Weak Arguments #3: “I know what you believe, because Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie or some other general authority said…..”

 Mormon-bible

An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Bobby Gilpin

The Argument:
“I know what you believe, because Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie or some other general authority said…..”

Why It’s Weak:

In making this argument you are assuming the beliefs of an individual you have likely only just met. This is never a good thing to do.

 

If your an LDS member with any experience of speaking with Evangelicals, or any other critics of Mormonism before, you have likely had a discussion like this.

 

Beheld-Virgin-Bearing-AD

Scenario One

Critic You Deny the virgin birth don’t you?

LDSNo as a matter of fact I don’t, please let me explain to you my belief on this.

CriticI don’t need to hear it, I have a great quote from Brigham Young when He says the birth of Christ was as natural as anyone else’s [1] . I know what you guys believe.

LDSAs I said that is not my view, would you please let me explain my view on this?

 

“This far from only applies to only Brigham Young quotes. Lets try another – and one that I have personally experienced and learned from by my mistakes.”

 

StudiesKingFollett

 

Scenario Two

CriticAh so you’re a Mormon, well I think it’s totally heretical that you believe God was once a man. 

LDSAs a matter of fact I don’t believe that either. As Moroni 8:18 and Psalm 90:2 say, God has always been God. 

Critic – “I am sorry I think you are just being dishonest, Joseph Smith taught this in the King Follett Discourse, so you must believe it.”

LDSThere are some renderings of Joseph Smiths sermons that seem to suggest this, I am not too persuaded by them as these are not scripture. Would you please let me explain what I believe. 

 

1) Point One.

We as evangelicals often have this notion that Mormons are all brainwashed and are in some big mind controlling cult, where they all believe the exact same thing, and would never dream of questioning anything that their leadership says. This is not the case, there is a mass diversity of views within the LDS Church, some people take everything the general authorities say literally, some do not.

It’s always worth bearing this in mind when conversing with LDS people. Some are of the view that if it’s not in the Standard works, then it’s not binding, some  may take a lot from the likes of Bruce R. McConkie and his book, “Mormon Doctrine”. Some may look to James Talmage and his writings, some may take closer stock of Gordon B Hinckley, often it depends on the time they were growing up in their faith.

2) Point Two.

This does not for a second take away the validity of your arguments against the teaching of Mormon leaders, what it does mean is that you need to word your argument a little differently. Rather than saying “I know what you believe Mr/Mrs Mormon.” Instead say: “Here is what your leaders have taught, can we talk about it?”

3) Point Three.

You will inevitably come across the issue of What is official doctrine in the LDS Church? This is a question that no one really has an answer too, LDS or not. And can be a bit of a red herring in discussions, I could not possibly put a response to this better than Keith Walker from Evidence Ministries has done here, this is well worth a watch.

 

The Stronger Arguments:

First Suggested Strong Argument:
So with all this in mind lets try that first scenario again.

Critic Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin?

LDSNo as a matter of fact I don’t, I affirm what the Bible says that Jesus was born without an earthly parent. 

CriticCould you explain what you mean by an earthly parent?

LDSAs a latter-day saint I do not accept the idea that the Holy Ghost somehow “overshadowed” Mary then making her parent, no child is ever born this way, I believe that Jesus was a literal son of His Heavenly Father, and thus in the way that we would usually understand a birth to occur, Jesus was in fact born of a virgin. Bruce R McConkie said this.

“For our present purposes, suffice it to say that our Lord was born of a virgin, which is fitting and proper, and also natural, since the Father of the Child was an Immortal Being” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, pg. 466)

This sums it up well for me. 

Critic – Thank you for explaining this. This to me still very much sounds like Jesus was not actually born of a virgin if you are saying that Heavenly Father impregnated Mary naturally”. 

LDS – I guess we define virgin birth differently then, but this is my belief. 

 

(Quick disclaimer  I know this last paragraph does not represent all LDS people, (however it will some), its more the style of conversation than the content I am attempting to model here.)

Do you see the difference? Rather than stating what the Mormon believes, you ask, in the process you get them to tell you their view and then you get to discuss it from there. More often than not you will still have plenty of places to go with what the LDS person says. Sometimes you will speak with a Mormon who is very “Evangelical savvy” and will give answers that sound identical to your view. That’s where the 2nd stronger argument comes in.

