a prophet means that he or she would have some religious connection or attribute that draws the attention of the masses.
Now far from calling Mitt the antichrist, how about a false prophet with eloquent words that entice many in order to lead them to even further destruction. Why not this time >walk away from known evils and try your best to make a better selection this coming election that is based on fairness, consideration for the less fortunate, concern for families who are being broken by war and dispair, coupled with allowing the world to see us in a more positive light other than being power hungry and having no regard for innocent lives.
How about holding these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN and WOMEN are created equal, whether rich or poor, bond or free, educated or dimwitted, republican or democrat, baptist or mormon, blue collar or white collar, young or old, white or black, red or yellow, gay or straight, fat or slim, attractive or considered ugly – these are the real issues that we continue to miss, because we are so fearful to admit that if it smells like a rat, walks like a rat, then its still a rate regardless of what he is telling you!
Then you wonder why most of the world hate Americans?! Because we would rather embrace a lie rather than stand for the truth. I agree that if Christ was here today, many of you would be screaming crucify him along with the Mitt Mormons!



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Silly Interloper

posted July 9, 2007 at 7:59 pm


nowandlater,
Consider this comment out of context, because I haven’t but skimmed the above comments, and I really don’t know where you are coming from.
I examine the verse you present, and two things strike me. One is “What a mysterious thing for Jesus to say.” I really don’t know the meaning of it, and it would take me some time to see if there was any Catholic exegesis for it. With or without the exegesis, it is a very interesting thing for a Trinitarian to ponder, and some deep insight may come of it that brings him closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The second thing that strikes me is that there seems to be this notion that we can know everything there is to know about the Trinity, and if we don’t understand something, there must be something wrong with what we think. This is pure positivism. (Though, due to your vagueness about it, I’m not sure it speaks for you.) I would reject any positivist approach to anything. You cannot know and understand everything about anything–even simple things, like gumdrops or shoehorns. Positivism is dead. The common debater simply hasn’t caught up, yet.
But to step out of a philosophical mode for a moment, I don’t think it is difficult for the common man to realize that the Trinity is a deeply mysterious thing far beyond his simple comprehension or that of his philosophical friends, and that there are any number of things that will always be a mystery about it. It is a puzzle that we can learn about (this being one opportunity), but it is not a puzzle we will ever solve until and unless we meet the Trinity face-to-face.
You have presented us a puzzle piece. You have presented us a puzzle piece that fits somewhere in this endless and eternal puzzle, and you have asked us where it goes. But we are not gods, and we do not have the vision that can tell you where it goes. If we are lucky, the Church may provide some elucidation on how it fits in the eternal puzzle, but that would take some research. It would not surprise me if there was no such explanation available, because the Church does not have absolute and complete understanding of everything. There are limitations to its ability to see.
I am not sure if that is a satisfactory answer from one with Orthodox (Catholic) orientation, but as you see, it is not a very satisfactory question for us.
There does seem to be a point of contention behind your question, and you have not been forthcoming with explaining it. (Unless I’m missing something). If you would state the point of contention directly, perhaps we could examine it with more satisfaction for you.
Cheers,
Silly



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Norman Doering

posted July 9, 2007 at 8:05 pm


Jim wrote:

If any of you know anything about the Bible, you know that indeed these are the end times.

If you know anything about reality, you know Jim is, indeed, dangerously crazy.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 9, 2007 at 8:14 pm


“I agree that if Christ was here today, many of you would be screaming crucify him along with the Mitt Mormons!”
Ignoring the false comparison with Mitt, I would say that if any individual was not trembling with abject humility in genuine fear of the possibility that he would be among those screaming for Christ’s crucifixion, then that person has not reached the necessary humility to be a good Christian. (Note: I did not write “to be a Christian.”)



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Julio

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:15 pm


I actually don’t think this needs to continue. Both sides agree Mormonism is a rejection of “traditional orthodoxy”, that Mormons fit the broad definition of those who believe in Christ, but not the more narrow definition that requires a Christian church to believe in the same things as the broader Christian community.
The categorization is made, both sides agree. Yea! Let Mr. Card respond and let it end.



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nowandlater

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:21 pm


Thank you Silly Interloper,
Basically, you are saying it is a mystery and we should not suppose anything more or less than that.
The point I wish to make, is to argue against the point of view that God the Father has no absolute relationship with the physical. As evidence Christ could not be touched until he met with the Father. It is a hole in the Trinitarian view that God the Father is only 100% spirit. If purely spirit, then why was it an issue for Christ that his body was defiled?
It is a puzzle piece, I agree. But I would argue it is a most significant piece which can not be easily dismissed because it is Juxtaposed with the Resurrection of the Savior, one of the hallmarks of Christianity. I cannot easily except this as just idle words from the Savior. I think it is related to our understand of God. God the Father has a physical component. Whether it is minimal or maximal based on this account, I will concede, is up for debate. But one must look at this account and honestly say that it does open up the possibility significantly that a spirit only personage of God the Father may not be the best description or possibility of God the Father.
Further, I think this account is interesting because, Jesus Christ is conveying the idea, at the very minimum, to Mary M. that his relationship to God the Father is as Mary’s to God. That view is totally compatible to Mormon thought. It is no way foreign. Thus we say that scripturally, the New Testament is shown be supportive of this view not atagonistically agaisnt it.



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GB

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Just curious but how do you Trinitarians resolve your creed with
John 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is GREATER THAN I. (emphasis mine)
And
John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is GREATER THAN all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (emphasis mine)
And
John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent GREATER THAN he that SENT him.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast SENT.(emphasis mine)
I am no math scholar but “greater than” is mutually exclusive to “equal”.
And what about this “KNOW” business?



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nowandlater

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:06 pm


Let me sum up me argument as simple as I can.
Trinitarian view is that God the Father is 100% divorced from the physical world. However, in this account, God the Father is influenced by a physical act on the Son. Therefore the “absolute” trinitarian view is flawed and should be modified to take into account the God the Father is physically influenced.



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nowandlater

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Let me add another comment:
John 20:17
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
This statement says that Jesus has to travel distance so that he can be with God the Father and that his state of being able to be touched will change. Repeat “Distance”, that is a physical, tangible, property. If God the Father was present and of the same substance, then Jesus would have needed no requirement of travel of expiration of time to be with the Father.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 9, 2007 at 10:38 pm


Mike’s quote:
“Then don’t be intellectually dishosnest [sic] by putting ‘ ‘s around the words completeness of the Bible.”
JN’s response:
By this, I’ll assume you were referring to QuestforChrist784′s original post and not my attempt to clarify what he/she was questioning about the Book of Mormon. Certainly nothing in my post was intellectually dishonest.
I look forward to your response to my original post.
Regards, JN
Mike’s response:
Yes I was referring to Questfor Christ784′s comment.
JN’s comment to which Mike will now respond:
The words don’t appear verbatim. However, under INTRODUCTION, first paragraph, we find: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness [sic] of the everlasting gospel.”
Mike’s response:
If we are to consider what the “fulness of the everlasting gospel” means, we must define it as Joseph Smith would define it. since he was the instrument through which the Book of Mormon came.
In the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church, Section 42 we find these explanatory verses:
“12 And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall TEACH THE PRINCIPLES OF MY GOSPEL, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
13 And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.
14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
15 And all this ye shall observe to do as I have commanded concerning your teaching, until the FULNESS OF MY SCRIPTURES is given.
16 And as ye shall lift up your voices by the Comforter, ye shall speak and prophesy as seemeth me good;
17 For, behold, the Comforter knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father and of the Son.”
From the reference above we glean the following understanding about what Joseph Smith understood the meaning of the “fulness of the gospel to be.
1. The PRINCIPLES of the gospel contain the fulness of that Gospel.
2. “The fulness of the Gospel” is not the same thing as the “fulness
of my scriptures”.
So Joseph Smith would tell you that using the term “fulness of the scriptures” would not restrict God from adding scripture, according to D&C 42.
so what are the principles of the Gospel?
The 4th Article of Faith, found in the Pearl of Great Price, gives a definition of the first principles:
“4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
In several places these principles and ordinances are referred to as the “DOCTRINE OF CHRIST”
Two treatments of this doctrine are in the Book of Mormon:
First, Nephi’s teaching in @nd Nephi 31 and 32:
2 “Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I amust speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.
3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.
4 Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being aholy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the agate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the cend, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow apath, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”
Second, Christ’s teachings during his appearance to the Nephites:
3rd Nephi 11
32 “And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.”
37 “And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.”
The “fulness of the gospel”, then consists of the “doctrine of Christ”
1. Faith in Jesus Christ
2. Repentence
3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
4. Receipt of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands
5. Endurance to the end in righteousness
By doing these things a person is cleansed and becomes “perfect in Christ” and is thus able to receive all other revelation and ordinances necessary to lay hold on Eternal life, given by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Mike



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Silly Interloper

posted July 9, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“Basically, you are saying it is a mystery and we should not suppose anything more or less than that.”
I have no idea how you got that from what I wrote. I did not say such a thing, and I did not intend such a thing.
“The point I wish to make, is to argue against the point of view that God the Father has no absolute relationship with the physical.”
I doubt we know that much. I doubt we know enough to even understand what point is being made. Who is saying that we know this stuff from an Orthodox view?
“As evidence Christ could not be touched until he met with the Father. It is a hole in the Trinitarian view that God the Father is only 100% spirit.”
I am not aware that this 100% spirit concept is part of the de fide doctrines of Orthodoxy. It certainly isn’t a necessary part of the Trinitarian doctrine. Even so I don’t think we can comprehend what it means that God is 100% spirit, even if that is an accurate description of Him. As men, we start as creatures and know God from that start, but we know God is transcendent and goes infinitely beyond us. How can we truly understand such a nature? How can we speak as if we know this pure spirit idea if we are tied so firmly to the physical? More to the point, how can it be a hole in the profound mystery of the Trinity?
“If purely spirit, then why was it an issue for Christ that his body was defiled?”
It is not clear to me that the request not to be touched had anything to do with being defiled. I’m also not at all clear what you are asking. What is the syllogistic connection between the potential defilement and pure spirit?
“It is a puzzle piece, I agree. But I would argue it is a most significant piece which can not be easily dismissed because it is Juxtaposed with the Resurrection of the Savior, one of the hallmarks of Christianity.”
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the closer a mystery lies to greatness, the more omniscient we (human beings, that is) should be about it. I fail to see any reason at all why that should be true.
“I cannot easily except this as just idle words from the Savior. I think it is related to our understand of God.”
I don’t expect you to except them as idle words. Nor do I expect you to become all wise and all knowing after reading them.
It very well may be that it is related to our understanding of God. But that doesn’t mean it gives us complete knowledge of its meaning. Knowledge and mystery are on a continuum, and with any given thing we have some knowledge of it, and some of it remains mystery. If it is only possible for us to have a level of understanding when mystery is completely gone, then we really cannot know anything. Without exception, mystery is always present.
What does that mean to me? It means that meditating on the passage you offered may be very fruitful to my relationship with Jesus Christ. It may bring greater understanding and greater joy in knowing Him. It may mean it is worthwhile to see if Catholic Tradition tells me something more about this passage. It may mean dozens or even hundreds of other things. It does not mean (and should not mean) that I suddenly have certain and full knowledge of how that puzzle piece fits into the grand puzzle of God.
“God the Father has a physical component. Whether it is minimal or maximal based on this account, I will concede, is up for debate.”
I do not know what it means to say “God has a physical component.” I have no way to measure the truth or falsity of such a statement. Certainly God created all that is physical, but I do not and cannot know whether that makes him have a physical component. Our entire experience of the “physical” fits on that continuum of knowledge and mystery. We have experienced the physical, but we can hardly lay claim to having knowledge that reaches infinite transcendent knowledge of its relationship to God.
As far as I know, God has revealed nothing of these 100% spirit and physical element ideas in divine revelation. He IS Who IS. He has revealed the Trinitarian nature of Him-The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one in being or consubstantial with the Father. I make no demands that you accept divine revelation as it is defended and preserved by the Catholic Church, but there is no amount of purported ratiocination that can defeat it. The Church has defended this doctrine from ratiocination since the very first attempts by the first Gnostics in the very first century of Christianity. (As distinguished from the second group calling themselves Gnostics in the third century from whom they also defended it.)
“But one must look at this account and honestly say that it does open up the possibility significantly that a spirit only personage of God the Father may not be the best description or possibility of God the Father.”
I neither resist it, nor support it. Where does that leave us?
“Further, I think this account is interesting because, Jesus Christ is conveying the idea, at the very minimum, to Mary M. that his relationship to God the Father is as Mary’s to God.”
How so? It might impart the idea that there are similarities, which would not disturb the Trinitarian understanding at all. After all, we can certainly presume Mary loved the Father, and we know that Jesus loves the Father. Does she love exactly like Jesus does? I find the notion quite dubious. How do you read this into the passage? How can you be certain that is what was intended?
“That view is totally compatible to Mormon thought. It is no way foreign. Thus we say that scripturally, the New Testament is shown be supportive of this view not atagonistically agaisnt it.”
I don’t argue against the possibility that you have a consistent way of interpreting the New Testament that supports Mormonism. That does not give you a guarantee that the Mormon interpretation is what the inspired writers intended. The Catholic and Trinitarian interpretation of the Bible is completely compatible with Catholicism. The book alone is not sufficient to understand what the writers intended, so I will not rely upon the book alone (or a Mormon’s interpretation of it) to teach me.
I don’t pretend to represent Orthodoxy in any authoritative way. I have examined your concerns as well as I am able having been informed by the Catholic Church. (Informed does not imply a mindless acceptance, as I some have suggested.)
I took your original enquiry as a genuine desire to understand the Orthodox understanding. I have given that, and I hope it is clear to you that citing more scripture and compounding ratiocination upon ratiocination is not going clear up the matter. I have not offered this to you by way of invitation to a debate. I have offered it to you for understanding.
I hope it is helpful to you.
Cheers,
Silly



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:24 am


“This statement says that Jesus has to travel distance so that he can be with God the Father and that his state of being able to be touched will change. Repeat “Distance”, that is a physical, tangible, property. If God the Father was present and of the same substance, then Jesus would have needed no requirement of travel of expiration of time to be with the Father.”
From an Orthodox perspective, that is a radically literalist and materialist view. To us it is really an odd way to want to interpret something. It reminds me of the atheist Richard Dawkins’ misguided ridicule of the Ascension because it required movement into the atmosphere, which we know has only gas and clouds, not heaven, and we know that he will suffocate once he exits the atmosphere. (I don’t remember his exact argument, but it was something close to that.) It exhibits a way of thinking that is quite alien to us.
I think you are reading too much into the Trinitarian doctrine. It is my hunch that the 100% spirit approach has worked its way into some arguments supporting the Trinity, but that it is not actually part of the divine revelation of the Trinity. (I am open to be disabused of this speculation, but I would expect due rigor before accepting it.) The doctrine informs us that they are One God in Three Persons. They are consubstantial, which means “one in being.” They have distinct relationships with each other as divine Persons in their Oneness-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is much more that can be said about them, but in all the words I have heard from pulpit, the Catechism, and all the explications I have read from the Church, I am not familiar with these ideas of 100% Spirit or the opposing physical nature of God.
In a matter seperate from the Trinitarian doctrine is our understanding of the Eucharist. The substance of the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The divinity of Jesus Christ consists (if “consists” makes sense here) of the Holy Trinity, so we believe that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are also present in the Eucharist.
That presents us with a much larger discussion about form and substance and the nature of the Eucharist. If the substance of the Trinity is there, does that mean it is physical? I don’t know. It is a mystery. More than a mystery-it is a gift. I will not shun this magnificent gift by being intolerant of God’s mystery.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:25 am


Well, focus on one definition of God that is common. Chapter II of The Westminster Confession of the Faith.
————
CHAPTER II.
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.
I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his won glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty.
II. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
———————
———————
“a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable”
“not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made”
“independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain”
These quotes indicates a total lack of physicalness. Also, it indicates no need of contigency in relationship to God.
When Christ stated a contigency, of not being touched before being allowed to be in the presence of the Father, this indicated to me that God has a physical property and the there was a contigency involved.
In my opinion, when doctrines become more important than scriptures it eventually falls apart. That’s why we don’t like Creeds.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:35 am


Ok, I can see that you have faith in the view of the Trinity. I can’t argue with that. What I would argue with is the notion the nature of God is a mystery. Yes I know God’s ways are higher than man’s. However, I would argue that God asks us to know him fully. If the Trinity is incomprehensible even by the spirit then we can not know him fully.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:28 am


“In my opinion, when doctrines become more important than scriptures it eventually falls apart. That’s why we don’t like Creeds.”
With all due respect (and with a friendly intent), I really don’t think you realize what you are saying.
Doctrines consist of meaning. Scriptures consist of words. You are professing that when meaning becomes more important than mere words, it (meaning) falls apart.
I propose that the exact opposite is true. When words become more important than meaning, you completely lose sight of meaning.
Note, as well, that your statement (or at least my comprehension of it) contradicts itself (reduce the power of meaning to preserve meaning), while mine is consistent (reduce the power of words to preserve meaning). I am not suggesting we actually reduce the true power of words, of course. The reduction is in the erroneous perception of their power.
Cheers,
Silly



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:38 am


“Ok, I can see that you have faith in the view of the Trinity. I can’t argue with that. What I would argue with is the notion the nature of God is a mystery.”
Why? You, as a mere human, expect to have God’s omniscience of Himself?
“Yes I know God’s ways are higher than man’s. However, I would argue that God asks us to know him fully.”
That may or may not be true. You don’t have to know your wife in every existential way possible in order to love her and have a relationship with her. I lean against it because we would have to be infinite beings ourselves to really know Him, and Catholicism does not believe that we will be gods equal to the One. If it is true, it is what we have to look forward to in heaven. It is what we Catholics call, the Beatific Vision.
To be honest, it is quite an astounding and implausible notion to me that a finite human being could know God fully in this life.
“If the Trinity is incomprehensible even by the spirit then we can not know him fully.”
Not now we can’t. Clearly not. Even if we were “fully” informed intellectually with the best language possible, I don’t think that information would even scratch the surface of knowledge and comprehension of His infinite and eternal Being.
Cheers,
Silly



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:41 am


nowandlater,
We can explore the notion of comprehending God with one attribute: Infinity. How can a human being comprehend infinity? We have knowledge of a concept, but is it possible to have true comprehension of what that means?
I don’t believe we can. In fact, I’m certain we can’t. (You may have noticed the rarity in which I express certainty.)
Cheers,
Mark



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:43 am


Oops! I accidently outed my first name! (I prefer Silly. It’s far more accurate.)



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:11 am


Good point. There are things too big for our finite minds to comprehend without God’s aide. However, I would modify the argument though. Since we are made in God’s image, then I would argue that there are things which we can see in others, although finite beings, which would show a reflection of His image.
Why would God invoke that imagery with only us our of all creation if not there has not been something impressed into ourselves at the time of our creation? If we are finite being made in God’s image, then I would argue that there is something devised out of that in which we can comprehend. The more we can understand ourselves the more we can understand God. And the more we understand God the more we can understand ourselves.
If we could understand why a person would dive into ice-cold water to save people from a plane-crash where he knew it meant certain death, then I think we could understand God and His Love a little better? Are we not here on this Earth to live and feel God’s love through our service and sacrifice to others? If a person could sacrifice his love out of service, isn’t that a much deeper and more important knowledge than understanding infinity?



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:23 am


I don’t disagree that we can understand God to some degree because we are (in some very mysterious way) made in His image. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks directly to that. Extrapolating that into the notion that we can know God fully and omnisciently is an entirely different proposition. (From the language of your last post, I get the feeling you are conceding that?)
It’s way past my bedtime.
Cheers,
Mark



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:39 am


Yes, but I think that is the journey we are on. As Moses said, he wished that all were prophets like him and reach God’s presence. To know him increasingly better with time.
Now, I see a contradiction, on one hand you say it is impossible to know him and then on the other hand you support creeds which purport to accurately describe. That is a contradiction. Why do we wish to create the most perfect creed when we like you say don’t understand fully?
I propose that we rely on scriptures. And if the scriptures sound contradictory, then I say don’t rely on the reason of man to figure it out. I say rely on revelation. Or as James asks us, to ask of God.



