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GENERAL CONFERENCE OCTOBER 2017 – SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION REVIEWED BY ANDREW BROWN, PART 2

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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.

Mormonism – Shadow Or Reality?

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I have been wondering where I am going to go next in this blog, in the past I have had a structure of articles usually theologically focused, following some kind of theme or Mormon teaching book.

This is good but has a lot of commitment in terms of writing long articles and can take away the fun of being spontaneous. I think from now on I am just going to write about whatever I am learning about or reading about in Mormonism, or just anything Mormon related that gets my attention, I think that is actually called blogging haha. However I will keep the general conference reviews going as I love that as a way to keep in touch with up to date Mormon teaching.

The reason I named this Blog, “The Blog of Mormon” was so that I have the freedom to write about anything Mormon related, not just matters relevant to me being an Evangelical Christian, wanting to communicate the true gospel as I see it to Mormons, though of course that is not going away, but not every article will be totally focused on that, I am generally interested in all things Mormonism, and not always just to say how untrue it is, though that is not going away either.

So anyway I have started reading the classic work by Jerald and Sandra Tanner , which is Mormonism: Shadow Or Reality?. I think this was originally written in the 1960’s and is a condensation of lots of the work done by the Tanners around that time.

I am of course very late in reading this, but I have heard it mentioned so much recently that I thought it was time to pick up the copy I have had on the shelf for years.

Long before there was the internet, and ministries like mine, there was Utah Lighthouse Ministry. From its inception to today you could always get Sandra Tanner on the phone just by calling them. Jerald sadly passed away in 2006.

Because of their long standing work in being critical of Mormonism they have been very much demonized by Mormon members and apologists alike, the problem is that whenever people make contact, they speak to a very friendly lady called Sandra who is not at all pushy and just helpful, which has disarmed many people to what she is saying. Meeting Sandra on my mission trips to Utah was a massive high point.

Image result for mormon stories sandra tannerAnyway finally on Sandra Tanner, she was interviewed in the last few years on the Mormon Stories podcast, you can find all 4 parts here, this interview is amazing and goes right through her story, I cant recommend it enough. I think its the most important interview regarding Mormonism and Christianity ever.

My target is to finish Shadow or Reality by the end of the year, which may be tough for me as its about 600 pages long but I will have a go, as I am reading I am planning to post a few articles along the way as topics grab my attention.

A lot of what I post about, Ill be honest will have many posts and articles about it elsewhere, however my intention is simply to get some conversation and fresh awareness going on some issues, many of which may be new to me as well.

Look forward to your comments, and thanks for reading.

 

GENERAL CONFERENCE OCTOBER 2017 – SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION REVIEWED BY ANDREW BROWN

Image result for general conference october 2017 sunday afternoon

I’d like to start my saying that I enjoyed listening to the General Conference October 2017 Sunday afternoon session; much of what is said was great advice on Sunday afternoon Elder M. Russell Ballard reminded us we must “heed the words of Jesus”. Elder Joni L. Koch reminded us during his talk: when meet to worship “we should leave behind our differences, including race, social status, political preferences, and academic and professional achievements, and instead concentrate on our common spiritual objectives.”

Elder Stanley G. Ellis very wisely drew our attention to the fact that sometimes: hard times are exactly what we need; spiritually speaking. “Hard makes us stronger, humbles us, and gives us a chance to prove ourselves.” His talked reminded me of Hebrews 12:6 “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Sometimes God uses circumstances to refine our faith and correct us. Even in these times we should remember Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Elder Stanley also reminded us that hard is part of God’s plan, the crucifixion, is possibly the worst experience we can imagine and yet is was God’s plan to save us.

I found what Elder Jose L. Alonso said very encouraging; “I know that our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love us and are willing to help us to act as we love one another as they have loved us. And I know that by serving and forgiving others with real love, we can be healed and receive the strength to overcome our own challenges.” I really do believe we must love one another, the example Jesus left us is so challenge we desperately need his help to follow it especially is our self obsessed, consumer driven culture; to love another like we love ourselves is an alien concept.

I wish all would heed much of what was said at the general conference. So I guess the question remains, If I agree with so much why am I not a Mormon?

For me it all comes down to the topic spoken about by Tad R. Callister. Is the Book of Mormon really true?

Let us examine the arguments put forth by Tad R. Callister.

Image result for “First, the critics must explain how Joseph Smith, a 23-year-old farm boy with limited education, created a book with hundreds of unique names and places, as well as detailed stories and events.”.

“First, the critics must explain how Joseph Smith, a 23-year-old farm boy with limited education, created a book with hundreds of unique names and places, as well as detailed stories and events.”

The first thing worth noting is that we should not be considering the modern Book of Mormon, which has been through years of editing. You can purchase a 1830 Book of Mormon from Amazon should you wish to compare it. If you do you will immediately notice there are no verses divisions, however if you look further you’ll see changes to the text itself. Many of the changes are grammatical however some change the meaning of the text. For a full list please see here.

Lets now turn to Tad’s points.

Did Joseph smith have limited education?

It has been argued that there is no way Joseph was intelligent enough to write the Book of Mormon, however the evidence we do have suggests otherwise. Many young people have accomplished things that seem beyond their years. Alexander the Great led an army at age of eighteen, and Mozart was composing music by the age of six. In his late teens Joseph Smith showed signs of being a creative and charismatic leader as evidenced by his leadership in various money-digging schemes. According to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, he was a creative storyteller as well:

“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.”(1)

 

Even though Joseph Smith had little formal education doesn’t mean that he wasn’t educated. He enrolled in school when he was twenty. Joseph’s father had also been a school teacher and journalist, it is unlikely he wouldn’t have passed on some of his knowledge to his son.

