Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seeking the Lord the Old-Fashioned Way: In the Holy Temple

The Psalmist yearned for the spiritual blessings of the Temple (Psalm 27):
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. . . .

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
The Temple was vital to the ancient Jews. It was also important to New Testament Christians, who gathered there daily after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 2:46), though they were not in charge of the edifice. Many suggest that the need for the Temple done away when Christ rose from the dead. However, the Bible prophesies that the Temple will continue to matter. When Christ returns in His glory, He will go to the Temple in Jerusalem (Malachi 3:1-3). Afterward, the Saints will serve God day and night in the Temple during the great Millennium (Revelation 7:15). Sounds like it will still matter and still have a role (although the Rev. 7 reference may refer to a temple in heaven, not a temple on earth).

I recently met a Christian from Mainland China who is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology and is doing his dissertation on the topic of temple purity. What a great topic to study. From Psalm 24:
3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
When I was a bishop doing temple recommend interviews, I usually forgot to ask the question about lifting up one's soul to an idol, but I hope it was implicit in the other questions I asked. It is a holy house, a place of purity, where serious preparation is required to come and participate.

Rabbi Abraham Heschel said that the Sabbath is like a temple in time. Jewish scholar Jon Levinson, whose writings about the ancient Temple have done much to strengthen my appreciation of the ancient roots of the LDS temple, built on the idea by saying that "The Temple is to space as the Sabbath is to time." (Sinai and Zion) Yes, this is so true. They are both interruptions in the profane world, a place where man can step into and experience the sacred, either sacred time or sacred space. The Temple is there to help man prepare for entering into the presence of Deity, the place where we seek the face of the Lord. Like the Psalmist, we should meditate upon and yearn for the great blessings of the Temple.

82 comments:

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

You make another great point Jeff. I wonder why other Christian religions can believe that temple worship all of a sudden was no longer an import. I must have failed to read that somewhere in the King James version of the Bible. Maybe it was discussed & slashed by a bunch of mortal politicians at Nicene in 325 AD. I don't know. Perhaps one of your future non-LDS commenters can offer some pracitical explanation for why it's no longer part of mainstream Christian worship despite, as you plainly said, "the Bible prophesies that the Temple will continue to matter."

I know many say they can't understand how 'Mormon' theology can believe certain things, but if they listen we can offer a scriptural explanation for all of our doctrine, so how do 'mainstream Christians' justify their lack of temple worship with scriptural evidence?

Mormanity said...

Well, you can argue that the single site in Jerusalem matters as a sacred spot, but it was sacred because of the temple, and that's what will matter and where Saints will be during the Millennium. Better than Starbucks. Better than Twitter. Better than BYU football. (Ooh, verging on heresy/blasphemy, but you get the point.)

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...
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Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

Since I'm in the U.S. I think I'd be in the New Jerusalem, right? That's what I understand.

Anonymous said...

HI Nathan and Valerie,

I don't know if I can answer your question, but I'll take a stab at it. Temple worship, as you understand it, is not the same as we non-LDS understand it to be. Your faith, from my observations, tends to be very literal in belief and application. You literally believe in the restoration of the ten tribes of Israel...there were twelve by the way. You literally believe that resides in your temple. For non-LDS the temple isn't an actual place, it what lies in your heart. God's temple goes with us whereever we go, what need have we for the building. That's at least one explanation.

Another is that we believe Jesus came to bring a new covenant to the people, one that includes loving one's neighbour, and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Your faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings, whereas mainstream Christians move forward to New Testament teachings and following Christs laws. This is a complex play on semantics, but we don't necessarily believe that God did away with the laws of Moses, we just believe that he expanded upon and simplified them. If we're treating others the way Christ would have treated them, then what need is there for the temple since we are worship God by exemplifying his son's example.

Third, its what your temple is used for that causes most of us to bristle. Consider for a moment that most of us don't believe JS was a prophet, or that he restored anything. From that vantage point, why would any non-LDS person see a need for the temple. Additionally, if you read about the Jewish Temple ceremony, your ceremony doesn't even come close to the established practises in God's temple. Add to that the concern that JS made up the temple ceremony by pirating Masonic practices, and its easy to see why non-LDS don't recognize the need for your temple.

You can offer a scriptural explanation for all of your doctrine, but you have to understand that mainstream Christians only recognize the Bible as God's scriptures. If you're offering the BOM, POGP, or D & C as scripture, you have to understand, we don't consider that to be scripture. If you're offering the Bible, you have to understand that your interpretation of the Bible is different than ours, and we don't agree as to what God is saying about the importance of the temple. Further, to us, non-LDS, your interpretation of the Bible is clouded by the fact that you believe in other scripture that we don't recognize as being scripture. So when you're offering your explanation for why the temple is important, its as if you're talking Greek to most of us.

Lastly, and this comes back to the first point, we do believe in the importance of temple worship, we just don't recognize your temple as God's house. Our churches and cathedrals are our temples and houses of God. God does reside in those places and he is with us when we pray. I personally believe that God's house is open to all who would seek to enter. This is the problem I have with your temple. Its closed to those who need it most...the sinners. These were the folks Jesus spoke to, and these were the folks Jesus invited into God's presence, yet your temple bars them from God's presence because they are not temple worthy. Doesn't seem christian to me. Hope this explains a bit.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Seth R. said...

For me, the simplest answer is usually the best answer.

Why didn't first century Christianity have temple practice?

Actually, I think they did.

There was a temple in Jerusalem and early Christians probably considered it just as much their temple as anyone's. And they would have shared the Jewish assumption that the temple in Jerusalem was the only valid temple.

Problem is, it was controlled by their enemies. So Christians were never in a position to adapt the temple to Christian worship. Then the temple was destroyed by the Romans, Christianity was plunged into a disarray that took centuries to recover from, and by the time the Christian community was on the mend, the temple had been forgotten.

Now Christian theologians spend their time making strained arguments about why the temple never mattered in the first place.

Peter was very-much a Jew. In fact, the accounts in Acts and elsewhere seem to indicate that he basically considered Christianity to be "Judaism - The Sequel." He never dropped any Jewish custom or practice without being practically ordered to by God.

I think you can bet real money that if Peter had been in a position to "claim the temple for Jesus," he would have.

Lirik said...

Thank you for this post! The Holy Temple really is like the sabbath!

Mormanity said...
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Mormanity said...

Catholic Defender, before I got to the end and saw this was a post from you, I thought I was reading a somewhat condescending put-down from "just another" drive-by critic with the ability to write well. I was just a tad surprised and taken back - no offense! - that it was you.

Forgive me if I misstate any of your position (I recognize you are an unusually civil and fair-minded reader here), but let me clarify how I responded to your post. I was surprised that you seem to think:

a) that we can't count (the scattered 10 tribes refers to the lost Northern Kingdom hauled away by the Assyrians - the temple symbolism of the oxen supporting the baptismal font affirms the existence of 12 tribes)

b) that we think the gathered House of Israel reside in the temple, not as part of the kingdom of God among the society of humankind

c) that we don't get the basic idea of the new covenant that Christ brought and the higher law of charity, etc.

d) that we somehow neglect the message of the New Testament and focus primarily on the Old, when in reality they are both part of the Word of God - ever notice how much of what Christ and the Apostles taught was quoting the Old Testament? But we fully agree that the core message of salvation is found in the New. (Perhaps you'll appreciate my puzzlement in finding that some of the same people who condemn us for adding to the word - note that God is free to add all He wants! - also condemn us for paying attention to a major part of the Word that they seem to have subtracted. That's not you, but others seem to have this stance, sort of.)

e) that we don't understand that the LDS temple is foreign and not prima facie necessary and praiseworthy to those who aren't LDS. It's probably just me being defensive, but the tone of the latter part came across as if you're saying we don't recognize the obvious gaps between our views and others, as informed by our belief in ongoing revelation. Most of us should recognize that the whole temple concept, including baptism for the dead - in spite of that being a legitimate Christian practice among at least some early Christians and in spite of being mentioned positively in the Bible - cannot be reconstructed as we practice it based on the Bible or other early texts alone (the mysteries and esoteric aspects of early Christian were not meant to be written down and are barely mentioned, of course). They are unique products of modern revelation, in spite of interesting elements and parallels pointing to or consistent with a Restoration. Yes, we absolutely recognize that non-LDS people won't appreciate what the Temple is all about, that they won't like it when they can't enter, that they won't agree with anything from our modern revelations, and that no matter how excited we get about evidences of Restoration or Book of Mormon evidences or whatever, faith and a spiritual conversion will always be essential.

