Tag Archives: Mormon General Conference


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Essential Truths – Our need to Act

By Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella


It is encouraging to see clear teaching on what the LDS Church believes. It makes it much easier to search for truth when beliefs are presented accurately and clearly, for this I applaud Elder Parrella.

The First Vision and the Prophet Joseph Smith brought forth knowledge and truth that are essential to our happiness in this life and to our exaltation.

I’d like to start out by asking a simple question, which vision account are we talking about? Yes I know some will say that they are just different aspect of the same account but I’d ask you to view them chronology along side Joseph’s other written works. For example the first vision account which states it was an angel and doesn’t mention The Father and Son having bodies of flesh and bone Matches Joseph’s written work at the time: like the Book of Mormon which doesn’t mention the bodies of flesh and bone in fact it denies it, more about this below.

When I was about seven years old, I asked my mother, “When you and I die and go to heaven, will you still be my mother?” She was not expecting such a question. But answering to the best of her knowledge, she said, “No, in heaven we are going to be brothers and sisters. I will not be your mother.” That was not the answer I was hoping for.


When I first starting meeting with Mormon missionaries, two of the first Elders I met with discussed the idea of the eternal family, I found it very strange as I knew Jesus had discussed the subject with the Pharisees in Matthew 22, Jesus understanding of marriage existing after this life seemed in total opposition to what the missionaries where telling me.


“The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died.  In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Matthew 22:23-30

 Jesus would seem to hold the same view as Elder Parrella’s mother. It isn’t that there is no marriage in heaven; I believe that there is simply just one marriage in heaven, the marriage between Jesus and his bride the church, if our experience of being with Christ is our greatest joy, then why would we need that earthly inferior joy that comes form the union of husband and wife wonderful as that might be.

As I brought up during a review of last years conference, I believe C.S. Lewis explains this very well when he writes:

“The letter and spirit of scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternatives either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time.

On receiving the answer ‘No,’ he might regard [the] absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.”

Parrella says:

Sometime after that short interaction, two young men arrived at the gate of our home. By some miracle, my father allowed them to come in. They said they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…. They taught us that families truly can be together after this life as father, mother, and sons and daughters.

To continue the analogy of the boy wanting to eat chocolate, here we have the situation where upon hearing from his mother that chocolate doesn’t feature in intercourse, rather than accepting that answer from the parent who would know, he asks other boys if chocolate is involved until he finds one who tells him that really intercourse is all about chocolate. He then decides to believe the other boy along with anything else the other boy has to say because he likes those answers better than his parents.

Jesus clearly taught that families are a construct for this lifetime only, when we love another dearly it might be a hard truth to swallow, however I am going to trust the one who holds the future and is now in the heavens, rather than the teaching of another who claims to follow Jesus but rejects what he taught on the subject.


Lets examine the three ‘truths’ of the talk:


1, God Calls Prophets to Lead and Guide Us

An essential truth we learn from the First Vision and the Prophet Joseph Smith is that God calls prophets, seers, and revelators to instruct, guide, warn, and lead us. These men are God’s mouthpieces on earth, with the authority to speak and act in the name of the Lord. By strictly following their counsel, we will be protected and receive choice blessings in our journey on this earth.

 Here I believe we have a partial truth. Does God call prophets to instruct, guide, warn and lead us? Yes, the bible is clear on this; many books in the Old Testament are written by such prophets.

In the New Testament we have verses such as Ephesians 4:11

 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”

2 Peter 1:20-21

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Revelation is an entire book filled with prophecies, a proportion of which was future for John but is history for us today.

For a fuller understanding of the prophetic role in the New testament church I’d strongly recommend you check out this link at The Gospel Coalition.

What I would like to address is does Joseph’s vision give us the essential truth that God call’s prophets?

The accepted vision account found in the Pearl of great Price today tells us that Joseph saw “two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!


John 6:46

“Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he [Jesus] which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”


Some have argued that the bible contradicts itself as some places we are told you cannot see God and live and at other time prophets such as Moses are described as having seen God face to face. I believe this is only possible to understand within the Trinitarian view of God. No-one has seen God the father at any time – Exodus 33:20, however Jesus is identified as God and people saw him. So we can see God by seeing Jesus and still live.

So if we evaluate Joseph’s vision based on whether the father can be seen then it falls short.

Another test of a prophet can be found in Deuteronomy 13:1-3

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”


So even if a so-called prophet can performs wonderful signs – perhaps even writing a book, which seems like scripture. Even if he can tell the future as Joseph Smith claimed, if the prophet leads you after other Gods you are to reject him.

Lets continue to the next point raised by Elder Parrella to see what Joseph revealed about God.


2, The Knowledge of the True Nature of God

Here we have some truths we all agree on mixed in with teachings unique to the LDS church. Lets examine them one by one.

 Another truth we learn because of the First Vision and the Prophet Joseph Smith is the true nature of God.

Firstly I find it strange that this is presented as a new truth with was only revealed by Joseph’s vision, are you telling me no one before 1830 knew the true nature of God?

Just imagine how blessed we are to know that God is a being with a body of flesh and bones as tangible as ours,

This statement is potentially very confusing, which god is being referred to? In Mormonism there isn’t just one, after all according to the King Follett Discourse, ‘God’ was once a man on another planet and married Mormon men may become gods also. However let us assume the most likely answer and go with God the father or ‘Elohim’ in LDS lingo. Does God the father have a body of flesh and bone according to the bible or indeed the book of Mormon?

