Weak Arguments #7: “The Book of Mormon doesn’t have a trace of orthodox, mainstream Biblical Christianity in it.” By Fred. W. Anson

BoM-299
An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

The Argument:
“The Book of Mormon doesn’t have a trace of orthodox, mainstream Biblical Christianity in it.”

Why It’s Weak:
As previous articles in this series have pointed out, this argument is weak because it’s untrue.[1]

1) The Book of Mormon is largely orthodox
To segue off of the the last article in this series, from a theological perspective, the biggest problem with the Book of Mormon isn’t the content as much as the origin story and how it’s used by Mormonism – that is, as Joseph Smith’s prophetic credential. If you strip away the baggage of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon origin story you’re left with a piece of Christian literature that’s more akin to “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “The Screwtape Letters” than “Dianetics”. In fact, the following mainstream protestant doctrine can be found in the Book of Mormon:[2]

  • The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is Eternal God. And as such, Christ was neither created or procreated.
  • The Book of Mormon says that God is eternal and unchanging.
  • The Book of Mormon states that God is a Spirit.
  • The Book of Mormon states plainly that there is only one God.
  • The Book of Mormon states plainly that the One God consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that is, the Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity (albeit with a strong modalistic skew).
  • The Book of Mormon states that God created via nothing but His word – that is, “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing).
  • The Book of Mormon condemns Polygamy.
  • The Book of Mormon states that there is only heaven and hell.
  • The Book of Mormon denounces universalism as a “false doctrine”.
  • The Book of Mormon denies that there is a second chance to repent and receive the gospel in the next life.
  • The Book of Mormon states that baptism isn’t an absolute requirement for salvation.
  • The Book of Mormon states that man was created by the power of God’s word not procreated by spirit parents.
  • The Book of Mormon makes a clear distinction between men and angels.
  • The Book of Mormon states clearly that Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world on the cross.

2) The Golden Bible’s “Campbellism Improved”
So, ironically, the Book of Mormon, if properly understood and applied, can actually be of great benefit in arguing against the truth claims, doctrine, and theology of modern Mormonism. That’s because it contains so much 19th Century American Protestantism – “Campbellism” for example.

Campbellism refers to the form of Christian Primitivism developed and taught by Alexander Campbell during the 19th Century Second Great Awakening in America. Essentially the movement claimed that the Christian Church after the death of the Apostles fell into apostasy and needed to be restored to it’s pure, New Testament roots. According to the “Faith Defenders” website other key other Campbellite doctrines include:[3]

Alexander Campbell  (circa 1855)
Alexander Campbell
(circa 1855)
  1. The Christian Church disappeared in the first century. The “true” Gospel was lost at that time.
  2. The Roman Catholic Church and all Protestant Churches are apostate organizations, and are not to be viewed as “Christian” churches.
  3. All the historic creeds and confessions are worthless and should be ignored.
  4. God raised up Alexander Campbell to “restore” the “true” Gospel and to re-establish the Christian Church. He restored the pure “Apostolic” Church.
  5. The Millennium was going to be ushered in during their lifetime by the “Restoration” Movement.
  6. The “true” Gospel teaches that “baptism unto remission of sins” is essential for salvation. The “Restorers” spoke of this as “baptismal regeneration.”
  7. The “baptism” given by all other churches is not saving. You have to be re-baptized in accordance with the Campbellite doctrine of baptism to be saved.
  8. Only Bible names should be used in the name of a church. It is wrong to use such names as Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, etc. Even though they first called themselves “Reformed Baptists,” they later took up such names as “Disciples of Christ,” “the Churches of Christ” and “The Christian Church.”

By the way, on that last one, the original name of the Mormon Church was “The Church of Christ”. And isn’t it interesting that the current name still adheres to this Campellite doctrine as well? Further, did you notice what happens with number four if you substitute “Joseph Smith” for “Alexander Campbell” in it? What are you left with? Answer: Mormonism.

This is nothing new, the fact that Campellism can be found throughout the Book of Mormon is a well established fact. My article “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon” briefly discusses where many of the above doctrines can be found in the Book of Mormon. On the other extreme, Mormon Anthropologist Daymon Smith has written an entire series of books on the subject. The more interesting question is how did so many of Alexander Campbell’s teachings get in there to begin with? Some, particularly proponents of the Spaulding-Rigdon Theory, argue that Campbellite doctrine entered the Book of Mormon through Early Mormon leader and high ranking Campbellite minister, Sidney Rigdon. As Mormon scholar Scott G. Kenney notes:

Both [both Mormons and Rigdon’s Campbellite Church] were restorationist and taught the formula of faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost. Faith was considered to be an intellectual exercise. Both called on believers to come forward and have their sins immediately washed away. The similarities were so striking that one newspaper article carried the headline, “The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved.”

There were differences, to be sure, but they tended to occur at points where Mormons agreed with the Rigdonite critique of Campbellitism. Both Rigdon and Smith believed in a literal and far-ranging restoration that would include prophecy, priesthood authority, and gifts of the Spirit. Smith too believed that the ancient patriarchs and prophets were Christians who were called to prepare the way for Jesus, that the current age was a short preparatory period to prepare for Christ’s millennial reign.[4]

Speculation aside, exactly how the “Golden Bible” (aka The Book of Mormon) became to be equated with “Campbellism” (let alone, the “improved” version) isn’t as important as the fact that it did. And while a lot of Christians don’t think much of Campbellism even to this day, the fact remains that Book of Mormon and Early Mormon teachings were more aligned with the established Christian orthodoxy of Joseph Smith’s day than unaligned.[5]

3) As well as a 19th Century Kitchen Sink
The Book of Mormon also contains parts and pieces of other 19th Century Protestant sources. As Mormon Historian, Grant Palmer notes, “Seventy-five percent of the content of the book [the Book of Mormon] is accounted for by Joseph Smith’s use of six, nineteenth-century sources of which he was very familiar. Twenty-five percent came from the Bible and another twenty-five percent came from the Methodist religion. The remaining twenty-five percent came from three other sources.”[6] For example, let’s consider Mr. Palmer’s analysis of how King Benjamin’s farewell speech parallels one by period Methodist leader Bishop William McKendree.

Methodist camp meeting (1819 engraving) Jacques Gérard Milbert (1766-1840)
Methodist camp meeting (1819 engraving) Jacques Gérard Milbert (1766-1840)

We have not taken Joseph Smith seriously enough when he stated that he had an “intimate acquaintance” with evangelical religion and that he was “ somewhat partial” to the Methodists. Protestant concepts appear to abound in his [Joseph Smith’s] discourses and experiences. For example, a Methodist camp meeting was held one mile from Palmyra, New York, on 7 June 1826 – a pivotal time in Joseph’s life. Preparations for a camp meeting included leasing and consecrating the ground. Thus the “ground within the circle of the tents is considered sacred to the worship of God, and is our chapel.” The Methodists referred to these “consecrated grounds” as their “House of God” or temple. The Palmyra camp meeting reportedly attracted over 10,000 people. Families came from all parts of the 100-mile conference district and pitched their tents facing the raised “stand” where the preachers were seated, including one named Benjamin G. Paddock. This large crowd heard the “valedictory” or farewell speech of their beloved “Bishop M’Kendree [who] made his appearance among us for the last time.” He was the Methodist leader who “had presided” over the area for many years. The people had such reverence for this “sainted” man “that all were melted, and … awed in his presence.” In his emaciated and “feeble” condition, he spoke of his love for the people and then delivered a powerful message that covered “the whole process of personal salvation.” Tremendous unity prevailed among the crowd, and “nearly every unconverted person on the ground” committed oneself to Christ. At the close of the meeting, the blessings and newly appointed “Stations of the Preachers” were made for the Ontario district.

This is reminiscent of King Benjamin’s speech to the Zarahemlans in the Book of Mormon, whose chronicler describes the setting:

The people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the [last] words which [their beloved] king Benjamin should speak unto them … [T]hey pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family … every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple … the multitude being so great that king Benjamin … caused a tower to be erected … [And he said from the platform,] I am about to go down to my grave … I can no longer be your teacher … For even at this time my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you. (Mosiah 2: 1, 5-7, 28-30).[7]

So given The Book of Mormon’s pedigree of cobbled together and plagiarized 19th Century Protestant sources, it’s only natural that it would be filled with at least some orthodox, mainstream Biblical Christianity isn’t it? In actual fact, it’s filled with a lot. Therefore, to say that it’s devoid of any, as the weak argument presented here does, is simply wrong.

The Stronger Arguments:
All of the stronger arguments are basically a variation on just one: “So the Book of Mormon’s got Protestant doctrine in it, so what? Modern Mormonism still can’t be found in it.” Let’s consider the following case study to see how this works tactically:

1) Dr. Ridenhour is right . . . 
Dr. Lynn Ridenhour is a former Liberty University professor and an ordained Southern Baptist Minister who, despite the fact he has never been baptized into any Latter Day Saint church, has a Mormon-style testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. He has been warmly embraced by both Brighamite (that is members of the LdS Church) and Josephite (that is members of the RLDS/Community of Christ church and it’s splinter groups) Mormons as, “a witness of the Restoration”. Consider this excerpt from a BYU article on Dr. Ridenhour:

Shortly thereafter, his new neighbor handed him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Lynn [Ridenhour] retorted, “Sir, that’s a Book of Mormon—I thought this was a Christian community.” Undeterred, the neighbor left the book, and Lynn decided to read it as a courtesy and with the intent of lifting his neighbor out of darkness. Lynn described what happened next: “I opened that precious book of the stick of Joseph, and I did not get out of the first page. When I read, ‘I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,’ I knew! From then on, I knew I was reading the divine word of God, I really did. That was in May of 1985, and I haven’t stopped. I tell my Baptist friends I have been born again—again!”[8]

Dr. Lynn Ridenhour in a BYU TV interview (click to view video)
Dr. Lynn Ridenhour bears testimony in a BYU TV interview
(click to view video)

Every so often Dr. Ridenhour gets rediscovered by Latter-day Saints. They get excited and start touting him as living proof of the veracity of Mormonism as well as the epitome of what a truly honest, spirit-led, and enlightened Protestant/Evangelical Christian looks like.[9] Recently, this was the case when some Mormons rediscovered Dr. Ridenhour’s (circa 2001) article, “The Baptist Version of The Book of Mormon: Protestant Doctrines within the Book of Mormon” in which he outlines the following Baptist doctrines found in the Book of Mormon: Born Again Experience, Plan of Salvation, Plan of Redemption, Salvation, The Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance, Faith, and Grace. Suddenly social media was flooded with posts from Mormons about this exciting new and enlightened Baptist minister who “gets it, really gets it!” And, indeed, the Book of Mormon proof texts that Dr. Ridenhour cites in support of his thesis, if taken strictly at face value, do indeed reflect modern mainstream Protestant doctrine. So Dr. Ridenhour is largely correct when he concludes:

The two go hand in hand, really–Protestant doctrine and the Book of Mormon. They’re not at odds. The Book of Mormon is filled with Protestant cardinal doctrines, believe it or not. In fact, I discovered, the Book of Mormon is more “Baptist” than the Baptist hymnal in places. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s so. I read the Book from cover to cover and found as a Baptist minister, there is absolutely nothing in it that contradicts the Bible.

For example, the book uplifts the blood of Christ (Mosiah 1:118), declares that salvation is only by God’s grace (2 Nephi 7:42), defends the grand theme of salvation (Mosiah 1:108), and proclaims that salvation comes only through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:8,9). Other themes such as repentance, atonement by Christ’s blood, redemption, and forgiveness run like a scarlet thread through the book as well (Alma 3:86, Helaman 2:71, Alma 13:13, Mosiah 2:3,4). Thus, our “tongue ‘n’ cheek” title, The Baptist Version of the Book of Mormon. I’m telling you, the grand themes of Protestantism are found recorded through and through. From cover to cover.[10]

But does he really “get it” folks? Answer: No.

… but so what?
Dr. Ridenhour’s evidence is sound, however, his “leap of faith” conclusion that the book was divinely inspired and testifies of Joseph Smith’s legitimacy as a true prophet of God isn’t. After all isn’t this abundance of 19th Century Protestantism exactly what we would expect to find in the Book of Mormon given the sources that Joseph Smith synthesize, compiled, and plagiarized it from? Why is any of this astounding, surprising, or deserving of over-the-top hyperbolic gushing like . . .

What a book!

Perhaps the late [Mormon educator and writer] John Henry Evans (1872-1947) said it best when he penned an overview of the Prophet’s life with typical nineteenth century eloquence:

“…Here is a man,” says Evan, “who was born in the stark hills of Vermont; who was reared in the backwoods of New York; who never looked inside a college or high school; who lived in six States, no one of which would own him during his lifetime; who spent months in the vile prisons of the period; who, even when he has his freedom, was hounded like a fugitive; who was covered once with a coat of tar and feathers, and left for dead; who, with his following, was driven by irate neighbors from New York to Ohio, from Ohio to Missouri, and from Missouri to Illinois; and who, at the unripe age of thirty-eight, was shot to death by a mob with painted faces.

Yet this man became mayor of the biggest town in Illinois and the state’s most prominent citizen, the commander of the largest body of trained soldiers in the nation outside the Federal army, the founder of cities and of a university, and aspired to become President of the United States.

He wrote a book which has baffled the literary critics for a hundred years and which is today more widely read than any other volume save the Bible…”
Joseph Smith, An American Prophet,
1933 preface

Joseph Smith “…wrote a book which has baffled the literary critics…” So true.[11]

Literary Critic, Harold Bloom
Literary Critic, Harold Bloom

Really? Well, I don’t know of any scholars who are “baffled” by the Book of Mormon. I have no idea where John Henry Evans and Lynn Ridenhour are getting this from. For example, literary critic Harold Bloom (who devoted an entire chapter to Smith entitled, “The Religion-Making Imagination of Joseph Smith” in his book, “The American Religion”) certainly wasn’t baffled when he stated plainly:

With the Book of Mormon, we arrive at the center of Joseph Smith’s prophetic mission, but hardly at any center of Mormonism, because of Smith’s extraordinary capacity for speculative development in the fourteen years that remained to him after its publication. The Book of Mormon was not only his first work; it is the portrait of a self-educated, powerful mind at the untried age of twenty-four. It has bravura, but beyond question it is wholly tendentious and frequently tedious. If one compares it closely to Smith’s imaginings in the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, it seems the work of some other writer, and I don’t mean Mormon or Moroni[12]

So how and why would one conclude that because Joseph Smith was able to put together a 19th Century work of fiction (and one that’s merely a reflection of the Christianity of his time) that he was a prophet of God? Should we declare John Bunyan a prophet for writing “Pilgrim’s Progress”, or C.S. Lewis for writing “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Screwtape Letters”, or “The Space Trilogy”? After all, many moderns sense the same spark of the divine in those books that Mormons do in the Book of Mormon. So if the Book of Mormon is a legitimate prophetic credential for Joseph Smith why aren’t these works for these authors? With all due respect to Dr. Ridenhour, this is beyond an irrational leap of faith – it’s patently absurd!

