Friday, November 1, 2013

A TOTAL Apostasy???

LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks once delivered a speech titled, “Have you been saved?”  In his speech were heard phrases like, “Good Christian people” and “servant of the Lord” in reference to believers in the Christian faith.  While this is consistent with the image that the Mormon Church is now attempting to project, it is absolutely not true to the actual message of Mormonism.  The teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints openly deny the possibility of any form of legitimate faith outside of the Mormon Church.  A few examples:
  • “he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fulness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is antichrist.”  (Brigham Young - Journal of Discourses, volume 9, discourse 64)
  • "those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased,"  (D&C 1:30)  
  • "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation?  It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270)
  • "There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Doctrine, p.670)

So, how do Mormons actually feel about Christianity?  Well, practically most Mormons would probably agree with Dallin H. Oaks’ speech - ‘Christians’ are good people serving the same Lord, they just don’t have the whole gospel.  But if confronted, they would also have to agree with the words of Joseph Smith and the other early Church leaders (as quoted above).  You can see how that would create some confusion...
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that there was a TOTAL apostasy in the Church shortly after the ascension of Christ.  This apostasy took place around the same time as the death of the original 12 Apostles.  John was the last to die, and he died somewhere between 96 – 100 AD.  So, the Mormon Church’s claim is that by the year 100 AD, there were no genuine Christians left on earth. 

On a personal note...

In some ways, I can really sympathize with that view.  Certain Christian churches that I have attended, especially in my growing up years, seemed to have a great distrust for anything ‘Catholic’.  (Even though the Roman Catholic Church was not established until the end of the 4th century).  I put very little effort into studying history, because I thought that Church History was corrupt.  My view was one that would say: after Acts 28, the Church almost completely collapsed until the advent of Martin Luther, and then the great Methodist revivals, and finally the Azusa street revivals – and now we’re just about back to where we should be.  There are even churches and ministries that call themselves “Acts 29” ministries.  While I am confident that I would not have any major contentions with such ministries; the name implies that there was very little good between Acts 28 and now – but don’t worry, we’ve got it all figured out, and we’ll take it from here.


What does that view of Church history say about God?  About the success (or failure) of Jesus’ mission?  His model of discipleship?  What does it say about the promises of Christ – ‘I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’, and ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age’?  It seems arrogant to claim that through hundreds of years of Church history, nobody has gotten it right until now; even if that were true, is there not a more humble – a more Christ-like – approach?

And so, I began (and am still ‘beginning’) to study the history of the Early Church.  I didn’t feel like I could continue to reject all that had happened between Acts 28 and the present without at least investigating it.  If I’m going to accuse anyone of being ‘apostate’ – I should probably understand why I believe that; because that’s a pretty serious accusation to be throwing around. 

A lot of what I had believed, and indirectly been taught to believe simply is not true.  Yes, there has been much apostasy over the years.  There have been innumerable accounts of abuses of authority.  Heresy has crept in to the Church seemingly in almost every corner.  But there is also a lot of good.  There are treasures that God has given and preserved in his Church through the ages.  Countless numbers of people gave their lives to ‘safeguard’ the message of the gospel.  And, just like in the Old Testament with the people of Israel – God has always kept a remnant for himself.  No matter how apostate the nation of Israel was, there was always a remnant of people that were faithful to the Lord.  It is the same with his Church – the people of God in the new covenant.  True to his promise, He has never left us, nor forsaken us.   

What now?

I am not ignorant to the fact that this kind of information has potential to be a bit jarring to the system.  Researching these things has certainly been an eye opening experience for me; and a journey that has required me to lay down any prejudices or pre-conceived notions that I had in order to look at things in as unbiased a way as possible.  Even in that, I must always remember my humanity – I am as prone to error as anyone, and it could be that my conclusions are still in need of correction or revision.

And so, I leave you with an invitation to join in this journey, and with a question that requires a bit of humility to consider.  Before you accuse someone of apostasy – the most serious charge imaginable – would you be willing to first take the time to understand what it is that makes them apostate?  Where exactly have they departed from the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Would you be willing to study for yourself and discover what actually took place in the years following the original 12 Apostles? 

Please take a moment to pray for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Thank you.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God. 

This is a common statement to hear from Mormons.  "as far as it is translated correctly?"  Hmmm, that seems to imply that it has not typically been translated correctly, yes?  

How about a little context:

In Doctrine & Covenants 73:4, God, speaking to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, says, “it is expedient to continue the work of translation until it be finished.”  The work of translation being referred to here is the translation of the Bible.  According to the Book of Mormon, many “plain and precious” things have been taken away from Holy Scripture (more on that another time perhaps).  So Joseph Smith was commanded by God to translate it.  To restore all that had been lost. 

According to D&C 104:58, he was also commanded to “print my words, the fullness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you...”  (i.e. - the work was to be made available to the Saints.) 