Author Dan Vogel observed: “Certainly, Smith had less schooling than his wife, but he managed to write reasonably well. After examining several letters from the early period of Smith’s life (1831-32), historian Dale Morgan concluded that they exhibit “a flair for words, a measure of eloquence, and a sufficient degree of schooling.” William Smith [Joseph’s brother] challenged the view that his brother was “unlettered” as a “mistake,” remembering that Joseph “wrote [in] a plain intelligible hand.” Still, Smith’s talent lay not in correct orthography but, while telling a story, in his sense of narrative and ability to create memorable images. The book Joseph dictated abounds with examples of his poor grammar and Yankee dialect as well as his penchant for digression, redundancy, and wordiness. Rarely are his characters’ inner moral conflicts reflected. Most often we encounter flat, uncomplicated, two-dimensional heroes and villains. Generally the plots are simple and frequently improbable. However, the point was not to produce a literary masterpiece, although there are occasional passages exhibiting the lyrical quality of romantic writers of the era as well as the rhetorical style of the area’s preachers. Joseph Smith’s creative imagination, years of Bible reading, attendance at various religious meetings, exposure to common ideas about the origin of the Native Americans, prepared him to write the Book of Mormon”. (2)

Callister says:

“Accordingly, many critics propose that he was a creative genius who relied upon numerous books and other local resources to create the historical content of the Book of Mormon. But contrary to their assertion, there is not a solitary witness who claims to have seen Joseph with any of these alleged resources before the translation began.”

Is it significant that we don’t have a list of the books Joseph had access to? Well it would be interesting if we did have a list, which excluded them, but in this case it seems to have little significance, that we don’t have a precise list. Even if we give

Joseph the benefit of the doubt the books where popular in his geographical location at the time, many of us know storylines of books we haven’t read simply because we hear others talk about them often. I believe the influence of the book should be judged not by whether we have an external list but whether we can see the influence of the book within the text.

What other non-religious book were written at the time with similar themes or storylines?

Image result for view of the hebrews

View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith

Not only are there aspects of the Book of Mormon story found within View of the Hebrews, it was a very popular book at the time claiming the Native Americans were the lost tribes of Israel. It was publish just 7 years before the Book of Mormon For a full list of the comparisons see here.

Other books which were available at the time in Josephs Smiths location at the time he was writing the Book of Mormon (all available today on Amazon) include:

The First Book of Napoleon (1809) M. Gruau

It has similar, language, themes and lessons. Additionally it is believed that the book was written by the author Modeste Gruau when he was 14.

Not only is the language similar but entire sentences are identical. For examples of such sentences please see this video. (time stamp 50:00)

 

The Late War (1816) J. G. Hunt.

It has similar: language, themes and many of the battle scenes found in the Book of Mormon are strikingly similar to those described in the book. In fact there is a striking similarity between Jackson and Moroni. Again just like the “First Book of Napoleon” entire phrases and sentences from “The Late War” have found their way into the Book of Mormon see this video. (time stamp 1:02:00)

Again should you doubt what is being said this book it is available on Amazon.

Callister also says:

“How did Joseph read all of these alleged resources, winnow out the irrelevant, keep the intricate facts straight as to who was in what place and when, and then dictate it by perfect memory?”

Reading three books in addition to the bible and combining elements of each storyline is hardly a supernatural feet. Many fiction writers today draw upon each other’s work. If you’ve read both Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books, you can’t help but draw parallels like, the 9 rings and the 7 horcruxes, both having a giant sniper with easily mixed names.

Yes they are stand-alone stories but I doubt anyone would seriously argue J.K. Rowling was unaware of Tolkien’s work given the obvious similarities. Also did Joseph have to dictate it from memory? I’m certainly not suggesting that would have been necessary. In fact had Joseph been able to dictate from memory the Lost 116 pages by Mr. Harris wouldn’t have been an issue. It’s only an issue if he couldn’t remember what he’d made up rather than translated.

Callister says:

“In fact, his wife Emma recalled: “He had neither manuscript nor book to read from. … If he had, had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.”

 

So how did Joseph perform this remarkable feat of dictating a 500-plus–page book without any notes? To do so, he must not only have been a creative genius but also have had a photographic memory of prodigious proportions. But if that is true, why did his critics not call attention to this remarkable talent?”

Is this a fair assertion? Consider the hat he peered into a hat could easily have contained a notebook. Josephs position in relation to the others in the room could also have concealed notes, why the screen? What role did Emma play in the translation? Would the Golden Plates not count as a manuscript?

None of this defense is necessarily true, we have no way of knowing whether Joseph had notes. Secondly as already discussed his own family recorded his love of storytelling and how he could create a story on the spot to entertain then.

The next statement of Tad R. Callister I’d like to pick up on is

“The real issues still remain: how did Joseph produce a book that radiates with the Spirit, and where did he get such profound doctrine, much of which clarifies or contradicts the Christian beliefs of his time?”

The statement seems odd to me, ok it certainly contradicts the gospel message for in the Bible which was taught at the time that man is save my grace not after all he can do, but while he is yet a sinner. Contrast Ephesians 2:9 with  2 Nephi 25:23.

Lets give Joseph the benefit of the doubt for a minute. Lets agree he really did receive the book of Mormon under angelic guidance. The simple fact that the gospel found in the book of Mormon based upon human merit rather than unmerited favor of God should cause us to reject it.

As Paul said 

Galatians 1:8-9

But 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.

Secondly I would like to suggest what the Book of Mormon reveals about the nature if God is also in contradiction with that Joseph later taught and is also in contradiction to what is believed by Mormons today.

Lets ask the Book of Mormon some questions

1: Who is God?

  • 2 Nephi 31:21, Mosiah 15:1-4, Alma 11:38-39, Alma 11:44

2: What is the substance of God?

  • John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Once again the Book of Mormon agrees with the Bible, but Mormon doctrine is vastly different. See Alma 18:24-28, Alma 22:9-11

3: Has the nature of God ever changed?

  • Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 Brigham Young said:

The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this Church. How do you feel, knowing that God, through His own experience, “knows all that we know regarding the toils [and] sufferings” of mortality? (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Chapter 4, Suggestions for study)

 

I would suggest this is vastly different to what the book of Mormon Teaches

  • See: 3 Nephi 24:6 (Direct quote from Malachi 3:6),
  • Mormon 9:9 (Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17) and Moroni 8:18

In addition, one might ask: where did Joseph get the powerful insight that because of Christ’s Atonement, He can not only cleanse us but also perfect us? Where did he get the stunning sermon on faith in Alma 32? Or King Benjamin’s sermon on the Savior’s Atonement, perhaps the most remarkable sermon on this subject in all scripture?

Are not all of these topics covered in the Bible?

Are we now supposed to believe that Joseph Smith just dictated these sermons off the top of his head with no notes whatsoever?

Again this isn’t what is being suggested as the alternative and to a critical eye comes across as a straw man argument.

