Hello all, in the last week I had an article posted on the Baptist Times about my ministry in general, and an outreach opportunity to Mormons coming up in the next year. Please check out this article here
Interestingly since then on the Mormon Mommy Writers Blog a response has been written to the Baptist times, by a Christian Hellen Riebold with a forward by Anna Buttimore, LDS member who is a contributor on this blog. They have recently written a book together called The Saved Saint, a fictional book looking at what happens when an Ex Mormon Missionary becomes a Christian. You can find this response to my article here
I appreciate your response was directed to the Editor of the Baptist Times and not me, but with it being about my article I wanted to share some thoughts.
Firstly thank you for sharing your background, and also a clear heart for the Mormon people. I genuinely believe that you wrote what you wrote out of respect and love for a good friend and a great set of people you have clearly had a lot of interaction with.
I would firstly like to say that I do what I do in terms of seeking to witness to Mormons out of a genuine love and a mass of passion for this people. I have put many hours, many pounds and a lot of effort into seeking to understand the Mormon faith, and communicate to them what I believe that they are missing, which is the Biblical True gospel. In my view it is not loving to tell people who are in a state of being dead in their sins that they are going to be ok, people who are in the first class cabin of a sinking ship with no knowledge of it sinking are still in great need of being told of their situation.
Which moves me into your points, I am going to address a few of them and try and explain myself further.
You said this:
It is this respect that has led to my disappointment that you would be prepared to print such an outdated and one-sided article as that titled Evangelising Mormons by Bobby Gilpin, printed on 17th October. The arguments he uses against The Church of the Latter Day Saints are outdated and ill researched. President Snow served from 1898 to 1901, well over 100 years ago, I do not feel it is fair to try to influence people’s opinions on any organisation or denomination by quoting such historical leaders, I am sure I would not have to look too hard to find many other Christian quotes from the period with all kinds of opinions from a wide range of subjects we no longer agree on. Quite apart from anything else our own doctrine says that God became Man, he was called Jesus.
With respect from reading this I would have to say that your research on Mormonism must be very limited to make this statement, you compare the words of Lorenzo Snow to just the words of any other Christian leader. Do you not know that the Mormon Church sees Lorenzo Snow and every other “Prophet” they have had from Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson today are God’s mouthpieces to the world?
Ezra Taft Benson another previous Mormon Prophet gave a talk called “The Fourteen fundamentals of following the Prophet” when He was an Apostle. (please note the link is to LDS.org the official Mormon website. As a side note this talk was reiterated at the October 2010 General conference in 2 sessions. I was personally there for one of them.)
In this talk Benson makes these points.
Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works.
For any who don’t know by Standard works he means all of the Mormon Scriptures. The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the pearl of great price. But also the Bible.
Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
12th Mormon President (and prophet) Wilford Woodruff stated:
“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.)
Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.
Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.
Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.
To members of the Mormon Church, their Prophets are as significant and authoritative as Isaiah, Moses or Jeremiah, so the time difference of 100 years is relatively small compared to them for us, and so therefore does not have to mean at all that Lorenzo Snows (5th Mormon Prophet) Couplet:
As man now is God once was, As God now is man may become.
is by NO means no longer valid. To quote Lorenzo snow more fully:
President Snow later recalled, “the Spirit of the
Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were
opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and
astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following
couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me. . . .
“As man now is, God once was:
“As God now is, man may be.”
As far as Mormonism goes, Gods one true Prophet on the face of the earth got this by revelation. I hope you will see by now that your analogy of Christian leaders saying things that we do not agree with is utterly false on two levels.
1, We do not hold Christian leaders this highly, they are subject to scripture NOT above it.
2, This Mormon Prophet here is not saying something outdated or irrelevant to Mormonism, its massively relevant and actually quite current. You mentioned that I used an old and outdated quote, here are some more up to date ones.
10th President Joseph Fielding Smith
“Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:98).
12th President Spencer W. Kimball
“Man is created in the image of God. He is a god in embryo. He has the seeds of godhood within him and he can, if he is normal, pick himself up by his bootstraps and literally move himself from where he is to where he knows he should be” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 28).
To finish this point I would refer you to this link
This is an official LDS manual called Teachings of Presidents of the Church Lorenzo Snow, if you look at page 83 you will see this quote very positively reinforced. The manual is dated 2012.
Moving on to my next bold from above, you said:
Our own doctrine says that God became Man, he was called Jesus.
The Biblical teaching is that Jesus was in very nature God, and did not hold on to his EQUALITY with God but emptied Himself taking the form of a man. (Philippians 2:5-11) this is called humility in this passage. We also see in scripture that from Everlasting to everlasting God is God (Psalm 90:2) that there is no other God (Isaiah 44:6) and that our God does not even know of any other Gods (Isaiah 44:8) so for you to use the incarnation of Christ as a justification for the entirely unbiblical view that Mormonism holds, that our God was once a man and so therefore must have had a God Himself (and the cycle goes on) is problematic in the least. Just because Mormons often say they do not know about their heavenly Fathers Father, that does not mean for a second that many of them do not believe Him to have one.