I think you know us better than my reading of your post suggested. We are Christians, we do rejoice in the New Testament and the teachings of Christ, and we do make our chapels and Sabbath worship open to everyone across the world, and spend a huge amount of our money and a large portion of our lives in trying to reach out to all of our fellow sinners with the great news of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And trust me, we send plenty of sinners to the Temple! I know of one sinful male from Appleton who just went to the Chicago Temple a couple weeks ago.

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

I was going to add: "church is for sinners." we invite all to come to our churches and visit our Sacrament Meetings. In fact, all CAN visit inside our temples. We just have certain requirements one must meet before they enter. You are more than welcome to adhere to the standards and enter with the rest of us. But as for worship, we worship at church and make sacred covenants in temples.

I have read many comments on Jeff's blog here from you CD and I would think that you would have already understood that.

You said: "[Our] faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings [and seems to neglect New Testament teachings]. Once again, I think you would know better than that. Christ came and brought the new law. He lived, He preached, He suffered, He died, and He was resurrected the third day. And He lives still.

THAT is the basic, fundamental teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is just another example to me of other faiths not clearly understanding what the LDS believe and practice in our worship. (I had another Catholic try to tell me that we don't participate in the Eucharist/Communion/Sacrament and that she's been to LDS church services - maybe she went to a stake conference??)

Hopefully we can clear some of these erroneous thoughts up. We don't need folk running around thinking & preaching wrong things about the LDS.

Josh said...

I can see how people outside of the LDS church might be a bit put off by the fact that our Temples aren't open to the public (unlike our chapels, which are). In some ways, the Temple is a lot more open and available than it may seem.

50,000+ missionaries try full-time to convince people to come to church and ultimately, to the temple. And if you miss out on that chance in life, we're more than happy to extend the opportunity after you die via vicarious ceremonies like baptism for the dead. You might not agree with our vicarious temple ordinance work, but hopefully it demonstrates how anxious we are to extend the blessings we feel we receive in the temple to others who haven't yet experienced them.

Josh said...

Sorry for the double post---but I just wanted to say that Jeff's point about how we're not trying to reconstruct temple worship from the Bible is critical.

Having accepted the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, I find parallels to temple worship throughout the Bible. But I shouldn't be surprised if what seems obvious to me isn't obvious to someone who doesn't accept the restoration, as CD points out.

After all, folks who accept Jesus Christ as the Savior can find references to him throughout the Old Testament (Isaiah 53 for example), in places that non-Christians don't find him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

I didn't mean to come across as condecending, that was not my intent at all. I was trying to answer the question posed without offending, but still managed to offend. Sorry about that. I'm going to try to clarify a few things.

First when I said that your faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings, that wasn't meant to imply that you don't follow New Testament teachings...the contrary is true. But, I often sit as an observer in your meetings, and listen very closely to what's being discussed. What I hear, tends to harken back to a strict adherence to following the 10 commandments as well as the scriptures given by Jesus. You strictly interpret Malachi and the law of tithing. None of this is really a problem, its just from an observers point of view things look like you follow the Old Testament pretty closely. I might actually be wrong or misinterpreting.

As far as the 10 versus 12 tribes go, that wasn't meant to be derogatory. As an observer I hear discussions of restoring the 10 tribes of Israel and have always wondered what happened to the other 2 tribes and why they aren't being restored.

I figure you and most of the folks that post here understand the gaps in your teachings versus ours. There are huge gaps, the temple being one of them. I'm going to try and take another stab at this from a different angle.

All your life, if you've been born and raised mormon, you've been taught the importance of the temple, and how you need to keep yourselves worthy to enter the temple. Your teachings about the temple, while somewhat based in biblical teachings, predominantly are given to you from the D & C, and the BOM expansions on the biblical teachings. My unbringing though has a different route altogether. My whole life I've been taught that the chapels where I pray are the house of God, and that his temple is found in the hearts of men and women. Our bodies are God's temple, what lies in our hearts and minds is what's important. So conceptually we are coming from different places when you start talking about temples and worship. The point I was making is that we are not speaking about the same thing when each of us is talking about the temple. For you its an actual building, for me its something I carry with me everyday. Both of us recognize the importance of temples, we just have a different concept of what the word temple means in our Christian practises. That's part of what I was getting at when I was talking about who's allowed to enter. For me, God's house is a place where all are welcome, especially the unworthy...frankly none of us are worthy to enter his house which is why Christ came to establish the new covenant in the first place.

On another point, Nathan and Valerie, you don't share in the Eucharist, you do share in the sacrament. They are not the same thing. I can and probably will expand on that if you'd like, I just don't have time to right now.

Catholic Defender

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

CD - I know about the Catholic views of the Eucharist and how they are different than LDS (and Protestant religions as well).

Eucharist in the Catholic Church refers to both the celebration of the Mass (Liturgy) and the consecrated bread and wine which Catholics believe literally becomes the body and blood of Christ.

The other Catholic I was talking to said: "I have been to the sacrament meeting- but this seems a far cry from our way of the Lord's Supper."

How far from the Lord's Supper as laid out in the New Testament does she think we are? It seems that you have attended a sacrament meeting once or twice before.

Just to recap, and you tell me where you think we are wrong in celebrating the rite of the Sacrament as laid out by Christ Himself: The Sacrament, bread and water, is prepared for and blessed by priesthood holders. The bread is then passed reverently to all in attendance. After the bread has been passed out to all, the priests bless the water, which is then passed reverently to all in attendance.

Those in attendance take the opportunity to ponder on Christ's suffering both in Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary.

You are correct in that we don't celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist as Roman Catholics do. But as far as I've read, the Liturgy is just a different way of performing the rites which lead up to the partaking of the wafer and wine in your case. The other Catholic also claimed that we are far off since we don't claim the Eucharist we are omitting something that was "clearly an essential part of the early church as testified to not just by Christians but by witnesses who counted themselves outside of the church." She couldn't give me any Biblical scriptures which laid out the reason for the creation of the current Roman Catholic rite of the Liturgy of the Eucharist for me though. Perhaps you can fill me in on some New Testament passages where it describes in detail the necessity for each step of the Eucharist.

I would just like to understand better scriptural foundations for why Roman Catholics do what they do. My feeling is most have no clue.

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

CD - on your inquiry of the Lost 10 Tribes...

http://bit.ly/OTMjF

Hope that helps.

Papa D said...

"The Temple is to space as the Sabbath is to time."

I really like that thought, particularly in light of, "Know ye knot that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (1 Corin. 6:19) - or the alternate version, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corin. 3:16) If we are considered to be the temple of God as receivers of the Holy Ghost, it makes sense that we should take time regularly to clean and maintain and purify that temple - and the Sabbath fits such a focus perfectly.

I also like the idea of taking our temple to His temple - of "joining houses", so to speak, on a regular basis.

bunker said...

CD: You said:
"I figure you and most of the folks that post here understand the gaps in your teachings versus ours. There are huge gaps, the temple being one of them."

There are gaps out there. That why we have the restored Gospel (LDS Church). To help fill in the gaps left after the Apostasy.

Mormanity said...

Thanks, CD, that was helpful. Appreciate your point!

Say, maybe you can help me on an off-topic issue. Today I received a letter from a Catholic diocese asking me to provide personal data about two people I know who divorced after a couple of kids and over a decade of marriage. One of them, a Catholic man, has found another honey he wants to marry, and apparently is seeking to have his first marriage annulled so the new marriage can be a good Catholic wedding. A tribunal is being held to consider his request, and so the diocese is contacting several people to get information it needs to make the decision. This is a completely foreign experience to me. Seems like a nice way to lose friends! Any resources you recommend? Have you been through the experience of being a witness providing data for or against an annulment? Is this procedure the same everywhere or does it vary strongly between regions? I hope this is very rare.

Anonymous said...

HI Jeff,

I'll try to anser your question, but I have to tell you, I'm not as versed in annullments as others might be. As far as I know, the Catholic faith is the only faith that uses annullments. Basically, Protestants recognize divorce, where Catholics don't...see Henry the 8th and his dispute with the Pope, ergo...birth of the Anglican Church.