If Joseph were not a prophet, then in order to account for these and many other remarkable doctrinal insights, the critics must make the argument that he was also a theological genius. But if that were the case, one might ask: why was Joseph the only one in the 1,800 years following Christ’s ministry to produce such a breadth of unique and clarifying doctrines? Because it was revelation, not brilliance, that was the source of this book.

My Muslim friends often make a similar argument of the Quran, ‘its so beautifully worded it has to be revelation’. Uniqueness of doctrine sadly should be a warning to us, not an attraction as we saw from Galatians and the vast majority of the theology of the Book of Mormon mirrors the Bible, as I have argued it is the later developments of Mormon theology that departs from both the bible and the Book of Mormon.

Callister says:

“But even if we suppose that Joseph were a creative and theological genius with a photographic memory—these talents alone do not make him a skilled writer. To explain the Book of Mormon’s existence, the critics must also make the claim that Joseph was a naturally gifted writer at age 23. Otherwise, how did he interweave scores of names, places, and events into a harmonious whole without inconsistencies? How did he pen detailed war strategies, compose eloquent sermons, and coin phrases that are highlighted, memorized, quoted, and placed on refrigerator doors by millions of people”

If this argument holds true then I guess all of these writers are divinely inspired

Callister says:

“Joseph’s wife Emma confirmed the impossibility of such an undertaking: “Joseph Smith [as a young man] could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictat[e] a book like the Book of Mormon.”

 

As we have already documented above this statement simply isn’t true, Emma elsewhere herself contradicts this, as dies Josephs Brother.

Finally from Callister:

And finally, even if one accepts all of the foregoing arguments, dubious as they may be, the critics still face another looming obstacle. Joseph claimed that the Book of Mormon was written on golden plates. This claim received unrelenting criticism in his day—for “everyone” knew that ancient histories were written on papyrus or parchment, until years later, when metal plates with ancient writings were discovered. In addition, the critics claimed that the use of cement, as described in the Book of Mormon, was beyond the technical expertise of these early Americans—until cement structures were found in ancient America. How do the critics now account for these and similar unlikely discoveries? Joseph, you see, must also have been a very, very lucky guesser. Somehow, in spite of all the odds against him, against all existing scientific and academic knowledge, he guessed right when all the others were wrong.

 

I’ll happily admit Joseph got many historical details correct and where the Book of Mormon stands up to historical scrutiny, I will happily acknowledge these points. However for the “most correct book of any book on earth” we aren’t looking for some “lucky guesses” but for the entire narrative to be anachronism free. For example not one coin has ever been found in America dating to Book of Mormon times as described in Alma 11. For a fuller list please see here.

To conclude therefore: I’m not a Mormon because the Book of Mormon fails not only to align with what the bible teaches it also fails to align with what is believed by the Church of Later Day saints today. I know that the LDS apologists will twist many of the scriptures so they fit the current doctrine but I ask you would an honest reading of the Book of Mormon ever lead you to many of the core LDS beliefs today? Where is eternal marriage? Where are the two priesthoods? Where are the Gods before Jehovah? Where can I find the doctrine of salvation as presented by the missionaries on the streets?

So many are later additions and I’d suggest total overhauls. Why should anyone consider it reliable scripture? By the same standard we reject the Quran we should reject the Book Of Mormon, it fails the test of truth when compared to God’s revealed word in the Old and New Testament, while claiming to clarify and add to God’s final revelation – the work of His son. (Hebrews 1:2)

 

 

References

1, Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, England: S.W. Richards, 1853), p. 85; reprinted under the title Joseph Smith’s History by His Mother (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry).

2, Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004), p. 119.

 

 

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.

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“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.

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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

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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.

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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 Afternoon Session, Reviewed by Tony Brown

 

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By President Russell M. Nelson

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

In his conference message, Russell M. Nelson President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, asks the question: The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?

He shares his view that,

‘In a most miraculous and singular way, the Book of Mormon teaches us of Jesus Christ and His gospel’.

President Nelson begins his message by recalling a time he met and spoke to an African tribal king. After telling this king that he was “…an ordained Apostle of Jesus Christ” he was asked a question. The king asked, “What can you teach me about Jesus Christ?”

President Nelson goes on to say:

I responded with a question: “May I ask what you already know about Him?” The king’s response revealed he was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord.

President Nelson continued:

I explained that after the Saviour’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, He came to the people of ancient America, where He taught His gospel. He organized His Church and asked His disciples to keep a record of His ministry among them. That record,” I continued, “is what we know as the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a companion scripture to the Holy Bible.

Now here is a thought. If, as President Nelson claimed, this Tribal king was a ‘serious student of the Bible’ and ‘one who loved the Lord’, shouldn’t alarm bells have been going off in his head? If he truly knew his Bible, surely this message brought to him by President Nelson would have at least raised questions. Does the Bible speak of Jesus going to the Americas? Does the Bible say there will be another testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Holy Bible? The answer to any student of the Bible would clearly be no.

Yes, the LDS may point you to some Bible verses to show you that the Book of Mormon was a prophesied companion to the Bible, but then they are good at taking verses out of context. The LDS may ask you to turn to Ezekiel 37:15-17 which says:

“The word of the LORD came again to me saying, “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ “Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.”

They will tell you that the two sticks that become one stick, mentioned in these verses, are speaking of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. This is eisgesis, that is a reading into the text something that is clearly not there. Contextually and historically, these verses are speaking of a scattered people coming back together. The Northern and the Southern kingdoms will become one, uniting under King David. Nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon.

President Nelson recalls how he read to the Tribal king from the Book of Mormon. He read to him 3 Nephi chapter 11, ‘the Saviour’s sermon to the Nephites’.

If indeed the king was a lover Scripture, there would have been much familiar to him as the President read 3 Nephi. 3 Nephi is nothing more than a collection of Biblical sayings of Jesus, and thoughts of the Prophet Joseph, put into a different context.

Presenting the Book of Mormon to the king, the President received this response:

“You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now if President Nelson had given this Tribal king a Bible and we removed the word ‘additional’, I would have been giving thanks to God, but sadly it was a Book of Mormon and the addition of the word ‘additional’ is troubling.

Is there ‘additional’ knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ outside of the Bible? And if so, can this ‘additional’ knowledge be verified as authentic? And can this ‘additional’ knowledge be called θεόπνευστος (theopneustos), that is God breathed and inspired?

Questions about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon can be considered here.