Using Dr. Ridenhour's criteria for Joseph Smith isn't C.S. Lewis a prophet too?
Using Dr. Ridenhour’s criteria for Joseph Smith isn’t C.S. Lewis a prophet too?

This is especially true when one considers what Smith followed the Book of Mormon with. The Book of Moses, The Book of Commandments, Doctrine & Covenants, The Book of Abraham are filled with heresy of the type that any qualified ordained Southern Baptist minister would and could never endorse – let alone bear witness to someone who as a true prophet of God! Oh, and by the way, the Book of Mormon does indeed contradict the Bible repeatedly – on that point Dr. Ridenhour is simply wrong.[13] OK, but that said, even if I’m generous and go along with his premise that, “the grand themes of Protestantism are found recorded through and through from cover to cover” in the Book of Mormon . . .

So what? Modern Mormonism still can’t be found in it.

Second Suggested Strong Argument: There has to be a Morning After
As noted previously, the other works that Joseph Smith produced both during after the Book of Mormon’s “translation”[14] and publication process were full of heresy. Therefore, after you’re done saying, “So what?” to the Protestantism in the Book of Mormon you can simply focus on the heresies of those later works instead. We’re talking about things like:[15]

  • God the Father was once a man, on another world (Kolob), and progressed to godhood by following perfectly the commands and precepts of his Father God.
  • God the Father is a person with a body of flesh and bones.
  • The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, “one in purpose” only but not one in being.
  • There are a plurality of gods but we only worship the God of this world, God the Father (aka “Heavenly Father”)
  • God the Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and other sons of the Father did not create the universe and earth out of nothing, but “organized” them from eternally existing matter that pre-existed God the Father.
  • The Most faithful and worthy Mormons can progress to godhood in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, where they can obtain their own world and with their wife (or wives) procreate spirit children for eternity.
  • The “new and everlasting covenant” of polygamy is necessary for exaltation to godhood.
  • Mormons who are unmarried in this life and do not marry in the next life, cannot be exalted, but will become servant ministering angels to exalted Mormons in the next life.
  • Every human being will find a place in one of the three degrees of glory (or “heaven” in plain English).
  • Temples and temple ordinances pertaining to endowments are necessary in order to pass through the veil and enter the presence of God the Father, and consist of temple marriage, new names, secret key words and handshakes that will be used as an identification of the person in the next life.
  • Baptisms for the dead must be performed by proxy in this life for those who did not accept the gospel in this life, so that their sins can be forgiven and they can enter the Celestial Kingdom after they accept the Mormon gospel message in the next life.
  • Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother procreated the spirits of every human being that has lived, is now living or will ever live on this earth.
  • The spirits procreated by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother lived with their father on his world as angels in the “pre-existence” before being sent to earth to inhabit human bodies.
  • Jesus Christ is the brother of Lucifer (Satan), every human being past and present, and the angels.
  • Jesus Christ made atonement for sins in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This list was compiled from the article entitled “Mormon Doctrine Not Found in the Book of Mormon”. You will find full documentation for each and all of these non-Book of Mormon heresies there.

Third Suggested Strong Argument: That was Then This is Now
Finally, since the 19th Century Protestant doctrine in the Book of Mormon discredits much modern 21st Century Mormon Doctrine you can make the Book of Mormon your biggest ally. I won’t go into further detail on this here since the prior article in this series contains several tactics and tips on how to do this in the “Stronger Arguments” section. Finally, specific passages from the Book of Mormon that can be used in support of this effort can be found in the article, “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctrine”.

Summary and Conclusion:
This article is weak because it simply isn’t true: The Book of Mormon contains a lot of orthodox, mainstream Biblical Christian doctrine. However, it’s still irrelevant: You still can’t find modern 21st Century Mormonism in the Book of Mormon – in fact the Book of Mormon discredits the Mormonism of today. Once this is realized, the Book of Mormon can actually become your most potent weapon against the heresies of the modern LdS Church. So don’t despise the Book of Mormon, use it!

book_of_mormon-1280x960_edited
This can be your most potent weapon against the heresies of the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

NOTES
[1] See the following:
Fred W. Anson, “Weak Arguments #6: ‘Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.'”
Fred W. Anson, “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctrine”

[2] This list of orthodox Protestant doctrine in the Book of Mormon was originally extrapolated from the article, “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctine”. A fuller explanation of each of these points – including scripture references – can be found there or by using the embedded links I’ve included in the list on key points in the list.

[3] Uncredited, “Faith Defenders” website

[4] Scott G. Kenney, “Sidney Rigdon Mormonism’s Co-founder”

[5] Please see my previous article, “Weak Arguments #6: ‘Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.'”, for a fuller exposition on this.

[6] Grant Palmer, “Six Sources Joseph Smith May Have Used In Composing The Book of Mormon”, MormonThink website.

[7] Grant Palmer, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins” (Kindle Locations 2123-2138). Signature Books. Kindle Edition.

[8] Keith J. Wilson, “A Witness of the Restoration”, BYU Religious Education website.

[9] Here are some things for Mormons to consider in regard to Mr. Ridenhour:

1) Lynn Ridenhour practices Pentecostal-style tongues speaking and thinks that all Mormons should too. Which is why he considers himself more RLDS/CoC than LdS. (see http://www.greaterthings.com/Ridenhour/me_in_restoration/CharismaticRLDS.htm )

2) Mr. Ridenhour has never been baptized into ANY Mormon church – be the LdS Church, the RLDS/CoC, or any other Mormon denomination. He has a small following with the RLDS/CoC folks but that’s about it. He is neither RLDS or LdS, he’s cobbled together his own form of Mormonism – much of which I suspect you would disagree with strongly. (see http://www.greaterthings.com/Ridenhour/Bio/baptized.htm )

3) One reason why Mr. Ridenhour has never been baptized into any Mormon group is because he (like us) has real concerns, issues, and differences with some of the things that Joseph Smith taught after the Book ok Mormon. To my knowledge Mr. Ridenhour has never published anything in this regard but he has told several people (in one-on-one settings, never in a group) this verbally.

Therefore, Mr. Ridenhour is more aligned with the RLDS/CoC stance that at some point Joseph Smith became a fallen prophet rather than the LdS stance that Smith was faithful and true to the end.

I’ve found that most Brighamite Mormons who spend some “quality time” time on Mr. Ridenhour’s websites find their enthusiasm for this “witness of the restoration” waning since he’s not really as aligned with the LdS Church as they had originally thought. Here are the links to those websites:

Lynn Ridenhour (new website) http://www.lynnsbridgebuilding.com/

Lynn Ridenhour’s Winepress Ministries (old website) http://www.greaterthings.com/Ridenhour/

[10] Lynn Ridenhour, “The Baptist Version of The Book of Mormon: Protestant Doctrines within the Book of Mormon”, CenterPlace.org website. Bolding and italics are in the original article. The links to online 1908 RLDS edition of The Book of Mormon have added for this article.

[11] Ibid, Ridenhour.

[12] Harold Bloom, “The American Religion” (Kindle Locations 1184-1189). Chu Hartley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[13] See Sandra Tanner, “Bible and Book of Mormon Contradictions”,
and Luke P. Wilson, “Contradictions Between the Book of Mormon and the Bible”

[14] “Translation” in quotes because a book produced using a seer stone in a hat with source documents nowhere in sight (a folk magic process called “scrying”) can hardly be called “translating” can it? See the LdS Church’s “Book of Mormon Translation” Gospel Topics essay for the faithful perspective and MormonThink.com’s “Translation of the Book of Mormon” essay for a more neutral perspective on this.

[15] Fred W. Anson, “Weak Arguments #6: ‘Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.'”

BACK TO TOP

43 thoughts on “Weak Arguments #7: “The Book of Mormon doesn’t have a trace of orthodox, mainstream Biblical Christianity in it.” By Fred. W. Anson”

  1. Joseph Smith said an interesting thing:

    “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.
    I published the foregoing answers, to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again.” (History of the Church, Vol.3: p.30)

    This Baptist preacher was dumbfounded, actually shocked! I just found out—Joseph Smith believed the same fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith as I. I too believe in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. I once commented, “I could have written that!” to a room full of “Mormons” gathered from various sects; i.e., LDS, Community of Christ, Restoration Branches, Remnant. (Years back I was not aware there were various “brands” of Mormonism. I assumed a Mormon is a Mormon is a Mormon.)

    Back to Joseph’s statement: “The fundamental principles of our religion…concerning Jesus Christ [are] that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven.”

    I went on to say that evening to my Mormon brothers and sisters, “Benny Hinn believes that. Oral Roberts believed that. Billy Graham believes that. Gordon B. Hinckley believed that. President Monson believes that. William Branham believed that. Pope Francis believes that Jesus died, he was buried, he rose, and ascended. Kathryn Kuhlman, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Dallin Oaks, Boyd Packer, Mike Bickle, the Queen of England, and Bob Millet believe that. And I believe that. And (saying to the crowd) I believe you believe that, don’t you?” I received a hearty “Amen!”

    “Well, then…what in the world is the fuss?!” Another hearty “Amen!” from the crowd as applause filled the room.

    That presentation was given on June 16th, 2013, at the “Testimony of the Book of Mormon Conference” held at Stone Church in Independence, MO. Dr. Robert Millet, BYU professor, and I participated in a “tag team” two-evening event. Dr. Millet preached the previous evening on “Christ’s Infinite Atonement.” I preached the following on “What I Have Discovered about the Restoration Movement as a Baptist Minister.” You can listen to that presentation by going to: http://www.lynnsbridgebuilding.com and clicking on “Sermons.” It was recorded.

    I’m often asked to share among my Mormon brothers and sisters. I have spoken in LDS churches, Community of Christ churches and in other restoration groups. Sometimes I’m asked by my Baptist buddies, “Lynn, how can you go out to Utah and preach among those Mormons? Don’t you know what they believe?” I respond, “Yes.”

    “Don’t you know they believe in the doctrine of deification of man? Don’t you know they believe in secret ordinances? And plurality of gods?”

    “Yes, I know that.”

    And then I respond, “Brother Bill, let me ask you a question. You believe in the protestant reformation, don’t you?” I usually get a nod. “The move of God that occurred back in the 1500’s when that Catholic monk nailed his famous Theses to the door?

    Without exception, they say, “Sure I do.” I don’t think I’ve ever met a Protestant who doesn’t believe in the protestant reformation. “So do I, Bill. I believe the reformation was a genuine move of God” And then I say, “even though Martin Luther hated the Jews and wrote and said some despicable things about the Jews. He once said ‘Hell is too good for the Jews.’”

    “Brother Bill, I also believe in the holiness movement. It too was a genuine move of God, even though John Wesley believed in and practiced infant baptismal regeneration. My point is, Brother Bill—all God’s generals are somewhat flawed, including Joseph Smith.”

    Take our biblical characters: Abraham committed adultery with his wife’s maid (trying to help God out). Noah got drunk after coming off the ark. Elisha called down bears to kill a bunch of kids for calling him “baldy.” David committed adultery, then murder. But I still read the Psalms. Solomon didn’t fare well during his elderly years, but I still read Proverbs.

    Back to Joseph’s statement…

    Joseph ends his published announcement with “…and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” In today’s vernacular, “All other things which pertain to our religion are negotiable.”

    C.S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” said an interesting thing: “It’s not that we Christians disagree. It’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements.” A very wise statement. In other words, what’s important to you may not be to me. And vice versa. For example, the Mass ceremony is very important to a Catholic. Not to me (and I don’t mean to sound cavalier). Likewise, the doctrines of the rapture and closed canon are extremely important to a Baptist. Not to an LDS. I could go on. Temple sealings and sacred ordinances are enormously important to a Latter-day Saint. Not to a Methodist. What’s going on?

    I’m making the point C.S. Lewis made—it’s not that we’re disagreeing. It’s that we’re disagreeing on the importance of our disagreements. Joseph put it this way—all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages. Are negotiable. We don’t have to agree on appendages—the non-essentials of the gospel—as important as these doctrines are to each of us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying (neither is Joseph) that teachings of the church which are considered appendages are not important. I’m saying:

    • In essentials, let there be unity
    • In non-essentials, let there be liberty
    • In all things, let there be charity

    The Mormon prophet, I believe, defined the essentials of the gospel: the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord. It is in these essentials we express our unity. It is in these heart-felt convictions that Baptists and Mormons and Catholics have the freedom to embrace and call one another “brother…sister.”

    For me, it comes to this. If Jesus is the Lord of your heart and life and He’s the Lord of my heart and life, we’re family—regardless of creed, class or color. We’re brothers. Brother and sister. I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach unity of the Spirit (Eph.4:3), not conformity of doctrine. Unity is based upon His Lordship. Conformity is based upon doctrinal agreement.

    We must remind ourselves—unity is not conformity. But neither are differences necessarily division.

    Lynn Ridenhour

    Like

    1. Well Lynn, Joseph Smith said also said MANY OTHER interesting things in that same Tuesday, May 8th, 1838 entry in History of the Church, Volume 3 passage (see https://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/hcpgs/hc.aspx?HC=/hc/5/1.html&A=xxxii ) that you somehow missed. Things like:

      “Third—”Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?”

      Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.”
      (p.28)

      “Seventh—”Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?”

      No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom, which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.”
      (p.28)

      NOTE: At the time that Smith wrote this he had secretly taken his first polygamous wive (Fanny Alger) and possibly this second (Lucinda Morgan Harris) as well.

      “Sixteenth—”If the Mormon doctrine is true, what has become of all those who died since the days of the Apostles?”

      All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the Gospel, and being administered unto by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter, before they can be finally judged.”
      (p.29)

      Further, it’s interesting to read what Smith said elsewhere regarding the Apostle, Prophets and Jesus Christ. Things like:

      “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam…Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet”
      (History of the Church, vol. 6, p.408-409)

      “No man can learn you more than what I have told you….I know more than all the world put together…”
      (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p.614; Joseph Smith, Jr., Editor)

      “If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together”
      (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.350-352)

      “…how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age…should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was…I have thought since that I felt much like Paul”
      (from Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:23-24)

      “God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead…and if you don’t like it, you must lump it!”
      (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.363)

      I believe for what you have done here (and I see a lot of it in your work) is called “cherry picking”. When considered in total, Joseph Smith is not as you present as a good pious, largely orthodox, humble, contrite, sincere Christian man who’s out to serve the world altruistically – that is, the glowing picture of Joseph Smith that you paint in your body of work. What emerges from the historical record when taken as a whole is something altogether different

      Further, as I said in my article, “The Book of Moses, The Book of Commandments, Doctrine & Covenants, The Book of Abraham are filled with heresy of the type that any qualified ordained Southern Baptist minister would and could never endorse – let alone bear witness to someone who as a true prophet of God!” And, I would add Lynn, the same thing is true of Joseph Smith’s History of the Church.

