Hello all we have just had the weekend again where the Prophets and Apostles and other leaders within the Mormon Church bring teaching to the members in the movement.
What we started doing last October and I think we have managed to do it again, is have a Christian watch each session of this and put some of their thoughts down. So starting from today we will hopefully be bringing up a review a day of the sessions in order of them happening. Some reviews will go through the whole session talk by talk, and some will just pull together some thoughts on the session as a whole. Which is more what I will be doing for this session.
As ever please leave your thoughts and feel free to disagree with and challenge anything we say.
So the first talk of the session was from President Thomas S Monson, the current president of the LDS church opening with some remarks. As often happens he announced that two new temples were going to be opened. You could hear the gasps from the audience. I remember in October 2010 when I was at a session in the conference centre in Salt Lake City when Monson made a similar announcement. People were looking at each other in awe and amazement. For Mormons when they hear of new temples opening this is a sign of the Kingdom expanding, an opportunity for more members to be baptized for more people that have died. Joseph Smith said this:
“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has placed upon us is to seek after our dead” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356).
It seems this still rings very true today. He also announced that there are now more than 65.000 Missionaries in active service, with plenty more to come since the age reduction for teenagers to be able to go on a mission last year. Now males can go at 18 and females at 19. So expect to possibly see more missionaries wherever you are.
But anyway going back to the Joseph Smith quote, what really struck me in this whole session is two things. I will spend the rest of this review expanding on each one.
1, The Mormon Church has not backed off at all on its teachings about eternal progression.
2, That the Priesthood is the centre of Mormonism at the expense of the acknowledgement of the true greatness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
If you look at the older days of Mormon Conferences and teachings, you were left with no doubt that the Mormon Church teaches that God the Father was once a mortal man, and that we can become gods. This as mostly everyone knows is a key teaching of the Mormon Church.
5th President Lorenzo Snow
“We must advance through stages to godhood. As man now is, God once was—even the babe of Bethlehem, advancing to childhood—thence to boyhood, manhood, then to the Godhead. This, then, is the ‘mark of the prize of man’s high calling in Christ Jesus’” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 5. Italics in original).
“Now, we are not ashamed of the glorious doctrine of eternal progression, that man may attain the position of those to whom came the word of God, that is, gods” (Anthon H. Lund, Conference Reports, October 1902, p. 81).
Yet since those early bold statements we have seen a rise in those that seek to defend the authenticity and Christianity of the LDS Church try and back off from this, here is an example.
“The phrase ‘eternal progression’ is not found in the scriptures, nor do we find it in the sermons and writings of Joseph Smith. There are obvious difficulties in announcing as doctrine a concept that is without scriptural basis” (BYU Professor Emeritus Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, p. 112).
This is interesting as it seems to be a trend that Professors at BYU (Brigham Young University) are often trying to back off from the core teachings of the leaders of the Church, often in what seems to be an attempt to sound more Christian. Here is a quick video with Bill Mckeever from Mormonism Research Ministry talking about this.
So what I saw in this session was a few key hints that actually show that this teaching is very much alive in the Mormon Church.
In the talk given by Elaine S Dalton she started off by saying this:
Every week young women all over the world repeat the Young Women theme. No matter the language, each time I hear these words, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him,”1 the Spirit affirms to my soul that they are true. It is not only an affirmation of our identity—who we are—but also an acknowledgment of whose we are. We are daughters of an exalted being!
We are daughters of an exalted being. Not the eternal most high God, but rather an exalted being. Because Heavenly Father went through His plan of salvation and was exalted.
Brigham Young 2nd Mormon President and 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).
I am grateful to be with you in this conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His Church. We take His name upon us as we enter His kingdom. He is God, the Creator, and perfect.
But if you listen to what he says, he says this:
I am grateful to be with you in this conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His Church. We take His name upon us as we enter His kingdom. He is a God, the Creator, and perfect.
What he said, rather than what was transcribed is very consistent with the teachings of Mormonism. Again Brigham Young said this:
“How many Gods there are, I do not know, But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are passing through. That course has been from all eternity, and it is and will be so to all eternity” (Brigham Young, October 8,1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).
In Mormonism Heavenly Father is a god. One of many millions, billions, if not infinite gods. Its just that he is ours. Was Eyrings wording here an error or was he being more upfront with the Mormon view than the correlation department wanted him to be?