 

Second Suggested Strong Argument:

While it is not good to make the assumption that Mormons believe something on the basis of a Mormon leader saying it, there is still a lot of ground for discussion on the back of what Mormon leaders have said. Lets try my scenario two again.

 

CriticAh so you’re a Mormon, well I think it’s totally heretical that Joseph Smith taught that God was once a man, what is your view on this?

LDSAs a matter of fact I don’t believe that. As Moroni 8:18 and Psalm 90:2 say, God has always been God. 

Critic – I appreciate your response, its good to know that LDS people can look past some of these statements and hold onto the truth about God. But is it not then an issue to you that people who are modern-day Prophets and Apostles are clearly teaching falsehoods about God?

LDS – I don’t see LDS leaders as infallible, they are men and sometimes speak as such. 

Critic – That does not seem to measure up with the teachings of your church.  For instance the 2013 LDS Manual, teachings of Lorenzo Snow, said this:

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.”

Feeling that he had received “a sacred communication” that he should guard carefully, Lorenzo Snow did not teach the doctrine publicly until he knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught it. Once he knew the doctrine was public knowledge, he testified of it frequently. [2] 

Critic – It seems that one of your Prophets saw that as a sacred communication, if he is the one with the authority to speak for your church, and this was reprinted in 2013 by your church, where is your authority to say that this is wrong?

LDSI guess I have no authority to say that this is wrong, I just don’t believe it. 

CriticOk I respect your view, however this seems to be what your church teaches,  can we please focus on that as I see some massive issues there. 

Again not all LDS people will respond this way, many LDS people will simply affirm God was once a man. It’s more in the LDS apologetic circles today that this is being denied. But anyway the point here is that while an LDS member may not believe what their leaders have taught on an issue, that does not change the massive issue that their leaders actually taught this. LDS Missionaries all over the world are knocking on doors talking about how amazing it is that they have a Prophet in their church that brings revelation today. So it’s not sufficient for LDS members to simply shrug off their statements in discussion.

The fact that they have taught so many problematic things such as Adam being God, Black skin being a curse, and so many more issues is massive ground for discussion, just don’t assume that the person you are speaking too holds this view. Interestingly just this week Dallin Oaks of the quorum of the twelve Apostles in the Mormon Faith “tweeted” that they only say what the Spirit directs them to say at general conference, well worth noting. For these discussions.

Untitled

 

So in conclusion there is massive ground for discussion with LDS members and there are so, so many areas that you can discuss with them and challenge them on to help them know who Jesus really is, and what His grace really means. Just don’t assume because you may have read a book about Mormonism, or read some quotes somewhere that you know where any given Mormon comes from on that issue. Ask where they are coming from and then take it from there.

NOTES
[1] “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Brigham Young, July 8, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:115).

[2] https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-5-the-grand-destiny-of-the-faithful?lang=eng

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25 thoughts on “Weak Arguments #3: “I know what you believe, because Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie or some other general authority said…..””

  1. Bobby if I had gone along with this I would never have left the LDS.
    As you progress in the church you ore and more lose the right to say “I don’t personally believe that” because your personal belief don’t enter in to it, you follow the teachings of the prophets (All of them) who are and have passed on the owrd of God.
    The simple fact is that yes there are many Mormons who say “I don’t personally believe that” because they actually have not got a clue what the LDS teaches on many matters, because and this is important, “They are never told what the church actually teaches”
    In many cases they may get a version of the church teachings that have been “adapted” for new converts or those not totally familiar with the LDS way yet”
    It Cannot be denied as I am sure you know there IS a policy of “Milk before Meat” this is an LDS euphemism for telling LIES.
    LDS indoctrination (especially for men) is a slow purposeful building up of these lies, layer by layer as the member progresses through the church.

    A member telling you “Well I don’t personally believe that” when confronted with a teaching that on the one hand supposedly comes from a “Living Prophet” who they are obliged to believe because he apparently talks or talked with God and passes on his revealed knowledge and on the other hand includes a disclaimer in his writings disassociating his prophetic writing from the official stance of the church.
    It is notable how teachings that stood as immutable and eternal laws of God revealed through Gods own prophets for the better part of two centuries are now described as “Well meaning speculation” by past prophets “speaking as men” by the current one.

    IS it any wonder that grass roots Mormons “don’t personally believe that” because it is a general rule of thumb that much LDS official doctrine is deliberately vague so it can be disavowed later when it becomes embarrassing or in many cases illegal.
    The point then when witnessing to an LDS active member is to stick to facts, and by that I mean “Facts” described as such by the LDS church itself.
    There are a few. such as
    1) Homosexuality is a sin and gay marriage is something worth investing $8mllion tithing dollars in preventing
    2) The Church was teaching institutionally racist doctrines up to 1978, disgusting doctrines that included the execution of those involved in interracial marriage as an eternal truth that ceased to be so in 1978 and the barring of black people from heaven other than as a servant until that date too and still has many racist policies still in place, mostly held over from the “great” prophet S.W. Kimball and recorded in his foul tome “The Miracle of Forgiveness”.
    3) The instance that the Book of Mormon IS historically true even though there is NO evidence to back this up whatsoever and much to discredit its claims to be so.
    4) The belief in Kolob and associated doctrines.
    5) The belief that it is legitimate to excommunicate women from the church and dissolve their eternal marriages when they publicly petition the church for equal rights
    6) Eternal Temple ordinances given by God (even though they have been significantly changed 4 times in the past hundred and ten years.) including masonic handshakes needed to enter in to heaven, ritual incantations and clothing that officially may never be removed once put on, for fear of losing your church given protection from Satan. (after the murder of several missionaries in the last few years, it is no longer claimed that these garments are bullet proof)

    There are one or two other official church doctrines that still stand as “Facts” and theology, everything else has been fudged, dismissed or altered in the last few years, including the doctrine that the Journal of discourse is now nothing more than “historically interesting”, when it states in its own text that it is scripture, attested to by FOUR prophets, avowing that they are speaking as prophets at the time of writing.
    How long before the Pearl of great price and the D&C go the same way.

    NO when an active LDS claims not to believe church doctrines it IS right to tell them that according to their own sustained living prophets and their apostles, that member IS SUPPOSED to believe it and that if they don’t and publicly say so then they are likely to find themselves sharing a coach seat out of the church with the likes of Kate Kelly.

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    1. Thanks Henry, I totally agree that all of those points need to be raised, I am just saying we should not assume that the lds member believes them.

      However whether they do or don’t the issues should still be discussed, this article is about approach rather than content.

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  2. As an ex-member with over 40 years experience in the Church from 1964 till 2006 and in addition, having been a past Bishop and Branch President (not that this makes a damn bit of difference – except that the hierarchy seem to love IMAGE, so I thought I’d put it in to add credibility) I agree with everything Henry said.
    When I listen to apologists, I do not recognise the Church they represent? It is not the Church I once belonged to. It is as if they are in denial of all we were taught and lead to believe. We have now come to learn that we cannot trust prophets and apostles (because their greatest critics are the apologists themselves) the Church does not need ex-Mormons, or so-called anti Mormons, to denigrate or reject the words of these past prophets – the present Church apologists and hierarchy do it so well themselves! We have learnt from them NOT to TRUST. As I look at the denials, compromises, fudges, U turns and downright lies from the Church and its apologists they merely CONFIRM what we once feared. I am amazed at arrogance and the sliding moral degradation of an organisation which has Christ’s name in its title. I thank God (or whatever may be out there) that I am no longer a member of this embarrassing and absurd system of belief.

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    1. Hi there Robbie, thanks a lot for the comment.

      I think I wrote this article with the Apologetics type Mormons in mind, they are often as you might expect the ones that come commenting on here.

      You have picked up on a very interesting trend, that Mormon Apologists do seem to reject or side step so much of what Mormon leaders have taught. In fact for a while now I have seen that organizations such as FairMormon do not spend as much time as maybe they did responding to critics, but rather trying to “faith crisis proof” their own people.

      Ned who has commented above (thanks for that comment Ned) did this podcast episode on Fair. 4th Watch 12.5: Flexibility On this episode Ned encourages LDS members to be flexible on their approach to Mormon beliefs/doctrine. Unlike the many absolute statements of LDS leaders.

      The reason as you obviously know is that LDS leaders have made many comments that do not hold water, LDS apologists see this as clearly as we do, but do not have the luxury of being able to discount them, rather they need to make it sound like they were not really saying……what they were saying, but rather something else, or just say they never really said it at all.

      I think there is only more of this to come, and you are dead right on this. In this article I am not discounting these things, but rather just offering some pointers for people that seek to dialogue with Mormons, so that the dialogue will go well rather than just result in unhelpful assumptions and a quickly closed discussion.

      thanks for commenting Robbie!

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      1. Like most if not all faith traditions there are factions who interpret their teachings in a literal manner. I think the common term we use today is fundamentalist. Symbolic meanings to teach principles fill the other side of the chapel where little if anything is literal. I would like to think that growth in our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ can accommodate everyone who is earnest seeker of truth.

        -Ned

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      2. @Ned Scarisbrick While I would agree that everyone who is an earnest seeker of truth should be accommodated, I would disagree that those who fall outside of mainstream orthodoxy should be considered valid members of the group.

        For example, is a liberal theologian who denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ still a Christian? The apostle Paul would say, “No!” In fact, he said that the entire Christian faith is a sham if the resurrection didn’t take place:

        “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.”
        (1 Corinthians 15:14-17, NET Bible)

        And Mormon Leaders understand this too. For example, Gordon B. Hinckley very correct stated that if the First Vision didn’t take place then Mormonism is a fraud:

        “…this is the pivotal thing of our story. Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its roots in the First Vision of the boy prophet. Without it we would not have anything much to say…

        This becomes the hinge pin on which the whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is that simple.”
        (“Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley“, p.227)

        So whether we’re talking about Mormonism, Christianity, or some other other faith tradition there are a few essentials that must be affirmed to in the group. When those in the group deny these essentials then they’ve just made the decision to leave it.

        Boundaries, we’re talking about healthy boundaries, nothing more or less.

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      3. I understand your position. The question for me is who decides what are the “essentials” and what are secondary or non-essential issues? At what point does one become a heretic and who makes that decision?

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      4. @Ned Scarisbrick Well you’re in luck, article #4 is this series (which is scheduled to publish on September 19th at 3PM Pacific Time) touches on the essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. And what I found when I was doing the research for the article was that there is broad consensus on those essentials across Christian denominations and sects – even groups that are odds on the non-essentials of the Christian faith.

        The question is, “Why?” How and why can all these diverse groups be united on a group of core essential doctrines, give each other liberty on everything else, and continue to function as a common community of faith despite profound differences?

        The answer that I found when I was researching was because they all appeal to the same objective standard: The Bible. The essentials are determined by the Bible not any one – or even all of these groups. And a heretic is anyone who doesn’t hold to those essential doctrines yet still claims to be a Christian – it’s really not too hard.

        To compare and contrast, I have yet to see such consensus among the 160+ active denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement. In fact, I have yet to see any Latter-day Saint (aka “Brighamite”) or, more importantly, their leaders produce a cogent list of essential doctrines that one must confess in order to be called “Mormon” or even a Latter-day Saint.

        To the extreme, I even know of cases where atheists (who were known to be atheist by their bishop) still held Temple Recommends and were teaching Gospel Doctrine classes in their ward.

        So I find it ironic that the group that is loudest and most vocal about mainstream Christianity being a big ball of contentious confusion is in fact itself a big ball of contentious confusion.

        * For example, they can unite behind a Billy Graham crusade, or a Promise Keepers event, or join hands in a legal cause against a threaten to their common faith.

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      5. September 19th? Perhaps just a type. I look forward to the article. The Bible. That’s a good starting point. If you don’t believe in the Bible I can’t see how one could consider themselves a Christian. I really look forward to the essential doctrines section in the article.

        In defining what are the essentials of the LDS faith you mentioned someone who is a atheist and holds a current temple recommend and teaches a gospel doctrine class. I can’t see how that would happen unless this person was lying to Church authorities being as it is a requirement to have faith in God the eternal Father and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost to be considered a member in good standing. If you would give me the details on this matter (off list of course) I would be willing to research this issue and bring it to the attention of those who deal with such situations and report back on my findings.
        So, what are the essentials of the LDS faith? I’ll attempt to give a short list off the top of my head.

        1) God the Father created all things through His Son Jesus Christ.
        2) Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh.
        3) It is only through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that mankind are
        saved.
        4) Jesus the Christ literally lived, died and was resurrected.
        5) All judgment is committed to the Son.
        6) The 10 Articles of Faith…
        7) The only change or explanation I would make for clarity is in article #3. The term “saved” does
        not refer to any other “saved” condition other than exaltation in the celestial kingdom. As you
        may know our teachings include many degrees of salvation and one does not need to receive
        membership in the Church (the laws and ordinances of the Gospel) in order to obtain what the
        Lord see’s fit in His wisdom to bestow upon them at the last day.
        Article #3, We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be “saved” (exalted in the celestial kingdom), by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

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      6. Thanks Ned I appreciate the response, are you saying that all LDS people universally should see things this way?

        There seems to be no mention of the temple there too which seems interesting.

        That’s my only thoughts, it would be unfair to critique this too much given that you are just answering my question, I just wonder whether this correlates with the teachings of LDS leaders? Maybe I will do some study on this, thanks.

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      7. i would say that obedience to the laws and ordiances of the gospel would include the temple. If I’m out of line here I would be well pleased to stand corrected though.

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      8. “i would say that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel would include the temple. If I’m out of line here I would be well pleased to stand corrected though.”

        Well, put that way I can see it as a point of DENOMINATIONAL orthodoxy for the LdS Church only since none of the splinter group have the same temple requirements. Further, those that do have endowments often don’t observe the Nauvoo endowments that the LdS Church does.

        For example, the RLDS/CoC adheres to the Kirtland endowments only and ignores the Nauvoo “add on’s” that came later.

        Of course this is problematic because in LdS theology the temple is a key soteriological requirement for full salvation (aka “Celestial Exaltation”) is it not? Therefore, if this is included in the essentials of the LDS Church then it effectively eliminates all LDS denominations except the LdS Church.

        By the way, a clearer definition of the five key points of a Mormon testimony is:

        1. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.

        2. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.

        3. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.

        4. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today.

        5. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.
        (see https://www.lds.org/friend/2008/10/testimony-glove?lang=eng )

        I should have used this source instead of the Mormon.org source to begin with.

        Ned, shouldn’t all of these 5-points be in the essentials too? Or are these only denominational essentials too?

        Please advise.

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      9. We might be talking past each other here. My comments are related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not any of the other groups that claim the Mormon moniker. What others believe and teach is their own business. Sorry for the confusion I should have made that clear up front.

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      10. Fair enough. Then are you aware of an official list of essential doctrines for just the LdS Church? I’ve been looking and asking for one for years with no satisfaction yet.

        And if those other “groups that claim the Mormon moniker” aren’t Mormons then what are they?

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      11. I think the articles of faith are the best “official” teachings (doctrine) of the Church. You need to be careful when defining what the word doctrine means. Doctrine can change. The Old Testament (old covenant) and the New Testament (new covenant). I would say the there are several levels of teachings or doctrine in my view.
        1) Eternal truth…does not change
        2) Official doctrine…changed by direct revelation from the Lord . Articles of Faith #9
        3) Official policy…the operational doctrine of the Church. Can change as needed.
        4) Cultural standards…as appropriate for any given location.
        5) Brother Ned’s teachings…that last in line. 🙂

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      12. @Ned Scarisbrick, you wrote: “You need to be careful when defining what the word doctrine means. Doctrine can change.”

        Well the meaning of the word “doctrine” doesn’t change – it always means, “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group” The etymology of the word is pretty plain and simple: “late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin doctrina ‘teaching, learning,’ from doctor ‘teacher,’ from docere ‘teach.’”

        So the meaning of the word itself remains the same, however, those beliefs or sets of beliefs can change over time as BYU Professor Charles Harrell demonstrated so clearly in regard to Mormon Doctrine in his classic “This is my Doctrine” series (see http://smile.amazon.com/This-My-Doctrine-Development-Theology-ebook/dp/B005FRGAFM and http://smile.amazon.com/This-Is-My-Doctrine-Development-ebook/dp/B005FRGG42 )

        Harrell also makes the point in these books that Systematic Theology is impossible in Mormonism due to the doctrine (there’s that word again!) of continuing revelation. But that’s another discussion for another day.