Firstly as far as I’m aware this is nowhere taught in the Book of Mormon, like the bible which teaches in John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” the Book of Mormon also refers to God as a spirit.

Alma 18:24-28

And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth.And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea.And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

Alma 22:9-11

And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem? And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this? And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.


I would suggest that the idea of God having a body of flesh and bone was a later doctrinal development. In the first vision account of 1832 it was an angel that appeared to him, no mention of the bodies of flesh and bone. See here for more on this.

Parrella says:

 “…that we can worship a God who is real, whom we can understand, and who has shown and revealed Himself and His Son to His prophets—both prophets of old and prophets in these latter days.”

Here we are in agreement it is wonderful that God the Father has revealed himself to mankind, especially through his Son.

 He is a God who hears and answers our prayers; a God who watches us from heaven above and is constantly concerned about our spiritual and temporal well-being

 That God would listen to each of us and be moved by our experience of the different circumstances of life is truly astonishing. When preparing for a sermon on the resurrection of Lazarus, I was struck again by how much Jesus despite seeing the bigger picture was deeply moved by the sorrow of those around him. See John 11 in particular verses 33-35.

A God who gives us agency to decide for ourselves to follow Him and obey His commandments without coercion; a God who gives us blessings and allows us to face trials so we can grow and become like Him. He is a loving God who provided a plan through which we can enjoy happiness in this life and in eternity.

Here are more points of agreement, we must choose to follow Jesus, It was out of love that he came and without him we are lost. As mentioned in part 1 of the review it was very encouraging to hear from elder Ellis how God uses the hard time for our benefit


3, Jesus Christ Is Our Savior

From the First Vision and the Prophet Joseph Smith, we received knowledge of the reality and sacred mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone of our religion.

We certainly agree about the totally necessity of Jesus, what we would disagree on is the sufficiency of the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to give us the knowledge necessary for salvation through Jesus. Paul was able to write to Timothy: “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Therefore the scripture that was available to Timothy, without question the Old Testament and I would also argue that the writing of Paul and the other apostles were also being referred to as scripture by the early church given Peter can refer to Paul’s writings as scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. Therefore to claim Joseph needed to bring new information so we could understand Jesus role as Saviour doesn’t seem to have much credibility.

Because death was introduced into the world, as surely as we live now, we will all die one day. One of the effects of death would be the permanent loss of our physical body; we wouldn’t be able to do anything to reclaim it. In addition, because we all sin during our journey here on earth, we would never be able to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence. Can you imagine the consequences of being deprived of God’s presence and never again having a body?

A Savior and Redeemer was needed to free us from death and sin. Under Heavenly Father’s direction, Jesus Christ came to earth, suffered, died on the cross, and was resurrected so that we too can be resurrected and, with sincere repentance and the making and keeping of sacred covenants, be once again in the presence of God.

Here we can agree with all but the final sentence that the keeping of sacred covenants as defined by the LDS church is essential for salvation. For instance baptism, the thief of the cross would be with Jesus in paradise without the opportunity to be baptised. When discussing this issue with missionaries they countered that baptism for the dead could have been preformed for him. However for a fuller understanding of the context of 1 Corinthians 15:29 please see the article on CARM.

Hebrews 9:27 reminds us we die once then comes judgement and in John 9:4 Jesus reminds us we must work while it is day. The need for a second chance is alien to Jesus teaching as he taught that it was all whom the Father gives him will come to him. (John 6:37)

Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Lawgiver, the Holy One of Israel, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our King, our All. May we all continue to act upon these essential truths and knowledge, offering our obedience to God and His Beloved Son. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I too pray that we would all follow the true Jesus Christ, knowing who he truly is. Not one of many gods but the one true God. May we act upon the essential truth recorded in the Old and New Testament that were inspired by the Holy Spirit. , offering our obedience to God the Father and His Beloved Son. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

General Conference October 2017 – Sunday Morning Session Reviewed by Bobby Gilpin

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Hi there all, from this session I am going to spend a little time specifically looking at 1 talk from this session and a theme that arises from it.

This talk caught my eye as I have been listening to a lot of talks and debates in evangelical circles lately about supernatural or spiritual gifts, and the issues as to whether they are still in effect today, I believe they are which makes me a “continuationist” and many great Christians who I have nothing but respect for think they are not, and they often use the title “cessationist” as a label for this.

The Mormon church I think it’s very safe to say would be call itself a “contunuationist” movement, Mormon’s talk a lot about receiving personal revelation, and the seventh article of faith states:

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy,

revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

Now, I think when Christians consider in whose name or by what power any miracles, or gifts, or healing’s or works of faith are carried out, they would generally give the same answer, “In the Name of Jesus”, or the power of Christ, or the power of God etc.

Here are a few examples from the Bible to give examples of what I am saying:

Acts 4:29-30 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

James 5:14  Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

This also applies to casting out demons:

Acts 16:18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.

Even giving commands to Christians in scripture.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

The point I am making is that when we see acts of power or healing being carried out in the New Testament they are made specifically in Jesus name, I think the reason for this is clear, in that it is that Christ Himself is the source of all of the power we rely on as Christians and ultimately the power through which all things were created, and He is the person for whom all things were made, in the heavens and the earth.

