Mormons And Jesus

Yesterday I asserted that when Christians speak of Jesus and His work, we mean something decidedly different from Mormons. However, those in that cult would have us think otherwise.

Mormons are Christians. Mormonism is centered on Jesus Christ and His role as creator and redeemer. He is not only the center of Mormon worship, He leads the Church personally through revelation to His prophet (the President of the Church) and by giving the authority to church priesthood-holders to act in His name. Mormons are accused of not being Christians for two reasons: 1) because the Mormon Church has cannonized scriptures in addition to the Bible, and 2) because Mormons believe in “a different Jesus.” These accusations are difficult for Mormons to comprehend. Mormons wish they had even more scriptures and know that more will be given as they are more worthy to receive them. As for a belief in a “different Christ,” Mormons have more information regarding Christ than any other church on earth (from *Mormon Beliefs).

This “more information” is the problem, masked by the use of Biblical language.

From the *Mormon Wiki:

Every converted member of the Church (often referred to as a “Mormon”) holds a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and a knowledge that only through His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross can mortal man be saved in the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ and His teachings are the central focus of all Mormon scripture

Here’s another example:

Our belief in Jesus Christ is absolutely the most important doctrine in the Mormon Church. We believe that He is the Son of God and our Savior and Redeemer (from *True Mormon Doctrine).

From the Mormon Wiki again:

Many anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons attack the Church and claim that it is not Christian, because its teachings about Jesus differ from mainstream, traditional Christian teachings. There are, of course, differences between Mormon doctrine and Protestant and Catholic teachings, just as there are differences among the various Christian denominations. Mormonism teaches that its doctrines were restored to earth by Jesus Himself through living prophets after many centuries of apostasy in the world. Mormonism rejects the various medieval and modern creeds promulgated by the Christian world after Christ’s death, because the Mormon Church has revelations from God Himself about who He is. (Emphasis mine).

So what are those differences that this extra-Biblical revelation gives Mormons? For one thing, Jesus is one of three gods, not a person of the Trinity. From the LDS (Mormon) web site:

Latter-day Saints believe that the simplest reading of the New Testament text produces the simplest conclusion — that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct personages, that They are one in purpose. We feel that the sheer preponderance of references in the Bible would lead an uninformed reader to the understanding that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are separate beings.

In addition, Jesus was procreated by the father.

The Plan of Salvation teaches that God the Father is the literal father of our spirits, and that as spirits, we lived with Him before we were born with physical bodies into mortal life on earth. Christ was the firstborn of the spirit children of God the Father, and was more intelligent and gifted than all. Christ was chosen to save mankind by working out an infinite and eternal atonement—to come to this earth as the literal Only Begotten Son of God, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation (from *Mormon Beliefs).

It’s hard to set aside all the errors in that short paragraph, but I want to focus in this post on Christ. Apparently his work of redemption, according to Mormon doctrine, was only a starting point:

In the Book of Mormon, the sobering realization that no one of us can make it alone is balanced by a consistent statement that the works of men and women, including the receipt of the ordinances of salvation, the performance of duty and Christian acts of service — in short, being true to our part of the gospel covenant — though insufficient for salvation, are necessary (from the LDS web site-emphasis mine).

Need I go on? There is more—much, much more. But here’s the point. When a Christian listens to what Glenn Beck says about his faith, it’s easy to be confused. Here’s what one pastor said about Beck:

I have listened and watched very carefully regarding clues to Glenn’s spiritual condition. I have interviewed several people who have been with him and have talked very specifically with him regarding his own personal salvation. Glenn has said unequivocally that that he relies on the atonement of Jesus on the cross for forgiveness for his sins, and those are almost the exact words. Few people use the term atonement. Glenn did.

I’m sure he did. The problem is, when he uses the word atonement, he doesn’t mean the same thing a Christian does any more than when he says Jesus Christ.

* Link can be found on line.

Published in: on September 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm  Comments (100)  
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100 Comments

  1. I wish I could share this with my Mormon relatives, but they are not at a point where they will listen. They know where I stand. I know where they stand. I just keep waiting for God to crack open that door in their heart. So far it’s locked and bolted.

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  2. I used to be Mormon. It’s a cult. I have no bitterness associated with mormonism that others may have and once out of the cult decided to find out for myself what the mormon religion is. Most newbie mormons don’t even know about their religion. They are the easiest to reveal the truth to, but the ones steeped in tradition are indoctrinated to the point at times of no return. It is true that once deep mormon you either stay mormon or become atheist. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen husbands hide the truth of the mormon cult from their Christian wives.

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  3. […] Mormons And Jesus « A Christian Worldview of Fiction […]

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  4. I understand your pain completely, Nikole. My sister became a Jew, then an Orthodox Jew, and is now describing herself as not a Jew but ‘spiritual.’ I have to work daily on my patience and belief in a sovereign God, praying as often as I think of it for her salvation and that of her children. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

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  5. Do you consider Catholics to be “Christian?”

    Because it sounds to me like a lot of your beefs here are more that we don’t match with other Protestants, than a critique of our general status as Christians.

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  6. Nikole, I’ve invited a dear friend of mine from college days to share her experience falling into and coming out of Mormonism. I think it’s important to keep discussions like this from becoming merely academic. Real people are involved. God did a wonderful work in my friend’s life (and in her husband’s). Faithful prayer is the most important thing you can do for your estranged family members. May God encourage you and give you the persistence to stand firm as you pray fervently.

    Becky

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  7. Erin, you are absolutely right, but prayer isn’t the only thing we can do—I believe it’s the best thing we can do. But it’s also important to be ready to answer the call if God sends us to reap the harvest in answer to the prayer to send workers.

    May He open the eyes of your sister’s heart. May He surround her with people who speak boldly about Jesus and His work of redemption. May her desire for spirituality lead her to the Way, the Truth, the Life.

    Becky

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  8. Hi, Seth,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s a fair question.

    I’m finding that defining “Christian” isn’t as easy as I once thought. However, I believe words have meanings (sort of like, marriage means a union between one man and one woman, and someone coming along later and calling something else marriage, doesn’t really change it).

    The term “Christian” was first used to designate people who formed a church in Antioch. These would be people who adhered to the things that Paul taught about Jesus, and Paul was in line with Peter and John and James—”pillars” of the church in Jerusalem.

    To characterize oneself today as “Christian,” then, seems like it ought to align that person with a core set of beliefs that those people held, detailed for us by the New Testament writers.

    It seems apparent to me that beliefs based on literature written 1800 years later fall outside this original set of defining tenets.

    I don’t think it’s offensive to say that Mormons believe differently from Christians. I think it’s a fact, and I think it’s a fact Christians need to know.

    But to answer your question about Catholics, some professing Catholics are Christians, just like some professing Protestants are Christians.

    Even back in the New Testament, some people said they were Christians but weren’t. Simon the magician comes to mind as an example. In addition, a number of epistles address “false teaching.” The point is, being a member of a Protestant denomination or member of a church is not a guarantee that a person is actually a Christian.

    The basic Christian beliefs are these:
    1. An understanding of God as one, the omnipotent, holy Creator who does all things well, who desires a relationship with Mankind because He loves each person He made.

    2. An understanding of sin, at least to the point of realizing that my personal sin is beyond my ability to fix, and that my personal sin prevents me from having a relationship with God, now or in the future.

    3. Knowledge that the penalty for sin is death, spiritual and physical.

    4. The knowledge that Jesus—God in the flesh, One with the Father, He who knew no sin—came as the substitutionary sacrifice (of which the Passover lamb was one picture) to pay the penalty for sin.

    5. The realization that God’s grace saves, through faith, not Man’s work. Baptism isn’t required, church attendance isn’t required, communion isn’t required, moral actions aren’t required, good deeds aren’t required—or else Jesus was lying to the thief who hung on the cross at His side when He said he’d be with Him in Paradise.

    6. There will be a judgment day when those who do not know Christ will be separated from Him for eternity (i.e. hell is a real place of torment, which is why Christians want so desperately to tell others about God’s love displayed through Jesus).

    There are other important things—Jesus coming back to reign; the Holy Spirit filling each Christian; the Bible as the inspired, authoritative, compete, inerrant word of God; the Church as the bride of Christ, His temple of which Christ is the cornerstone, the body of which Christ is the head. I’ve probably left something out (and knowing me, it’s probably something really, really important 🙄 ), but I think these are necessary for someone to understand, to one degree or another, if he is a Christian.

    Becky

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  9. Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all tenants of Mormon doctrine and things we would have no disagreement with.

    #5 sets the uniquely Protestant notion of “grace-alone” as a requirement for being considered “Christian.”

    Which seems to me to be rather sketchy on your part. It is quite obvious from the New Testament that Jesus required baptism at least, no matter how you are reading what Paul later said.

    And given the work being done by Protestant scholars on the “New Perspective on Paul” – I think your biblical basis for declaring grace-alone is somewhat suspect as well.

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  10. I just read a great book that puts Christian vs Mormon into perspective. For Time And Eternity, a historical novel by Allison Pittman, shows the distinct differences between the two. I also reviewed this book.

    Off the subject, but what is the CSFF tour doing for September? Haven’t gotten anything.

    Thanks,
    Beckie

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  11. BTW, love the new look to your blog. I use this template too, 🙂

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  12. Seth, it doesn’t seem like you’re providing much direct Biblical support to back up your points. So far it’s not adding much to the discussion — nor does it seem to respect the words of Jesus, Who never made baptism a condition for salvation (?); or even the words of Joseph Smith, who couldn’t have been clearer when he started Mormonism that it was in opposition to Biblical Christianity.

    Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all tenants of Mormon doctrine and things we would have no disagreement with.

    Number 1 posits that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are all One and always existed. This is contrary to Mormonism, whose tenet is that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer, and as a human He is the result of physical union between God the Father and Mary (one of who-knows-how-many unions that have taken place in parallel universes). God is not eternal; He was once a man in a world like ours, and has a “Mrs. God,” and they birth spirit children.

    Number 2 directly contradicts the Mormon notion that Jesus saves all the way, then people add works. This steals glory from God and taking it for ourselves, and detracting from His revealed glory and the horror of any sin in His sight.

    That’s enough for now. I hope you will consider these, and not just wait for an emotional signal that this is true, but search the Scriptures.

    #5 sets the uniquely Protestant notion of “grace-alone” as a requirement for being considered “Christian.”

    Which seems to me to be rather sketchy on your part. It is quite obvious from the New Testament that Jesus required baptism at least, no matter how you are reading what Paul later said.

    Please show from a Biblical text when Jesus said baptism was required for salvation, and not merely a sacrament that (like works) confirms one’s new life.

    And given the work being done by Protestant scholars on the “New Perspective on Paul” – I think your biblical basis for declaring grace-alone is somewhat suspect as well.

    Please also show from Scripture that the “old perspective” on Paul wasn’t Biblical.

    Another point worth exploring is why Paul took the time to admonish the Galatians so severely if they actually were pretty close to the truth that once they were saved, they could take off with their own works and not worry so much about grace alone.

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  13. Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all tenants of Mormon doctrine and things we would have no disagreement with.

    Seth, this is a problem I have with much communication from Mormons—saying that we have no disagreement just isn’t so because what we mean by some of these words is not the same.