Its a bit of a play on semantics, but the basic difference between divorcing and annulling is that the annullment says there was no sacramental marriage to begin with, versus divorce which says that the bonds of the marriage have broken down and can't be repaired. This is a significant difference for a Catholic wanting to remarry because if you're divorced and remarry you can't participate in the various sacraments because you are living in sin by committing adultery. Essentially a divorced Catholic cuts themselves off from Christ's love by living a sinful life.

This brings us to the annullment process. Here the church is looking at the entire span of the marriage from day one to determine if the marriage was truly a sacramental marriage to begin with. This goes back to Matthew, not sure which chapter, where Christ is telling folks that no man shall separate what God has joined. The question at annullment is did God truly join these folks; if not then no marriage existed and the marriage can and should be annulled. Its a very foriegn concept to most folks, even Catholics. On a side note, some states, Michigan for example, allow annullments as a legal option...there are some benefits for doing this though I don't know what they are.

Anyway, back to your tribunal. What's going on here is a psuedo trial, though not using the same rules you would for court. The tribunal is bringing in friends and family members from both sides so that it can investigate the entire course of the marriage to determine if all the sacramental requirements which compose the marriage were present from the beginning. If the tenants of marriage were present from the beginning, the tribunal will deny the annullment, and your friend will have to decide if he's going to just remarry anyway and risk separation from his faith versus following the tribunal's ruling.

As far as the process, I believe its typical to conduct a tribunal like the one you've been called in on. The regional differences will play into how the tribunal is conducted as will the conservative nature of the priests that may sitting on the tribunal. zThe fact that there are kids from the marriage will play heavily in the annullment question too since annulling the marriage has an impact on those kids. For your friend I would hope he has an open minded group since extreme conservatives don't grant many annullments. As for research materials, your best resource would be to look a the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That will talk about the process a bit and may steer you to other resources. You might also want to look at some of the pro-catholic websites for more info. Hope this helps a bit, I've not been through the process and only know of one person who has since annullment is something not spoken about very much.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan and Valerie,

I want to point out that one area where I think your church does a good job is in educating your followers as to what you believe. Unfortunately for Catholics, unless you've had the benefit of attending Catholic school, you might not get a solid foundation of what your faith is. That's something we could learn from you folks.

As far as celebration of the Eucharist versus Sacrament, I don't think there is a divergence necessarily in the symbolism, both seek to emulate the last supper and the breaking of the bread. Where the difference truly lies, is with the beliefs surrounding the symbolism. Catholics literally believe the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, Mormons are reminded of the sacrafice and the covenants they made. This may seem the same, but it really is not.

For a Catholic, the Eucharist is our communion with Christ...that's why its called the sacrament of first communion. We are literally joined with Christ and take him into our selves. The scriptural support is found primarily in John's chapters on the entire passion of Christ, which encompasses Psalm Sunday through the Resurrection. You have to read it entirely in conjunction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to really grasp the scriptural references and support. LDS recognize this same scripture as well but don't interpret its meaning the same as Catholics.

I think what the other Catholic was getting at when she was telling you you're missing an essential element of the Eucharist was the idea of Communion with Christ. Forgive my ignorance here, but what seems to happen with LDS, is that when you partake of the sacrament, you partake of it in rememberence of Christ and his suffering. Catholics partake of the Eucharist because we are partaking of Christ and carrying him with us through our lives. That's why Catholics are encouraged to attend mass everyday, not just Sunday, so that we always have Christ with us. This difference is why many non-Catholics get offended coming to mass and not being invited to partake of the Eucharist. Its not because they aren't worthy to do so, its because they don't believe the Eucharist to be what a Catholic believes it to be. Unfortunately a lot of Catholics also don't grasp these concepts and do a poor job explaining it to their non-catholic friends and family.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Ryan said...

Further, to us, non-LDS, your interpretation of the Bible is clouded by the fact that you believe in other scripture that we don't recognize as being scripture. So when you're offering your explanation for why the temple is important, its as if you're talking Greek to most of us....

You have to read [the passion of Christ] entirely in conjunction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to really grasp the scriptural references and support.Quotes like this illustrate something (paradox? irony?) I've never been able to figure out. We all have writings outside the Bible that we consider authoritative and which guide our understanding and interpretation of doctrine. These writings go by different names: Creed, Catechism, Doctrine and Covenants, dogma, whatever), but we each consider our own extra writings to be inspired of God and reflect His will (I hope!).

Perhaps I'm being overly simplistic here, but when some piece of writing tells you/me/them what to believe when we don't agree on what the Bible says -- or when the Bible says nothing at all -- that writing is scripture, the revealed word of God.

If it's not the revealed word of God, what is it, and why is it the last word in matters of doctrine?

Please realize I don't mean to offend -- I'm perfectly happy to accept the Catechism (or the Creeds) as others' equivalents to our authoritative works, but it always seems like they work so darn hard to explain why it's not scripture, ie not authoritative, and then try to convince me that this is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Ryan,

Did you read my entire post? I think you're taking things out of context. I was answering a question posed, not espousing on a course of my dogma's better than yours. You can believe what ever scripture you choose.

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

There is no need for an edifice that is called a temple because we are the temple of God. God dwells in our hearts. He is present in us. The sacrificial system is no longer necessary, because Jesus Christ was the sacrifice to which the Israelites looked forward. The temple curtain was torn in half from top to bottom, and that means that Christ Himself intercedes for us, and there is no need for a priest to intercede on the behalf any human being. And, for Nathan and Valerie to say, "Maybe it was discussed & slashed by a bunch of mortal politicians at Nicene in 325 AD" only reveals their unfamiliarity with the early Church councils, which was to define Christian dogma in the light of heretical teachings in the Church (But I think that's for another post). Salvation in the presence of God for eternity is not the result of earning a temple recommend and going through the ritual of the temple endowment; nor is salvation based upon the hope that a human being will do your temple work for you in the temple after you are dead. The hope of salvation is only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we are justified by our faith. No, that does not mean we have license to sin (I know you'll take my comment there), but our good works are a response to God's saving grace in our lives, and He makes us holy as He is holy as we respond to His love, and love Him and our neighbors as ourselves. We do not need to seek the LORD in any "old-fashioned way" as this post suggests. God makes His abode in us. I pray that all Mormons will come to the truth about God's Word, the temple, and the reality of the grace of Jesus Christ, which is more than a mere appendage to our works.

Peace and Grace!

jackg said...

I didn't want to post as anonymous, but did something wrong in the process. I go by jackg, and my post is the one that made reference to Nathan and Valerie's comment about a Nicea slashing of sorts.

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

CD - you post so many comments on here defending & explaining your faith (to which I applaud your efforts), but since you are such an avid Catholic apologist isn't it about time you created a blogger ID (you can even use Catholic Defender if its available) so it doesnt constantly say Anonymous? Just a thought.

Back to Jeff's original point: Despite what the world may say, I know the feelings I get whenever I enter the House of the Lord. I know of the special experiences I have had there. I know of the closeness to my Heavenly Father that I feel only in the House of the Lord and in no other place on this planet. I know of the sure knowledge that comes to one that families CAN be forever, only in and through temple ordinances. I know of nothing sweeter in this life than the feeling one gets in the House of the Lord. And all the worldly attacks and misunderstandings cannot change what I have felt within those hallowed walls.

Seth R. said...

jackg,

"There is no need for an edifice that is called a temple because we are the temple of God. God dwells in our hearts."

But apparently he didn't dwell in Elijah's heart, because he needed a temple. Is that what you are implying here jackg?

Nathan and Valerie Coffey said...

Jackg -

You said: "The hope of salvation is only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we are justified by our faith."

So by your comment, LDS are definitely on the right path towards salvation; for we have a sure hope of salvation, believe in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the first principle of the Gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet; it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls." - Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I'm glad to see that you agree that as followers of Christ we first need to accept Him as our Savior, but that does not mean that we have a "license to sin...but our good works are a response to God's saving grace in our lives." So clearly a true follower of Christ does 'good works,' for we cannot simply confess Christ then live the life of a heathen. As Christ put it: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21.).

It's always perplexing to me that other religions attack us for 'doing more' than having faith and belief in the very Christ of the New Testment and confessing Him as our Lord and Savior. It seems that according to most religions standards that Latter-day Saints are on the right track with the basic necessities. But since we choose to 'do more' we are somehow "going to hell."