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

So what is my point in all this? During Hallstrom’s talk he said something that caught my eye:

Similarly, Elder David A. Bednar once asked a young man who had requested a priesthood blessing, “If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?”

It’s a blink and you might miss it thing, but this young man whom it sounds like is dying, asked for a priesthood blessing and in response he is told you may or may not be healed, which means that the young man was asking for a priesthood blessing, in the hope of healing from it.  To someone from an evangelical background, this might seem strange, why wouldn’t he just ask for prayer for healing you might ask?

This goes further in an April 2010 General Conference talk by Apostle Dallin H Oaks:

Many scriptures teach that the servants of the Lord “shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).6 Miracles happen when the authority of the priesthood is used to bless the sick. I have experienced these miracles. As a boy and as a man I have seen healings as miraculous as any recorded in the scriptures, and so have many of you.

It’s the authority of priesthood that heals, isn’t that interesting as compared to the New Testament:

Acts 3:16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. 

In Mormonism it is the power of the priesthood in the New Testament it is the power of Jesus name by which we are healed, and this goes much deeper than that.

Now I know that many Mormons reading this will be saying to themselves:

“You don’t get it Bobby they are the same thing, the power of Jesus name is the power of the priesthood!”

Now the answer to whether that is true or not is found in a simple question, and that is,

Is Jesus the all-sufficient creator of everything, with power in His own right to create, save and heal, or is He a being that started out with limited power and authority and had to be exalted to a position to which He did not hold previously and be given that power?

If Jesus is by nature sufficient, powerful and glorious He needs nothing to be given to Him, if He has gained His power and glory from an external source? What is it?

In Mormonism that external source is priesthood authority, or priesthood power. It’s the power by which God created all things, as we see in a general conference address in April last year by Apostle Russell M. Nelson.

Think of this: the priesthood conferred upon us is the very same power and authority through which God created this and numberless worlds, governs the heavens and the earth, and exalts His obedient children.3

I once had some Mormon missionaries in my living room and I asked them the question, do you think it’s possible that one day you could be as great as Jesus? One of them confidently answered: Yes!

Now I know many Mormons if not most, reading this would not have said that, and I know in the Mormon theological framework we will always be subject to Christ within our own future kingdom should we be exalted, so this missionary I would say even within the Mormon framework is mistaken, however he said yes for a reason, I think Joseph Smith in the now, long out of print work the history of the church helps us find this reason.

Image result for mormon history of the church

“If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424).

Jesus Christ obtained this priesthood, He obtained the power to create, He obtained the power to heal, this states by following the commandments and obeying the ordinances of the house of the Lord, which I can only assume but I think I am correct means by going to the temple on whatever world he was on, and going through the endowment and carrying out baptisms for the dead etc, on whatever world He was on as a mortal.

Many Mormons might not phrase it this way today, however the logical implication of how the priesthood works, and how we can hope for our exaltation today extends to this for us and so rightfully it would have to for Jesus as He is not eternal.

In the Mormon framework we are all eternal in that one day if you go far back enough we were all “intelligences” awaiting our spiritual body so we could then await our physical body in order to go through our mortal probation, and hopefully progress to our exaltation as our Heavenly Father did, so when I say Jesus is not eternal in Mormonism, I mean in this sense, in that if you go far back enough we were all in the same place.

The power of God, or any power in Christ’s name is not eternal, the only power that is eternal in Mormonism is the priesthood.

Now in the Bible we never see anything close to this in terms of the priesthood being an external, eternal power through which God created all things, we simply see a God who has power by virtue of who He is.

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

In the early church I am not aware of them having any concept of this either but I am open to correction on that if anyone wants to let me know.

Even the word Priesthood generally refers to a position someone holds that gives them certain authority to act as a go between, between men and God, which is why in the Old Testament it was the priests that went into the temple offering sacrifices to God on behalf of the people in order to connect the people to God.

This role is no longer necessary as we now have one mediator between God and man who is Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5). That is a big theological area which I appreciate I am really quickly covering, however nowhere in the Old Testament would the term priesthood be connected with the power by which the world was created, this is something completely new brought in by Joseph Smith which cannot be found in the Bible or early Christianity.

Image result for an address to all believers in christ


This is not a belief that was held straight away in the Mormon church, I believe there in no mention of any of this in the Book of Mormon, and one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, David Whitmer expressed problems with Joseph Smith’s developing ideas of the priesthood in his book An Address to All Believers in Christ.

This is a massive issue which can often get forgotten about when discussing issues such as the nature of God, and salvation which are of course massive, however for Mormons the issue of priesthood authority, priesthood blessings, and priesthood power are fundamental to everything in their faith, not only their power to act and their hope of salvation, but also God’s power to act and create, this is probably the best example there is of a perfectly fine concept such as priesthood, being turned into something false and offering no hope.

The Mormon church bears the name of Christ, and makes mention of His name in so many areas, but strips Him of His power and glory and makes it an external thing which He obtained by obedience, and thus we all can.

Mormons I would ask you please explore this and by all means come back to me with your comments.

General Conference – October 2017 – Saturday Priesthood Session Reviewed by Mike Thomas

Image result for october 2017 priesthood session mormon

As I listened to the priesthood session of the LDS 2017 semi-annual conference, I was reminded of how aspirational Mormonism is. I recalled how easy it was to be inspired in the comfort of a meeting house, how natural it is for young priesthood holders to think anything possible, what it is to want it to be true, no matter how fantastic it sounds, to look into the eyes of others for affirmation, knowing they look back seeking the same; restless, striving, I-can-do-this Mormonism.