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VoiceCryingOut

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:01 am


Silly Interloper: I concur with your treatment of nowandlater’s comments and questions, and appreciate the spirit with which you wrote. I also appreciate your side explanation of the Eucharist and how it relates to the Holy Trinity. You explained that bit in a way that I’ve never heard before. It has added to my understanding of Catholic doctrine, for which I’m thankful. (I’m a Christian…Protestant, non-denominational. As such, I don’t hold with the concept of transubstantiation. However, I certainly appreciate the significance it holds for my Catholic brethren.)
Mike Bennion and Rotorhead: Thank you for your answers to my questions. You’ve both added to my knowledge and understanding of Mormon doctrine, for which I’m thankful.
Now to anyone reading this who doesn’t understand how Orthodox Christians can believe in the Trinity (that is, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. One God – three personages.). I’m sure most have heard the analogy to H2O. H2O exists in 3 distinct states: liquid (water), solid (ice), and gas/vapor (steam). Which is H2O? They all are. One substance – three states.
I prefer this analogy: I’m a mother, I’m a daughter, I’m a therapist.
As a mother, I care for my children, love them, teach them, provide for them, feed them, clothe them, discipline them, comfort them, protect them, nurture them.
As a daughter, I love my parents, honor them, seek their counsel, obey them, reflect their values in the way I live and raise my own kids, pattern my marriage after theirs (some of it, anyway! lol), etc.
As a therapist, I listen to my patients, counsel them, guide them, instruct them, correct them, comfort them.
I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a therapist. Which is me? I am all of these, separately and together. I have distinct roles to play in different arenas of life, with a distinct purpose for each. But none can be separated from that which is essentially me. Being a mother doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m a therapist. Being a therapist doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m a daughter. I am each…and all. One person – three roles.
Hope this helps.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 10, 2007 at 8:35 am


To VoiceCryingOut
I have an arly work day today.
More on Trinity later
Mike



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Chris

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:29 am


This discussion is so very frustrating.
BOTTOM LINE… A Christian is anyone that believes in JESUS CHRIST as the SON of GOD and who’s Sacrifice allows our sins to be forgiven…Period! Everything else is what divides us in our various Christian Organizations. Since the “LDS” or “Morman” faith believe’s in the above listed definition…they ARE CHRISTIANS.
Granted, you may argue over which “CHRISTIAN” organization is “RIGHT” or has the most “RIGHT” but that is an argument that only GOD will reveal upon our meeting Him.
Let us stop fighting and start coming together to overcome those religions that would kill us for our announcing that we are Christians!
Respectfully Submitted,
Chris Delany



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:36 am


I don’t like the idea of 3 roles and one person. I like the idea of one role and three distinct personages.
Why? Because 3 roles in one person creates a mythical barrier between us and God which cannot be crossed. We can not be one with God because by definition he merely an appearance of a role; not a personage.
Christ’s message was to walk the path he trod to become one with God. He told Mary Magdelene that her God was his God, his Father was her Father. In essence, she could partake of the oneness with God, like he has done. But yet Mary, like all of us are distinct personages? The Trinity does not allow it. It puts up a barrier where we can never be one with God. Even though Jesus Christ’s message was precisely that we could be if we followed him and become one with him.



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Mike Yarbrough

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:20 am


Let’s see…satan and Jesus are brothers…as God is we can become…as we are God once was…hmmmn…I just can’t seem to find that anywhere in the Bible…can’t seem to find those heretical teachings anywhere except in the disturbed mind of Joseph Smith and then regurgetated by all those “prophets” after him. Christian? I don’t think so…



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iaintbacchus

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:27 am


I’m curious how Pope Benedict’s recient published document which stated in part that:
“Orthodox churches are defective and that other Christian denominations are not true churches”
effects this whole discussion. It seems to me that if there are truely only two churches and the other one is the “Church of the Devil” then everyone not a Catholic is in the same boat. Certainly Pope benedict has leveled precisely the same arguments against Dr. Mohler’s sect as he uses against the Latter Day Saints.
Now I, myself, am not a Christian. I am not a monothiest of any stripe. So perhaps I’m out of line even entering this discussion. But I am an American, and I believe in the very American principle that all men have the right to worship their gods according to their own conscience. It seems to me that if a person says he is a Christian, that he professes to worship the Christ and look to him for salvation, then that one is a Christian. And unless Dr. Mohler or some other orthodox protestant luminary has reciently spoken to the Christ, as both the early LDS Prophets and some of the Popes have professed to have done, then perhaps you all might want to wait until your expected judgement day to find out who your god recognizes rather than speaking for him yourselves. I believe you refer to that action as blasphemy.
In the mean time, I’m with Card on the whole issue of whether Romney can be President. We went through this whole crock back in ’60 when Kennedy ran and again in ’68(?) when Romney’s Dad ran. There is no religious test for office in this country. There can’t be. I wouldn’t vote for Romney for a lot of reasons, but his religion isn’t one of them. And if his religion is your reason for being against him, you can call yourself a Christian all you want. But don’t call yourself a good American. Because you aren’t. You’re just one more religious bigot who hasn’t figured out yet what this country is all about.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:26 pm


These words of Christ Jesus says that we are to be one with Him. JUST LIKE is He is one with the Father. Because of Jesus the gulf between man and God can be bridged. If we are true to that unity, we become like God and Jesus in total unity. So the Mormon view IS expressly Biblical. Deny that? Then deny the words of Christ.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
John 17: 11-23
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be bone, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is blost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the aworld, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy btruth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, bFather, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm


Now, which view of God is a view that limits His power?
A. A God who while perfect, with no distinct body, parts, passions, and infinite, yet can not bridge the gap between God and Man.
B. A God who while perfect, infinite, all-powerful, is also corporeal, and can in every way bridge the gap between God and Man.



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Edwin Moelder

posted July 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm


JESUS JESUS THE CHRIST IS PREEXISTENT AND UNCREATED:
Robert P. Lightner wrote in his book EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY concerning the preexistence of Jesus the Christ,
Quote.
………”that the birth of the Son of God did not signal his beginning. He always existed as God’s Son before He was born of Mary. He always was as eternal as God himself. When evangelicals refer to the preexistence of Christ, They mean He existed eternally as the second person of the Godhead.
The claim for Christ’s pre?existence is based on ample biblical upport. Every support for the Savior’s Deity is also support for his eternal pre?existence. The Doctrine of the Trinity provides a strong support for the timeless existence of Christ. The statements, that he is God, and always was, stand or fall together.
Names and titles of Christ used in the Old Testament lend strong support for His eternal preexistence. Jesus the Christ is as eternal as the god whose names were assigned to him in his preincarnate state. For example, Christ is called, “Jehovah our righteousness” (Jer. 23:5?6; 1 Cor 1:30).
Therefore the Son is as eternal as God Himself. Hundreds of years before Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah called the Son yet unborn “the mighty God, the everlasting Father” ( Isa. 9:6).
End Quote.
http://moelder.freeservers.com/TheHolyTrinityandTheDeityofJesusTheChrist.html



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm


How does a God without a body, parts or passions coincide with the BIBLE?
I would like to know what the orthodox view is regarding Christ’s resurrection…was it only temporary? Can he just slip into a physical body whenever he wants? Will he return in the same physical body that he ascended in, as stated by the angels to the Apsotles? Will the Jews be able to feel a physical body when they touch His HANDS after His Second Coming, as prophesied by OT Prophets?
What does John 3:16 say, I think I saw that scripture at a stadium recently? Is love for someone a type of passion?
And could someone please attempt to explain why Christ would pray to Himself if they are all one substance???



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Nowandlater….Seriously, I think you mad your point that LDS hymns sing of Christ and Praise Him as the Son of God, your additions are tedious!



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Elsie E Connelly

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm


I find this discussion just a tad bit unreal. If you believe in God and Jesus, you are a Christian. How you get to the end matters naught.
Live your life as though today is your last day, be good to others, take care of your stuff, don’t betray your faith, or your wife.
Stop telling everyone how to live their lives while you are sneaking about with your little toy on the side.
Stop playing God by using artificial means to become pregnant, as in the older women (who just want to have a baby so badly they use any and all means to get pregnant). There’s a darn good reason God gave us menopause. If you can’t get pregnant the old fashioned way, perhaps you’re not supposed to have a baby. There are lots of kids who need homes. Stop being selfish.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:49 pm


OHHH and why hasn’t an “orthodox” Christian explained what happens to us mere mortals upon our death and resurrection (which I imagine orthodox Christians still believe in)..what is the ressurection? do we become part of the one substance of God? If not, then how can one use to support the trinity the scriptures that Christ and the Father are one, when Christ says that man may become one with Him as He is one with the Father?



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm


I think the Mormons have spent ample time, maybe too much, in portraying their faith and in some cases having to defend their faith gainst baseless, and unchristian attacks: There is One Father, One Son and One Holy Ghost, ideas concerning them may vary, but we all believe that the Father created us, that Jesus died for us and the Holy Ghost teaches us.
Why don’t the so-called orthodox Christians answer a few questions, such as those posted above. See if you can use the Bible to support your beleifs and maybe you might see that there are principles taught in the BIBLE that orthodox Christians no longer profess to beleive. Why not? Were they not important? If God has changed what he wants to teach, which he can (look at Law of Moses vs. Gospel of Christ), what is the explanation?



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:20 pm


Stuart,
A good way to evaluate what one worships is to examine their songs of praise. I am just providing the ample proof. Please ignore them if you wish.



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Ben

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:25 pm


Stuart and others:
I have not seen anyone that has tried to explain the Trinity from a Christian perspective. There is only one God of the Universe (always has been, always will be), but God has eternally been made up of three distinct “Persons.” Therefore, Jesus’ baptism provides one of the best Biblical explanations of the Trinity. There was God the Father (who was well pleased with His Son), God the Son (who was baptized as a sign of obedience (Jesus is the “obedient Son” that David was not – 1 Samuel 9ff) and as a sign of what we as Christians should do (only) after repentance and faith in Christ), and God the Holy Spirit (who descended on Christ like a dove). Jesus does not weave in and out of spirit and flesh. After His death, burial and resurrection, Christ ascended bodily into Heaven. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.
As an aside, we also see the Trinity referenced in Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28). Christ implores His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Does Jesus think that these are all independent gods? No, in Mark 12:29, Jesus tells his disciples that “the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Instead, Jesus teaches that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, but distinct.
Finally, it is not Biblical to say that it does not matter how we view Jesus’ deity. Jesus was the only suitable sacrifice for my sins, the spotless lamb of God, as He was fully man and also fully God. It was necessary for Him to be fully man in order to be my substitute on the cross. Also, only Almighty God could be the “spotless” sacrifice that is necessary to wipe away all of my sin. Otherwise, Jesus’ sacrifice would have done me little more good than the animal sacrifices performed by the priest in the temple. Instead, He was Who those sacrifices pointed to. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin (because He was God) to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Christ).” Note that it doesn’t read that He will teach me how to be righteous; rather, it reads that He will become my righteousness.
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells me that I am saved by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace (undeserved favor) alone. When I reach judgment, there is nothing in my hand I can bring, but only to the cross I must cling. It is only in the willing sacrifice of Jesus, the God-man, that I can discard my “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), otherwise known as my “righteous deeds” and wear Christ’s righteousness. It is Christ’s righteousness alone which secures my eternity with God.
Are you tired of trying to be perfect? If so, I invite you to explore the wonderful news of God’s abundant grace in Christ – it’s a free gift.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm


Let’s compare apples to apples. From the same time period.
1841: Baptists Argue that Slavery is Biblical
Southern delegates to the Triennial Convention of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Board “protested the abolitionist agitation and argued that, while slavery was a calamity and a great evil, it was not a sin according to the Bible.” [J.G. Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Volume I, Triumph Books, (1991), Volume II, Page 5.]



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:38 pm


1851: J.F. Brennan Publishes Book by Josiah Priest titled Bible Defence of Slavery
Brennan claims that Cain’s parents were Eve and the serpent. Unfortunately, this book becomes very influential in “explaining” the black race.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:39 pm


1866: Catholic Church Responds to Thirteenth Amendment
Response says slavery is not contrary to the natural and divine law. “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given. The purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue or Catholic faith of the slave.” (Instruction 20, June 1866)



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:40 pm


1873: Pope Pius IX Prays that God Remove the Curse of Ham.
Pope Pius IX is concerned about the “wretched Ethiopians in Central Africa.” He prays that “Almighty God may at length remove the curse of Cham [Ham] from their hearts.” God’s curse on Ham is that the Canaanite people would be forever enslaved. Some theologians had long used this Biblical passage to justify enslavement of Africans. (Awake!, October 8, 1977, p. 29)



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:43 pm


1833: Free People of Color Editorial Published
W.W. Phelps publishes a controversial editorial in the Evening and Morning Star titled “Free People of Color.” It outlines procedures for the migration of free blacks to Missouri.
Missouri is a slave state that beat any free black crossing into or out of Missouri with 10 lashes on his or her bare back. Needless to say the Missourians react very negatively to the editorial and reprint part of it in the St. Louis newspapers. This is a spark that leads to much violence against the Mormons and is one of the factors leading to the Mormons eventual expulsion from the state.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:44 pm


1833: Missourians Write Mob Manifesto
The local Missourians don’t like the Phelps editorial and respond with The Manifesto of the Mob. This manifesto calls for the “removal” of the Mormons. Among other things it says:
“In a late number of the Star, published in Independence by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free Negroes and mulattoes from other states to become “Mormons,” and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste among us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.”
“…we believe it a duty we owe to ourselves, our wives, and children, to the cause of public morals, to remove them from among us, as we are not prepared to give up our pleasant places and goodly possessions to them or to receive into the bosom of our families, as fit companions for wives and daughters, the degraded and corrupted free Negroes and mulattos that are now invited to settle among us.”
“…we agree to use such means as may be sufficient to remove them, and to that and we each pledge to each other are bodily powers, our lives, fortunes and sacred honors.”



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Well written Ben.
Could I get some clarification? Is there ONE substance that is called God? And there are 3 separate portions of that ONE substance that are different? How can Christ be sitting on the “right hand”of the Father if He is the same substance? Strange that you admit that Christ ascended with a physical body, because according to the Trinity, God (which includes the Jesus portion) is spirit w/o body, parts or passions, correct? How do you coicide the two?
I think the bapstim and the Commission demonstrates that they ae three spearate beings!!! First, the location of the three were different? Second if the trinity is true, couldn’t one just baptize in God’s name?
I think you might be misguided on the LDS doctrine of salvation. First, man is SAVED only by the grace and actions of Jesus Christ. Man can not add one bit to his salvation. Salvation is the resurrection and the forgiveness of sins, which was and may only be accomplished through the Savior who submitted to His Father’s Will and not His own.
However, if you read 1 Cor. 15, you will see that there are varying levels of heaven. Another area is when Christ says there are many mansions. The highest is compared to the Sun, which has also been used in the Bible to describe the presence of the Father. LDS doctrine (D&C 76) states that that highest level is eternal life. In order attain that level we must follow Chirst who did state “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is Perfect.” That is why Christ taught that we must BELIEVE AND FOLLOW him. Look at the parable of the rich man, who beleived but was unwilling to follow the Savior. Also, one demonstrates their faith through action: Obeying commandments, such as baptism, etc. Ex: What happened to the followers who falsified their tithe to Peter? They beleived enough to pay a portion, but they were not obedient.
Ben, I will never tire in trying to follow the commandments of my Savior and Father. I am not yet perfect, that is why I need to depend on my Savior, who was perfect!
Why did God get rid of temples? Baptism for the dead? Tithing? The priesthood? Prophets and Apsotles? Revelation?



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm


1836: Elijah Abel Ordained a Seventy
In December of 1836 Elijah is ordained a Seventy by Zebedee Coltrin. He also becomes a “duly licensed minister of the Gospel” for missionary work in Ohio. (Minutes of the Seventies Journal, December 20, 1836)



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:47 pm


Nice job nowandlater…maybe orthodox Christians wil actualyl take a moment to learn their own doctrines before Casting the first stone!!



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Eric

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:50 pm


nowandlater, any Christian would admit that there have been misguided leaders in our faith. However, if you believe that the Book of Mormon is a true revelation, then you have to agree with this:
“For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” – 2 Nephi 5:21
You will never find anything like that in the Bible.
Further, Mormons believe that no one can enter heaven until they have passed through a holy council that includes God, Jesus and… Joseph Smith. Talk about a megalomaniac.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Eric…what you may not have known…was the Joseph Smith ran for President in 1844 on the platform of freeing the slaves, how does that coincide with orthodox christian view that Jospeh Smith wrote the BOM that you cite from?
Actually, if you read the OT, you will find stuff very similar. Sadly, like many things the Bible is not as clear as the BOM. Maybe it was the hundreds of years of revision and translations. If you don’t think there are some mistakes in the BIBLE, then explain how God, being perfect and all knowing, can repent!!?



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Eric…why would it be surprsing to see a prophet of God among the Father and Son, does’t orthodox christianity disregard the role of the Father and Son and give that power solely to Peter?



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:15 pm


Point number one. Racism has plagued humanity for all ages since from the beginning of time.
Number two, the Bible has numerous references of racism. It was a product of the time not a product of God. Just one example, is where Noah says that children of Ham will be slaves.
Number three, the reference you mentioned from the Book of Mormon is commentary from the writer. He is not quoting words verbatim from the Lord which he does later in the chapter.
Number four, racism was not only present in the Old World, it was present in Ancient America as well. This does not shock us, but rather it is proof that the Book of Mormon is a product of ancient times.
Number five, within the same Book of Mormon you have this:
2 Nephi 26:12 … he inviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:18 pm


A pretty thorough treatment of the LDS view of Oneness of God. It really answers the critics very well. Check it out if you are interested.
http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/oneness.shtml



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:19 pm


Correction >>>> Huge typo
Number two, the Bible has numerous references of racism. It was a product of the time not JUST a product of God. Just one example, is where Noah says that children of Ham will be slaves.



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Ben

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:24 pm


Stuart:
Thanks for the exchange.
There is one God, revealed in three distinct Persons. I have heard the Trinity compared with water — water can be ice, steam or mist. It is all water, but revealed differently. We cannot match up an exact comparison, but it gets the point across. In other words, God has not ever been in the form of a man, Christ is the God-man and the Holy Spirit indwells believers. The three Persons in the God-head do not share forms; they share a nature (God, Yahweh).
The entire Bible (Old and New Testament) teaches that there is one God. Don’t get hung up on “sitting” at God’s “right hand.” After the ascension, God the Son reunited with God the Father in heaven. I noted that Christ ascended bodily because (a) that was His nature (He was raised from the dead) and (b) because Acts 1:9 records this fact.
We baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because Jesus commanded us, as believers, to do so. I believe that He is giving due regard to the three distinct Persons within the God-head.
Quick question: why does LDS doctrine not believe in hell, but instead just a lower heaven? Jesus clearly talks about a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28, etc.).
To your question about the followers who falsified their tithe to Peter — their lie and deception was but an indication of the state of their hearts (what God cares most about). As we are given a new heart, we are provided with a way to no longer be “slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6), but avoiding sins (of any kind) or following dos and don’ts does not save us (again, see Isaiah 64:6 – all our righteous deeds are but filthy rags). This is why it is imperative that we accept Christ’s sacrifice as the only means of our salvation. By His wounds, we are healed. We can’t add anything to that, nor take anything away.
God got rid of temples because the veil of the temple was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:50). This happened because the law was broken through Jesus’ sacrifice. We no longer seek forgiveness on a piecemeal basis through a spotless lamb, but through the Spotless Lamb of God.
I don’t think that baptism of the dead is biblical. Jesus warns us to be ready because we do not know when He will return. That is why all believers must “prepare the way for the Lord” like John the Baptist – and plead with everyone to repent and to believe on Jesus.
I think that the tithe is still valid today, although it is not to be enforced in a legalistic sense.
I believe in the priesthood of all believers (Hebrews 7). Christ is our High Priest. As believers, we all have access to God the Father through Christ.
Apostles are “commissioned messengers.” In Biblical terms, they are those that saw the resurrected Christ (which includes Paul, due to his “road to Damascus” conversion). The New Testament revelation is infallible, as it was recorded by those that saw the resurrected Christ (or were followers of those that did – in the instance of Mark and Luke). So, there are no apostles today.
There are foretelling and forth-telling prophets. Forth-telling prophets can be ministers of the Word of God – these people exist today. I do not believe that there are any remaining foretelling prophets, as there are no more apostles (see above), or those that have seen Christ; there is nothing else to tell. Until the end, we are to glorify God with our lives and fulfill the Great Commission (spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ).
God bless you.