For arguments sake lets say all we need to be saved in heaven with Christ is to believe "in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," and then "we are justified by our faith" - and throw in doing good works as a response to His grace . If those are the requirements, then see you there! Jeff will be there too!

jackg said...

Nathan and Valerie (nice photo, BTW),

Your last paragraph sounds good, and I wish I could leave it there, but when you say a person has to be baptized (to the point that you create a doctrine of baptism for the dead and then temples to do that baptism in), then the emphasis is on works, and that believing in Jesus Christ isn't enough. Yes, a believer in Christ does good works, but not for the sake of being saved, because they are already saved. Do you see the difference in the emphasis? I do the good works God already ordained me to do (Eph.2:10), because I am saved and filled with love for God and all people. The true believer does good works because they want to, not because they ought to. There's a big difference. I believe Mormonism teaches that you have to earn your way into God's presence through works,i.e. be a faithful hometeacher, temple recommend holder, temple marriage, etc. That is a works-righteousness doctrine, and puts the weight of our works on the side of the salvation equation of things you have to do to be saved. So, I would say that we are in agreement if you can say that even baptism doesn't save you. Now, if you can say that, then you will see there is no need for temples, baptism for the dead, and the other rituals performed in the temples. If you can't, then I would I think you would have to agree that we believe in different gospels. My view is that the Mormon gospel is a gospel without hope because it is dependent on your works. The Christian gospel is a gospel of hope because it is dependent on faith in Jesus Christ alone. I hope you can see there are two different belief systems going on here. We can't synchretize the Word of God to accommodate our belief systems, and I truly believe Mormonism does this.

Peace and Grace!

Mormon Coffey said...

Jack - But you are clearly saying that our belief in the fundamental doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints; which is that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, was baptized in the river Jordan, went about doing good, was betrayed and condemned to death, suffered in the Garden and on the cross for the sins of both you and me, and was resurrected the third day; you are saying that by us confessing Him as our Lord and Savior and by trying to emulate Him in our daily life (What Would Jesus Do?) is somehow nullified by our 'additional works.'

Perhaps all of our temple work is bogus - does that automatically nullify our staunch faith and hope in Christ? So we have hope, as much hope as the rest of the Christian world, if not more - if all of our "bonus work" is for naught, that isn't for mortal man to decide.

If all we need is faith and hope in Christ the Latter-day Saints are already there!

Why doesn't the rest of the Christian world ignore our "bonus works" (temple ordinances, or home teaching - which is just strengthening the testimonies of other members and watching out for the poor and needy, something Christ did His entire life, for example) - if after all, its just by faith and hope that we are saved!?

I have yet to read in the King James version of the Bible where it says that "And if ye have more than faith and hope in Christ Jesus, and profess that it must needs be by your additional works that ye are saved; then your works nullify your faith and hope in Christ's saving grace, and ye are damned to endless torment." Please find that for me.

Thanks!

jackg said...

Nathan and Valerie,

You both seem like nice people. I think the time has come for us to agree to disagree. I do want to say that I believe you have pure motives, and that your responses have not been solely to defend your position, but to try to enlighten me, and to reason with me in a way that I might be able to see what you perceive to be fallacies in my thinking and my logic.

It seems to me that you both really want me to see that you are true believers in Jesus Christ. I'm not going to deny that. I do think, however, that you are being misled and misguided in the theology the Mormon Church teaches, and I'm certain you feel the same about me. That's okay. We're human beings who don't want to see the other end up outside of God's presence. Can we agree on that?

So, thank you for your time, and thanks for responding and engaging me in dialogue. May God's blessings be with you and your family always.

Peace and Grace!

jackg

Mormon Coffey said...

I hope there were no hard feelings. I was just trying to explain/defend/correct misnomers about our faith.

All I was saying is IF all that is required to be saved is to have faith in the Jesus as described in the NT, and to have hope in salvation, then both you and I are golden based on our faith!

Keep strong in the Gospel of Christ!

jackg said...

No hard feelings on this end, Nathan and Valerie. God bless you both!

Peace and Grace!

Mormanity said...

It's refreshing to see that people can disagree on heavy topics without name-calling and anger. Please get the word to Perez Hilton.

Tony said...

Haha, good one Jeff.

Hey there CD, I was wondering what your feelings were on the fact that the Apostles after Christ's time went into the temple to worship and teach, and also the account of Paul purifying himself in the temple?

Also, it talks in revelations about the Lord "suddenly coming to His temple" which for me would imply that there will be a temple in the latter days that He would come to.

God Bless!

catholic defender said...

Hi Tony,

I'm wondering if your question asks for my opinion, or for a doctrinal interpretation. My opinion of Peter and Paul going into the temples isn't really that complex. Peter was jewish his whole life, at least till Jesus called him. It just makes sense that he'd go into the temples to worship and preach. Additionally, Peter, more so than Paul taught to the jews. In order to be effective with that, he'd have to go where they were at...the temple might be a good place to start. But you also have to look at the rest of Peter's actions. He didn't just preach at the temple, and he didn't really preach about temple worship being all that important. The people Peter was primarily addressing were starting with a frame of reference for the temple.

Paul is a little different. Paul was a jew, if I remember right, but he was also a Roman Citizen. He was called to preach to the gentiles. The gentiles would not have had a frame of reference for the temple. But Paul was jewish, and did preach to the jews too. He'd also have to go where they were. But Paul would also have to go where the gentiles were too. Much of Paul's ministry is done outside the temple, and doesn't really say the temple is all that important. That may be an interpretation that is different than yours would be. There is a great set of teachings in Romans, starting about Romans 12 which talks about worship, and tolerance. Part of that discussion really points out that how we each worship is not as important as making sure that in the process we don't put road blocks in each others way. That discussion starts out with a disagreement between those who would continue to follow jewish teachings, and those who would not. Paul points out that those little nuances are not as important as building each others faith up is.

As for Revelations, I can assure you that Catholics and Mormons don't interpret the verses in that book entirely the say way. Catholics also don't take it as literally as LDS do. Much of Revelations is symbolic, and metaphorical...at least thats the frame of reference that I come from. Admittedly though, I am not as well versed in Revelations as others may be. I don't necessarily believe that Christ is talking about a literal building...he's talking about something much larger and deeper in meaning.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Seth R. said...

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I imagine the temple is not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament for two reasons:

1. The temple was just a given in early Christian religious life.

2. First Century Christianity was so much in flux that it hadn't really been decided yet where the temple fit.

Then the Romans destroyed the only temple on earth before these matters could be resolved. You don't seem to take into account how big of a faith and worldview crisis the destruction of Jerusalem was for early Christians. It changed how they thought about everything. Many of them had expected Christ to return before Jerusalem was destroyed. When he didn't, it was a bit of a shock.

If you think the Bible is a complete book and the last word on things, then yes, you might expect to find temple worship in there.

But that kind of reasoning doesn't work with Mormons. We don't consider it the last word. Absent an explicit rejection of the temple in the Bible text, you're going to have a hard time convincing me that something so central to the worship life of early Christians was supposed to be abandoned.

And no - ripping a temple veil doesn't cut it.

catholic defender said...

Hi Seth,

You are correct, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But, you've missed the point. I've never said temple worship was not important to those of us who are not LDS, I've said that your concept of temple worship versus ours is not the same. We are not talking about the same thing when we say temple, because you mean an actual place, we mean that which we carry in our hearts. Christians place a high degree of importance on worship in God's temple, we're just not locked into the idea that it must be a physical tangible location to be considered the house of God.

You're also assuming that temple worship was important to early Christians. As was pointed out earlier in this post, the temple was generally unavailable to early Christians because of hostile ownership by the Jews and the Romans. If you follow what Paul is talking about, adherence to the old Jewish traditions and customs becomes largely unimportant unless it helps you to build a stronger faith in Christ and grow closer to God. If thats really what Paul is talking about, then it would follow that the Temple, being part of the old Jewish Tradition and customs, would also not be as important unless it serves as a faith builder.

I recognize that for many Mormons, the temple does just that. But, for other Mormons it detracts from their faith because of the controversial nature of the temple, the teachings about it, and the concern over the orgins of the rituals that occur within.

For other Christians, the LDS idea of the temple becomes largerly unimportant because we believe in something more, and our faith grows from that something more.