Finishing his story about the Tribal king, President Nelson now turns his attention to those before him, asking the questions:

My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you?

Now, If I had been at the Conference it would have been difficult for me not to jump up at this point and shout ‘diamonds and rubies’. This would not to have been disrespectful to President Nelson or the Conference, but he did ask those hearing to be honest!

The whole tenor of his message was undoubtedly to show that the Book of Mormon is not just a companion to the Bible, but rather that it is superior to the Bible. After all, speaking of the Bible, the Eighth Article of the Mormon faith says:

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.

So, it is no surprise that President Nelson reminds the Conference what President Thomas S. Monson said back in April. Monson asked:

each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the

Book of Mormon each day.”

Notice that it is not the Bible, but the Book of Mormon that should be studied and pondered each day. One can understand why this is the message. To study the Book of Mormon keeps you within Mormonism, but to prayerfully study and ponder the Bible each day may lead you out.

Micah

 

Check out the testimony of how this happened to this Mormon Missionary

 

 

President Nelson continues to declare the superiority of the Book of Mormon over the Bible.

“Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His Beloved Son. Nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon.”

This is an interesting statement. He claims that to know more about the Father and the Son one should read the Book of Mormon, for ‘nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully…’

Yet, the Book of Mormon is pretty much silent on the core doctrines concerning the Father and Son as taught in Mormonism and in some places, it even contradicts current LDS teaching. For example:

Image result for the book of mormonThe Book of Mormon nowhere teaches that the Father is a person with flesh and bones, but rather it says He is spirit (Alma 18:26-29; Alma 22:8-11)

The Book of Mormon nowhere teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, “one in purpose” only, but not one in being.

But rather it teaches that there is One God in three persons (Mosiah 15:1-4; Mosiah 16:15; Alma 11:38-40; 3 Nephi 11:27)

The Book of Mormon doesn’t teach that God was once a man on another planet who progressed to become a God. It teaches that God has always been God. (2 Nephi 27:23; 2 Nephi 29:9; Mormon 9:19; Moroni 8:18)

The Book of Mormon also doesn’t teach that God is married and has numerous wives; or that God and his wives procreate spirit children, who live with Him before coming to the earth and receiving a human body to go through mortal probation; neither does it teach that Jesus Christ is the brother of every human being, and is also the brother of Lucifer.

These core teachings of Mormonism, regarding the Father and the Son are nowhere to be found in the Book of Mormon, so let’s revisit President Nelson’s statement:

“Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His Beloved Son. Nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon.”

Considering what the Book of Mormon doesn’t say, how can President Nelson’s statement be true?

In fact, it is astounding what Mormonism teaches about Heavenly Father and the His Son.

In Mormonism, Mary (the mother of Jesus) is the sister of Jesus, whilst God (Heavenly Father) was the one who came to Mary and had an incestuous relationship with her to produce a human body for her ‘brother’ Jesus. None of this is in the Book of Mormon, and it is certainly not in the Bible – but it is Mormonism.

President Nelson says that over the past six months, after President Monson’s challenge to study the Book of Mormon, he has asked various people the following three questions (my suggested answers are in RED)

First, what would your life be like without the Book of Mormon? BETTER

Second, what would you not know?

I WOULD NOT KNOW THAT I MUST WORK REALLY HARD TO BECOME A GOD

And third, what would you not have?   GUILT

Here are some of the answers that he received from fellow Mormons. Strangely they are different to mine.

 “Without the Book of Mormon, I would be confused about the conflicting teachings and opinions about so many things. I would be just like I was before I found the Church, when I was searching for knowledge, faith, and hope.”

Another said: “I would not know about the role the Holy Ghost can play in my life.”

Another: “I would not clearly understand my purpose here on earth!”

Another respondent said: “I would not know that there is continuing progress after this life. Because of the Book of Mormon, I know that there really is life after death. That is the ultimate goal for which we are working.”

Another respondent to my question said: “I did not have a life until I read the Book of Mormon. Even though I had prayed and gone to my church all my life, the Book of Mormon helped me to really communicate with Heavenly Father for the first time.”

Another said: “Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t understand that the Saviour not only suffered for my sins, but He can heal my pains and sorrows.”

And yet another: “I would not know that we have prophets to lead us.”

Now it is questionable that the Book of Mormon gave the answers to all these questions and the thoughts people had. The Book of Mormon is not an answer book, it is merely the tool used to lead people to Mormonism, and it is here that questions are really answered.

It should be noted that the Bible more than answers all these questions and more. That is because the Bible truly is the Word of God. Of course, the LDS claim that the Book of Mormon is also the Word of God, but the fact that it contradicts both the Bible and Mormon Doctrine, shows that it isn’t. For a closer look at The Bible verses The Book of Mormon look here.

What President Nelson says next is interesting:

Immersing ourselves regularly in the truths of the Book of Mormon can be a life-changing experience. One of our missionary granddaughters, Sister Olivia Nelson, promised an investigator that if he would read the Book of Mormon daily, his test scores on his university exams would improve. He did, and they did.

Did I read that correctly? Is President Nelson suggesting that regular reading of the Book of Mormon will lead to University success? If a LDS fails a test, does a Bishop call him into his office and ask him why he is not reading the Book of Mormon enough?  Does the apparent improvement in test scores prove that the Book of Mormon is true? Is that how we test what is true and from God? Of course not. The Bible tells us that we are to test all things. The way of testing what is being said is to test it against what the Bible teaches. It was for this that the Bereans were commended. (Acts 17:11)

President Nelson then goes on to reiterate the superiority of the Book of Mormon over the Bible because:

‘It expands and clarifies many of the “plain and precious” truths that were lost through centuries of time and numerous translations of the Bible.’

This is often said by LDS but they rarely bring forth any solid evidence to support the assertion that ‘plain and precious’ truths have been lost from the Bible. This is just their way of saying you cannot trust the Bible and therefore the Book of Mormon is superior.

He goes on to hammer home his ‘the Book of Mormon is superior’ point to the gathered faithful:

The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period.

The Book of Mormon both illuminates the teachings of the Master and exposes the tactics of the adversary. The Book of Mormon teaches true doctrine to dispel false religious traditions—such as the erroneous practice of performing infant baptisms. The Book of Mormon gives purpose to life by urging us to ponder the potential of eternal life and “never-ending happiness.” The Book of Mormon shatters the false beliefs that happiness can be found in wickedness and that individual goodness is all that is required to return to the presence of God. It abolishes forever the false concepts that revelation ended with the Bible and that the heavens are sealed today.

Do you get the feeling that he thinks the Book of Mormon is truly of God?  Sadly, to read The Book of Mormon, then receive a ‘feeling’ that it is true and so to join the LDS Church, may lead you to believe that you have truth, but in reality it doesn’t lead you towards Jesus, rather it leads you away from Him. All that President Nelson attributes to the Book of Mormon, the Christian would attribute to a relationship with Jesus.

President Nelson concludes as all faithful LDS should:

I testify that Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of this last dispensation. It was he who, through the gift and power of God, translated this holy book. This is the book that will help to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.

I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal and living Son of our living God. He is our Saviour, our Redeemer, our great Exemplar, and our Advocate with the Father. He was the promised Messiah, the mortal Messiah, and will be the millennial Messiah. I testify with my whole soul that in a most miraculous and singular way, the Book of Mormon teaches us of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Unfortunately, for President Nelson and the LDS, the Bible, the Christian Church and Christian history testifies strongly against that which they believe. As much as they claim to believe in Jesus and to teach His gospel, they sadly do not. They have another Jesus and another gospel. A Jesus and a gospel that is powerless to save.

If you are reading this and you are LDS, I implore you to put down the Book of Mormon and to read the Bible. Compare what it says against what you have been taught as a Mormon and as you do, ask the Holy Spirit to enable to see the ‘real’ Jesus.  I cannot promise you that reading the Bible will improve you test scores at University, but I know these words of Jesus are true:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Matthew 7:7,8

This article was written by Tony Brown, a UK-based evangelist to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, if you would like to get in touch or have him speak at your church, check out his website here.

 

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

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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 2016 – Sunday Morning Review by Andrew Brown

580 OctConference

When I first met Mormon missionaries over two years ago I was surprised that they seemed so focussed on worship in a temple, the need for a distinct priesthood and the fact you could be eternally married in a Mormon temple. I hadn’t at the time studied the beliefs of the Mormons, but I simply asked them to explain beliefs that seemed to contradict my understanding of what the Bible taught. In my opinion the same questions the missionaries left unanswered are the same questions that come to mind after listening to this Sunday morning session.

The main question that the morning session raised for me was:

Do we need a man made temple or temples today?

President Thomas S. Monson – Choices

“Brothers and sisters, before I begin my formal message today, I would like to announce four new temples which, in coming months and years, will be built in the following locations: Quito, Ecuador; Harare, Zimbabwe; Belém, Brazil; and a second temple in Lima, Peru.

When I became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1963, there were 12 operating temples in the entire Church. With the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple two weeks ago, there are now 150 temples in operation throughout the world. How grateful we are for the blessings we receive in these holy houses.”

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell – A Pattern for peace

Please read or listen to (03:00-6:30) the portion of the talk entitled: First Step: “Learn of Me” available hereas it discusses one of the ordinances carried out in the temple.

Elder Quentin L. Cook – See Yourself in the Temple

I’d recommend reading or listening to the entire talk given that this is precisely what he is talking about.

I’d like to start by acknowledging that the idea of a temple is certainly biblical, a temple was built by the command of God in the Old Testament. We see in Exodus 25:8,9 God commands the children of Israel: “…make me a sanctuary [Hebrew; miqdosh a holy place], that I may dwell in their midst”

In verses 10-22 we read of the construction of the Arc of the Covenant.

Just like the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that guided the people; the carrying of the Arc and the erecting of the tabernacle was a constant reminder that God was with them.

 

We then have the construction of a physical temple by Solomon, however this was David’s plan. Lets look however at how God responds to this desire to build a house for Him.

In 2 Samuel 7 God tells David:

the LORD (Jehovah) declares to you that the LORD (Jehovah) will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.”

Why does the Jehovah here say that the son will build for Him a house? Partly we know the prophesy was fulfilled in Solomon, however Solomon died his kingdom did come to an end, the prophesy found its greater fulfilment in Christ. Did Jesus ever instruct the building of temples?

On the contrary in Mark 13:1-2, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus also in John 4:20-23 states that a time is coming were people won’t worship at the temple in Jerusalem or any other mountain but would worship in spirit and in truth.

We know from history that Jesus prophecy came true in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple by the Romans. Surely if the temple was so crucial to the worship of God and the plan of salvation, God could easily have protected it, could not the same power which protected the holiness of the arc of the convenient (2 Samuel 6:7) protected the temple? Was there another, greater, temple that was destroyed and yet God rebuilt it? John 2:18-22: “destroy this temple and in three days I will raised it up… He was referring to the temple of his body”

I would suggest that what Jesus was referring to in John 4 was the end of temple worship, in the sense of a particular location, add to this in John 2 Jesus referring to himself as a temple and we start to see what a new convent temple really is.

Why do I believe we no longer need a physical temple? The main function of the temple was to make sacrifices for the atonement of sin, (Leviticus 1:4) the animal would in effect die for the sins of the one making the sacrifice. The idea that God would provide a substitution goes back even further to Genesis 22:13. These sacrifices were pointing towards Jesus, as John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Paul in his writing makes it abundantly clear that the sacrifices in the temple were only provision until Christ came (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:15; 10:8-14)  

Perhaps my favourite verse in the Bible is Colossians 1:22

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (NLT)

Contrast this with temple worship where only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Not only does the sacrifice of Jesus allow us to stand before God without fault, it allows the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Looks back at Exodus 25 it was the creation of a holy place, the sacrifice of Jesus made us that place – 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul writes “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

You see today Christians don’t have a temple, we are the temple. Under the Mosaic Law God commanded the Israelites to built him a house where he could dwell, in 2 Samuel 7 I would suggest the house that Jesus built was his people – the church (Matthew 16:18) You see when Jesus was on the cross the temple veil was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) we now have access to the presence of God because of Jesus’ shed blood. What caused the separation – our sin, has been paid for, as Hebrews 10:14 puts it “by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”

Justified-and-SanctifiedI would like to take a quick detour to define sanctification and justification as I believe the LDS definition of grace confuses the two. Justification is God declaring us righteous when we put our trust in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, not based on our righteous but on Jesus’ this is God’s grace, it’s not after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23) but it’s despite our inability. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast

When it comes to sanctification this is God’s work in our lives to make us what he has already declared us. This takes place even before we see yourselves as believers (2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2), it is the work of God that continues in the life of a believer (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, John 17:17, Ephesians 5:26, 2 Corinthians 3:18) and finally it is the future work of God when we receive our resurrected bodies ( I John 3:2, Ephesians 5:25-27)

In Quentin L. Cooks message “See Yourself in the Temple” he talks about mirrors that people would look in and see themselves in an outline of a temple they were then advised to “make the necessary lifestyle changes and spiritual preparations to meet this goal. While the desire for holiness is admirable there is an inherent problem here. How holy is holy enough? If we are talking about entering the presence of the almighty God, then nothing short of prefect holiness will do (Exodus 33:20). What is the standard then that must be met to get into the temple?

As only God knows the heart surely it is only an outward change that is necessary to meet this human standard, with all due respect the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:27 could then apply, really all that is necessary is to look good on the outside or as Quentin put it they need to “self-certify their worthiness when they answer the temple recommend questions”. How different to Colossians 1:22 were despite our sinful condition God chooses to see us as righteous. See also 2 Corinthians 5:21

W. Christopher Waddell stated in his talk: President Thomas S. Monson has taught:

“The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. … As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace.” He also quotes Gordon B. HinkleyGo to the house of the Lord and there feel of His Spirit and commune with Him and you will know a peace that you will find nowhere else.”

 

While I admit removing ourselves from distractions helps us focus on God I would suggest it is in truly knowing Jesus that we find our peace, rather than in a particular location. Like Paul could say in Philippians 3:8 “I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”

For more information on this topic please see here.

This leads us to my next question: Do we have a priesthood today and if so who are they?

When we know Christ we have a high priest, lets look at Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Not only is Jesus our high priest but we have no mention of another priesthood amongst the early church. Jesus himself is described as: “a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)

Why don’t we have a distinct human priesthood today? Firstly it is clear from the Old Testament (Leviticus 18) that the priests acted as a mediator between the Israelites and God, particularly to offer the sacrifices. Jesus fulfilled this role perfectly in offering his body as the sacrifice for sin and he is now in heaven mediating for us (1 Timothy 2:5). Secondly all believers are referred to as a holy priesthood. 1 Peter 2:5: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For a fuller review of this subject please see this review of The Saturday Morning Session:

My final question comes from the talk Do I Believe?” by Bonnie L. Oscarson.

Do Families last forever?

She stated that “families are forever” and that this one of the distinguishing features that makes the gospel of the LDS faith the greatest message of hope and help that the world has ever known.

I’d like to start out by saying that I believe that those who have placed their trust in Jesus will last forever and that we may recognise one another in our resurrected bodies. However Jesus words in Matthew 22 make it clear that human relationships like those on earth now will not take place in Heaven.

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

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.

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.”

General Conference – April 2016 – Saturday Morning Review by Bobby Gilpin

 

It’s that time of the year again where Facebook and all things media and social media go crazy with all things general conference where Mormonism is concerned.

I always think this is a good opportunity for us as a ministry to keep up to date with what is being taught by Mormon general authorities and offer our perspective on this. The talk that caught my eye the most from the Saturday Morning session is “Where are the keys and authority of the Priesthood” given by Elder Gary E Stephenson of the quorum of the 12 apostles.

Needless to say this talk is looking at the whole area of Priesthood authority, Stephenson, opens the talk with a story of him once losing his car keys on a family holiday, and how the car was useless without those keys. As the talk goes on the point is made again and again about how important the “Priesthood keys” are for the Mormon church and its members to function. One of the concluding points which I am going to work back from is this:

I testify that priesthood authority and priesthood keys start the engine, open the gates of heaven, facilitate heavenly power, and pave the covenant pathway back to our loving Heavenly Father.

This talk really labours the absolute significance of the “priesthood keys” here are two other quotes from this talk.

September of last year. There, I felt the power and reality of the heavenly events which took place on that sacred ground. That experience led me to ponder, study, and pray about priesthood authority and priesthood keys, which impressed me with a desire to share with the young men and young women of the Church how priesthood authority and restored keys can bless them.

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Sealing keys, restored by the Old Testament prophet Elijah, enable ordinances to take place in holy temples. Ordinances performed in these temples enable individuals and families to return to the presence of our heavenly parents

The concept of priesthood keys and priesthood authority are absolutely essential within Mormonism, particularly when it comes to issues such as how might someone be exalted.

Joseph Smith founder of the Mormon Church said:

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“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

12th Mormon Prophet Spencer W Kimball said:

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“Men require priesthood for exaltation. No man will ever reach godhood who does not hold the priesthood. You have to be a member of the higher priesthood – an elder, seventy, or high priest – and today is the day to get it and magnify it” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 51).

When I see quotes like this one quote from the apostle Paul keeps going through my head.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Why did Paul say this? Surely this priesthood authority and these priesthood keys are so significant he would want to share this with the people he was writing to. To be fair this point alone does not mean that Paul never taught anything else, in Acts 20:26-27 Paul makes the point that he did not hold back any of the council of God, meaning there will are a number of different areas that he taught, on which we of course see in his other letters.

However no where in the New Testament do we see Paul emphasise that the Priesthood must be held by Christians to be saved or exalted. Paul instead boldly claims.

1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

The repeated message of the New Testament is the sufficiency of Jesus, we see in Hebrews 7 that He is forever  a high priest, and is therefore following the Old Testament pattern of one high priest existing at a time until death, and so Jesus is the only high priest that we need.

I did a word search on the king James Bible looking for priesthood keys and here is what I found.

priesthood keys

I got the same thing looking for Priesthood authority too. The word Priesthood is mentioned 7 times in the New Testament in the King James version of the New Testament (which Mormons use) here they are.

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

Both of which refer to a collective priesthood encompassing all believers.

Hebrews 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

Hebrews 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Hebrews 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 7:14 or it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Hebrews 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

This teaching develops as the verses go on (best understood when reading the chapter in full) and shows that Old Testament Priests have now been done away with, and we now have a permanent high priest that continues forever unlike the old Priests that is Jesus. We see no emphasis on the Melchizadek or Aaronic priesthoods as being something we should seek to gain as Christians.

Our salvation, or exaltation or whatever you want to call it only happens by faith in Jesus, He is our Saviour, He is our Prophet, He is our Priest, He is our King. There is no reference here to the significance of Christians holding onto any priesthood authority, but rather Jesus is the one that continues forever as a high priest. A role that previously was held by individuals one at a time until death.

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In the FairMormon Book “Restoring the ancient church” by Barry Robert Bickmore, which was written to show how the Mormon church is a restoration of the early Christian church. There is an interesting quote regarding “Priesthood Authority” in the early Christian church. (brackets and bold added)

“While the extant (still existing) early Christian documents  make no mention of the two priesthoods within the Church, it is at least clear that there was a hierarchy of authority at least roughly corresponding to the distinction made by the Lord to Joseph Smith”.p.189

 

 

This is a significant admission, that no early church documents make any mention of these Priesthoods that the Mormon church holds so dear, and as I have shown it’s not in the New Testament in relation to individual believers continuing to hold them, therefore where is the restoration here?

Its not a restoration but rather a fabrication. Absolutely there was leadership in the early church as this quote says, but not in the name of the Aaronic or Melchizadek priesthoods, which are now complete in Christ. Interestingly David Whitmer one of the Book of Mormon witnesses saw this idea of priesthood authority as a fabrication too, more on that here.

I think in reality the simplicity of the good news of the gospel of Christ has been lost on Mormons, This emphasis on Priesthood authority and keys is at the expense of simply proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and is causing Mormon after Mormon to remain in a lost state, unless they see past this and trust in Christ alone for their salvation.

The gospel is a message of a Saviour seeking to save the lost, not a message of an exalted man seeking to give people the authority they need to cause their own exaltation.

Thanks for reading, look forward to your comments.

 

Mormons And The Bible By Mike Thomas

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Just as in other churches, Mormons face the question of what to think of the different Bible translations available today. Most churches have a standard text, a pew Bible, but often encourage members to use and explore other translations. Christians have found this very helpful as each translation brings its own strengths and weaknesses. It is also the case that different translations function in different ways as Bible students grow in, share, and teach their faith. You can read here a helpful account of how this works and how we might choose a translation.

For Mormons it is a great deal more difficult yet straight forward in a strange sort of way. The first question a Mormon asks is not, ‘Which Bible translations are reliable?’ but,’What does the church have to say?’ And this is not a simple seeking after counsel, ‘Pastor, which translation would you recommend?’ We all do that from time to time. What is important to a Mormon is, ‘what is the ‘official’ stance of the church?’ It is this that is ‘right’ in the eyes of your typical LDS believer.

This speaks volumes about the degree of trust Mormons put in their leaders. Its fallen out of fashion now, as has so much old fashioned Mormonism, but it used to be proudly said:

“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the Kingdom of God.” (Improvement Era, June 1945)

The (unofficial) Mormon apologetics site FAIR has attempted to refute the idea that this is ‘official’ Mormon thinking, even dragging out from Mormon archives a letter from the Mormon leader George Albert Smith appearing to say as much. You can read it here. But it doesn’t wash because anyone who has dealt with Mormonism, more, anyone who has been a Mormon will tell you this is the attitude of the average True Believing Latter-day Saint to this day. Nothing demonstrates this more than the Mormon approach to Bible translations. Which Bible do Mormons read? The Bible the Mormon leaders tell them to read, because when the prophet speaks the thinking has been done; simple? Well, this is where it gets complicated for them.

Here is the advice of the Mormon Church regarding which version to use, taken from the Institute manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, 1979, 2nd. edition, and still currently in use, with comments added.

WHICH VERSION OF THE BIBLE SHOULD I USE?

There are a large number of Bible translations now in existence. The translation recommended for Latter-day Saints has been clarified many times by the Church leaders. The following are examples of such counsel:

. . . none of these [other] translations surpasses the King James version of the English Bible in beauty of language and spiritual connotation, and probably in faithful adherence to the text available to translators. It is this version which is used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in all of its official work both at home and abroad. The literature of the Church refers invariably to the King James’ translation. Other translations are used by the Church only to help explain obscure passages in the authorized version.”

(Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pub.1945, p. 120.)

This King James or Authorized Version, ‘as far as it is translated correctly,’ has been the version accepted by this Church since it was organized.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in CR, Apr. 1954, p. 38.)

The Official Bible of our Church is the King James version.” (Editorial, Church News, 14 Nov. 1970, p.16.)

Several things are worth noting:

Standard_Works_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints.jpgFirst, the editorial from the Church News makes clear that the KJV is ‘the official Bible of the Church.’ For most Mormons, this means the debate is over and the question officially answered.

Second, loyalty to the KJV seems founded more on sentiment than scholarship, or spiritual insight. The language is beautiful, who would disagree? ‘Spiritual connotation?’ What does that mean? That the language better conveys the spiritual message underlying the text? If so, why is it that, ‘Other translations are used by the Church…to help explain obscure passages in the authorized version?’

If the spiritual connotations are better conveyed in the KJV what needs explanation? How often I have listened to a sermon delivered from a King James Bible to find the preacher spend half the time explaining the obscurity of the text, rather than delivering the message of the text. In the Mormon Church this is particularly problematic since the other texts they use – Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price – are written in a pigeon King James language (It truly isn’t the real thing).

Third, the KJV is accepted only, ‘as far as it is translated correctly.’ This is one of the many neat little get-out clauses that pepper Mormonism and comes from the eighth Article of Faith: ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.’

Fourth, they declare the KJV to be, ‘probably in faithful adherence to the text available to translators.’ They are not even sure it was, but it ‘probably’ was, and only then ‘faithful to the text available.’ Of course, that is the point, surely? ‘…faithful adherence to the text available.’ The KJV just marked its 400th anniversary and textual, historical, archaeological discoveries over 400 years, have given us a wealth of information and sources not available to those translators. Another significant factor is the growing independence of scholars from regal/governmental interference (you really should read the history).

The Mormon Church relies much more on scholarship today than ever it did just fifty years ago. Surely, here is a situation crying out for a rethink on the issue of which Bible translation Mormons use. A problem presents itself, however, in the shape of the inspired authority of church leaders. The manual goes on to state:

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This does not mean that the King James Version is a perfect translation. Elder James E. Talmage gave a reason for this when he wrote the following:

There will be, there can be, no absolutely reliable translation . . . unless it be effected through the gift of translation, as one of the endowments of the Holy Ghost. The translator must have the spirit of the prophet if he would render in another tongue the prophet’s words; and human wisdom alone leads not to that possession.” (Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 237.)

So, the Mormons are left with a Bible translation that is beautiful, if obscure enough to need modern translations to help understanding, probably faithful to the text available to translators 400 years ago, but ultimately not an absolutely reliable translation. For that we need a prophet. The manual states:

Such an effort—to translate the Bible scriptures by the power of the Holy Ghost—was begun by the Prophet Joseph Smith under the direction of, and at the command of the Lord. (See D&C 45:60, 61; 93:53.)

The following is instructive information concerning the status of the Inspired Version in the Church today:

The Inspired Version [as it is called by its publishers] does not supplant the King James Version as the official church version of the Bible, but the explanations and changes made by the Prophet Joseph Smith provide enlightenment and useful commentary on many biblical passages.

Part of the explanations and changes made by the Prophet Joseph Smith were finally approved before his death; and some of these have been cited in current church instructional materials or may be cited in future church instructional materials.

Accordingly, these cited portions of the Inspired Version may be used by church writers and teachers, along with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, in connection with Biblical interpretations, applying always the divine injunction that ‘whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom.’” (D&C 91:5)

When the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price offer information relative to biblical interpretation, these should be given preference in writing and teaching. But when these sources of latter-day revelation do not provide significant information which is available in the Inspired Version, then this version may be used.” (Editorial, Church News, 7 Dec. 1974, p. 16.)

References from the Inspired Version are used throughout this manual for clarification of particularly vague or faulty passages of the King James Version.

There you have it again, ‘vague or faulty passages of the King James Version.’

The Mormons have an ‘official’ Bible translation that is beautiful, but peppered with particularly vague or faulty passages, indeed, obscure enough to need modern translations to aid understanding. It is probably faithful to the text available to translators 400 years ago, but ultimately not an absolutely reliable translation. They also have a prophet. Now, you might think this last a game changer. Indeed, Joseph Smith did produce his own translation of the Bible, although the official line is that it was never finished. But why would that matter since the current head of the church, Thomas S Monson, is just 16th in a line of prophets stretching back to the founding of the church.

The natural conclusion is that, since the only reliable Bible would have to come from a prophet and, since the Bible they use is vague, faulty, obscure and 400 years old, surely a modern prophet could solve this problem and we could all throw away our NIVs, ESVs, etc. Not so it seems. Since Joseph Smith, the gift of prophecy has increasingly fallen by the way. His successor, Brigham Young, had plenty to say, enough indeed to take a good deal of space in early Mormon periodicals as well as the familiar Journal of Discourses. He didn’t do anything about Bible translation, indeed, he didn’t add more than one section to the increasingly dated and irrelevant Doctrine and Covenants (Section 136).

Subsequent prophets have not even added so much as a pen stroke to the D&C and not one has felt called to finish the Bible translation work begun by Joseph Smith. So what is the true place of the Bible in the Mormon Church?

The official Bible is the King James Version (Americans say King James Version, English believers say King James Bible) but this is vague, faulty, obscure, and 400 years old. Modern translations can be used to aid understanding but none is going to supplant the vague, faulty, obscure, and 400 year old Bible they clarify.

Meanwhile:

When the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price offer information relative to biblical interpretation, these should be given preference in writing and teaching. But when these sources of latter-day revelation do not provide significant information which is available in the Inspired Version, then this version may be used.”

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So, ‘living prophets’ define what is ‘official’ and Mormons give this advice precedence in their choice of Bible. These ‘living prophets’ however cannot produce a more reliable translation than the KJV. In the absence of a better Bible, and with no inclination to look at modern scholarship, the priority in Mormonism is to ‘living prophets’ followed by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, only then turning to Joseph Smith’s ‘Inspired Version,’ and last the KJV, which is only to be understood in light of Mormonism, a Mormonism that cannot correct it, though neither can it completely trust it.

I will finish with a personal note to any Mormon who might read this. I congratulate you for reading this far, as I know your instinctive reaction is to dismiss this article as ‘anti-Mormon.’ It is difficult for you to see it in any other way I know. You see, I have sat where you sit now and have felt much as you probably now feel.

I want to ask you to do something if you will. Just for a moment, I want you to get up out of the seat you occupy, the place of outrage that anyone should criticise your church, of suspicion that the motives of people who would do such a thing are bound to be base, vile, and contemptible. I want you to take another seat, the seat of someone who has been invited to join your church and who already has access to, and regularly reads a modern translation of the Bible. This person understands something of how we got our Bible, the process by which it is translated, and the quality and quantity of research material available to modern Bible translators.

Why should this person join your church? Remember you are sitting in their chair now, outside looking in. Especially in light of the what your leaders have said about the ‘official’ church Bible, why should this person join your church?

You have a message of ‘restoration’ and yet have failed to restore the Bible. You have a message of prophets, and yet they have nothing to contribute to modern Bible translation. Your church rejects modern translations on the basis that, ‘The translator must have the spirit of the prophet if he would render in another tongue the prophet’s words; and human wisdom alone leads not to that possession.” (Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 237.)

Yet your prophets, so called, who presume to have the spirit of the prophet stand idle while church members use a 400 year old translation that is officially vague, faulty, and obscure, and that needs all the help it can get. Why should this person trust your claims and join your church?

The KJV is not, according to the Mormon narrative, ‘inspired’ since it was put together by intelligent, well-meaning, men who ultimately relied upon the ‘human wisdom’ that Talmage insists would disqualify such a work. You have prophets but they have proved silent on the matter of a better and truly inspired translation. Meanwhile, modern scholarship brings us a wealth of resources to achieve what Mormon prophets seem singularly impotent to do. Even the King James Version has been updated after a fashion, in the NKJV.

Why should this person join your church? Why give up better translations for an outdated and difficult one? Why ‘follow the prophet’ when the prophet seems incapable of lighting the way? Sitting in this chair, on the outside looking in, what does the Mormon Church offer that can have any credibility, let alone attraction, when it sets such a high standard for Bible translation then fails, itself, to meet that standard?

Myself, I have used the NIV for the past thirty years, and have, more recently, found the ESV a great help to serious Bible study. In seeking understanding I consult widely among translations, and have never felt the need to find an ‘official’ Bible. After all, look at where it gets you.

Mike Thomas is the Chairman of Reachout Trust a ministry to the cults in the UK, and this article appeared originally on the Reachout website and in the Reachout newsletter.