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Patrick

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:47 pm


Yadda yadda,
This is so boring and so unnecessary, the jockeying back and forth between those who firmly believe that they are right and others are wrong.
I will say this: for the Mormons to be considered Christian they must hold to Christian beliefs and doctrines. There is no way around it anymore than one could claim to be Buddhist yet not believe in Buddhist doctrines.
There may be those in Mormon churches who have received the Lord Jesus Christ into their life, there may be but that doesn’t change the fact that the Mormon church has been shown to believe in nonChristian doctrines and books. Polygamy also places the Mormon church in disrepute and rightly so. Just because Jacob had two wives doesn’t mean he was right to do so.
Jacob didn’t trust in GOD sufficiently and didn’t adhere to having one wife. Laban tricked him but still Jacob should have acted righteously but he didn’t.
I say to those who are in the Mormon church, before you declare yourselves to be Christians you should darn well make sure that you know what being a Christian means. It isn’t attending church and thinking that Jesus is a wonderful man and teacher; it is accepting that the Lord Jesus is both Man and GOD, that there is a triune aspect to GOD which means there is GOD, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
You may object to Catholic doctrines such as papal infallibilty, by all means, I too agree that the pope is not infallible but ultimately the Catholic Church is closer to the truth than the Mormon church (no, I am not a Catholic).
What is important is knowing the Lord, accepting that you are a sinner in need of redemption and salvation (everybody is a sinner regardless of how good they have been or have tried to be) and asking Jesus to come into your life and to change you into the person GOD wants you to become.
What does GOD want you to become? A fully moral being, someone who never lies, never hates, never does wrong and is always loving. Impossible? Yes, but possible by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet none of us will be perfected this side of Heaven.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:51 pm


Background
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church that is neither Protestant nor Catholic. Rather than evolving from traditions over the centuries, it claims to be a restoration of the original Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored by divine revelation through the prophet Joseph Smith. The process of the Restoration began in 1820 in the state of New York, when a young Joseph went into the woods to pray to God, seeking to know which of many conflicting Christian churches was the right one. In a marvelous vision, Joseph saw a pillar of light descending, and in the light he saw two glorious Beings. One pointed to the other and said, “This is my beloved son. Hear him!” While more was said, right away centuries of confusion about the nature of God was cast away. Unfathomable metaphysical doctrines about the Trinity were displaced with a simple truth: God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ, are two distinct Beings, in whose physical image we are created. There is one God the Father, and His son, Jesus Christ. They are real, tangible, glorious Beings. Obviously, when Christ says, “The Father and I are one,” (John 10:30), something other than “one substance” is meant. We believe that their oneness is a oneness or unity of heart, mind, and purpose. The Father can be fully represented by the Son. To worship one is to worship the other. As LDS apostle James E. Talmage put it:
This unity is a type of completeness; the mind of any one member of the Trinity is the mind of the others; seeing as each of them does with the eye of perfection, they see and understand alike. Under any given conditions each would act in the same way, guided by the same principles of unerring justice and equity. The one-ness of the Godhead, to which the scriptures so abundantly testify, implies no mystical union of substance, nor any unnatural and therefore impossible blending of personality. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons and individualities as are any three personages in mortality. Yet their unity of purpose and operation is such as to make their edicts one, and their will the will of God.
(Articles of Faith, p. 37)



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Bill Kilpatrick

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:51 pm


“[I]f you believe that the Book of Mormon is a true revelation, then you have to agree with this:
‘For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.’ – 2 Nephi 5:21
You will never find anything like that in the Bible.”
========================
No. You’ll find worse. Consider Numbers 34:7-18:
7And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
8And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
9And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
10And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
11And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
12And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
13And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
14And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
15And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
16Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
17Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
18But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
NOW THAT’S SOME PRETTY COLD STUFF.
As for the blatant racism of 2 Nephi 5:21, the simplest explanation for any racist statement is that the person making the statement was racist.
In fact, there’s much evidence that the Nephites of the Book of Mormon struggled with racism and an attitude of superiority. Their mythology – that God had darkened the skins of the Lamanites because the Lamanites were so evil – was both ignorant and self-serving. On the other hand, as the Nephites had a long memory of being attacked by the Lamanites, it was a story that remained very popular among the Nephites.
Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi, used this prejudice to argue that the Nephites were not as superior as they thought:
5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
6 And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
7 Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?
8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
(Jacob 3: 5-9)



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm


Contrast this with the “mainstream” view from the creeds of the fourth and fifth centuries, captured here in this excerpt from the famous Athanasian Creed:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
(Catholic Encyclopedia 2:33-34.)



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:53 pm


Now honestly, can you find such metaphysical abstractions anywhere in the pages of the Bible? (And how can you square it with such simple and clear statements as “My Father is greater than I” in John 14:28, or Stephen seeing Christ on the right hand of the Father in Acts 7:56?) This is the work of a committee of philosophers, not revelation to apostles and prophets. But this standard, crafted amid heated debate centuries after the time of Christ, is held up as a definitive statement of Christian faith by some of the same people who claim that the Bible alone is sufficient for salvation, and that no one can add to scripture. If the Bible is sufficient, we don’t need the creeds. And if we open the door to the need for further revelation and doctrine beyond those of the Bible, then we need to look for prophets from God, not contentious committees steeped in Hellenistic thought. And that’s why it’s so great to have the restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth again – complete with a restored and pure knowledge of the nature of God.
In my opinion, there is clear evidence that today’s “mainstream” view of God’s nature is closer to the teachings of ancient non-Christian philosophers than it is to the understanding of the early Jews and Christians of Bible times. A good analysis of this issue comes from Barry Bickmore (FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2000, pp. 275-301, with the following excerpt taken from pp. 278-280):



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm


Is [God] a person with a body in human form, as the Latter-day Saints believe, or a “most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternally incomprehensible,” as the Westminster Confession of Faith states? The Vatican Council further explains that God’s being is “a unique spiritual substance by nature, absolutely simple and unchangeable, [and] must be declared distinct from the world in fact and by essence” [George Brantl, Catholicism, New York: Braziller, 1961, p. 41]. These definitions of God go beyond anything in the Bible, but they happen to coincide nearly exactly with those taught by the ancient Greek philosophers. For instance, Xenophanes (570-475 B.C.) conceived of “God as thought, as presence, as all powerful efficacy.” He is one God – incorporeal, “unborn, eternal, infinite, … mot moving at all [and] beyond human imagination” [Karl Jaspers, The Great Philosophers, New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1981, 3:13]. Empedocles (ca. 444 B.C.) claimed that God “does not possess a head and limbs similar to those of humans…. [He is] a spirit, a holy and inexpressible one” ibid., p. 51]. This concept of God was adopted by Christians, starting in the mid-second century, in an attempt to make sense of their faith in light of the assumptions they inherited from Hellenistic culture. Thus the Christian theologian Tertullian (ca. A.D. 200) could say, “The Father … is invisible and unapproachable, and placid, and (so to speak) the God of the philosophers” [Tertullian, Against Marcion 2.27, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (hereafter ANF), ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1885-96, 3:319].
How did the Jews and Jewish Christians conceive of God before they moved out into the Hellenistic world? Christian Stead, Ely Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Cambridge, writes that “The Hebrews … pictured the God whom they worshipped as having a body and mind like our own, though transcending humanity in the splendour of his appearance, in his power, his wisdom, and the constancy of his care for his creatures” [Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994, p. 120].



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Finally, here is an interesting passage, including some information from early Christianity, from Alonzo Gaskill’s article, “Maximus Nothus Decretum: A Look at the Recent Catholic Declaration regarding Latter-day Saint Baptisms,” FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2001, pp. 175-196):
Roman Catholic scholars (including the church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) are not ignorant of the history behind the development of trinitarian theology or the patristic proclamations acknowledging the distinct individuality of the Father and Son. Rather, they traditionally view the evolution of the church’s doctrine of God as a positive move toward a more philosophical and sophisticated model. In the subordinationist spirit of John 14:28 (see Matthew 19:16-17;24:36; Mark 13:32; and John 17:21), the Catholic saint Justin Martyr indicates that Jesus simply carries “into execution” the Father’s “counsel,” publishing “to men the commands of the Father and Maker of all things.”[22] Justin argues further:
I shall attempt to persuade you . . . that there is . . . another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things – above whom there is no other God – wishes to announce to them. . . . He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things, – numerically, I mean, not (distinct) in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world – above whom there is no other God – has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with. . . . He who is called God and appeared to the patriarchs is called both Angel and Lord, in order that from this you may understand Him to be minister to the Father of all things.[23]
Similarly, Irenaeus, who is considered by Catholics to be at the “orthodox center” in his teachings,[24] also indicates that the Father is superior to the Son.[25] One contemporary scholar declares that until about the year a.d. 300 “every single theologian, East and West, had postulated some form of Subordinationism.”[26] [emphasis mine] Indeed, one scholar notes that “subordinationism was pre-Nicene orthodoxy.”[27]
While Catholics accept fathers such as Justin, Irenaeus, and others who explicitly tended toward a subordinationist view of the Godhead, they also accept the baptisms of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is also clearly subordinationistic in its pneumatology. . . . How, therefore, the Catholic magisterium can deny the validity of Latter-day Saint baptisms because of subordinationistic issues is mind-boggling.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 3:59 pm


How can you believe Mormonism? The Bible says that there is only one God! The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one.
Of course the Bible teaches that there is one true God whom we worship. The question is what this means. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ and the Father are two distinct beings, and that the Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28), who is the Son. So if Christ is God (He is) and the Father is God, and they are distinct persons (even Stephen saw Christ standing on the right hand of God in Acts 7:55,56), there are two Gods (and the Holy Ghost makes 3). So the question is what is meant by “one”? Christ explains it in His intercessory prayer in John 17:11,20-23:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are….
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Christians should be one even as the Father and Son are one. Not one substance, but one in mind and heart and purpose. What else can the unity of Christians mean? And that is the kind of unity we find in the Godhead. Yes, there are three persons – and three Beings. They can be called One and fully function as One. The Son represents the Father, only does the will of the Father, and is the author of our Salvation, acting for the Father. They are one – but not in the abstract, bodiless “one substance” concept of the Greek philosophers.
Our understanding of John 17 on the issue of the oneness of God seems consistent with a viewpoint expressed by Gregory of Nyssa, an early Christian father. Though he had written an essay entitled, “On Not Three Gods,” he still wrote the following:
Does not the nature always remain undiminished in the case of every animal by the succession of its posterity? Further a man in begetting a man from himself does not divide his nature, but it remains in its fullness alike in him who begets and in him who is begotten, not split off and transferred from the one to the other, nor mutilated in the one when it is fully formed in the other, but at once existing in its entirety in the former and discoverable in its entirety in the latter. (Against Eunominus, 2.7, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (hereafter NPNF), Series 2, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994, 5:109, as cited by D. Waltz, “A New Look at Historic Christianity,” FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2000, pp. 165-180)
Accordingly, a man becomes “one” with another, when in will, as our Lord says, they are “perfected into one” (see Jn. 17:23), this union of wills being added to the connexion of nature. So also the Father and the Son are one, the community of nature and community of will running, in them, into one. (Ibid., 1.34, in NPNF, 5:81)
That’s a viewpoint from a widely respected early Christian that I’m pretty comfortable with as a Latter-day Saint. Below on this page, I present further evidence that early Christians did not see things the way modern Trinitarians do.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm


Deuteronomy 6:4 says that our God is one Lord. This is basic to Judaism and Christianity. Don’t you accept that?
Background: Deuteronomy 6:4 contains one of the most famous passages of the Torah: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” in the King James Version. The New English Bible gives, “Hear , O Israel, the LORD is our God, one LORD” and Ellis T. Rasmussen suggests, “Hear, O Israel: JEHOVAH is our God; JEHOVAH is one” (A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993], p. 173.) The capitalized “LORD” in the first two translations refers to the sacred name of deity, YHWH, often given as Jehovah in English.
This verse is so important in Judaism that it has its own name: “Shema,” taken from the first word in Deut. 6:4. The verse is commonly used by modern Jews, but instead of saying the name YHWH, the substitute name “Adonai” (Lord) is pronounced.
Deut. 6:4 is consistent with the declaration of Christ in John 10:30, that He and His Father are one. The question, of course, is what is meant by “one” in these passages? In modern Judaism and mainstream Christianity, this verse is taken to teach strict monotheism: there is only one divine Being. But is this what was really meant by Moses or what was understood by early Christians?
The non-LDS scholar David J. Ellis gives the following explanation in his commentary on John in The International Bible Commentary (ed. F.F. Bruce, Zondervan Publ. House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, p. 1249):
I and the Father are one (Gk. hen): The neuter gender rules out any thought of meaning ‘one Person.’ This is not a comment on the Godhead. Rather, having spoken of the sheep’s security in both Himself and the Father, Jesus underlines what He has said by indicating that in action the Father and He can be regarded as a single entity, because their wills are one.
This is important: unity of will is what the Greek text of John 10:30 implies, not some metaphysical statement about oneness of substance (such Hellenized spinning of the text came much later). But what about Deut. 6:4?
Before addressing the Shema issue directly, I should first note that Latter-day Saints believe that the title Jehovah in the Old Testament typically referred to the pre-mortal Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Elohim. Though the titles Elohim and Jehovah sometimes seem to be interchangeable, there are many instances pointing to a distinction, suggesting a view in which there are more than one divine Being, who nevertheless act with perfect oneness, such that Jehovah and Elohim are truly one and not competing Gods with different agendas and commands.
There is strong evidence that early Christians also shared this view of Christ as the Jehovah of the Old Testament, as I discuss more fully on my page about “Questions on Relationships Between God, Man, and Others.” For example, non-LDS scholar Margaret Barker recognizes the “overwhelming” evidence that early Christians identified Christ with Jehovah in the Old Testament, and in doing so, addresses the issue of how they understood Deut. 6:4. The following excerpt is taken from her book, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (London: SPCK, 1992, pp. 192-193, as cited by Kevin Christensen, Paradigms Regained: A Survey of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship and Its Significance for Mormon Studies, FARMS Occasional Papers (Provo: FARMS, 2001), pp. 24-25):
The evidence that the first Christians identified Jesus with the God of the Jews is overwhelming; it was their customary way of reading the Old Testament. The appearances of Yahweh or the angel of Yahweh were read as manifestations of the pre-existent Christ. The Son of God was their name for Yahweh. This can be seen clearly in the writings of Paul who applied several ‘Lord’ texts to Jesus. . . . Now Paul, though completely at home in the Greek world, claimed to have been the strictest of Jews, educated in Jerusalem and zealous for the traditions of his people. How is it that he, of all people, could distinguish between God and Lord as he did in 1 Corinthians, if this was not already a part of first century Jewish belief? He emphasized that this distinction was fundamental to his belief: “there is one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:6). This is, to say the least, a remarkable contradiction of Deuteronomy 6:4, if he understood that verse in the way that we do, as a statement of monotheism. If, on the other hand, it was a statement of the unity of Yahweh as the one inclusive summing up of all the heavenly powers, the ‘elohim, then it would have been compatible with belief in God Most High also. (emphasis in Barker’s original text)
The New Testament speaks of Christ and God the Father as separate beings in other places as well, such as John 17:3, Romans 15:6, 1 Timothy 2:5 and 1 Timothy 5:21. While Christ and Paul use such language, Christ Himself repeated Deut. 6:4 in Mark 12:29, reminding us that there is but one God. Again, this would be a serious contradiction if Deut. 6:4 actually teaches strict monotheism. Since the New Testament clearly does not see Deut. 6:4 as requiring that the Father and Jesus Christ were one Being, there is no needed for other modern faithful Christians to accept a “one Being” theology on the basis of Deut. 6:4. We believe in one God (Elohim) AND in one Lord (Jehovah/YHWH), who are one God, but not one Being as specified in the modern doctrine of the Trinity.
Even Moses, the prophet who wrote Deut. 6:4, referred to “Gods” in the Creation account (Gen. 1:26,27, for example, where the plural noun “Elohim” which literally means “Gods” speaks as a plural entity, saying “let US make man in OUR image”). Clearly, Moses did not exclude the possibility of more than one godlike Being being in unity with God the Father. As Richard Hopkins put it (FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2000, p. 272),
The existence of more than one person who is designated as “God” is the foundation of the two-thousand-year-old problem classical theists have resolved through their belief in the Trinity. If this seeming inconsistency can be tolerated in the Bible, it is disingenuous to pretend that it is a contradiction when it appears in LDS scripture. It would be more appropriate to complain if this “contradiction,” a teaching that has uniquely marked Christianity, were absent from LDS scriptures.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 4:12 pm


I believe that God’s grace by Jesus Christ will bridge the gap between Man and God, for we are his children. I believe that this grace is more complete and full then what is typically thought of.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 4:18 pm


Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 4:22 pm


“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
If our hear is pure and sealed to God, then what else matters? Isn’t that the highest and noblest attribute of God.



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Make no mistakes, Galatians 1:8 says that anyone who preaches another Gospel (even an Angel) let him be accursed. If you are a Mormon, wake up! Satan tempted Eve in the garden and said that she would be like God. Your theology believes this very thing! Your magic underwear should be some indication that you are in a cult. If you don’t get out, it WILL cost you your eternity.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Ben…thanks for the reply.
I like your water analogy…yet I don’t think it suits your point. I agree that water has three types…but the same water particle cannot be all three at the same time. The baptism of Christ shows that all three are present at the same time. I like how you mention the God-head, Mormons also believe in the Godhead…3 separate beings that have One Purpose and that purpose is to bring to pass the imoortality and eternal life of man.
I think the vision of Stephen is critical…how can it not be. Stephen saw the Son on the right hand of the Father…how does that happen if they are one substance without body, parts or passions. Also, if Christ ascended with a physical body and it was told that He would return in the same manner that He ascended, will He return with a physical body. If so, does He have that physical body now..if not where is it and what then is the resurrection?
Mormon doctrine does preach of a hell. If you would like, i could explain it…but it is not the fire and brimstone preached by orthodox christians.
Do you really believe that man is not “required” to perform certain acts? What about faith? repentence? baptism? and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost? I believe Peter in Acts makes those mandatory or maybe that is just another portion of the BIBLE that orthodox christians no longer decide to follow.
What revelation in the Bible states that temples are no longer essential? The tearing of the veil symbolized the end of the Mosaic law, which was God’s law and only a lesser law. However, if you know Biblical history, even Jesus Christ was unable to pass the veil into the Holy of Holies. If the temples were no longer necessary, why did Peter and the Apostles go to the temple after the ressurection of the Lord.
Baptisms for the dead were performed by the Apostles…see 1 Cor. 15. Is this another one of those Biblical practices that are no longer necessary.
The 12 Apostles were an actual group, similar to the 70 that were called by Christ. If anyone who saw Christ was an Apostle, why did the Lord find it necessary to approve the name of another to fulfill the absence of Judas in the 12?
Do you really think that the NT is infallible? Do you know when the Bible was compiled? Do you know that other books were not chosen to be included? Do you know how many translations have occurred before you have the text you are reading? You don’t think that those men may have made mistakes?
What does Amos say in teh Bible…God will do nothing save He first reveals it to His prophets. What a dilemma!! I don’t understand…the NT says that God is the same yesterday (OT), today (NT)and forever, yet He decides to alter His position of personally calling Prophets.
The BIBLE contains the teachings of Prophets and Apostles. How is God to fulfill the forth-telling prophecy that the latter-days will bring forth the restoration of all things. Maybe God will change His mind once again…you know the infallible BIBLE does say that God has and can Repent of his mistakes, so I guess we are ok (sarcasm).
Again I am curious how the Biblical priesthood that was bestowed either by birth or by God’s calling can now be for all people. Did I miss a scripture where God decided to alter a practice done for thousand of years?
OHHH and for Patrick, Jacob was not the only Biblical person to practice polygamy. Father Abraham also had many wives, as did most people in that time period.
Hope to hear a response.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Ohh Jeff…
Again, sad that many of you do not know your OWN scriptures. First, magic underwear (cute name) actually resemble the garments given to Adam and Eve when they were cast out of the Garden.
Second, you might want to hold back your judgment against the Mormons. Mormons preach faith, repentence, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, eternal marriage, tithes, revelation, the true knowledge of God and His Only Son, temple work, baptisms for the dead, priesthood power and ordinances. All of these things are taught in the BIBLE!
How can it be another Gospel? Anything less or more is a different gospel!
Next..about the angel comment. How does that coincide with the vision of John in Revelations that in the latter-days he saw an ANGEL proclaiming the Fulness of the Gospel. Hmmmm…one of the problems with such arguments is that anyone can take a single verse and attempt to be right! However, you may want to look into context and other scriptures!!
Thanks.



