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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rejecting Living Apostles and Prophets: A Deceptively Easy Path to Righteousness

One commenter here at Mormanity explained how Mormons are in an untenable position due to our belief in modern prophets and divine authority, for we have to defend EVERY prophet from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, and each one did dozens of things that can be questioned. One slip, one false prophecy or wicked act, and the show is over, for the prophet is proven false and the whole house of cards comes falling down. He, on the other hand, informed us of his much more enviable theological position with a faith that could not be so easily assailed, for all he needed was Jesus and the Bible.

In Jesus' day, of course, all people needed was Moses and the scriptures from before the time of Christ--not heretics like Jesus or His followers, and certainly not His ordained but fallible apostles who could be and were rejected or criticized on numerous counts.

Elijah, Isaiah, Samuel, and Moses, for example, all were easy to criticize and reject.

Rejecting the messengers the Lord sent is a deceptively easy path to righteousness, or rather, an easy path to self-righteousness. False prophets need to be rejected, of course, but the common instinct to reject the very notion of modern prophets and apostles does not necessarily put you on the winning side of this debate, and may put you among those spoken of by Jesus:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city...
-- Jesus Christ, in Matthew 23:34
Rejecting modern prophets and apostles avoids the challenges of unsanitized, recent history. Recent history comes with the burden of conflicting accounts and witnesses, such as the witnesses who claimed to have seen the Resurrection faked or who claimed that Jesus was a sinner, or who could not accept that the son of a local carpenter could also be the Son of God. It comes with accounts of those who knew and disliked Peter or Paul or Moses. Claiming to need nothing but Jesus also avoids the challenges of dealing with mortal weaknesses in leaders and prophets. No need to explain or excuse the apparent blunders of Peter, Paul, or Moses. It's much smoother sailing with nothing but Jesus.

Ironically, the "nothing but Jesus" mantra does not come from Him, just as the doctrine of "nothing but the Bible" is a most unbiblical addition to the words of scripture. Christ told us that he would send prophets. His Church was organized with apostles and prophets in it for a sacred purpose:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The day of unity has not yet come, thus there remains a need for prophets and apostles in His Church. The world despises modern prophets, as the early prophets and apostles knew so well. But Paul warned against these, teaching us to "despise not prophesyings" (1 Thessalonians 5:20). The principle of ongoing revelation through living prophets is an ancient and true pattern in God's dealings with man. Indeed, Amos wrote that "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

It is comforting to think that we don't need to look to any other humans for help or guidance, that it's just us and Jesus, a viewpoint which I fear may be a step close to human self-sufficiency than its proponents will admit.

Jesus, on the other hand, made a great point of organizing disciples and establishing the principles of authority and ongoing revelation to guide His Church. "As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21). Prophets and prophecy were important before He came. They were important while He was here. And the scriptures tell us they will continue to be important right up to the end. For example, in the book of Revelation, in chapter 11, there is a prophecy of what will be happening in the last days in Jerusalem, right before the Second Coming of the Lord. Two witnesses of God will be killed in Jerusalem. These two witnesses are described as prophets, and they will be prophesying. Most people will reject them. Will you? Will you be among those who say that there can't possibly be any more prophets from God, and that you don't need further witnesses/prophets and their message because you've already got the Bible and Jesus and need not a word more?

Prophets and prophecy will still be going on right up to the end. Angels will still be involved in the work of bringing the Gospel message to the earth (Rev. 14:6) - something even more sure to be mocked and rejected than the concept of prophets. Pity the Church that dares to declare that angels still speak and that prophets still speak. Worst of both worlds. In fact, something not of this world at all.

Yes, as a Latter-day Saints there are many angles from which modern prophets can be attacked, and there are reasonable points of view among those who have examined the Church and rejected its claims. I would say that the arguments commonly used to reject Joseph or Gordon B. Hinckley or others can be effective - so effective that they could also reject fallible mortal prophets of the past like Abraham the polygamist, Joshua the easily tricked (see Joshua 9), Jonah the irritator of endangered whales, or Paul the annoyingly long speaker who killed a man from speaking too long. Don't forget to add Jesus to that list, the Man who offended many and was found guilty of serious crimes by the most respected political and religious leaders of His day. He did not live up to the preconceived notions others had regarding a prophet or the Messiah, and the combination of paradigm-breaking words and deeds coupled with conflicting reports, allegations, and theological misunderstanding made following Him a difficult matter that required great faith. It's still that way today.

Feel free to reject the very concept of modern prophets and believe it's just you and God, or even just you, but don't be deceived into thinking that you have a theologically fireproof position or that you have nothing to defend. Rejecting those whom God sends does not somehow give you a pass or make you spiritually superior.

If you are a serious Christian but, for various reasons, reject Joseph Smith and what I believe to be the restored Church of Jesus Christ, I think it would then be appropriate to consider where to look to find authority and modern revelation on the earth, rather than assuming that we must not need prophets and apostles anymore just because we don't seem to have them. Perhaps you will look to Roman or Orthodox Catholicism, or some other source. But I suggest you look, think, and search with an open mind, and not fall into what I consider to be the deceptive trap of thinking that you need nothing more than what you have. Keep seeking!

101 comments:

Tony said...

This post just takes the cake. Well said, Jeff!

Forgive me for my adolescence, but I think this calls for an, "Oh, snap!"

Paul said...

Jeff, very cool post. Thanks for the care you used in writing this.

From my perspective in our instant world we often expect results on our own terms wherever we go. Opening up to new ways of seeing the world is valuable (even for those of us who think we've found "it").

As for the path to righteousness -- rarely easy in my experience. (And I'm just crawling along mine, one scraped knee at a time.)

Clean Cut said...

While I agree with the post, I also see the extreme opposite perspective and thus the need for balance. I fear too many members of the Church put TOO much faith in "the Bretheren" or in "the Church" and not enough in our perfect Savior. While I appreciate and respect living prophets, simply having a calling or position of authority in the Church is not synonymous with speaking for God.

Adam B said...

Thank you very much for this post.

Allan said...

Nice post Jeff!!
Clean cut, how ironic is it that the teachings and our understanding of our perfect Savior comes to us through these imperfect men. There is nothing penned by Christ himself and yet it is if it was.
ironic don't you think?

Clifford said...

Very true.

It is also a human tendency to jettison, as quickly as possible, the "hard doctrines" such as Jesus once mentioned.

Makes for easier theology, for example, when your God is reduced to some passionless essence that no man has supposedly ever seen.

Or when the canon is closed so that no one can pick apart new scripture or count the years from the most recently canonized revelation.

It's like having crackers for dinner instead of the bother of a four-course gourmet meal. You won't hear from PETA. But oh, how beautiful and nourishing is the full gospel -- sweet ambrosia for the soul.

C.J. said...

Awesome post. I'd add that there's a huge flaw in this commenter's logic: if every prophet's every action must be defensible, or the whole thing fails, then he should throw out the Bible, too. The Old Testament is full of stories of prophets' mistakes: pretty much every "hero" of the Old Testament, whether considered a prophet or not--from Abraham, to Noah, to Moses, to David, to Jonathan, to Joseph, to Jacob--made some morally ambiguous choices.

Since Noah lazed around in his tent drunk and naked, Moses had a serious crisis of faith and, for at time, rejected God, Jacob lied to his parents and disinherited his brother, etc. etc. etc., does this mean that these men weren't divinely inspired, had no wisdom, and weren't part of God's plan? What about the fact that virtually all of the Old Testament prophets were polygamists?

Only one man has ever been perfect, and none of us--including our prophets--are Him.

Jesus said, "wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am"--he DIDN'T say, "wherever a Bible is sitting, there I am".

Anonymous said...

For a long time I accepted modern prophets. Then I found out that not everything a prophet says is revelatory. That’s how we respond when confronted with evidence that the prophet said something that later turned out not to be true. (Presumably that is how LGT enthusiasts explain Joseph F. Smith’s rejection of LGT, for example.) Prophets are allowed to make mistakes. Sometimes they even misunderstand the scriptures.

So how do we know prospectively whether what a living prophet says is revelatory or not? Apparently you have to use your own judgment, and that puts you on a slippery slope where you can pick and choose which of the prophet’s words to believe. I slid down that slippery slope. Not all the way, but almost.

Anonymous said...

So if a prophet says to jump off the roof of a building you are going to do it?

Prophets are men. Do not trust in the arm of flesh.

Anonymous said...

If a prophet says jump off the roof of a building, is he a prophet?

Bookslinger said...

At 12:37 PM, January 28, 2010, Anonymous said...

So how do we know prospectively whether what a living prophet says is revelatory or not?


Exactly which statements of President Monson are you having questions or doubts about? Or for that matter, which statements of President Hinckley?

What have either of them said that you're having problems with?

Mike S said...

Regarding questions about Monson or Hinckley:

I don't know what to make of the fact that Pres Hinckley claimed not to know much about the fact that God was once like us, or that we can be like Him. That seems fairly fundamental and I learned that in Primary.

I don't know whether God really cares how many earrings or tattoos someone has, or whether that is just a generational preference.

jackg said...

