Well I got a surprise a few days ago. I got up and checked my email and I got my update on what the Foundation for Apologetic information and research (Fairlds.org) podcast was for the week, and it was a response to some articles on this site, hosted by. Ned Scarisbrick. You can find it here. Fair is one of the main Mormon Apologetics organizations.
This is certainly a first for me. Ned seems like a nice guy and made some comments on 4 articles on this blog. Of course we are referred to as “Anti-Mormon” or at least, not pro-Mormon. I will have to do an article on what is an Anti-Mormon sometime. Does anyone know of any articles out there that properly define this?
The first article he looks at is found at CTRJesus.com this was wrote by me (Bobby).
Ned starts his critique of my article by repeating this quote from 10th LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith that was found on the post.
“CHRIST GAINED FULNESS AFTER RESURRECTION. The Sav- ior did not have a fulness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fulness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God. Our bodies are essential to the fulness and the continuation of the seeds forever” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:33).
In my article my conclusion to the above quote is:
In Mormonism Jesus is another one of us. Just elevated initially because He was the firstborn of our heavenly parents. He had to go through the same plan of salvation that we all do, so that then what was lacking in Him could be made complete. This is not the Jesus of the Bible. This is actually not humility.
Neds response to this is:
“no, no, no”. Its the same Jesus. He is not just elevated initially because He was the firstborn of our heavenly parents.” (3:25)
So there are two points Ned is appearing to make there, First point is that Mormons follow the same Jesus. Same Jesus as who? Is something I have to ask, Mormon authorities have clearly stated in times past that the Mormon Church follows a different Jesus to the rest of the Christian world, consider these quotes:
“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some sub- stance to what they say” (Gordon Hinckley, 15th Mormon President, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).
Also in Ensign the Official Mormon Magazine we see this:
“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” (Bernard P. Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p. 26).
I think further clarification on what Ned meant by the same Jesus would have helped there, as if He is saying that we are following the same Jesus as each other, His Church would appear to disagree.
The Second point Ned makes here is that “Jesus was not elevated initially because He was the first born of our Heavenly parents.” This is puzzling to me as I though this was fairly standard teaching in the LDS Church, consider these quotes.
BYU Professor and well known LDS Author Robert Millet said.
“Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the recipient of the birthright of the royal family. As such, and in that premortal realm, he was the Elder Brother of all of the spirit sons and daughters of the Father” (BYU Professor Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, p. 20).
Is it not the case in Mormonism that we all if you go far back enough we were all “intelligence’s” waiting for our chance to gain a spirit body, then a physical body and hopefully then exaltation. Brigham Roberts a past Mormon general authority said:
“But if God the Father was not always God, but came to his present exalted position by degrees of progress as indicated in the teachings of the prophet, how has there been a God from all eternity? The answer is that there has been and there now exists an end-less line of Divine Intelligences—Deities, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are as limitless as boundless space” (B.H. Roberts, New Witness for God 1:466).
This applies to Christ and Heavenly Father as much as anyone, there is also no end of material like my original quote that Ned mentioned, showing that Jesus had to go through the same plan of salvation that we all do, he just did it from an already elevated position, nonetheless He still had to prove Himself worthy of exaltation like all of us.
“Jesus became a God and reached His great state of understand- ing through consistent effort and continuous obedience to all the Gospel truths and universal laws” (Milton R. Hunter, of the 70, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 51).
“Even Christ himself was not perfect at first; he received not a ful- ness at first, but he received grace for grace, and he continued to receive more and more until he received a fulness” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1986, p. 68. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (6th Mormon President) p. 153)
I think we needed more from Ned than just No, no, no here.
Ned then goes on to agree with me on John 8:24, but then disagrees with this statement.
Or is He your elder brother, simply going through the same plan of salvation you are, and may one day be your equal, depending on how you live your life?
Again we get “no, no, no”. Lets dig a little further here. Past Mormon President George A Smith said.
“We are living eternal life, and our position hereafter will be the result of our lives here. Every man will be judged according to his works, and he will receive only that degree of glory that he has earned. (Conference Reports, April 1945, p. 139.)” (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, p. 30).
Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism said:
“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel-you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348. Italics in original. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 305).