And finally on this point. Russell Ballard in his talk said this:
Brothers and sisters, as the literal spirit children of our loving Heavenly Father, we have unlimited, divine potential. But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant. We can drift away from the true doctrine and gospel of Christ and become spiritually undernourished and wilted, having removed ourselves from the divine light and living waters of the Savior’s eternal love and priesthood power.
We are the literal children of our Heavenly Mother and Father, and our potential is unlimited. Unlimited means what it says unlimited, this means that everything that God is, is open to us to have one day for ourselves. Unless unlimited means something else. This is classic Mormon teaching on eternal progression. As Lorenzo Snow said “As man now is God once was, as God is man may become.” Mormonism has not changed in this regard, we just do not get it spelt out any more at general conference.
When I listened to the Priesthood session I think in April last year and when I listened to this session it amazes me just how central this idea of Priesthood power is in Mormonism.
Brothers and sisters, the power by which the heavens and earth were and are created is the priesthood. Those of us who are members of the Church know that the source of this priesthood power is God Almighty and His Son, Jesus Christ. Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and the earth were created, but it is also the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and, as our Father’s Only Begotten Son, to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary—thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an infinite Atonement and overcoming physical death through the Resurrection.
The power of the priesthood is a sacred and essential gift of God. It is different from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God’s name. The authorization or ordination is given by the laying on of hands. The power of the priesthood comes only when those who exercise it are worthy and acting in accordance with God’s will. As President Spencer W. Kimball declared, “The Lord has given to all of us, as holders of the priesthood, certain of his authority, but we can only tap the powers of heaven on the basis of our personal righteousness” (“Boys Need Heroes Close By,” Ensign, May 1976, 45).
According to Joseph Smith, this applied to Jesus too.
“If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424).
Also Ballard Said:
It is by these keys, this authority, and this power that the Church of Jesus Christ is organized today, with Christ at the head directing His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and assisted by duly called and ordained Apostles.
So in the first quote Ballard said that this power comes from God Almighty and His Son. We see from Joseph Smith that actually the Son obtained it by His personal worthiness. However when you think about it there is a massive chance that the Father will have had to do this too. If he is an exalted being, that is a part of a system of salvation that has gods and worlds without end, then at some point down the line our Heavenly Father must have obtained His priesthood from His Heavenly Father. Consider this quote.
“There is no exaltation in the kingdom of God without the fulness of the priesthood. …Every man who is faithful and will receive these ordinances and blessings obtains a fulness of the priesthood, and the Lord has said that ‘he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion’” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:132. Ellipses mine).
This comes from the 10th Prophet of the Mormon Church. So if we saw in this first session that Our God is an exalted being and if we see here that exaltation comes from the Priesthood which comes from God. It seems to me that our Heavenly Father obtained His power from the receiving of this priesthood power from somewhere else. Some Mormons will agree with this thinking, some won’t, but I hope you can see where this is coming from.
At the great Commission Jesus said “All authority has been given to me therefore go.”
12th Mormon Prophet Spencer W Kimball said:
“Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking his specific authorization” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 494).
Its clear that this will be talking about other Churches that do not hold this Priesthood that are being talked about here. Yet Jesus said All authority has been given to ME therefore go.
We see in Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
in John 11:43 here is how Jesus raises the dead. When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
Jesus calms a storm, then here is the discussion after: And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41)
Didn’t Jesus and these guys get the memo, it was the Priesthood authority that Jesus earned that makes these things so isn’t it? And why is Jesus saying all authority is His therefore go? Shouldn’t he be saying “The Melchizedek priesthood has been given to you therefore go, and make sure you stay worthy!”
He didn’t, for good reason. As the Biblical God does not have some handed down authority, that He in turn hands down. John 5:26 says: 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; The Father did not get created by His Father God like we did by ours, rather He exists by necessity of His own nature, of being the only true God.
The real God speaks by the word of His power, creates by the word of His power, and heals by the word of His power. There are no priesthood blessings in the New Testament, but rather Healing and Miracles done in the Name of Jesus.
What does this mean for the Christian Church? It means that if you are in Christ, then you have all of the authority you need to Baptize, preach the gospel, raise the dead, heal the sick not because you have authority, but because He has authority and He has told you to go, and do these things.