Fawn Brodie, in her seminal work No Man Knows My History observed:

‘Joseph’s clergy was…entirely composed of laymen; moreover, of practically all the laymen in his church.  The result was a pyramidal church structure resting on the broadest possible base and possessing astonishing strength.  By giving each man a share in the priesthood Joseph quickened a sense of kinship and oneness in the church.

 …What Joseph had created was essentially an evangelical socialism…Nearly every man had a New Testament title – deacon, teacher, priest, elder, “seventy”, or bishop.  Each title carried a certain rank, progression from lower to higher being dependent upon a man’s faith, his zeal for the church, and the good will of his superiors in the hierarchy.  Each convert had not only the dignity of a title but the duties attending it.  He was expected to work strenuously for the church, and he did.  His only recompense, and it was ample, was a conviction that he was furthering the work of the Lord in the last days.’  (pp.100-01.)

If we were to talk about the ‘Mormon Dream’ it would be the ‘American Dream’ writ large across eternity, the goal nothing less than executive priesthood power over your own creation, success defined as godhood. Despite recent and increasingly regular protests from some Mormon women, priesthood in the Mormon Church is confined to men, who are encouraged at every turn to press on to such heights, bringing their prospective goddess wives with them. Mormon women should, perhaps, remember they cannot be exalted without their husband and his priesthood:

‘No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant’ (LDS Apostle Lorenzo Snow, (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p 291)

Mormon men were, in this session, reminded of this daunting weight of responsibility.

Elder Richard J Maynes of the Seventy, in a stirring talk, reminded the room, ‘…perhaps there is no greater compliment we could receive from the Lord than to know He trusts us to be worthy priesthood holders and great husbands and fathers.’

Integrity of heart his theme, he brought the sober reminder that, ‘…earning the Lord’s trust is a blessing that comes through great effort on our part. Trust is a blessing based on obedience to God’s laws. Earning the Lord’s trust comes as a result of being true to the covenants we have made in the waters of baptism and in the holy temple.’

Elder David F Evans of the Seventy insisted each of us, ‘has a personal responsibility to do what is necessary to obtain and keep a strong testimony…Patient covenant keeping,’ he continues later, ‘brings the blessings of heaven into our lives’

Dieter Uchtdorf, second counsellor in the first presidency, in what seemed at times a rambling presentation,  spoke about being light-bearers:

‘Brethren, it is up to us to be in the right place to see the divine light and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when night has fallen and the world seems dark, we can choose to walk in Christ’s light, keep His commandments, and courageously testify of His reality and His greatness. As a bearer of God’s priesthood and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a bearer of light. Keep doing the things that will nurture His divine light.’

 Henry B Eyring, first counsellor in the first presidency (You see now Fawn Brodie’s point about title, rank, and progression) reminded all that ‘The Lord Leads His Church,’ before going on to say, ‘The Lord’s leadership of His Church requires great and steady faith from all who serve Him on earth,’ insisting further, ‘For a leader to succeed in the Lord’s work, the people’s trust that he is called of God must override their view of his infirmities and mortal weaknesses.’

Dale G Renlund of the quorum of the twelve apostles reminded priesthood holders, ‘For Heavenly Father’s purposes to be accomplished, Christ’s atoning power needs to be made available to God’s children. The priesthood delivers these opportunities.’

Priesthood holders are to be worthy, earning God’s trust through great effort, strictly obedient to God’s laws, true to their covenants, taking personal responsibility to do what is necessary. It is up to the priesthood holder to choose to keep the commandments, to have great and steady faith, with a duty to deliver Christ’s atoning power to God’s children, and to keep doing…and doing, and doing.

A Mormon isn’t saved in any sense a Christian would understand. What Christians call resurrected, Mormons call ‘saved,’ what Christians call ‘saved,’ Mormons call ‘exalted,’ and it is this exaltation for which they daily strive, never knowing if they have done enough. This is not a saved people aspiring to fully come into the good of all Christ has won for them. This is an aspirational people striving to prove worthy of all God has for the strongest, fittest, most faithful and accomplished of his children.

What I Once Thought Gain…

I am reminded of Paul’s description of his former self in his letter to Philippi,

‘…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.’ (Philippians 3:5-6)

I imagine a Mormon striving to something similar, ‘baptised at eight, born in the covenant, a Mormon of Mormons; in regard to law, an elder; as for zeal, faithfully carrying out church callings; as for legalistic righteousness, worthy of God’s trust, striving, obedient, covenant-keeping, commandment-keeping, temple worthy, having steady faith, doing, doing, and doing.’

But I remember how Paul goes on to say of his zeal and self-righteousness, ‘But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider them rubbish (Gk. skoo’-bal-on, excrement), that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.’ (Philippians 3:7-9)

What did Paul see that Nicodemus did not? Remember how the faithful Pharisee Nicodemus, ‘came to Jesus at night…’ and recognised Jesus as having been sent by God. ‘In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”‘ Jesus unpacks this teaching but Nicodemus fails to understand, and Jesus’ response is an indictment, ‘You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things?’

This is the passage where Jesus goes on to explain, ‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert (Num.21:8-9), so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn.3:1-16) This ‘eternal life’ is a quality of life, God’s quality of life, gifted to all who trust in Jesus. What the LDS priesthood-holder strives for, Christ has achieved for us, it is not earned, or merited.