My personal observations, and this is not meant to be derogatory, is that Mormons are tending to become very much like the Jews of Jesus' time were. What I mean by that is that as I sit in your meetings with my wife, I see and hear a great deal. What I observe are many folks following the black letter law laid down by the prophets, but not knowing what the meaning of the law is.

In Jesus' time, the Jews were so much about following the law, that they had forgotten the meaning of the law. And their leaders had forgotten the meaning of the law so much that all they saw from the law was the power it gave them. That power led to unhappiness in the followers, and corruption in the leadership. Mercy was a foriegn concept to the Pharasees. I can see that happening with Mormons too...the word of Wisdom for example. There's no compromise...just obedience there. The same with temples, and temple recommends, and tithing, and the sabbath day.

I'm not saying that Jesus compromises, I'm saying that Jesus tempers the law with mercy and understanding and compassion to the extent that it isn't this rigid set of rules, but something that helps build faith in him. I hope this makes sense, I'm really not trying to offend. What I am trying to say is that seeking the Lord the Old Fashioned Way, in the Temple, isn't necessarily what was intended.

We've all been called to seek God in our hearts, and in our prayers; and, in our actions we are called to exemplefy Christ's love, by caring for each other as he would have. Its through the combination of faith and action that we grow closer to being true Christians. If the temple helps along the path, then its probaby a good thing. If the temple hinders, then its not so good and should be discarded as part of your worship in favour of those things which do draw you closer to Christ.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

jackg said...

Seth R.

When one truly understands the purpose of the temple for the Israelites, then one can understand what the tearing of the temple veil represented. When that happens, it is clear to see that it is indeed enough. Praying for you.

Peace and Grace!

Seth R. said...

Yeah, you can imply all sorts of things when you've got a vested theological position you are trying to justify.

Not good enough jackg.

Tony said...

One more point.
I always saw the ripping of the temple veil as being symbolic of the veil being taken away between earth and heaven. Indeed, through Christ's atonement we were able to enter into God's presence, just as the priests would enter into the Holy of Holies through the veil.

Also, it says nowhere in the Bible that the temple should not need to be used. It seems to me, therefore, that to try and say that there is no need for it is based solely on one's opinions.

catholic defender said...

Uh Tony,

It also doesn't say anywhere directly in the Bible that the temple is still to be used. There is some scripture that suggests it, but that scripture is subject to interpretation and opinion. Most of your church's direct support for the temple and the ceremony therein come from the BOM, D & C, and POGP. Your church's Biblical support is gleaned from your interpretation of the same verses non-LDS use to say the temple is no longer necessary. It really comes down to a question of faith and what do you believe.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

jackg said...

seth,

I just want you to know that I'm praying for you. Perhaps, you should invest time in a study of the Bible to learn the truths found therein. You're arguing against something that is pretty clear. If you're not seeing the truth, it's probably because you don't want to. I can't help you, there. Praying for you.

Peace and Grace

Seth R. said...

Whether you are praying for me or not jackg is utterly irrelevant to our conversation. It's nice and all, but I'm more interested in your reasons - which have so far proven inadequate.

Ending comments with "peace and love" or "praying for you" seems to be the Evangelical equivalent of a Mormon bearing their testimony online.

And I don't think either is really relevant to an online discussion.

Mormon Coffey said...

Thanks Jackg for praying for all of us Christ-fearing Mormons who "do too much." We appreciate your kindness. One day we will do your temple work for you :)

Mormon Coffey said...

I am grateful to be of the creed that still holds high the need for temple worship because "there is some scripture that suggests it" and for a belief that there was a prophet on the earth who was instrumental in restoring the temple ceremonies.

Or in other words, I would prefer to "glean" my wacky "biblical support" from temples for those verses than to assume Christ says there is no more need for temple worship. I haven't found that verse in my King James version of the Bible where it says, "I say unto you, the time for temple worship is passed. Man need not worship in holy temples anymore, but rather a substitution of personal, daily reflection will suffice." Maybe one of you can find that for me.

In fact, I like to revisit the New Testament scripture that says: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8)."

The Book of Mormon, that wacky book; full of historical facts that have been proven and discovered with evidence if one would ever take the time to look and listen; that wacky book that a boy-prophet with no more than a third grade education conjured up in roughly 90 days, making it parallel in theos to Christ's teachings of the Old and New Testaments (depending on what divide of the meridian of time Book of Mormon people were living in, i.e. need to follow Law of Moses or the new covenant); that wacky book, the truthfulness of which has burned in the hearts of millions around the world, attracting roughly 685 converts per day; that wacky book contains five passages instructing the reader that Christ is the same "yesterday, today, and forever" (1 Nephi 10:18, 2 Nephi 27:23, 2 Nephi 29:9, Mormon 9:9, Mormon 10:19). But of course that is just Mormon wackiness vainly imagined up by some poor, humble, uneducated New York farm boy, conjured up in 90 days to lead the souls of millions to hell.

I for one would rather get to the judgment bar and be told that I did too much, that I tried to worship my Savior in too many ways, that I did too much good on the earth, that I listened to prophets who 'misinterpreted' the scriptures, which led me to do all those "extra" Christlike things, and that I would have gotten into heaven even if I hadnt done them, than to get there and be told that I cannot enter because I only worshiped Christ with my lips but my heart was for from Him.

jackg said...

Seth,

Sorry you're offended by how I sign off and that I pray for you. I want you to know that someone is praying for you to be freed from the bondage of Mormonism. I know it's frustrating for you because you want to fight, but I can't help that. I will take the conversation to the point of biblical ping-pong and mudslinging, but am trying really hard not to cross the line that gets ugly. I think we are at the line, and I am backing away from it. So, I will still pray for you, and I will still speak words of grace and peace to you.

Grace and Peace!

Seth R. said...

I've never really found it offensive.

Just irrelevant. And rather presumptuous - no matter which side is doing it.

jackg said...

Seth,

Fair enough. Have a blessed night!

jackg

bunker said...

thanks to CD for FINALLY getting a userid hehe


Mormon Coffey, awesome comment at 6:44 pm

jackg you almost seem taunting but I will only assume you mean the best when you say "praying for you". Seems like something someone could take offense at, as if Mormons need praying over. As if we are going to hell in a handbasket for "doing too much" like Coffey says. As if the billions in money we spend on humanitarian needs around the world and millions of man hours we provide in local and other regions around the world is all for naught?

Don't worry. We don't do these things because we think that "works" get us through the pearly gates. We do these things because it is Christlike to do these things. We do it because our Savior said "come follow me" and because we love our fellowman as Christ commanded and showed us by His example.

Mormon Coffey said...

bunker - great reply! I was gonna add some of what you just wrote too but thought my posts had been too long already.

One cannot do "too much" to be Christlike in service to his fellowmen.

bunker is absolutely right... we do not do these things because we think our works will get us into heaven but as the Book of Mormon points out (once again, that wacky book): even after all the good deeds that we do, even after all the temple ceremonies, after all the home teaching, after all the missionary work, after all the humanitarian work, after all the good will has been done, and after all the preaching, "we know that it is by grace that we are saved" (2 Nephi 25:23).

But as "faith without works is dead, being alone" says, we cannot go through life not following our Savior and expect His grace to save us when it comes time.

jackg said...

bunker,

I think it is clear that I believe the Mormon church to be founded by a false prophet and, therefore, not a Christian belief system. So, yes, I pray for you because I believe Mormons are truly lost and follow after a false gospel. That is how I believe; naturally, my actions will stem from that belief. It is my hope that I have not become intentionally offensive; however, I believe that my statements are bold and could be perceived as offensive.

When Nathan and Valerie tell me that they are going to do my temple work for me, I do not take offense, because I know they believe they belong to Christ's true church. It's the same as when I say I'm praying for you and speak peace and grace into your lives. With that said, however, I think you make a fair enough statement that some might take my words as taunting, even though that is not my intent. I would like to point out, however, that I took your words to be very boastful when you outlined the philanthropic works of the LDS church. The Coffeys jumped in giving you kudos, as well they should since they believe how you believe. Again, the issue of works and faith is misrepresented by the Mormon perspective. The Coffeys clearly present the argument that grace is an appendage to our works ( "But as "faith without works is dead, being alone" says, we cannot go through life not following our Savior and expect His grace to save us when it comes time").