      – CONTINUED –

      Like

      1. YOU WROTE:
        This Baptist preacher was dumbfounded, actually shocked! I just found out—Joseph Smith believed the same fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith as I. I too believe in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

        RESPONSE:
        Well, Smith did until around 1834 and then slid quickly into heresy. After that, he used those words but changed the underlying meaning DRAMATICALLY. Lynn, do you really believe the following post 1834 teachings of Joseph Smith and the LdS Church that I listed in my article?

        – God the Father was once a man, on another world (Kolob), and progressed to godhood by following perfectly the commands and precepts of his Father God.

        – God the Father is a person with a body of flesh and bones.

        – The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, “one in purpose” only but not one in being.

        – There are a plurality of gods but we only worship the God of this world, God the Father (aka “Heavenly Father”)

        – God the Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and other sons of the Father did not create the universe and earth out of nothing, but “organized” them from eternally existing matter that pre-existed God the Father.

        – The Most faithful and worthy Mormons can progress to godhood in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, where they can obtain their own world and with their wife (or wives) procreate spirit children for eternity.

        – The “new and everlasting covenant” of polygamy is necessary for exaltation to godhood.

        – Mormons who are unmarried in this life and do not marry in the next life, cannot be exalted, but will become servant ministering angels to exalted Mormons in the next life.

        – Every human being will find a place in one of the three degrees of glory (or “heaven” in plain English).

        – Temples and temple ordinances pertaining to endowments are necessary in order to pass through the veil and enter the presence of God the Father, and consist of temple marriage, new names, secret key words and handshakes that will be used as an identification of the person in the next life.

        – Baptisms for the dead must be performed by proxy in this life for those who did not accept the gospel in this life, so that their sins can be forgiven and they can enter the Celestial Kingdom after they accept the Mormon gospel message in the next life.

        – Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother procreated the spirits of every human being that has lived, is now living or will ever live on this earth.

        – The spirits procreated by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother lived with their father on his world as angels in the “pre-existence” before being sent to earth to inhabit human bodies.

        – Jesus Christ is the brother of Lucifer (Satan), every human being past and present, and the angels.

        – Jesus Christ made atonement for sins in the Garden of Gethsemane.

        (see http://beggarsbread.org/2014/07/06/mormon-doctrine-not-found-in-the-book-of-mormon/ for direct, live link references to sources)

        – CONTINUED –

        Like

      2. Fred,

        I concede I’m “cherry picking” some of the quotes made by Joseph Smith. I do that because I grew up for years in a conservative Baptist church, went to a Southern Baptist college, taught at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and pastored fundamentalist Baptist churches in my earlier days. For the majority of my formative years in the ministry, all I ever heard about Joseph Smith were the “anti-Mormon” quotes from authors like the Tanners and Walter Martin. And I believe I’m typical among most fundamentalist/evangelical Christians today.

        Regarding the sayings of Joseph Smith, I’m simply trying to swing the historical pendulum back to the center. It’s swung, I believe, way too far in the direction of the “anti-Mormons.” Read his sayings (all of them) and then draw your own conclusions concerning the man’s character and ministry. For instance, here are some Joseph Smith quotes I’m convinced my evangelical brothers and sisters in all probability have never read.

        I had no idea Joseph Smith said some of the things he said! (And I believe I’m safe in saying neither do most of my evangelical friends) Sayings such as:

        “Do you believe Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation, which he revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship. I am just as ready to die defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination.” –Joseph Smith, (History of the Church, Vol.5: p.498)

        “The Son of God came into the world to redeem it from the fall. But except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all men’s religion.” –Joseph Smith, (History of the Church, Vol.1: p.282)

        “There is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter the Kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is in vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
        Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.198)

        “We were visited by some ladies and gentlemen. One of the women came up and very candidly inquired of the troops which of the prisoners was the Lord whom the ‘Mormons’ worshiped. One of the guards pointed to me with a significant smile and said, ‘This is he.’ The woman then turning to me inquired whether I professed to be the Lord and Savior. I replied that I professed to be nothing but a man and a minister of salvation, sent by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel. This answer so surprised the woman that she began to inquire into our doctrine, and I preached a discourse both to her and her companions and to the wondering soldiers, who listened with almost breathless attention while I set forth the doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance, and baptism for remission of sins, with the promise of the Holy Ghost, as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.” –Joseph Smith, (RLDS Vol.2, pp.285-86)

        “It is one thing to see the kingdom of God, and another thing to enter into it. We must have a change of heart to see the kingdom of God…” –Joseph Smith, (History of the Church, Vol.6: p.58) (End of quotes)

        My concern is a larger one than trading quotes. I’m concerned about God’s perspective toward Joseph Smith. What did he think? I’m aware of all Joseph’s warts. I’m also aware of all of David’s warts. Nevertheless, here’s what God says and thinks of David:

        “He [God] raised up for them [Israel] David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” [underline mine] (Acts 13:22).

        We know that’s not factually and historically true. David did not do “all” God’s will. Putting aside his adulterous affair and his murder, here’s a partial list of David’s failures:

        After Saul turned on David, David’s time of favor came to a quick close. He ran from the king’s palace, fearing for his life. David questioned the great prophecies over his life. He doubted his life would be spared. Saul raised up three thousand of his men to hunt David down and kill him. Because David was full of fear, he devised a plan of escape.

        But instead of calling upon his God, he ran into the enemy’s camp and hid from King Saul. He was afraid to stay in Israel, though he was called to be its king. David was so terrified that he actually decided he would be safer living among the enemies of Israel. David moved among the Philistines. He knew Saul was too cowardly to chase him into the camps among the Philistines, so David went to the king of the Philistines, Achish, and lived among them. David, the great worshiper of God, joined the enemies of Israel.

        Before God made David king, he fell into a life of great compromise while living in the Philistine city of Ziklag. David chose worldly safety over God’s will. And to make things worse, he promised his loyalty to King Achish, an archenemy of Israel. I Sam.27:5-7:

        David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country that I may dwell there. So King Achish gave him Ziklag that day. Now the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was one full year and four months.”

        David has sunk pretty low. He begins to lie and deceive in ways never before. He and his 300 men would go and raid the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites, who were enemies of Israel. Whenever David attacked them, he killed everybody so there were no witnesses to rat him out to King Achish. David would burn everything and scamper back to Achish and lie about what he had done, saying he had fought against Israel when in truth he was conquering the enemies of Israel. David boldly lied to Achish every time. And the king believed him, saying “David is making Israel utterly hate him.” The king believed David would be loyal to him from now on. All the time, David was deceiving him for over a year. (End of list)

        Then what’s going on? God’s testimony of David is: he’s a man after mine own heart and he’s a man “who will do all my will.” God’s words.

        I call it God’s editing process. David repented. Repentance cleans the slate of our resume. And God writes his own resume about us.

        God saw David for what he was. Not for what he wasn’t. David wasn’t an adulterer and a murderer. Not really. No, God did not stick his head in the sand when it came to David’s hypocrisy and orneriness? Did God stick his head in the sand when it came to Joseph’s hypocrisy, weaknesses and failures? No. Nor does he turn his head regarding our own weaknesses, sins and failures.

        It’s just—God saw David for what he really was. Not for what he wasn’t. Likewise, I believe God saw Joseph for what he was. Not for what he wasn’t.

        And God uses his big eraser with us.

        Like

      3. Lynn, could you please show us where David taught a heresy on an essential of the faith like polytheism? (see Book of Abraham 4) Lynn could you show where David conveniently received revelations that justified his sin so there was no need to repent for his in? (see D&C 132) Lynn could you show us there David fulfilled every test for a false not the least of which being this one:

        Deut 13 (NKJV)
         “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which 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 know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 

        And Joseph Smith not only taught other gods he BRAGGED about doing so:

        “I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is… God himself was once as we are now and is an exalte
        d man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret…I am going to tell you how God came to be God.

        We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so
        that you may see”
        (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345; The King Follett Discourse)

        Lynn, your “God with the big eraser” isn’t a fool and told us to EXACTLY what to do when such a False Prophet arises:

        “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (Deut 13:3)

        Further, God tells

        for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

        Like

      1. Well my only guess would be that you belong to the orthodox faith, since you do suggest that the Mormon faith branched off from them. However, that does not mean that you belong to the orthodox faith, merely that your opinion implies that the Mormon and Orthodox faith have a lot in common.

        Like

      2. @Brenkmanr654, I would encourage you to get and read this book to gain a good understanding of where Mormonism really came from:

        Whitney R. Cross, “The Burned-over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850”
        http://smile.amazon.com/Burned-over-District-Intellectual-Enthusiastic-1800-1850/dp/0801492327

        You’re correct that Mormonism was a by-product of 19th Century Protestant Restorationism but you’re incorrect that it “branched off” from it. As stated in the article, Mormonism was always considered heretical due to Joseph Smith’s extraordinary claims about his prophetic calling as well as the blatantly fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon origin story. Mormonism has NEVER, I repeat NEVER, been considered a branch or derivation of mainstream Christianity due to this. As I said in the previous article in this series:

        “Simply put, if Smith’s original prophetic credential (and the one that Mormon Missionaries still use today) falls, so does Smith. And if Smith falls, so does Mormonism. Even Mormon leaders agree on this point, for example, the tenth president of the LdS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith said:

        Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.(bolding added)[11]

        The twin issues of Smith’s character and the Book of Mormon were the primary arguments that were made against Mormonism back in the early 1830’s when Mormon doctrine was still largely orthodox.”
        (see Weak Arguments #6: “Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.”; http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2014/12/02/weak-arguments-6-mormon-doctrine-was-heretical-from-the-very-beginning-by-fred-w-anson/ )

        And in term of modern Mormonism as the Ostlings said so well in “Mormon American”:

        “…it is ‘surely wrong’ to see Mormonism as a Christian derivative in the way that Christianity is a Jewish derivative, because the LDS faith is ‘in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity.'”
        (Richard Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America”, p. 324; http://smile.amazon.com/Mormon-America-Rev-Richard-Ostling-ebook/dp/B000WJS9GQ/)

        Now with that foundation laid, I will address the specifics of your last comment.

        Like

      3. @Brenkmanr654, you wrote:
        “Well my only guess would be that you belong to the orthodox faith, since you do suggest that the Mormon faith branched off from them.”

        I have already dealt with the errrant “the Mormon faith branched off from them” comment in my last post. The answer to that claim is: Nope, didn’t happen. Smith stole and plagairized from 19th American Restorationism in general and the Campellites in particular, nothing more. By doing so he started a NEW religion that was unique – it was neither Jewish or Christian and is more akin to Islam. As Catholic Scholar Richard John Neuhaus stated well:

        “…Mormonism is inexplicable apart from Christianity and the peculiar permutations of Protestant Christianity in nineteenth-century America. It may in this sense be viewed as a Christian derivative. It might be called a Christian heresy, except heresy is typically a deviation within the story of the Great Tradition that Mormonism rejects tout court.”

        Continuing, Neuhaus goes on to explain:
        “For missionary and public relations purposes, the LDS may present Mormonism as an ‘add-on,’ a kind of Christianity-plus, but that is not the official narrative and doctrine.

        A closer parallel might be with Islam. Islam is a derivative of Judaism, and Christianity. Like Joseph Smith, Muhammad in the seventh century claimed new revelations and produced in the Quran a ‘corrected’ version of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, presumably by divine dictation. Few dispute that Islam is a new and another religion, and Muslims do not claim to be Christian, although they profess a deep devotion to Jesus. Like Joseph Smith and his followers, they do claim to be the true children of Abraham. Christians in dialogue with Islam understand it to be an interreligious, not an ecumenical, dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue is dialogue between Christians. Dialogue with Mormons who represent official LDS teaching is interreligious dialogue.”
        (as quoted in, “If Mormonism Isn’t Christian Then What Is It?”; http://beggarsbread.org/2012/01/01/if-mormonism-isnt-christian-then-what-is-it/ )

        That said, if by “orthodox faith” you mean, we adhere to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith as identified and defined by the bible you would be correct. The fourth article in this series was on that subject:

        Weak Arguments #4: “The Bible says that my sectarian, partisan, non-essential doctrine is the only true truth!”
        http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2014/10/19/weak-arguments-4-the-bible-says-that-my-sectarian-partisan-non-essential-doctrine-is-the-only-true-truth-by-fred-w-anson/

        YOU WROTE:
        “However, that does not mean that you belong to the orthodox faith…”

        MY RESPONSE:
        I’m sorry Mr. brenkmanr654 but over 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy says otherwise. Anyone who adheres to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith is an “orthodox Christian” that’s just the way it is. I don’t make the rules and neither do you.

        YOU WROTE:
        “…merely that your opinion implies that the Mormon and Orthodox faith have a lot in common.”

        MY RESPONSE:
        OK, let me get this straight Mr. Brenkmanr654: You’re just worked through a nearly 5,000 word article with expert analysis from both Christian AND Latter-day Saint scholars and clear supporting evidence from the historical record (that’s fully footnoted so the reader can check and validate sources) and that’s your conclusion? I have consensus – again from BOTH Mormon and non-Mormon scholars – and supporting evidence backing my “opinion”.
        (Oh and BTW, there’s more where that came from – a LOT more)

        What have you got backing your opinion? I’m not seeing anything except words without any supporting evidence backing them at all.

        So where’s your supporting evidence Mr. Brenkmanr654? Let’s see it.

        Like

      4. You Wrote:
        I’m sorry Mr. brenkmanr654 but over 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy says otherwise. Anyone who adheres to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith is an “orthodox Christian” that’s just the way it is. I don’t make the rules and neither do you.
        Response:
        So let me get this straight Catholics, Methodists, Baptists etc. Are considered to be “orthodox Christians”, Right?

        Like

      5. @brenkmanr654 you wrote:
        “So let me get this straight Catholics, Methodists, Baptists etc. Are considered to be “orthodox Christians”, Right?”

        RESPONSE:
        Yes. As long as their theology is in compliance with the Essential Doctrines of the Christian faith they are orthodox Christians.

        BTW, you could have answered that question yourself simply by reading the 4th article in this series and applying the principles therein. Have you read it?

        And for your convenience, that link is: http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2014/10/19/weak-arguments-4-the-bible-says-that-my-sectarian-partisan-non-essential-doctrine-is-the-only-true-truth-by-fred-w-anson/

        Like

      6. @brenkmanr654, you wrote: “So if I ask any of my friends who are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist etc… if they are “orthodox Christians”, they will say yes, Right?”

        RESPONSE:
        I don’t know, I’m not your friends.

        Just as theological literacy levels vary in Mormonism they vary in mainstream Christianity too. Your theologically ignorant Christians might say “No” to one or more of them, but that says more about their ignorance than anything else. In order to answer the question accurate one would have to have enough knowledge of all three theological systems to make an accurate assessment.