Those Strange ‘Born-Agains’

There is this thing Evangelicals (born-agains) do. With Paul, they insist, ‘No-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law…For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.’ (Romans.3:20-28) They justify this in light of James’ insistence, ‘Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.’ (James.2:1-13) James carefully explains that this is because if you sin you become a law breaker, and its what you have become that marks you unworthy, not how hard you have, or haven’t tried. Its a neat argument, and no getting away from it.

  • No-one is capable of keeping the whole law and ‘your best’ doesn’t cut it.
  • There must, therefore, be some other way of getting right with God.

Paul insists we are ‘justified by faith,’ and though he was a brilliant law-keeper, yet it was all worthless.

Jesus said people gain eternal life by believing in him.

Yet, anyone who pays attention will know the New Testament is full of imperatives to do good works. Peter urges good works, ‘that [men] may see your good deeds and glorify God…’ (1 Peter 2:1

Hebrews encourages,

‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.’ (Heb.10:24)

Jesus taught,

‘Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’ (Mt.5:16)


Paul writes we should ‘do good, be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share…’ (1 Tim.6:18)

And, of course, James insists, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ (James 2:17)

Then we see those strange ‘saved-by-grace-not-works’ Christians faithfully gather for worship, giving sacrificially, going the extra mile, being good neighbours, loving their enemies, fasting and praying, striving to be salt and light in the world, and storing up treasure in heaven. What is going on, if they ‘don’t believe in works?’

Christians, it seems, believe in obedience, making and keeping covenants,  growing in faith, taking responsibility, and sharing the good news of Jesus. They know James’ timely reminder, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ They grasp James’ challenge, ‘Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by what I do.’ (Js.2:17-18) And that is what Christians do.

Image result for faith without works is dead

James makes it clear that living faith issues in action. That is his point; faith is the tree, fruit its product. If the tree is dead, James insists, the fruit will be absent. The fruit is evidence of a living tree. Where Mormons see good works as the emphasis of James’ teaching, the real emphasis is faith. An absence of good works is evidence of a dead faith, the presence of good works is evidence of living faith. It is that living faith that saves, and not the fruit it produces.

Paul writes, ‘It is by grace you have been saved (note the past tense) through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.’ (Eph.2:8) There is no contradiction here. Clearly, Paul agrees with James, urging us to, ‘do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…’ (1 Tim.6:18) Yet he is clear in his teaching – works don’t save. Paul the evangelist is effectively explaining how we are put right with God, James the pastor how a saved people live.

Just as a tree is first planted, then produces fruit, so a Christian is first born-again, then produces the good works that are the natural product of an established and well-nurtured Christian life.


 All Things New

When Jesus instituted what we call communion, what Mormons call ‘sacrament,’ he said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.’ (Lk.22:20) He is described as, ‘the mediator of a new covenant.’ (Heb.9:15) Church leaders are, ‘ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’ (2 Cor.3:6) Christians are to, ‘Walk in newness of life.’ (Ro.6:4) a new life that is described in some detail in the Sermon on the Mount. To an unregenerate person this can seem every bit as daunting as being told in a priesthood session to be worthy, be great, keep commandments and covenants, obey laws and keep doing, doing, and doing, because its up to us.

But Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again.’ This means more than simply coming to a decision to follow him and putting our backs to the task. To be born again is to be a new creature. Paul writes, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.’ Note again the tense (2 Cor.5:16-17 ESV) Warning believers in Galatia against trusting in law-keeping, Paul writes ‘Neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.’ (Gal.6:15)

He urges believers in Colossae, ‘Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off (tense again) the old self, with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.’ (Col.3:9-10) This renewing in knowledge is not simply learning and striving to keep to better ways. To saints in Ephesus Paul describes it as being renewed in the spirit, or attitude, of your minds, ‘and [putting] on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness.’  (Eph.4:23-24)

To be born again is all these and more. It is to be recreated, like the first creation a work of God, and it is this new creature that follows after God, confident in the promise of Jesus:

‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.’ (John 5:24)

 This text is weighted with incredible promises. The present possession of eternal life, the confidence that we will not be condemned, and the knowledge that death no longer has dominion. All this because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, because of a risen Saviour, and an empty tomb, and the promise of Jesus that,

‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)

One of those priesthood-holders may say, ‘I believe in Jesus, so all this must apply to me. I am saved!’ Two problems immediately present themselves. The first is that this teaching is alien to Mormonism. The Mormon Church simply doesn’t teach it though it is the theme running through the teaching of every New Testament writer. The second is that putting your faith in Jesus totally precludes putting your faith in anything or anyone else. It is Christ or works, not faith and works. The Mormon Church demands, however, that these priesthood holders earn these blessings by great efforts, taking personal responsibility to do what is necessary, to keep their temple covenants, to prove worthy, and gain celestial glory. These are the efforts, this the thinking of the old creature

Eternal life is for that new creature, who has put off the old self, and is being renewed after the image of his creator, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness, having been made alive in Christ, having received the promised Holy Spirit.

Having entered the new covenant mediated by Jesus, experienced the new birth (1 Pet.1:3), this new creation walks through this world in the full assurance of God’s promise that he is making all things new (Rev.21:5) and that, ‘we have the first fruits of the Spirit [and] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved.’ (Ro.8:23-24)

‘All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor.5:17-21)

Michael Thomas is a former Mormon and is chairman of Reachout Trust

General Conference October 2017 – Saturday Morning Session, Reviewed by Bobby Gilpin


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 cheer
His noble heart.
His words with fire impress
On souls that thou wilt bless
To choose in righteousness
The 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:

Romans 11:36

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
Young women with President Eyringhave 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.

Image result for the chief end of man is to glorify god and enjoy him forever


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 4:13Alma 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.

Image result for your best life now


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:

Philippians 1:

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:

Isaiah 48

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.

And finally:

Ezekiel 36

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.

General Conference, April 2013 Sunday Afternoon Review, by Russ Bales and Jenna Wood

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

A review of Elder Holland’s LDS General Conference speech titled “Lord, I Believe” on April 7, 2013, Salt Lake City, Utah

By Russ Bales, Evangelical Christian and Jenna Wood, Christian and former Mormon


Elder Holland opened his speech with the comment, “Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.”

Some questions immediately come to mind.

•    Believe in what? Will a man who calls himself a prophet of God proceed to the core of the gospel message which is belief and trust in Jesus and forgiveness of sins?

•    Or will his talk be designed to soothe the minds of those who are questioning their faith in the Mormon Church?

It was not unexpected nor surprising that the thrust of Holland’s speech focused on the latter. The Mormon Church is currently experiencing an exodus from its ranks unparalleled in the Church’s history since the Kirtland Bank failure. It naturally follows that an address to all Mormon believers would seek to reassure the faithful that all will be well if faithful Mormons will heed the counsel of the prophets.

Elder Marlin Jensen, a General Authority of the LDS Church and Executive Director of the Church History Department, was asked the question on January 31, 2012, “Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are ‘leaving in droves?’”

“We are aware,” he said according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. “And I’m speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care,” Reuters article

Elder Holland encourages Mormons to “Stand strong until additional knowledge comes.” Holland is clearly acknowledging that many Mormons are starting to question the veracity of the claims of the LDS church. Holland is clearly admonishing the flock to stand unwavering during troubling times.

Holland states,

“Be candid about your questions as you need to be. But don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.”

Holland makes a sober point insofar that we all do well to exercise faith. It takes faith to believe in an unseen God. Our faith in God is bolstered by the veracity of biblical history. Christianity is a reasonable faith. It is reasonable to consider that an intelligent designer created everything that is.

Where these writers would diverge from Holland’s admonition to not allow nagging questions to get in the way of faith is when the Mormon church asks its adherents to ignore the mountain of evidence that goes against the claims of the LDS church. For example, the uniquely LDS scripture called The Book of Abraham has been examined by several renowned Egyptologists. (See the video documentary) The consensus is unanimous. It is a book that isn’t what it claims to be.

As another example, the history of the Church itself is becoming problematic for many Mormons. The LDS Church doesn’t make it readily known that its prophet, Joseph Smith, married at least 33 women. 11 of those women were already married to living husbands. Such facts should be considered and such facts reveal the LDS church’s claims to be extremely problematic.

One last example is the race issue in the Mormon Church. The Church banned blacks from full membership in its priesthood from 1830 to 1978. Such things should cause Mormons to question the claims of the LDS Church and in no way should an alleged prophet of God encourage them to, “…hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” when in actuality the LDS Church isn’t providing that additional knowledge. They’re not providing a public response to those nagging questions.

The knowledge of LDS claims are on the table. All one has to do is simply use an internet search engine to examine LDS claims. LDS leaders aren’t answering. They’re leaving their flock without answers to these hard questions and all the while repeating the mantra: just have faith.

Determining truth is important. Vitally important. What we all want most, next to being loved, is truth. No one wants to be lied to by the auto mechanic. No one expects their religious leaders to cover up facts. The Mormon Church, however, is unfortunately adept at doing that.

Determining truth is as simple as opening God’s Word. When the apostle Paul preached about Jesus, the Bereans in the Book of Acts didn’t merely take Paul’s word for it. They compared what he said to that which has been previously revealed:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11

Regarding truth, Dave Hunt of The Berean Call states:

Truth is independent of time, space, and matter, and never changes. It has no location in the physical universe; it exists in the nonphysical realm of the soul and spirit. The indisputable fact that the brain is not the mind, with which we understand truth, provides one of the simplest proofs that we are nonphysical and eternal beings living temporarily in physical bodies. This solemn fact raises a question that most do not like to face. Preferring to give their attention to pleasures and plans related to this temporal world of the five senses, that which is of paramount importance is put off to “a convenient season” (Acts 24:25), which never comes. Every person must answer the great question: Where will my soul and spirit (the real “I” that is my unique self) be when this temporary dwelling in which I have lived these few years lies “moulding in the grave?”

Members of the LDS religion are warned constantly that if something goes against the teachings of the LDS doctrines and Prophets, then it is a deception and of Satan. Remember that Satan can (and does indeed) use facts to deceive! Satan abuses the facts of what one believes, even partial truths, and then distorts the interpretation of those facts and truths to weave a deception. Holland’s use of Jesus’ own words to try and distort the truth an interpretation of what Jesus was actually saying when he said,

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Jesus uses this parable not to imply that our “faith of a mustard seed” can move mountains and uproot trees by faith. No one can do such things, no matter how great their faith. The key to understanding the passages is the nature of faith, which is a gift from God.

The power of faith reflects the omnipotent nature of the God who bestows faith on His own to make the point that little is much when it comes from God. The mustard seed in the parable grows to be a huge tree, representing the tiny beginnings of Christianity when just a few disciples began to preach and teach the gospel. Eventually the kingdom grew to huge proportions, encompassing the entire world and spreading over centuries.

Holland used this parable of Jesus to suggest that what Jesus actually meant was if one of little faith (faith in the LDS gospel, not in the Gospel of Jesus Christ) will at least trust in “The Church” their faith will grow.

Faith of the mustard seed can be applied to all those that are seeking for truth and bring the Truth of the true Church, His church that he started from tiny beginning of Christianity that grew from just a few disciples teaching his gospel to the entire world!

When Satan attempted to deceive Jesus he failed because Jesus would not be separated from the Father’s guidance, purpose and character. Jesus, couldn’t be fooled into thinking there was anything more worthy of His attention than staying in alignment with the Father. He had a relationship with the Father to the degree that they shared common purpose, will and character. He knew the Father. He knew Truth.

Jesus said, “I am THE TRUTH, the way and the life…” (John 14:6) and “you shall know (be intimate with) THE TRUTH and THE TRUTH shall make you free” (John 8:32).

As a person on Facebook wrote: “What Holland teaches is clear –when confronted with questions, the answer must not conflict with what you once believed to know, and if you are not satisfied with that that answer, keep trying till you do, and keep it on your shelf with all the rest of the ‘unknowns.’ I cannot subscribe to this method of determining truth.”

There are too many unknowns on that shelf for many Mormons these days. The shelf is getting heavy.

General conference talks appear more as pep talk designed to help people feel good and maintain their testimony of the Mormon Church than words from prophets regarding God’s salvation message and truth.

General Conference, April 2013 Saturday Morning Review.


Hello all we have just had the weekend again where the Prophets and Apostles and other leaders within the Mormon Church bring teaching to the members in the movement. 

What we started doing last October and I think we have managed to do it again, is have a Christian watch each session of this and put some of their thoughts down. So starting from today we will hopefully be bringing up a review a day of the sessions in order of them happening. Some reviews will go through the whole session talk by talk, and some will just pull together some thoughts on the session as a whole. Which is more what I will be doing for this session. 

As ever please leave your thoughts and feel free to disagree with and challenge anything we say.

So the first talk of the session was from President Thomas S Monson, the current president of the LDS church opening with some remarks. As often happens he announced that two new temples were going to be opened. You could hear the gasps from the audience. I remember in October 2010 when I was at a session in the conference centre in Salt Lake City when Monson made a similar announcement. People were looking at each other in awe and amazement. For Mormons when they hear of new temples opening this is a sign of the Kingdom expanding, an opportunity for more members to be baptized for more people that have died. Joseph Smith said this:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has placed upon us is to seek after our dead” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356).

It seems this still rings very true today. He also announced that there are now more than 65.000 Missionaries in active service, with plenty more to come since the age reduction for  teenagers to be able to go on a mission last year. Now males can go at 18 and females at 19. So expect to possibly see more missionaries wherever you are.

But anyway going back to the Joseph Smith quote, what really struck me in this whole session is two things. I will spend the rest of this review expanding on each one.

1, The Mormon Church has not backed off at all on its teachings about eternal progression.

2, That the Priesthood is the centre of Mormonism at the expense of the acknowledgement of the true greatness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.


If you look at the older days of Mormon Conferences and teachings, you were left with no doubt that the Mormon Church teaches that God the Father was once a mortal man, and that we can become gods. This as mostly everyone knows is a key teaching of the Mormon Church.

5th President Lorenzo Snow
“We must advance through stages to godhood. As man now is, God once was—even the babe of Bethlehem, advancing to childhood—thence to boyhood, manhood, then to the Godhead. This, then, is the ‘mark of the prize of man’s high calling in Christ Jesus’” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 5. Italics in original).

“Now, we are not ashamed of the glorious doctrine of eternal progression, that man may attain the position of those to whom came the word of God, that is, gods” (Anthon H. Lund, Conference Reports, October 1902, p. 81).

Yet since those early bold statements we have seen a rise in those that seek to defend the authenticity and Christianity of the LDS Church try and back off from this, here is an example.

“The phrase ‘eternal progression’ is not found in the scriptures, nor do we find it in the sermons and writings of Joseph Smith. There are obvious difficulties in announcing as doctrine a concept that is without scriptural basis” (BYU Professor Emeritus Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, p. 112).

This is interesting as it seems to be a trend that Professors at BYU (Brigham Young University) are often trying to back off from the core teachings of the leaders of the Church, often in what seems to be an attempt to sound more Christian. Here is a quick video with Bill Mckeever from Mormonism Research Ministry talking about this.

So what I saw in this session was a few key hints that actually show that this teaching is very much alive in the Mormon Church.

In the talk given by Elaine S Dalton she started off by saying this:

Every week young women all over the world repeat the Young Women theme. No matter the language, each time I hear these words, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him,”1 the Spirit affirms to my soul that they are true. It is not only an affirmation of our identity—who we are—but also an acknowledgment of whose we are. We are daughters of an exalted being!

We are daughters of an exalted being. Not the eternal most high God, but rather an exalted being. Because Heavenly Father went through His plan of salvation and was exalted.