This statement seems to infer that I do not believe works to be a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a misrepresentation of my faith. We are justified by our faith, and faith is the catalyst for good works. Paul even says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has prepared works for us to do. My argument refers to the order of where works should be. I believe Mormonism presents the perspective that God's grace is an appendage to our works. I say that our works are in response to God's grace, a natural outpouring of love for God and neighbor because of a Spirit-filled life. Sometimes, Mormons present the argument that Christians believe that because we are saved by grace that we have license to sin. That is simply not true. I truly believe that man does not have to sin, and can attain Christian perfection in this life--but it is the result of being saved and not the means to salvation. Can you see the theological difference and the implications thereof?

I know I have gone on and on about this, and I thank Jeff for allowing me the opportunity to speak from the heart, just as you all do. I pray that you understand that I am motivated by love; I believe that those who have dialogued with me are also motivated by love. That's a good thing!

Peace and Grace!

bunker said...

jackg

you said:

"I think it is clear that I believe the Mormon church to be founded by a false prophet and, therefore, not a Christian belief system. "

So a church whose members worship Christ are not Christian? I won't try and argue the point about Joseph Smith being a false prophet. You either believe it or don't.

jackg said:

"I would like to point out, however, that I took your words to be very boastful when you outlined the philanthropic works of the LDS church."

Wasn't trying to sound boastful just like you weren't trying to be taunting in your remarks. Just stating fact that gave a good example of some works we can provide.

Arguing about if both grace and works are necessary gives me a headache. It doesn't go anywhere. We can point at the same scripture and get different interpretations.

The point I was trying to make was that following Christ is what is really important. Obeying His teachings and striving to be like Him. But what would I know? I belong to a cult that isn't Christian. I know because I read it on this webpage. http://mormoncult.org/

Anonymous said...

HI JackG,

This is gonna sound odd coming from me, but I'm gonna defend the LDS Church a bit. For starters, I do agree with you that JS was not a true prophet, and I do agree with you about the BOM and other books not being true scripture. However, where I would tend to disagree with you is the comment about Mormons not having a Christian belief system. My wife is a mormon and is probably the most christian person I know. She and I do not embrace the same theology, but we do embrace the same value system. Its that value system that creates the christian, not the leadership of any one church.

Because I am a pratising Catholic who also supports my wife in her faith pursuits by attending both mine and her services, I have very unique perspective on the LDS Faith. I get to see and hear their teachings first hand, but I also get to observe the members and thier behaviours. From observations, I can tell you that while I believe the LDS Theology is flawed, it is readily apparent that we non-lds christians can learn a lot about practising our christian faith from the LDS. As a rule, you will find that mormons do try very hard to emmulate christ in their behaviours toward others. Like all humans, they don't always succeed, but mormons do try to practise what they preach. A great many other christian groups, sad to say Catholics are in these groups, just go to church on Sunday, and forget what they learned on Monday. I haven't seen that happen with Mormons. So when you start saying that Mormons are not christians, I think that you have to start analyzing what you mean when you are defining a christian.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

jackg said...

Catholic Defender,

I can appreciate your concern. My dad, my brother and his family, and my children are LDS. Yes, they are good people, and that is why Romans 10:1-4 is a life verse for me, as well as Acts 20:24. I have no doubt that your wife is a good person. However, one cannot change the fact of God's Word to accommodate our circumstances. I would love for the LDS Church to be true; in fact, I have prayed for God to reveal to me that it was true. He didn't do that. He only gave me more evidence of it not being true. I, myself, was a member of the Church, and presented the very same arguments the poster have presented, and voiced the very same concerns you voice. We have to remember that we are talking about the ontology of God and the nature of Jesus Christ. If we get that wrong, then we cannot be defined as Christians. Peter gives a beautiful sermon to his Jewish audience who were good people. We read this sermon in Acts 2. It's a Christo-centric sermon, and these people needed to repent of their faulty perception of Jesus Christ. It was because of their faulty perception that they rejected Him. So, since it is my belief--and we all operate based upon our beliefs--that Mormonism teaches a different gospel than the biblical message, I cannot define a Christian based on my hopes and desires, but based on the biblical text and its definition of a Christian. It's not just about believing in Christ, but in believing in truth. If I could accommodate God's Word to fit my hopes and desires, I would do it in a heartbeat; unfortunately, I don't have the licesnse to do so.

Hope this explains my perspective so that you can understand where I'm coming from. I definitely know where you're coming from, and I thank you for responding to my post. Have a blessed day!

Grace and Peace to you and yours!

Seth R. said...

jackg,

Let's just pretend for a moment that you're right and that Mormonism is not Biblical and your religion is.

I think you are wrong about this, of course. But let's just pretend you're right and Mormonism is unbiblical.

So what?

Our theology is still better than yours. Why wouldn't we prefer it over yours?

Mormon Coffey said...

Jackg - The problem with your constant argument is that we Mormons DO believe in the definition of Christians as described in the Bible. There is nothing that Christ taught His followers during His ministry that we do not believe. In fact that wacky book, the Book of Mormon tells of when Christ visited the people in ancient Mesoamerica (today the ancients refer to Quetzalcoatl, and "the white God") and even then He gave them the same teachings He gave His people in the Old World, as found in the New Testament.

You can argue till you are blue in the face but Mormon theology is NOT man-made, is NOT hogwash and definitely defines ourselves as Christians based on the teachings of the very same Jesus Christ that you profess to believe in.

Find me one Christian teaching in the New Testament that Christ taught the people (i.e. the 'higher law') that we Mormons do not profess to teach? Charity? humility? love for thy neighbor? kindness? baptism? missionary work?

jackg said...

Nathan and Valerie,

I respect you and your views. We don't agree with each other, and I accept that. But, the Jesus Christ we believe in is not the same. I know that you don't agree, but that's why you're LDS and I'm not. I think we can agree that that makes sense. No need to fight each other over this. This debate did not begin with you and me, and it definitely won't end with us, either. We don't share the same presuppositions, so it's only natural that we will go in circles. Mormonism's basic foundational belief that God is a created being contradicts the basic Christian foundational belief that there was never a time when God did not exist. That is just an example of what I mean when I say we have different presuppositions. I don't think I need to go any further to illustrate my point. The fact of the matter is that we don't agree on the basics to be able to continue our dialogue. It was nice interacting with you both. I pray God's blessings upon you and your family.

Peace and Grace!

jackg said...

Seth,

To get into the argument of my theology is better than your theology really misses the point. I think we have all gone as far as we can go in this conversation. There is no need to stay on the merry-go-round until one of us or both of us gets sick and pukes all over the place. I think we have all done a good job to discuss things without becoming disrespectful. You and the other Mormons have comported yourselves, well, and I only hope that I have done the same. We have different beliefs, but we all want to see each other saved in the Kingdom of God. You, as a Mormon, believe I need to join the LDS Church, get baptized, and go the temple to enter into the Celestial Kingdom. I don't begrudge you that sentiment. I, as a non-Mormon, believe you need to leave Mormonism to be saved in God's Kingdom. Like I said before, we are all driven by the same motive.

Anyway, the merry-go-round is not slowing down, so I need to jump off. Here I go....

Peace and Grace!

Mormanity said...

"We have to remember that we are talking about the ontology of God and the nature of Jesus Christ. If we get that wrong, then we cannot be defined as Christians."

Ah, the old ontology quiz that one must pass with at least a B+ score in order to be saved. Believing in Christ, worshipping Him, seeking to follow Him - these are not enough. There is an ontology exam that one must also pass. Get more than a few questions wrong, and no matter how sincerely you believe in Christ, it's not enough. You're doomed.

For example, as for the ontological relationship of the Father and the Son, which of the following is most correct?

a) the Son is the Father in an ontologically framework
b) the Son is one with and fully represents the Father but is ontologically distinct
c) the Son proceeds from the Father, but in full ontological unity
d) the Son is one with the Father but a distinct Being
e) the Son is ontologically compounded with and essentially consubstantial with the Father while still subordinate
f) the Son is ontologically compounded with and essentially consubstantial without subordination

Get that wrong, and it's an eternity of suffering for you. Pity those early disciples of Christ who held to primitive ideas about God and Christ, much like us Mormons, so utterly unworthy of modern Christianity.

Mormon Coffey said...

Jackg - want to know some more Mormon doctrine?? God has always been God. Our spirits have always existed. It's a deep concept that agrees with your principle but is far too deep to go into unless one completely understands and has a testimony of the basic principles of Mormonism.