        “I think the articles of faith are the best “official” teachings (doctrine) of the Church.”

        Well, I used to hold to that myself as a matter of fact – that is until I got corrected by both some Mormon and Christian Scholars. There are significant problems here:

        1) The 5-points of the archetypal Mormon Testimony aren’t represented in the AoF.

        2) Ditto for key points of the Temple Recommend Interview – these are clearly a point of orthodoxy, they really can’t be ignored.

        3) In fact, as mentioned previously, the Temple and it’s underlying covenants and commandments aren’t even mentioned in the AoF. Since Temple Endowments are key to Mormon soteriology they’re germane to any discussion of doctrinal essentials.

        These omissions aren’t accidental. The audience for the Wentworth Letter (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wentworth_letter ) from which the AoF was mainstream Christian and the letter was written in a time when tensions with the “Gentiles” was rising in Illinois. As a result, the Wentworth Letter in general, and the AoF in particular, were written to sound as “Christian” as possible – which is why key tenets of LDS Theology are missing.

        So, the AoF, isn’t sufficient on it’s own.

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      13. @Ned Scarisbrick Yes, that should have been October 19th. My bad – stupid typo, I’m good at them!

        😉

        On the atheists retaining their Temple Recommends and teaching Gospel Doctrine classes. There’s no need for an investigation since the folks who told me about this (the first time I thought it was a fluke, the subsequent times a pattern) have all resigned from the LdS Church and moved on. And I’m sure that their former Bishops wouldn’t appreciate getting reported by the Strengthening Church Members Committee so let’s move on for the sake of all concerned shall we?

        Your list of essentials is both interesting and both somewhat similar and somewhat different to the other such lists I’ve seen from LdS Church members. Hence, I’ll pose similar questions here too:

        1) I’m not seeing anything here in items 1-6 that any other Mormon sect or denomination would disagree with. For example, the RLDS/Community of Christ (aka “Josephites”) statement of faith is very close to what you’ve offered here (see http://www.cofchrist.org/ourfaith/faith-beliefs.asp), as is the LDS Church (aka “Strangite”, see http://www.strangite.org/Welcome.htm ), the Bickerites, and all other Latter Day Saint denominations.

        And they would all agree with Article #7 if it were left in it’s original, unmodified form.

        So are the RLDS/CoC, LDS Church, the Bickerites and all other LDS denominations just as “Mormon” as the LdS Church (aka “Brighamite”) denomination that you’re in?

        2) All the Fundamentalist groups – including the FLDS – (see https://web.archive.org/web/20080914104704/http://www.fldstruth.org/sysmenu.php?MParent=BELIEFS&MIndex=0; ) would agree with items 1-7 so they too are just as “Mormon” as Brighamite Latter-day Saints are, right?

        3) By what authority did you modify Article #7? The canonized Articles of Faith were written by Joseph Smith – I can’t think of anyone with higher Priesthood Authority past or present than that so I find this odd. Which leads me to . . .

        4) Speaking of which, what level of Priesthood Authority do you have?
        My point here is this: As far as I know no one has the required authority to define the essentials of the Latter Day Saint (that is the universal LDS Church as opposed to the Latter-day Saint “Brighamite” denomination) faith which, really, is at the heart of this “sticky wicket”.

        Ironically, it seems that even Joseph Smith lacked the required authority since everyone (including you in your last answer) feels free to rewrite the Articles of Faith and other key LDS scripture to suit their fancy rather than just taking them at face value.

        So at the end of the day all we outsiders see are the same kind of non-binding, non-authoritative, personal opinions on the global question (“What are the essential doctrines of the LDS faith?”) and binding denominational statements (“These are the essential doctines of THIS LDS Movement church.”) that Mormons accuse the “apostate unrestored” churches out there of having.

        In fact, even if Thomas S. Monson came out tomorrow and issued such a statement (and, frankly, I hope that he does) all the other LDS denominations would be well within their rights to shrug and say, “Well that’s all well and fine for YOUR group mate, but why should we care – you have no authority here! Good on ya buddy, we’re just going to ignore you!”