Once again, this is based on the faulty premise that JS was a true prophet of God. Sorry, but he preached a god that had a beginning and that there are grandpa gods out there. From my perspective, JS had a low view of the True and Living God to the point that he created a false doctrine that you guys can become gods. You see, it's not about accepting and following God's prophets; it's about rejecting self-proclaimed false prophets who don't believe that God can preserve His word, then make up an AOF as your #8 in an attempt to relegate the Bible to a secondary or even terciary document. How does one know if a prophet is true? You have to measure his words against God's Word. Oh, but wait a minute, God's Word (the Bible and not the rest of the Mormon canon) ISN'T authoritative for Mormons despite your claims that it is (however, in all fairness, Jeff did not take this position on the other thread, but merely proved why the Bible isn't authoritative for him). If it were, you would have to reject JS and denounce him as a false prophet. Sorry guys, but if you are so bold as to claim that he and the following LDS leaders are prophets and that the rest of the world better get on board, then I must be so bold as to claim that JS was a false prophet and that you all had better get off board with his program and on board with the real biblical Jesus WHO HAD NO BEGINNING AND CREATED ALL THINGS (please see Is.43:10, it's the passage God used to enlighten me regarding the doctrine that we will become gods...it just ain't happening). I know this will open up a can of worms in all sorts of areas; regardless, the bottom line is that JS was NOT a prophet of God, and neither is Thomas S. Monson a living prophet. I pray for all Mormons to come to the Truth of Jesus Christ and the power of His death to save EACH of us because we could not, cannot, nor could we ever save ourselves (gain exaltation in Mormon language) through our works or behavior. Works and behavior are merely the evidence of our faith, the fruits of a saved soul--NOT the prerequisite to salvation; otherwise, we could not claim that we are saved by grace and by the merits of Jesus Christ. How can anyone claim otherwise in light of God's Word on the subject?: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). JS brought into this world a backward theology. You have to deny biblical truth and theology to embrace what he taught.

Praying for Mormons...

Clean Cut said...

Jackg, you said that Joseph Smith "preached a god that had a beginning and that there are grandpa gods out there."

I don't see how you could have any credible evidence for either of those ideas, just as I don't think Mormons do either:

Please see:
My Take on Joseph Smith's King Follet Sermon

Georgia said...

Very well put. A man can be a prophet and still have human failings but he can' t be a true prophet if he teaches a contridiction to Jesus' teachings.

JS and B. Young both taught false teachings (eg. Adam god theory for Young) and are thus false teachers.

I see the Mormon argument that we aren't sure what young meant when he taught Adam-God but it is very clear if you study it. The second argument that some of the apostles during young's day disagreed while better than nothing still isn't enough. Mormons still had a prophet where a future prophet of the church made a direct statement saying young was wrong.

Paul said...

jackg, thanks for your prayers. Really. Perhaps somewhere out there Mormons are praying for you, too.

Regarding the "jump off the roof" question -- if someone I trusted told me to jump off a roof (presumably because he knew something I did not, like that the building is on fire), I might do it. (I can't fathom that I, with my severe fear of heights would be on the roof in the first place, however.)

jackg said...

Clean cut,

You must not be a Mormon. It's common knowledge that the foundation for Mormons becoming gods is that their god had a god, who had a god, who had a god, etc., and that they all progressed to godhood from being mortals. Lorenzo Snow taught: "As God once was, man now is; as God now is, man may become." So, what is man? A sinner. What was God? A sinner. What is God? A god? What can man become? A god.

Mormons will try to disclaim this teaching, but it's fundamental to their belief system, which is built on false teachings. They just can't grasp that God has always been God, and that there never was a time when He wasn't God.

As for Mormons praying for me...what would they pray for? That I leave the relationship I have with Jesus Christ and enter into bondage? Why do I pray for Mormons? Because I was once a Mormon, and I still have family and friends who are Mormons. Mormons follow JS and not Jesus Christ. They follow the BOM, D&C, POGP, and NOT the Bible. When push comes to shove, the Bible is pushed down to a lower-level writing. See Jeff's response to me on the thread regarding the eight witnesses to see his defense for his reasoning why the Bible isn't authoritative for him.

As for the path to righteousness: you can't attain it on your own; it's imputed and is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is so sad that Mormons do not have a high view of Jesus Christ, but a lower view is necessary in order to perpetrate the false teaching of becoming gods themselves.

Praying for Mormons...

Sean said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

I am curious what the following scripture means to evangelicals:

Romans 8:16 - 17

the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and join-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Anonymous said...

It's really odd to have people tell me that I follow Joseph Smith instead of Jesus, or that I don't believe in the Bible very much. Why do you waste electrons on that kind of silliness? Tell us what you believe, not what others believe. I already know what I believe, and you obviously don't.

Paul said...

jackg, Some Mormons may pray for you (and the rest of us) to find peace.

I appreciate that you have strong feelings having made a difficult choice, to change religions. That requires a great deal of effort. I know because I made a similar choice, though my direction was different from yours.


As for me, though I may follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, it is Christ whom I worship. With my eyes wide open.

Paul said...

Sorry to double-post...as for Isaiah 43, I don't think many Mormons would argue that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of this world.

Anonymous said...

Some people reject Joseph Smith as a Prophet because of polyandry. It is not biblical and is a pretty big sign that he had over stepped his bounds as leader of the Church. The old adage of absolute power corrupting holds true for leaders of religions as well.

jackg said...

anonymous,


It shouldn't be that odd. You're a Mormon, so it's easy to define what you believe--unless you are only a Mormon by name and believe differently. Perhaps, you are the one who is uncertain as to how you believe. Does it bother you when you sing "Praise to the Man" and its reference to the blood of JS as being somehow significant? Or, perhaps, deep down it bothers you when you just can't get over the hump regarding your private sins that you don't want your bishop to know about? Only you know, anonymous--and the One True God. I'm not sure if you're the other anonymous, but getting stuck on the word "glorified" does not equate to a doctrine of becoming gods. The purpose of sanctificatin is for us to be restored to the image of God, which Adam and Eve shared with God in the Garden of Eden. Being made perfect through the sanctification process does not make one A god, but LIKE God, and there is a huge theological difference. I'm praying for you, anonymous.

Paul,

Your reference to Isaiah 43 is flawed when you add "of this world." Sorry, but there is no world which was not created by Jesus Christ. This is a fundamental biblical teaching. Your statement only proves that you have to "add" something in order to make the teachings of the Mormon Church work. Does this not bother you? If not, well, it should. You see, that's what's called a red flag. You've noticed red flags before, but you have ignored with the tired saying, "We'll learn more about it when we get to heaven." What's happened is that you have been habituated to ignoring red flags and believing the lies of JS et al. Your eyes aren't as wide open as you claim. So, I pray for you.

I'm certain you are all wonderful people, but being wonderful people doesn't save one in the Kingdom of God. Believing in Christ alone (without all the effort to be polytheists and monotheists at the same with the unbiblical appendages of "of this world"). So, I pray for you.

As for peace...I have found the peace to which the Bible refers. It is the peace that comes from knowing that I am saved in the Kingdom of God simply because I believe in Jesus Christ, and will be found not guilty at the judgment because He paid my sin debt in full. His grace is not a mere appendage to my works, which is a ludicrous proposition; rather, His grace is sufficient. Now, before you all get off on the tangent of accusing me of going for easy theology, remember that His yoke is indeed easy. You're the ones making it hard. That's the tell-tale sign of a works-righteousness theology, which isn't biblical. I know, the Bible isn't authoritative for you...but I will still claim and profess Christ and His saving power through the biblical text. The biblical text isn't anything that I worship (talk about assigning erroneous beliefs), but revere because it is God-breathed. It's what God has given us. He didn't give us the JS stuff...that's all from men without divine inspiration. It's not so hard to detect when you measure it against God's True Word.

Praying for Mormons...

Pops said...

...and that illustrates precisely why we need living prophets to help us avoid the interpretations of men.

The Bible has numerous passages exhorting us to better works. Here is one selected at random:

Psalm 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

It also contains passages stating that it is by grace and not by works that we are saved. This appears to be a contradiction. Some resolve it by ignoring or explaining away the exhortations to good works. Others focus on works and ignore grace. Neither is correct, according to the Bible.

A modern prophet clarified it quite nicely. We receive as much glory as we are willing to receive. And how do demonstrate our willingness to receive glory? By first obeying God's commandments, and second by becoming as He is in our very natures.

Those who fail to obey the most fundamental commandments and persist in harming themselves and others will receive one degree of glory as their reward, after suffering for their own sins and finally coming to the conclusion that Jesus is our Savior and that all good things come through Him.

Those who are faithful in obeying the commandments of God will receive another degree of glory as their reward.

Those who through their willingness, effort, and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit become in nature as God is will receive yet another degree of glory.

These different degrees of glory is what Paul is referring to when he speaks of the three heavens.

To believe in a God who will reward equally those who do nothing good - who persist in harming themselves and those around them - but profess His name, and those who sacrifice their lives in His service - and who become pure and Christ-like in nature - is to believe in a God who never existed and never will. It certainly does not describe the God of the Bible.

Pops said...

It is only through Jesus Christ and His Atonement that any glory at all is possible for us. Without Him, there would be no light, only darkness. Without Him, there would be no resurrection. Without Him, nothing good for us.

Paul said...

jackg,

Sorry -- didn't mean to offend you by suggesting that Jesus Christ is the Savior of this world. In Isaiah 43 he speaks of being the creator and God of Israel (v. 15); on that we surely agree.

As Jesus is my Savior, and I am of this world, I think I can assume that Jesus is the Savior of this world. My saying so does not limit Him.

And as for your peace? Doesn't sound like you're very peaceful.

I'll thank you not to speak for me and what I believe or what red flags I may or may not have noticed.

With Pops (and you, I suppose) I can declare as well that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are saved; His merciful and loving sacrifice allows us the blessings of the resurrection and the oppotunity to turn to Him and live.

Clean Cut said...

Jackg, you obviously did not read the link I provided. Here it is again: My Take on Joseph Smith's King Follet Sermon

It helps to actually go to the sources to find out what Joseph Smith taught, not rely on what other people say he taught. To do otherwise creates a caricature of belief, such as the one you expressed.

Anonymous said...

It won't do to say that living prophets help us avoid the interpretations of men. I read Clean Cut's take on the KFD, and he's right to point out that JS did not teach that God had a beginning; he taught that man didn't have a beginning. However, Clean Cut's take on whether God the Father had a father (in the comments that follow the post) illustrates that even a living prophet's words are subject to interpretation, so having a living prophet does not help us avoid the interpretations of men.

So to recap, not only can we not be sure whether a prophet is speaking prophetically, we also don't know what he's actually saying.

jackg said...

Sorry guys, but someone has to point out the red flags you're missing. All your arguments are geared to support heretical teachings through the use of synchretistic applications.

Pops said, "...and that illustrates precisely why we need living prophets to help us avoid the interpretations of men." Again, this is based on the faulty premise that your leaders are prophets. They demonstrate no exegetical skill in their teachings. A prime example is Spencer Kimball's teaching about being perfect, which can be found in his "A Miracle of Forgiveness." This book is actually a misnomer, and should be titled "The Labor of Forgiveness." It's such teachings that causes pops to defend the need for works and to perpetuate such heretical teachings as becoming gods, which is what the "glorified" language in Mormonism refers to. Everything he listed as coming from living prophets is nonbiblical...but the Bible isn't authoritative for Mormons, so I can understand the reason for such faulty presuppositions.

Paul uses correct language regarding his faith in Jesus Christ regarding salvation. However, what he fails to mention is that his view of salvation is resurrection and NOT living in the presence of God. I say this because Mormonism teaches that we will all resurrect to a glory (which pops also refers to and, I must add, reveals faulty exegesis of the biblical text). It's getting into God's presence from the Mormon perspective that requires works. So, in Mormonism, Christ merits on the cross can only do so much for a person; after that, it's all about works. I guess no one cared to look up the biblical passage I offered. But, it wouldn't matter anyway because the Bible isn't authoritative within the context of Mormonism. So, Paul's claim to Jesus regarding salvation rings hollow because he still believes his works can merit something for him--which is a totally unbiblical teaching. Pops also tries to defend this position as he presents his argument for works-righteousness theology. As for tension in the Bible...it's not so hard to understand the relation between works and grace. Works is the fruit of a saved soul. How much simpler can that be. Works will naturally flow from a follower of Jesus Christ. But, works will never merit salvation. Only Jesus does that for us (and for me, salvation is not resurrection, but actually living in the presence of Almighty God). Grace IS NOT an appendage to my works. Let's see, I have done this, this, and this. You have only done that. You need more grace than I because I did more. Such thinking is Mormon thinking, and it's not biblical. When someone gets up in front of the congregation and says, "I was so thrilled to see how many youth made themselves worthy to go to the temple and perform baptisms for the dead," they are expressing a man-centered religion and not Christianity. We could never make ourselves worthy through our works. Behavior changes will follow the saved soul, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit known as sanctification. Surely, we need to respond, but it is still the work of God to complete.

The god of Mormonism is a false god. The god of Mormonism is subject to laws that somehow predate him. The God of the Bible is Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. He DOES NOT have to save us. Praise God, however, that He operates out of His holy character that is rooted in love.

As for my peace...I have peace in knowing that I am saved in the Kingdom of God. Can you say that? That's where true peace comes from.

So, Paul, why don't you tell me the red flags you've noticed but have chosen to sweep under the rug--then I won't have to guess. Why don't you tell me where you differ from the typical Mormon regarding your beliefs.

Cleancut, the only caricature is the impression and picture of God JS has perpetrated against the world.

Praying for Mormons...

Clean Cut said...

Jackg, there is a condescension in your tone that I think most people will find quite off-putting. Your approach could be so much more affective. Can I make a reading recommendation for you? It's this: How to Win Friends and Influence Mormons. (Just trying to help!)

Tony said...

All will be resurrected and stand to be judged of their works. The Bible clearly teaches that. Also theosis, or as we refer to it, exaltation, IS taught in scripture.

Becoming heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, becoming like Him and thus knowing as we are known, sitting on the Father's throne with Him, the list could go on! It's all there, in the Bible.

Guess what, the trinity is far from biblical, but you don't see us attacking you for that, jackg!

Oh, and Paul teaches that one can fall from grace. It's an ongoing process, holding on to that grace that Christ has shared with us. He sets the terms for how we accept that grace, and that is through a covenant relationship.

Spencer W. Kimball pointed out that repentance is a process. It's meant to refine us, make us more Christ-like. It is all done, not through the works of man, but through relying on the atonement of Jesus Christ and doing our best, as inadequate as our best is, to follow Christ and His commandments, knowing that He is there from the beginning to help us along in that process.

We become worthy according to God's standard of worthiness, through His Spirit making us that way. Not because of what we did by ourselves, but because we are striving to follow Him.

I'll just keep working out my salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If someone else feels such an effort is foolish or not necessary, and does not want to take up their cross and follow Christ, that is their perogative.

jackg said...

Good try, Tony. As for the Trinity, one can make a case for it through the biblical text more than you can make a case for becoming gods. We're not talking God-likeness, we're talking about being a god who creates. In order to believe this lie, you have to believe that God has not always been God, but that He was created and only organized matter. Such heresy opens the door for the lie that you can become a god yourself. So, despite the fact that you say exaltation is in the Bible, it's not.

Now, regarding the Trinity...I have maintained and will always maintain that I cannot wrap my brain around it, just like I cannot truly wrap my brain around the concept that a Holy God created me for relationship with Him, and that through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, He died for me. Three manifestations of One God expressed in human language of Father, Son, and Spirit. When considering the totality of the Bible, one can see the case for the expression of the Trinity. Can you say that about the various LDS teachings such as man being born with divine nature as opposed to sin nature, or that God created out of pre-existent matter? You might want to ask yourself that, Tony. So, work all you want, Tony. In the end, you will find that works don't really matter, but relationship does. Now, what does that relationship look like? Works. So, you see, I am not against the idea of works. My issue with LDS teachings is where it puts it in the salvation equation. All I am saying is that you are not saved by your works, but by your faith in Jesus Christ. Okay, you will say that you believe in Jesus Christ and so you're saved. Then, you would have to ask yourself if whether or not you believe in the biblical Jesus or the Jesus taught from the JS perspective. And, it makes a difference as to what we believe about Jesus. Who do you say that he is, Tony? If part of your answer is that He is Satan's brother, then you believe in another Jesus. Back to works...like I said, I am not averse to works, but works are not prerequisite to salvation--and this includes baptism. Works are the fruit of a saved soul, but I know that's hard for you and other Mormons to grasp. It has just been so ingrained in your head that you have to do something in order to be saved. Well, you do...you have to believe in the True and Living Jesus Christ--not in JS counterfeit version. And, Tony, believing is NOT a work. It's an active response to the grace of God in salvation history.

I understand you're young, but it's evident that you are well-versed in Mormon theology. I pray that you'll consider some of what I've said.

Praying for Mormons...

Pops said...

jackg,

You've certainly put your own spin on what I said, but I suppose that's necessary to maintain the illusion that Mormons believe something they don't.

The point is that God will not save people against their will. We have to cooperate in order to receive grace. The amount of glory we receive depends on how much we're willing to submit to Him and cooperate in the process of making us what He would have us become. It's God who provides the power to save us, not our works.

Your model of salvation appears to deny the agency of man. We can't really choose to do good or bad things - good things just "happen" if we have been saved, and don't if we haven't. You make it sound evil for a person to exert their will and do good works.

Tell me, why did Jesus exhort people to obey the commandments, to repent and be baptized? Didn't He know their works couldn't save them?

jackg said...

pops,

I don't think so. But, your need to push becoming a god through your works is so great that you miss the true message of the Bible. As for putting a spin on what people say, how about your reference to taking away the agency of man. Now, that's a stretch.

Praying for you, Pops...

Tony said...

Becoming like our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as well as being His spirit children with divine potential, is in the biblical text, jackg.

Ecclesiastes 12:7, Hosea 1:10, Psalm 82:6 (John 10:34), Malachi 2:10, Matt 5:48, Acts 17:29, Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 4:7, Hebrews 12:9, 1 John 3:2, , 2 Peter 1:4, Revelation 3:21. To name a few.

Again, It is through Christ and His atonement that we can become joint heirs with him. St. Iraneus, Justin Martyr, etc all believed this, the earliest of Christians.

Thank you for the prayers. Make no doubt about the fact that I very much believe in a true and living Christ, one that speaks to us today and guides us through the Spirit. I glory in the fact that He speaks to men again, as in former times. It is a true testament that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Pops said...

Tell me, then, Jack, what must I do to be saved?

Creek said...

jackg,

The Bible tells us to reap the harvest. You're burning the fields, brother.

Would Jesus appreciate such arrogance and condecension? It doesn't matter how right you think you are. Being a jerk will not convince people you are right.

Anonymous said...

Jerk? Has it really come to this? Name calling?
Nice tone there Creek, maybe you are the jerk.
Pops, be honest, you don't really want to know what you have to do to be saved, you just want to poke holes in the answer. At least be honest here.
LDS act as if it is war being waged against them when not everyone sees things their way.
The few non Mormons that post on this board are usually heckled by the resident no-lifer Bookslanger.
How about if you LDS adopt a more civil tone with those that don't follow your belief system? Following Christ and talking down to others do not go hand in hand.

Mitch said...

I am always amazed by those who wear blinders but are devoted to comment on my thick glasses.

Jackg does not do his homework when he says that Mormons believe their works will save them. I could mention the comment of Aaron to the Lamanite king in Alma 22 but that would be too easy. I could post all the Book of Mormon scriptures which testify of the atonement of Christ but that would be too obvious, too.

Maybe I could point out to anonymous that most people don't like to be told what they believe; especially when they are told something they don't believe in. Again, that would have too much clarity for the weak minded.

No, I think I won't say anything because I really don't worry what others think I believe or don't believe. Now if you will excuse me I want to get back to my Book of Mormon reading. How I love learning about Christ!

Pops said...

Yes, Anon, you figured it out. I already know how to be saved. I was simply trying to get my point across, which is this: if you have to do something to be saved, well, that's doing something. That is by definition a "work". But if you can't be saved by works, then you can't really be asked to do anything. You can't be asked to believe, or to confess Christ, or to obey the commandments, or repent, or be baptized, or anything. Under those conditions, how can salvation happen? It's either a self-contradictory (false) doctrine or else it assumes there is no free will involved on our part.

"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

"And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

"And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

These are the words of the Master himself, stating the basis on which he will judge all mankind. This is what I believe.

Paul said...

jackg,

Thanks for your energy. And your conviction. You suggest noone read the verse you posted, but I discussed Isaiah 43 (including v 10) in an earlier comment.

I've noticed that no matter what someone says you pull the same chain. I appreciate that it's important to you, but I'm sorry to suggest that the way you speak to me offends me.

Like you, I have investigated my own religion and another. Like you, I made a change. My change was to Mormonism, and yours was away.

I agree that the stakes are high. But I also believe that eternity is a long time. I will never convince you, regardless of how many verses I quote, so there is little reason for me to try.

I'm sorry that you take offense at my expression of my faith. But it does not change my conviction.

I appreciate that you accept the mystery of the trinity, for instance. My own spiritual experience, together with my reading of the Bible teaches me something else. That we do not agree on this point of doctrine does not mean that we cannot be civil, nor does it mean that we must reject each other's conviction to God.

As to the discussion of grace and works -- I agree that suggesting that the youth have done something remarkable to "prove themselves worthy" to do service in the temple is difficult to hear, since they could not be worthy except through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His grace allows us to draw nearer to him through repentance and obedience to his commandments. Were it not for that grace, we would be doomed because of our own human failings, but by his grace we may turn back to him and enjoy the blessings of repentance. Of course as we obey his commandments, our relationship with him (and with his father) will be strengthened. At least that has been my experience. Certainly I could do none of those things by myself, but only by his grace.

You seem to bring most of your arguments back to our becoming gods. That is clearly a disturbing thought for you, but my own experience is that it is not the focus of my daily worship. Certainly the possibility of returning to live with my Heavenly Father exisits, and becoming like him is my goal; prophets (I know you don't like that word, sorry) have taught that we may one day become gods. But that is not the focus of my daily devotion. Living a Christ-like life is.

Anonymous -- I'm surprised by your comment about our behaving as if war is being waged against us. Except for a couple of specific comments, the discussion has been rather civil.

Jeff, thanks again for inviting this conversation.

Rusty Southwick said...

jackg, I'm really trying to understand the issues you have with LDS doctrine, but the problem is that you're attacking things that are not LDS doctrine. Your characterization is quite off. Mormons don't believe that our works save us. Those are propaganda talking points, and I've seen it all over the Internet. It's used as an attempt to smear the LDS faith, and if you promulgated it unwittingly, you should be aware of the inaccuracies of propaganda. It's like trying to discredit the U.S. Constitution by means of graffiti. Basically, it doesn't wash. If you call us enough bad things that don't represent us, then job done, right?

As for the Bible being secondary in the LDS church, that's not the case at all. The Truth exists in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. All are God's word, and there are no varying levels of the Truth. So this is a mischaracterization of LDS beliefs in an attempt to separate us from the Bible. Mormons believe in the Bible just as much as any Christian religion does. The Book of Mormon does not contradict the Bible, but adds another testament.

Another common fallacy is to say that Mormons revere Joseph Smith on some level in the realm of Jesus Christ, and that's simply not the case at all. We pray only in the name of Jesus Christ, we worship only God the Father, and we respect and honor Joseph Smith just as we honor the prophets of all eras. He has an added modern historical significance for us, which makes him more immediate and more accessible in terms of gospel study and analysis, but this shouldn't be confused for worship or divine adulation.

As for the notion that man can become gods, that part is an accurate appraisal. And yet it doesn't automatically remove one from qualification of Christianity. It's merely another interpretation of the same set of Biblical doctrine. As for the notion of man becoming gods, C.S. Lewis reached this conclusion solely from the Bible, as did many prominent early Christian scholars. Once people start calling certain denominations non-Christian for having differing interpretations of Biblical scripture, you end up throwing out people and groups that render your argument inconsistent.

Likewise, the whole notion of heresy — that differing interpretations would result in some being true Christian and others not — is not in line with Christ's teachings or other Biblical teachings. There is no doctrine of class warfare between different denominations of believers. We're both believers, but we just approach it differently. Dismissing LDS beliefs as invalid to the extent that they would make us non-Christian is going way overboard. You can disagree with someone's views without feeling the need to declassify them. We're all Christians. There's plenty of room.

Now, from a purely logical secular standpoint, it could be effectively argued that only one basic set of Christian beliefs could represent the Truth, however that does not speak to which set possesses the Truth. In a vacuum, it would be just as likely that any set of doctrine is false. There is no authoritative voice that any of us can use through logic, which is what you're trying to push. The dichotomies you're suggesting bring down your whole argument, for you're arguing against much more than LDS doctrine. Mormonism does not focus on who's right and who's wrong. It focuses on which church has been given the authority from God, which can only be ascertained spiritually. There's no way to debate that subject if the interpretations follow any kind of reasonable pattern, even one that doesn't mesh with your particular beliefs.

So if you want to make a better argument, don't attack things that we don't believe in, and look to be consistent in your application of other criticisms, otherwise you throw out much of the Christian community with the bath water.

Paul said...

Rusty,

Exceptionally well said. Thanks for that comment.

Paul said...

Rusty,

I've blogged about your response here at A Latter-day Voice.

Thanks again. Especially appreciate your final paragraph about the need for us not to through out much of the Christian community with the bathwater.

Paul said...

Er, that would be "throw", not "through"... It's late at night on my side of the world...

C.J. said...

Rusty, thanks for the awesome comment! You did a great job of explaining some important thoughts, using great logic. I'd been thinking many of the same things, but didn't know how to articulate them.

Pops said...

Here's one more try at grace and works - sorry if I'm belaboring the point.

The principle that makes cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and particle accelerators work is that a magnetic field will exert a force on a charged particle. The force produces an acceleration, with the result that it can start the particle moving, and it can change both the speed and the direction in which the particle is moving.

Think of God's grace as a magnetic field, and of us as the particles. We are not inanimate particles - because we have been given moral agency, we have the ability to create and alter our own charge by our choices and our actions. It is the magnetic field that does the work of moving us forward and directing us aright, but the only way the magnetic field can have any traction on us is if we create that charge within ourselves.

Mitch said...

Grace is anything God does for man that man cannot do for himself in order for man to have hope to live with God again. Any person who lives in the telestial kingdom is saved by grace.

Mercy is man having a pardon of his sins by God. That can only happen by mercy, and that can only happen to those in the celestial and terrestial kingdoms. What does man have to do to get mercy? Repent.

Our we saved by our repentance? No. We are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. How can that be if we must repent to be in the presence of God? Our repentance is only valid because of the atonement of Christ. We are not saved by our repentance.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Jeff has just gave Jackg even more ammo to prove how far Mormon doctrine has departed from normative Christianity. Look at the latest post where he attempts to respond to some shocking elements in the Mormon scriptures about the issue that Jackg has raised ("gods").

jackg said...

Creek,

I think that if you all can do is resort to calling me a name, then you must not have anything of substance to add to the dialogue.

Praying for you as well...

jackg said...

Rusty,

I'm running late for a meeting, but plan to get back to you. I actually haven't been able to read your post as thoroughly as I'd like. Creek's didn't need much attention or time. I don't have time to read Jeff's new post, either, but hope to see you there.

Later...

Creek said...

jackg,

Yep, I called you a jerk. Let's go back and review your posts and see what you called Mormons:

1/28 3:51 pm- You said Mormons don't follow Jesus Christ and they deny Biblical truths. So basically you said they are not Christians.

1/28 9:41 pm- You said Mormons worship Joseph Smith not Jesus and that Mormons don't have a high view of Jesus.

Throughout your posts you have a condescending tone and you treat Mormons like ignorant morons. Calling you a jerk is far nicer than the way you have treated people on this board.

I used to be where you are, jackg. I thought all I had to do for salvation was say "the sinners prayer". I was "born again". The problem jackg, is that all forms of Protestantism are based on false teachings. Sola scriptura and sola fide are false doctrines.

You said, "Works is the fruit of a saved soul. How much simpler can that be. Works will naturally flow from a follower of Jesus Christ."

If this is so, then why do so many "saved" Christians do bad things? I guess they were never really "saved" like you are. Yep, I used to be right where you are now. Thinking my "sinners prayer" had saved me. But that is such a shallow, superficial view of Christianity.

If works is the fruit of a saved soul, I see FAR more fruit from my Mormon friends and neighbors than I have ever seen from born again Christians.

Pops said...

Oh, but isn't the sinners prayer a work? Can't allow that!

Anonymous said...

Creek has too much time on his hands.

jackg said...

Creek,

The name calling doesn't bother me. Someone else made a big deal about it. I understand that in such debates things will be said that are offensive. It's the nature of this type of discussion. The reason things are offensive is because juxtaposition of beliefs will result in polarized arguments. So, if I don't agree with your beliefs and tell you why I think they're nonbiblical and heretical, that will offend you. Conversely, when the sentiment of the LDS Church is that all other churches are wrong and everyone needs to join the LDS Church in order to be saved in God's presence, well, a Christian just might get offended. I would say that Jeff is offending Christians in his responses on his new thread. You might not see it that way and, in fact, even champion him. That's your prerogative, and I expect it. It's just sad that you resort to such a tactic to discredit what I have to say. What's odd is that Mormons feel free to speak as if their way of believing is the only correct way, but see that as a flaw when a Christian speaks in the same manner.

Praying for you...

jackg said...

Mitch,

Your version of grace is not really grace. You see, it presupposes (still) that you can do something for yourself. 2 Nephi presents grace as an appendage to your works. Sorry, but that is not how grace is presented in the Bible.

Praying for you...

jackg said...

Rusty,

I see you're resorting to the "smear" tactic. Why don't you itemize for me what I stated as Mormon teaching that you see isn't. I have been out of the Church for more than a decade and, with the LDS view of progressive revelation, things just might be different--and that's another statement and discussion of its own.

Praying for you...

ando49 said...

some people just don't get it. must be something to do with the holy ghost.
'in the beginning was the word, the word was with god and the word was god'.

if everything was so hunky dory in god land, in the beginning, why would the god who had it all, bother to create a universe, populate it with innumerable creatures, come into it to save it from itself, to allow us choice etc. etc. etc.

answer: THIS IS MY WORK AND MY GLORY, TO BRING TO PASS THE IMMORTALITY AND ETERNAL LIFE OF MAN.

This is how God progresses. What was God doing before he did all this?

Is there really any point in arguing? None of us really know and it doesn't matter. JS dared to say something on the subject and he gets shot down in flames by those who strangle themselves in teleological arguments.

Pops said...

jackg,

You have never answered my question: what must I do to be saved?

Mitch said...

jackg, no, the grace in the Book of Mormon is the same grace in the Bible. There is no works involved to be saved.

Telestial people are saved by grace without the atonement of Christ granting a pardon of their sins. To be in the presence of God one must have mercy. Mercy is gained by the atonement of Christ, thus grace.

Repentance must be shown but it is the atonement that makes our repentance valid. Not our works. Sorry but you didn't make a good response. I suggest you bring something objective to the table instead of your subjective spit.

jackg said...

Pops,

As I lay in bed last night, I thought to myself: "I haven't answered pops." Sorry, pops. You ask a very serious question. So, here's the answer, and it's very simple. And, I'll use the words of Jesus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That's it, pops. Now, it is necessary to believe in the true Jesus and not some counterfiet version of Him. We know how and what we believe regarding Jesus is vital when He questions His own disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" We have to have the right answer in order to be able to worship God in spirit and in truth. So, your response would probably be: "Well then, I'm saved. I believe in Jesus." Okay, but then I would ask: "Do you say that the Jesus in which you believe is also Satan's brother?" Well, you couldn't get around that and would have to answer in the affirmative, which then would mean that you believe in a counterfeit Jesus.

Now, John 3:16 is rendered within the context of being born again, which Mormonism erroneously claims to be the physical act of being baptized, making baptism a necessary work to do in order to be saved. Jesus is not talking about water baptism when talking to Nicodemus. He is talking about being born spiritually, which is the second birth. The idea that water baptism is not a prerequisite to salvation is again illustrated by Peter in Acts 2 and 3. Repentance is the only requirement, which is simply acknowledging your sins (committed) and sinfulness (nature)make you unworthy to dwell in the presence of God. Repentance is the fruit of making the decision to follow Jesus, and is characterized by sincere confession. Judges 10 does a great job to illustrate the difference between insincere and sincere repentance. The Sermon on the Mount does a fabulous job of showing the process of becoming followers of Jesus and changing behavior. Our works will be the evidence of a genuine acceptance of Christ, and we will be made perfect in love. Spirit-indwellment and Spirit-empowered living are the marks of a follower of Jesus, and the evidence is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since you asked your question within the context of works, I hope you can see that your works are not a prerequisite to salvation, but the fruit of being saved. God doesn't tell us to come to Him after we've cleaned ourselves up. He calls us to Himself just as we are, and then He does the cleanup job, which is known as sanctification.

Thanks for asking, pops. Praying for you...

jackg said...

Ando,

If your god is still progressing, then you really can't say that he's perfect or complete. My God is perfect and, get this, He HAS ALWAYS BEEN PERFECT.

Mitch,

Sorry, but your presentation of grace differs from the biblical perception. Referring to my response as spit just might get you yelled at by your fellow Mormons when they judge you for being nice and arrogant and condescending. You've seen it.
Mitch, why are you so angry?

The biggest thing I have learned since leaving Mormonism is what grace is all about. The BOM in 2 Nephi teaches that we are saved by grace AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. Sorry, but despite your claims, in Mormonism works are first and grace comes as an appendage to them. The way it was taught me while a Mormon was that Jesus makes up the difference for that we couldn't gain on our own. Has that teaching changed? I don't think so. You said, "There is no works involved to be saved." I hope you really believe this. It's the biblical perspective; it's still not the Mormon perspective, however. I think pops has done a good job to show that I'm not making this up. He has been challenging the idea of salvation without works throughout this thread. Perhaps you and he don't agree on this. So, Mitch, I'm glad you believe the biblical perspective. It's a step in the right direction.


Praying for you guys...

Paul said...

Mitch,

I'm sure jackg is referring to 2 Nephi 25:23 where Nephi writes "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do."

What jackg probably has latched onto is the last eight words, igorning the rest of the verse, which explains why Nephi, a prophet who lived 550 years before Christ worked so hard to teach Christ to his people and to his children.

Further, you rightly point out, he ignores other verses which teach the principle of grace in 2 Nephi:

"salvation is free" (2:4); "Wherefore redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth" (2:6); "And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which hath made to our fathers; yea, my sould delighteth in his grace, and in is justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death" (11:5); "through the grace of God we are saved" (10:24);

Of course he may prefer to stick to New Testament references to grace, which echo those of Nephi:

Peter, for instance, said to the collected apostles regarding the need to submit to the law of Moses' circumcision: "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they" (Acts 15:11).

Paul, in Acts 20, testifies (as did Nephi) "the gospel if the grace of God" (v. 24).

In Romans Chapter 6, Paul delivers an outstanding sermon on grace, suggesting that those of us who enjoy the grace of Christ should NOT sin. In verse 1-2: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid."

Just to be clearer, he says again in verse 12: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof."

In Chapter 11, Paul addresses (again) the issue of the House of Israel, and how that covenant came "according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace" (v. 5-6). And he's right of course. Our participation in the blessings of the House of Israel do not depend on our living the dead law of Moses, but through the new law given by Christ through His grace.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul discusses the blessing of grace in his life to cope with the adversities he faces, as the Lord has told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul continues, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest of upon me" (v. 9). Happy are those, who like Paul, have felt the Lord make them equal to a difficult task despite personal weakness, and who have thus tasted of His grace.

Of course the concept of grace as described above is consistent with the concept of grace in 2 Nephi.

Even the balance of grace and works finds a place in the New Testament as James writes that works must accompany faith: "Even so faith, if it hat not works, is dead, being alone" (2:17), and then he goes on for another nine verses to clarify the point that the gospel is a gospel of action by citing the example of Abraham because "faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" (v. 22).

Well, I've gone on too long. I apologize for the long post.

Clean Cut said...

jackg says:
"The BOM in 2 Nephi teaches that we are saved by grace AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. Sorry, but despite your claims, in Mormonism works are first and grace comes as an appendage to them. The way it was taught me while a Mormon was that Jesus makes up the difference for that we couldn't gain on our own. Has that teaching changed? I don't think so."

I too have a huge problem with this misinterpretation of "after all we can do" as well, jackg. But please do not insinuate that this is the "Mormon" teaching of grace. It's not accurate, and most of us Latter-day Saints who understand and appreciate grace are doing our best to correct this false "teaching" which comes from misinterpreting a very Christ-centered chapter.

Please see:
"It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do"

Anonymous said...

Clean Cut,

I read your excellent post on grace. Many Mormons would be better off to incorporate your view. However, to say what is or isn't a "Mormon" teaching comes close to the no true scotsman fallacy. Whatever the scriptures say, there can be no doubt that the church is extremely works oriented. By their fruits we know them. The average Mormon has to worry about home teaching or visiting teaching, temple attendance, ward activities, giving talks, giving lessons, service projects, 3 or more hours of meetings each Sunday, meetings during the week, feeding the missionaries, referring friends to the missionaries, paying tithing, generous fast offerings, daily scripture study, personal prayer, family prayer, family home evening, writing in journals, genealogy, getting your boys' eagle project done, etc. And if a good Mormon buckles down and does everything he's supposed to for one month, the very next month he's back to square one. On top of all this, after a Mormon completes his self-financed mission, he's supposed to not delay getting married and having children while attending school and earning enough money to support his large family. I know, there's no scripture telling him when to get married and how many kids to have, so where does the pressure come from? Does it matter? The pressure is real. Then there's the extra meetings and duties associated with higher priesthood or relief society callings. Mormons are strongly encouraged (i.e. pressured) regularly to do missionary *work*, and few of them ever see someone join the church through their efforts. So that monkey's always on their backs. A Mormon can obey the word of wisdom, keep the law of chastity, be honest, etc., but if they don't keep up on their monthly checklists, they don't measure up to the spiritual giants who saw God and angels. No wonder most Mormons I know are dogged by feelings of guilt and inadequacy. When I attended PEC or ward council, the bishop or his councilors would always talk about how we (themselves included) should do more to serve others. The self-flagellation never ceases.

The actuality of Mormon existence is one reason that I find the appeals to the scriptures to be of secondary importance. The other reason is that the scriptures themselves are a composite of differing points of view on the grace vs. works issue. The debate persists because each side can be supported by different scriptures. Thanks New Testament compilers.

And on a side note, the fact that the Book of Mormon even takes up this anachronistic debate and others like it is one of the reasons that I doubt its historicity.

Clean Cut said...

"The actuality of Mormon existence is one reason that I find the appeals to the scriptures to be of secondary importance."

However, one should not underestimate the power that appealing to scripture (properly interpreted) can have on changing the actuality of Mormon existence!

By any means, anonymous, your stated concerns about the "pressures" echo concerns I have expressed elsewhere about "busy work" getting in the way of true worship.

For what it's worth, I don't believe God expects everyone to do all those things you listed, or at least all the time. Many I personally find unappealing--or at least impractical for my current situation. ie: Family History work--you left that off your list. :) I'm comfortable with believing that God only expects us to use and improve upon certain gifts at a time. Thus, I don't feel the least bit guilty.

Moreover, many of the unappealing realities of ordinary Church life/culture can, have, and will change. I'm thus optimistic that focusing on the "gospel" over the "law", so to speak, will continue to bear better fruit.

ando49 said...

Jack said
"If your god is still progressing, then you really can't say that he's perfect or complete. My God is perfect and, get this, He HAS ALWAYS BEEN PERFECT."



How do you define perfection? How do you define complete? These are empty words. In the realm of the gods it might mean a totally different thing to what we mortals, with our limited knwledge understand. There, words have feelings, rather than meanings. I'm not ashamed to say that God is progressing through his marvelous creations. That means there is hope for us all. That's why we were created in the first place, to progress in glory and perfection, as did Christ. Anyway, how do you know how god became God? You have no idea! And i don't really know either, but I think the LDS concept makes a lot of sense. I'd prefer to explain the origin of God and his children (us), to a non-christian, using the LDS concepts, than your idea that a "perfect" being just popped into existence at some indeterminate time in the past. And I assume you believe in the Nicene creed. I regard that as nonsensical fiction! Bottom line is, I'm satisfied with the God I believe in, the nature of which I see supported in the Bible. You believe in your God, for the same reasons. I doubt either of us will change. Differnce is, I believe in continuing revelation!

PS: I'm not praying for you. That would be disingenuous.

Clean Cut said...

Actually, ando49, Elder Bruce D. Porter in this recent interview made it clear that the only part of the Nicene Creed that Mormons would not agree with would be the statement that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are of "one substance".

I have to argue against the "nonsensical fiction" caricature of traditional Christian belief. Those men were simply doing the best they could to make sense of their beliefs. (I would argue that we Latter-day Saints do the same). It's awesome that they got so much right!

Clean Cut said...

Furthermore, I tend to agree with what Ray ("Things of My Soul") who once wrote:

"I believe strongly that the “creeds” mentioned in the First Vision are not the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athenasian Creed, but rather are the Westminster Confession and other more modern Protestant Creeds. Those were the primary creeds of the religions about which Joseph prayed, and those are the statements that include elements which are anathema to Mormon doctrine."

ando49 said...

Clean cut said:
""Actually, ando49, Elder Bruce D. Porter in this recent interview made it clear that the only part of the Nicene Creed that Mormons would not agree with would be the statement that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are of "one substance"."

Just listened to it. I'll have to re-read the Nicene creed again. I think however, Elder Porter was being respectful because he was talking to a catholic. Your point of diference noted above was cited as the only "major" problem we se in the creed. He could have elaboated on the others and their logical extensions, which are profound. The rest of his interview, espacially the beginning, describes a fundamental difference in our concept of god and the nicene creed.

I find it strange that we are talking about the nature of God, when in reality none of us, Mormon or not, can really explain it. It's not like you can put God in a Laboratry and run all the instruments over him. Yet wars have been fought over peoples different views of God.

Mitch said...

Interesting how one can "see" the kingdom of God by being born again, but can only "enter" the kingdom of God by being born of water and spirit. It seems clear to me that one must participate in ordinances in order to enter the kingdom of God. I still see that as grace instead of works.

I also like seeing evidences of other Mormons on this blog by using scriptures to explain their belief in grace and works. It's nice to have some teeth to a discussion instead of a weak "I know this is true but I can't show you where in my scriptures" approach.

jackg, I'm still not impress with your interpretaions of the Bible, though I like that you are trying to use some scriptures to back up what you believe. The spit is not in your thinking, but your approach to argue with points Mormons do not believe in. How many of us on this blog are using scriptures from the Book of Mormon to show how silly your misperceptions are about what we believe?

BTW, it's ok if you want to pray for me, but if I can make a request; pray for those in Haiti. My house is doing just fine.

Pops said...

Thanks, jackg, for your response.

I appreciate your statement that we must believe in Christ. Does not belief take effort? I mean, you have to learn of Him, study the scriptures, ponder the message, right? Isn't that a work? What if we take His advice:

"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

Is that somehow evil?

Aren't you really saying that there is some threshold beyond which works avail nothing? Who picks that threshold? Who gets to judge how much effort is too much?

I'm also wondering where the line might be with respect to the "counterfeit" bit. How much incorrect belief is sufficient to disqualify one from salvation? Who gets to choose? Is there a system of credits and debits - so many points for believing He was crucified for our sake, so many taken away for believing His name was Jesus, that sort of thing [they didn't speak English, after all]?

And with respect to works - why did He so many times exhort His followers to obey the commandments?

Why did he tell the rich young man first to obey the commandments, and, upon learning that he did so, why did He ask him to sell all he had and to give it to the poor, and to follow Him?

Why did he instruct Peter to "feed my sheep"?

Why did he say quite plainly that He would judge us on the basis of our works, whether they be good or evil?

Why did He say that those who believe and are baptized will be saved?

Why did James write, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"

Why did he exhort us to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect? [And why did He say "your" Father in Heaven, if He really isn't our Father?]

Mitch said...

I like how many of us are posting clear scriptures for jackg.

ando49 said...

read what's on this link. not a word of hate in it and he is far more eloquent than I'll ever be. he was studying to be a catholic priest.
http://mormonscholarstestify.org/517/wilfried-decoo

ando49 said...

clean cut said
"I have to argue against the "nonsensical fiction" caricature of traditional Christian belief. Those men were simply doing the best they could to make sense of their beliefs. (I would argue that we Latter-day Saints do the same). It's awesome that they got so much right!"

After actually reading the Nicene creed, I agree with you. I was confusing this creed with one that I've heard before, which I think has been pointed out by other bloggers. Sorry for any offence. Anyways, the Nicene creed is at this link:

http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/nicene.html

This creed is amazingly simple. It was the later creed that was convoluted and basically defined an atheistic God.

jackg said...

ando49,

Your not praying for me shows your heart. Thanks for revealing it. I pray for you because I have a heart for the lost. You and all other Mormons are indeed lost. As you read the Mormon responses, you'll find that you guys can't agree on much. Is it works or grace?

So, you're confused about "empty" words such as perfection and complete. So, they're empty because you say they are. The last I checked they meant something. Within the context of this dialogue, perfection and complete describes the character of God. It's not really that difficult, but you are just trying to present yourself as witty...at least that's how you came off.

Praying for you...

Pops,

I knew you were going to turn belief into a work. Think about this pops, the emphasis on works within the context of Mormonism puts God in a position where He actually becomes indebted to us. Because I have done this, this, and this, God HAS to do this, this, and this. Not a very Sovereign God. God could never be indebted to us. You see, works are a response and evidence of our faith. They flow from a saved soul; they do not save a soul-faith in Jesus Christ does that. Now, another LDS poster stated that he didn't believe in what is perceived as just saying 'I believe' and everything is good to go. I have to say that I AGREE with that sentiment. That's where works come in--they prove whether someone truly accepted Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior--BUT they don't save us. That's all I'm saying. I never lead anyone in a "sinner's prayer" because I don't believe in it. Faith in Jesus Christ means that my life will look different because I will behave differently. I will not continue in the sins of my past. The theology of justification by faith DOES NOT give me license to sin. If I continue to sin, I am a liar and the Spirit of God does not dwell in me. I truly believe that we DON'T have to sin. Even though I am born with sin nature (a biblical concept), when I am born again I begin to live a Spirit-empowered life. I believe that we can attain to perfection, but perfection must be understand within the context of love--and it's ultimate expression is in loving our enemies. I think I am an enemy to ando49, and in his post he revealed that he doesn't love me, which means he isn't perfect. God is working in my life to make me perfect in that area. To be honest, I don't see Mormons as enemies, but I do see you all as lost. The enemy is Satan himself. Now, while I believe I can become perfect in this life regarding love (see the end of Matthew chapter 5) does not mean that I will always be perfect in performance. Why? Because I am still human, which means I will always be apologizing to someone for something and confessing to God when I have fallen down and had a lapse--BUT my bent will no longer be toward sin. It's the sanctification process.

I hope this helps, pops. And, please don't be offended when I say...
Praying for you (you see, I truly am).

Paul said...

jackg,

I have a sincere question for you. (I don't mean to suggest the other questions haven't been sincere, but I really am seeking understanding from you in this point.)

In your most recent comment you once again reference that works are the fruit of our having been saved, flowing from our faith.

If I understand you, what you are saying is that when I acknowledge my faith in Christ (and in his saving grace) I will be moved to certain actions, which some might describe as works. Do I have that right?

And would those works include loving others, caring for the poor, engaging in ordinances such as baptism, praying, reading scripture, and so on?

I think what you're saying is that these activities are the fruits of our faith, and that seems consistent also with what I quoted James as saying in an earlier comment.

If that is your meaning, then I struggle to understand your disapproval of the Mormon concept of works as they relate to grace and faith.

My good works grow out of my faith in Christ. My desire to do them comes from His love. My keeping the commandments at first may have been a means to develop faith as He invited us to do, but having felt His love and having grown in faith, I am therefore motivated to do His will -- not to put God in some binding contract. Any contract I have with God is the one He has written as I have no power over Him.

So I'm struggling to see the conflict.

I'm really not trying to be obstinant or ironic or any of those things. I would like to understand where the difference is in your view.

ando49 said...

To Jack:

i will start praying for you when you start praying for yourself. i don't need your prayers because they presuppose that Ive been praying for the wrong things all along. I'm just honest enough to say it.

I'm actually very interested in your theology. I've given it some thought and would like to paraphrase it here. This is actually a serious attempt as I need to understand what makes you tick.


Once upon a time there was God, a perfect and complete being. he wasn't made of anything because nothing other than himself existed.

one day he got bored or lonely, so he decided to make something. first he made matter and then he made the universe and finally people. He gave the people artificial intelligence, programmed in some free will and a set of instructions. Everything was going really well in the beginning and he actually enjoyed being around his creations. but the people ate some kind of fruit and the whole thing turned to custard, Frankenstein-like. It wasn't fun to be around anymore so he left the scene. After a while, he thought to himself, I actually need to go down and correct the situation because I'm feeling lonely again. So he pretended he was one of us and showed how we should live in order for him to be prepared to live with us again. he even pretended to die, but he couldn't really die because he was God. Some people wrote down what he said and spread the word. it said basically that people had to believe in an unquantifiable God then do what he said and if we were really good at it he would allow us back into his presence on the planet earth. Too bad foe all the people that had lived on the earth before he came in the disguise. In the end he'll chose who he wants to be around, so there's no point worrying about it. The earth people call that "grace". The most you can expect is to live your life on this planet in company with someone who is totally out of our league, who can snuff you out by just thinking about it and in the end may get tired of the game and move on to some other enterprise.

how did I go? I'm sure there are a few over simplifications. But, if you are right and I'm wrong then I need to know so I can explain the real story to my Buddhist, Hindu and atheist friends.

Mitch said...

jackg is wasted space. He is not interested in truth. Again, I have been very impressed with those of you who have a good knowledge of the scriptures. Out.

Pops said...

jackg,

We're a lot closer than most might suppose. I would make just a few tweaks to what you've said to put the "Mormon spin" on it.

One tweak has to do with what you call God's supposed indebtedness to those who perform good works. The problem with that view is that God has already made promises that are contingent on our performance - judgment based on whether our works are good or evil, for example. Of course we expect him to keep his promises. But it's not like we're getting ahead of the game or anything. It isn't at all like Dwight and Andy of The Office, trying to get the other in his debt by doing weird favors for each other.

The other point is probably too deep to explain here. From an epistemological perspective, everything humans do is a consequence of our faith in something. We say we "know" that a certain result will be caused by our action, but we don't really know. We may have a high degree of confidence, but we can't know it because it hasn't happened yet. That faith is based on the standard three pillars of authority, reason, and experience. If and when the desired result occurs, it increases our faith in that thing.

It applies to religion the same as to everything else. I perform good works because I believe it will please God and bless the lives of others. (I made a promise to God that I would love him and do all in my power to please him, so I take it seriously.) When my actions do find favor with God and do bless the lives of others, that increases my faith in God and his promises. So, now armed with stronger faith, I become more dedicated to doing good. It's a vicious cycle, in a good way.

That was a long way of saying you can't really separate faith and works, which I think is also what you said.

I think a lot of the disagreement is that we get trapped in the semantics. For example, the question, "When a sailor hoists the sail on his boat, is it his action of hoisting the sail or is it the wind that causes the boat to move?" While that's a better question than, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" it isn't all that much better. Who really thinks that the act of hoisting a sail causes the boat to move? It wouldn't move if the wind wasn't blowing. But then, it wouldn't move either if the sailor didn't hoist the sail. The point is that the mechanical energy that moves the boat comes from the wind, while the sailor's actions do nothing more than make use of the available energy.

So it is with the grace and works debate. Works are like hoisting the sail. Grace is the wind that moves the boat. If we don't hoist the sail, we don't move. Something as simple as believing gets the sail into the wind. More works increase the area of the sail.

I do have a favor to ask. I'm wondering if you might be able to refrain from telling people that Mormons think their good works will save them. We don't. Christ saves.

HappyJoe said...

Well, when I am obedient, I feel good. I am satisfied that God helped me to overcome challenges I had with living the word of wisdom, along with some other weighty obedience issues I was having, and that I have been sanctified to the degree that I have consistently made an effort to please my Heavenly Father. Forget biblical debate, guilt trips and checklists; that evidence is irrefutable.

Faith or works? Both! Grace or works? Both! All are referred to in the Bible! There must be some unifying truth that gives a single context to all of the truths contained in the Bible including, and perhaps particularly, the apparent contradictions. What I see in the restored Gospel, demonstrated quite clearly, is the setting of contradictions into a single concept. Maybe I'm naive, but I like that an awful lot.

What I see is people taking the position (behaviourally and unconsciously, but the attitude is reflected in the logic of their thinking) that whichever doctrine they may be banging the drum for necessarily denies the efficacy of certain other doctrines or principles.

"All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it."

Yes, we rely on grace but we don't let that get in the way of the business of actually doing as Jesus commanded us. The overwhelming impression I have got from nonmembers who challenge these things is that they think that they're doing God a favour in obeying Him. The way I see it, it's not possible to think that faith, grace and works are mutually exclusive without effectively denying the power of the Atonement.

On I go...someone mentioned in these comments that the words of the hymn Praise to the Man suggest that the Prophet's blood was "somehow significant" (or words to that effect). Have a word with yourself, whoever you are...the fact is that the blood of innocent murder victims will all cry unto God until it has been avenged ("Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay") but W W Phelps was writing about his friend's blood so yes, his blood WILL plead (or has pled) unto Heaven while the earth lauds his fame. In his poems about the tragedy of the Great War, Wilfred Owen can scarcely be accused of being a heretic for mourning the loss of so many young lives.

Which brings me to the emotive accusation of heresy. Personally, I think the Catholics have a monopoly on the perceived right to cry heresy, since anyone who taught or believed contrary to their so-called authoritative teachings was so labelled. Therefore any church which dissented from it was heretical in Catholic eyes, and even in their own, acknowledged the apostasy/lack of divine authority of the Catholic Church.

I also want to address the point about us departing from "normative" Christianity. We are set apart from the rest of the world. If you believe the Doctrine and Covenants, Jesus has said that we are the only true and living Church on the face of the earth. It would be nice if conventional Christian accepted that I believe in Jesus, but ultimately not being counted in the number of conventional Christians by those who care to make the distinction does not bother me one jot.

Perhaps people find the concept that God has the both the capacity and sufficient love for His children to give them all that He has (which Jesus alludes to in the Bible) even to the extent of endowing them with godhood, but why is it so hard to understand? In Disney's Aladdin, Jafar asks the genie to make him into a genie, and since the genie can do just that, he does.

But if we look at it all in terms of end results, everyone gets what they want eventually anyway. "Normative" Christians who don't reconsider their beliefs when they have the chance will still get to live with Jesus forever in the Terrestrial Kingdom, while faithful Mormons get the star prize of eternal exaltation.

Our religion sounds too good to be true? Even if I were to discount the evidence of my past experiences, that would still be a chance I'd be willing to take!

ando49 said...

tO Happy Joe.

love what you say. couldn't sgree more.

i'd be pretty ticked off if I believed the exmos and antis on this site and found myself in the terrestrial kingdom, as good as that might be, when all along I could have been in one of those mansions in the celestial kingdom, preparing to have eternal increase along with my beloved wife and enjoying the felicity of hsving my earthly children around me in the same neighbourhood.

Rusty Southwick said...

HappyJoe, someone should give you a promotion. Nice job! The mutual exclusiveness they suggest is certainly absent from Biblical teaching.

It's curious to me how critics of LDS doctrine will first say that works aren't a component of the process of salvation, and so then when we point out the numerous Bible verses which emphatically declare that both works and faith are part of the equation and ask how it would be possible for the averge person to not have good works and yet still be saved, they backpedal into the argument of "but my works are merely a by-product of my faith." Thank you for bringing the argument full circle, and in the process, you have managed to agree with those darned Mormons! I love it when a plan comes together...