Many Mormons believe that our heavenly Father was once a sinful man, this is a natural belief to hold in light of Lorenzo Snows words, but fatally untrue.
Brigham Young 2nd Mormon Prophet said:
“It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has been once a finite being; and yet we are not in such close communion with him as many have supposed” (Brigham Young, October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).
Ok moving on, you next said this:
The quote given from The book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 25:23 ‘For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.’
is actually akin in meaning to the Biblical Isaiah 64:6
‘All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.’
It is basically saying that no matter how brilliant we are we still need grace in order to be saved.
Yes you are dead on that we need grace to be saved, but in saying that you have missed the point I was making, we are saved entirely 100% by Grace, and by none of our works. Isaiah 64:6 shows that in our sinful state our works can do nothing, 2 Nephi 25:23 blows this biblical teaching out of the water and says actually our works do count towards our salvation. Romans 11:6 leaves no room for this:
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Its one or the other, we are NOT saved by both.
You next say this:
My understanding of President Spencer W Kimball’s rather damming statement that Mr Gilpin quotes is in fact the LDS equivalent to our own denomination’s discussions on James, one cannot simply live as you like, sinning with impunity saying ‘its ok God forgives me anyway.’
So going back to this quote Spencer Kimball Said
‘One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God.’
You then say that this is simply our version of James, who says that faith without works is dead, and that our faith MUST be evidenced by works. Sadly I shake my head at this point and wonder about your theology. James does not deny Paul’s teaching of salvation by grace, instead he merely shows that true faith that has produced true regeneration, and has produced a true new creature in Christ as 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, must produce good works, otherwise this faith is dead, not real, and not saving anyone. This does not for a second deny salvation by grace alone.
Jesus Himself when presented by a peasant woman’s faith says to her “Your faith has saved you go in peace.” (Luke 7:50) salvation is by faith alone, but there is no room for people acknowledging Him with their lips but then having no life change.
Interestingly in the Same book by Spencer W Kimball (Miracle of Forgiveness) that the quote above came from we see this story:
Years ago, a missionary in South America wrote a long letter of confession. He had
broken the law of chastity. No one but the young girl and himself knew of the
transgression, but he had promptly gone to his mission president and confessed it in total.
This missionary had been a member of the Church but a few months, and his many
years of adulthood while “of the world” had produced a weakness hard to overcome. He
quoted, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” He did not excuse himself, nor claim
any special immunities, nor rely on extenuating circumstances. He said: “I knew I had to
pay the full penalty, I knew that in life or death I had to answer for the sin. I wanted to get
it over with and be on my way to eventual forgiveness. I would rather confess, take my
punishment, and get back as soon as possible on the road to forgiveness, and I did not
want my eternity cluttered with these blemishes.”
He was excommunicated from the Church. After what seemed an eternity to him,
through his faithfulness and repentance he was baptized and finally his priesthood and temple blessings were restored to him. He found peace through complete repentance of which his total, voluntary confession was a vital part.
We see here a young man that made a mistake and was open about it and as a result was excommunicated from the Church and he had to prove his way back in through the Mormon repentance process, which is not at all simply between him and God. But what did Jesus do with a sexual sinner?
8 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
A different gospel if ever there was one.
Ok you next say:
One of my closest friends is a member of The Church of the Latter Day Saints and, you can be sure, I looked carefully into their doctrine to see if she needed to be ‘saved’ however, given that all Churches have some incorrect doctrines as an inevitable consequence of the fall, I took my criteria from Romans 10:9-10:-
‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. ‘
That’s great to hear that you have a close friend in the LDS church, they are great people and I always enjoy my time with them, and I have spent a lot with them in the past. However for you to use this verse alone as the criteria again shows a lack of Biblical context in your understanding.
Here is something else James said:
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)
Its not enough just to believe in someone called Jesus. Salvation is to know God and His Son (John 17:3) the God of Mormonism is an exalted man, the Jesus of Mormonism is the first born Spirit child of our heavenly Father and Mother. This is not the God of the bible, this is not a Jesus that saves. Galatians 1:8 says:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
Jesus says in John 8:24 that unless you believe I AM HE you will die in your sins. You may know that this is referring back to Gods answer to who He is in Exodus 3:14. Jesus is identifying Himself as God and saying we need to believe that is who He is. Is the Mormon God this God?
Mormonism is not simply Christianity with a few tweaks, it is a religion with a different God, and with an entirely different salvation that is based on works, we do our best and Jesus makes up the rest as I have heard Mormon Missionaries say in the past.
So to sum up I would suggest you ask your Mormon friend a few more questions, Mormonism is nowhere near as blunt about its beliefs today as it once was, this also seems to be the case with many of its members too. (I wonder why Anna Buttimore put your letter to the Baptist times on her blog without correcting you on her understanding of Mormon Prophets) That does not however mean that those beliefs have changed or gone.
I will continue to devote much time to witnessing to those people that God has called me to reach, as I think 14 million Mormons are worth it,
For I can testify about them (Mormons) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (Romans 10:2)
Thank you for reading, I may not have convinced you with these points, but I hope you can see that I have done my homework and that this is a labour of love and not hate or anger.