        However, those who theologically literate would generally agree that all the groups in your list are orthodox. The exception in some cases might be some Protestants who disagree with the Roman Catholic Church being in the list due to the unofficial doctrine of conditional grace that’s taught by some Catholic leaders. Some might also argue that the Roman Catholic Church has taken too much liberty on non-essentials thus pushing into an unorthodox position. For example, the doctrine of Mary as taught by some Catholics – including some past Popes is very concerning. However, OFFICIALLY and generally the Roman Catholic Church meets the criteria for orthodoxy. Even Martin Luther agreed with this.

        However, that said, I seriously doubt that any of your friends are sophisticated enough to have nuanced the issue out as I just have. If they were they would have explained all this to you long ago and you wouldn’t need to ask me these questions now.

        Further, there are extremists everywhere – neither the Mormon or Christian church is exempt from that. Finally, there are far too many on both sides of the divide who can only see things in either black or white – they lack the ability to nuance. I’m kinda getting the impression that you’re one of those Brenkmanr654.

        Oh and BTW, brenkmanr654, we’re stilling waiting for the supporting evidence that I asked for two posts ago.

        Thanks.

        Like

      7. There’s a reason they’re called the ESSENTIAL doctrines of the Christian faith. Brenkmanr654. If you’re not in compliance you are believing and/or teaching something other than Christianity.

        Now a question for you:

        Please tell us, what are the essential doctrines of the Mormon faith?

        Like

      8. Fred W. Anson
        You wrote:
        Please tell us, what are the essential doctrines of the Mormon faith?
        Response:
        All the doctrines, principles, ordinances etc… that are taught in the Mormon Faith are essential. It just depends on who you are, and what your opinion is. For you cannot build a puzzle if you don’t have all the pieces, and the same goes for the LDS church. All our teachings connect with each other, in order to complete what we believe in. And so Fred, the question should not be what are the essential doctrines of the Mormon faith? But rather it should be how are the doctrines of the Mormon faith essential?

        Like

      9. @Brenkmanr654, you wrote: “And so Fred, the question should not be what are the essential doctrines of the Mormon faith?”

        RESPONSE:
        Respectfully, please don’t play that obfuscating Robert Millet, “Answer the question that they SHOULD have asked rather than the question that they asked” game with me.
        (for those who don’t understand the Robert Millet reference please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zA-rZQB-xQ )

        I have asked the question that I would like answered. Please answer it rather than dodging, deflecting, or obfuscating. I’ve given you a clear, concise, list of the Essential Doctrines of the Christian faith. Now let’s see the Mormon equivalent.

        Thanks.

        Like

      10. Fred if you would like a list then I would exhort you to study and ponder the 13 Articles of faith, which can be found at the back of your Book of Mormon (if you have a copy), or on the LDS websites (lds.org, mormon.org, etc…).
        Quick question:
        The churches that have broken off from the LDS church are considered to be what? Are they Mormons, “orthodox Christians”, or other?

        Like

      11. @Brenkmanr654, you wrote: “if you would like a list then I would exhort you to study and ponder the 13 Articles of faith, which can be found at the back of your Book of Mormon (if you have a copy), or on the LDS websites (lds.org, mormon.org, etc…).”

        RESPONSE:
        Thank you. Actually I’m quite familiar with the AoF which says:

        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.

        – continued –

        Like

      12. (continued from last post)

        @Brenkmanr654, you wrote: “Quick question: The churches that have broken off from the LDS church are considered to be what? Are they Mormons, “orthodox Christians”, or other?”

        RESPONSE:
        Well Brenkmanr654, that’s a tall order since there have been over 400 LDS denominations since the LDS Church was founded in 1830. I don’t know them all intimately so I can’t answer for all 400+. However, I do know the RLDS/Community of Christ (aka “CoC”) fairly well and the FLDS somewhat well.

        In terms of being orthodox, The CoC largely adheres to the Essentials of the Christian Faith BUT is still holding onto the Book of Mormon and D&C as canonized scripture. They also still consider the false prophet Joseph Smith a true prophet of God. Due to these two things I know of no Christian church that considers them orthodox. In a nutshell, the CoC holds to pre-1835 Mormon doctrine which puts them into the same category as that church was. Christians from 1830-1835 didn’t accept Joseph Smith’s church as fully Christian so neither do I. Personally, as far as I’m concerned, as soon as they decanonize the BoM and D&C and renounce Joseph Smith and his false teachings at that point I would have no problem calling them orthodox, however, this is my opinion only.

        In terms of the FLDS, they’re easy: They don’t adhere to the Essentials of the Christian Faith so, no, they’re not an orthodox Christian church.

        NOW, that said, since BOTH groups DO adhere to the essential doctrines of the Latter Day Saint Faith that you’ve given – that is, The Articles of Faith – they ARE Mormon, correct? In fact, all the Mormon denominations that I know of would agree with and adhere to the AoF, so they’re ALL Mormon, correct?

        I will anxiously be awaiting your answer. Thanks.

        Like

      13. BTW, for anyone who’s interested, this book is considered the definitive work in regard to listing the various and sundry Mormon Denominations. Since it was published in 1990 a few more have sprung up but it’s still the best despite it’s age:
        http://smile.amazon.com/Divergent-Paths-Restoration-Steven-Shields/dp/0942284135

        And here’s a partial listing for those denominations for those who are interested:

        MORMON SPLINTER GROUPS
        (Sects that broke away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

        FOUNDED BETWEEN 1830 AND 1844
        * Pure Church of Christ, Wycam Clark, 1831
        * The Independent Church, Hoton, 1832
        * Church of Christ, Ezra Booth, 1836
        * Church of Christ, Warren Parrish, 1837
        * The Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride, The Lamb’s Wife, George M. Hinkle, 1840
        * Church of Christ, Hyrum Page, 1842
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, F. Gladden Bishop
        * True Church of Jessu Christ of Latter Day Saints, Law, Foster, Higbee, 1844
        * Church of Christ, William Chubby

        NON-EXTANT MOVEMENTS FOUNDED 1844-1860
        * Church of Christ / Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion, Sidney Rigdon, 1844
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, James Emmett, 1844
        * Church of Christ, S. B. Stoddard, Leonard Rich, James Bump, 1845
        * Indian Mormon, 1846
        * Church of Christ, William McLellin, David Whitmer, 1847
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, William Smith, 1847
        * Congregation of Jehovah’s Presbytery of Zion, Charles B. Thompson, 1848
        * Church of Christ, James C. Brewster, 1848
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lyman Wight, 1849
        * The Bride, The Lamb’s Wife or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jacob Syfritt, 1850
        * Church of Christ, Hazen Aldrich, 1851

        EXTANT MOVEMENTS
        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, James J. Strang, 1844
        * Church of Christ, Aaron Smith, 1846
        * Church of the Messiah, George J. Adams, 1861
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
        * Holy Church of Jesus Christ, Alexandre R. Caffiaux
        * House of Ephraim and House of Manasseh of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jerry Sheppard
        * The True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, David L. Roberts
        * Marriage Counseling Group
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, John J. Hajicek
        * Strangite Believers in Pennsylvania

        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, 1847
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Church of the First Born, Joseph Morris, 1861
        * The Prophet Cainan or Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Most High God, George Williams, 1862
        * Morrisite Group, John Livingston, 1864
        * Church of Zion, William S. Godbe, 1868
        * Church of the First Born, George S. Dove, 1874
        * Priesthood Groups (Fundamentalists), 1890
        * United Order of Equality, Ephraim Peterson, 1909
        * The Church of Jesus Christ of Israel, J. H. Sherwood
        * Order of Aaron, Maurice L. Glendenning
        * Church of Freedom of Latter Day Saints, 1950s
        * Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Marl V. Kilgore, 1951
        * The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Joel F. LeBaron
        * The Church of the Firstborn, Ross W. LeBaron, 1955
        * Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter Day Saints, William C. Conway, 1958
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, John Forsgren, 1960
        * Church of Jesus Christ, William Goldman, 1960
        * LDS Scripture Researchers/Believe God Society, Sherman Russell Lloyd, 1965
        * The Church of the Body and of the Spirit of Jessu Christ, Max Powers, 1965
        * United Order of the Saints of Guadeloupe, Michel Gamiette, 1966
        * United Order of the Family of Christ, David E. Desmond, 1966
        * Split from Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Eldon Taylor, 1969
        * Homosexual Church of Jesus Christ, Denver, Colorado, 1972
        * Latter Day Saints Church, N.S. Park, 1972
        * The Church of the Lamb of God, Ervil M. LeBaron, 1972
        * The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mikhail Krupenia, 1972
        * The New Jerusalem Group, Kathryn Carter, 1972
        * The Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel, Miltenberg, Braun, 1973
        * Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly, Alexnader Joseph, 1974
        * Evangelical Church of Christ, Church of the New Covenant in Christ, John W. Bryant, 1974
        * Split form Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Barton Kilgore, 1975
        * Affirmation, 1975
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Robert Simons, 1975
        * Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Bruce Wakeham, 1975
        * Aaronic Order Break-off, 1977
        * Christ’s Church, Inc., Gerald Peterson, 1978
        * Church of Jesus Christ, Art Bulla, 1978
        * The Restorers or School of the Prophets, Robert C. Crossfield, 1979
        * Zion’s First International Church, LeeAnn Walker, 1980
        * The Free Will Mormon Church, Franklin Lee Coleman, 1980
        * Church of Jesus Christ, Jorge Mora, 1981
        * Sons Ahman Israel, Davied Israel, 1981
        * Samoan LDS Church, New Zealand, 1981
        * The Millennial Church of Jesus Christ, Leo P. Evoniuk, 1981
        * Peyote Way Church of God, Immanuel P. Trujillo, 1981
        * The Chruch of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion, Ken Asay, 1984
        * Break from the Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly, 1984
        * Church of Jesus Christ of All Latter-day Saints or Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, Antonio A. Feliz, 1985
        * Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, Robert P. Madison, 1985
        * Church of Christ the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Siegfried J. Widmar, 1985
        * Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Fundamentalists, Wight Family, 1985
        * Mormon Fundamentalists, England, Alan and Marian Munn, 1986
        * Church of Jesus Christ Omnipotent, 1987
        * Community of Zion, Central Utah Division
        * Church of the First Born, General Assembly

        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ, Alpheus Cutler, 1853
        * Church of Jesus Christ, Clyde Fletcher, 1953
        * The Restored Church of Jesus Christ, Eugene O. Walton, 1979

        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1851-1860
        * Church of the Christian Brotherhood, Richard C. Evans, 1917
        * The Church of Christ, the Order of Zion, John Zahnd, 1918
        * The Church of Jesus Christ, Thomas W. Williams, 1925
        * Church of Jesus Christ Restored, Stanley M. King, 1970
        * New Jerusalem Church of Jesus Christ, Barney Fuller, 1975
        * Church of Christ Restored, Paul Fishel, 1976
        * True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Forrest Toney, 1980
        * Church of the Restoration or Churches of Christ in Zion, Robert Chambers, 1981
        * Lamanite Ministries for Christ or New Covenant Ministries for Christ, 1984
        * Restoration Branches Movement, 1984
        * Church of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, A. Lee Abramson, 1985
        * Church of Jesus Christ, Zion’s Branch, John Cato, 1986
        * Church of Christ, David Clark, 1986
        * Independent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Christopher C. Warren, 1986
        * Native Indian Church

        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ, William Bickerton, 1862
        * Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, Allen Wright, 1907
        * Primitive Church of Jesus Christ, James Caldwell, 1914

        Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of Church of Christ (Temple Lot), Granville Hedrick, 1863
        * Church of Christ, Independent, Informal, Frank F. Wipper, 1927
        * The Church of Christ, Otto Fetting, 1929
        * Church of Christ, P.A. Ely, 1929
        * Church of Christ, C.W. Humphrey, 1929
        * Church of Christ, Samuel Wood, E.J. Trapp, 1930
        * Church of Christ (Restored), A.C. DeWolf, 1936
        * Church of Christ, E. E. Long, Thomas Nerren, 1936
        * Church of Christ, Paul Hilgendorf, 1942
        * The Church of Christ With the Elijah Message, W. A. D. Draves, 1943
        * Church of Christ, Pauline Hancock, 1946
        * Antarctica Development Interests or the New American’s Mount Zion, John Leabo, 1955
        * Church of Christ at Zion’s Retreat, Gerald Hall, 1973
        * The Church of Israel, Dan Gayman, 1973
        * Break from the Church of Christ (Hancock), Davison, Michigan, 1973
        * The Church of Christ, Restored Gospel 1929, 1985

        Recommended reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sects_in_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

        Like

  2. There’s actually a huge key element of the gospel missing there, and it’s so prevalent throughout the New Testament that to miss it IS, by definition, to miss the gospel. That element is “whosoever believeth ON Him”.

    Really, our English translations often miss the nuance involved. The Greek word from which we often translate “in” or “on” is the word “eis.” A more literal interpretation of that Greek word in English would be “into.” Therefore, one must believe INTO Jesus.

    Well, what does that mean? The rest of the New Testament expounds on what that belief INTO Jesus entails:

    “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
    -Ephesians 2:8-10

    “5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
    -Titus 3:5

    Inclusive in those essentials is BELIEF. One must believe not only that Jesus lived, was crucified, rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven seated at the right hand of the Father. One must also believe that Christ is ALL-SUFFICIENT to pay the price for his sins and grant him eternal life. One must surrender all hope of achieving salvation through any personal merits, even if only in part.

    Frankly, that’s what the Protestants were willing to fight and die for. Furthermore, many Christians have been willing not only to fight and die for those concepts, but also to separate from those who will not. This is why a greater part of the Bible-believing population of Evangelicals refuse to walk in fellowship with groups such as the LDS. To deny Jesus’ all-sufficiency is to deny the gospel.

    Like

  3. “…Really, our English translations often miss the nuance involved. The Greek word from which we often translate “in” or “on” is the word “eis.” A more literal interpretation of that Greek word in English would be “into.” Therefore, one must believe INTO Jesus.””

    Point well taken.

    Like

  4. (continued from last comment to Lynn Ridenhour)

    YOU WROTE:
    I once commented, “I could have written that!” to a room full of “Mormons” gathered from various sects; i.e., LDS, Community of Christ, Restoration Branches, Remnant. (Years back I was not aware there were various “brands” of Mormonism. I assumed a Mormon is a Mormon is a Mormon.)

    RESPONSE:
    And? So what Lynn?

    Not everything that Joseph Smith wrote was wrong – however, most of it was. I don’t see you citing much from his later body of work – if you wrote you would be condemned by orthodox Christians as a heretic and anathematized as Smith, very correctly, is.

    YOU WROTE:
    Back to Joseph’s statement: “The fundamental principles of our religion…concerning Jesus Christ [are] that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven.”