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Catholic Christian

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Mormons? What about you guys? The Pope pretty much said it himself today. If you are not Catholic you are not of Christ’s church so you are not Christian.
Dr. Mohler, it is time to repent. Join Christ’s one and only true church. Become Catholic before it is too late.
To answer mr. Card’s question… the only person who can dictate who is and is not a Christian is the Pope because he is the only true disciple from His line of apostles.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:32 pm


Catholic Christian…
I must say…if Mormons are not right, then Catholics must be!
However, the Catholic church has had some problems. many of the practices in the BIBLE are no longer done, some have been perverted in ways (I dont mean that in a really negative way)
Regarding the Pope’s authority, after Peter died, who had the authority of the Church? It may be surprising to you, but if you read the BIBLE then it may not be!



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:35 pm


Can I become Catholic after I die? What if I am good in my heart? Is that just?
You don’t have to the answer the question. I know that your post was in jest.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm


Nowandlater…
You do bring up a good question.
Catholics and/or Orthodox Christians, what happens to those you lived and died without hearing the Good Word? What if a sincere China man dies without ever meeting a Christian (any type), is he damend to hell? or what?



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 5:56 pm


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy0d1HbItOo
here’s a great Mormon cartoon on their theology



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:04 pm


Stuart,
People don’t go to Hell because they didn’t hear the Gospel. They go to Hell because of their sin. The propitiation is the only way to enter Heaven whereby the Father imputes the punishment of the ones who have faith in Jesus to His Son, and imputes Jesus’s righteousness to the one who has faith. Read Romans 7. How will they hear without a preacher? There is no post mortem evangelism as your faith teaches.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:08 pm


jeff…if you think so, then you haven’t read Peter 1 or 2, have you?
Wait…is that in the BIBLE again!?
Then what happens to those you do not hear the gospel, no heaven or hell? where then?



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:19 pm


Stuart,
Your theology teaches that Joseph Smith actually saw and spoke to The Father and The Son. And so casually asked them which church he should join. Yet in Ezekiel and Isaiah, you see them both on their faces in the presence of Holiness, “Woe is me, for I’m undone”. You undermine the Holiness of the One True God if you think He is a man of flesh and bones. He is eternal. If God used to be a man, then where is the eternal in the past? I wish you would stop saying that you worship God and just say that you worship Bob or something, because you don’t worship the One True God. By the way, I know my scriptures just fine thank you.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:19 pm


Yep, that’s so so accurate. I would rather watch the superfriends than that piece of work.
Do you know the Anti Defamation League severely condemned it? I guess when we talking about Jewish traditions we should go to Muslim sources, huh?



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:23 pm


Stuart,
Are you talking about 1 Peter 3:19?
This is where Jesus proclaimed victory to the demons in hades being held under chains of punishment described in 2 Peter chapter 2. So there. I know what I’m talking about. Mormons came up with some wacky post mortem evangelism from 1 Peter 3:19. Read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. There is a separation between hades and paradise and neither can cross to the other side.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:29 pm


Jeff
So what’s strange, that Joseph had a vision similar to Stephen, seeing both Father and Son? Or that God spoke to man as he had done for thousands of years? Or that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that He loves His children on Earth today as much as He loved those that lived before us?
I do woship the One True God…I believe it was Abraham who said that he would rise to see God FACE to FACE! Also, that when Chirst comes again, He will have his resurrected physical BODY, and I will see that he is like me.
Christ I think spoke to His Apostles after His resurrection to not fear because a SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONE as they saw that he had. And…because the Son is the HEIR in all things of the Father, not to difficult to understand that the Father has a body of Flesh and Bone.
Wasn’t it Job who mentioned that we existed prior to our mortal birth here on Earth, if so with us, wouldn’t it be the same with our Father!



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:30 pm


“Stuart,
Your theology teaches that Joseph Smith actually saw and spoke to The Father and The Son. And so casually asked them which church he should join. Yet in Ezekiel and Isaiah, you see them both on their faces in the presence of Holiness, “Woe is me, for I’m undone”. You undermine the Holiness of the One True God if you think He is a man of flesh and bones. He is eternal. If God used to be a man, then where is the eternal in the past? I wish you would stop saying that you worship God and just say that you worship Bob or something, because you don’t worship the One True God. By the way, I know my scriptures just fine thank you.”
And just like in Isaiah where his sins are forgiven. THE FIRST JESUS CHRIST SAYS that his sins “were forgiven him”. Jesus Christ cleansed his sins at that point in time. And then God the Father and Jesus Christ give the message. Isn’t that such an odd thing to say. Oh wait! It matches the Biblical view. Joseph Smith was one smart cookie if he made that up.



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:30 pm


Face it Stuart,
You’re in a cult. Your “religion” denies the essentials of the faith and mushroomed up in the 19th century. Paul teaches that Satan mascarades as an angel of light. Be careful of spreading false teaching. It will end you up in the “pits of darkness” (2 Peter chapter 2). Friend, I’m not trying to mock you. I apologize about the underwear crack. I just want you to be saved. It’s obvious that there’s nothing I can do to convince you. I’ll be praying for you.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:32 pm


“Stuart,
Are you talking about 1 Peter 3:19?
This is where Jesus proclaimed victory to the demons in hades being held under chains of punishment described in 2 Peter chapter 2. So there. I know what I’m talking about. Mormons came up with some wacky post mortem evangelism from 1 Peter 3:19. Read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. There is a separation between hades and paradise and neither can cross to the other side. ”
You don’t know our theology. We do talk about this. Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison.



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Jeff..you were correct about the divide until the death of Jesus Christ.
However, you may want to continue reading your scriptures:
1 Peter 4:6
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
WHOA! Gospel was preached to the dead!



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:36 pm


Do Mormons teach a different gospel than the one taught by Paul?
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/different_gospel.htm
Enjoy, you may learn a thing or two!



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 6:44 pm


I know this is going to generate a long conversation, but here it goes. We can look up the Biblical references if you wish.
12 Signs the Mormon Church is True as stated in the Bible.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=NCTZVh3l3ZA



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Edwin Moelder

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:17 pm


JESUS THE CHRIST IS THE PREEXISTENT GOD.
Isaiah 9:6; 12-21-75
From
http://www.wacriswell.org/Search/VideoTrans.cfm?Sermon=1396
Quote.
“And unto us a Son is given.” This is His deity. Without fail and without exception, all of the Scriptures present the Messiah Christ as being preexistent, and they delineate the work that He did before the foundation of the world.
He is co-equal and co-existent with the Father. And we saw in Him the grace and the glory of God. He came from the Father, and He returned to the Father, and His life in the days of His flesh is but a valley between those two great towering peaks that reach up to the heavens themselves.
End Quote.
http://moelder.freeservers.com/TheHolyTrinityandTheDeityofJesusTheChrist.html



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Jeff Mull

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:31 pm


Michael
1. proves nothing
2. much of your creed comes from Free Masons
3. I don’t believe your prophet
4. you teach that God was once a man who obtained Godhood. There has to be an eternal God. You are also a polytheist.
5. I agree
6. the Pharisees obeyed tithing.
7. The Bible teaches it is sufficient, no need for additional revelation.
8. The Jehovah’s Witness’s are a missionary church, and you are no different than them, you’re a cult.
9. proves nothing
10. What about the thief on the cross. Hello! Ephesians 2:8-9
11. The true Christian church does not associate with the Catholic church and many of their teachings.
12. Christianity answers the same thing.
Michael, one drop of poison spoils a whole pitcher of water. Be careful of what you believe.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:38 pm


“And unto us a Son is given.” This is His deity. Without fail and without exception, all of the Scriptures present the Messiah Christ as being preexistent, and they delineate the work that He did before the foundation of the world.
He is co-equal and co-existent with the Father. And we saw in Him the grace and the glory of God. He came from the Father, and He returned to the Father, and His life in the days of His flesh is but a valley between those two great towering peaks that reach up to the heavens themselves.”
Totally, agree. LDS believer believe that the God of the Old Testament was Jesus Christ before he came to earth.
YHWH = YHSWH
Or I am becoming (male tense), I am becoming (female) = I am becoming (male tense), I am becoming (female tense) for salvation.



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nowandlater

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:41 pm


“Michael, one drop of poison spoils a whole pitcher of water. Be careful of what you believe.”
But it doesn’t mean that a critics ignorance makes something poison. :)



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Stuart

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm


Jeff..
Then where were YOU before you were born? What happened there?
The thief was told he would be in Paradise, not heaven. And how do we know that…one Christ said Paradise not heaven, and Christ did not go to heaven or the presence of his father then…see 1 Peter 3:19 and Christ’s comment to Mary upon his resurrection, “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended unto my Father!”
Psalms and the Gospel of John also promote polytheism…gospel teaches that “ye are gods”. Having multiple gods, does not diminsh who OUR GOD is, OUR ONE and ONLY Father in heaven. God is a tile for those that achieve godhood!
Free Masons have a portion of the truth, so do catholics, and Protestants, and practically all religions. The LDS do not argue that…Christ’s ONE TRUE Church however was restored as promised in the BIBLE through a prophet, which goes with Amos 3:5.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Mike’s response to Michael’s comments above:
My goodness. Such a lengthy, in depth, well reasoned, well documented response.
Oh..sorry…am I being too sarcastic?
I guess we just have to believe it just because Michael says so.



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SEB

posted July 10, 2007 at 8:59 pm


I am fascinated by the numerous and passionate arguments which have been posted here to make the case that Mormons are not Christians. Since Mormons unequivocally say they are Christians and many non-Mormons categorically say they are not, it is evident that the heart of the matter has to do with the definition of the term Christian.
As pointed out by Mr. Card, Dr. Mohler referenced “traditional Christian orthodoxy” to provide his own definition. This is ironic since Dr. Mohler belongs to a denomination which, along with all other protestant denominations, was once labeled as heretical itself relative to “traditional Christian orthodoxy”. It seems that “traditional” is not quite so traditional after all.
Maybe Dr. Mohler feels that, just like my new Windows Vista operating system, his upgraded version of “traditional Christian orthodoxy” is an improvement over previous versions. In other words, the more time that passes since Christ’s earthly ministry the more accurate the interpretation of His teachings. Is that how it works?
An earlier post referenced an article which piqued my interest because rather than analyzing Mormon theology relative to some recent and shifting definition of Christianity, it examines the theology relative to beliefs held by first century Christians. The article is a bit lengthy for posting here but I am doing so anyway because it is thought-provoking and well worth the reading for those who agree with the premise as well as those who do not.
Comparing LDS Beliefs With First–Century Christianity
by Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks
Since the inception of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many critics have denied that it is Christian. Surprisingly, the basis for the claim has little to do with the standard definition of Christian: anyone or any group that believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Son of God. Rather, it has to do with Latter-day Saint doctrines that some feel are alien to “traditional Christianity,” where “traditional Christianity” means that body of beliefs held by most present-day Christian churches. The argument essentially goes that if the LDS church believes in certain doctrines not believed in by most present-day Christian churches, then the LDS church cannot be Christian.
The problem with this argument is that the major doctrines under attack are amazingly similar to Christian beliefs held during the New Testament period and the generations immediately following.
Does the New Testament define Christianity?
The Gospels lack any explicit treatment of the word Christian. Indeed, the word appears only three times in the New Testament, and never from the mouth of Christ himself. The word Christianity is entirely absent from the New Testament.
Acts 11:26 tells us that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Here, the passive construction “were called Christians” suggests that the term was first used not by Christians, but by non-Christians. (Similarly, the names Yankee and Mormon were first used by outsiders.)
The term was probably modeled on such words as Herodian and Caesarian, already in circulation at that time, and meant nothing more complicated than Christ’s people or, perhaps, partisans of Christ. Note that the Christian congregation at Antioch represented a wide range of backgrounds, including Jews and non-Jews. These believers displayed the whole spectrum of attitudes toward the Jewish law—from continued adherence to the traditions of Judaism to rejection of all things Jewish.
The next mention of the term Christian is in Acts 26:28, where Agrippa makes his famous reply to Paul: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” The Apostle had related to Agrippa and Festus the story of his conversion. The doctrinal content of Paul’s speech is simple and straightforward: Paul bears witness that Jesus had been foretold by the Jewish prophets, that he suffered and rose from the dead, and that forgiveness may be obtained through him. Paul described Christ’s mission as summoning people to “repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:20.) The scriptural account gives no indication that Paul had to correct Agrippa’s use of the word Christian to describe one who believes in these basic doctrines.
First Peter 4:16 is the last instance of the word’s appearance in the New Testament. This verse is virtually without doctrinal definition, merely assuring the believer that he need not be ashamed if he suffer as a “Christian.” Even here, the term may be one that persecuting outsiders were using. It may have derived from current Roman, that is, non-Christian, legal usage.
In each of these instances, the term appears to originate from someone outside the community of believers themselves. In neither of the two passages from Acts does Paul use the word himself; it is non-Christians who use it. Where the term is used, the stated and implied beliefs of the Christians are far different from the present-day beliefs used to deny that Latter-day Saints are Christians, as can be clearly shown.
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints reject the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, they are not Christians?
The Church’s first Article of Faith is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” This is a straightforward statement of belief that there are three members in the Godhead. However, Latter-day Saints do reject the doctrines of the Trinity as taught by most Christian churches today. For the most part, these creeds—the most famous of which is the Nicene Creed—were canonized in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. following centuries of debate about the nature of the Godhead. Consequently, it is highly questionable whether these creeds reflect the thinking or beliefs of the New Testament church.
“The exact theological definition of the doctrine of the Trinity,” notes J. R. Durnmelow, “was the result of a long process of development, which was not complete until the fifth century, or maybe even later.”1 As Bill Forrest remarks, “To insist that a belief in the Trinity is requisite to being Christian, is to acknowledge that for centuries after the New Testament was completed thousands of Jesus’ followers were in fact not really ‘Christian.’”2 Certainly the revelatory manner by which Joseph Smith learned of the doctrine of the Godhead pierces through the centuries-old debate on the subject.
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints believe that human beings can eventually become like God, they are not Christian?
As even a cursory glance at early Christian thought reveals, the idea that man might become as God—known in Greek as theosis or theopoiesis —may be found virtually everywhere, from the New Testament through the writings of the first four centuries.3 Church members take seriously such passages as Psalm 82:6, John 10:33–36, and Philippians 2:5–6, in which a plurality of gods and the idea of becoming like God are mentioned.
The notion of theosis is characteristic of church fathers Irenaeus (second century A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (third century A.D.), and Athanasius (fourth century A.D.). Indeed, so pervasive was the doctrine in the fourth century that Athanasius’s archenemies, the Arians, also held the belief and the Origenist monks at Jerusalem heatedly debated “whether all men would finally become like Christ or whether Christ was really a different creature.”4
According to an ancient formula, “God became man that man might become God.” Early Christians “were invited to ‘study’ to become gods” (note the plural).5
Though the idea of human deification waned in the Western church in the Middle Ages, it remained very much alive in the Eastern Orthodox faith, which includes such Christian sects today as the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox churches.6 Jaroslav Pelikan notes, “The chief idea of St. Maximus, as of all Eastern theology, [was] the idea of deification.”7
Is the subject of deification truly a closed question? After all, echoes of man becoming like God are still found in the work of later and modem writers in the West. For instance, C. S. Lewis’s writings are full of the language of human deification.8 Even Martin Luther was capable of speaking of the “deification of human nature,” although in what sense it is not clear.9
Related to the claim that Latter-day Saints are not Christians because of their belief in deification is the assertion that if they hold to some kind of belief in deification then it must be that Church members do not view Jesus as uniquely divine. Such an assertion is totally erroneous. The phrase “Only Begotten Son” occurs with its variants at least ten times in the Book of Mormon, fourteen times in the Doctrine and Covenants, and nineteen times in the Pearl of Great Price. Basic to Latter-day Saint theology is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh.
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints practice baptism for the dead, they are not Christian?
The argument that Latter-day Saints cannot be Christians because they practice baptism for the dead presumes that it has been definitely established that 1 Corinthians 15:29 has nothing to do with an early Christian practice of baptism for the dead. The argument ignores the fact that such second-century groups as the Montanists and Marcionites—who are invariably referred to as Christians—practiced a similar rite. The practice was condemned in A.D. 393 by the Council of Hippo, which certainly implies that it was still a vital issue.10 As Hugh Nibley has shown in great detail, many of the Church Fathers understood this verse literally, even when they did not always know what to make of it.11
Mormon temple ritual in general is another source of controversy, largely because many think that the reticence to talk about it is not Christian. But the New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias has shown that “the desire to keep the most sacred things from profanation”—a concern shared by the Latter-day Saints—is widely found in the New Testament and in the early Christian community.12
The second-century church father Ignatius of Antioch was known to have held “secret” doctrines. The historian Tertullian (second century A.D.) even takes the heretics to task because they provide access to their services to everyone without distinction. As a result, the demeanor of these heretics becomes frivolous, merely human, without seriousness and without authority.13
The pagan critic Celsus (second century A.D.) probably referred to Christianity as a “secret system of belief” because access to the various ordinances of the church—baptism and the sacrament—was available only to the initiated. In his response to Celsus, Origen (third century A.D.) readily admitted that many practices and doctrines were not available to everyone, but he argues that this was not unique to Christianity.14 As late as the fourth century, some groups were making efforts to return to an earlier Christian tradition of preserving certain doctrines and practices for the initiated only.15
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints do not accept the Bible as their sole authority in faith and doctrine, they are not Christians?
Latter-day Saints accept the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as scriptural, in addition to the Bible. But the whole question of canon—which writings are sacred, inspired, and binding on disciples—has always been a complicated one in the history of traditional Christianity.
In the earliest period of the Christian church, it is difficult to see a distinction being made between canonical writings and some books not in the present Protestant canon. For example, the Epistle of Jude draws heavily on noncanonical books such as 1 Enoch and The Assumption of Moses. As E. Isaac says of 1 Enoch, “It influenced Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 John, Jude (which quotes it directly) and Revelation (with numerous points of contact)…in molding New Testament doctrines concerning the nature of the Messiah, the Son of Man, the messianic kingdom, demonology, the future, resurrection, the final judgment, the whole eschatological theater, and symbolism.”16
The so-called Muratorian Fragment, dating from the late second century A.D., shows that some Christians of the period accepted the Apocalypse of Peter as scripture. Clement of Alexandria, writing around A.D. 200, seems to admit a New Testament canon of thirty books, including the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of Clement, and the Preaching of Peter. Origen recognized the Epistle of Barnabas and the letter from the Shepherd of Hermas.17
Even in more recent times, the question of canon has not been unanimously resolved. Martin Luther characterized the Epistle of James as “an epistle of straw”—largely because it seemed to disagree with his teaching of justification by faith alone—and mistrusted the book of Revelation.18 Roman Catholics and the Orthodox churches tend to accept the Apocrypha as canonical—books included in their Bibles but left out of most Protestant Bibles, including the current King James Version. In fact, Eastern Orthodox churches have never settled the question of canon. A number of scholars have pointed out that the church has priority, both logically and historically, over the Bible—that is, a group of believers existed before a certain body of texts, such as the books of the Old and New Testament, were declared canonical.19
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints deny the doctrine of original sin, they are not Christian?
The notion of original sin as it is usually understood today in traditional Christianity is a distinctly late invention that evolved from the controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries. Tertullian (second century A.D.), who was very concerned with the idea of sin, says nothing of the doctrine of original sin. Indeed, very few of the Church Fathers up to the fourth century show any interest in it at all. It was not clearly enunciated until Augustine (fourth/fifth century) needed it in his battle with the Christian Pelagians, who denied the doctrine, and it came to be associated with the Council of Carthage in A.D. 418.20
As Norbert Brox points out, “Pelagian theology was the traditional one, especially in Rome. But the Africans, under the theological leadership of Augustine, managed to make their charge of heresy stick within the church, thereby establishing the Augustinian theology of grace as the basis of the Western tradition.”21 Some modern scholars now raise the issue that Augustine, and not Pelagius, was the real heretic.22
Is it true that because Latter-day Saints reject the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, they are not Christians?
Perhaps the most famous statement of the Latter-day Saint understanding of the relation between grace and works is in 2 Nephi 25:23: “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” This idea is sometimes called synergism —a term Van A. Harvey has used to describe Roman Catholicism.23
The doctrine that salvation depends both on God’s grace and man’s good works is very old in Catholic theology. One of the canons at the Council of Trent specifically repudiates the notion of grace alone: “If anyone saith that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sin for Christ’s sake alone; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified, let him be anathema.”24 Are we to say, then, that Roman Catholicism is not Christian because it does not subscribe to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone?
The doctrine of salvation through faith alone, sometimes called solafidianism, is not a biblical doctrine: there are no instances in the New Testament of the phrases “grace alone” or “faith alone.” The philosopher-theologian Frederick Sontag argues that Jesus himself was interested not in words, and not even in theological dogma, but in action: For the Jesus in Matthew, he says, “Action is more important than definition.”25 Richard Lloyd Anderson shows that even in Paul’s major treatments of the doctrine of grace, particularly in Romans and Ephesians, there is a balancing element of works as well.26 Other New Testament writers, most notably James, make it clear that saving faith can only be recognized through works: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17.)
The generations immediately following the New Testament period also recognized the need for both grace and works for salvation. The famous Didache—The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles—which dates back to before A.D. 70, is conspicuous for its moralism and legalism.27 It is also significant that “the oldest datable literary document of Christian religion soon after the time of the Apostles”—the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, written in the last decade of the first century—emphasizes “good works, as it is in the Epistle of James, which may belong to the same time.”28 The second-century document Shepherd of Hermas contains twelve commandments. J. L. Gonzales writes that they “are a summary of the duties of a Christian, and Hermas affirms that in obeying them there is eternal life.”29
Even F. F. Bruce, who contends that Paul taught a doctrine of salvation by grace alone, concurs sadly that the doctrine was not a part of the early Christian church: “The Biblical doctrine of divine grace, God’s favour shown to sinful humanity, …seems almost, in the post-apostolic age, to reappear only with Augustine. Certainly the majority of Christian writers who flourished between the apostles and Augustine do not seem to have grasped what Paul was really getting at…Marcion has been called the only one of these writers who understood Paul.”30
Marcion, incidentally, was a second-century gnostic Christian who distinguished between the gods of the Old and New Testament. He felt that the Old Testament deity was a lesser deity than the God of the New Testament and rejected the Old Testament entirely, as well as any New Testament writing “tainted” with Old Testament ideas. Marcion produced a canon of scripture that recognized no Apostle of Jesus except Paul. He considered the other Apostles falsifiers of God.
By contrast, in the fourth century, one prominent Christian bishop was teaching the necessity of rituals. “If any man receive not Baptism,” wrote Cyril of Jerusalem, “he hath not salvation.” He also wrote about an ordinance of anointing, which he called “chrism”: “Having been counted worthy of this Holy Chrism, ye are called Christians… For before you were deemed worthy of this grace, ye had no proper claim to that title.”31
The Eastern Orthodox churches also do not accept solafidianism, the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. “Eastern Orthodox Christians emphasize a unity of faith and works. For the Orthodox, being conformed to the image of Christ…includes a response of our faith and works.”32 Sensing the danger that a “grace alone” position could become “cheap grace” (to borrow an expression from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer) or “a theologically thin, no-sweat Christianity,” some modern Protestant writers have adopted a similar position, recognizing that works also play a vital role in salvation.33
With so many other past and present Christians rejecting the position that grace alone brings salvation, excluding the Latter-day Saints from “Christianity” for their belief in faith and works is not justified.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints easily meet the definition of a Christian as implicitly defined in the New Testament: they believe that ancient prophets foretold Christ’s coming, that Jesus Christ suffered for our transgressions, that he was put to death but rose from the dead, that through him we may obtain forgiveness of our sins, and that he will come again in glory.
The doctrinal reasons some Christians give for excluding the Latter-day Saints from Christianity make little sense, because many of the doctrines used by traditional Christianity are late developments, reflective of creeds formulated in the fourth and fifth century or developed during the Reformation.
Given the wide variety of beliefs among the various Christian churches, it is better to take persons claiming to be Christians at their word and to let the Lord be the judge.
Daniel C. Peterson, an instructor of Arabic at Brigham Young University, serves on the Church Curriculum Gospel Doctrine Writing Committee. Stephen D. Ricks is an associate professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at BYU. He is currently accompanying faculty in the university’s travel study program in Israel.
Notes
1. Cited by Bill Forrest, “Are Mormons Christians?” Mormon Miscellaneous Response Series (Salt Lake City: Mormon Miscellaneous, n.d.).
2. Ibid.
3. See appropriate index entries in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600): The Christian Tradition (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971) and the index entry “Salvation —defined as deification,” in The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600–1700): The Christian Tradition (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974). See also K, E. Norman, Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology, Ph.D. dissertation, Duke Univ., 1980.
4. Clyde L. Manschreck, A History of Christianity in the World, 2d. ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1985), p. 52.
5. P. Barlow, “Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History,” Sunstone 8 (Sep./Oct. 1983):16–17.
6. See G. I. Mantzarides, The Deification of Man: Saint Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Tradition, trans. Liadain Sherrard (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984).
7. The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, p. 10.
8. A Grief Observed (New York: Bantam Books, 1963), pp. 84–85; Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1960), pp. 138–40,174,187.
9. Jack R. Pressau, I’m Saved, You’re Saved…Maybe (Atlanta: John Knox, 1977), p. 57; A. Nygren, Agape and Eros, trans. Philip S. Watson (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1982), p. 734.
10. Samuel M. Gilimour, “Baptism for the Dead,” in An Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. V. Ferm (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1945), p. 54.
11. “Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1948, pp. 786–88, 836; Jan. 1949, pp. 24–26, 60; Feb. 1949, pp. 90– 91, 109–10, 112; Mar. 1949, pp. 146–48, 180–83; Apr. 1949, pp. 212–14.
12. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (New York: Scribner’s, 1966), p. 130.
13. Tertullianus, Apologia 7–8; De praescriptionibus adversus haereticos 41.
14. Ongen, Contra Celsum 1:7.
15. Norbert Brox, Kirchengeschichte des Altertums (Düsseldorf, West Germany: Patmos Verlag, 1983), p. 134.
16. E. Isaac, “1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. J. H. Charlesworth, 2 vols, (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983), 1:10. See also “Apocrypha,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. G. A. Buttrick (Nashville. Abingdon, 1953), 1:161–69.
17. Manschreck, p. 33.
18. R. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon–Cokesbury Press, 1950), pp. 177, 331–32; Max Lackmann, Sola Fide: Eine exegetische Studie über Jakobus 2 zur reformatorischen Rechtfertigurigslehre (Gutersloh, West Germany: C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 1949).
19. H. Holzapfel, Die Sekten in Deutschland (Regensburg, West Germany: Verlag Josef Kuesel & Friedrich Pustet A. G., 1923), pp. 20, 23–27; P. Johnson, A History of Christianity (New, York: Atheneum, 1983), p. 22.
20. K. Rahner, “Original Sin,” in Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology, ed. Rahner et al., 6 vols. (London: Burns and Oates, 1969), 4:329.
21. Kirchengeschichte, p. 141 (authors’ translation).
22. W. E. Phipps, “The Heresiarch: Pelagius or Augustine?” Anglican Theological Review 62 (1980):124–33.
23. A Handbook of Theological Terms (London: George Allen Unwin, 1966), p. 199.
24. Session V1, Canon 12, cited in L. Boettner, Roman Catholicism (Phillipsburg, N.J.: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1986), p. 261.
25. “The Once and Future Christian,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 19 (1986):116–18.
26. Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983), pp. 185–86, 272–76, 355–62.
27. Justo L. Gonzales, A History of Christian Thought, 3 vols (Nashville: Abingdon, 1970), 1:69, 94–96.
28. Werner Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1961), pp 12, 15–16.
29. Gonzales, p. 89.
30. The Spreading Flame (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), p. 334.
31. Catechetical Lectures 3:10; 21:5.
32. W. G. Rusch, “Getting to Know the Orthodox,” The Lutheran, 2 Apr. 1986, p. 12.
33. Pressau, p. 38. See also J. Macquarrie, An Existentialist Theology (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1973), pp. 144–49.
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.php?table=transcripts&id=93