You see, they haven't refuted the notion that works are integral. Instead they're simply attempting to explain WHY works are integral. They argue the what with us until they run out of real estate, and then retract to argue the why. To me, that's even better than conceding you've lost the argument.

ConfusedJoe said...

Hmmm...not sure whether you're agreeing with me on that last paragraph or saying I've misinterpreted what "they" are saying. Oh well, there are advantages to being dim - I can choose to believe you're agreeing, and even if you're not, I won't understand why...

jackg said...

pops,

You seem like a really nice guy. As you can see, a debate between Mormons and Christians is virtually impossible because shared presuppositions don't really exist. I believe it's a true statement when I say that you are interested in my eternal life as I am interested in yours. As a Mormon, you believe that God used JS as a prophet to "restore" what you believe to have been lost regarding God's message to the world. So, our motives are the same, but I think that's where similarities stop. Although your request was kindly stated, it is hard for me to refrain from stating that Mormonism is a religion based on works-righteousness. I say this because in Mormonism the salvation equation is Jesus plus this, this, and this.

Praying for you...

jackg said...

Paul,

Everything you say sounds great. Naturally, there will be the one exception which will clarify the difference. When you say that your response overflows into good works, you are right, and you list things like compassion, caring for others, keeping the commandments (just remember there are only two: love God and love neighbor as self), etc. I have never stated that a believer's life will be filled with wanton sin and cruel behaviors; such a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus cannot be considered as such because his works don't support the claim. BUT, the difference in our perspectives is this: when you mention responding by adhereing to ordinances such as baptism, you forgot one word in your description of such ordinances: "saving." When the LDS Church refers to ordinances, they are called "saving" ordinances, which means that if you don't do them you will not be saved. This is the basis for the argument that Mormonism is built on works-righteousness and a salvation equation of faith in Jesus plus something else; in this case, "saving" ordinances." I know that the passage used to support the view that water baptism is a requirement to salvation is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus; however, Jesus is speaking about the second birth as being born of the Holy Spirit, not water baptism. But, that's a whole other discussion.

I hope you can see the difference, Paul. Here's a biblical scripture that puts works in its proper perspective as to when it occurs, and answers the question: do works come before salvation or after?

Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (KJV). NIV states it thusly: "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

So, yes, the life of a follower of Jesus Christ will be reflected by good works, but such works come after we are justified by our faith. We cannot forget that the context of this passage is Paul's teaching on being saved by grace and NOT works: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved...through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:4-9, NIV).


Also, the purpose of good works is evidence of our faith in Christ and to glorify God--not ourselves: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:12, NIV).

So, I stand by my claim that within Mormonism works are the basis for meriting "something" for ourselves. This "something" is exaltation and becoming gods. Such a concept cannot be perceived as biblical no matter how hard Jeff tries to spin things through proof texting. It's just not there. As Paul states, salvation is a gift from God because of His grace. In fact, it is such a big gift and grace is so abundant that we are saved once we believe, while we were dead in our sins. Sanctification follows justification.

Blessings to you...

Mitch said...

(yaaaaaaaawn) Terrestial people, who are saved, don't need baptism. I wish there was a more competent contender here. Out.

Paul said...

jackg,

So in your understanding, ordinances are not required to return to our Father's presence?

Why then was the Savior himself baptized?

FWIW, the phrase "saving ordinances", though often used is clearly not correct, since salvation is free, as clearly defined by the scriptures and cited by a number of posters here.

Exhaltation, as revealed by the prophets, does require ordinances, which we engage in as a sign of our faith and faithfulness, so even those ordinances, one might say, grow out of our faith.

P

jackg said...

Mitch,

Does it matter what you think about me? Making your snide comments only reveals that you STILL have nothing to add to this conversation. As for your yawn, quite appropriate since you are spiritually asleep. WAKE UP!! Or salvation will pass you by.

Always praying for you...

jackg said...

Paul,

Exaltation, or becoming gods, is not biblical; therefore, one has to question whether anyone who promotes a false and heretical teaching is actually a prophet. The title of this thread: "Rejecting Living Apostles and Prophets: A Deceptively Easy Path to Righteousness," erroneously presupposes that the leaders of the Mormon Church are living apostles and prophets.

There is no such thing as a saving ordinance. Now, I like your question regarding Jesus being baptized. Let's talk about Jesus coming to earth in the first place. When we discuss this, we will kill two birds with one stone. Jesus emptied Himself and took on the form of a human being. "Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross" (Phil.2:6-8).

Jesus took on the form of a human being is diametrically opposed to the LDS teaching that we are formed in the physical likeness of God. If the latter were true, then there would be no need to state that Jesus took on the form of man. That's the first stone.

The second stone has to do with Christ identifying with us in our humanity. To do this, He took on our form and lived on this earth. To do this, He allowed Himself to be baptized, which is participating in the sign of the New Covenant, which is Himself. As I have said before, a sign is not efficacious but merely a sign; that which is efficacious is Jesus Christ Himself.

Let's look at the sign of the Abrahamic covenant: circumcision. Jesus also participated in the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. Does this all of a sudden mean that we need to be circumcised to be saved because Jesus was circumcised? No. It works the same for baptism when you realize what it really is: a sign of the New Covenant.

I hope I explained myself clearly enough, Paul.

Blessings to you...

Mitch said...

jackg, I'm only showing how silly you are. We Mormons are very knowledgable on what we believe. When you die and realize that Christ is at the head of the Mormon church, well, I'm just glad I won't be in your shoes. Out.

jackg said...

Oh Mitch, you still add nothing to the discussion.

Mitch said...

Oh, I add quite a bit. I am very comfortable in calling you to repentance.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:37 PM, January 28, 2010, I'm sure this is why Moroni's Challenge has the added "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Heavenly Father always knew that His prophets wouldn't always be perfect. He knew that sometimes they would not understand things correctly, or that their own opinions and interpretations of things would work their way into what they said. That is why He gave us that promise.

Rusty Southwick said...

jackg, it was interesting that you side-stepped my initial comments, dismissing them offhand without answering anything. You're not uncomfortable making those false claims against the LDS church? That doesn't matter to you? Not even intellectually?

The way you've presented LDS doctrine here is disingenuous, and you're either naive about it or hurtful. If you're naive, then it would do you good to take clarifications from those who have studied and lived the LDS gospel. Making up your own version of the LDS church is just silly.

The difficulty here is that you've presented a false representation of LDS doctrine on several counts, and are unwilling or unwitting to own up to it, just content to sweep it under the rug. See what's going on here, people? The common tactics shown here are to throw hand grenades and then to evade the facts.

What you also fail to acknowledge is that C.S. Lewis and many early Christian scholars and leaders from the first three centuries actually considered the idea of becoming gods to be Biblical. The Nicene Creed, if it were divinely inspired, wouldn't negate Christian tradition. The political surroundings of the Nicene Creed were too predominant for it to be taken as more than a political document. There's this nagging problem in your premise of how to categorize the early scholars and leaders who agree with LDS doctrine on this matter. Jeff's site www.jefflindsay.com elucidates this quite well. See the section on Divine Potential of Man.

It's one thing to disagree doctrinally, but it's another thing to dismiss the likes of C.S. Lewis, Saint Irenaeus, Saint Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Saint Athanasius, and Saint Augustine as somehow being non-Christian in your attempt to declassify Mormons.

Re: Works and grace, now the argument has devolved into which comes first? Seriously, you might want to retrace your arguments. Originally, it was that works aren't a part of being saved, and when that was refuted, you fell back on "Well, it's the way the works come into play..." You're presenting a moving target ideology. Let me know when it comes to a stop so I can adequately address it.

At any rate, nobody I've ever conversed with believes that we are saved by grace alone, and I don't think you do either. So why harp on the Mormons for preaching that salvation involves "Jesus + something else"? (Notice the debate was never "What component in the equation is it that saves us?" We all agree that it's the grace of Christ that saves us.)

So, yes or no... Do you believe that grace is all that's needed for salvation? (Be very careful how you answer that one)

Pops said...

jackg,

So, a simple question - why did Christ so clearly state that we would be judged on the basis of our works, whether they be good or evil?

lover_of_wisdom said...

I really enjoyed this post. It contained some good logical points.

I don't care much for argumentation, but somethng is bothering me a bit. To show I am not here to be right or debate, I won't respond to any crticisms I recieve on this post. Hopefully that is enough to get everone to just consider the following:

In terms of "faith v. works", I really enjoy the protestants who have the view that works come from being truly converted to Christ. That is 100% true. But to say that works are unimportant is 100% fallacious, for that would say that being converted to Christ is also unimportant. Being born again is imprtant, and thus showing it by doing His work is important.

It is possible to do works without the proper change of heart, and in that case works are completely futile. Equally in importance as doing works is the importance of doing them with the proper perspective and attitude. Let us seek to be truly converted to the Gospel of Christ and not to go through the motions of the good things we know we can do.

Pops said...

Good points.

Lili Anderson, in her book Choosing Glory, talks about how the Telestial attempts to mimic the Celestial. I think some of the Protestant animus toward a focus on works comes as a result of encounters with Telestial - unconverted - trying to fake it by doing the works. When the earth is cleansed prior to the Second Coming, I expect it will begin within the Church, and those who focus on works for the purpose of deceiving will either have to repent or be excised.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good discussion here. Thanks for sharing all this, and thanks for the original post.

Anonymous said...

Hear the words of the Savior:

"Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

"Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

"Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

The gospel of belief without works is a false and vain gospel. Don't be fooled by those who promote it.