Brigham Young 2nd Mormon President and Prophet said:

“It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has been once a finite being; and yet we are not in such close communion with him as many have supposed” (Brigham Young, October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).

Later in the session we heard from Henry B Eyring First Councillor to the President. Interestingly in the text for his opening words it says this:

I am grateful to be with you in this conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His Church. We take His name upon us as we enter His kingdom. He is God, the Creator, and perfect.

But if you listen to what he says, he says this:

I am grateful to be with you in this conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His Church. We take His name upon us as we enter His kingdom. He is a God, the Creator, and perfect.

What he said, rather than what was transcribed is very consistent with the teachings of Mormonism. Again Brigham Young said this:

“How many Gods there are, I do not know, But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are passing through. That course has been from all eternity, and it is and will be so to all eternity” (Brigham Young, October 8,1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).

In Mormonism Heavenly Father is a god. One of many millions, billions, if not infinite gods. Its just that he is ours. Was Eyrings wording here an error or was he being more upfront with the Mormon view than the correlation department wanted him to be?

And finally on this point. Russell Ballard in his talk said this:

Brothers and sisters, as the literal spirit children of our loving Heavenly Father, we have unlimited, divine potential. But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant. We can drift away from the true doctrine and gospel of Christ and become spiritually undernourished and wilted, having removed ourselves from the divine light and living waters of the Savior’s eternal love and priesthood power.

We are the literal children of our Heavenly Mother and Father, and our potential is unlimited. Unlimited means what it says unlimited, this means that everything that God is, is open to us to have one day for ourselves. Unless unlimited means something else. This is classic Mormon teaching on eternal progression. As Lorenzo Snow said “As man now is God once was, as God is man may become.” Mormonism has not changed in this regard, we just do not get it spelt out  any more at general conference.


When I listened to the Priesthood session I think in April last year and when I listened to this session it amazes me just how central this idea of Priesthood power is in Mormonism.

Here are a few quotes from Elder Russell Ballards talk. one of the 12 Apostles.

Brothers and sisters, the power by which the heavens and earth were and are created is the priesthood. Those of us who are members of the Church know that the source of this priesthood power is God Almighty and His Son, Jesus Christ. Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and the earth were created, but it is also the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and, as our Father’s Only Begotten Son, to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary—thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an infinite Atonement and overcoming physical death through the Resurrection.

The power of the priesthood is a sacred and essential gift of God. It is different from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God’s name. The authorization or ordination is given by the laying on of hands. The power of the priesthood comes only when those who exercise it are worthy and acting in accordance with God’s will. As President Spencer W. Kimball declared, “The Lord has given to all of us, as holders of the priesthood, certain of his authority, but we can only tap the powers of heaven on the basis of our personal righteousness” (“Boys Need Heroes Close By,” Ensign, May 1976, 45).

According to Joseph Smith, this applied to Jesus too.

“If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424).

Also Ballard Said:

It is by these keys, this authority, and this power that the Church of Jesus Christ is organized today, with Christ at the head directing His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and assisted by duly called and ordained Apostles.

So in the first quote Ballard said that this power comes from God Almighty and His Son. We see from Joseph Smith that actually the Son obtained it by His personal worthiness. However when you think about it there is a massive chance that the Father will have had to do this too. If he is an exalted being, that is a part of a system of salvation that has gods and worlds without end, then at some point down the line our Heavenly Father must have obtained His priesthood from His Heavenly Father. Consider this quote.

“There is no exaltation in the kingdom of God without the fulness of the priesthood. …Every man who is faithful and will receive these ordinances and blessings obtains a fulness of the priesthood, and the Lord has said that ‘he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion’” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:132. Ellipses mine).

This comes from the 10th Prophet of the Mormon Church. So if we saw in this first session that Our God is an exalted being and if we see here that exaltation comes from the Priesthood which comes from God. It seems to me that our Heavenly Father obtained His power from the receiving of this priesthood power from somewhere else. Some Mormons will agree with this thinking, some won’t, but I hope you can see where this is coming from.

At the great Commission Jesus said “All authority has been given to me therefore go.”

12th Mormon Prophet Spencer W Kimball said:

“Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking his specific authorization” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 494).

Its clear that this will be talking about other Churches that do not hold this Priesthood that are being talked about here. Yet Jesus said All authority has been given to ME therefore go.

We see in Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

in John 11:43 here is how Jesus raises the dead.  When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

Jesus calms a storm, then here is the discussion after: And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41)

Didn’t Jesus and these guys get the memo, it was the Priesthood authority that Jesus earned that makes these things so isn’t it? And why is Jesus saying all authority is His therefore go? Shouldn’t he be saying The Melchizedek priesthood has been given to you therefore go, and make sure you stay worthy!”

He didn’t, for good reason. As the Biblical God does not have some handed down authority, that He in turn hands down. John 5:26 says: 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; The Father did not get created by His Father God like we did by ours, rather He exists by necessity of His own nature, of being the only true God.

The real God speaks by the word of His power, creates by the word of His power, and heals by the word of His power. There are no priesthood blessings in the New Testament, but rather Healing and Miracles done in the Name of Jesus. 

What does this mean for the Christian Church? It means that if you are in Christ, then you have all of the authority you need to Baptize, preach the gospel, raise the dead, heal the sick not because you have authority, but because He has authority and He has told you to goand do these things.