You said "there was never a time when God did not exist" and us Mormons will be the first to jump in line and agree with you! So before you go around making claims that "we have different presuppositions" check your Mormon facts first.

Some critics complain that believing God was once mortal means that LDS theology teaches that "God has not always been God," but such is not true. Why? Because all men have an incomplete understanding of the nature of the eternities. Moses spoke to God face to face, being quickened to be able to stand in His presence. The Lord said,"Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless? And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease." (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:3,4). But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them....And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:35-39). That God the Father has moved through stages of existence, yet has always been God, is easier to comprehend when those stages are explained. The Prophet Joseph Smith, who was taught constantly through revelation from On High, explained that we have all existed eternally, first as intelligences, then as God-fathered spirits, then as mortal beings, then as resurrected and immortal beings. Evidently, the intelligence of God the Father is so great, that He has been able to guide and rule all the other innumerable intelligences toward eternal glory. Joseph Smith explained these philosophies: The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their [deceased] relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth. I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits. (King Follet Discourse)

So brother Jack, We agree! God has always been God! Hallelujah! Peace, and grace, and joy, and happiness, and charity, and love unfeigned be to you and yours!

Mormon Coffey said...

Some more info....In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 93, it says—

'Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.'

Mormons are accused of diminishing the greatness of God the Father by 1) introducing these elements of the Plan of Salvation, and 2) by stating that men and women can become like God. To the contrary, Latter-day Saint philosophy reveals that God the Father has dedicated all of His power for eternity to the single goal of bringing all who exist to a point where they can be equal with Him in glory and joy. Hence, Latter-day Saints claim a more expansive view of God the Father than any other religion.

Most non-LDS think this is rubbish and hogwash, but without the firm belief of latter-day revelation, that God still reveals things to His children, if they are ready to listen and understand "with and eye single to His glory," then sadly they will never have an understanding of these wonderful principles in this life.

God has always been your God Jack. He has always been my God. He will NEVER stop being my God, nor your God.

I think we can now agree that you and LDS agree on this principle. I hope you have been enlightened just a tad more on correct Mormon teachings, although as deep as they may be. (For the LDS reading this, I hate going into doctrine such as this but always feel the need to correct incorrect beliefs so folks like Jackg don't go spreading misinformation that Mormons don't believe God has always been God. So I apologize for the deep doctrine,, but hopefully Jackg has been enlightened).

jackg said...

Sorry, guys, but I'm not getting back on the merry-go-round with this thread. I'll be looking for other threads, though. I haven't commented on the alcohol one in a while, but clearly agree with Jeff that we just put way too much value on liquor.

Peace and Grace!

bunker said...

"Sorry, guys, but I'm not getting back on the merry-go-round with this thread. I'll be looking for other threads, though. I haven't commented on the alcohol one in a while, but clearly agree with Jeff that we just put way too much value on liquor.

Peace and Grace!"

In other words......no answer?

Anonymous said...

Hey, he doesn't need to answer. That's OK. We've all got lives to live - and some of us need a lot of extra time to cram for that advanced theology quiz that we have to pass to gain eternal life. He's probably reading Spinoza now.

Mormon Coffey said...

Usually a 'no answer' tends to mean they agree and can't find anything else to rebuttal with.

I just hope that he understands correct Mormon theology better now, just hoping to clear up misinformation that either others have spread or one has assumed (usually a result of not reading the entire scripture in context or article/discourse - as I assume occurred in this case).

As the Apostles have said, it is our duty as members of the church to defend truth and clarify misconceptions of the church. We already have enough attackers (if it wasn't true would we have soooo many attackers?) that we don't need people spreading lies and false info.

Mormon Coffey said...

jackg - I failed to write one thing that I want you to remember... when I wrote about faith and works I hope you gathered the fact that Mormons believe that:

even though we do all these good, Christian things, all these things to help our fellowmen, NONE of them will help us get into heaven - now read carefully, you don't need to respond since you jumped off the merry-go-round - except through the GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST of NAZARETH.

Do you get it yet? Mormons believe that it is only through the grace of Christ that we can get back to heaven. He is the only one that made it possible (through the Atonement).

It's not by how many times one goes to the temple, not by how many baptisms you were a part of, not by how many times you did your home teaching, not by how many kids you sent on a mission, like its some type of award system. It's only through the grace of Christ.But that still doesn't mean we can sit idly by and not follow Christ and do as He would have us do .. be Christians to each other (a.k.a. 'works').

I hope you understand that better now.

Once again, it's another topic that we both agree on, you just had a misconception of an LDS concept.

Tony said...

Just to add on some scriptural references to Latter-day temples:

Malachi 3
"1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."

I'm done.

catholic defender said...

Hi Tony,

Nice scripture, but, how can you be so sure you're interpreting it correctly? As I see it, you are interpreting it to mean that Christ and God will appear in the literal temple; that they will be present in an actual physical building. But, that same scripture can be interpreted to mean a metaphorical temple...not an actual tangible building but something much bigger, and more profound...the temple that is to be present in your heart.

Additionally, consider the message. Behold I will send my messenger...John the Baptist...and he will prepare the way. John's ministry was one of preparing the way for his cousin, Jesus, to begin his work here on the earth. And the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple...Jesus coming to earth, and preaching to the masses...Jesus is both the Lord whom ye seek, and the messenger of the covenant in whom we delight. And as prophesied by Malachi, John came and prepared the way, then Christ came and suddenly the Lord was here among us bringing his new covenant.

In your passage Malachi is fortelling of the coming of Christ and the coming of a new plan. Not of the importance of temples. He isn't even talking about the physical building. He's talking about something greater, and of much more importance and significance.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormon Coffey said...

CD - and for that very reason (confusion among religious sects derived from various interpretations of the same scripture passages) a young boy from New York was confused as to which religion was correct. So in 1820 he went into a grove of trees, knelt down and poured out his soul to God, sincerely believing God would answer his prayer.

He said: "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

This really happened CD, and the fullness of the Gospel HAS been restored to the Earth. Prophets do exist. How wonderful it is to know Christ is at the helm of this Church. No longer does man need to wander aimlessly, walking after their own interpretations of crucial doctrine. How wonderful it is to have current revelation, and additional scriptures revealed through His prophets (Amos 3:7).

It is not "Tony's" interpretation of Malachi 3, CD, it is modern-day scripture and revelation that has 'clarified' earlier scripture (3 Nephi 24:1, D&C 133:2).

One thing that's great about modern day scripture is that they are in harmony with the teachings of the Bible & clarify and reaffirm key doctrinal points that are the subject of so much confusion and strife between various sects.

If you want to know, this event has already been fulfilled, when Christ appeared in the Kirtland temple to both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 6, 1836 (D&C 110), but that doesn't stop Him from coming to any one of His 129 temples in operation.

These are not the musings of men, CD, prophets DO guide this Church under direction from Christ Himself. It's such a wonderful message to share with the world.

Also, thanks for defending our Christian values to the misinformed and often critical people of the world.

catholic defender said...

Hi Mormon Coffey,

I'm going to preface this comment by saying that it may come out sounding a bit offensive, but isn't meant to be...sometimes the english language does not write as well as it might sound when spoken.

Your position about JS assumes that folks were in fact confused at that time. From my vantage point, there really isn't any confusion about the interpretation of that scripture from Malachi...its quite obvious what Malachi is saying, is exactly the way I'm interpreting it. I could be wrong, I don't believe that I am, but from my vantage point the scripture is unambiguous and the interpetation make sense. I reach that conclusion by first reading that scripture, analyzing it in the context of when it was written, looking at other interpretations, drawing on my own education levels, and praying about it. Many of the same things that you likely do. The conclusion I have is that Malachi is not talking about a literal building, and never was.

I believe its very possible that God would reveal doctrine to a very young boy in a grove in the middle of nowhere. That's very possible, it has happened to many saints over the years, St, Bernadette of Lourdes comes to mind immediately. So I don't discount the possibility.

The real question for me is did God do it with this young boy Joseph Smith Jr. In order to draw the conclusion that God did, one has to be able to believe JS when he says it happened. There are a great many things documented about JS that cause doubt, some of those things are true, some of those things are obvious distortions designed to either paint the LDS Church in a bad light (Anti-LDS)or paint the LDS Church in an overly positive light (Pro-LDS). I pointed this out in another posting, so I won't rehash it, but for me some of the most compelling information that JS isn't telling the truth comes from the information sanctioned directly from your church leaders in Salt Lake.

