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Dispelling Myths about Christianity

Myth #1. Christians think all you have to do is say a little prayer to go to heaven, then you can live like the devil and still be saved.

Fact: Christians do NOT believe this. There is nothing magic about “the prayer.” People who just a say a little prayer to “cover all the bases” are not demonstrating saving faith. True Christians do not believe in what is referred to as “cheap grace” or “easy-believism;” the concept that one can just say a prayer and then go on living a lifestyle of sin. It is true that Christians believe a person praying from the heart, with real intent, asking for salvation, will indeed be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, and that good works will not add one iota to his salvation. However, they do not use their salvation as an excuse to do wrong.

There is a difference between justification and sanctification. When a person puts their trust completely in Jesus Christ, praying in faith for salvation, he is immediately justified, or put into right standing before God. He has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus is credited to the person’s account. The biblical definition of salvation is being saved from the wrath of God (eternal hell) and living eternally in heaven with God.

Sanctification is a process occurring over time as the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian, purging him of the desires of the flesh. We are sinners by nature, so of course Christians stumble and fall in their walk with the Lord, but they do not make sinful actions a pattern of living. For example, a person claiming to have been born-again who year after year lives with his girlfriend, cheats people in business, doesn’t read the Bible or pray, and consistently lives as the world lives, would need to “examine [himself] as to whether [he] is in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). The Holy Spirit equips a Christian for godly living. As a Christian becomes more mature in his walk with the Lord, he begins to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. His sin begins to bother him and doing what pleases God becomes delicious to him.

What is one of the signs that we have been saved? “And hereby do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in this context is the same one that sailors used for being guided by the stars. Pastor Adrian Rogers—beloved by millions of Christians and who recently passed away—used the following analogy. He said that sailors in ancient times would chart their course at sea by the stars, so they would know where they were going. There might be occasions when the captain fell asleep at the helm and drifted off-course, but it would not be long before he was able to adjust his direction and arrive at his intended destination.

This practice of navigation was called “keeping the stars.” Likewise, keeping the commandments is similar for a Christian. He may “fall asleep at the helml” (sometimes called backsliding) or occasionally go off course, but If his eyes are upon Jesus and the desire of his heart is to please God, he will arrive safely into heaven’s harbor.

Myth #2. Either the Mormon Church is true or the Catholic Church is true. It could not be the Protestants because they broke off from the Catholic Church.

Fact: Not exactly. The church of Jesus Christ was already established long before the Roman Catholic Church came along. Whenever “church” was referred to in the New Testament, it meant “the called out ones;” it is the Greek “ekklesia.” The Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon explains what “church” has meant from New Testament times onward:

[Church] in a Christian sense. An assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting., a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake., those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body., the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth., the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven. (Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: electronic edition)

Galatians 3:26-29 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

To rephrase that in modern language, “There is neither Baptist nor Lutheran, Calvary Chapel nor Nazarene, Methodist nor Pentecostal, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Denominations may differ in some regards, but our salvation comes through a saving relationship with Jesus alone. That is what makes us members of His church. The Roman Catholic Church is a man-made institution. It was organized by men and many of its doctrines and practices were made by men. The protestant denominations came out of Catholicism only to get back to what the original church was; the body of believers saved through Christ’s atonement; the priesthood of believers; deriving their authority from the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Ephesians 2:18; Romans 12:1; Revelation 1:6)

Myth #3. All the denominations argue about which one of them is right.

Fact: There is no arguing going on. No single denomination claims to be “The True Church” or “The True Denomination” or “The Only Way” through which a person can come to Jesus Christ. A favorite expression among Christians concerning denominations is; “In essentials unity; in non-essentials diversity; in all things charity.” All the Protestant denominations agree on the nature and character of God, who Jesus is, the means of salvation (grace alone by faith alone through Jesus alone), and the inerrancy of the Bible.

When I left Mormonism and began looking for a church to attend, I was surprised at how well the various churches in the area got along. I had been taught as a Latter-day Saint the myth of fighting denominations each trying to gain more members for themselves. I visited several churches of different denominations. Over the ensuing weeks several people I had met called me and said that they hoped I would start coming to their church, but wherever I decided to go their prayers would be with me. When I found a church that was not too much of a culture shock coming out of the Mormon Church, my pastor often said over the pulpit to visitors that he hoped they would make Shadow Hills Baptist Church their home church, however, there were many other good churches in the area that taught sound biblical doctrine. My pastor met monthly with pastors and ministers from several denominations for lunch where they would discuss important issues, pray together, and be supportive of one another. This is not to say that individual fellowships do not have their share of disagreements on occasion, but the over all attitude among the denominations is one of love.

Myth #4. The Bible is missing a bunch of books and is not translated correctly.

The Old Testament we have now is the same one the Jews had in Jesus’ day. Jesus authenticated the Old Testament by quoting from every part of it. There are books mentioned by Old Testament writers, such as the Book of Jasher and the Books of the Wars of the Lord, but that does not mean they were inspired. Jesus did not quote from any of these so-called missing books. The apostle Paul quoted from Greek poets, yet their writings or complete works are not found in the New Testament. From an LDS perspective the Book of Mormon is missing “the sealed portion” and Brigham Young claimed to have seen wagon loads of metal plates and other writings beneath the Hill Cumorah. Does this mean books are missing from the BoM and therefore make it unreliable? A Mormon would say, “No, of course not.” So why set a double standard for the Bible?

The God Who had the power to call forth the universe into existence is certainly powerful enough to preserve His holy word! Hebrew children were immersed in scripture from a young age. In school, the rabbi would place a bit of honey on the child’s tongue before having him memorize scripture so the child would begin to see God’s word is sweet and precious. Scribes committed their whole lives to carefully preserving the word of God. They would painstakingly copy letter for letter and if anything were amiss they would destroy the page and start all over. Everey time they came to God’s name they would get new ink to write it with—that is how much they revered the word of God. There was no such thing as a careless scribe as LDS leaders want you to think.

The Dead Sea scrolls refute the idea that things were taken out and/or added to the Old Testament. For example, the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea scrolls was one thousand years older than any manuscript in existence at the time. With only a few variations in spelling, it was correctly transcribed word for word! There are over 5,000 manuscripts in existence today containing all or part of the New Testament. The earliest fragments have been dated to 100-150 A.D.. The manuscripts in other languages combined with the Greek bring the total manuscripts in existence to over a stunning 24,000 in number! The mountain of evidence for the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible is overwhelming. A good book for in-depth information on this topic is The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.

Myth #5. The Council of Nicea is where a bunch of relgious leaders were locked in a room and told they could not come out until they agreed on their ideas about God. They also voted on which books to include in the Bible.

Fact: This myth is utter nonsense. “The facts of history demonstrate, however, that the New Testament was not formed hastily, nor was it formed by the councils. It was the product of centuries of development, and its official ratification came in response to the practical needs of the churches.”

Developments that forced the Church to Establish a Canon: 1) Need for a Scripture to spell out the message of the Apostles, 2) Need to decide on what should be read in the churches, 3) Need for a true canon to answer heretical ones, 4) Need to establish authoritative truth to answer error, 5) Need to decide which of the many books claiming to be canonical were false, 6) Need to decide which books to die for when possession resulted in martyrdom (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history.)

Archaeological evidence now proves that the New Testament books were written by the end of the first century. These books were already circulating among the churches to be read in worship services. Within a short period of time, however, heresies began to creep into the church. Writings started to pop up that were claimed to be authored by some of the apostles (such as the book of Thomas) and other writings were introduced into variuous churches as new revelations. To protect the church (the ekklesia; Christians), a standard had to be set to keep the Scriptures pure. Writings thaat could be proven authentic of the apostles and those close to them were kept. Writings that did not have a basis in truth or had no evidence for their origin as apostolic writings were rejected.

As for the creeds, they formalized what the Bible already revealed about God. The LDS Church puts forth its Thirteen Articles of Faith as a statement of what Mormons believe. The Nicene Creed, Apostolic Creed, and other confessions do the same thing. The creeds are nothing more than statements of faith so Christians everywhere could readily share their beliefs with others.

JUST as the New Testament canon developed in response to a need in the church, so did the creeds. In the days before the canon was formulated and when there were few copies of any of the New Testament books in circulation, believers required some standard to keep them in the path of truth. Moreover, they needed a standard by which to test heretical opinions. So very early, possibly near the end of the first century or beginning of the second, a rule of faith came into existence.

Assuming different forms in different churches, it generally taught that Christ, the Son of God, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into Heaven—for the remission of sins. This rule of faith, which has come to be called the Apostles’ Creed, reached its present form about 750. In the early church, candidates for baptism often were asked if they assented to the various clauses of this standard of faith. (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history, electronic version)

It was creeds such as this—the Apostles’ Creed, which clearly laid out Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—that Joseph Smith said were abominations.

http://www.equippingchristians.com/DispellingMythsAboutChristianity.htm

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ANSWERING MORMON OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY

There are too many versions of the Bible

The number of Bible versions does not negate the efficacy of God’s word. The purpose of the various versions is to make the original text more readable and increase the reader’s understanding of scripture. This is no different than the Mormon Church publishing the children’s “Book of Mormon Reader” in addition to the standard Book of Mormon.

My grandparents’ native language was Czech. As I was growing up I wanted very much to learn the language and frequently asked them what they were saying. Sometimes they paraphrased in English what they had said and other times they told me word for word. Since some Czech words do not have an English equivalent, my grandparents would have to find the best way to explain what they were saying. ICzech grammar also varies from the English. The literal word for word translation of “I love you” from Czech to English would be “I you love.”

The same principle holds true for translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. Because of differences in grammar, style, and language, etymology becomes challenging. Nevertheless, there are several ways to convey meaning without diminishing the original message. Whether I say “I am extremely hungry” or “I am famished” it means the same thing. Here are some examples:

John 3:16

King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

New American Standard Bible: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

New International Version: 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.

There are different versions suited for a variety of purposes. For personal, devotional reading, one would use a “paraphrase” translation (thought-for-thought), such as the Living Bible. For in-depth study one would use a word-for-word translation, like the Amplified Bible or the New American Standard Bible. For those who enjoy the beauty and majesty of Old English, the King James Version is a good choice. A very good article on the history of the English Bible can be found here.

Are there problems with the new translations? There are good translations and bad ones, however, this does not mean there is only One True Translation.

…we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently, is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.

But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!”

Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” (John L. Jeffcoat, http://www.greatsite.com)

Keep in mind that the forty-seven scholars who translated for the King James Bible were working with fewer manuscripts than we have available today. The KJV is certainly an accurate and reliable translation of the Bible, but it is not the only one! There are several excellent English translations of the Bible. Regardless of which translation a person uses, for study and understanding it is wise to keep a concordance handy, as well as an “interlinear Bible,”

an edition in which each line of the original biblical text (OT Hebrew or NT Greek) is followed by a line containing a literal English equivalent directly underneath each Hebrew or Greek word; since the word order of the ancient languages is very different from any modern languages, the English equivalents seem very strange, chopped up, and out of order; thus a smooth English translation is usually also provided in the margins (Web definition, retrieved from Google).

The Dead Sea Scrolls contained a complete copy of Isaiah, dated one thousand years older than the earliest manuscript of the day (1947) and was found to be almost word for word the same; the few variations in the text did not change the meaning of any passage. The New Testament is even more astounding because we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts to work with!

A few existing fragments date back to within 25-50 years of the original writing. New Testament textual scholars have generally concluded that 1) 99.99 percent of the original writings have been reclaimed, and 2) of the remaining one hundredth of one percent, there are no variants substantially affecting any Christian doctrine. With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which are indeed worthy of the title, The Word of God. (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc. 2006, p. xxi)

Let me ask this; if, as Joseph Smith stated, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 Deseret Book, p. 327) then why doesn’t the First Presidency—with the wealth of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available today—make an accurate translation of the Bible for the use of the Latter-day Saints, or indeed, for the world? The Joseph Smith Translation (copyright held by the Reorganized LDS Church; now known as Community of Christ) is not really a translation at all by definition. Smith did not have any manuscripts at his disposal; rather, he read from the King James Bible, dictating changes to his scribe. So, with all the ancient manuscripts available, thanks to archaeological discoveries, why does the LDS Church not “fix” the alleged errors and come out with its corrected edition of the Bible? Could it be because we already have an accurate and reliable Bible?

Allow me to pose another question; why is it that the LDS Church casts doubt on the reliability of the Bible despite all the historical, archaeological, and textual evidence supporting its accuracy, yet wholeheartedly accept the authenticity of The Book of Mormon with NO manuscript, archaeological, or historical evidence at all?

There are too many denominations

Yes, there are many denominations of Christianity, but that is no different from the many denominations of Mormonism. There have been many splinter groups off Mormonism since its inception; in fact, the LDS Church split into several branches after Joseph Smith’s death. It is doubtful that Mormons would consider this proof that Mormonism is not true, so why the double standard? Why would many Christian denominations be one “proof” that Christianity is not true?

The mainstream Christian denominations differ more in style and ritual than in doctrine. Furthermore, each denomination is not claiming to be the “only true denomination,” as individual LDS denominations assert. I have personally visited dozens of Christian churches from California to Washington, D.C. and never witnessed any “fighting” or contention over denominational issues. The statements of faith for each of the major denominations all agree on the essentials; Who God is, Who Jesus is, the Trinity, and salvation. In Las Vegas, NV and other cities across the country, pastors of various denominations meet on a monthly basis to pray for one another, encourage each other, and discuss issues facing the church corporately. The “church” (the “body of Christ”) consists of those who have received Jesus of the Bible as personal Lord and Savior, regardless of the denomination they attend for worship services.

There are too many arguments over doctrine

There are no more arguments over doctrinal issues in Christianity than there are in the Mormon Church among its members! Is caffeine soda against the Word of Wisdom or is it all right to drink Dr. Pepper? What constitutes Sabbath-breaking; going on a family picnic on Sunday or watching a football game? Or should there be absolutely no TV or outdoor activities? Can a person be temple-worthy if they watch R-rated movies? What if it’s only rated R for violence and not nudity? Is it a sin to turn down a calling? Some say yes, others say no. I’ve heard arguments among LDS over personal revelation versus revelation given to Church leaders; which should be given greater weight? Should a person do what the Bishop or Stake president tells you or what the spirit tells you? I know someone who was excommunicated over his view on that issue! Which doctrines should be followed and/or believed; those given by deceased LDS prophets or those given by living leaders that contradicts past doctrines and teachings? The strongest arguments are between the mainline LDS Church and the Fundamentalist LDS Church; for example, which one is practicing authentic Mormonism? Those who live as conventional Mormons or those who practice Mormonism “Joseph Smith / Brigham Young style?”

Whenever people with strongly held beliefs get together there are going to be disagreements, regardless of what denomination they belong to. Among mainline Protestant denominations the disagreements do not affect soteriology (salvation). The point isn’t if there is a right or wrong answer for each of the above questions among LDS; the point is that arguments do exist among Mormons, so why is there a double standard? Why are doctrinal arguments among Christians considered “proof” that Christianity has been corrupted, but doctrinal arguments among Mormons is not “proof” that Mormonism has become corrupted?

There is no priesthood authority among Christians

There is no need for centralized or controlled priesthood authority. In Old Testament times, priests acted as intercessors between Israel and God. They offered sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people. Only the Levites could hold the priesthood and officiate for Israel. In addition, there was only one High Priest at a time that was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies inside the temple to make offerings. The blood sacrifice made on the altar was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ, who was the True Lamb sacrificed as a propitiation for our sins. Once His blood was shed, there was no longer a need for priests because Jesus Himself became our High Priest!

Hebrews 7:23-28 tells us that Jesus is the only and final “high priest” we need!

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,

24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. (NASB)

Old Testament Cities of Refuge provides a perfect illustration of Jesus being the final high priest. There were six “cities of refuge” appointed by God for Israel (Numbers 35:1-34). If a person accidentally killed someone (manslaughter) the victim’s family had a legal right to avenge the blood of their slain relative. The perpetrator could take his chances, so to speak, or flee to a City of Refuge for safety. If he could convince the high priest that he was innocent of murder—that the death he caused was unintentional—he could remain in that city under protection from the “avenger of blood” until the death of the high priest.

Jesus is a “type” of a city of refuge. Because of Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we inherit a sin nature, which, in combination with our personal sins, qualifies us for physical and spiritual death. In a very real sense each of us is guilty of manslaughter because our sins put Jesus on the cross! God’s wrath can “legally” be poured out on us, however, we have recourse; fleeing to Jesus Christ, Who is our “city of refuge.” Since Jesus is the high priest Who never dies, we have asylum in Him forever!

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, made the final atonement for sin, thus ending the need for the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, this veil was 40 cubits high (about 60 feet) and four inches thick! The significance of this event is monumental. The veil separated the Holy of Holies (where God dwelt) from the rest of the temple. Only once a year was the high priest permitted to enter to make atonement for Israel’s sins. The high priest then, acted as intercessor between God and man. When Jesus gave His life as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil between God and man was torn and individuals could now come “boldly before the throne of God.”

Peter speaks of the priesthood of believers, which, by implication, includes women and children.

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the priesthood is a power or force through which healings, blessings, prophecies, or miracles are performed. These things are done in the power of Jesus’ name, not by a special ability or right bestowed on an individual by “one holding proper authority.” Those who belong to Christ become “priests” in the sense that they offer themselves as “living sacrifices.” Two excellent articles on the priesthood of believers can be found here (gotquestions.org) and here (hismin.com)

It’s all about money

There are literally thousands of pastors throughout the United States and tens of thousands or more throughout the world. Very few of them are “in it for the money.” Countless pastors and ministers labor 24/7 at minimal pay, if any pay at all. They are leading, teaching, visiting the sick in hospitals or nursing homes, preparing in-depth sermons based on examination of Scripture, praying over their congregations, and spending time in community service. Many ministers have side jobs in addition to pastoring in order to provide for their families. They sacrifice long, exhausting hours at the expense of their own comfort to carry on the work of God. Therefore, is it wrong that they should receive compensation for their time and effort?

1 Timothy 5:17-18: The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

1 Corinthians 9:14: In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Numbers 18:21-24: To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the service they perform in the meeting tent. The Israelites may no longer approach the meeting tent; else they will incur guilt deserving death. Only the Levites are to perform the service of the meeting tent, and they alone shall be held responsible; this is a perpetual ordinance for all your generations. The Levites, therefore, shall not have any heritage among the Israelites, for I have assigned to them as their heritage the tithes which the Israelites give as a contribution to the LORD. That is why I have ordered that they are not to have any heritage among the Israelites…(v. 31) Your families, as well as you, may eat them anywhere, since they are your recompense for service at the meeting tent.

LDS members are not the only ones who serve without pay! Most Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Bible study leaders, ushers, and a host of others in Christian ministry serve by volunteering their time and talent without compensation. The Mormon Church may brag about its “unpaid ministry,” but it is only the “rank and file members” who are not paid. LDS Institute teachers and directors get salaries. The General Authorities, LDS apostles, and the LDS Church president “receive a modest living allowance” (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2. [Macmillan, 1992], 508 and 510). Note that the Mormon prophet lives in a multi-million dollar home provided by the Church;

The $1.2 million condominium at 40 N. State that is home to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be exempt from property taxes, Salt Lake County commissioners ruled Tuesday. (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1988) Editor’s note: The property has substantially increased in value since 1988!

The Mormon Church employs public relations people, lawyers, secretaries, body guards…and by the way, why does the Mormon prophet need a body guard? Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and a host of other prophets of the Bible did not need body guards–God protected them until their time was up…but I digress.

Are there abuses by some so-called Christian ministries? Are there some “Televangelists” getting rich? Sadly, yes. We usually hear about the few that take money shamelessly or prey on the gullible. We rarely hear about the countless Christian pastors and ministers of the gospel who selflessly and tirelessly serve their congregations and their communities. They don’t make the headlines, but they exist in great numbers!

Why do LDS find it objectionable for Christian leaders to be compensated for full-time ministry, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with their own leaders receiving pay? Again, why a double standard?

In Conclusion

Mormons have been taught that there must be a single church that has central authority and power. The Bible does not teach this. Being a member of Christ’s true church is a matter of being “called out” from the world as individuals. Jesus becomes the head of the believer and all power and authority is given by Him directly. Remember, “Religion” is man’s attempt to reconcile himself to God. True salvation is God reconciling man through Jesus Christ alone.

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Is God a Mormon? What the Bible says about God’s nature by Mark Grote

The question of “Is God a Mormon,” just occured to me while I was writing this examination of the nature of God. I was wondering to myself how Mormons could get so far off about the nature of God. Just then, it occured to me that God would have to be a Mormon, and would certainly endorse Mormonism, if Mormons are to be considered correct. But are they?

This much we do know. As much as Mormons say they are set apart as the “true Church” they are actually like every other faith on the planet except Christianity. Some Mormons say they are Christians but miss the central concept of God’s nature, essence and most of all, the deity of Christ. That concept is that Jesus is God. As Mormons yammer on about being set apart, they are very much like everyone else in holding a view that Jesus is not the ultimate authority or the author of all things. So then, who is? How can you be set apart when you hold exactly the same view of Jesus as every other faith–that He is less than God?

Rather than argue with opinions, I thought I would try the novel concept of ‘study’ and see if scripture means anything to Mormons. Examining and drawing out what is in the bible and not trying to read into scripture but literally go to the word of God and see what it says about God.

So with that, to the question at hand…what is the nature of God? Who is He? Are Mormons correct that he is one of many Gods and the literal creator of Jesus or is He part of the trinity, a view that Mormons so adamently attack?

First of all, we have to come to a common understanding about what we mean by the “nature of God.” What I mean in this is quite literal. What is God? Who is God? Where is God? The Bible says that God has always existed (Gen. 1:1) for all eternity to all eternity, from everlasting past to everlasting future, forever and ever, from before time to after time, and who is without beginning and without end, (Psalm 41:13, 90:2, 102:25-27 and Romans 1:22-23). The word Eternal, means ( e = no, tern = time; no time). I have separate thoughts of Jesus as well, but for now will wait to disuss that even if He applies.

I believe it is sufficient to say that the God of classical Christian theism is at least (1) personal and incorporeal (without physical parts), (2) the Creator and Sustainer of everything else that exists, (3) omnipotent (all-powerful), (4) omniscient (all-knowing), (5) omnipresent (everywhere present), (6) immutable (unchanging) and eternal, and (7) necessary and the only God.

Let us now briefly look at each of these attributes.

1. Personal and Incorporeal. According to Christian theism, God is a personal being who has all the attributes that we may expect from a perfect person: self-consciousness, the ability to reason, know, love, communicate, and so forth. This is clearly how God is described in the Scriptures (e.g., Gen. 17:11; Exod. 3:14; Jer. 29:11).

God is also incorporeal. Unlike humans, God is not uniquely associated with one physical entity (i.e., a body). This is why the Bible refers to God as Spirit (John 4:24).

2. The Creator and Sustainer of Everything Else that Exists. In classical theism, all reality is contingent on God — that is, all reality has come into existence and continues to exist because of Him. Unlike a god who forms the universe out of preexistent matter, the God of classical theism created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Consequently, it is on God alone that everything in the universe depends for its existence (see Acts 17:25; Col. 1:16, 17; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 4:11).

3. Omnipotent. God is also said to be omnipotent or all-powerful. This should be understood to mean that God can do anything that is (1) logically possible or impossible (see below), and (2) consistent with being a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator.

Concerning the latter, these attributes are not limitations of God’s power, but perfections. They are attributes at their infinitely highest level, which are essential to God’s nature. For example, since God is perfect, He cannot sin; because He is personal, He is incapable of making Himself impersonal; because He is omniscient, He cannot forget. All this is supported by the Bible when its writers assert that God cannot sin (Mark 10:18; Heb. 6:18), cease to exist (Exod. 3:14; Mal. 3:6), or fail to know something (Job 28:24; Ps. 139:17-18; Isa. 46:10a). Since God is a perfect person, it is necessarily the case that He is incapable of acting in a less than perfect way — which would include sinning, ceasing to exist, and being ignorant.

Also counted among the things that are logically impossible for God to do or create are those imperfect acts mentioned above which a wholly perfect and immutable being cannot do — such as sin, lack omniscience, and/or cease to exist. Since God is a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator, it follows that any act inconsistent with these attributes would be necessarily (or logically) impossible for God to perform.

4. Omniscient. God is all-knowing, and His all-knowingness encompasses the past, present, and future. Concerning God’s unfathomable knowledge, the psalmist writes: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Ps. 139:17,18). Elsewhere he writes, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (147:5). The author of Job writes of God: “For he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:24). Scripture also teaches that God has total knowledge of the past (Isa. 41:22). Concerning the future, God says: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,'” (Isa. 46:10). Elsewhere Isaiah quotes God as saying that knowledge (not opinion or highly probable guesses) of the future is essential for deity (Isa. 41:21-24), something that distinguished God from the many false gods of Isaiah’s day.

5. Omnipresent. Logically following from God’s omniscience, incorporeality, omnipotence, and role as creator and sustainer of the universe is His omnipresence. Since Christians believe God is not limited by a temporal body, He knows everything immediately without benefit of sensory organs, and sustains the existence of all that exists, it follows that He is in some sense present everywhere. Certainly it is the Bible’s explicit teaching that God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:3-10, 1 Kings 8:27, Jer. 23:23-24, Acts 17:24-27, Matt 18:20)

6. Immutable and Eternal. When a Christian says that God is immutable and eternal, he or she is saying that God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; Isa. 46:10b) and has always existed as God throughout all eternity which is consistent with the following scriptural references (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 43:12b, 13; 57:15a; Rom. 1:20a; 1 Tim. 1:17). There never was a time when God was not God.

Although God certainly seems to change in response to how His creatures behave — such as in the case of the repenting Ninevites — His nature remains the same. No matter how the Ninevites would have responded to Jonah’s preaching, God’s unchanging righteousness would have remained the same: He is merciful to the repentant and punishes the unrepentant. Hence, a God who is responsive to His creatures is certainly consistent with, and seems to be entailed in, an unchanging nature that is necessarily personal.

7. Necessary and the ONE and Only True God. The Bible teaches that although humans at times worship some beings as if these beings really were gods (1 Cor. 8:4-6), there is only one true and living God by nature (Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 21, 22; Jer. 10:10; Gal. 4:8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9). And since the God of the Bible possesses all power (see above), there cannot be any other God, for this would mean that two beings possess all power. That, of course, is patently absurd, since if a being possesses all of everything (in this case, power) there is, by definition, nothing left for anyone else.

Moreover, since everything that exists depends on God, and God is unchanging and eternal, it follows that God cannot not exist. In other words, He is a necessary being, whereas without Him, everything else would not exist.

You may have noticed that I am not citing only single verses in any one of these sections. There is a pattern of several verses thoughout the bible that support my positions and I have provided 56 verses that speak to God’s nature and attributes. This is not a doctrine born out of single verse, nor am I asking you to read a symbolic phrase in the bible and come the same conclusion that I do. I am citing specific verses in specific contexts that say for instance, “God is spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). Now from where I come from, that’s truth. But it’s only one verse. What if we don’t have it right? Well, the Bible says that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that the Bible IS the Word of God. So, therefore, if we examine other scripture and find the it to be consistent with “God is spirit” we can probably put that one in the column for truth. I cannot understate this point: I went beyond that single verse and found other scriptures to support that verse’s context, that God is omnipresent, consistent with Him being “spirit.” I challenge you to do the same showing that “God is a God of flesh and bones, or God has a body.” I also challenge you to present a pattern where we see this theme woven throughout scripture, for it is my contention that Joseph Smith and Mormon leaders since his time, make doctrines out of a single verse or “read out” of scripture from a single verse what they want to see to support their doctrine. (see baptisms for the dead as one such example). I realize that I am placing a high standard on our process…but honestly speaking, does where we spend our eternity deserve anything less?

Finally my questions to you are this? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God was once a mere mortal man and that he was not always a God? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God is married. And finally, where in the bible and the Book of Mormon does it say that God has a body of flesh and bones as clearly as John 4:24 says, “God is spirit”? And yet, it is Christians who are supposed to be giving life to doctrines that are not in the bible? I don’t think so.

So far, I have never met a Mormon who can answers these questions without reading into scripture and/or taking it out of context. I also cannot seem to find Mormons presenting a pattern of scripture that supports their positions.

Nevertheless, I welcome the exchange anytime. If a Mormon can prove otherwise, using scripture, I will listen. Until that time, I’m sticking with the bible. All other so called “truths” are fraught with danger.

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Mormonism, Original Sin, and the ancient heresy of Pelagianism

Introduction


The Mormon denial of the traditional Christian doctrine of original sin is one of the more distinctive aspects of this group, who claim to be Christian, but whose denial of so many central Christian doctrines indicate that they as a group cannot be considered Christian. The traditional doctrine of Original Sin is held in common by all Christian denominations. The denial of this doctrine by the Mormons puts this group in a position which is contrary to Scripture, Tradition and unsupported by reality.

The Mormon denial of original sin is based on a few flimsy assumptions which will be discussed here and in a second paper.

First, however, this paper will look at the true teaching on Original Sin, continue with a discussion of some of the errors of the LDS position, and lastly examine a heresy of the early centuries, (Pelagianism) to show that the erroneous Mormon view on original sin has much in common with an old heresy.

A subsequent paper will refute the specific points of the LDS position.

What is Original Sin?
First, here is a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia article Original Sin :

 

“Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, as may be seen by St. Augustine’s statement: “the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin” (De nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43). It is the hereditary stain that is dealt with here. As to the sin of Adam we have not to examine the circumstances in which it was committed nor make the exegesis of the third chapter of Genesis.”

It is important to note that the common meaning of “original sin” is the second one given above, i.e. the stain or consequence of Adam’s sin for the rest of humanity. This is how the term will also be used in this paper. Admittedly, the term can be confusing since it does not refer to a personal sin we have committed, but rather to a state of deprivation due to the effect of Adam’s sin. However, once this is clear, then confusion can be avoided. Original sin is contracted by babies when they are conceived in the womb; it is not something committed by them. Hence it is not valid for Mormons to deny original sin by saying �how can a baby commit sin?� This is because original sin refers to a contracted loss of inheritance of grace, not a committed personal sin on the baby�s part.

Original sin refers to a lost inheritance. God gave Adam supernatural grace before the Fall when he lived in the Garden of Eden. Adam could eat from the tree of life, and so remain immortal. He was not allowed, however, to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Charge of Unfairness

The Mormons make a number of false assumptions about the story of the Fall of Adam.One such assumption is the idea that original sin means that God is unfair, punishing us all for something Adam did.

The reply to this is as follows. God bestowed on Adam all his natural faculties. Adam did not have any entitlement to supernatural grace, to immortality, to fellowship with God. It was only because God in His graciousness gave these to Adam that Adam had them at all. Adam did not have any natural right to them. This is a critical point. If my boss, who pays me every week, comes to me on Monday and says “here are some tickets to a show or the theatre for Friday night; take your family along.” But on Tuesday I get caught wasting time on the job. The boss then says “I’ll take those tickets back.” Now, is the boss being unfair to my family? Of course not. The relationship between me and my boss is broken and so I must pay the punishment. If my family suffer as a result, it is my fault, not the boss’s.