    I went on to say that evening to my Mormon brothers and sisters, “Benny Hinn believes that. Oral Roberts believed that. Billy Graham believes that. Gordon B. Hinckley believed that. President Monson believes that. William Branham believed that. Pope Francis believes that Jesus died, he was buried, he rose, and ascended. Kathryn Kuhlman, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Dallin Oaks, Boyd Packer, Mike Bickle, the Queen of England, and Bob Millet believe that. And I believe that. And (saying to the crowd) I believe you believe that, don’t you?” I received a hearty “Amen!”

    “Well, then…what in the world is the fuss?!” Another hearty “Amen!” from the crowd as applause filled the room.

    RESPONSE:
    Well, Lynn, let me first disclose that like you I am a Charismatic Christian so you understand that I am sympathetic to Pentecostalism and practice the gifts myself. However, speaking as a Charismatic Christian I am apalled at some of the names on your list of “orthodox” Christians:

    – Benny Hinn – heretic, repeatedly publicly censured and condemned by even fellow Charismatics.
    – Oral Roberts – delivered several false prophecies, engaged in unethical fund raising, taught errant doctrine
    – William Branham – heretic, repeatedly publicly censured and condemned by even fellow Pentecostals.
    – Charles Finney – ditto.
    – Mike Bickle – ditto.

    And, Lynn, all one has to do to see that we Charismatics aren’t the most discerning or theologically grounded Christians on the planet is open up a copy of “Charisma” magazine and look at the advertisements. Sadly, our movement and tradition is troubled by many, many, many, heresies and errors – and has been since Caine Ridge. That said, I *will* agree that Joseph Smith belongs in the list with those other Pentecostal Heretics since, as I have written previously, all Mormons are are “Pentecostals Gone Bad”. I have written two articles on this thus far:

    http://beggarsbread.org/2012/09/09/mormons-pentecostals-gone-bad/
    http://beggarsbread.org/2012/09/11/mormons-pentecostals-gone-bad-the-sequel/

    YOU WROTE:
    That presentation was given on June 16th, 2013, at the “Testimony of the Book of Mormon Conference” held at Stone Church in Independence, MO. Dr. Robert Millet, BYU professor, and I participated in a “tag team” two-evening event. Dr. Millet preached the previous evening on “Christ’s Infinite Atonement.” I preached the following on “What I Have Discovered about the Restoration Movement as a Baptist Minister.” You can listen to that presentation by going to: http://www.lynnsbridgebuilding.com and clicking on “Sermons.” It was recorded.

    RESPONSE:
    First, The Stone Church in Independence, MO is a Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) church (see http://www.stone-church.org/history.html ). You were speaking to RLDS Mormons – a sympathetic crowd. I would love, dearly love, to see you try that same line and tactic at the Baptist Church up the street. Or even the Foursquare or Assemblies of God church for that matter!

    So you, an ordained Baptist Minister, exonerated and excused the false prophet Joseph Smith in front of a group of his followers? And we’re supposed to be impressed? Lynn, this incident proves nothing other than a room full of RLDS Mormons were thrilled to have their false prophet validated and excused by a rather (IMO foolish) Baptist minister!

    And, just a tip for future reference, dropping Robert Millet’s name in Christian Mormon Studies circles isn’t going to get you much more than eye rolls. Yes, he’s using and manipulating you just like he uses and manipulates Greg Johnson and Richard J. Muow – how and why is that supposed to impress us? As I said of Dr. Millet in my review of Richard J. Mouw’s book on Mormonism:

    “BYU Professor, Robert Millet, who is featured prominently throughout the book, has regularly been “caught in the act” [of “Lying for the Lord”]. Numerous examples could be cited for Mr. Millet but probably the most dramatic example was his presentation to a group of LdS Missionaries preparing for their 2-year mission in which he coaches them on “how to handle anti-Mormon criticism”[see http://newnewsnet.byu.edu/flv/overcomingobjections.html ]

    In this video Millet speaks about how to handle the tough “anti-Mormon” questions missionaries may face while on their missions (or afterward) using tactics like: “We never provide meat when milk will do”, in other words obfuscation; “We seek to answer any serious question by finding the most direct route to the Sacred Grove”, in other words redirection; “Don’t answer the question they ask, answer the question they should have asked”, in other words deflection. And while we’re not privy to the private sessions between Mouw and Millet’s “teams” it seems reasonable to expect that the Millet team engages in such tactics.”
    (source = http://beggarsbread.org/2012/08/13/scolasticus-cum-peter-principle/)

    – CONTINUED –

    Like

    1. Fred,

      The reason I’m not so quick to brand certain individuals as heretics (i.e.,) Benny Hinn, William Branham and Oral Roberts) is: I honor their work in the Lord. Yes, I’m aware of some of the inane sayings and teachings of Benny Hinn. I have also been in his crusades where many were helped and genuinely healed.

      I’m aware of Oral Roberts’ September 1980 vision of a 900-foot tall Jesus. I’m also aware of his Christian University which has graduated numerous Christian doctors, lawyers, educators, businessmen and women. And the hospital that has been such a blessing with a staff of some of the best physicians America has to offer. In other words,I honor and celebrate his work. No, I don’t celebrate his flaws. I do celebrate his life for two reasons: 1) he was made in the image of God, and 2) his ministry served others.

      I’m also aware of some of William Branham’s beliefs, such as in the later years of his ministry, believed he was the re-incarnation of Elijah and his ministry. But I am also aware of his crusades where, again, many were helped, healed, and blessed. I honor his work and life.

      I honor these men’s lives. And believe by God’s goodness, they operated in His giftings and callings. As we say here in Missouri, “God is not an Indian giver.” (That’s a Midwest USA colloquialism, which means God does not take back his gifts he bestows on his children–even with their flaws.)

      My feeling is—if we brand these men heretics because of their flaws, then, by the same logic, we must brand David and Solomon as heretics. Both practiced polygamy. I look at the entirety of their lives. I still read and am blessed daily by the Psalms. I still receive so much of my practical advice for living from reading Solomon’s Proverbs. I honor David’s and Solomon’s work. I honor their calling. Likewise, I honor Benny Hinn, William Branham, and Oral Roberts. I too honor these men’s callings.

      Like

      1. YOU WROTE:
        Both practiced polygamy.

        RESPONSE:
        Lynn, polygamy isn’t condemned in the Bible. Rather, it’s tolerated in much the same way that divorce is. So your point is in error.

        YOU WROTE:
        My feeling is—if we brand these men heretics because of their flaws, then, by the same logic, we must brand David and Solomon as heretics.

        RESPONSE:
        You seriously can’t make a distinction between, flaws, sins, callings, and teachings? Seriously Lynn? Really?

        Heresy is based on what you TEACH not what you do or your calling. Neither David or Solomon taught heresy, Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, William Branham all did. Again, James 3:1 (NKJV):

        My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

        Lynn, these men are heretics. The Bible tells us that we are to turn away from them NOT honor them.

        Again, you are in blatant disobedience to God’s Word.

        Like

      2. Finally, the “look at all the good” rationalization has been so overused by errant Christians – both in general and by Pentecostal Christians in particular that I has absolutely no effect on me any more. Simply put it’s an excuse to continue in error and nothing more. And those who use it aren’t doing their errant brothers and sisters in Christians any favors by enabling them for the sake of “all the good”.

        For example you mentioned Oral Robert’s hospital, “that has been such a blessing with a staff of some of the best physicians America has to offer.” To which I can only reply “Hospital? What hospital?”

        “The [City of Faith] hospital accepted its first patient in November 1981. By 1986 the City of Faith was losing over $10 million per year. In 1987, with costs spiraling out of control, the medical center went largely vacant. Roberts told a television audience unless he raised $8 million by March, God would “call him home” (a euphemism for death). The donations goal was reached but Roberts soon began looking for buyers or people to manage the facility. In 1989, only eight years after it opened, the City of Faith was $25 million in debt and Roberts closed the hospital. The last patient left on 16 October.[12] Most of the complex was converted to office space and leased out as CityPlex Towers.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CityPlex_Towers#Early_struggles.2C_funding_and_visions_of_Jesus

        There NO Medical School or Hospital at Oral Roberts University. That’s right Lynn the Medical School and Hospital that God “told” Oral Roberts to build are long gone. You need to wake up brother!

        As for the rest of the names on your list, IF they weren’t enabled by fellow Christians and were confronted instead – as the Bible commands – maybe, just maybe they would come out of error and come into alignment with what the Bible teaches. And IF they weren’t enabled by fellow Christians and all those people that they’re ear tickling with error would be in good churches rather than following heretics and false prophets.

        And so Lynn, that’s why I and so many others have confronted YOU and will continue to do so. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll wake up and turn one of these days – I still have hope for you.

        Like

      3. One last thought Lynn, could you please tell us WHAT, if anything, in your mind qualifies as being a doctrine so egregious, so errant, and so downright wrong that the person not only should but MUST be confronted and/or rejected should they teach it?

        In other words, since you so blatantly disregard and ignore the Biblical standards, criteria, and mandates in these matters what criteria DO you use?

        Thanks.

        Like

  5. YOU WROTE:
    Without exception, they say, “Sure I do.” I don’t think I’ve ever met a Protestant who doesn’t believe in the protestant reformation. “So do I, Bill. I believe the reformation was a genuine move of God” And then I say, “even though Martin Luther hated the Jews and wrote and said some despicable things about the Jews. He once said ‘Hell is too good for the Jews.’”

    RESPONSE:
    Luther remained orthodox on the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith his entire life, Joseph Smith didn’t.

    YOU WROTE:
    “Brother Bill, I also believe in the holiness movement. It too was a genuine move of God, even though John Wesley believed in and practiced infant baptismal regeneration. My point is, Brother Bill—all God’s generals are somewhat flawed, including Joseph Smith.”

    RESPONSE:
    Wesley remained orthodox on the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith his entire life, Joseph Smith didn’t. Infant baptism is a non-essential doctrine of the Christian faith, liberty is allowed.

    YOU WROTE:
    Take our biblical characters: Abraham committed adultery with his wife’s maid (trying to help God out).

    RESPONSE:
    Abraham repented of his adultery, Joseph Smith didn’t. Adultery is a sin not a heresy.

    YOU WROTE:
    Noah got drunk after coming off the ark.

    RESPONSE:
    Drunkness is a sin not a heresy.

    YOU WROTE:
    Elisha called down bears to kill a bunch of kids for calling him “baldy.”

    RESPONSE:
    And apparently God felt the act was merited since God controls nature Elisha doesn’t.

    YOU WROTE:
    David committed adultery, then murder. But I still read the Psalms.

    RESPONSE:
    And David repented of BOTH in those Psalms. We never see Joseph Smith repenting, just recieving a new revelation justifying his sin (such as D&C 132).

    YOU WROTE:
    Solomon didn’t fare well during his elderly years, but I still read Proverbs.

    RESPONSE:
    There is no heresy in Proverbs. Joseph Smith’s “revelations” are filled with heresy.

    YOU WROTE:
    Back to Joseph’s statement… Joseph ends his published announcement with “…and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” In today’s vernacular, “All other things which pertain to our religion are negotiable.”

    RESPONSE:
    Tell that to the 38-people that Joseph Smith excommunicated during his 14-years as the leader of the Mormon Church – most often for simply disagreeing with him. Lynn, actions speak louder than words and Joseph Smith’s words speak volumes.

    – CONTINUED –

    Like

    1. Fred remarks,

      “…Lynn, could you please show us where David…”

      And then you ask me to compare Joseph’s sins to David’s. Implying that—well, at least David was not a braggart or a heretic. True, but David was a liar, a deceiver, a murderer and an adulterer.

      Fred, you make, or highlight, my point. You’re asking me to compare sins. I’m uncomfortable with that. You want me to compare David’s sins to Joseph’s. And that was exactly my “larger” concern in my last post. Jesus, in a parable, warned us against that very thing:

      “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers…” (Lu.18:11)

      I said I was interested in attempting to see Joseph from God’s perspective. God did not list David’s sins of deception, of lying, of murder and adultery when testifying of David. And neither am I convinced God would list Joseph’s sins of heresy and bragging. I certainly don’t believe he would compare.

      One of the implied points of my last post was: God’s ways or not our ways; his thoughts are not our thoughts. I’m certainly not comfortable with categorizing, or comparing, two people’s sins in order to see who comes out on top with the less egregious. We may compare sins on a sliding scale of one to ten. I’m not sure He does.

      Regarding the criteria of determining a true apostle, Paul admonishes, “We know in part and we prophesy in part…Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (I Cor.13:9, 14:1,3). I’m saying, you’re quoting the guidelines of a prophet under the Old Covenant. Paul is stating guidelines of prophecy under the new—which seem to be different. 100 percent accuracy is not listed as one of the criteria for determining a true or false prophet, or prophecy. “We prophesy in part” says Paul. We see through a glass darkly.

      Like

      1. YOU WROTE:
        100 percent accuracy is not listed as one of the criteria for determining a true or false prophet, or prophecy. “We prophesy in part” says Paul. We see through a glass darkly.

        RESPONSE:
        The type of New Testament prophetic utterances Paul spoke of are DIFFERENT than what’s being described in Deuteronomy 18:22. Look again at what Paul said:

        “he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” (I Cor. 14:1,3)

        Paul isn’t talking about a prediction of the future, Moses was. I know that errant Pentecostals would like to use Paul’s admonitions regarding prophetic utterances in the church as an “out” for Deuteronomy 18:22 but it’s bad exegesis.

        Simply put Lynn, Deuteronomy 18:22 still applies to Harold Camping, Paul Cain, or William Miller and any other other modern day prophet: If they make a prediction of the future and it fails they’re a False Prophet – period. There is no “New Covenant escape hatch” on Deuteronomy 18:22.

        YOU WROTE:
        I’m certainly not comfortable with categorizing, or comparing, two people’s sins in order to see who comes out on top with the less egregious.

        RESPONSE:
        And yet again, you attempt conflate the Biblical criteria for being a False Prophet with ordinary sins. The Bible is clear that there’s a difference:

        “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
        (James 3:1, NKJV)

        This isn’t a “egregious sin scorecard” this is a “does this person match the criteria for a False Prophet?” scorecard.

        Simply put Lynn: David doesn’t. Abraham doesn’t. Noah doesn’t. Elisha doesn’t. Solomon doesn’t.

        Joseph Smith does.

        So regardless their sins, only one name on that list matches the Biblical criteria for a False Prophet is Joseph Smith. And it’s that man you are willfully refusing to acknowledge IS what the Bible says he IS. You’re concocting rationalization for why he isn’t what he clear is. And you’re cherry picking and obfuscating the facts to white wash and spin doctor him into what he isn’t.

        Lynn, you’re in rebellion against God’s word and you need to repent.

        Like

    2. Fred asks,

      “…Could you please tell us WHAT, if anything, in your mind qualifies as being a doctrine so egregious, so errant, and so downright wrong that the person not only should but MUST be confronted and/or rejected should they teach it?…”

      To cut to the chase and get to the bottom of the matter, it’s not WHAT but WHOM. Paul said to young Timothy, “I know WHOM (not “what”) I have believed and am persuaded that He (not it, not doctrine) is able to keep that which I have committed to Him…” (2 Tim.1:12).

      Truth as WHOM always trumps truth as WHAT. Truth as “What” is not discarded or eliminated; It simply becomes subservient to Truth as “Whom.” To say it another way…

      Doctrine as “What” has its place. It’s always a matter of emphasis, however. Doctrine is never to take supremacy over Him.

      Nevertheless, you ask if I could tell you what, if anything, in my mind qualifies as being a doctrine so egregious that I would reject. I can. Two situations off the top of my head come to mind. I could not co-labor in ministry together with someone who does not believe in and embrace the physical, historical resurrection of Christ. Nor if he believes that Christ did not die, or expire, on the Cross but was resuscitated, brought back to life, and not buried in the tomb. I do not believe in a spiritual resurrection.

      I would like to address a larger matter—What is Orthodoxy? And to what extent do we use the measurement of orthodoxy (whatever that might be) to determine truth’s certitude? Is there a plumb line that measures a person’s Christian legitimacy and/or his erroneous heresy? Pertinent questions.

      I would like to address those issues but first I need to clear some underbrush. Or say some things. And then come back to those issues in a follow-up post.

      What constitutes preaching the genuine gospel of Christ? I’ll use myself as an example…

      There are those who say I’m preaching universalism. That I’m “bringing together all belief systems which profess Christ under the guise of Christian unity, at the expense of gospel truth,” to quote one brother. No. That’s not what I’m doing. It’s not—either/or. Either truth or unity. Or unity at the expense of truth. That is the gospel of liberalism, which preaches a phony peace. But neither are we to preach truth at the expense of unity. That’s fundamentalism, which preaches a false hope. One caricature is as bad as the next. The pendulum of extremism swings in both directions.

      Liberal Sadducees in the Bible preached a false unity while the fundamentalist Pharisees preached a false hope—the hope of doctrinal conformity. One group believed in a gospel of unity at the expense of truth; the other believed in a gospel of truth at the expense of love. As said, both “gospels” are caricatures of the real thing.

      Paul tells us what the real gospel is. What we’re to preach and how we’re to preach it: “…Speaking the truth in love,” says Paul, that we “may grow up in all things unto Him” (Eph.4:15).

      In other words, Truth is never truth unless it’s spoken in love—a thing fundamentalist Christians tend to overlook. John the Beloved addresses the elect lady and her children with the salutation, “whom I love in truth,” and admonishes them with: “Grace, mercy, and peace be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father in…truth and love” (2 Jn.11,3).

      The writers of the New Testament always present the gospel…in truth and love. One never trumps the other. When it does, you end up with a caricature. You end up with Liberal Sadducees or Fundamentalist Pharisees. And both are a mess!

      As said, a liberal preaches unity at the expense of truth. A fundamentalist preaches truth at the expense of love. But a Christian preaches truth in love.

      So, my point is—orthodoxy is certainly not preaching love without truth. Neither is orthodoxy preaching truth without love. Both are caricatures.

      Neither am I convinced the Reformation movement is the Mother of orthodoxy. We cannot get our orthodoxy from the liberal Sadducees or fundamentalist Pharisees. Both, as said, are caricatures and both misrepresent the message and gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither can we get our orthodoxy from the reformation. Though the movement accomplished two good things, it also achieved one bad thing. And as far as I’m concerned, that one bad thing trumps, or cancels out, the two good things.

      Yes, the reformation returned the Scriptures to the lay people. Which was a wonderful thing. And yes, the reformation restored the revelation of salvation by grace. No more penances needed. And that too was a wonderful thing. Those are the two good things. Here is the bad thing. The reformation movement of the 1500s also released, or turned loose, on the earth that awful, ugly spirit of sectarianism. Especially its effects are felt here in most American protestant churches. We fight like cats and dogs. Baptists don’t fellowship with Methodists. Methodists don’t fellowship with Lutherans. Lutherans don’t fellowship with Episcopalians. Episcopalians don’t fellowship with Pentecostals. It’s a never-ending cycle of exclusivity among God’s family. Even Billy Graham can only get the churches in a city to come together for a few days. When he leaves, all of God’s children head back to their corners. To their churches, and that’s the end of that.

      Again, I use myself as an illustration. I’m in the trenches. I’m never quite “Mormon enough” for my Mormon friends and I’m never, ever “Baptist enough” for my Baptist friends. And by the way, you either really love what I do, or you really don’t love what I do. I understand that. Anyway, I get lots of hate mail. I must say though—I also get lots of encouraging mail from those who are empathetic to what we’re doing. And supportive.

      I’ve said enough for now. To be continued. I leave you with an email I received from two brothers who were discussing what we’re doing, and then they copied me—sent me a copy of their discussion. I have changed their names to honor their privacy. I send their letters and my response. As said, to be continued…Lynn

      Matching Presuppositions, or Not?

      Dear Danny,

      I couldn’t stomach reading it all, but the bottom line is he starts from a premise you and I can agree with. There is nothing particularly heretical about the doctrines expounded in the Book of Mormon—in fact, they’re pretty much what one might expect from someone exposed to the “winds of doctrine” that blew through the “burned-over district.” (I’m not talking about historical distortions, such as Christ coming to the Americas.) A standard witnessing approach to LDS is to show them how the BOM agrees with Protestant theology and disagrees with current LDS teachings.

      But to jump from “I agree with the doctrines taught there” to “Because I agree with the doctrines taught there, IT IS THEREFORE DIVINE” is not only the height of myopic egocentrism, but a gross sophism (boneheaded idiocy) as well. Is “Gone With The Wind” divinely inspired because there really was a burning of Atlanta? Imagine if Civil War re-enactors began worshipping that novel asking, “How could Margaret Mitchell have known that?” about historical details contained in GWTW. Would this “pastor” be saying “Yeah, they’re right, there must have been a real Scarlet O’Hara!?”

      And imagine every time you pointed out that Mitchell lived in Atlanta where the library had numerous historical sources for her to use—what if the Mormons responded irritably? Will she never read any of those books?

      The point is, presenting GWTW as history, divine or otherwise, is a lie.

      Ditto in spades for the Book of Mormon. If he wants to recommend the BOM as historical fiction, let him go right ahead. He’ll only gain a reputation as someone deficient in literary taste. But presenting the BOM as a new revelation marks him a heretic, anathema. I would personally bar him from the Communion table in my church.

      Yours,
      Ralph

      (Email from Fundamentalist Baptist Pastor—writing to a fellow pastor, then forwarding me a copy.)

      Dear Brother Stout,

      I truly believe you can go to heaven without being a Baptist. I believe there are some Methodists who know the Lord and who have been born again; I believe there are some Lutherans who are born again, even some Catholics. Even some Mormons. My point is—I long to see things from God’s point of view. The Bible tells us to “…be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom.12:2). We’re to, in other words, “…put on the mind of Christ…” and to think like God thinks (Gal.3:27).

      How does God think?

      When He looks down over my city, Kansas City, Missouri, He doesn’t see Baptist churches or Lutheran churches or Catholic churches or Pentecostal churches or Mormon churches. He sees His children. That’s it. God is not “denominational.” We have over 100 denominations in our city but I submit—the Lord recognizes none of them. That is, His Church is built upon the rock of revelation that His Son is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16). I submit—when, indeed, the Lord looks down upon any city, He sees His Church—and all who have had a personal revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, are members of His Church. I’m saying—I want to view His church as the Lord sees His church—based upon a revelation of Christ’s Lordship, not doctrinal agreement. Why wait ‘till we get to heaven to think like God?

      I’m also saying—too often we’re divided by doctrine. That ought not be. He who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is my brother in the faith. Fellowship is centered on His Lordship, not doctrine. Again—all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, regardless of creed, color, or class, are my brothers and sisters. I like the way C.S. Lewis said it in his classic book “Mere Christianity.” Lewis says, “…It’s not that we Christians disagree; it’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements.”

      How true! Example…

      For some of the brethren, it’s very important that we believe in baptismal regeneration before we will fellowship; for others it’s very important that we believe in irresistible grace (the Calvinist view) before we can fellowship; with others, the will of man (the Armenian view) plays a crucial role in one’s salvation. With some, we embrace the “second blessing” typically known as “the deeper life experience.” Methodists call it sanctification. Others of us do not believe in the second blessing experience. Some of us believe in the “baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit” with the evidence of glossolalia; others don’t. Some of us are premillennial regarding our views on the Second Coming; some are post-millennial; a few of us are amillennial. A few of us think esoteric temple rites have a role to play in the afterlife.

      See what I mean?

      Fellowship too often is based upon doctrine. Which I believe is based upon a false premise—that we must all be in doctrinal agreement in order to fellowship. I don’t believe that. I like to put it this way—the fellowship of the saints is not based upon conformity of doctrine but unity of the Spirit (Eph.4:1-6). In other words, the Bible does not teach conformity of doctrine but unity of the Spirit. Or to say it another way—conformity of doctrine is not necessarily unity; neither are differences necessarily division. I’ve sat through too many Baptist church splits to believe otherwise!

      I think today we share too often the same assumptions the Pharisees in the Bible shared. The Pharisees were not wrong in doctrine; they were wrong in assumption. They assumed—if they knew the Word of God, they knew God. You can know the Word of God and not know the God who wrote it. Believing the Bible won’t save you. Believing in Jesus Christ in the Bible will save you. In other words, they didn’t nail a book to the tree that awful day. The book won’t bleed. It takes a person to save a person. It takes the spilt blood of Christ to save you. Jesus said an interesting thing to the Pharisees one day.

      [Ye] search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life [but you don’t] and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (Jn.5:39,40).

      The Pharisees assumed since they knew the scriptures, they knew God. But our Lord told them “…ye think ye have eternal life…” Then he concluded, saying in essence, “…but you don’t…” And then those awful words, “…ye will not come to me, that ye might have life…” Truly, one of the saddest passages in all of scripture. The Pharisees were too busy studying the Word of God to recognize God when He was standing right in front of them. They were too busy studying their scriptures. So God walked off.

      The Pharisees didn’t understand—you don’t get life out of the Bible; you get light (Psa.119:115). Life comes from Christ—but they wouldn’t come to Him. They had their scriptures. But you can shine a flashlight on a dead person all day long and it won’t do him one bit of good. He needs a resurrection! He needs life. Then he can see the light.

      In summary—our ultimate goal as Christians is not primarily to be correct in doctrine but to be rightly related to one another and to God. We can be right in our hearts while wrong in our heads. (Of course, the ideal is to be right in our hearts…and in our heads.) But our theology can be all screwed up and God will still accept us. I’m thinking of the woman who had an issue of blood and who thought if she could but touch the hem of his garment (Matt.9:21), crawling on her hands and knees, she would be healed. Her heart was right while her head was messed up. Who said we had to crawl on our hands and knees before the Lord would heal us?! The Lord knew her heart and responded. He by-passed her theology and healed her. As one brother put it, “…The Lord can take a crooked stick and draw a straight line.”

      What’s my point in this whole matter?

      Don’t judge me and call me a “heretic” because our doctrines don’t match. Don’t ban me from fellowship around the Lord’s Table if we don’t agree upon every doctrine. If Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, and mine, then we’re commanded to fellowship as brothers in the faith. As said, our fellowship is to be centered on His Lordship, not certain sectarian agreements. Paul and Peter, for instance, were “at it” all the time. Or so it seemed. They certainly did not agree on matters of doctrine (read Galatians) but they truly knew and adored the same Lord.

      Let’s not make the same mistake the Pharisees made—pouring over our scriptures while God is standing unrecognized in our midst. Again, don’t judge me because our presuppositions don’t match. The Bible says, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31).

      It doesn’t say—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be a premillennialist, and thou shalt have fellowship.” Lynn

      Like

      1. YOU WROTE:
        Truth as WHOM always trumps truth as WHAT. Truth as “What” is not discarded or eliminated; It simply becomes subservient to Truth as “Whom.” To say it another way…

        Doctrine as “What” has its place. It’s always a matter of emphasis, however. Doctrine is never to take supremacy over Him.

        RESPONSE:
        Who said that it did? I didn’t. However, one must ask the question: “Who is HE?” If you’re worshiping or following the wrong Christ it matters Lynn – that’s not Fred’s opinion, it’s the Apostles. For example, Paul said that preaching another Christ and another Gospel is the sign of a False Apostle operating in deceit:

        “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.

        For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

        And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
        — 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; (King James Version)

        And he was explicit – not once but TWICE – on how we were to treat such False Apostles:

        “…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 (King James Version)

        Yet we find you Lynn endorsing and advocating the work of a man who taught that the Mormon Jesus wasn’t always God and that he was the procreated spirit brother of Lucifer. And you gladly fellowship and endorse those who teach that he achieved deity by working the “Plan of Salvation” that he presented to the council of the GODS:

        “In the grand council called to ratify the Father’s plan, a great difference arose. The majority, led by the First Born of the Father, our Elder Brother, Jesus the Christ, was ready to accept the plan with all its conditions. The minority, led by Lucifer, a ‘son of the morning,’ feared the isolation and the pains and ills of earth. For them Lucifer proposed that they should be sent to earth, but that provisions should be made by which they would suffer no pain and would not have to make any sacrifices. All of them would be returned with earthly bodies irrespective of their works on earth. This latter plan seemed desirable that one-third of those present favored it, in direct opposition of God’s plan. Lucifer and his followers were thrown out of the council, and as opponents of God’s plan, became the devil and his angels, who strive ever to tempt men to disobey the laws of God.”
        (John A. Widtsoe (Mormon Apostle), “Joseph Smith – Seeker After Truth”, pp.156-157)

        So, yeah Lynn, doctrine – especially Christology is vital not optional. Worship another Jesus and you’re worshiping another god – and THAT, my friend, is idolatry.

        YOU WROTE:
        Nevertheless, you ask if I could tell you what, if anything, in my mind qualifies as being a doctrine so egregious that I would reject. I can. Two situations off the top of my head come to mind. I could not co-labor in ministry together with someone who does not believe in and embrace the physical, historical resurrection of Christ. Nor if he believes that Christ did not die, or expire, on the Cross but was resuscitated, brought back to life, and not buried in the tomb. I do not believe in a spiritual resurrection.

        RESPONSE:
        OK, by implication that means that you can “co-labor in ministry” with …

        1) A Montanist who believes that their prophetic utterances are equal in authority to the Bible.

        2) An Arianist who believes that the Father and the Son are separate gods.

        3) A Modalist who believes that there is only one God who is only one person and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are just different names for the one God.

        4) A Semi-Pelagian who believes that grace comes first in salvation, but human beings must cooperate with this grace through ordinances and good works.

        5) A Gnostic who believes that secret knowledge and rites are required to acheive full enlightenment and salvation.

        6) A Sethianist who believes that the snake in the Garden of Eden (Satan) was an agent of the true God and brought knowledge of truth to man via the fall of man.

        7) An Audianist who believes that God has human form.