To me, there are just enough inconsistencies in doctrine and statements from your own leaders that cause me to have serious doubts about the veracity of JS. And, if JS isn't credible, then all the rest of your church's doctrine must fall, because ultimately any teachings and interpretations about the temple, and the BOM, or POGP, or D & C all come down to the credibility of one small 14 year old boy praying in a grove in Palmyria New York. If he's lying about seeing Christ in that grove, then everything else he ever wrote or spoke is tainted by that lie. I believe that JS probably did go into that grove with an intention of finding answers, I just don't believe that he got the answers he said he got. And I do base that on my own heartfelt prayers to know, and my own experiences with and knowledge about God. That said, I do think that it is a mistake to paint your church as unchristian...I tend to see you in the same light that I see protestants....that is as being misguided and misinformed, but doing the best you can to live your life as Christ would have you. In the end that is what's asked of all of us regardless of the place we might say our prayers.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormon Coffey said...

CD - You said "Your position about JS assumes that folks were in fact confused at that time."

These aren't my words but those of the man who lived during that timeframe:

"for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." Sounds like confusion to me! (JSH 1:12)

That's okay if you do not believe Joseph Smith to have been a prophet. I completely understand your POV on the entire church being false if Joseph Smith was false as well.

Then again millions of good religious people (Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) believe Christ to have been no more than a man and not the Son of God too.

Just let it be known that we solemnly declare that Christ runs this Church through His prophets on the earth today. Mortal interpretation and education level are great for somethings, but they will only get you so far. Sometimes faith and a sincere desire to know weigh heavier.

You're a great Christian CD, and I was shocked to learn your family are members. I hope only the best for you and yours!

catholic defender said...

Hi Mormon Coffey,

Actually most of my family and my wife's family is Catholic. My wife and our children are LDS. I'm a bit of an anomaly among Catholics and Mormons, largely because I'm not as rigid in my thinking that I'm right about my doctrine. What I believe is right for me, might be right for others, but not necessarily for all. We each have our own path to follow.

For me its about a promise I made on my wedding day to support my wife in all endeavours, even ones I may not agree with her on. I'll keep that promise because its a promise I made, to do any less would be dishonourable. I draw on Romans 12 through 15 which talks about supporting each other in our faith, and I try to live by that counsel as much a possible. It ain't easy.

In my own faith journey I've explored Hinduism and Buddhism, and Tsaoism along the way. There are some great principles from those teachings that we as Christians could incorporate in our practises. Ultimately though, those teachings are missing the one element that separates us as Christians, Jesus Christ. I still come back to Catholocism as being the closest to the truth. That said, I do wish you well on your own spiritual journey.

Catholic Defender

bunker said...

CD I would like to say that while we don't always see eye to eye I appreciate your defense of our church against attack as Coffey mentioned.

Conan the Librarian said...

Very cool of Catholic Defender to be so kind and open-minded. His wife is lucky! CD, if you have kids, they're lucky, too. Curious - do you?

Anonymous said...

What do you think about HBO putting temple scenes on TV? Isn't that kind of cheap?

catholic defender said...

Hi Conan the Librarian,

I do have kids. We raise them LDS. That was also part of the promise I made.

Anonymous of June 3,

Regarding HBO showing the temple ceremony, I have mixed opinions on that. On the one hand, I think that its a cheap shot to take something viewed as sacred by a particular church, and display it for all the world to see. On the other hand, I'm curious and wonder what it is that the LDS Church has to hide.

The problem I see with HBO's actions, isn't so much that they are showing the temple ceremony; its the why they are showing the temple ceremony. From what I can tell, the purpose of showing the ceremony is to boost ratings, not educate folks as to what happens. As such, it seems likely that HBO will sensationalize and take literary license with the service; very much the way television has portrayed the Mass. I think that is wrong. It would be far better to just do a documentary on the temple ceremony, and show it objectively to people.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Nathan Coffey said...

Catholic Defender - And it is for that VERY reason you just mentioned that the Church does not publicize our temple rites and ceremonies. So those who do not understand and who do not view them as holy as we do, make "a mock of that which [is] sacred (Helaman 4:12]. Or in New Testament terms: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Matthew 7:6, 3 Nephi 14:6). Again, Doctrine & Covenants 41:6 says: "For it is not meet that the things which belong to the children of the kingdom should be given to them that are not worthy, or to dogs, or the pearls to be cast before swine."

Finally, we have nothing to "hide" (poor choice of words) within the walls of the temple. All are welcome. They just first have to pass a few worthiness and membership criteria. (I know you didn't mean it like that though)

catholic defender said...

Hi Nathan Coffey,

I didn't necessarily mean to say you had anything to hide. But, from an outsiders perspective, that is what it feels like...it feels like you are trying to hide something by not letting others know what goes on inside your temples. That said, I still don't think an HBO fictional drama is the best way to show what happens in the Mormon Temple, that's just a gratuitous act done for the sake of improving ratings and causing controversy.

I've gleaned a great deal of what goes on inside your temples from my wife, and from reading about the ceremony on line. From that vantage point, I don't see why the ceremony would be closed, or why there's this assumption that non-LDS would not comprehend or not hold the ceremony sacred. Some definitely would mock the ceremony, but most people in this world would respect your faith and the sacred nature of the ceremony.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Nathan Coffey said...

CD - that's understandable.

"Outsiders" from every religion feel that others have something to hide - the Vatican itself has lots to "hide," even from Catholics (or so Dan Brown & the History channel claim), the Masons (though not a religion) have lots to "hide" from those who are not privy to be within their temple walls.

Curiosity gets the best of some.

You seem to have a pretty strong understanding of what goes on within the walls of the LDS temples. In fact, there are plenty of LDS Web sites that you can peruse that explain EXACTLY what happens step-by-step in the temples. Of course, sadly enough, there are plenty of sites with erroneous information as well (ignore those).

Even the Roman Catholics frown on "outsiders" partaking of the Eucharist. So we all have some similarities.

No biggee!

It is our conviction that it isn't man who has made the requirement that those without temple recommends (who meet worthiness requirements) be barred from entering the temple, but a commandment from God - much like the Israelites were not allowed to enter the Holy of Holies except for the High Priest on Yom Kippur. Others weren't allowed to even enter the middle chamber immediately preceding the Holy of Holies. This idea of certain requirements needing to be met before one may participate in a rite or ceremony is nothing the LDS made up (I'm sure you already understand all of this, so I'm just typing for future readers' sakes).

catholic defender said...

Hi Nathan,

I think its difficult to compare the Catholic frowning on partaking of the eucharist with not letting non-mormons inside the temple. Perhaps you can do so given that the reason non-catholics are discouraged from partaking of the eucharist is that other christian faiths don't subscribe to the belief that the eucharist is the literal body of Christ; Catholics do. Its not really an exclusion, its a matter of conviction, if you don't believe this to be true...you shouldn't partake." I suppose you could take that position with the LDS Temple as well.

I actually shy away from Pro-LDS websites as much as I shy away from Anti-LDS websites. I've found that both tend to embelish the facts into a distortion to support their respective position on things. My preference is to see with my own eyes first, if I can, then ask questions to clarify what I have seen. I've found this is really the best way to glean factual information. I still may check some of the websites you've talked about, but I do take the information there with a grain of salt.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Nathan Coffey said...

Well that's unfortunate then.

Man's cognitive search for "factual information" has never been preferred as the way to discover the things of God, instead of prayer and fasting and faith.

(Alma 32:28-43)

But, to each his own I guess.

catholic defender said...

Hi Nathan,

Don't misunderstand my words, I do believe very much in being guided by faith, especially where comes to God. I've looked at enough of the pro-lds, and anti-lds websites out there over the years to draw the conclusion that the whole truth is not going to be found in those sources. My experience with each of those respective sources really has been that both sides distort the facts to make their arguments more plausible, or make their positions more credible. So I generally don't trust either the pro or the anti lds websites for information. From my vantage point, I see both sides as having motive to distort the facts, and have seen both sides do so. Good example of that are the allegations that JS was convicted of fraudulent activities. That, from what I've been able to gather is a distortion of the facts. But, the pro-lds sites tend to gloss over the fact that JS was accused of these things, and the anti-lds websites will tell you that he was convicted. So, I tend not to trust either source, and look to more objective places for info. But I still pray very much, and draw on my faith for answers too.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender