Well, its been a long time since we have had posts on this blog, and we are now under the name of The Blog Of Mormon, just due to some organizational changes this site operates independently, still run by Bobby Gilpin, under this new name.
I am not sure what exactly we are going to cover in the coming months and years, but this is still very much an evangelical Christian website, seeking to offer friendly but critical analysis of the Mormon church from that perspective.
The one thing I do intend to keep going is reviews of General Conference sessions as they happen, and here we are.
The Saturday morning session of General Conference this time around was hosted by First Counselor to the Mormon Presidency Henry B. Eyring, and is the first general conference in a long time to not be attended by President of the Church Thomas S Monson, its been speculated for a while now that Monson has life affecting Dementia, if this is the case it’s no surprise given Monson being 90 years of age at present, and is of course no criticism of the church that their “Prophet” may well be suffering with this. Apart from to say He should have been able to step down some time ago which the system does not seem to allow.
Monson and his office were nonetheless given plenty of mention at the start of this session with the second hymn being “God Bless Our Prophet Dear.” The first verse of this hymn reads:
1. God bless our prophet dear;May health and comfort cheerHis noble heart.His words with fire impressOn souls that thou wilt blessTo choose in righteousnessThe better part.
If you are a Christian with not much background experience of Mormonism it will understandably seem more than a little strange that in a worldwide conference of a so called Christian movement the second hymn makes no mention of Christ, other than a passing reference in verse 3, but instead pays homage to the President of the movement, well this is Mormonism.
In fairness Monson and Mormon Prophets before him are not worshiped I think that’s true to say, however the level of respect and admiration they get, can be uncomfortable at times as this bears no echo in New Testament Scripture where instead we read:
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
This verse in a lot of ways sets the tone of where I am going to go next. In going through all of these talks I do not encounter a lot of what us evangelicals might call “Heresy” there is no mention of God once being a man, I would say not a lot of mention of us working for our salvation, or exaltation though it is there, instead we see a total emphasis on our good, as humans. Our “progression”, becoming better people and serving others to make them better. In so many ways there is nothing bad about this, In the talk “The Needs Before Us”“The Needs Before Us”, we hear the speaker Bonnie. L. Oscarson talk about how members of the Mormon church have been wearing their “yellow” (used when doing work of this kind) shirts and have been going to some of the sites of the recent hurricanes and
have been helping with the relief efforts for these horrible events in Texas and others areas, this attitude of servanthood is littered throughout all the talks in this session and I can’t help but be impressed by it.
Oscarson goes on to give this piece of, I think very fair social commentary:
We live in a culture where more and more we are focused on the small, little screen in our hands than we are on the people around us. We have substituted texting and tweeting for actually looking someone in the eye and smiling or, even rarer, having a face-to-face conversation.
This is so true and applies to me and many others around me, I think as a humanistic organization the Mormon church has a lot of good stuff to do and say, and so many problematic Mormon beliefs and teachings seem to be absent from this session, and I imagine for the most part the others too, the reasons for that I think is a long story and I don’t think it means those beliefs are gone.
What goes through my mind, talk after talk in these sessions is one thing.
Mormonism is completely and utterly man centered, the church and God, exist for the good of man. I think true Christianity is God centered, and I see in these sessions a faith and a God that is completely man centered.
I don’t mean man centered in the sense that the church does too many good things for people, I mean man centered in the sense that the glory of God in Mormonism is to uplift man, to the expense of uplifting God. Mormons might worship God, but I think the ultimate purpose of their faith is their own progression and exaltation.
In the first talk in this session Dieter F Uchtdorf says:
The Lord has established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help you in this commitment to serve God and fellowmen. Its purpose is to encourage, teach, lift, and inspire.
In the third talk by Elder Dallin H Oaks we hear:
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the inspired family proclamation, which I will discuss later, are essential teachings to guide mortal preparation for exaltation.
In the fifth talk by Elder John C Pingree Jr he says:
And fourth, rely on God. When we ask Him in faith with real intent, He will reveal our divine assignments to us.9 Once we discover them, He will help us fulfill those assignments. “All things are present before [His] eyes” (D&C 38:2; see also Abraham 2:8), and at the right times, He will open the doors necessary for us (see Revelation 3:8). He even sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can depend on Him for strength beyond our natural abilities (see Philippians 4:13; Alma 26:12).
In this sixth talk by Elder D Christofferson:
The doctrine of Christ expresses what we must do to receive atoning grace. It is to believe and have faith in Christ, to repent and be baptized, and to receive the Holy Ghost, “and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”10This is the gate, our access to the Savior’s atoning grace and to the strait and narrow path leading to His kingdom..
And finally in the seventh talk Jeffrey Holland interestingly misquotes Moroni 10:32 by saying this:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … ,” Moroni pleads. “Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then … by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.”9 Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven—we can’t “earn” it. Thus, the grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism.
Are all of these quotes horrible heresy? In a lot of ways they are not, however they capture what I feel the heart of Mormonism is, in that, God, Christ and the church are vehicles to help you, become a better you.
President of the Mormon church Thomas S Monson once “tweeted”
Of this be sure: you do not find the happy life—you make it.
(7:12 PM – 5 Feb 2016)
Humanistically, this is fine, however in terms of Christianity, this is something else altogether, the God of Christianity is the glorious center of the universe, He puts His own glory above all else, and has created us in such a way that we cannot be satisfied by anything other than Him and upholding the glory of His name, the Apostle Paul gets this so clearly here:
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 [s]But if I am to live onin the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know [t]which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
Paul’s desire was to depart and behold His God eternally, and be with Christ, not to stay and progress further to make sure his exaltation, not even to depart and be with his family, but rather Paul’s single minded goal was to depart and be with Christ.
And in Isaiah God Himself says:
For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
21 But I had [i]concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.
I don’t know how the part I put in bold there could be any more foreign to Mormonism, when would the God of Mormonism ever say that? It just would not happen, the God of Mormonism is an exalted man helping His spirit children get to their own exaltation as He did, the God of the Bible is Holy, Exalted, Unique, and put’s His Name above all else.
While we do not see Mormon traditional doctrine on the nature of God and in many ways salvation taught at general conference today, we see that same God in action, the God of Mormonism whose work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life of man who is completely at odds with the God of the Bible who places His holy name above all else.
This is not to say that the God of the bible does not love humanity, and this is not to say that Jesus did not die and rise again in order that the elect might know Him, this is all the case, however the God of the Bible is a God whose glory is so all-encompassing that His name takes priority above all things, and when we place His name above all else, this does us far more good than any religious programmes and works, and what flows from this is freedom in Christ, resulting in doing the good works he has prepared us to do.