    I tried to be clear but must have left an opening that allows you to say you believe what I believe, but from what I’ve read at the LDS site and several others, it’s clear the church believes in multiple gods, not One. Jesus is a god, not God, so that means we don’t agree on the very first point. Nor are we in agreement in the fourth point, since that also brings into question who Jesus is.

    Mormons, according to the literature readily available on line, believe that Jesus was the Father’s spirit child, procreated before time, as was his brother Lucifer. This is not the Jesus I’m talking about in point four above. I am talking about the fully God/fully man Messiah who humbled Himself by leaving the throne of glory to take the form of Man. He is not a separate entity from His Father. He and His Father and the Spirit are one. There is no “they.” There is only He.

    He who knows His own inner workings can refer to Himself as “us” without violating His oneness, but I can’t. He is one God and He is three persons.

    He is not three gods, and the distinction is not a small one.

    So, Seth, you concede that we differ on points 5 and 6, I say we differ on points 1 and 4 also and Stephen includes point 2. So all we can be sure of is that we see point 3 the same.

    Can you see why Christians don’t believe Mormons are part of the Church Universal? On the core “must believe” tenets we do not agree.

    Becky

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  14. Stephen, Mormons reject creation ex nihilo.

    That means we don’t believe that there is any such thing as a “created being.”

    Therefore, Jesus Christ, and God the Father cannot be created beings under Mormon theology.

    Therefore – both are eternal.

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  15. Again, it seems you are taking your talking points from the Godmakers.

    There is no official Mormon view of how spirits are made the spirit children of God.

    Ed Decker says it was all through “Celestial sex” or some other such rubbish. But none of this is really doctrinal. It’s just a handy club counter-cultists use as a scare device.

    Mormonism doesn’t say how we became the spirit children of God. It certainly wasn’t through some sort of ex nihilo pregnancy process since Mormonism holds that all human beings existed eternally.

    Really, when you think about it, how do you have a physical pregnancy for a SPIRIT? Do you get labor pains? Morning sickness?

    Think about it for more than two seconds and you’ll quickly realize you sound foolish. Mormons hold sex between man and wife to be a holy sacrament of the sort of love that God the Father holds. But only a mortal symbol of it. We suppose that we were made children of God by extension of that love, but we are not so crass as to speculate on the mechanics of how that happened. My own personal opinion is that we were made his children by a free process of adoption.

    Ironically, the only time I ever hear “Celestial sex” mentioned is when I’m reading stuff from Evangelicals. It would seem that you guys are the only ones here entertaining “dirty thoughts” about God the Father, it would seem.

    One might wonder why you seem so eager to project your own paranoid neuroses of sexual dysfunction onto the God of the universe. But honestly, I can think of better ways to occupy an evening.

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  16. Actually, I apologize for getting snippy. I re-read the posts above, and they aren’t really hostile enough for the acid tone I’m giving here.

    I think I’m mixing this conversation up with another much less civil exchange going on over at another Evangelical blog.

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  17. Seth, thanks for your honesty. Some professing Christians I’ve encountered on the blogosphere (to say nothing of reality) could learn from that.

    At the same time, if we want to move forward with this discussion, I wonder if perhaps we might focus on what Scripture says, and not necessarily whether a belief system has Internal Consistency.

    Hyper-Calvinism has Internal Consistency, but it’s not Biblical; and Mormonism may have Internal Consistency, but also be inconsistent with Scripture.

    Therefore, I suggest that we test these things with Scripture and see if they are so. Game for that? It might be a more interesting discussion for certain, rather than some of the more-heated rhetoric on whatever that other blog is. 🙂

    (For the record: some evangelicals seem confused about whether to work with Mormons, such as Glenn Beck, politically. Based on Scriptures such as Romans 13, I believe Christians can ally with those of other religions on political and even moral issues, but Christians should avoid giving the connotation that they and Mormons worship the same God or believe in the same Jesus and Gospel. So it seems Becky and myself share a similar view.)

    My questions above, about if Jesus said baptism was a requirement for salvation or why Paul admonished the Galatians, seems a good place to start. …

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  18. Seth, thanks for the apology—definitely accepted.

    As I was reading your prior comment, I was wondering where the “sex” talk was coming from. Didn’t think I’d made any point about it apart from quoting the mormonbeliefs.org site. Here is the complete quote about the Pre-Mortal Christ:

    Christ was a god before the earth existed. Through Him, God the Father created worlds without number. Nothing was created, except through Christ. In Mormon doctrine, the pre-mortal Christ is called “Jehovah.” When God speaks in the Old Testament, it is Jehovah that was speaking. In the Bible, to avoid using His name too often, and out of reverence, the word LORD is substituted. The Plan of Salvation teaches that God the Father is the literal father of our spirits, and that as spirits, we lived with Him before we were born with physical bodies into mortal life on earth. Christ was the firstborn of the spirit children of God the Father, and was more intelligent and gifted than all. Christ was chosen to save mankind by working out an infinite and eternal atonement—to come to this earth as the literal Only Begotten Son of God, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, ed. 2, p. 129).

    Mormons believe that Christ has always been a separate person from God the Father. In some ways Christ Himself is our father—He is the creator of the heavens and the earth; He is a father to all those who are born-again; He is one with God the Father in all the attributes of perfection, power, and authority.

    My point here is that Mormons believe Christ and God the Father are separate entities, not persons of the Triune God. Consequently, when Mormons say, We believe in one god, the meaning of that statement is vastly different from what a Christian means by those identical words.

    From your comment I see we also believe very different things about creation, too.

    I’ll reiterate, I don’t think I’m being unkind in saying that Mormons and Christians have different belief systems. But I do think I’m being truthful.

    Christians who look at the externals—the moral lives Mormons lead, the conservative values, the commitment to their church, their zeal for bringing others into their group, their mention of God and Christ and salvation—can easily assume that behind these outward indicators is essential agreement about the core principals.

    My intention in this post was simply to say, such agreement is not actual. I don’t know how it could be since Mormons rely on extra-biblical sources to formulate so much of their doctrine.

    Maybe it’s a weakness on my part, but that divide makes it nearly impossible for me to have a meaningful conversation with Mormons. It seems kind of like a “he said/she said” debate because Christians point to the Bible and say, Here’s what it says, but Mormons point to an extra-biblical source and say, Ah-ha, you have it wrong because you’re missing the latest. Here’s what that more recent revelation says.

    I can see it does say these things, but I disagree with the understanding of those as “revelation.” So if one of us is relying on the Bible as the sole authority and the other relying on the Bible plus something else, of course we will disagree.

    The real issue is that core point, I think.

    Becky

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  19. Really, my concern is not to say that Mormonism is a part of traditional historic Christianity. I don’t think it is – any more than primitive Christianity was a part of Judaism. I’m not really fussed about joining your club, nor do I want to give that impression.

    I consider Mormonism to be the “fourth world Abrahamic faith.” We’re a new religion in our own right as far as I’m concerned.

    As for the “Christian” label – I’m not too fussed about it AS LONG as it is duly acknowledged that we worship Jesus Christ as contained in OUR reading of the same Bible you are using.

    But I do want our doctrine accurately portrayed.

    The idea that Jesus Christ is a created or conceived being is a total item of misinformation. As I explained above.

    Nor are our views of grace and works as far apart as many Evangelicals claim. A lot of the hostile rhetoric on the grace v. works issue is merely Mormons and Evangelicals making their rhetoric more extreme than their theology requires in an effort to appear different from each other.

    Evangelicals do not necessarily believe that works are irrelevant, and all you have to do is a one-time alter-call to be set for eternity. And Mormons do not necessarily believe you must work your way into heaven.

    These differences are trivial to me and mostly the product of overblown rhetoric rather than genuine theological difference.

    Same thing with the Trinity. Mormons believe in a Trinity of three personages who act in perfect harmony and unison – as one. The unity is so profound that to know one is to know all three. The only thing we reject is the Greek philosophical notion of homoousios. We don’t buy into all that neo-Platonist/Aristotelian stuff about “substance” and teleology and such.

    That’s really our only dispute on the issue of the Trinity. Mormon theology makes “One God” out of three beings just as handily as any other version of Christianity out there.

    But the issue of creation ex nihilo is a non-negotiable dead-end disagreement between us. All historic Christian theology has been premised on the idea of ex nihilo creation.

    Mormonism tears down and annihilates this notion – as such, Mormonism will always present a fundamental challenge to the rest of the Christian world. I agree that this will not be resolved.

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  20. Seth, again, very interesting stuff, and I thank you for the pleasure of having a civil online dialogue about these topics. Yet I’m still curious about your earlier contentions that Jesus said baptism was a requirement for salvation, or your implication that the “new perspective” stuff (which overemphasizes the role works play in salvation) is Scriptural. It seems you’ve dodged answering those questions there — and I really want to know how Mormons may handle that — but if you just want to move on without defending your views there, I’ll understand. 🙂

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  21. My aunt is a Mormon. She grew up a Lutheran, married a Mormon man, converted, and had six children. So I am not unfamiliar with Mormonism.

    However, there is one tenant of the Bible that destroys (for me) any credibility that Mormonism might have and that is this: false prophets. The Old and New Testaments warn us again and again to be on the look-out for false prophets because they WILL come. They can come from directly within the church, as well as outside.

    For example, here is a verse from Acts 20: 28-31:
    “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for
    three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”

    The key words here are DISTORT THE TRUTH. When you say, Seth, that you are a “new religion in our own right”, to me, that is a HUGE, HUGE warning flag.

    To me, the Book of Mormon distorts the truth of the Gospel. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were false prophets. That is how I view Mormonism. And since I have very close family members who are Mormons, and after growing up with my cousins and witnessing what they went through, I am deeply concerned for them. Two of them have fallen from the faith and are no longer practicing Mormons. I do not know the circumstances, but, there you have it.

    I remember my mother trying desperately to reach my aunt and get her to see the Truth – i.e. the truth of the Gospel. She sent one letter in particular that kept coming back as “return to sender – address unknown” again and again and again. Yet that letter had the correct address on it. It was a letter that specifically spoke to how Mormonism had distorted the Truth of God’s word.

    I firmly believe that letter was part of a spiritual battle.

    Whenever I used to go visit my cousins at their home, I felt an immense spiritual struggle within my soul. There was darkness in that home. My mother felt the same. I do not mean to demonize the Mormon faith – I am only speaking of experiences within my own family. I desperately want them to wake up and realize that they are following a false prophet.

    Perhaps my words are incendiary and not “politically correct.” But when God VERY CLEARLY gave us scripture time and time and time again warning us of false prophets, I cannot remain silent.

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  22. Melissa, that “false prophets” thing is simply too convenient.

    You could apply it to anyone you like – regardless of whether you have a good reason or not. It’s merely a form of religious question-begging.

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  23. No, you cannot apply it to anyone you like. That is a rather weak argument.

    Instead, I would be most interested to hear you answer the following questions:
    1) Why do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet that God spoke to and declared the world was in a state of apostasy and he alone must save it (but not by using the Word of God)?
    2) Why do you need another book to worship out of – the Book of Mormon?
    3) Why did Brigham Young think it was ok to have numerous wives when the Bible clearly states that marriage is between ONE man and ONE woman?

    There is only ONE book that is the authoritative Word of God – the Holy Bible. That is all we need.

    Perhaps I am a little snarky on this issue and for that I apologize, but when you have family members and friends involved in this religion that to me, as a Christian, is so blatantly against the Holy Bible on so many levels, it is heartbreaking.

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  24. Seth, I do not regard you as an enemy. I just wanted to let you know that. I grieve deeply for those of you who have been deceived into believing Mormonism. I will leave you with this from Romans 10:
    “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God… is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to Knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

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  25. 1. We don’t worship Joseph Smith. We don’t consider him “alone” to be the savior of the world. We consider him to be merely a conduit for God’s will for his Restored Church. And he’s dead now, and we have his living successors.

    And nothing they have said is in conflict with the Holy Bible. We may add to it with modern revelation, but we do not act or believe in contradiction with it’s principles. I know you disagree, but you are unlikely to raise a persuasive argument on this score for me.

    2. Why are you complaining about receiving more of God’s word?

    Are you saying that you’d like God to shut up now because he’s already said everything you care to listen to?

    3. The Bible does not limit marriage to one man and one woman.

    In fact, the Book of Deuteronomy outlines proper procedures given from God for how to do polygamy correctly. Saying that God created just Adam and Eve here isn’t going to cut it either. That’s mere argument from analogy.

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  26. Melissa, I appreciate the sentiment, but this is the Internet and emotions don’t really translate well here.

    Emotion-laden pleas, declarations of love, protests of sincerity and concern. It’s nice if you feel these things, but realistically, there is no way for you to successfully convey them online.

    The only thing that matters here are your arguments.

    I’ve had too many Protestants declare how much they love me, and want to save me from hell, and then turn around in the same conversation thread and start insulting me, mocking my beliefs, and making it abundantly obvious that the only reason they are talking to me is to look good in front of their other Protestant friends. It happens to me from online Evangelicals all the time.

    So I’m afraid I’ve stopped listening to these little confessionals.

    Somehow, they simply seem too manipulative to me.

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  27. Wow. Just…wow. Please do not twist my words.

    1. I never said you worshipped Joseph Smith. However, according to your doctrine, Joseph Smith sits in judgment of YOU:
    “No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses,, Vol. 7, p. 289)

    2. God gave us His word already. Anyone that adds to it or detracts from it is practicing apostasy. The Bible clearly states this.

    3. You are once again twisting the Word of God.

    I ask, Seth, that you prayerfully open your mind and look at this website, run by former Mormons, whose only desire is to tell the truth to current Mormons.
    http://saintsalive.com/resourcelibrary/mormonism/mormonism-christian-or-cult

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  28. I can understand why you feel the way you do, Seth.

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  29. 1. Any power Joseph Smith has/had is/was delegated by Jesus Christ himself.

    If Christ arrived in the United States tomorrow morning and sent a pastor out to your town to report what he said – would you object that the pastor is “coming between me and Jesus”?

    2. The scripture you are thinking of in Revelations is merely the author asking later scribes not to alter what he wrote. Same deal when Paul says something similar.

    It is not a declaration that more ORIGINAL CONTENT could not be written. It is not a ban on later scripture – should God choose to reveal it.

    The doctrine of biblical-sufficiency is an extra-biblical doctrine.

    3. This is not a response.

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  30. OK Stephan, finally got around to the baptism issue.

    I looked up LDS scriptural support for the necessity of baptism and discovered that most scripture supporting the necessity of the baptismal ordinance are from uniquely Mormon scriptures – such as the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants.

    Of course, I cannot use those scriptures for the purpose of our exchange on this matter. So I’m limiting myself to Biblical support.

    The primary support the LDS Church has for the necessity of the baptismal ordinance is in the baptism of Jesus Christ himself. John the Baptist is puzzled why Christ would need baptism and Jesus insists saying “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15).

    Given such a dramatic example, I think Mormons might be forgiven for considering this baptism thing necessary, if even Jesus himself did it – despite having no sins to be cleansed from.

    The incident in Matt 3:15 is interpreted in the LDS context by the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 31:4-11:

    4 Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.
    5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
    6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
    7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
    8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
    9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the agate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
    10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
    11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

    I don’t quote the Book of Mormon as an authority to you. I merely quote it to demonstrate how LDS scripture interprets Jesus’ own baptism.

    It should also be noted that Paul considered the ordinance important enough that he had several people rebaptized (forget the Bible reference).

    We also take Romans 6:1-12 as evidence of a need for baptism.

    It should also be noted what baptism is – it is a symbolic ritual that imagines Christ’s death and burial.

    Our old and sinful selves are buried with Christ in the water, and we arise from the water renewed – just as Christ arose from the tomb.

    So it seems profoundly odd to say that ritual baptism is at odds with the pure Atonement. Baptism is a symbol of that work of Atonement.

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  31. 1. Nowhere does Jesus say in the Bible that He is going to give any kind of authority to Joseph Smith. In fact, the only way you believe that Joseph Smith received this revelation from God is because he SAID he received it. There have been many, many, many false prophets throughout the years that have proclaimed the same thing. Why should you believe that this one is any different?

    Besides, this is not a logical argument. When Jesus comes back, NO ONE will be able to ignore it. He will not send a pastor to tell us He is here. Everyone in the world will be able to see Him; there will be no doubt that He has returned.

    So yes, if a pastor comes and tells me that Jesus has come, I will ignore him. And I will say he is practicing apostasy.

    2. That is PRECISELY what it is a declaration of. You are ADDING to it by creating the Book of Mormon – which the Scriptures prohibit. There is no “extra” biblical doctrine. There is only THE biblical doctrine – the Holy Bible.

    3. Jesus declared that one man and one woman shall become united. There are those in the Old Testament who did not follow this doctrine because they were sinners. Saul and David were both punished for their polygamy.

    “Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

    Jesus was talking about IN THE BEGINNING which means that this has not changed. It has always been this way, from the creation of the world. In the beginning God created man and woman and He created ONE wife for Adam. “He shall cleave to his WIFE” (not wiveS).

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  32. Melissa, let’s be clear that I don’t practice polygamy and I don’t advocate it being instituted in our modern societal context.

    But the Bible does not prohibit it. The “one flesh” argument does not make your point.

    What is stopping a man from becoming “one flesh” with wife #1, and then “one flesh” with wife #2?

    Again, I’m not advocating for it, just saying that your biblical case here for prohibiting it isn’t all that solid.

    Soloman and David may have been sinful in their practice of polygamy, but it wasn’t all sinful. When the prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin with Bathsheba, he specifically states that additional wives were GIVEN to David from the Lord.

    Then we have all these Old Testament passages:

    Exodus 21:10:

    “If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights.”

    This is talking in the context of servants/slaves and such, but it clearly seems to state that a multiple marriage was at least allowed by Mosaic Law.

    Deut 21:15-17:

    “15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.”

    You might be able to argue a separation by divorce or death here between the two marriages. But really, if so, why does the law not say so explicitly? Certainly polygamy was locally very common among the people of that time, and there was a definite Hebrew history of it (Moses himself, as it so happens). Why not address it?

    Deut 17:17:

    “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”

    This is talking about the restrictions on what a king may do. I think this one is hardly a slam dunk in favor of polygamy. But you will note that the prohibition is on “many wives.” If they wanted to restrict him to just one, why not make it explicit?

    Then there is Deut 25:5-10

    5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. 6 The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
    7 However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” 8 Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” 9 his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” 10 That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.

    Are you really trying to tell me there was never an instance in all Israel of a woman being made a widow and having to be taken in as a wife by her already married brother in law?

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  33. The Bible nowhere says that it is supposed to be the only book of scripture God will ever give to us. It simply does not make that claim.

    Which is more than good enough for me. You’re going to have to do better than simply saying “well, the Bible never says there will be another book of scripture.” Not good enough – show where the Bible prohibits additional scripture.

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  34. “Are you really trying to tell me there was never an instance in all Israel of a woman being made a widow and having to be taken in as a wife by her already married brother in law?”

    Seth, here is the problem I have with your comments. You put words into my mouth, just like you did above. Where did I once say anything remotely connected to this?

    Nevertheless, I will answer your question. I am sure that there were instances of a widowed woman being taken into and cared for by her brother-in-law – but not that he MARRIED her. And if he DID marry her, then he was committing a sin.

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  35. Where in the Bible does it say it DOES permit additional Scripture?

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  36. Galatians 1:6-12

    “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

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  37. Melissa, this practice was called “Levirate Marriage” and it absolutely was done in ancient Israel.

    The brother didn’t just take the widow in to “care for her.”

    He MARRIED her. And it was his duty to give her children in his brother’s name. The idea was that the dead husband had been bereft of the opportunity to have children and continue his lineage. So it was the brother’s duty to fill in for him and provide that lineage. Any children would be named in the deceased man’s name, not the biological father.

    I’m not making this up. You can read more about it here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levirate_marriage

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  38. By the way, NOT ONE book of the Bible was written by an angel or by a man inspired by an angel. How, then, does the mighty Joseph Smith’s “prophesy” hold up?

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  39. “Where in the Bible does it say it DOES permit additional Scripture?”

    Not good enough Melissa. You have to show me a prohibition on it, or your argument here doesn’t work.

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  40. Joseph Smith was not inspired by an angel.

    He was inspired by God – from whence he derived all his spiritual gifts.

    Nor do we have any scriptures written by angels. They were all written by mortal prophets – all of them given their revelations from God.

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  41. Did God condone this? No. There were lots of practices in the Bible (which is not just a spiritual guide, but also a historical record) that God did not condone. Polygamy is one of them.

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  42. Seth, I already showed you the text and you refuted it. It’s in Galatians. I’m sorry, but YOUR argument is not good enough.

    I don’t know why you hold up this Joseph Smith as such a paragon of virtue. He was a believer in slavery, believed Black people were inferior, loved to drink, and even ordered a party of non-Mormon pioneers to be killed.

    “Shall I tell you the LAW OF GOD in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the PENALTY, under the LAW OF GOD IS DEATH ON THE SPOT. This will ALWAYS BE SO.” (Journal of Discourses, v. 10, p. 110)

    Brigham Young wasn’t much better:
    “Brother Cannon remarked that people wondered how many wives and children I had. He may inform them, that I SHALL HAVE WIVES AND CHILDREN BY THE MILLION, and glory, and riches and power and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and reign triumphantly.”
    (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, page 178)

    Do I need to go on?

    Your church history is full of examples like this. I urge you to not just blindly believe what your leaders tell you, but to research all the HISTORICAL FACTS.

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  43. Melissa, God not only condoned Levirate Marriage – he commanded it. It was part of the Mosaic Code – handed down on Mount Sinai.

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  44. No again.

    I don’t think I could explain it better than this author does:

    It is more like the case of divorce, which God tolerated for a while under certain conditions because of the hardness of their hearts, but was not the way it was intended from the beginning (Matt. 19:8). But whenever the Mosaic law had provisions for polygamy, it was always the conditional ‘If he takes another wife to himself …’ (Ex.21:10), never an encouragement. God put a number of obligations of the husband towards the additional wives which would discourage polygamy. It is no wonder that polygamy was unknown among the Jews after the Babylonian exile, and monogamy was the rule even among the Greeks and Romans by New Testament times.