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Joel Cannon

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:03 pm


Michael
>1. proves nothing
A weak rebuttal
>2. much of your creed comes from Free Masons
The Mason do not claim priesthood authority – maybe you are confusing them with the Catholic Church which is has the only other similar claim.
>3. I don’t believe your prophet
Remember that revelation is the source of ALL Scriptures. So it is more the principle than the example of Joseph Smith himself that is the point.
>4. you teach that God was once a man who obtained Godhood. There has to be an eternal God. You are >also a polytheist.
We only worship One God (God the Father). – which makes us by definition monotheists. Note that the First command ment is simply – “you shall have no other gods before me”. It is the Bible that mentions other gods, and we understand what is meant.
>5. I agree
Really?! – you believe that God the Son has a tangible body? This seems to contradict the creeds that seem to be the whole problem with LDS not being qualified Christians….
>6. the Pharisees obeyed tithing.
Are you implying that tithing is not important because the Pharasees obeyed it? Does the same logic apply to every other law they obeyed? (e.g. Sabbath, etc?) Sounds like an excuse.
>7. The Bible teaches it is sufficient, no need for additional revelation.
The Bible also teaches that the Old Testament is sufficient – so does that make the New Testment unnecessary? The problem with using just the Bible to validate itself is called circular reasoning. (read about it in Wikipedia)
>8. The Jehovah’s Witness’s are a missionary church, and you are no different than them, you’re a cult.
Unless you are simply trying to be offensive, I don’t think you underestand the meaning of Cult or Mormonism. Here is an excellent essay that clarifies both.
http://www.romneyexperience.com/category/cult/
>9. proves nothing
Another weak rebuttal.
>10. What about the thief on the cross. Hello! Ephesians 2:8-9
Finally – your first legitimate counter argument. Good point.
Mormon’s don’t have to contradict the teachings in the Bible because we understand that it is possible for those like the thief in your example to recieve proxy baptism ( aka Baptism for the Dead).as taught in the Bible.
>11. The true Christian church does not associate with the Catholic church and many of their teachings.
So devout Catholics are not “Christians” either? (at least we Mormon’s are in good company ;-)
>12. Christianity answers the same thing.
And you get to take your pick from a variety of flavors. Limited or unlimited atonement? Limited or total depravity? Irresistable grace or free will? etcetera etcetera….
>Michael, one drop of poison spoils a whole pitcher of water. Be careful of what you believe.
The point is not who is right or wrong – we each get to make that choice ourselves. The question is one of tolerance and religious freedom.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:37 pm


My apology to Michael. My comment was meant to apply to Jeff Mull’s response to Michael’s comment.



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Tom

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Nowandlater… I’m just curious about your training in Hebrew. Have you studied the original Biblical languages? Have you also studied “The Book of Mormon” in the original language? Can you cite other instances of Reformed Egyptian and documentary evidence on a par with Greek and Hebrew textual evidence? I can’t recall the answer to this question from the LDS guys I talked with a few years ago. (One of them got really quite upset when I asked questions about topics like being a god of your own planet, underwear, Reformed Egyptian, etc. He called me an “Anti” – kinda’ left in a huff. Is “Anti” still the nomenclature for those of us who don’t accept your testimony that these things are true?



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Tom

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:44 pm


“The point is not who is right or wrong – we each get to make that choice ourselves. The question is one of tolerance and religious freedom.”
Joel, there must be right and wrong in issues such as this. And while we certainly have the religious freedom to choose which belief system we want to accept and advocate, there are some instances when both systems cannot be right and true. In the debate between “traditional Christian orthodoxy” and Mormonism there are many such instances.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:45 pm


The scriptures give the best understanding of Unity in the Godhead.
With due respect to analogies that attempt to make clear what is so muddled, (the creedal statement of the Trinity).
John chapters 15-17 define the unity of God, the “oneness” as unity of power, strength, love, will, knowledge, joy and eternal life. Nowhere in the Bible can you find a passage that defines the Unity as a single substance.



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Ben

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm


Stuart:
(1) on the Trinity, eternally one God, revealed in three distinct Persons (one God, different forms);
(2) On works-based righteousness, have you ever read the book of Romans? Romans 3:23 tells us that we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (that means your apostles, the Pope, everyone); Romans 5:1-2 tells us that we have been justified through faith and have peace with God through Christ; Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin (see Romans 3:23) is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus; and Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So, yes, I believe that man is not required to (or can) perform “certain acts” (beyond faith and repentence) to be saved. Further, all believers receive (or are “sealed”) with the Holy Spirit immediately at the time of conversion (Ephesians 1:13 — “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit).
All of this is not to say that believers are not called to live holy lives. We are called to live in God’s light — not as a way to be saved, but as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) in obedience to God because of the salvation that He graciously extends. We are able to do the good that God planned for us (Ephesians 2:10) because God saved us, but again, this does not (and cannot) save us.
(3) 1 Corinthians 15:29 does appear to record baptism for the dead (although I understand that there are differing viewpoints on the interpretation of this verse). However, Paul does not show support for this practice, but merely mentions it in support of his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead. Further, I certainly do not see reference here or elsewhere to the apostles engaging in this practice.
(4) With respect to the apostles, I think that you are confusing disciples (“pupil”) and apostles (“commissioned messenger”). It is true that Jesus replaced Judas with Matthias in order to retain 12 disciples, but there is no indication that Matthias was also an apostle.
(5) I do believe that the NT (original autographs) is infallible. For one, it says that it is (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21 — Scripture not from prophets themselves, but Holy Spirit moved them to speak from God). Further, don’t believe the Dan Brown, etc. hype about the other books, etc. Iranaeus (Church father) wrote in the second century about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the only gospels. Additionally, 20 of the 27 NT books were immediately accepted by the Church in the late first century (included four gospels, Acts, the 13 letters of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John). The remaining seven were made part of the canon in the early part of the second century, but all were written in the first century. By contrast, none of the Gnostic gospels (I am sure that these are the ones that you claim were left out) were even written until 100 to 300 years after the death of Christ; therefore, they were frauds (not written by Thomas, Mary Magdalene, etc.). Finally, I trust my NASB and NIV Bibles because there are over 10,000 manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments — and they are 95%+ identical. The small percentage of differences are on minor points. In fact, many Bibles include footnotes showing these differences.
(6) The book of Revelation outlines the “end times.” There is nothing more to say until Christ comes again.
I hope that this answers your questions.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 9:59 pm


Nowandlater,
“Now, I see a contradiction, on one hand you say it is impossible to know him and then on the other hand you support creeds which purport to accurately describe. That is a contradiction.”
I did not say it is impossible to know him. I said it was impossible to know him FULLY and OMNISCIENTLY. I am a little taken aback that you are ignoring that distinction, because you have seemed genuine and responsible up to now. It is obviously an important distinction in our discussion, and it seems very unlikely that you would miss it.
I will give you the benefit of a doubt. The Creed can give us some knowledge about God without having given us complete omniscience about God. There is no contradiction here.
“Why do we wish to create the most perfect creed when we like you say don’t understand fully?”
Why do we want to have the best knowledge possible of nutrition possible when we know we will never understand it fully?
Why do we want to have the best knowledge possible of medicine when we know we will never understand it fully?
Why do we want to have the best knowledge possible about jet propulsion when we know we will never understand it fully?
It is really a silly question to me. The Creed should teach us in the most elucidating way possible. Why would that change simply because we cannot understand God completely and with no mystery?
“I propose that we rely on scriptures.”
Scriptures are not adequate. This is obvious to me, and I hope you come to learn its deficiencies.
“And if the scriptures sound contradictory, then I say don’t rely on the reason of man to figure it out. I say rely on revelation.”
What revelation do you mean? If revelation is only in the form of text, what else have you got to rely on?
The Catholic Church relies upon Revelation to understand these things. We have retained that Revelation in the Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church.
“Or as James asks us, to ask of God.”
James does not say “ask of God, then claim personal authority.”
“I don’t like the idea of 3 roles and one person.”
I am not accustomed to informing God Who He is according to what I “like.”
nowandlater, this is turning into a debate, and such was not my intention. You have my take on the Orthodox view as you requested. Please contemplate it fairly.
Cheers,
Silly



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:01 pm


“Can I become Catholic after I die?”
All souls become Catholic after they die. Whether they are saved or not is not for me to say.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:12 pm


“Mormons? What about you guys? The Pope pretty much said it himself today. If you are not Catholic you are not of Christ’s church so you are not Christian.”
As a Catholic, I find this abuse of the Pope’s words to be irresponsible. The Pope’s words should be put into context, and the intent of his meaning should be assiduously sought out. Using his words this way is more or less sola scriptura once removed.
“Dr. Mohler, it is time to repent. Join Christ’s one and only true church. Become Catholic before it is too late.”
This comes dangerously close to threatening condemnation. Catholics are forbidden to condemn the souls of others. Dr. Mohler will be judged by God, not some naive and over avid Catholic.
“To answer mr. Card’s question… the only person who can dictate who is and is not a Christian is the Pope because he is the only true disciple from His line of apostles.”
I don’t think the Pope can DICTATE any such thing. He might DISCERN who is Christian. I believe the Pope did say something to the effect that the non-Orthodox denominations are not proper churches, and that certainly may be the case as Catholicism understands the nature of Christ’s Church to be. That isn’t the same thing as saying that the faithful of those denominations are not Christians.
I think the Catholic who is spouting this nonsense should withdraw into introspection and humility.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 10, 2007 at 10:27 pm


nowandlater, you unloaded a lot of info interspersed with multiple mentions of Catholicism. I’m not going to dig into it because it would take a years worth of time and a books worth of text to explore everything. Unloading that kind of volume is certainly not an especially helpful way to have a discussion.
Let’s be prudent and understand that the discussion is very much incomplete, and that the arguments presented are untested. They consist mostly of untested opinion that might have been explored if you had chosen a narrower focus.
Note: I don’t think you were unloading for my benefit, but characterization of my church concerns me no matter who you are addresssing.
I enjoyed our exchange above. I hope you find it profitable.
Cheers,
Silly



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:) Alicia Colvin

posted July 10, 2007 at 11:56 pm


When I was in elementary school, a girl (intending to turn whatever I said against me) asked me if I was a Christian, and I, knowing I was LDS, and knowing that the Christian church and the LDS church are separate – replied no. She then accused me of not believing in Christ.
I know I believe in Christ, and that all mankind can be saved through his atonement. I believe in living a Christlike life, and I love my savior. I knew that then, and I know that now, and I was ashamed that I let myself be misrepresented.
Depending on the dictionary, and depending on whether you choose definition A, B, C, D, E, F, or G. Mormons either are, or aren’t, Christians.
If the definition is “traditional Christian orthodoxy” of course we don’t want to be seen as Christians, we’re Mormons. However, if the definition is one of the other 4 options in the dictionary I used, then Mormons are Christians.
The definitions are:
1.Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2.Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus’s teachings.
3.Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4.Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.(the only one that doesn’t directly apply)
5.Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
If you want to know what Mormons believe – these are our Articles of Faith, they outline what we believe in.
1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.



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Mike Bennion

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:51 am


Mike’s response to Ben:
Ben: (1) on the Trinity, eternally one God, revealed in three distinct Persons (one God, different forms);
Mike: 1)The word “trinity is not in the Bible.
2)John 17 defines the “oneness” Mormons believe God is one as
in John 17
Ben: (2) On works-based righteousness, have you ever read the book of Romans? Romans 3:23 tells us that we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (that means your apostles, the Pope, everyone); Romans 5:1-2 tells us that we have been justified through faith and have peace with God through Christ; Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin (see Romans 3:23) is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus; and Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So, yes, I believe that man is not required to (or can) perform “certain acts” (beyond faith and repentence) to be saved. Further, all believers receive (or are “sealed”) with the Holy Spirit immediately at the time of conversion (Ephesians 1:13 — “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit).
Mike: On righteousness as a manifestation of Faith in Christ’s grace:
Yes I have Read Romans. the entire Book of Romans, the entire Bible.
I find these verses from Romans 4:
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
I ask, how did Abraham believe? Did Abraham say, “Oh how wonderful, I will be the father of many nations, I will just sit here and do nothing, God will do it all, because I have faith in Jesus.”?
No! Abraham went in to Sarah and they performed that act of faith that allowed them to be the parents of many nations. As James says, “faith with out works is dead”. This does not mean that Abraham boasted. He praised God and then he did God’s will, and was blessed for his faith. The grace was that God made Abraham and Sarah able to bear a child in their old age. The faith they had was shown by making Isaac.
Ben: All of this is not to say that believers are not called to live holy lives. We are called to live in God’s light — not as a way to be saved, but as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) in obedience to God because of the salvation that He graciously extends. We are able to do the good that God planned for us (Ephesians 2:10) because God saved us, but again, this does not (and cannot) save us.
Mike: We know that any good we do would count for nothing without Jesus. But we also know that Jesus commanded works of righteousness.
Luke 11: 28 blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
John 7: 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know.
John 8: 29 I do always those things that please him.
John 15: 10 (1 Jn. 2: 5) keep my commandments . . . abide in my love.
Acts 5: 29 obey God rather than men.
Ben: (3) 1 Corinthians 15:29 does appear to record baptism for the dead (although I understand that there are differing viewpoints on the interpretation of this verse). However, Paul does not show support for this practice, but merely mentions it in support of his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead. Further, I certainly do not see reference here or elsewhere to the apostles engaging in this practice.
Mike: Paul bases his defense of resurrection on this principle as you admit. Why would Paul not use something else if he did not approve of the paractice?
Ben: (4) With respect to the apostles, I think that you are confusing disciples (“pupil”) and apostles (“commissioned messenger”). It is true that Jesus replaced Judas with Matthias in order to retain 12 disciples, but there is no indication that Matthias was also an apostle.
Mike: But Paul and Barnabas and James the brother of Jesus are referred to as apostles. Acts 14:14, Gal 1:19
Ben: (5) I do believe that the NT (original autographs) is infallible. For one, it says that it is (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21 — Scripture not from prophets themselves, but Holy Spirit moved them to speak from God). Further, don’t believe the Dan Brown, etc. hype about the other books, etc. Iranaeus (Church father) wrote in the second century about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the only gospels. Additionally, 20 of the 27 NT books were immediately accepted by the Church in the late first century (included four gospels, Acts, the 13 letters of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John). The remaining seven were made part of the canon in the early part of the second century, but all were written in the first century. By contrast, none of the Gnostic gospels (I am sure that these are the ones that you claim were left out) were even written until 100 to 300 years after the death of Christ; therefore, they were frauds (not written by Thomas, Mary Magdalene, etc.). Finally, I trust my NASB and NIV Bibles because there are over 10,000 manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments — and they are 95%+ identical. The small percentage of differences are on minor points. In fact, many Bibles include footnotes showing these differences.
Mike: 1) Other texts are mentioned in the Bible text
2) We do not have an “original autograph” extant.
even the Dead Sea Scrolls are copies of copies of copies.
so we cannot say exactly what every word in the original
said.
3) But assuming you are right and the scripture is infallable,
then you are bound to accept James assertion in chapter 2
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (NIV)
Ben: (6) The book of Revelation outlines the “end times.” There is nothing more to say until Christ comes again.
Mike: Documentation is needed
Ben: I hope that this answers your questions.
Mike: and yours



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Joel Cannon

posted July 11, 2007 at 2:20 am


Tom wrote
“there are some instances when both systems cannot be right and true. In the debate between “traditional Christian orthodoxy” and Mormonism there are many such instances.”
Tom – there are many thousands of different religions – and no more than one (1) can be “right and true”. Arguing who is right and wrong is a waste of time. The best we can hope is to better understand each other.
This thread is all about wheather Mormonism being Christianity. I think everyone agrees that Mormonism is NOT “traditional Christian orthodoxy” – and that was Mohler’s strawman from the start. I would hope that any thoughtful person, after actually reading the posts could finally agree that Mormonism is not incompatible with the more common and broader definition of “Christian”.
I expect that there will always be religious bigots who will insist on narrowly defining the term to mean strictly their own flavor of beliefs and excluding anyone that they find threatening. I hope that they are just the fringe.



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Anonymous

posted July 11, 2007 at 8:06 am


THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY TRINITY WAS DISCUSSED BY THE EARLIEST DISCIPLES.
1. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES
2. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES BOOK 3 CHAPTER VI. THE HOLY GHOST, THROUGH THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES, MADE MENTION OF NO OTHER GOD OR LORD, SAVE HIM WHO IS THE TRUE GOD.
3. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES BOOK 3 CHAPTER XVI. PROOFS FROM THE APOSTOLIC WRITINGS, THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS ONE AND THE SAME, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, PERFECT GOD AND PERFECT MAN.
4. IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES BOOK 4 CHAPTER XXV. BOTH COVENANTS WERE PREFIGURED IN ABRAHAM, AND IN THE LABOUR OF TAMAR; THERE WAS, HOWEVER, BUT ONE AND THE SAME GOD TO EACH COVENANT.
http://moelder.freeservers.com/TheHolyTrinityandTheDeityofJesusTheChrist.html



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Tom

posted July 11, 2007 at 8:25 am


Nowandlater… You neglected to answer my questions – I’m not looking for links, I’m curious to know of your personal work in Biblical languages and your familiarity with Reformed Egyptian.



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Cal Hetzler

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:21 am


I believe that Christ did organize “one” church… and I have wondered for many years where that church is. When he organized his church, he called “whom He would,” and when Paul wrote his letters, he wrote “To the church at….” Having been a Christian pretty much all of my life, I do belong to an organized church and pray that as Christ prayed in John 17:21, “That they all may be one….” In another place, He spoke of “other sheep that I have… who He must also bring into the fold.”
I do believe that our salvation is through Christ and Him alone… but denominationalism has damaged the church that Jesus organized. Denominationlism has brought corruption, confusion, separation and a black eye to Christianity. God is not the author of confusion… I do know He isn’t pleased with denominationalism, so we can speak of the Catholic church, the Mormons (who I don’t believe are Christians), or the Baptists… or any other organization for that matter and still there is no unity. Read Revelation, you’ll see one true church and one harlot church… God help us uncover His true church. If Christians don’t get serious, we’ll all be mislead by those preaching heresy and the prosperity message, for personal gain and recognition, rather than bringing the lost to Christ.



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R. Biddulph

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:29 am


The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion . . This post helps to clarify such misconceptions
• Baptism: .
Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. . Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them
• The Trinity: .
A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?
The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. . The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.”
Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. . . .He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .
Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. . Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.
• The Deity of Jesus Christ
Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html
• The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .
The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.
• Definition of “Christian”: .
But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. . They believe Christ’s atonement in Gethsemane and on the Cross applies to all mankind. . The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: . All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.
It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology , they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.
* * *
• Christ-Like Lives:
The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LDS . . . Evangelical
Attend Religious Services weekly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71% . . . . 55%
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . extremely important .. 52. . . . . . . 28
Believes in life after death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . . 62
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . . . 5
Has taught religious education classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 . . . . . . 28
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline . . . . . . . . . . . 68 . . . . . . 22
Sabbath Observance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 . . . . . . 40
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 . . . . . . 56
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 . . . . . . 19
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen
(very supportive) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 . . . . . . 26
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping
Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality . . . . 84 . . . . . . 35



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JUde

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:45 am


“In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak’” (LDS Church News, week ending June 20, 1998, p.7).
“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (LDS Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, The Ensign, May 1977, p.26 ).



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 10:35 am


Hey Biddulph,
Your stats prove 2 things. Satan obviously is more focused on attacking our church. He has your church sealed already. It also proves that your church is more religious. The people who killed OUR Savior were ultra religious too.



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 10:56 am


Mormons believe that faith + works = salvation
Christians believe that faith = salvation + works
Here’s the difference. Let’s look at the master/slave relationship. The slave (bond slave in our case) does not become a slave from doing works, he becomes a slave and then serves his master because he is a slave.
Mormons believe something much different that they do works and Jesus(their understanding of Jesus) makes up the difference. So what’s at stake here? It’s God’s Glory ! Not your’s ! If you believe that you contributed any part whether baptism, evangelism, temple rituals, etc, then you undermine the price paid on the cross and it just becomes a topping on your already big sundae.
That’s the difference. Mormons believe they cooperate in God saving them. Christians believe that man is so depraved that man is totally unable to do anything to save himself (1 Corinth 2:14) and cries out to God with a broken heart and God saves him because He gets the glory.



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Lyle

posted July 11, 2007 at 11:07 am


If you are a mormon, please explain the following
1. magical underpants
2. the Free Mason symbols on the magic underpants



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 11:20 am


nowandlater,
Touche’ on the superfriends remark
But you said it was banned by the anti defamation something or another. The Bible was banned in 51 countries, does that make it wrong?



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Rotorhead

posted July 11, 2007 at 11:45 am


ENOUGH ALL READY!!!
There is no value in these incessant arugments…
Not too unlike Islam, which has been seized by radical fundamentalists, so too the modern day Christian movement, is seized by radical fundamentalists…
“By their fruits…” is the only true measure of a Christian. It’s not so much “What” we believe, but how we “Act” that determines ones true faith in Jesus Christ. Even the devils “believe” that Jesus is the Christ (see James 2:19; Luke 8:27-8), and perhaps, at least on this point, we can ALL agree that it won’t save them.
Only when we start loving one another for “Who” we are (children of God) and not for “What” we believe, will Christ’s hope for us ever be realized.
Jesus never got into “Bible bashing” but instead simply stated the truths and then went about “acting” as a Christian.
Funny thing about faith…it really does require Faith…
Praise God we live in a time and country where we can “act” out our Christian beliefs…
So continue arguing if you like…but for me, I’m off to help my Jewish neighbor move a piano, then I have to set the BBQ and get ready for my Mormon friends who are coming to dinner tonight…who knows maybe tomorrow I can go watch my Catholic neighbor’s kid pitch baseball in the Pee Wee league classic…
rotorhead



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:12 pm


Tom,
I will answer your question with a question.
Please list all languages which are not derived from Eqyptian. Those languages would qualify as one of them.
(Here’s a hint: English would be a third generation of reformed Egyptian.) :)



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:18 pm


I respect the ADL’s opinion. You don’t. That’s fine it’s America. I only refer to the ADL since they are a Jewish organization who are very familiar with slander. That piece of work is slander.



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:22 pm


“If you are a mormon, please explain the following
1. magical underpants
2. the Free Mason symbols on the magic underpants”
Everything we do, draws us closer to Christ. I don’t have to explain the reasoning of everything. But let me reference you to some Quakers who have wore white underclothing as a symbol of Jesus Christ being internal to their soul.



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:27 pm


And “IRENAEUS” represented totality in thought of the Christian movement?
Nope, in fact the view of diety was diverse and to some it was not self-evident.



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:32 pm


Revelations 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.



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Tom

posted July 11, 2007 at 12:56 pm


Nowandlater…
English has roots in Latin, which has roots in Semitic languages including Hebrew and Egyptian. It is my understanding that Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon from “Reformed Egyptian.” I can’t quote exactly where he said this – and please correct me if I’m wrong. I also understand he had a very interesting method of translation…
And I will assume, unless you correct me, that you rely on websites and other resources for your comments on the meaning of YHWH, etc. Which will lead to the obvious question, what difference does it make?
To me it made a HUGE difference. In studying Hebrew and both classical and koine Greek, and in working through textual criticism and the way in which the Bible was written and translated, I have tremendous respect for the veracity of the Biblical witness. I have far less respect for a book with no copies in an original language (a language which cannot be found anyplace else in the world – incidently, if you want to check a website look at http://www.sron.nl/~jheise/akkadian/semitic.html — where is “reformed” Egyptian?), and which was translated in a very “mystical” manner (using two glassy stones, Urim and Thumim, to “see” the translation – again, correct me if I’m wrong).
The whole way in which the Book of Mormon was “revealed” is pretty shaky, in my opinion. Without a solid base, I find it hard to accept the theology built on it.



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 1:16 pm


Ok, so you admit Latin and Semitic languages have roots in Hebrew and Egyptian!
Reformed Egyptian is everywhere! I don’t find it shocking that Smith’s account is account that many languages have been derived from Egyptian.
I refer you to Hubert Grimme, Prof. of Semitic Language at Munster University. pub. in “Althebraische Inschriften vom Sinai”
“Prof. Hubert Grimme, showed that some ancient engravings on the Sinai peninsula, (dating to about 1500 B.C.), were in the pure Hebrew language but the script was hieratic Egyptian that had been “some what changed.”
Also compare Demotic Egyptian script against the “Anthon Transcript” transcribed from the Book of Mormon. There are interestingly enough some striking similiarities.
http://www.the-book-of-mormon.com/demotic-lg.jpg
http://www.the-book-of-mormon.com/anthontranscript.jpg



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Catholic Christian

posted July 11, 2007 at 1:17 pm


“I think the Catholic who is spouting this nonsense should withdraw into introspection and humility.”
Nonsense.
Baptist. Mormon. Jehovah Witness. Non are Christian!! Only Catholic. God cannot be the head of all these churches, only one. Attacking Mormon’s belief in Christ is hypocritical when you should be defending your own. While Catholicism has, I must admit, fallen off the path a bit they are more Christian than anything else out there because we have the Pope. And this new Pope of ours is doing a decent job of getting us back on the straight and narrow. A strong leap was the declaration that Christ’s true church is found in Catholicism.



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Joel Cannon

posted July 11, 2007 at 1:25 pm


Jude,
You quote a single sentence from Elder Brockbank in 1977 (30 years ago) – supposedly to support the argument that Mormon’s are not Christians. Lets look at that same sentence in context. (see the link to read the entire article)
“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For example, from the Church of England’s Articles of Religion, article one, I quote: “There is but one living God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worships a God and a Jesus Christ with bodies, with parts, and with passions. We also believe that the trinity of the Godhead is made up of three separate personages—God, the Eternal Father; Jesus Christ, the Son of God—our Savior; and the Holy Ghost. These two concepts of the Trinity and their attributes are completely different.
The Jesus Christ of the holy scriptures has a body of flesh and bones and passions before and after his resurrection.
After his resurrection the Savior visited his apostles and said unto them: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
“And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” (Luke 24:39–40.)
The belief that God has no body, parts, and passions is not a doctrine of Jesus Christ or a doctrine of the holy scriptures but is a doctrine of men, and to worship such a God is in vain.
From the time when the Lord created man in his own image and likeness, men have created false gods to worship, such as golden calves, sculptured images, etc.; and billions through the centuries including the very elect have been deceived and misled.
The sacred purpose of eternal life is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ. “This is life eternal,” Jesus said, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)
The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the people of the world is that God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ live, that they are personages with immortal bodies of flesh and bones and passions, and that all mankind are children of God and are created in his image and likeness, and that Jesus Christ through his Prophet Joseph Smith restored his church with all of his doctrines, commandments, and ordinances as recorded in all of his holy scriptures.
I bear witness that Jesus Christ lives and that he will soon be returning to this earth in his majesty and glory, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
The point of my posting this is not to convince anyone that we are right and you are wrong – but to show by example that Mormon’s base their faith in Jesus on Biblical teachings. MANY religions disagree on how to interpret these passages – but this only illustrates the problem of relying solely on the Biblical text as the only way to understand the Gospel. (We do not face this limitation.)



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Joy

posted July 11, 2007 at 1:38 pm


This is my first “blog” ever! Be kind! :)
I am a happily married, 41 year old mother of three daughters as well as a public school teacher. My husband and I have been married for 21 years and share so much love and joy in our home. We have raised our daughters in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, teaching them to love their Savior and to follow His teachings as we grow to understand them better each day. I am happy to say my girls have grown-up as moral, kind and intelligent young women who have testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are truly blessed!
With respect to some participants in this conversation, I think it is dangerous for anyone who professes to follow the teachings of our Savior to engage in negative, hurtful dialogue because it does not help bring people to Christ. If ministers, pastors, preachers, priests, intellectuals, laymen and women, and other miscellaneous interested folks intend to convince people to follow a certain definition of Christianity – I ask: What is the purpose? Why are people engaging in a debate of semantics?
One thing I really like about my church is that I have always been taught NOT to disrespect other religions. Our 11th Article of Faith states, ”We claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how where, or what they may.” I have never seen a Mormon standing outside of a church or religious conference holding signs that bash other religions and shouting hate speech. Most Mormons will tell you this is a common occurrence at our General Conferences, Pageants, and historical church sites. Again, I ask: What is the purpose? As many people have experienced personally, Mormons are generally friendly, helpful, hard-working folks. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to mankind (more Christ-like?) to spend our lives feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and visiting the lonely and ill?
I would like to suggest that this kind of debate is rarely productive because Lucifer, the Father of All Lies, is seeking, with great energy and cunning, to turn our attention away from bringing people to Christ. He mires us in the mud of semantics, ignorance and fearful prejudices. I think he does this very cleverly because we sometimes allow ourselves to feel extremely self-righteous, proud and knowledgeable in our own beliefs. We begin to allow the letter of the law to overcome the spirit of Christ’s gospel message of peace.
Let’s not get lost in definitions of “Christianity.” Instead, let’s use our time and talents to become more Christ-like.
“Joy” :)



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Peter Christian Nuttall

posted July 11, 2007 at 2:10 pm


“Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy?,” is a good question, but not the question that Mr. Mohler addresses. Rather than examining the actual orthodox definition of “Christans” and Christianity, Mr. Mohler, like so many others, measures Mormons against a NEWLY constructed definition of Christianity, based on the general beliefs of traditional Orthodox Christianity. Consequently, the real question that Mr. Mohler addresses is “are Mormons traditional orthodox Christians?” The answer to that question is obviously not. But that’s not the question that Mr. Mohler was given to answer.
Until the Mormons and other new groups came along, traditional Christian Orthodoxy did not define “Christianity” so narrowly. These new so called definitions of Christianity were constructed after the fact, to exclude groups like the Mormons, Christian Scientists, etc.
Traditionally, Christian orthodox groups did *not* refer to groups like the Mormons as “not Christian” — they refered to them as *heretical Christians.*
I invite Mr. Mohler to start the discussion with a generally accepted pre-1820 definition of Christianity, and to begin to answer the actual question that he was given.



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Tom

posted July 11, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Nowandlater…
I’m not familiar with the “Anthon Transcript” – is this a copy of the original text of the Book of Mormon?
Recognizing that English has roots in Semitic languages does nothing to bolster your argument. It was my understanding that Joseph Smith claimed the Book of Mormon was written in a specific language called “Reformed Egyptian.” Please correct me if I’m wrong. If I’m not wrong I would appreciate specific references to other texts in “Reformed Egyptian” cited by non-LDS scholars.
No comments on Joseph Smith’s method of translation?



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Brady

posted July 11, 2007 at 2:47 pm


The gospel of Mormonism is an IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL TO FOLLOW BECAUSE IT EXPLICITLY SAYS THAT ONE MUST REACH PERFECTION AND TRIUMPH OVER SIN IN ORDER TO BE EXALTED AND HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! (if I am wrong I am open to correction!)
I want to let the Mormon scriptures and a past president/”prophet” (Spencer W. Kimball) of the Mormon church speak for themselves with regard to the gospel of Mormonism. If you take the time to read this it will show that the “gospel” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is an IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL TO FOLLOW. I will let the scriptures and teachings of the church speak for themselves.
1. Moroni 10:32 – Yea, acome unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be eperfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
a. What are the requirements for grace?
b. When does grace apply?
c. What would your life look like if you denied all ungodliness?
d. Who is the focus on?
e. Does your whole eternity hang on the word…IF?
2. 2nd Nephi 25:23 – For we labor diligently to write, to apersuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by bgrace that we are saved, after all we can cdo.
a. How long did you pray this morning? Could you have prayed longer?
b. What is all that you can do?
c. When does grace apply?
3. Alma 11:37 – And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their asins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that bno unclean thing can inherit the ckingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.
a. If Jesus won’t save you in your sins, what condition do you need to be in before He will save you?
4. 1st Nephi 3:7 – And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
a. According to this verse, will God give you a commandment you can’t keep?
b. So then, what is the best you can do?
c. Have you ever kept a commandment?
5. D&C 1:31-33 – For I the Lord cannot look upon asin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that arepents and does the bcommandments of the Lord shall be cforgiven; And he that arepents not, from him shall be btaken even the light which he has received; for my cSpirit shall not always dstrive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts.
a. Can God look on sin in the least degree?
b. What Spencer Kimball said in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness speaks to this topic…
6. Miracle of Forgiveness pg. 163-164 – Read what is says about whether or not our trying to follow in commandments is sufficient in Gods eyes.
“There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin. Desire is not sufficient. In other words, it is not real repentance until one has abandoned the error of his ways and started on a new path… the saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life. Trying is not sufficient.” (p. 163)
a. What does this say?
b. What is your understanding of repentance?
7. D&C 58:42-43 – Behold, he who has arepented of his bsins, the same is cforgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will aconfess them and bforsake them.
a. What is true repentance?
8. D&C 82:7 – And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any asin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the bformer sins return, saith the Lord your God.
a. What does this say will happen to you if you sin after repenting of a sin?
9. Alma 34:32-35 – For behold, this alife is the time for men to bprepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of cthis life is the day for men to perform their dlabors. 33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not bprocrastinate the day of your crepentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the dnight of edarkness wherein there can be no labor performed. 34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful acrisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth bpossess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become asubjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth bseal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
a. What must you do if you sincerely repent of a sin such as lusting, speeding, etc?
b. Have you completely forsaken and never will do these sins again?
c. Are you therefore procrastinating your sincere repentance?
d. What does these verses say are the consequences of procrastinating your repentance?
e. Does it concern you that you are sealed to satan for all of eternity according to what these verses say?
f. Are you concerned that you must completely forsake all ungodliness, by sincerely repenting of all your sins (and therefore never doing them again)?
g. Are these passages saying that you must reach a sinless perfection here on earth in order to be saved from your sins and be exalted?
10. Next look at The Miracle of Forgiveness pgs. 208-209 where it talks about the requirement of reaching a state of perfection (sinless) in this life in order to be able to have eternal life and exaltation.
“Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men. This process toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through the perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us… Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.” (p. 208-209)
a. What do these two pages clearly say about whether or not you must reach a sinless perfection?
11. According to all these verses does perfection have to be reached while in this life time?
a. After answering the above question please refer back to Alma 34:32-35 and Miracle of Forgiveness pg 313-314 (see Below)
“I have referred previously to the significance of this life in the application of repentance but will emphasize it here in relation to the eventual judgment. One cannot delay repentance until the next life, the spirit world, and there prepare properly for the day of judgment while the ordinance work is done for him vicariously on earth. It must be remembered that vicarious work for the dead is for those who could not do the work for themselves. Men and women who live in mortality and who have heard the gospel here have had their day, their seventy years to put their lives in harmony, to perform the ordinances, to repent and to perfect their lives.” (pp. 313-314)
b. What does Alma 34:32-35 say that you must do “in this life”?
c. What does Spencer Kimball say that you must do in this life?
d. Have you done what the Mormon gospel says that you must do to be saved from your sins?
e. Can you do what the Mormon Gospel says that you must do to be saved from your sins?
f. Does this worry you about what is required to be saved from your sins and the consequences of not being saved from your sins?
g. Is it really possible to be saved from your sins and go to heaven instead of hell according to the Mormon gospel?



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Catholic Christian

posted July 11, 2007 at 3:26 pm


I had made three posts to this blog but only two have shown up.
Censorship?
Or was my argument about baptists not being Christian too much for you?



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:02 pm


Catholic Christian,
John 14:6 says Jesus is the Truth, Way, and Life. So that means your Mary worship can’t get you there. Neither can your Pope worship. Nor can your worship of the saints. Matthew 23:9 says Do not call anyone on earth Father for One if your Father, He who is in heaven. So enough with the Baptist comments.



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Peter Christian Nuttall

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:14 pm


Tom, your questions are irrelevant to the assigned topic. But one of the languages on the Rosetta stone commonly uses the phrase “and it came to pass” in lieu of punctuation, making it a pretty good candidate for the language that JS referred to as “reformed Egyptian,” or a kissing cousin to that language.
But why all the distraction tactics? Where’s is this traditional so-called definition of Christianity, and what in our doctrine supposedly contradicts it?
I defy any of you to show that these points of doctrine where we differ have *traditionally* been regarded as core elements of the *Definition* of Christianity.
Because it seems to me that y’all are changing the traditional definition of Christianity, to include more of your pet theories and traditions, for the express purpose of excluding Christian groups that you don’t like. This is what CS Lewis spoke of as “Christianity and …” rather than “mere Christianity.”



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:25 pm


Nowandlater…
“I’m not familiar with the “Anthon Transcript” – is this a copy of the original text of the Book of Mormon?”
Yes it is. And even the critics recognize there are similiarities between it and Syratic/Demotic Egyptian script–they just can’t agree on the translation.
Here is a LDS friendly source which does a comparison:



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Tom

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:28 pm


The link didn’t print – try it again, okay? Thanks!



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Victor

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm


“The gospel of Mormonism is an IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL TO FOLLOW BECAUSE IT EXPLICITLY SAYS THAT ONE MUST REACH PERFECTION AND TRIUMPH OVER SIN IN ORDER TO BE EXALTED AND HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! (if I am wrong I am open to correction!)”
No more impossible than Christianity has always been.
1 AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
(Old Testament | Genesis 17:1)
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
(New Testament | Matthew 5:48)
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(New Testament | 2 Corinthians 12:9)
This is the paradox of Christ, the commandments say that we must be perfect, and yet we cannot be perfect. So we must lean on the only man that was/is perfect, Jesus Christ. (Don’t take my use of the word man to mean I am denying the Godhood of Christ.) All of those you referenced are more of the same. It is possible to overcome sin with the assistance of Jesus Christ. Repentance is the overcoming of sin. God will not save us IN our sins he will save us FROM our sins.
As to your question about praying. . .
7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
(New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 3:7 – 11)
I’ll close with one of my favorites from James, which I think has much to do with this exchange.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
(New Testament | James 1:19 – 27)



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:32 pm


“Recognizing that English has roots in Semitic languages does nothing to bolster your argument. It was my understanding that Joseph Smith claimed the Book of Mormon was written in a specific language called “Reformed Egyptian.” Please correct me if I’m wrong. If I’m not wrong I would appreciate specific references to other texts in “Reformed Egyptian” cited by non-LDS scholars.”
Reformed Egyption is mentioned one time in Mormon 9:32, near the end of the text. Reformed, as explained there as altered or changed not a description of style of Egyptian script — The author in Mormon 9:32 was a thousand years removed from his fore-fathers presence in the middle east. It is therefore understandable how he would describe the languag. Read here for more details:
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/bom/Reformed_Egyptian.htm
“No comments on Joseph Smith’s method of translation?”
Yeah, it is quite remarkable. I can not explain anymore than I can explain Moses using his staff as a means to perform miracles. I think when a prophet behold the face of God they get these unique abilities.
If you want a real shocker, examine when Joseph Smith is put on trial and the Prosecution attempts to see if he can do anything with his Seer stone. The prosecution opens a book about 30 feet away from Joseph Smith. Covers the books with a couple of blankets. Then he asks Joseph Smith to read the pages of the book which were left opened. To the shock of the Prosecutor, he reads the pages word for word. The prosecutor and Judge declare the pre-trail hearing over and let Joseph Smith go! LOL! It is the funniest account I have read!



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 4:53 pm


And how do you suppose he did that? with the magic spectacles?
I saw david copperfield levitate, so what.



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm


I have no idea. He did have his Seer Stone.
Let me say it again, like prophets and their oddities (I can list them out) of the Old Testament, Moses, Elijah, etc., when you commune God you tend to get unique spiritual abilities.
A few years later, Smith relayed to Martin Harris that he didn’t need anything physical to help him focus. He said that the Lord used it as tool to strenghthen him in that ability.



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Tom

posted July 11, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Peter, I respectfully disagree. The sources of Mormon doctrine have everything to do with whether or not Mormons are Christians as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy. Revelation is crucial – are Joseph Smith and his two friends credible witnesses? To me it’s not a “given” that the Book of Mormon has the same authority as the Bible. Issues of original language, transmission and translation have to be resolved before we go on to debate what the two differing systems assert.
Here’s my opinion, and any readers my certainly disagree, on the matter of the foundation of Mormon theology…
>the original language of the text as given by Joseph Smith does not appear anywhere else in non-LDS scholarly research. (As opposed to the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the koine Greek of the New Testament.)
>the translation of the text by Joseph Smith alone, by means of looking at the two stones, lacks credibility. Couple this with a complete lack of a document in the original language for study – now I have serious doubts about authenticity. (As opposed to the thousands of fragments and documents of the Bible both in Hebrew and Greek, and the intense work of both Jewish and Christian scholars. Look in the front of any English translation and you will see a list of names – probably dozens of scholars working to complete a thorough and accurate translation.)
So for me, and you may reach whatever conclusion you wish, from the word go I cannot accept Mormon theology as Christian. The foundation just does not square with Christianity.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Hebrews 1:1,2
There was, and is, no need for a new prophet. The last word came from Jesus. The weight of evidence shows me that Joseph Smith is not new prophet, and the Book of Mormon is not a new revelation from God.