        . . . is this correct Lynn?

        Specifically, if someone embrace the physical, historical resurrection of Christ but holds to one or more of these heresies you could “co-labor in ministry” with them? Do I have this right?

        Oh and BTW, before you answer, you should know that the LdS Church adheres to ALL these heresies – ALL of them. You might want to consider that before you share the pulpit with Robert Millet or a Latter-day Saint. And before you speak again at a RLDS/Community of Christ church consider the fact that you are mounting the pulpit in a Montanist church.

        YOU WROTE:
        I would like to address a larger matter—What is Orthodoxy? And to what extent do we use the measurement of orthodoxy (whatever that might be) to determine truth’s certitude? Is there a plumb line that measures a person’s Christian legitimacy and/or his erroneous heresy? Pertinent questions.

        RESPONSE:
        Well, first, I’m not going to follow you into the web of meaningless, obfuscating, complexity that you wove with your elegance prose.

        Second, I have already addressed this in a prior post: All one need do to be considered a Christian is adhere to the essential doctrines of the faith. I’m not going to belabor this, since I’ve already addressed it in a prior post.

        However, the fact that you would play this card tells me that you failed to read that post didn’t you?

        YOU WROTE:
        It doesn’t say — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be a premillennialist, and thou shalt have fellowship.” Lynn

        RESPONSE:
        As I was saying Lynn! I rest my case.

        Here’s the link to the post that you obviously didn’t read: http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2014/12/13/weak-arguments-7-the-book-of-mormon-doesnt-have-a-trace-of-orthodox-mainstream-biblical-christianity-in-it-by-fred-w-anson/#comment-23612

        Please read it this time! Thanks.

        YOU WROTE:
        We fight like cats and dogs. Baptists don’t fellowship with Methodists. Methodists don’t fellowship with Lutherans. Lutherans don’t fellowship with Episcopalians. Episcopalians don’t fellowship with Pentecostals. It’s a never-ending cycle of exclusivity among God’s family. Even Billy Graham can only get the churches in a city to come together for a few days. When he leaves, all of God’s children head back to their corners. To their churches, and that’s the end of that.

        RESPONSE:
        What rubbish! I, a good Reformed Calvinist Charismatic, regularly, daily fellowship with everything from Baptists to Pentecostals to Episcopals and it’s NO big deal Lynn. I have stood in not one, not two, not three, but FIVE Promised Keepers events in which I prayed with and fellowshiped with every brand of Christian imaginable. I have been in Methodist churches, I have been in Episcopal churches, I have been in Presbyterian churches, I have been in Calvary Chapel churches, Foursquare, Assemblies of God, Baptist, you name it I’ve been in it – I don’t care and neither do they!

        If they adhere to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith they’re my brothers and sisters in Christ – period.

        Lynn, you’re talking fiction and nonsense. Candidly, it sounds like you’ve so “gone native” that you’re thinking like a Mormon rather than a Christian.

        I’ve said it once I will said it again: Lynn you need to wake up, you’re not living in reality!

        YOU WROTE:
        Don’t judge me and call me a “heretic” because our doctrines don’t match. Don’t ban me from fellowship around the Lord’s Table if we don’t agree upon every doctrine. If Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, and mine, then we’re commanded to fellowship as brothers in the faith. As said, our fellowship is to be centered on His Lordship, not certain sectarian agreements.

        RESPONSE:
        First, the ESSENTIAL doctrines of the Christian faith aren’t “certain sectarian agreements” they are ESSENTIAL! And yes Lynn, I WILL judge others on both their doctrine and their behavior – as the Bible commands us to, repeatedly.

        Second, “Certain sectarian agreements” fail under the category of non-essentials and there’s liberty. I won’t and don’t judge others on them even though I choose not to join with them in them. HOWEVER, I have very deliberately NOT referenced non-essentials in my posts Lynn. Notice, no comments about “bells, smells, choir robes, or drums” – none.

        Third, you SURE that you’re an ordained Baptist minister? I’m beginning to join the club that thinks that you’re NOT. You don’t act like one, and you don’t seem to have even the most basic theological skills or temperament that most Baptist ministers I’ve met possess! Yes, I’ve read your web response in this regard but your posts are raising some serious question marks. Yes, you may have the title but you seem to be lacking the skills. For example . . .

        Four, since you seem to be unable to distinguish between the Essential and Non-Essential doctrines of the Christian faith I’m going to refer you (again) to this article in which I cover them lightly and generally:
        http://beggarsbread.org/2014/10/19/weak-arguments-4-the-bible-says-that-my-sectarian-partisan-non-essential-doctrine-is-the-only-true-truth/

        And if you find my rudimentary article unsatisfying then I would refer you to footnote #1 which contains some deeper explanations – including this one, which is the best I’ve ever read: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/06/essentials-and-non-essentials-in-a-nutshell/

        YOU WROTE:
        Paul and Peter, for instance, were “at it” all the time. Or so it seemed. They certainly did not agree on matters of doctrine (read Galatians) but they truly knew and adored the same Lord.

        RESPONSE:
        So tell me Lynn, which False Prophet were they endorsing and promoting by writing around 40-books of glowing praise on him as you have and regularly speaking in the churches of his followers as you do? Do you SERIOUSLY think that either Peter or Paul would have endorsed a self-proclaimed prophet who couldn’t even get monotheism right? If so then we seriously need to have your ordination papers pulled (assuming you have them at all).

        Again, you’re conflating, obfuscating and ignoring the obvious: Joseph Smith is a False Prophet who (especially after 1835) taught heresy after heresy after heresy.

        Lynn Ridenhour, you need to repent.

        Like

  6. YOU WROTE:
    C.S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” said an interesting thing: “It’s not that we Christians disagree. It’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements.” A very wise statement. In other words, what’s important to you may not be to me. And vice versa. For example, the Mass ceremony is very important to a Catholic. Not to me (and I don’t mean to sound cavalier). Likewise, the doctrines of the rapture and closed canon are extremely important to a Baptist. Not to an LDS. I could go on. Temple sealings and sacred ordinances are enormously important to a Latter-day Saint. Not to a Methodist. What’s going on?

    RESPONSE:
    What’s going on is that you’re talking AROUND the issue not TO the issue since you failed to define the essentials. The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith are no mystery and, in fact, I discussed them in some detail in this article: http://beggarsbread.org/2014/10/19/weak-arguments-4-the-bible-says-that-my-sectarian-partisan-non-essential-doctrine-is-the-only-true-truth/

    They are:

    The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith
    1) The Deity of Jesus Christ.
    2) Salvation by Grace.
    3) The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    4) The gospel of Jesus Christ, and
    5) Monotheism.

    YOU WROTE:
    I’m making the point C.S. Lewis made—it’s not that we’re disagreeing. It’s that we’re disagreeing on the importance of our disagreements. Joseph put it this way—all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages. Are negotiable. We don’t have to agree on appendages—the non-essentials of the gospel—as important as these doctrines are to each of us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying (neither is Joseph) that teachings of the church which are considered appendages are not important. I’m saying:

    • In essentials, let there be unity
    • In non-essentials, let there be liberty
    • In all things, let there be charity

    RESPONSE:
    And, respectfully, you’re talking nonsense since here’s how Mormonism stacks up relative to the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith:

    1) Mormonism teaches another Jesus. Jesus Christ wasn’t the procreated son of God. He’s not an exalted man who acheived deification. He is, and always has been, God eternal. (The Deity of Jesus Christ)

    2) Mormonism teaches another salvation – specifically that additional works (baptism into a church, temple ordinances, temple marriage, etc.) are all required for full salvation. Rather, the Bible teaches repeatedly that we are saved by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, plus nothing. (Salvation by Grace)

    3) Mormonism gets Christ’s resurrection mostly right but is still wrong. Thank you our Mormon friends for getting the resurrection of Jesus Christ mostly right! However, the teaching that Jesus by his resurrection assures immortality in some heavenly kingdom for virtually everyone not isn’t biblical, it’s universalist heresy. (The resurrection of Jesus Christ)[4]

    4) Mormonism teaches another gospel. Paul told us plainly what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”[5] Mormonism requires works in addition to Christ’s atonement (by making observance of laws and ordinances a salvific issue) thus nullifying God’s grace and putting Mormons back under the law. (The gospel of Jesus Christ)

    5) Mormonism teaches a form of henotheistic idolatry. The Bible is clear from cover-to-cover that there is one – and only one – eternal being known as God who consists of three co-equal, co-eternal persons. The Bible does not teach that there is a plurality of gods, be they exalted, deified men or otherwise. In fact, the Bible repeatedly denounces such teaching. (Monotheism)

    6) Mormonism follows a false prophet. And of course, since all the errant, unbiblical, and heretical doctrines above were introduced to the world by Joseph Smith, the Christian message to Mormonism has also first and foremost always been: You’re following a false prophet! While that’s not directly tied to the essentials of the Christian faith it’s still an important Biblical distinctive[6] and has always been at the core of Christian arguments against Mormonism.

    NOTES:
    [4] Yes, Mormonism gets this one mostly right – let’s give some credit where credit is due. Never-the-less, Theologian Rob Bowman of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR) explains how and why Mormonism still manages to get the resurrection of Christ wrong:

    According to the LDS Church, Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees resurrection to immortal life for practically everybody—Christian or not, moral or not—in one of three heavenly kingdoms. (The only exception are the “sons of perdition,” incorrigibly evil people that include some ex-Mormons.) We cannot discuss the three Mormon heavenly kingdoms here, but the Bible is clear that the wicked will be resurrected only to face, in their bodies, their condemnation to eternal punishment (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 10:28; 25:46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15). They derive no benefit from Christ’s atoning death. Only the righteous “in Christ”—those who belong to Christ—will be made alive and given immortality (1 Cor. 15:22-23, 53-54).

    Finally, although the LDS Church affirms that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven and will return bodily to the earth one day, it wrongly claims that Jesus has visited the earth bodily on other occasions between his ascension and second coming. The Book of Mormon claims that Jesus visited the Nephites in the Americas several separate times, destroyed whole cities of the wicked, preached to the righteous, and formed a church for them. In the First Vision story, Joseph Smith claimed that Jesus (and God the Father!) appeared personally to him to instruct him to join none of the existing churches. These LDS claims may seem innocent enough, but their significance is that they call into question the sufficiency and, ultimately, the reliability of the New Testament revelations of Jesus Christ.
    (Rob Bowman, “The Mormon View of Jesus Christ: The Bottom-Line Guide to Mormonism, Part 5?, IRR website article)

    [5] 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (New International Version)

    [6] Please consider Deuteronomy 13:1-5 in light of this which says:

    If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
    (New King James Version)

    – CONTINUED –

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    1. YOU WROTE:
      The Mormon prophet, I believe, defined the essentials of the gospel: the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord. It is in these essentials we express our unity. It is in these heart-felt convictions that Baptists and Mormons and Catholics have the freedom to embrace and call one another “brother…sister.”

      RESPONSE:
      Yes, until around 1834 that’s pretty much true. However, Mormonism was still burdened by the fact that it was founded and led by a false prophet. That because even more obvious after 1835 when Smith turned from being largely orthodox to blatantly heretical. That turn was covered in some detail in the last article in this series which you will find here: http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2014/12/02/weak-arguments-6-mormon-doctrine-was-heretical-from-the-very-beginning-by-fred-w-anson/

      YOU WROTE:
      For me, it comes to this. If Jesus is the Lord of your heart and life and He’s the Lord of my heart and life,

      RESPONSE:
      Which Jesus Lynn? Mormonism worships and follows another Jesus.

      YOU WROTE:
      … we’re family—regardless of creed, class or color. We’re brothers. Brother and sister.

      RESPONSE:
      Nonsense. This flies in the face of everything the Bible teaches about False Prophets like Joseph Smith. The Bible tells us to NOT follow them not accommodate them. For example, here’s one of many proof texts I could cite on this point:

      “…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 (King James Version)

      YOU WROTE:
      I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach unity of the Spirit (Eph.4:3), not conformity of doctrine. Unity is based upon His Lordship. Conformity is based upon doctrinal agreement.

      We must remind ourselves—unity is not conformity. But neither are differences necessarily division.

      RESPONSE:
      No Lynn, Christian orthodoxy is based on doctrinal agreement. And the Bible teaches that right doctrine is important not optional. AND the Bible states clearly that we ARE to divide when it comes to matters of false doctrine. Again, to cite just one of many proof texts I could cite here:

      2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV)

      14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

      “I will dwell in them
      And walk among them.
      I will be their God,
      And they shall be My people.”
      17 Therefore

      “Come out from among them
      And be separate, says the Lord.
      Do not touch what is unclean,
      And I will receive you.”
      18 “I will be a Father to you,
      And you shall be My sons and daughters,
      Says the Lord Almighty.”

      Respectfully, Dr. Ridenhour, you are in grave error when it comes to Joseph Smith and Mormonism and you need to repent. You are accommodating error from Joseph Smith and Mormonism on the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and that is simply unBiblical.

      Like

  7. @Lynn Ridenhour, I apologize, I did my last post on my tablet and it posted prematurely due to an errant touch on the “Reply” button. To finish it up . . .

    Further, God tells us in Deuteronomy 13 (NKJV):

    “…for the Lord your God is testing you [by sending False Prophets] to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (v.3)

    Dr. Ridenhour, with all due respect, I think it’s clear that you’ve failed God’s test!

    Your “big eraser” god isn’t the God of the Bible, it’s another god. The God of the Bible says, “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (v.3) and you’re excusing him, cherry picking his work to find the scraps of truth midst the trash heaps of heresy, and white washing the teachings and behavior someone of whom Mormon Studies Scholar and 35-year former LdS Church Educational System employee Grant Palmer said (paraphrasing), “I have studied the man [Joseph Smith] for over 50-years and the only conclusion I can come to is that he’s a con-man and a fraud. A very GOOD con-man but a con-man never-the-less.”
    (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KpYoMGCqpE )

    Again, you keep trying to use David and the flaws of other Biblical characters as an excuse for Joseph Smith. Let me repeat:

    – David wasn’t a false prophet.
    – Abraham wasn’t a false prophet.
    – Noah wasn’t a false prophet.
    – Elisha wasn’t a false prophet.

    Dr. Ridenhour, Joseph Smith is a false prophet. So if you want to pull out biblical models to compare he with you need to use these instead:

    – Balaam of Beor (see Numbers 22–24, 2 Pet 2:15-16, Jude 11)
    – Elymas (also known as Bar-Jesus) (see Acts 13)
    – Simon the Sorcerer (or Simon the Magician) (see Acts 8)
    – Ahab (Jer 29:21)
    – Pashhur (Jer 20:6)
    – Hananiah (Jer 28)
    – Zedekiah (Son Of Chenaanah) (1 Kin 22:11)
    – Zedekiah (Not Son Of Chenaanah) (Jer 28)
    – Shemaiah (Jer 29:24-32)

    And if there’s any lingering doubt as to Joseph Smith’s qualifications as a false prophet I would ask you to consider his life against the Biblical criteria for a False Prophet:

    Deu 13:1-11 (as previously cited)
    Seducing God’s people into following a God other than the one that they’ve known.