        Again, I think that it would be a GREAT first step if he did (and AGAIN, I really hope that he does), but the problem would ultimately remain. This is a problem!

        In the mean time, the essentials of the Christian faith have been the same for over 2,000-years. They’re defined by the Bible and it is the final, ultimate, absolute authority for the Christian faith – always has been, always will be.

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      14. I was just listing what I though were essentials of the faith. Not a extensive well researched list to be sure just what I came up with at the time. My purpose in extending the phrasing in the articles of faiths #3 was just for clarifiication. As you may know the term “salvation” within the LDS Church is defined as exaltation within the celestial kingdom. Many non-LDS Christians do not make this distinction. Being “saved” or what some may call general salvation is being received into any degree or level of glory within the judgment of rewards when the Savior makes up His jewels at the last day. This is common knowledge in the LDS faith not just my opinion. So this is not about my authority to make such claims. I hope this helps.

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  3. Bobby, I couldn’t help but think of your above article when I read the following Christian Research Institute article (see link below). Here’s a pull quote:

    “Francis Schaeffer’s apologetic motto was that we must give “honest answers to honest questions.” First, we must really hear the question being asked or the objection being raised. We must get inside the minds of those who are giving reasons for not following Christ. Each person is different, no matter how common some skeptical objections may be. Don’t reduce people to clichés.”
    http://www.equip.org/articles/six-enemies-of-apologetic-engagement/#christian-books-2

    (with a shout out to Keith Walker for bringing this article to my attention)

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  4. “There seems to be no mention of the temple there too which seems interesting.”

    True that Bobby. It’s also missing some of the five key elements of the archetypal Mormon Testimony which according to Mormon.org is:

    “…the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves us; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is a prophet, which God called to restore Jesus Christ’s church to the earth; that we are led today by a living prophet; and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s Church restored on the earth today.”
    (see http://www.mormon.org/faq/purpose-of-testimony)

    It also is missing MAJOR key elements of the Temple Recommend Interview which are as follows:

    1 Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?

    2 Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?

    3 Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?

    4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

    5 Do you live the law of chastity?

    6 Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

    7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

    8 Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

    9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

    10 Are you a full-tithe payer?

    11 Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?

    12 Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?

    13 If you have previously received your temple endowment:

    Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple?
    Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?

    14 Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?

    15 Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?
    (source = http://mormonthink.com/QUOTES/templerecommend.htm )

    Given the weigh that’s given to these points I would think that they should be in any list of at least LdS (aka “Brighamite”) Essentials. I always get puzzled when they’re missing.

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  5. “Being “saved” or what some may call general salvation is being received into any degree or level of glory within the judgment of rewards when the Savior makes up His jewels at the last day. This is common knowledge in the LDS faith not just my opinion. So this is not about my authority to make such claims. I hope this helps.”

    Thank you that does clarify. However, it also opens up another can of worms since it makes a distinction between general and special salvation. Not all LDS groups hold to Three Degrees of Glory doctrine. And since D&C 132 was never canonized in some of their versions of Doctrine & Covenants Celestial Exaltation isn’t a factor.

    So I think we have to put this into the “Denominational Essential” bucket too.

    Interesting issue isn’t it?

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  6. (continuing from last post)
    Another “essential doctrine” statement that I’ve suggested as a kind of addendum to the AoF is the 1916 “The Father and the Son” (see https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/04/the-father-and-the-son?lang=eng ). However, you have the same problem here that you have with the AoF – vast portions of LdS* theology are missing.

    You wrote, “2) Official doctrine…changed by direct revelation from the Lord . Articles of Faith #9”

    The other problem that we have here is the “what’s official?” question. Donald Ashton suggested this rather long winded suggestion back in 2010 on the StayLDS website: http://www.staylds.com/docs/WhatIsOfficialMormonDoctrine.html

    However, it suffers from the fact that it’s (wait for it, wait for it, wait for it) not official!

    No, here we are again – back at the beginning where we started. We’re really no closer to establishing a set of essential doctrines for the LdS Church than when we started.

    It’s both frustrating and exhilarating isn’t it?

    😉

    * Little “d” this time – since the Father and the Son only applies to the LdS denomination within the LDS Church not all LDS denominations.

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