There is a wonderful promise given in 1 Nephi 3:7 that seems to apply to just these types of situations, which says, “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”  That’s a solid principle right there.  God commands – God enables. I think all of Christendom could agree on that one.  

And it seems that he did come through, at least for the command to translate; (the printing of it is another matter).  History of the Church volume 1, page 306, under the date of July 2, 1833, has a letter signed by Joseph Smith and others which says, “We this day finished the translating of the Scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our Heavenly Father.” 

So... according to the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the History of the Church, the work of translation was most definitely completed.

Seems simple.    So, WHAT IS MY POINT???

Well, after all that, you would expect that the official translation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints would be the Joseph Smith Translation, (also known as the Inspired Version).  But it’s not.  I believe the official stance of the Mormon Church is that Joseph Smith was killed before the translation was completed.  That, as we have seen is a blatant contradiction of Mormon Scriptures and documented history.  If that were true, then the next Prophet in line should have picked up where he left off.   After all, God felt that this work was important enough to command it to be done in the first place, so unless God changed his mind, surely it was important enough for him to have prepared a way for it to be accomplished, as he promised – with or without Joseph Smith. 

Instead, Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible, and they publish a version with footnotes which lead to excerpts from the Inspired Version, buried somewhere near the back of the text.  This version only has excerpts; it does not contain the full translation. 

That bothers me.  It also bothers me that it doesn't seem to bother Mormons.  I'm very bothered...

Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the restoration, on command of the Lord, translated Holy Scripture; and most Mormons do not even have access to the majority of it, or even know that it exists beyond the few excerpts in the footnotes.

Regardless of whether or not I believe Joseph Smith’s translation to be accurate, I think that the Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are entitled to have access to what they would consider a correct translation of Holy Scripture. 

They should, in fact be granted more than just access to it.  The Inspired Version of the Bible being anything less than the official translation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints implies that it can’t be trusted as Holy Scripture; which casts serious doubt on whether or not the leaders of the Church, particularly the early Church, really consider Smith to have been a Prophet. 


That should be the statement. 

I mean, there’s no need to use an inferior version when you’ve got one that you know you can count on, right? 

Please take a moment to pray for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Thank you.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Are Mormons Christian?

Do you know that Mormons are classified as Christians?  This is one of the questions that Mormon missionaries will ask of a potential convert. 

As a Christian, that question grates on me.  For a few reasons.  But rather than getting into that, I guess it’s worth thinking about.  Is there any possibility that Mormons actually are Christian?

First of all, I guess the question should be answered – what is a Christian?  By definition the word Christian means "Christ-like".  In that sense of the word; it seems Mormons are actually more Christian than Christians...  hmm that sounds confusing...  I will from here on out use “orthodox Christianity” to provide some clarification.  Mormons have potential to be more Christ-like than orthodox Christians.  Now, before I get excommunicated, let me explain...

Mormon doctrine around the person of Jesus Christ is vastly different from that of orthodox Christianity.  Mormonism teaches a belief in “Eternal Father”, who was once a man like us.   They believe that Jesus Christ was the first born of His spirit children.  Lucifer is also one of His spirit children.  And each one of us is also a spirit child of Eternal Father.  We existed in spirit before the creation of the world, in coming to this earth, we were given a ‘tabernacle’ of flesh for our spirit to dwell in; and if we are fortunate enough to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our bodies will be resurrected at the consummation of this age.  At that point we will have advanced to the Celestial Kingdom; and now have the potential to actually become Gods ourselves, with spirit children of our own, and worlds at our command.

The orthodox Christian view of Christ is that he is the only Son of God.  We are all children of God, in that He is our Creator, and Lord, and His Spirit actually lives in us.  We have been brought into the family of God.  But Jesus is God’s Son in an exclusive sense.  He has a unique relationship with God the Father.  Jesus and the Father are one.  They are of the same substance, the same essence.  Jesus was begotten of the Father, not made by the Father like the rest of us.  In orthodox Christianity, Jesus is the second person of the triune Godhead, and as such he is altogether different from those of us who are among the created.

So you can see that according to Mormon doctrine, the only difference between us and Christ, is that he happened to be born first.  The difference between your average Mormon and Christ is not one of kind, it is one of degree.  So, by definition ("Christ-like"), Mormons could be considered more Christian than orthodox Christians. 

But you can also see that the beliefs around Christ between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity are irreconcilable.   It is not possible for the same person, (even if that person is God), to adequately fulfill the qualifications of both Mormonism and orthodox Christianity.  Therefore, it follows that Mormons and Christians cannot possibly believe in the same Christ.  

So... I guess I can concede that Mormons are indeed Christian, as long as it is understood that the Christ they are 'like' is a different Christ than the One found in orthodox Christianity.

Claiming that Mormons are Christian without that qualifier seems a little bit like talking to someone in Brazil about football without telling them that what you really mean is American football.

Please take a moment to pray for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Thank you.