    Deu 18:18-22
    Giving predictions of the future that fail to come to pass.

    Mat 7:15-20
    Living a life that doesn’t produce good fruit.

    1 John 4:1-3
    Denying that God eternal was incarnated as Jesus Christ.

    In addition, I would add the following:
    – Use of Occult practices like scrying and Shamanism.
    (the use of seer stones, wearing a talisman, etc.)

    – Incorporating Freemasonry into the LDS Temple ceremonies.
    (Freemasonry is rooted in Kabbalah which is occultic)

    Lynn, the historical pendulum doesn’t need to be swung back to the center when it comes to Joseph Smith. Rather, this False Prophet needs to renounced, repudiated, and avoided. I challenge you again: You need to stop your rebellion against God’s word, repent of your acceptance and advocacy of the False Prophet Joseph Smith, and do what you can to remediate the damage that you have done by misrepresenting him to Christians and validating him and his false doctrine to Mormons.

    Thank you.

    Like

  8. Fred, you mention that David was not a false prophet. Joseph was. Below are some incidents when Joseph used his prophetic giftedness…

    Two brief prophecies were given, one on March 7th, 1831, and the other on September 6th, 1842. And they read as follows:

    Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but behold I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.
    –March7th, 1831

    And another brief prophesy:

    I prophecy in the name of the Lord God that the commencement of the difficulties which cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832.

    Political events were in turmoil during the fall and winter months of 1832. Congress was imposing tariffs upon foreign goods. The South was in rebellion and only the prompt action of President Andrew Jackson prevented an uprising. It was during this time that Joseph Smith gave his famous Civil War prophesy on Christmas day, 1832.

    Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls. And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

    For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.

    And, of course, we know the prophecy unfolded just like Joseph said it would. South Carolina withdrew from Congress, passed an ordinance of secession, and then on April 12th, 1861, fired the first shot on the Union troops stationed in Fort Sumpter. Eleven of the southern states then seceded from the Union. In May, 1861, the South sent representatives to England, France, Holland and Belgium to seek help, both politically and militarily. Great Britain called upon other nations for help. When Germany began to rival her for sea power, England sought alliance with France and other nations. These alliances brought on World War I. Following World War II we can see that war was “…poured out upon all nations…”

    Not only did Joseph Smith prophecy of big events, but the gift was also available for comforting families. A Mr. Taylor tells of the prophecy Joseph made to his mother. Taylor’s brother was imprisoned by the Missouri mobocrats.

    “…In February, 1841,” says Mr. Taylor, “my brother was in jail, in the hands of the Missourians, about two hundred miles from home and my dear widowed mother was very much concerned about his safety. On one occasion she was crying and fretting about him.”

    When I saw her in trouble, I asked ‘what was the matter.’ She replied that she was afraid the Missourians would kill her dear son, John, and she would never see him again.

    I was strongly impressed to have her let me go to the Prophet Joseph and ask him if my brother would ever come home. She was very desirous for me to do so.

    As the Prophet lived only about three miles from our house, I got a horse and rode to his home. When I reached there, Sister Emma Smith said that he and his son Joseph had just gone up the river near Nauvoo. I rode up to them, when the Prophet inquired about my mother’s welfare.

    I told him that mother was very sad and down-hearted about the safety of her son John; and she had requested me to come and ask him as a man of God whether my brother would ever return home.

    He bent his head for a moment as if in prayer or deep reflection. Then with a beautiful beaming countenance, full of smiles, he looked up and told me to go and tell mother that her son would return in safety inside of a week. True to the words of the Prophet, he got home in six days after his occurrence.

    The gift of prophecy at work in the life of Joseph Smith.

    THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE

    The word of knowledge also operated in his life. In the spring of 1832, Joseph went to Missouri. After several weeks of ministering he began his journey back to Kirtland, Ohio, with some of his elders. While on route by stagecoach, the horses were spooked and ran off. Brother Whitney, one of those traveling with Joseph, attempted to catch the runaway horses by jumping out of the coach. He broke his leg and foot in several places. Sidney Rigdon went on to Kirtland while Joseph remained behind, attending to his friend. They stayed in Greenville for four weeks. Joseph was getting anxious to get back to Kirtland. One morning in early June he remarked to Newel Knight:

    “…I went into his room,” said Joseph, “after a walk in the grove, and told him if we would agree to start for home in the morning, we would take a wagon to the river, about four miles, and there would be a ferry boat waiting which would take us directly to the landing, where we would find a boat waiting, and we would be going up the river before ten o’clock, and have a prosperous journey home.”

    Brother Whitney, with some reluctance, consented to Joseph’s instructions. The next morning they took leave and found everything as Joseph had told them. They encountered the wagon, the ferry boat, the hack and the boat—and they had a prosperous journey.

    On another occasion, David Whitmore felt led of the Lord to travel from his home in Fayette, N.Y. to Harmony, P.A. He felt impressed to invite Joseph and his friend Oliver Cowdery, to his home. Lucy Smith, Joseph’s mother, records the event:

    “…David immediately set out for Pennsylvania, and arrived there in two days, without injuring his horses in the least, though the distance was one hundred and thirty-five miles,” says Joseph’s mother. When he arrived, he was under the necessity of introducing himself to Joseph, as this was the first time that they had ever met.

    Before Mr. Whitmore had arrived in town, Joseph and Oliver were there to greet him. They were waiting some distance from town. Joseph had foretold his trip to his friend, Oliver. David Whitmore later told of their meeting to Orson Pratt.

    “…When I arrived,” says David, “at Harmony, Joseph and Oliver were coming toward me, and met me some distance from the house. Oliver told me that Joseph had informed him…when I started from home, where I had stopped the first night, how I read the sign at the tavern, where I stopped the next night, and that I would be there that day before dinner, and this was why they had come out to meet me; all of which was exactly as Joseph had told Oliver, at which I was greatly astonished,” said Mr. Whitmore.

    Joseph also made the following remarks:

    While speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives, he commented, I believe that there is a God, possessing all the attributes ascribed to him by all Christians of all denominations; that He reigns over all things in heaven and on earth (Washington, DC, February 6th, 1840).

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    1. On the infamous December 1832 “Civil War Prophet”, so what? It didn’t take a genius to figure what was about to unfold – all one had to do was read the papers of the time, which we know for a fact Smith did from The History of the Church:

      “To assume that difficulties between the Northern and Southern states could not have been sensed long before Fort Sumter would be to assume incorrectly. Bruce Catton, a Civil War historian, states, “There had been many woeful misunderstandings between North and South in the years that led up to the Civil War” (The Civil War, pg.59).

      As far back as 1832 rumblings of secession had threatened the Union. John C. Calhoun, a senator from South Carolina, feared Northern interference in the affairs of the southern states. Although he opposed secession, Calhoun did argue that the southern states could protect their interests by nullifying acts by the Federal government they considered to be unconstitutional.

      Joseph Smith was aware of this discontent and mentioned it in the History of the Church (vol. 1, pg.301). He wrote, “The people of South Carolina, in convention assembled (in November), passed ordinances, declaring their state a free and independent nation…President Jackson issued his proclamation against this rebellion, called out a force sufficient to quell it, and implored the blessings of God to assist the nation to extricate itself from the horrors of the approaching and solemn crisis.” On Christmas day, 1832, Smith claimed he received his “prophecy on the war of the rebellion.”

      Despite these warning signs, some insist that as early as 1832 no one but Joseph Smith could have known that the United States could be plunged into a civil war. The fact is, not far from Smith’s Kirtland, Ohio headquarters, a newspaper called the Painesville Telegraph printed a story from the New York Courier and Enquirer entitled “The Crisis.” The article spoke of the “probabilities of dismemberment” stemming from discontent in South Carolina and Georgia over states rights. It is interesting to note that the date of this article is Friday, December 21,1832, just four days before Smith received his alleged “prophecy.”‘
      (Bill McKeever, “Did Joseph Smith Correctly Predict the Civil War?”; http://www.mrm.org/civil-war )

      And the 1831 prophecy is so general generic that it could have even passed as a comment – hardly persuasive Lynn!

      As for the others, they remind me of the type of “backward looking” prophecy fulfillments that get thrown around like grist for the mill in Pentecostal churches. In other words: So what?

      I have said on more than one occasion of such stories that they’re superb examples of selective memory and confirmation bias and little else. In the end, they’re inconclusive and mean nothing.

      So yet again, Lynn all I’m seeing in your supporting evidence is cherry picked confirmation bias.

      Let’s talk about all the future predictions that saw NO fulfillment – remembering that it only takes ONE to qualify as a False Prophet according to Deuteronomy 18:22: http://mit.irr.org/failed-prophecies-of-joseph-smith

      Lynn, you’re defending a False Prophet.

      Like

  9. Here is one of the reasons I do not believe Joseph Smith was a false prophet but believe he was a born again believer. A brother in the faith…

    I want to share two testimonies. Testimonies from two men who were contemporaries, and who were separated by one county. They lived in the same state of Ohio approximately sixty miles apart.

    Testimony Number One

    North of the village, and over a hill, lay a piece of woods…I turned and bent my course toward the woods…There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw Him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality, that He stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to Him.

    I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my chocked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears; and yet I had a distinct impression that I touched Him…the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way.

    Testimony Number Two

    I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy, and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness, and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age, a pillar of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day came down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of God, and the Lord opened the heavens upon me, and I saw the Lord, and he spake unto me saying, Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

    The first testimony is Charles Finney’s. The second is Joseph Smith’s. It’s most uncanny to me how similar the two testimonies are. Charles Finney (1792-1895), of course, is one of the greatest revivalists of all times. Ask any evangelical believer, especially minister, “Have you ever heard of Charles Finney?” and I’m tempted to say—ten out of ten will reply “Of course.”

    My point is: we evangelicals easily accept one of the testimonies and struggle with the other. Paul Derengowski wrote an essay titled “Piecing Together the First Vision,” pointing out five parallels between the two experiences.

    Parallel #1: Spiritual Straits

    Both men were quite disappointed, if not disillusioned, with organized religion of their day. Central and western New York State was referred to by Finney in his autobiography as the “burnt over district.” He felt the area had been so heavily evangelized as to have no “fuel” (unconverted population) left over to “burn” (convert).

    Joseph Smith too was disillusioned over the revivalist religious fervor of the Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians in the area. Their fighting over new converts drove the young teenager into the woods to seek God personally.

    Parallel #2: Graphic Groves

    To quote Derengowski, “One clear, spring morning, Joseph Smith journeyed west of his parents’ farm into a “beautiful grove” to petition God regarding his dilemma. After “having looked around…and finding [himself] alone, [he] kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of [his] heart to God.” It was supposedly the first time in young Joseph’s life that he had ever endeavored to “attempt to pray vocally.”

    Similarly, Charles Finney knew of a “grove of woods” that lay north of Adams. He set forth one morning for work and was compelled that he must accept God or die. He “turned and bent [his] course for that grove of woods, feeling that [he] must be alone and away from all human eyes, so that [he] could pour out [his] prayer to God.”

    Parallel #3: Paralyzed Prayers

    Not long after Joseph began his petition “the enemy” subdued him. He could not speak, for his tongue had been bound. Hearing noises in the woods near him, Joseph assumed that other persons were walking around in his presence. He tried several times to make his requests known to God, but without success. The young inquirer despairingly supposed that he was “doomed to destruction.” He had never before encountered such supernatural strength.

    In like manner, Charles Finney determined to give his heart to God, but upon making his petition he found that he could not pray. When he attempted to pray he became “dumb,” having “nothing to say to God.” Rustling of leaves nearby led him to believe that other individuals were in his presence. Ultimately that thought led him to such a sense of conviction of personal wickedness that it took possession of him. Finney attempted to pray several times without success, leading him to the verge of despair. He recollected that “a great sinking and discouragement came over me at this point, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees.”

    Parallel #4: Lofty Luminaries

    Upon deliverance from the clutches of the enemy, Joseph Smith witnessed a pillar of light descending upon him until it enveloped him. He became filled with the “Spirit of God,” causing him also to be “filled…with unspeakable joy.” At this time Jesus Christ in the company of His Father appeared to him, of which Joseph petitioned them “which of all sects were right—and which I should join.” The experience lasted “one brief hour.”

    Charles Finney envisioned a light also, but it was scripturally caused. Reflecting upon Jeremiah 29:12–13, the passage “seemed to drop into [his] mind with a flood of light.” With that he was convinced that he could perform his vow of accepting God that day. In the midst of such spiritual ecstasy he left the woods and returned to the village. After dinner Charles wished to “pour out [his] whole soul to God.” He retired to the Counsel room of his law practice, where it was dark, but “it appeared to [him] as if it was perfectly light.” In that “lighted” room he came face to face with Jesus Christ. No words were exchanged, but Finney “fell down at his feet and poured out [his] soul to him.” Shortly thereafter, Charles received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost, which he characterized as a “wave of electricity” or “waves of love.” The event lasted until late in the evening.

    Parallel #5: Rejected Reports

    Joseph shared his visionary experience with those whose creeds God had denounced as wrong or corrupt. To his surprise he was treated lightly and with great contempt. Although only a boy of young age, he soon found that his visions and revelations were not welcomed, and that “men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against [him],” creating “bitter persecution.” Being satisfied in mind that he had seen a vision, however, Smith endured, thereafter translating the Book of Mormon and starting the Mormon Church.

    Charles, too, endured persecution for sharing his experience. Certain young men in his neighborhood had been warned to avoid him, for he “was a very careless young man about religion.” To associate with Finney was tantamount to diverting oneself away from conversion. The neighborhood’s opinions caused him to doubt his own eternal security. He perceived that others thought of him as possibly delusional or even “crazy.”

    Nevertheless, after falling asleep the day of his conversion, and then awaking, he experienced “the great flow of the love of God” in his heart. Finney even visited Joseph Smith’s community in 1831. (Paul Derengowski, “Piecing Together the First Vision”)

    I find these parallels most remarkable.

    Was Joseph Smith saved? I have settled the question. Let me simply say, as a Southern Baptist minister, I cannot with integrity accept Charles Finney’s conversion and not Joseph Smith’s.

    Like

    1. Lynn, two things here:

      First, the issue here isn’t “conversion”, the issue is whether the person is a false prophet. The Biblical criteria for such isn’t dependent on whether the person is “converted” or not – David Koresch (who had a born again experience) is just as much a False Prophet as L. Ron Hubbard (who never had a born again experience) was.

      I have already stated that I consider Charles Finney a heretic. So you’re comparing two 19th Century heretics who taught false doctrine to each other?

      What can I say to that except, “Yep, they’re both 19th Century heretics, I agree!”

      Thank you for proving my point Lynn, I appreciate it.

      Like

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