So what is the top? I would concede that I am not aware of a statement from Mormon leaders that say we can one day be as great as Christ. However the implication is there, universal laws, (as in they apply to everyone) and a plan of salvation that is the same for all. The implication here is that there is nothing held back from us that was not held back from Christ. I have had a Mormon Missionary tell me that he believed one day he might be as great as Christ. While Mormon Missionaries are by no means experts on all things Mormon doctrine, it still shows this is a conclusion that naturally follows from this teaching.
Its worth pointing out here that this blog and ministry is not interested in going after Mormon Doctrine as such, I have heard Mormons say that pinning down Mormon Doctrine is like nailing Jelly to a wall, it cant be done. Ned even says at the start of his article that his views are not necessarily that of the Church or even that of the organization (Fairlds.org) that he is doing the podcast for.
Many Mormons may actually disagree with what Ned said, even before you get on to what I say. Mormons when doing anything public usually make similar disclaimers. Over the years Mormon “Prophets” and Apostles” have made various statements some of which the church would like to forget, however depending on which leader an LDS individual may subscribe to, can lead to a diversity of views.
So I would say the same, my views may not perfectly represent that of what the Mormon Church teaches, but I certainly represent what many Mormons do think, and its members of the LDS Church that I am trying to connect with, rather than the actual Church itself.
Moving on Ned picks up on this point that I made in my post.
Jesus said all power is given to ME therefore go! Do you want to know why you NEVER see a Priesthood blessing referenced in the New Testament? Its because its not the power or authority of the priesthood that the Church needs, but rather it is the power and authority of Jesus.
Ned uses this verse to disprove what I said:
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Ned is adding an LDS worldview to the word ordained here. Firstly there is still no mention directly of a Priesthood blessing, my point very much stands. Secondly the word ordained here in the greek is “eqhka” which is actually better translated as “appointed”, this is simply saying that Jesus has appointed Peter to bear fruit, there is no mention here of any “Aaronic” or “Melchizedek” priesthood being bestowed.
Earlier in the chapter we see the same thing being talked about regarding all that are in Christ.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Again my point stands, its being in Christ that brings your authority, not any church ordnance.
Finally Ned picks up on my conclusion
Do you know this Jesus? Has He saved you to the uttermost? Is His authority in you? Do you look to Him for all you need or is it found in an organization? The answer will affect your eternity.
Ned then says the institution of the church is not the gospel, but rather a tool the Lord uses on the earth. He does concede that some become so institutionalized that they lose track of this.
My experience as I imagine many others is with Mormons, is that when they talk about being converted they say “I was converted to the Church….” I see this all the time. One example that really comes to mind is a talk done by a member of the 70 called Elder Poelman in 1984.
He made some points that support Neds argument here well:
- 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine. However, there is a distinction between them which is significant and it is very important that this distinction be understood.
- 2, Of equal importance is understanding the essential relationship between the gospel and the Church. Failure to distinguish between the two and to comprehend their proper relationship may lead to confusion and misplaced priorities with unrealistic and therefore failed expectations. This in turn may result in diminished benefits and blessings and, in extreme cases disaffections.
- 3, Sometimes traditions, customs, social practices and personal preferences of individual Church members may, through repeated or common usage be misconstrued as Church procedures or policies. Occasionally, such traditions, customs and practices may even be regarded by some as eternal gospel principles. Under such circumstances those who do not conform to these cultural standards may mistakenly be regarded as unorthodox or even unworthy. In fact the eternal principles of the gospel and the divinely inspired Church do accommodate a broad spectrum of individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.
However if you go to LDS.org today you will see these points instead.
- 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine, and there is an essential relationship between them that is significant and very important.
- 2, Understanding the proper relationship between the gospel and the Church will prevent confusion, misplaced priorities, and failed expectations and will lead to the realization of gospel goals through happy, fulfilling participation in the Church. Such understanding will avoid possible disaffection and will result in great personal blessings.
- 3, The eternal principles of the gospel implemented through the divinely inspired Church apply to a wide variety of individuals in diverse cultures.
Elder Poelman after giving this talk with the great points made above was then made to go back to the conference hall, with no audience apart from some machines making coughing noises, to give another talk, with the second round of points that clearly show that the Church is actually more essential than Elder Poelman first stated. For my article on this issue go here.
Mormon Apostle Bruce Mcconkie said:
“If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, p.670).
More responses to this podcast to follow.