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Jeff

posted July 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Amen Tom



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Brady

posted July 11, 2007 at 5:42 pm


“Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men.” Quoted from Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball (former president of the Mormon Church).
One thing that must be understood is that according to Mormon doctrine salvation from your sins, eternal life, exaltation, etc. is dependent on the “works of men” in Mormonism. You must earn your salvation, etc. In Christianity, Salvation from sin comes by a gift of faith from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through FAITH; and that is NOT of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” (emphasis added). To understand what the Bible says about the role of Faith and works with regard to salvation see the below… I DO ADDRESS THE MOST COMMON SCRIPTURES THAT MORMONS USE (JAMES CHAPTER 2) AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE BIBLE CLEARLY TEACHES ABOUT FAITH AND WORKS…Which is you are saved by faith alone…
I have done a study of what the Bible teaches about the relationship of Faith and Words with regard to salvation. Please do as it says in Acts 17:11-12 and search the Bible to see if the things you have been taught are true. Please do not trust a feeling in your heart (Jeremiah 17:9), but rather trust what the word of God says. I refurse to trust the things my parents, pastors, friends, or anyone else have taught me, but instead I want to trust what is says in the Bible because it is the Word of God and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). I truly am seeking for truth because if what I believe is not true, I do not want to pay the consequences for my sin and spend eternity in hell (Matthew 25:41, 46). If what the LDS church teaches is not true, I do not want you to spend eternity in hell. If what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches is true about the role faith and works play in regard to my salvation, I am willing to renounce being a Southern Baptist and become a Mormon. If you think I am wrong please show me in the Bible where I am wrong. Thanks!
Romans 3:19-31 – Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
My Observations:
• Verses 19-20 – These verses say that by doing good works (the works of the Law) no flesh will be justified. The purpose of the Law is to make us aware of our sin because it is impossible to fully keep (Romans 3:20).
• Verses 21-22 – These verses state that the righteousness of God is not dependent on the Law (verse 21), but rather the righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ. These verses are clear that our righteousness is not dependent on our good works, but rather by faith alone.
• Verse 26 – This verse says that God demonstrates his righteousness by so that he would be the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. This verse does not say that he is the justifier of the one who has faith, works, and is baptized, etc. It states that faith is what justifies us.
• Verse 27 – This verse declares (in the context of the previous verse) that justification occurs when we have faith in Jesus and not because of any works that we are doing to trying to do. If it were to be because of works that we have done or are doing we could boast and say that I am justified because of the works I have done.
• Verse 28 – Says in a straight forward way that man is justified by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law. Again there is a pattern in these verses that is very clear…Faith alone is what causes our justification in the sight of God and not the works of the Law.
• Verse 30 – states that God will justify both the circumcised and uncircumcised (everyone) by faith. It does not matter if a person has done the work of circumcision or not. If he has faith, he will be justified.
• Verse 31 – Says that just because faith alone saves us does not mean that we do not have to follow the commands of the Law. After we are justified by having true faith in Jesus, we will follow the Law (even though we will sin and mess up at times).
What do these verses say about what justifies us?
What do these verses say about what does not justify us?
Romans 4:1-25 – What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
9 ¶ Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
17 ¶ (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
My Observations:
• Verse 2 – States that IF Abraham was justified by works then he could boast before God because he could boast and say that his works are the reason he is justified.
• Verse 3 – Says that the Bible says that Abraham believed (had faith in) God and that is what made him righteous.
• Verses 4-6 – These verses declare that work (works) are not what matters because even the one who does not work but believes in Jesus through faith God says that that person is righteous. Verse 6 again makes it clear that our righteousness is not dependent on our works.
• Verses 9-11 – make clear when and how Abraham was made righteous. Abraham was righteous before he did the work of the Law and was circumcised. Abraham did get circumcised after he was made righteous by his faith which was a sign to show that he was righteous even before he was circumcised. I think this can be said about the meaning of baptism as well because now in the new covenant baptism takes the place of circumcision, but baptism still remains a public symbol that the person getting baptized has already been justified by faith before the baptism takes place. This is evidence that baptism does not justify you, but rather faith by itself does.
• Verses 12-13 – Say that the promise to Abraham was not made through the Law, but rather through the righteousness of faith.
• Verses 14-15 – State that if only those who perfectly keep the law, which is impossible to do (Romans 7:15-25), receive the promise, then faith has no value. The Law brings about wrath because when we break the Law we must pay for our sins.
• Verse 16 – Says that it is by faith which is in accordance with grace that all Jews, who are under the Law, and all Gentiles, who were not under the Law, will receive the promise. The promise is guaranteed to every Jew or Gentile who has true faith in Jesus Christ.
• Verses 19-22 – These verses say that even though Sarah’s womb was unable to bear children because of her age that Abraham believed through faith the promise of God. God’s promise was that he would allow Sarah to be able to have a child even though she was past the normal child bearing age. Because of Abraham’s faith, and for no other reason, he was righteous.
Romans 5:1-2 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
• These verses clearly state that faith is what justifies and faith is what allows us to be introduced (or take part in) to His grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
• These verses say that our faith is what allows us to be under the grace of God. Our faith is not something that we can take credit for because it is a gift of God. IF we were saved by grace because of our works then we would have something to boast about, but we are saved by faith, which God gives to us, so we cannot boast. It is impossible to say that our faith originated from us because God gave it to us as a gift. We did nothing to deserve his gift of faith.
Titus 3:5-8 – He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
• Verse 5 – declares that Jesus saved us according to his mercy and not because of the good deeds we have done in righteousness.
• Verse 8 – States that those who have (past tense) believed God by faith and therefore have already been justified/saved are to be obedient and do good deeds. It is important to note that the good deeds are to follow being justified and are not a part of what initially justifies you before the Lord.
Galatians 3:21-26 – Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
• Verse 21 – This verse states that laws were not given to give life to people who obey them. If the laws were given so that people could by good works be justified, then righteousness would have been based on whether or not you could follow the law. Righteousness is not based on the law.
• Verse 22 – The Bible silences all sinners so that the promise of God (salvation), which is through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to all who believe.
• Verses 23-24 – This verse declares that the purpose of the Law is to reveal our sins to us which causes us to see that we need to put our faith in Jesus Christ so that he will forgive our sins. The last part of the verse tells us that our sins are forgiven (which means that we are justified) because of our faith alone in Jesus.
• Verses 25-26 – State that we are sons of God (have been justified) because we put our faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else.
Romans 9:30-33 – What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
• Verses 30-31 – State that the Gentiles received righteousness by their faith, but Israel did not because they pursued a law of righteousness by basing their righteousness on their ability to do the works of the law.
• Verse 32 – Says that the reason that Israel did not receive righteousness is because they did not pursue righteousness by faith, but rather by works. These verses are another example that shows that faith alone is what justifies us and therefore makes us righteous before God, not works or baptism or anything else.
Romans 11:6 – But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
• This verse states that if our justification is by grace, it is not on the basis of works. If it were on the basis of works grace would no longer be grace because grace is something that we get even though we do not deserve it. Since every person is a sinner and sins regularly, everyone deserves to pay the penalty for our sin which is death. Another way of saying the same thing is that our bad works make everyone deserve the wrath of God, but if we put our faith in Him, He will show us grace and forgive us our sins. This is something that none of us deserve.
*Galatians 5:4-6 – You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
• Verse 4 – Please read this verse carefully because it says that everyone who seeks to be justified by the works of the law has been separated or cut from Christ and is fallen from Grace. If someone believes that good works are part of what justifies you then you are not a Christian and are separated from Jesus.
• Verses 5-6 – Say that whether you have done the work of circumcision or if you are uncircumcised that does not matter because the only thing that matters is our faith.
Romans 1:16-18 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
• Verse 16 – Is clear that the gospel is what brings salvation to everyone who believes (in Jesus through faith). It does not say that salvation comes to everyone who practices good works and is baptized.
• Verse 17 – states that righteousness is revealed from faith and that the righteous shall live by faith.
• Verse 18 – Is a very strong verse because it says that God’s wrath will be on anyone who suppresses the truth of God. I am worried for Mormons because the teaching of the Mormon Gospel suppresses the clear truth, as I am trying to show by using God’s Word, that justification/salvation IS by faith alone and NOT by faith AND works AND baptism.
Galatians 2:16-21 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
• Verse 16 – This verse declares that a person is not justified by works of the Law, but rather through faith in Christ Jesus. Then the verse again says that justification comes by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law because works of the Law will not justify anyone. It is hard to get any more clear than this verse, and it is even more difficult to disregard what this verse clearly declares and believe something else.
• Verse 21 – Says that if righteousness were to come through the Law, then the death of Jesus Christ which atoned for our sins would have not been necessary.
Romans 10:2-10 – For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
• To be justified by God and be saved one must have true faith which will lead you to confess your sins with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. If you put your faith in Jesus alone and do not base your salvation on works, baptism or anything else (as the previous verses have shown) you will be a Christian who has been justified because of your faith in Jesus.
Note: I am well aware that the passage in James on faith and works is an important part of the discussion of how faith and works relate to our justification. I also am aware from personal experience that this is the first passage that Mormons turn to when the make the argument is made (with all the previous verses) that Christians are justified by faith alone and not works. Before we address James chapter 2, please ask yourself, “What does the Bible teach thus far in the verses I have shown?” As you know by now, I would strongly argue (because of what the Bible, God’s Word, says) that the above verses clearly show that a Christian’s justification must be based on faith alone and not works. Now it is my goal to use the whole context of James chapter two to evaluate this passage.
James 2:1 – My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
• James chapter 2 begins by showing the group of people that James is addressing. The verse says that James is talking to his brethren (see also James 2:14 and 3:1) who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, in chapter 2 James is speaking to people who already have put their faith in Jesus Christ and have therefore (as the above verses show) already been justified by their faith in Jesus. James is speaking to Christians who have already been justified/saved.
James 2:14-24 – What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
• In verse 14, James asks his brethren, Christians who are already justified, a question. He asks them if someone were to say (or claim) that he has faith but has no works, could their “claim of faith” save them? This is a rhetorical question that has an implied answer of, “No” as the rest of the passage will show.
• Verses 15-19 give an example of someone who claims to have faith, but has no works that are necessary to back up their claim. Verse 19 makes an important point that unless a person believes God, through faith, their belief means nothing because even the demons believe God and shudder. The demons know that God is real, but they are unable to put their faith in God so their belief means nothing. In the same way, if a person were to claim to have faith or be a Christian and not have good works to back up their claim there is good reason to doubt if that person has really put their faith in Jesus Christ.
• Verse 20 again clarifies the meaning of the example that is found in verses 15-19. Verse 20 says that “faith” without works is useless or is not true faith. Again it is important to remember that James is talking to his brethren (true Christians) who have faith in Jesus and therefore are already justified. James is warning his brethren that they must (since they are already justified) have good works that reflect the fact that their faith has justified them.
• In verses 21-24 James gives a very important example that is in several of the above verse that we have already looked at. I have purposely waited to go to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament so that this example can be properly evaluated in its rightful context.
• Before I go to Genesis, I think it is important to define what the word justification means and to determine if there is more than one meaning for the word. I argue that there are 2 different meanings of the word justification. The Greek word dikaioo (justify) can mean either “God’s declaration that you are righteous” or it can mean “to show or demonstrate to be righteous.” A person who is showing themselves to be righteous can either be a true Christian who is already justified (declared to be righteous by God) by faith alone or the person who is “showing themselves to be righteous” could be someone who is NOT a true Christian because they did not put their faith alone in Jesus Christ, and therefore are not righteous. In all the above verses that we looked at before this James passage the word justification clearly means that God is “declaring that the people who put their faith alone in Him are righteous.“
• An example of the other use of the Greek word dikaioo (justify) is found in Luke 16:14-15, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (emphasis added).
• The point here is that the Pharisees were always attempting to show others that they were righteous by their outward deeds. I know that we both will agree that the Pharisees were not really righteous even though they attempted to do outward works to try to show themselves to be righteous. The Bible speaks very plainly in many places that the Pharisees were not truly justified (by God) and therefore were not truly righteous (Matt. 5:20, Matt. 23:13, etc.). As the verses before James chapter 2 show, God justifies (declares someone to be righteous) because of their faith alone and not because of their works or anything else. The Pharisees were trying to justify (show themselves to be righteous) by their works which did not justify them because they were basing their justification on their works.
• Now we are ready to go to Genesis so that we can properly evaluate the example that is given in James 2:21-23.
• Genesis 15:2-6 – Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
• In the above Genesis passage, God promises Abraham that He will give Abraham a son by his wife Sarah (in spite of the fact that she was past child bearing age). Abraham had faith that God would do what he promised and therefore God reckoned/declared Abraham to be righteous. It is very important to understand the time in Abrahams life that God reckoned him to be righteous and therefore justified him (declared him to be righteous). Abraham was declared righteous by God (justified) in Genesis 15:6 which was before Isaac, his son that God promised that Sarah would have, was born.
• In James 2:21 it says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The question is, What definition of justification is implied in this verse?
• In Genesis 22:8-14, the story is told of how Abraham obeyed God by carrying out God’s command to offer up Isaac his only son on the alter. At the last second God stopped Abraham from killing his son, but God tells Abraham that he showed/demonstrated his righteousness because he had faith in God and was willing to offer up his only son. This story happened many years after Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, was born. It is important to remember that God had already reckoned/declared Abraham to be righteous (Gen. 15:6) before Isaac was even born so the use of the word “justified” in James 2:21 falls under the second meaning of the word justified which is to “show or demonstrate to be righteous.” Abraham had already been justified (declared to be righteous) because he had faith that God would cause his wife Sarah to become pregnant in her old age and give birth to Isaac. Abraham’s obedience to God showed that his righteousness was a true righteousness based on faith alone unlike the Pharisees who attempted to justify (show themselves to be righteous) by their good works.
• Again, the definition of justified that is implied in James 2:21 is that Abraham showed himself to be righteous. This is the proper understanding of the Greek word dikaioo because Abraham had already been declared by God to be righteous in Genesis 15:6 before Isaac was even born.
• Verses 22 and 23 clearly state that Abraham’s faith was working with his works. In the same way, the good works of a Christian should work with their faith in such a way that shows everyone that sees them that they are truly what that claim to be…Christians justified (declared to be righteous by God) by faith alone. This passage never says that good works are what God looks at to declare you to be righteous, but rather good works are supposed to show or be evidence that you have already been declared to be righteous by God.
• The thief on the cross is another example of someone who was justified (declared by God to be righteous) because of his faith alone (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The thief, was justified even though he had no good works and could not be baptized.
• Now after a careful evaluation of James 2:14-23, we are ready to address the most difficult verse which is James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” With our careful evaluation of the previous verses does this verse cause a problem for people like me who believe that Christians are justified (declared to be righteous by God) by faith alone apart from works?
• Now that we have been able to gain a proper understanding of the Greek word dikaioo (justify), it is clear that the meaning of the word “justified” as it is used in James 2:24 means that a man shows himself to be righteous by his works because he cannot show his justification to others by faith itself because faith is not something that can be seen by itself. Faith is invisible, but the evidence of true faith, good works, are what can be seen. This evidence of good works that can be seen is what shows that we have been made righteous (justified) by faith alone. As I have tried to show, a proper understanding of the Greek word dikaioo is essential to be able to understand how faith and works relate to each other in regard to their role in our justification. It is critically important to understand what the Bible teaches about what causes God to justify (declare to be righteous) a person, and how those who have been justified (declared to be righteous) by faith alone can show themselves to be righteous by justifying, by their good works or by being baptized.
Acts 15:1-19 – “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses. 6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” 12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 “Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 “With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 ‘AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, 17 SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,’ 18 SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO. 19 “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles.”
• This passage in Acts is a very important passage because it is only place in the Bible where both Paul and James are together discussing what the requirement for justification/salvation (God declaring to be righteous) is.
• Verses 1 – states that some men came from Judea and began to teach that unless you are circumcised you cannot be saved/justified. Another way of saying the same thing is that these men were claiming that faith alone is not what justifies/saves, but one must also be circumcised in order to be justified/saved. This verse is saying that some men were teaching that justification/salvation is dependent on the work of being circumcised.
• Verse 2 – says that Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with these men who were teaching that the work of circumcision is a requirement for salvation. After an intense debate with the men, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to further discuss this issue with the other Apostles and elders.
• Verses 4-6 – report that Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem where they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders. Paul and Barnabas shared with all those who welcomed them about the debate that they had had with the men from Judea regarding circumcision. After they had shared, some of the Pharisees stood up and said the same thing that the men from Judea had said. The Pharisees said that it was necessary for anyone who believes to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders came together to further discuss the issue of whether or not the work of circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses were required to be justified/saved (declared to be righteous by God).
• In verses 7-9 – the Apostle Peter, after much debate, says that God gave his Holy Spirit to the Gentiles in the same way he gave the Holy Spirit to the Jews, by faith alone. Peter is clear when he says that there is no distinction and therefore no requirement of circumcision or perfect obedience to the Mosaic Law, in order to be justified/saved (declared to be righteous by God). The last part of verse 9 is very clear when it says that God cleanses their hearts by faith. The Apostle Peter says that faith is what cleanses our hearts. If the work of circumcision or obedience to the Mosaic Law were to be a requirement for justification/salvation, then Peter would have made that clear when he made this statement.
• In verse 10 – Peter asks the Pharisees why they are putting God to the test by putting a yoke (perfect obedience to the Mosaic Law) upon the necks of the disciples and their fathers. In verse 11 Peter explains that obedience to the Mosaic Law is not what justifies, but rather God’s Grace.
• In verse 11 – Peter declares that we (those who believe in justification by faith alone) are save by the grace of Jesus Christ. Please remember what is says in Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Everyone who puts their faith alone in Jesus Christ will be saved by His Grace and NOT because of any work such as circumcision, baptism, or obedience to the Mosaic Law.
• Verse 13-18 – are essential verses to notice because they say that James, the one who wrote the book of James, was with them and began to speak. James was a part of those who had gathered to discuss whether or not faith alone is what causes God to justify (declare to be righteous) sinners or whether the work of circumcision was a requirement. It is important to notice the response of James because if James had disagreed with Peter when Peter said that God cleanses our hearts (justifies) by faith and not by the work of circumcision, then James surely would have spoken up and said that Peter was wrong.
• James did not speak up against what Peter says, but rather in Verse 19 voices his approval that the Gentiles do not have to do the work of circumcision because they are saved by faith alone just like Jews are. I pray that you can see that Paul, Peter, and James all agree that faith alone is what justifies, not works of the Law. With an understanding of their agreement, it is hopefully even more clear that James 2:14-24 does NOT contradict, but rather affirms the teaching of Paul that faith alone is what justifies/saves.
I Corinthians 1:17 – “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”
• This verse plainly says that Paul was not sent to Baptize, BUT to preach the gospel. As noted above and below, the gospel is what must be done for a sinful person to be forgiven of their sin and have eternal life. The Bible teaches a person must have Faith alone in the true Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
• The Bible nowhere says that baptism is a requirement to be saved as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches. This verse is a crystal clear example that baptism is not to be seen as a part of the gospel and is therefore not a requirement for someone to do in order to be saved. Baptism must be done after someone is saved by faith alone in the true Jesus Christ in order to be obedient to God’s command to be baptized.
Galatians 1:6-9 – I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
• Before I talk about this passage I want to show how the Mormon Church defines the Gospel.
• In Spencer Kimball’s book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, he defines the Gospel. “The gospel is a program of action – of doing things. Man’s immortality and eternal life are God’s goals. (Moses 1:39). Immortality has been accomplished by the Savior’s sacrifice. Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men” (p. 208, emphasis added).
• This quote from his book is clear that the Mormon understanding of eternal life in dependent on the works of men, and therefore the Mormon gospel is not dependent on faith alone in Jesus Christ. As I have shown with the above verses the Mormon gospel is not the true gospel that is found in the Bible.
• Spencer Kimball further defines what is necessary for men to do to follow the Mormon gospel and attain eternal life. “In order to reach the goal of eternal life and exaltation and godhood, one must be initiated into the kingdom by baptism, properly performed; one must receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of authoritative hands; a man must be ordained to the priesthood by authorized priesthood holders; one must be endowed and sealed in the house of God by the prophet who holds the keys or by one of those to whom the keys have been delegated; and one must live a life of righteousness, cleanliness, purity and service. None can enter into eternal life other than by the correct door – Jesus Christ and his commandments” (p. 6 in The Miracle of Forgiveness).
• This quote from Kimball’s book lists many works that must be done in order to reach the goal of eternal life. In this quote faith is never mentioned! I pray that what the former President of your church is saying is clear to you…the Mormon gospel is a works based gospel that you must follow in order to attain eternal life. This clearly contradicts what the Bible teaches about justification by faith alone which guarantees eternal life. (If you want another description of the Mormon gospel that is based on works you can find it in the Mormon book, True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference on page 76).
• The true gospel that is found in the Bible is that a person is justified and therefore guaranteed eternal life if they have true faith in Jesus Christ. Faith alone is the Biblical gospel.
• Now with an understanding of what the gospel of the Mormon Church is, I will discuss what the Bible says are the consequences of teaching and believing a different Gospel. I will be using Galatians 1:6-9 (see above).
• In verse 6, the Apostle Paul says that he is amazed that people are starting to follow a different gospel (a gospel that adds other requirements, such as works and baptism, to having faith in Jesus Christ).
• Verse 7 states that the different gospel is really not another gospel (because there is only one gospel), but some people are trying to distort the one true gospel of Christ.
• In verses 8-9, the Apostle Paul then declares that if he or an angel or anyone else were to preach a different gospel that what he (Paul) had already preached to them, then the person who preaches a different gospel is accursed or condemned. It is important to understand that when Paul says that anyone who preaches a gospel that is different than the one that he had previously preached, he is referring to the gospel that he had preached which is recorded in the other books of the Bible such as Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, and Titus. Every above scripture that I have used to show that the true gospel of Jesus Christ is that faith alone justifies us was authored by Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course. Therefore, the gospel that Paul says is being distorted is one that Paul himself wrote and explained in the passages that I have used in this evaluation of faith and works.
• In Galatians 1:11-12, Paul tells where he got his understanding of what the gospel is, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
• This Galatians passage make it clear that any gospel that says a person is not justified by faith alone is not the true gospel. Therefore, the Mormon gospel is not a true gospel and all who follow it are accursed and will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, Hell (25:41, 46).
Matthew 7:13-23 – “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.
• Verses 13-14 state that the narrow gate (which leads to a path that is not easy, but has eternal rewards with Jesus) is the gate that we should enter. The wide gate is an easier gate to enter because it is an easier path, but it is a path that leads to destruction as verse 13 says.
• Verse 15 – warns about trusting false prophets because if you trust and put your faith in the teachings of a false prophet you will be eternally separated from God when you die. A wolf will kill you which is the same thing that will happen to you if you trust a false prophet.
• Verses 16-20 – state that you can get a good idea about whether someone is justified by observing their works because a Christian who has been justified (declared to be righteous by God) should have good works.
• BUT as verses 21-23 illustrate you cannot trust someone just because they have good works. In these verses Jesus says that not everyone who “says” they believe in God and might “say” that they put their faith in God is truly justified (declared to be righteous by God).
• In verses 22-23 Jesus says that many people will come to him, when they are being judged, and say, “Jesus did we not do many good works in your name such as prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles? Jesus’ answer to those who think they are saved because they have done many good works ends the argument about whether or not works will save you. Jesus tells the people who have done good works to depart from Him because He never knew them (they were never justified by their works)! These verses are a great example to show that if someone has works, but does not have true faith in Jesus, their works will NOT justify/save them from their sins!
Deuteronomy 13:1-11 – “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. 6 “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. 9 “But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 “So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.
• Please be careful about following someone who teaches something that is contrary to what the Bible, the Word of God, teaches because the Bible says that any so called prophet that teaches things contrary to the Bible is a false prophet that, during the Old Testament time, would be killed as it says in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (see also Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
• The false prophet that is described in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 even had good works such as signs and wonders, but the passage says that if the things that the “prophet” is teaching go against what the Bible teaches, he is a false prophet deserving of death. The scary thing about this passage is that it defines anyone who purposefully teaches something contrary to God’s word as a false prophet, which includes a brother, sister, father, mother, or anyone else (verses 6-11).
• Please do not put your faith in the teachings of anything or anyone other than the Bible because the Bible is the Word of God. If other books or prophets teach things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches, then those books and prophets do not contain the word of God and should not be trusted, even if they do some good works, or signs, or miracles.
II Peter 3:16-18 – “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
• This passage is not meant to be an insult, but I think it is very relevant to what you have been taught as Mormons. I have told you many times that I do not trust what my parents, professors, friends (mormon missionaries), or anyone else teach me about the Bible without first going to the Bible and searching and studying it to see what it says just like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11-12. The time that I have taken to do this study on Faith and Works is also evidence of the way that I do things. Please do not trust a “feeling” in your heart or a “burning in your bosom” or a prophet, etc. more than you trust what the Word of God clearly says in the Bible because the Bible came from God and is truth (II Timothy 3:16-17, John 17:17).
• Jeremiah 17:9 says why it is dangerous to trust a feeling in your heart…”The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” Here is an example that might be helpful to understand why it is dangerous to trust a feeling…I got mad at my friend and felt like killing him because he stole something from me. I earnestly prayed to God and asked God if I could kill him. When I got done praying, I still felt like killing my friend. The question is could I kill my friend just because I had prayed and still had the feeling to kill him? I know that we would agree that it would be wrong to kill my friend even though I still felt like it. The question is why would it be wrong to kill him? It would be wrong because the Bible, the Word of God, says Thou shall not kill. When the Word of God says something, it overrides any and every feeling that we, as humans, might have that goes against what the Word of God says. Please do not trust a feeling in your heart or something that a human teacher or prophet says that contradicts the Word of God, but rather trust what the Bible says.
• The verses in II Peter 3:16-18 warn people not to blindly follow the teachings of men who distort the things that the scriptures teach. I beg you to seriously consider whether or not you are right in following the teachings of a man, Joseph Smith, or whether you should follow the teachings of God himself that are found in the Bible. If the Bible is the Word of God, then every Mormon will spend eternity in Hell because they do not believe the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which is that someone is justified by faith alone. Please do not risk being wrong.
• I have spent a lot of time on this because I wanted to find out whether the things that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches about Salvation were true or whether the things that I have been taught from the Bible are true. I am concerned for you because as I have shown that Bible clearly says that people who believe the teachings of the Mormon Church have not been justified by faith alone because they believe that works, baptism, etc. are requirements for salvation. According to the Bible, you have not been justified and therefore you are not Christians because your sins have not been forgiven. I care about where you spend eternity so please consider trusting what the Bible says about how you must be justified (by faith alone) to be a Christian and have your sins forgiven.
• I am confident that you understand the true gospel that is found in the Bible more clearly now. With your new understanding of the gospel you can either choose to do two things, 1. You can ignore what the Bible says about justification by faith alone and continue to be a Mormon, or 2. You can put your faith in Jesus Christ alone, leave the Mormon Church, and stop believing and teaching a false gospel. As you well know, if you leave the Mormon Church and believe and teach the true gospel, you will be rejected and detested by those in your church and probably those in your family. I know that your decision on whether or not to trust the true gospel is an extremely difficult decision, but if you do not leave the Mormon Church then you will spend eternity in hell as it says in Matthew 25:41 and 46, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” Verse 46 – “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
• I know your decision will be hard, but I can guarantee that whatever difficulties that you might encounter because of your decision to leave the Mormon Church won’t be near as bad as being accursed and spending eternity in the eternal fire of Hell.
• Please do not forget what it says in Galatians 5:4-6 – “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” Please do not seek to be justified by your works of the law.
• I beg you to make the right choice and I will be praying for you. Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Please understand that I have taken the time to do this study to search and believe what the Bible says about faith and works (Acts 17:11-12), and not base the things I believe on a feeling. When I found things in the Bible that show that the teachings of the Mormon religion are not true, I could have kept the things that I have found to myself, but I truly care for you and so I spent the a lot of time preparing this. I love you and am concerned for you and your relationship with Jesus Christ because I do not want you to be deceived and spend eternity in hell because you have trusted the things you have been taught instead of studying the Bible and trusting what it teaches. Please do not put your faith in the words of any man, but rather in the Word of God, the Bible. It is my testimony that I have been justified by God (He has declared me to be righteous) because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ. As a result of my justification by faith alone, I am a Christian and I desire to do good works in order to be obedient to the commands of God and to show others that I am a Christian. The works that I do or do not do in no way affect my justification because my faith in Jesus Christ is what justifies me, apart from my works. Since I have been justified by faith, I must do good works because, if I don’t, I sin because God tells us to do good works.
If God is not with you…your labor is in vain,
-Brady



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nowandlater

posted July 11, 2007 at 6:52 pm


Salvation and Eternal Life (Rewards) are too very distinct concepts in LDS Theology. If you are not distinguishing the two then your analysis is flawed.
We wholeheartedly agree that our works are filthy rags in relationship to Salvation. Nothing we do, did, or will do will bring us Salvation (a place in the Heavens) accept for our complete reliance on Jesus Christ.
Christ however talked about rewards distinctly different from salvation. Our feeble efforts need to put our focus on these rewards which Christ said we must be faithful stewards of.



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Roper

posted July 11, 2007 at 7:26 pm


From Dr. Mohler’s definition of Orthodox Christianity, the only possible conclusion one can make about Jesus is that He was not an Orthodox Christian.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. And I know them. And they follow me.” He never said I must accept the creeds of centuries later in order to be part of His fold. I’m really okay with not being Orthodox Christian. It meant nothing to Jesus and it means nothing to me.



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Roper

posted July 11, 2007 at 8:06 pm


BTW, I find it ironic and even amusing that many of the Mormons here are arguing from a position informed by the recorded words of Jesus and the doctrines of the New Testament, while many of the other Christians are arguing from an extra-biblical perspective.
Usually the other way ’round.



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fairdaloon, MDiv

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:07 pm


Dr. Mohler makes just a few glaring mis-statements in this reveiw. Mohler states, that nowhere in The Book of Mormon, Another Testement of Christ is it mentioned that Christ is the “Only Begotten Son”, or that his death on the cross has saved us from sin.” That is an absolute falsehood, and reaffirms that in this and among other things in his statements, that he is wholly ignorant of what is contained in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps before making such erroneous statements Dr. Mohler and others should actually read the Book.



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Silly Interloper

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:18 pm


“And “IRENAEUS” represented totality in thought of the Christian movement?”
Nowandlater, the “diversity” of Christian thought was being fought and rejected as heresy long before all the Apostles died. A good study of the Early Church Fathers will reveal great unity and conformity that they had with each other regarding Church and doctrine.
There is also precedent for the Pope – the Bishop of Rome – to give instruction to other Churches. Here is an example of words from the third Pope, Pope Clement I, regarding the succession of the apostles. (Apostles were still alive while he was the Pope.)
“Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]). (I took this from Catholic Answers.)
While we’re at it, the second Pope, Linus, was the companion of Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21.
Irenaeus wrote in 100s AD. He wrote these things about succession.
“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).
“But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition” (ibid., 3:3:2).
“Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time” (ibid., 3:3:4).
“Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?” (ibid., 3:4:1).
“[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth” (ibid., 4:26:2).
“The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of th