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  45. Melissa, none of those historical incidents you bring up are news to me. I have researched them. In fact, I know more about them than you seem to.

    Joseph Smith was not a believer in slavery. In fact, part of the reason Mormons were mobbed, murdered, and persecuted in Missouri was because the local pro-slavery Missourians were afraid of the anti-slavery Mormons moving into the neighborhood and changing the voting outcomes.

    Joseph Smith ran on a presidential platform that proposed to buy the freedom of all slaves in the United States with money from the sale of Louisianna Purchase lands.

    He also ordained a black man – Elijah Abel to the Holy Priesthood, and made him a member of the Quorum of the Seventy – the second highest governing body in the LDS Church after the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

    The ban on giving the blacks the Priesthood only occurred under the watch of Brigham Young – the second prophet of the LDS Church. And I have nowhere managed to find Young ever giving an actual revelation that the ban should be instituted.

    As for Joseph Smith “loving” to drink, I’d be interested in your historical sources for that. I was already well aware that early Mormons drank liquor. It wasn’t until the early 20th century under prophet Heber J. Grant that the “suggestions” contained in the Doctrine and Covenants about abstaining from liquor were codified into requirements.

    And you are simply mistaken about Joseph Smith ordering the massacre of non-Mormon pioneers. Joseph Smith died in June 27, 1844 in Illinois. He never made it to Utah.

    The Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred in September 11, 1857 in southern Utah.

    So unless you are suggesting Joseph Smith came back from the dead and ordered the local Mormons to kill the wagon train, I suggest you amend your version of history a bit.

    There are accusations that Brigham Young ordered the death of the wagon train. This has never been proven. In fact, we have letters sent by Brigham Young ordering that the wagon train not be harmed. As far as we can tell, the local Mormon militia in Cedar City acted alone, of its own accord.

    You can go on if you like. But so far, your facts seem to be a bit lacking.

    Besides, you are changing the subject from what we were talking about earlier.

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  46. Melissa, which author are you quoting in that statement above about polygamy.

    He seems to definitely be in the minority view.

    The stuff I’ve said about Biblical polygamy isn’t that controversial – even among most Protestant scholars.

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  47. No, I’m not changing the subject matter.

    And forgive me, I made a mistake – not Joseph Smith, but Brigham Young.

    Um…I’m a little concerned here. These are direct quotes from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. You can’t just say “they didn’t believe in slavery” after reading them.

    Forgive how long this letter is, but it’s from your Joseph Smith:

    “DEAR SIR: —This place (Kirtland) having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles or doctrines of those who are called ABOLITIONISTS, and his presence having created an interest in that subject, if you deem the following reflections of any service, or think they will have a tendency to correct the opinions of the Southern public,…you are at liberty to give them publicity… I FEAR that the sound might go out, that ‘an Abolitionist’ had held forth several times to this community,…all, except a very few, attended to their own vocations, and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls. I am aware that many, who PROFESS to preach the Gospel, complain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery, and raise their voice against every thing of the kind. This must be a tender point, and one which should call forth the candid reflections of all men, and more especially before they advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, OVERRUN OUR COUNTRY, AND VIOLATE THE MOST SACRED PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN SOCIETY, CHASTITY AND VIRTUE…. I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall. “How any community can ever be excited with the CHATTER of such persons, boys and others, who are too indolent to obtain their living by honest industry, and are incapable of pursuing any occupation of a professional nature, is unaccountable to me; and when I see persons in the free states, signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an army of influence, and a DECLARATION OF HOSTILITIES, against the people of the South. What course can sooner divide our union? “After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ….the first mention we have of SLAVERY is found in the Holy Bible,… And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the DECREE OF JEHOVAH, to the shame and confusion of all who HAVE CRIED OUT against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in SERVITUDE…. I can say, the CURSE IS NOT YET TAKEN OFF FROM THE SONS OF CANAAN, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who INTERFERE THE LEAST WITH THE PURPOSES OF GOD in this matter, will come under the LEAST CONDEMNATION BEFORE HIM; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the DECREES OF THE LORD, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.”
    (History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Vol. 2, pages 436-438)

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  48. And…about Joseph Smith opening a bar (this testimony is from his own son):

    About 1842, a new and larger house was built for us…. Father proceeded to build an extensive addition running out from the south wing toward the east…. “At any rate, it seemed spacious then, and a sign was put out giving it the dignified name of ‘The Nauvoo Mansion,’… Mother was to be installed as landlady, and soon made a trip to Saint Louis.. “When she returned Mother found installed in the keeping – room of the hotel—that is to say, the main room where the guests assembled and where they were received upon arrival—A BAR, with counter, shelves, bottles, glasses, and other paraphernalia customary for a FULLY -EQUIPPED TAVERN BAR, and Porter Rockwell in charge as tender. “She was very much surprised and disturbed over this arrangement, but said nothing for a while…she asked me where Father was. I told her he was in the front room… Then she told me to go and tell him she wished to see him. I obeyed, and returned with him to the hall where Mother awaited him. ‘Joseph,’ she asked, ‘What is the meaning of THAT BAR IN THIS HOUSE?’… ‘How does it look,’ she asked, ‘for the spiritual head of a religious body to be keeping a hotel in which is a room fitted out as a LIQUOR-SELLING ESTABLISHMENT?’ “He reminded her that all taverns had their BARS at which liquor was sold or dispensed..“Mother’s reply came emphatically clear, though uttered quietly: “’Well, Joseph,… I will take my children and go across to the old house and stay there, for I will not have them raised up under such conditions as this arrangement imposes upon us, nor have them mingle with the kind of men who frequent such a place. You are at liberty to make your choice; EITHER THAT BAR GOES OUT OF THE HOUSE, OR WE WILL!’ “It did not take Father long to make the choice, for he replied immediately, ‘Very well, Emma; I will have it removed at once’—and he did”
    (Joseph Smith’s own son, in The Saints’ Herald, Jan. 22, 1935, page 110)

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  49. Seth, we are going to go around and around on this. You will never, ever, EVER convince me that the Mormon religion is grounded on anything but a charlatan’s need to be a great, powerful man.

    Yes, I am aware that he ordained a black man, but it was contrary to nearly everything he believed about black men – that they were racially inferior. I believe that if he ran as president on “buying” the slaves freedom, it was wholly for political purposes.

    Also, archeological “evidence” of a civilization in America that God supposedly told Joseph Smith about has never been found.

    There are several other examples of big, gaping holes in the Mormon narrative.

    I think I’m done with this. You will not convince me, I will not convince you. C’est la vie.

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  50. BTW, here is a book detailing the Mountain Meadows Massacre you might want to check out:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0806123184

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  51. Here is the link to the polygamy quote:

    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/121-what-the-bible-says-about-polygamy

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  52. By the Jonathan Sarfati is a creationist apologist with a degree in Chemistry, not biblical studies.

    I’m not sure why you thought anything he has to say about the Bible would be particularly convincing. Especially when plenty of other Evangelical scholars of the Bible freely admit that Levirate marriage was a part of the Mosaic Code.

    Just getting a website and writing a few books for the masses does not a scholar make.

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  53. Juanita Brooks book on Mountain Meadows is very good, but the scholarship is rather dated.

    Will Bageley’s book “Blood of the Prophets” is also highly regarded on the subject, but his argument breaks down when he tries to link the incident to top leadership and is not particularly convincing.

    The most recent book attempting to unite all the previous scholarship with the most up to date historical sources is here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Massacre-Mountain-Meadows-Ronald-Walker/dp/0195160347/ref=pd_sim_b_6

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  54. This is what I don’t understand, Seth. You seem to be really digging into the historical record here. I’m barely scratching the surface for an Internet comment war. Yet there are plenty of people who HAVE dug into the historical record, looked at Joseph Smith’s life, and found A LOT of wholes in the historical narrative. Why are you ignoring them?

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  55. Excuse me: holes, not wholes.

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  56. As for the bar, I fail to see why you think I should care about this.

    So he ran a bar. Most hotels did back then (still do).

    And this is an issue… why, exactly?

    For your info, a lot of people back in the 1800s looked down on the abolitionists as dangerous radicals (often with good reason seeing as how a lot of abolitionists were quite violent and extreme in their rhetoric). That Joseph Smith didn’t have much use for the abolitionist movement is hardly more controversial than a modern day Republican who doesn’t have much use for the Tea Party. It’s not even worthy of note.

    The rest of the quote doesn’t really say anything that wasn’t common to the people of that day. Even Abraham Lincoln had some views on race that would ruin the career of any politician today.

    Much of Joseph’s speech on race was merely an attempt to keep his people in Missouri from being murdered by their slave-holding neighbors.

    There are plenty of other positive quotes about black people from him hostile to the idea of slavery that more than offset this quote.

    What else you got?

    And you haven’t even remotely wrapped up the polygamy in the Bible issue. All you’ve done is quote some guy with a website and a degree irrelevant to what we are talking about. Why should I consider his opinion any more informed than yours?

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  57. I’m not ignoring the holes in the historical neighborhood.

    I simply observed them as objectively as possible (and without the help of an obviously biased Evangelical apologetics website) and came to the conclusion that the holes were either non-existent, or not a particular problem.

    Why do you think these issues should be damaging to my affiliation as a Mormon?

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  58. Look, we’re not going to agree on the polygamy thing – you keep bringing it up. I agree with what that guy’s opinion was – and sheesh, do you have to be some intellectual heavyweight in that exact discipline for an opinion to be VALID with you? (For the record, I do have a master’s degree). I’m not a Biblical scholar, yet I’m arguing theology with you. Am I therefore not qualified?

    On polygamy: I guess I would have to do some more digging to give you an answer, which you’ll disagree with anyway. I do know that Old Testament ritual laws are no longer valid because the coming of Christ made those laws obsolete. So I would say that strikes out the whole polygamy thing. But his coming did not strike out the MORAL laws. There is a difference.

    You failed to answer some of my questions, too. What about the lack of archeological evidence? Didn’t say a word in reply to that.

    “Much of Joseph’s speech on race was merely an attempt to keep his people in Missouri from being murdered by their slave-holding neighbors.”

    You’re not serious. THE Joseph Smith was saying all those horrible things about black people, his fellow man, because he didn’t want to be murdered by those evil slave holders? Isn’t that called, well, LYING? Not being true to the Gospel and to God’s calling? I would call it that.

    This guy wasn’t some pastor who decided to start preaching to the unsaved in the slums of New Jersey – he radically altered the Christian church and Christian doctrine, because God told him to. And if he was so exalted as to receive such a calling, then I am amazed that this wise man even THOUGHT of putting a tavern in the hotel, let alone actually building it.

    I would think these deeply flawed problems should give you pause in your affiliation as a Mormon. It has to several other Mormons who have left the church precisely because they saw all those holes. There are holes in the very doctrine that you believe in. That would give me big pause right there.

    If you want to be condescending, then so be it. I am obviously not as well-versed in Mormon history as you are (because I’m not a Mormon), but in just what I’ve looked at today (some of Mormon’s teachings: Jesus and Lucifer were brothers; they lived on a different planet; God lives on a planet near the star Kolob; dark skin is a curse from God, etc., etc., etc.)I am more convinced than ever that Joseph Smith was incredibly, tragically wrong.

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  59. I didn’t respond to it because it opens up an entirely new line of debate. Believe me, I do have responses to the argument about archeological evidence. Evangelicals bring it up a lot. So it’s nothing new.

    But I figured we’d best stay focused here.

    I don’t mind if you want to use the divorce analogy. Feel free to use it if it works for you.

    But don’t expect me to feel bound by it. And don’t expect any believer in the Bible to feel bound by it. Because the Bible itself does not require the divorce analogy.

    My ultimate take on marriage in the Bible is that God is actually not that fussed about the exact FORM of marriage as long as people are being treated well. That’s my read.

    And arguing that polygamy was rare among Babylonian Jews (contrary to your source’s claims, it was practiced during that time period), or 1st or 2nd century Jews is no argument at all. It existed, and I’ve pointed out rather clear Biblical evidence of God – if not encouraging – at least allowing polygamy.

    We’ve come a long way from your original assertion that the Bible bans polygamy.

    Incidentally, neither Jesus nor his Apostles banned polygamy either. So it doesn’t work to say it was abolished with the coming of Christ.

    I’m not asking you to like polygamy. I’m just asserting that it was biblical.

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  60. I really don’t get why the tavern thing bugs you.

    Are you going to criticize Jesus for allowing wine to be served at a wedding too (not to mention using his miraculous power to CREATE wine on the spot)?

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  61. And what exactly about Joseph’s quote on race bothers you?

    That’s a long quote, so lets narrow it down you your top three highlights, or something like that.

    I also know a lot of Mormons who looked at the same holes you mention and did NOT leave the LDS Church, and did not see them as problematic. For every Mormon who got shaken and left, I’ll give you a counter-example of someone who saw the same data and was not shaken and stayed.

    For that matter, for every example of an ex-Mormon becoming a Christian in a different denomination, I’ll provide you an example of an ex-Lutheran, or ex-Evangelical, or ex-Catholic who left their faiths and became Mormons.

    And they didn’t do it ignorantly either. Most Evangelicals who try to join our church are immediately bombarded with pamphlets and materials from their Evangelical friends and family about why the LDS Church is false.

    Yet they join up anyway.

    A lot of them have remarked to me that part of the reason they joined was the low quality of the arguments mustered against Mormonism.

    The faith stood up to the trial.

    I’m not even going to bother with the last paragraph that tried to smuggle in all the main bullet points from the Godmakers cartoon into our debate last-minute. We haven’t even finished with the topics we were already covering. Why open up a new topic?

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  62. There you go again – putting words in my mouth. Why on Earth would I criticize Jesus for drinking wine? Did he expressly tell people that drinking a glass of wine was bad? Hmm. Think not.

    *sigh*

    I give up.

    Go do your research, Seth. Look at all of the church history that has been hidden by the Mormon Church. There is a lot. Go look at websites that are not run by the Mormon Church. Read books that are not written by Mormons. Dig. Ask questions. I even question things in my Christian faith. That’s ok – that’s how you learn and grow. That’s how you get answers.

    One last note: my cousin was married at the Temple in Utah. My grandmother was not invited to her granddaughter’s wedding because she was not a Mormon. Only her Mormon family and friends were invited. Apparently, non-Mormons cannot defile the Temple if they don’t step foot in it.

    My grandmother was deeply hurt. I was hurt for her.

    Kinda puts a different spin on all those “family is so important!” commercials the LDS likes to show. Family is important – if you’re a Mormon. If you’re family and you’re not a Mormon, just too darn bad.

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  63. I don’t even know what the Godmakers cartoon is. You mean you don’t believe those things anymore? (Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, etc.) Huh. I didn’t know you could believe it during one decade and change it during another. Who would a thunk?

    Those who go into the Mormon faith are lost. Period. That’s what I believe and if it’s politically incorrect for me to feel that way, frankly, I really don’t care.

    I’m starting to get deeply, deeply upset, so I need to sign off (I won’t even go into how my aunt was abused by my Mormon uncle, how she was treated by the church when she went to complain about the abuse (they ignored her) and how she had the threat of her children being taken away because she wanted to divorce him).

    I won’t be answering any more posts, so if you feel you need to get in the last jab, so be it.

    In the end, we have to answer to God – no one else.

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  64. You keep trying to leave while throwing out as many last-minute bonus attacks as possible.

    Are you implying that Evangelicals never abuse their wives? That Evangelical ministers never behave poorly?

    If not, why do you think that it matters that there are examples of Mormon abuse? We never claimed the people in the LDS Church were perfect? Why do you think that counter-examples here even matter?

    Your point here is what? That the LDS Church is not true because one Mormon abused another person?

    That’s a rather silly argument.

    As for Jesus being Lucifer’s brother – why is this even a problem?

    I don’t find it any more problematic that Jesus had a brother like Lucifer, than the idea that God created such a being out of nothing (making him therefore responsible for how that being turned out).

    The Jesus turning water into wine example was brought up because you seemed to be trying to make the point that Joseph’s mere association with a tavern was enough to undermine his calling as a prophet.

    If Jesus serving alcohol at a wedding isn’t grounds for him losing status as “Son of God,” then why would Joseph Smith having a tavern downstairs be grounds for him losing status as “prophet?” Your arguments here simply make no sense.

    I’m sorry you are getting upset. Apparently this is not a subject you are able to remain objective about.

    As for myself, I have dealt in anti-Mormon websites for almost ten years now. Trust me when I say you really don’t have any arguments I haven’t heard already and debated extensively over at least several times before, if not dozens.

    So it seems that I am not the one here who is getting all his info from biased and one-sided sources. I deal extensively in the arguments of the other side.

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  65. Seth, professing evangelicals do abuse their wives — and some wives even emotionally abuse husbands! I’ve seen both and have read and written about the quiet scandal of supposedly Biblical “patriarchy.”

    There’s a lot of similar traits between men (and women) who take “headship” to the extreme of making a husband set the “vision” for his entire family, and Mormon teachings that try to figure out baptism.

    How are they similar? Both take some truths of the Bible, away from the Bible, then try to make a System, consistent with itself, and not Scripture.

    It’s clear from what you outlined above that someone was trying to make the Bible fit a System that has Internal Consistency. But sorry, it isn’t consistent with all of Scripture that emphasizes God’s work of salvation, and never makes human works a part of that. Rather, Christians respond to God’s saving grace with their good works, motivated by delight in God. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are included in this. But if someone cries out to the true God in repentance and receives a new heart through Christ’s redemption, just before dying in a crash, he/she will not be lost just because he/she never took Communion or was baptized.

    So it seems profoundly odd to say that ritual baptism is at odds with the pure Atonement. Baptism is a symbol of that work of Atonement.

    It would be odd, if I had said that. But I didn’t.

    Also, the same as when Glenn Beck says “atonement,” we have very different understandings of “Atonement.”

    As for polygamy: you are arguing for something that even modern Mormons shy away from. It’s only splinter LDS sects that endorse and practice polygamy. Your citations of Old-Testament allowances for the practice (similar to its allowances of slavery and divorce) reveals a lack of understanding Biblical hermeneutics and God’s transitions between covenants. The very same sorts of Old-Testament laws are used by legalistic groups today (such as the abusers I mentioned above) to endorse fathers owning their daughters, controlling courtships, and worse. Those laws were written for Old-Testament Jews and have been fulfilled in Christ, and the New Covenant.

    Are you really trying to tell me there was never an instance in all Israel of a woman being made a widow and having to be taken in as a wife by her already married brother in law?

    This is also in direct violation of Biblical hermeneutics. It does not take the passage according to its original meaning and audience (not much different from American liberals who view the Constitution as a “living document”).

    Examples from narrative do not prove a universal principle for all peoples. Unlike, say, prohibitions against homosexuality, God did not re-state any of the Old-Testament allowances for multiple wives in the New Testament. Rather, passages such as 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 endorse monogamy. Lest one say “that’s about overseers,” Ephesians 5 only mentions one husband, one wife. Sorry, Old-Testament laws don’t overrule God’s New Covenant. But when you live like Mormonism overrules them all, hey, why not? That’s another reason informed Christians will never accept it. They see where it leads: back to legalism, back to bondage, away from the true Gospel.

    Whatever Smith or Young said about this or that historical issue is interesting and perhaps relates, but it’s not as important as how they redefined the Gospel and flagrantly violated Scripture.

    (Yet by the way, Seth, it’s not just evangelicals who bring up examples about, say, horses in North America at the wrong time. 😉 )

    My ultimate take on marriage in the Bible is that God is actually not that fussed about the exact FORM of marriage as long as people are being treated well. That’s my read.

    Wrong. That is not the main point of marriage. Read Ephesians 5. What is marriage patterned after? Merely having “people … treated well,” alas, that is such a shallow and man-centered twist.

    Incidentally, neither Jesus nor his Apostles banned polygamy either. So it doesn’t work to say it was abolished with the coming of Christ.

    Seth, neither Jesus nor the Apostles banned homosexuality. Do you really want to go down the same line of reasoning as that?

    Jesus also didn’t ban countless other deviant sexual behaviors: pedophilia, orgies, public nudity, immodesty, emotional affairs, or any of the other ways humans find to sin. It saves time just to say what He said: pointing back to the Genesis template, one man, one woman, for life (Matthew 19: 1-9).

    Seth, you seem to have a very exalted opinion of your ability to deal with opposing arguments. I read a lot of pride in your posts, and not much humility to consider that perhaps, even after the grand total of ten years, something may have escaped you — or you may have a bias. (For God’s sake, literally, I hope I have not approached this discussion with this attitude; that is why I have asked questions and kept things focused on Scripture, not Anecdotes or whatever some person did/said sometime in history.)

    Yet you still haven’t backed up your statement that the Bible says Jesus required baptism — you could only, while admitting it, point to Mormons-only interpretations. You’ve still completely dodged Galatians and my point about the “new perspective” stuff stands. That’s where the real action is here: the Gospel. Frankly, that’s what separates the true Christians from the false ones. That’s what makes Mormonism historically a heresy, and a sad one.

    Apart from even that, as long as Mormons are going around saying that God — our great Creator, the omnipotent Triune transcendence who works all things for His good pleasure and for His glory — not only lives on a planet with a spirit-wife, but was once a man on a world like ours? No informed Christian will have anything to do with that. It’s a nice fantasy, about a universe that doesn’t exist. But that’s all.

    Also, Anecdotes about evangelicals who’ve joined Mormonism is a common element of Mormon apologetics. The informed Christians who debate your religion don’t go there because it’s pointless. Anecdotes go in all directions, and one could easily dig up examples of evangelicals defecting to liberalism, or atheism, and not receiving satisfactory arguments in favor of Biblical Christianity. Perhaps they haven’t looked, or they don’t want to look, or they have indeed looked and can’t find them (all the more reason to emphasize God-centered doctrine and love).

    Furthermore, plenty of Anecdotes out there are about Mormons defecting to Christianity (such as Nikole Hahn’s comments at the start of this page). You’d simple say they didn’t hear the best arguments, or that they were weak “Mormons” to begin with. Surprise: I’d say that about “Christians” who became Mormons. Anecdote stalemate, as they often are.

    To end this with more of the point I started with, consider showing some kindness (for a change?) to Melissa March. Based on what I’ve read in your exchange with her yesterday, you’re viewing her more as a target than a person. Implicitly you seem to be saying: “who cares about that abuse? it happens in other religions too.” Please feel free to revise your statements and add some compassion in, and so disprove me (in at least this regard).

    But again, this Old-Testament “hermeneutic” — getting behavior principles for today from passages that do not have that meaning when read literally — leads to exactly the kinds of junk Melissa has described. It comes up in evangelical “patriarchy” and Mormonism. When you’re basing behavior on narrative examples and Old-Testament Law — both applying to particular times and places in God’s story of redemption — where does it stop? Why should I not do what I can to keep my wife in line, especially if I can justify that it’s “for her good” according to my Internally Consistent belief System? Why should I not micro-manage my daughter so as to ensure she has a “Biblical” courtship, like Isaac and Rebecca? This is the crap that anti-Biblical beliefs lead to, when we love a religious System more than what God has actually said, whether the System is Mormonism, “patriarchy” or anything else.

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  66. Stephan, I didn’t particularly enjoy the exchange with Melissa. Her arguments were not very informed and were full of errors. Debating with her, I knew there were better ways for an Evangelical to make the arguments she was trying to make, but she was not making them.

    I kept waiting for someone else here to step in and back her up, and flesh out her argument better. But that wasn’t really my role. So thanks for stepping in.

    It’s not that I don’t care about instances of abuse. But she wasn’t just sharing bad experiences. She was attempting to make those experiences a part of a larger narrative about why Mormonism is false and harmful.

    If you start sharing personal anecdotes with that goal in mind, you automatically open up those anecdotes to being challenged.

    The topic of our conversation was not “is abuse wrong?”, but rather “is Mormonism wrong?” I wasn’t about to let her use her anecdotes as evidence in that debate with nothing further.

    But anyway, thanks for stepping in and backing her up. I was kind of hoping someone would.

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  67. As for the New Perspective on Paul, I am an absolute theological baby in my understanding of it. I’m working my way through one of N.T. Wright’s books right now and find it very fascinating. But I wouldn’t say my mastery of it is very good at all.

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  68. Thanks, Stephan, for your very thoughtful, insightful comments.

    Seth, I used that example to show you that the Mormon Church ignored my aunt’s pleas for help. Did you not notice that part? Of course, I am not such an idiot as to believe that only Mormons carry out abuse – I am very aware that Evangelicals do, as well. I notice you said nothing about my grandmother being excluded from being invited to her granddaughter’s wedding at the Salt Lake City Temple because she wasn’t a Mormon. I am not aware of any Evangelical church that would do this.

    I swore I would not enter into this debate again, but I had to clarify my remarks about my aunt. You misconstrued what I was trying to say (again). I was not trying to make it part of a larger narrative. My point was that the Mormon Church IGNORED her when she went for help. She stayed within the abusive marriage because she was terrified that her children would be taken away from her, all due to the Mormon belief in patriarchy. To me, there is something wrong there.

    Yes, it is an anecdote. Yes, you could probably find an Evangelical church who ignored a woman going to help for her abuse. But would a Christian woman be so concerned that she would lose her children because of her church’s focus on patriarchy? I know my church wouldn’t.

    I also feel, Seth, that your form of debate is deliberately misleading. You took my words out of context many, many times, as you also did Stephen’s when you said, “So it seems profoundly odd to say that ritual baptism is at odds with the pure Atonement. Baptism is a symbol of that work of Atonement.” Stephen just told you he did not say that, yet you previously inferred it. This is a way of throwing the person you are debating off-kilter and having to take two steps back to defend something or explain something they never said in the first place, and therefore putting them at a disadvantage so that you have time to press home your point.

    Of course, I am, as you said, not very well versed in these matters and therefore, unqualified to debate you since you have had your ten years experience in defending your faith on anti-Mormon sites.

    I will be the first to admit that I am a novice when it comes to theological debate. And yes, I tend to not be very objective as time goes on because of one thing: when I see my Lord and Savior being maligned, when I see His words being destroyed and altered for another religion’s agenda, my objectivity goes out the window.

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  69. Melissa, I have not been putting words in your mouth. In many instances, you have simply not conveyed your meaning clearly.

    We are having a debate about whether Mormonism is false or harmful.

    In this context, you provided an anecdote about your aunt being abused in the LDS Church. How else was I supposed to take it?

    It clearly seemed like you meant it as evidence of what is wrong with us. So my response about other churches having these problems was entirely appropriate. It wasn’t putting words in your mouth, it was simply responding to what you actually wrote.

    Any clarifications of your meaning are, of course, welcome.

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  70. I ignored the stuff about temple weddings being exclusive because I have nothing to say about it.

    Yes, we are exclusive. Yes, we don’t permit non-Mormons inside the temple. Not because we think they are filthy (many of them are more morally upright even than LDS who are legitimately admitted to the temple). It’s because they have not entered into the same covenant community we have, and this is our way of preserving our own private sacred space.

    I don’t apologize for this.

    Yes, it’s exclusive. Yes, it causes hurt feelings. My grandmother wasn’t able to attend my parents temple ceremony.

    But I do not apologize for keeping our temple restricted. There’s really nothing else for me to say on the subject.

    Every group has their own criteria for excluding people. It’s part of the definition of a group. If you don’t have criteria for exclusion, you no longer have a group. This is true of Catholics, Evangelicals, and all sorts of other people. We’ve been excluded as Mormons from Evangelical circles routinely (I personally know of a young Mormon mother who was told to stop attending a largely Evangelical young mothers playgroup when they found out she was a Mormon – plenty of other stories like this), so I don’t think any side is really innocent of this.

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  71. Incidentally, most Mormon bishops – like most domestic court judges – tend to have a bias in favor of the mother when it comes to matters of who gets the kids (not that a Mormon bishop has any legal say in the matter).

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  72. Stephan, the LDS position needs to be made clear.

    We do not rely solely on the Bible for establishing all our doctrine.

    We accept the Bible as part of our canon – as such, we expect our doctrines to not be CONTRADICTED by the Bible.

    But as long as our doctrines are not contradicted or refuted by the Bible, we’re golden.

    Often, debates with Evangelicals go something like this:

    EV: “Mormon doctrine X is refuted by the Bible due to verses A, B, and C”

    MO: “No it isn’t – verse A isn’t even talking about the subject, and verses B and C rely on your own particular READING of the verses to have the meaning you assert. These verses can be alternatively read in such and such a manner, which is in harmony with LDS doctrine X.”

    EV: “Well, the Bible never affirmatively says doctrine X is allowed.”

    Do you see the problem here Stephen?

    The Evangelical starts with the argument that a Mormon belief is refuted by the Bible.

    When the Mormon then demonstrates that – no it isn’t refuted by the Bible, the Evangelical then changes the requirements of the debate and demands that the Mormon affirmatively show that the Bible not only allows, but DEMANDS the doctrine in question.

    This is simply unfair debate behavior. The original issue was never about whether the Bible demands doctrine X – but rather about whether the Bible doesn’t contradict it.

    We don’t believe in biblical sufficiency – so your calls for everything to be rock-solid established by the Bible simply do not work on us.

    If you want to talk to Mormons at all, you have to abandon the requirement that everything be contained in the Bible. If you actually want to talk to Mormons, that is…

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  73. If you don’t have criteria for exclusion, you no longer have a group.

    Seth, this is the thrust of my post. For whatever reason, Mormons seem to be making a concerted effort to be considered “Christian.” The fact is, we believe very different things though in many instances we use similar language.

    You seem willing to accept the differences—particularly our views about creation and the authority of Scripture, though you believe Christians are in error for “limiting” ourselves to Biblical revelation.

    You point out that the passage about not adding or detracting from the Word refers specifically to the book of Revelation, but I don’t know how the following could be read with any confusion:

    6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;

    7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

    8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

    9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

    11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

    12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    (from Galatians 1, emphases mine)

    The fundamental issue has to do with this: when Joseph Smith claimed revelation from God through the angel Moroni, contradicting Paul’s teaching, how is this not a “different gospel”—the very thing he warned against in the passage above? Why would God contradict Himself by saying through Paul not to accept a different gospel, then turn around and give Joseph Smith a different gospel? Why would He give Paul one gospel and Joseph Smith another gospel?

    In your latest comment (which you posted while I wrote the earlier part of this) you said:

    We don’t believe in biblical sufficiency – so your calls for everything to be rock-solid established by the Bible simply do not work on us.

    If you want to talk to Mormons at all, you have to abandon the requirement that everything be contained in the Bible. If you actually want to talk to Mormons, that is…

    You are essentially affirming my position, Seth. We come from two different starting positions—yours that the Bible isn’t sufficient, Christians from the position that it is and that God (through the first apostles) made that claim from the beginning.

    As long as you or anyone else want to add (or detract) from the Bible, we will arrive at different conclusions about grace versus works, creation, salvation, God’s nature, who Jesus is, and any number of dividing points.

    It all starts with the issue of authority. I find it interesting, however, that you believe Christians must give up our belief that the Bible is sufficient if we are to talk to Mormons.

    That sounds just like Satan talking. In Eden, his approach to Eve was, Has God really said …

    And when he tempted Jesus, he tried to make use of Scripture for his own ends.

    Clearly, God’s Word, His revelation, is something Satan attacked from the beginning. That’s because he is a liar and the father of lies.

    How then are Christians to accept lies that call into question the tenets of Scripture?

    You say you accept the Bible as long as it doesn’t contradict Mormon doctrine. Essentially that position calls God a liar wherever the Bible does contradict Mormon beliefs (such as in the matter of creation).

    Honestly, I’ll agree with you: I don’t know how to talk to Mormons because of this divide. I’m hoping my friend who came out of Mormonism can address that issue in a blog post soon.

    Becky

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  74. Becky, you said everything I was trying to say but failing at most miserably. Thank you.

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  75. OK, this passage from Galatians is a popular one for Evangelicals talking about Mormons. “Different Gospel” “different Jesus” – or so the argument goes.

    Of course we utterly dispute both assertions. Let’s break down the passage:

    8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

    Me: I simply note that we don’t preach a different Gospel from that of Paul – we simply read what he said differently. So we do not consider ourselves to be in violation of this passage.

    I also would note that Evangelicals like to assert that Joseph Smith received his religion from the angel Moroni.

    This is false. He did not receive it from Moroni – but directly from God. Thus Paul’s warning does not apply here – since he never cautioned against God himself saying anything additional.

    9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    Me: See above.

    10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

    Me: Mormons have no argument with this verse and are just as in compliance with it as any Christian church.

    11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

    Me: Thus the LDS claims of direct revelation – thus our Gospel is not “of man” but rather of God the Father himself.

    12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Me: Which is why Joseph received revelation of Jesus Christ and spoke with him directly.

    So, I’m not really sure what your point is in bringing up this passage – because it hasn’t even remotely been established that Mormons are violating it.

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  76. And I don’t see how you can even remotely read Galatians 1 even remotely demands the doctrine of biblical sufficiency.

    Biblical sufficiency is not required by Galatians 1. In fact, it’s not even required by the Bible at all.

    It’s an extra-biblical doctrine.

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  77. Sorry about the “remotely”s

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  78. And I don’t see how you can even remotely read Galatians 1 even remotely demands the doctrine of biblical sufficiency.

    Seth, I guess I’m not surprised that you don’t understand because spiritual things are discerned spiritually. God’s revelation is a spiritual issue. However, you’re a logical fellow, so perhaps I can at least explain how I get to Biblical sufficiency (authority, really—that’s the key issue) from this passage.

    Paul received direct revelation from God. He then traveled, preaching Christ, and establishing churches based on that revelation. He followed that up by writing letters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, supporting and clarifying what he taught—the very gospel he speaks of.

    While Paul received his revelation from God, he later met with the church leaders in Jerusalem, essentially to see if they were on the same page. This included Peter and James and I believe Jude and John—other writers of the New Testament. They were in agreement. And several of their epistles also warned against false teachers and false prophets.

    In other words, these church fathers were not looking for or expecting new revelation but warning against those who would add or change what they had taught.

    As to Mormons not preaching a different gospel, Seth, that’s a disingenuous statement. We’ve already established that Christians, based on the Bible, do not believe in Jesus and Satan being spirit brothers, that in fact Jesus Himself said He and the Father are One.

    Mormonism however, believes in three distinct gods: The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is woven throughout Scripture, clarified by the Church and, yes, included in the ancient creeds you do not believe.

    No, the creeds do not add to the Bible. They merely list what is there. (What does the Bible say about God’s nature? About Jesus, sin, salvation, the Scripture itself, the Church, and so on)

    The thing is, the tenets of Christianity, like those of Mormonism, are intertwined. Hence, “Salvation” and “Atonement” are closely aligned to what we believe about creation and the origin of sin.

    You say your gospel is not different, but you do not believe in God creating from nothing. You do not believe that Adam emerged from that creative process as an everlasting soul (unless you believe something different from Mormon teaching about eternal spirits—a belief more closely aligned to pantheism than to Christianity).

    Further you do not believe in Hell—a place of everlasting judgment for those who do not repent and believe in Jesus: “The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79).

    I could go on about Joseph Smith’s false prophecies, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all, Seth.

    The discussion really does hinge upon the Bible and what you believe about it. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the human authors, as it says? Then how did the writers, from the scribe who penned the Pentateuch, the various psalmists, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and the one who wrote Hebrews, get creation “wrong” according to Mormon doctrine? (See for example Hebrews 11:3 – By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. and Romans 4:17b even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist., just two verses of the host of verses either stating or implying God’s creation of the world from nothing other than His word).

    Mormonism is a different gospel, Seth. That you can’t see it is evidence of spiritual blindness. If instead of defending Mormonism, you would ask God to open the eyes of your heart, then sit down with your Bible and begin reading from cover to cover, I wonder what you would find.

    Becky

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  79. I should have clarified.

    Mormonism may be a different Gospel for yours Rebecca.

    But it’s not all that different from Paul’s.

    Hope that clarifies things.

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  80. Seth, I’m not going to get defensive because of that remark. You will not find Paul declaring Jesus and Satan to be spirit brothers. That simply is not a teaching from the Bible. That alone qualifies Mormonism as a different gospel.

    You know that I did not write the Christian creeds I’m adhering to. So to say this gospel is mine, not Paul’s is another ploy to change the discussion. The issues at hand remain, what do you believe about the Bible and what do you believe about Jesus? Mormonism gives a different message on those two points than does Christianity.

    Becky

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  81. But this simply begs the question – who says the Bible definitively contains all “Paul’s Gospel?”

    Besides, it isn’t Paul’s Gospel anyway. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I consider that Gospel to be in no way bound simply to what is in the covers of the Bible.

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  82. Seth, you suggested the term “Paul’s Gospel.”

    Mormonism may be a different Gospel for yours Rebecca.

    But it’s not all that different from Paul’s.

    However, I do agree with your point—the gospel preached in the Bible is most definitely the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Paul made it clear, John did too, and Peter, Jude, the writer of Hebrews—there will be false prophets who come along and change what the apostles were teaching.

    Mormonism does precisely that. It changes the gospel. Here’s one important part. Hebrews 12:2 says

    fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    But according to Mormon doctrine, Jesus left his throne and visited America, leading a group of indigenous peoples. That’s a different gospel than the one proclaimed in the Bible. There are other examples, too.

    I’ll end by reiterating what I said to you in my first response, Seth:

    I don’t think it’s offensive to say that Mormons believe differently from Christians. I think it’s a fact, and I think it’s a fact Christians need to know.

    The only reason I can imagine for a Mormon to want to be considered “Christian” is to influence and affect the direction Christianity is taking.

    What would you think if I, believing as I do, started going to various Mormon sites and insisting that I, too, was a Mormon? No, I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I certainly do believe that God created the world ex nihilo, that He is Triune, human spirits are not eternal, that the ancient creeds have it right about hell and … just about everything.

    But, hey, I’m a Mormon.

    Would that even make sense?

    You see, then, why I’m mystified, at best, when Mormons want to say they are Christians.

    Becky

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  83. Rebecca, if you are waiting for me to concede that you have a monopoly on how to validly worship Christ, you are going to have a long wait.

    I don’t care what you call us – as long as we are recognized as worshiping Christ according to the Bible.

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  84. Seth, I’m not trying to get you to concede anything. I’m trying to make a point to Christians—one I suspect you won’t agree with.

    I don’t know enough about your worship practices to say you are or aren’t “worshiping Christ according to the Bible.” I suspect not because of practices such as baptism for the dead. (Yes, I know the Bible mentions that some people did that—nowhere do the New Testament writers advocate the practice).

    Be that as it may, my point isn’t about how Mormons worship, it is about who Mormons worship. The Christian understanding of who Jesus is, is vastly different from a Mormon’s understanding of who Jesus is.

    We believe

    * Jesus is one in kind, in substance, in communion with the Father, in no way subservient to Him.
    * In fact, He is very God, not a god.
    * Jesus is God incarnate—fully God in nature and person but simultaneously fully Man, though without sin.
    * Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. He spoke the world into existence and brought human life into being.
    * He is the perfect Lamb of God. His death paid the “wages of sin” debt that all Mankind carries. By faith in Him, there is forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.
    * He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven where He is the believer’s Advocate and High Priest.
    * He will one day return as reigning King.
    * He will judge the world as the Righteous Judge, assigning those who believe in Him to their eternal home which He has prepared for them but those who reject Him, to eternal, physical condemnation, a place of punishment.

    This list, of course, is not comprehensive.

    Nevertheless, there are some things Christians do not believe are true about Jesus which apparently Mormons believe.

    * Jesus is not Satan’s spirit brother.
    * He is not the spirit brother of any created being.
    * The Old Testament details Man’s interaction with God as Spirit and Father, not as Incarnate God in the flesh. Consequently, Yahweh (Jehovah) refers to the person of the Father, not to the Son.
    * Jesus did not visit descendants of Israel in the Americas, post-resurrection.
    * He is not a god. He is the one and only God.
    * He did not come to earth to give man a way to overcome imperfection. He came to bring reconciliation between a Holy God and His sinful people.
    * His work was not to “help shape us into happy people worthy of the blessings of heaven.” Man is not worthy and cannot be shaped into someone worthy. Christ alone is worthy. It is by His stripes we are healed. It is by His righteousness we are clothed. His work is complete and sufficient and finished.

    There are so many things, Seth, that are different about our beliefs. Yet as I study these statements of faith on both sides, I see again the deceptive similarities of language that can confuse.

    Seth, here’s my prayer for you—not a debating tactic: that you would have a desire to read the Bible cover to cover, that God might open the eyes of your heart, and that you might come to the true gospel of Jesus Christ laid out within its pages.

    Becky

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  85. Rebecca, I’m quite aware that you haven’t really been talking to me, but have been trying to make an example out of me for any Evangelicals reading this post. That didn’t really need to be said.

    But let me reiterate – your arguments here are unlikely to be persuasive to anyone who is not already solidly in your own camp. You are, basically, preaching to the choir.

    Saying “well that’s not in the Bible!” is an argument that simply doesn’t work on anyone who doesn’t already buy into the doctrine of Biblical sufficiency and inerrancy. I subscribe to neither – and neither do many Protestants in America.

    It’s only a fringe faction of Protestant fundamentalism that actually advocates for the idea of biblical inerrancy. And entire swaths of Christianity (notably Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) reject the idea of biblical sufficiency.

    So you are kind of a minority here – even in the traditionally Christian world. I’m sure your arguments are quite compelling to your fellow conservative Evangelicals – but they are about the only people you can expect this kind of argument to get any traction with.

    Arguing something is not in the Bible, is, of course – a rather worthless strategy for Mormons.

    We don’t frankly care. All we care about is that we are not contradicted by the Bible – which we are not. So life is good.

    But if you feel you’ve made your point to your own small crowd of supporters, I similarly feel that I have sufficiently made my point to everyone else.

    I’m willing to drop this conversation if you feel it has run its course.

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  86. I’m quite aware that you haven’t really been talking to me, but have been trying to make an example out of me for any Evangelicals reading this post.

    No, Seth, I haven’t been trying to make an example out of you. I wrote this post before you ever stopped by my site and commented. That I haven’t changed my original purpose for writing doesn’t mean that I am not talking to you.

    Actually, I find it interesting that you seem adept at changing the subject from Mormons and Christians don’t believe the same things about Christ to the Bible is sufficient and inerrant. I’ll follow the example you set in your discussion with Melissa and say that is a topic for another day.

    One point that may be relevant to the “Is Mormonism Christian” discussion is that siding with “the majority” opinion about the Bible is not a compelling argument. I wouldn’t expect someone who rejects the Christ of the Bible to embrace the Bible as the source of truth.

    But ignoring or changing or adding to a source of truth doesn’t change the facts to which that source points.

    As for me preaching to the choir, you apparently still don’t understand why I wrote this post, Seth. Too many Christians are unaware of what Mormons actually believe. I am not making an attempt at clarifying Christian doctrine (except to you or to anyone who may not be familiar with it). I am making a case for Mormonism’s rejection of key components of the Christian faith, thereby eliminating the possibility that Mormonism is simply another Christian denomination.

    To be honest with you, Seth, I don’t know what point you think you’ve made. You certainly haven’t offered anything to refute my statements about Mormonism being different from Christianity—largely because it’s quite clear that Mormons do not believe what Christians believe.

    If you’re done with this conversation, it’s certainly your prerogative to stop commenting. I feel some obligation to answer you on my site, so if you decide you need to say more, I’ll stay with you.

    Becky

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  87. Well, lets have a look at the list.

    * Jesus is not Satan’s spirit brother.

    I agree that this is a difference, but it also seems to me to be a non-issue. I honestly don’t get what the big deal about this is. We believe that all of us are spirit brothers and sisters. Jesus just happened to be the best of the bunch.

    Besides, the way this is phrased, it’s obvious that our critics are making a play to the sensational. One wonders why they don’t say that Jesus is Elijah’s spirit brother, or Augustine’s spirit brother, or yours and mine. Why pick Satan I wonder…. what could be the motive for picking that individual?

    * He is not the spirit brother of any created being.

    Mormons agree with this statement.

    There is no such thing as a created being in Mormon theology. I’ve said this before in our conversation already, so I’ll assume the fact that you are repeating this assessment means you must have missed what I wrote earlier.

    * The Old Testament details Man’s interaction with God as Spirit and Father, not as Incarnate God in the flesh. Consequently, Yahweh (Jehovah) refers to the person of the Father, not to the Son.

    OK, sure… but Nicene Trinitarians are so muddled about where the Son begins and the Father ends, that I’m not sure what your practical beef here is. If you really believe that Father and Son are one, why are you complaining that we are labeling Jehovah as “the Son?”

    * Jesus did not visit descendants of Israel in the Americas, post-resurrection.

    Show me in the Bible where it says he didn’t. Your earlier quote from Hebrews wasn’t good enough – being both symbolic, and well after the fact (by the time that passage was written, Jesus would have already completed his trip to the Americas).

    * He is not a god. He is the one and only God.

    Mormon theology agrees with this statement.

    Jesus participates in the one and only will governing the universe.

    So we’re in compliance with this statement.

    * He did not come to earth to give man a way to overcome imperfection. He came to bring reconciliation between a Holy God and His sinful people.

    I don’t see any practical difference between the two options you are mentioning here.

    * His work was not to “help shape us into happy people worthy of the blessings of heaven.” Man is not worthy and cannot be shaped into someone worthy. Christ alone is worthy. It is by His stripes we are healed. It is by His righteousness we are clothed. His work is complete and sufficient and finished.

    Mormon scripture and theology agrees.

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  88. Seth, I’ll get to the rest of your comment in time, but I wanted to respond to this statement because it so beautifully illustrates what I’m talking about when it comes to Mormons and language confusion:

    * He is not the spirit brother of any created being.

    Mormons agree with this statement.

    You say Mormons agree because Mormons do not believe that people are created beings. Mormons believe we existed before creation as spirit beings.

    This is not the same thing at all that I am saying, yet you say that Mormons agree with my statement.

    You may agree with the words, but how you understand the words and how I intended the words are two different things.

    Becky

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  89. Here’s another one, similar in kind:

    * He is not a god. He is the one and only God.

    Mormon theology agrees with this statement.

    Jesus participates in the one and only will governing the universe.

    So we’re in compliance with this statement.

    Saying Jesus “participates” in the governing will of the universe, one and only as you understand it, is a far different statement than saying He is in fact the one and only God of the universe.

    Yet you say Mormons are “in compliance.” The facts don’t agree.

    Becky

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  90. * He did not come to earth to give man a way to overcome imperfection. He came to bring reconciliation between a Holy God and His sinful people.

    I don’t see any practical difference between the two options you are mentioning here.

    Whereas I see a chasm between these two positions.

    Our lives aren’t about overcoming imperfection. The truth is, our sin has marred our created nature—that which God made and declared to be good.

    The issue is not how we are now sadly imperfect but that we are irreconcilably separated from the God who made us. Nothing we can do will ever change our condition. The “death consequence” for sin that God warned about is irrevocable.

    Except that God loved us so much He bore the penalty we deserve. We still haven’t and can’t overcome our imperfection. We who believe in God’s grace have instead donned the righteousness of Christ. It is by grace we are saved. It is by grace we are sanctified. It is by grace we will one day be glorified. Not a bit of it is a result of our works.

    Becky

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  91. * His work was not to “help shape us into happy people worthy of the blessings of heaven.” Man is not worthy and cannot be shaped into someone worthy. Christ alone is worthy. It is by His stripes we are healed. It is by His righteousness we are clothed. His work is complete and sufficient and finished.

    Mormon scripture and theology agrees.

    Except, the quote above came straight from the mormon.org site. Either man can become worthy of the blessings or he can’t. Perhaps the mormon.org statement got Mormon doctrine wrong.

    Becky

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  92. So now I’ll go to you’re earlier reaction to the list I said Christians don’t believe and Mormons do.

    * Jesus is not Satan’s spirit brother.

    I agree that this is a difference, but it also seems to me to be a non-issue.

    I think this point speaks directly to the difference we have in our view of Jesus. As I said in an earlier comment, the Mormon view of eternal spirit beings is more akin to pantheism than it is to the Christian view of the One True God creating the world from naught else.

    We believe the Triune God existed, and according to His good will, brought into being all else.

    The idea that Mormons would classify Jesus as Satan’s spirit brother is especially telling because Satan rebelled against God—and hence against Jesus. Saying that Jesus and Satan are of the same mettle shows clearly how different Mormons and Christians view Jesus. We see Him as uniquely transcendent, not as one of the many, and certainly not one of like kind to he who sinned so egregiously.

    OK, one more for tonight.

    * The Old Testament details Man’s interaction with God as Spirit and Father, not as Incarnate God in the flesh. Consequently, Yahweh (Jehovah) refers to the person of the Father, not to the Son.

    OK, sure… but Nicene Trinitarians are so muddled about where the Son begins and the Father ends, that I’m not sure what your practical beef here is. If you really believe that Father and Son are one, why are you complaining that we are labeling Jehovah as “the Son?”

    I’m not complaining, Seth. I’m pointing out a difference. It’s a significant difference because this is the way God has chosen to reveal Himself.

    I could wish it were nice and neat and easy to understand, but that would be like me saying I wish quantum physics would be nice and neat and easy to understand. If it were, it would cease to be quantum physics.

    So too with God. He revealed Himself in Spirit form as Yahweh to Israel. Jesus came as God Incarnate. The Holy Spirit came after Jesus ascended to Heaven and indwells believers.

    Yet the three are One. Three revealed persons, but not three distinct or separate beings. God is One—in substance, kind, nature, purpose. How? Because He is God. He is greater than, more than I can imagine.

    This Person who formed universes and crafted the intricacies of DNA, came to earth in the form of Man because He loves me. Me! Unworthy, sinful, sullied me. He died in order to pay the insurmountable debt I owed. And that has started a relationship with Him because I have been reconciled with God. Where once I was at enmity with Him, now I’m at peace with Him.

    Does it matter that I believe God is who He revealed Himself to be? It would be a poor relationship if I called Him a liar from the outset.

    Becky

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  93. I’m just pushing for accuracy here.

    Evangelicals like to throw around the word “created being” a lot when talking about Mormons. But it is entirely misleading and inaccurate.

    There are no created beings in Mormonism. All beings are eternal. Therefore, Christ – as thought of by Mormons – is by definition, eternal.

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  94. I accept that everything you quoted to be completely correct, though you analysis not being needed, since it is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and without error. Only the analysis has error.

    Now, I will simply refer you to my own post on wordpress that I had posted to our LinkedIn conversation regarding the origin of the Trinity Doctrine. http://paulmarcelrene.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/origin-of-the-trinity

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  95. Biblical scholars agree that the Trinity is neither mentioned nor intended by the authors of the Old Testament. Paul, it’s these kinds of statements that undermine your argument from my perspective. In truth, “Biblical scholars” don’t agree. I’ve heard a number of sermons about the trinity using the Old Testament, starting in Genesis when God says “Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our likeness.”

    Here’s another one: “Nor did Jesus speak of a trinity.” If you mean, He didn’t use the word trinity you are, of course, right. However, the gospels record any number of statements by Jesus indicating that He believed Himself to be God and that He and the Father are one.

    Since these two statements alone are in error, the rest of your article is baseless, Paul.

    Becky

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  96. I do not disagree with anything quoted from outside sources in your post. The idea of the trinity as present accepted by a majority of Christians is not biblical. Relying on purely biblical sources, history and the first proposal of this incorrect doctrine 100s of years after the death of our Lord and Savior, the only begotten Son of God, iit is more than evident that Jesus is distinct from God and like ALL besides God, a created being, but far more than all of creation, by whom all else is created. This is a poor analogy, but the easiest to understand; the universe is made and owned by God and Son, Inc. with God as CEO and JESUS as COO. This analogy is mine, not my church’s or the LDS Church.

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  97. Incidentally, Paul’s view is not my view either. I consider Father, Son and Spirit to be united in much more than simply sharing the same goal. I consider them to indwell within each other in love. But they are not the same being and they do not share the same substance.

    Really, the only difference between Mormonism and other Christian faiths on the notion of the Trinity is this notion of whether Father, Son and Spirit share the same “substance” (homoousis). Many Christians say they do. Mormons say they do not.

    This is the ONLY real dispute we have over the Trinity. And the notion of “substance” is entirely extra-biblical. A neo-platonist innovation that Nicene Christians adopted because they felt – in their mortal wisdom – that it made sense. But I see no reason why the LDS Church ought to be bound by it.

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  98. Seth, that is exactly what I have been trying to convey both on here and in a very long set of discussions on LinkedIn. The notion that the trinity doctrine is anything less than true seems to be totally rejected even in the face of facts the support exactly that it is extra-biblical which is one of the issues raised by the participants in these discussions, as they genuflect at anything not in the Bible such as the Book of Mormon.

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  99. Paul, I think it should be clarified that I don’t think the dispute between Mormons and other Christians is even the “Trinity” to begin with.

    Mormons believe that there are three members of the godhead, and that they are strongly united in some way.

    Taking this alone – Mormons are Trinitarians.

    The issue isn’t the Trinity – it’s homoousis – the notion that these three share the same substance. This is purely a Greek philosophical innovation, and I’ve never encountered a Christian who could even explain what the notion of “substance” even means anyway. So I think the whole notion can be safely ignored.

    Which Mormons do.

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  100. Hi, Seth and Paul. I know I’m late in answering this. I think I’ll make this the last word on the subject.

    I agree with Seth in that much more than just our understanding of the Trinity separates Mormons and Christians. However, I don’t think the issue is insignificant.

    You both claim that the Christian view of the Trinity is not Biblical. That’s the point I want to refute. While the doctrine may have been laid out, as many others were, in the creeds that came along years after the inspiration of Scripture, the truth therein is straight from the Bible.

    One (and there are many other ways to uncover this truth—looking at the names of God and the names of Jesus, for instance) example is in the book of John. Follow the progression.

    John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    John 1:14 And the Word [who was God] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Then look at a passage like Colossians 2:9 – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” Usually that verse is used to show Jesus Christ’s deity, but the extension of the doctrine of the deity of Christ must necessarily be the Trinity.

    Well, I suppose someone could argue for a Binary God, though I’ve never heard of such a thing. Here are some verses about the Holy Spirit, though I suspect a Bible scholar could give you better ones:

    John 15:26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me

    John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.(emphasis mine)

    The real problem, of course, is that Christians like me believe the Bible—God’s infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word—is complete. That later creeds illuminate the truth or compile all the verses of Scripture pertaining to a particular topic does not negate this point.

    Mormons, of course, believe in extra-biblical written revelation. And the ideas within take people in a different direction from that which the Bible takes us.

    Anyway, thanks to you both for this discussion. It’s been enlightening. I appreciate you stopping by and I appreciate your willingness to discuss without rancor.

    Becky

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