Similarly with original sin. Adam sinned, and by doing so broke the relationship between himself and God. It is Adam who is the cause of original sin in the rest of the human race. We have lost the inheritance of supernatural grace, but Adam is to blame for this loss, not God. So when we are born, we are without this supernatural grace which was our inheritance until Adam blew it. This is what original sin means: we are born without our inheritance.

The whole idea of the test was to see if man would freely submit himself to the will of God. And he failed.

‘The Fall was necessary’ argument.

Another flimsy assumption of Mormonism is to suggest that without the Fall Adam and the rest of the human race would be stuck forever in the garden of Eden, and never make it to heaven. Thus they say the Fall was necessary, and even worse, they claim that God willed the Fall. Mormons make the mistake of thinking man was not made in a state of holiness, but had to “progress” to holiness. On the contrary, man was created in a state of holiness, destined to be “divinized” in glory in heaven but his disobedience lost this inheritance.

As proof of this destiny to glory (with or without the Fall), Romans 8:29-30 reads:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (NIV)

God predestined us to glory, to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”. He did not predestine the Fall. He predestined us to be conformed to His Son in glory, with or without the Fall. The Fall made it necessary for the Son of God to become man.

God never predestined the Fall. God permitted the Fall; he did not require it; such an idea makes God to be the author of sin and suffering, which He is not. Mormonism here fails to distinguish between God’s permissive will, and God’s ordaining will. God permitted the Fall, He did not ordain that it must happen.

The Fall was entirely up to Adam’s free will, and he failed. Adam was deceived into thinking God was not being totally honest with him, in other words, that God did not really want what was best for Adam. Adam called God’s integrity into question, an act which led to his disobedience. If this is not sin, what is?

In the Catholic Encyclopedia article : Divine Providence we read how the Fathers of the Church treated of sin and its nature:

 

‘The question of Providence in the Fathers is almost invariably connected with the problem of evil. How can evil and suffering be compatible with the beneficent providence of an all-powerful God? And why especially should the just be allowed to suffer while the wicked are apparently prosperous and happy? Patristic solutions to these problems may be summed up under the following heads: ·

  • Sin is not ordained by the will of God, though it happens with His permission. It can be ascribed to Providence only as a secondary result (Origen, “Contra Celsum”, IV, lxviii in “P.G.”, XI, 1516-7; St. John Damascene, “De fid. orth.”, ii, 21 in “P.G.”, XCIV, 95 sq.).
  • Sin is due to the abuse of free will; an abuse which was certainly foreseen by God, but could have been prevented only by depriving man of his most noble attribute (Tertullian, “Adv. Marcion.”, II, v-vii in “P.L.”, II, 317-20; St. Cyril of Alexandria “In Julian.”, IX, xiii, 10, 11, 18 in “P.G.”, LXXIV, 120-1, 127-32; Theodoret, “De prov. orat.”, IX, vi in “P.G.”, LXXXIII, 662). ·
  • Had there been no sin, physical evil would have been inconsistent with the Divine goodness (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, LX, 98, 99); nor would God permit evil at all, unless He could draw good out of evil (St. Augustine, “Enchir.”, xi in “P.L.”, LX, 236; “Serm.”, ccxiv, 3 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 1067; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VI, xxxii, XVIII, xlvi in “P.L.”, LXXV, 747; LXXVI, 61-2). · · <[SFW Comment : This point proves that God could not have willed the Fall, and that Adam’s sin wa sindeed a sin, not merely a ‘transgression’, a distinction Mormonism tries to make; see later).]

All physical evil, therefore, is the consequence of sin, the inevitable result of the Fall (St. John Chrysostom, “Ad Stagir.”, I, ii in “P.G.”, LXVII, 428, 429; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VIII, li, lii in “P.L.”, LXXV, 833, 834), and regarded in this light is seen to be at once a medicine (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, XL, 98, 99; “Serm.”, xvii, 4, 5 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 126-8), a discipline (“Serm.”, xv, 4-9 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 118-21; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., V, xxxv; VII, xxix; XIV, xl in “P.L.”, LXXV, 698, 818, 1060), and an occasion of charity (St. Gregory the Great, VII, xxix)�.

(Note: Mormons may try to claim a distincion between ‘transgression’ and ‘sin’, saying that Adam transgressed , but did not sin. We shall see in the next paper that this is a false distinction.)

Summary of points so far

 

  • i) The traditional Christian doctrine of Original Sin is in no way ‘unfair’ as the supernatural graces of which man is deprived as its result, are graces to which he has no natural claim. God freely bestows graces,man does not earn a claim.
  • ii) The Fall was certainly not “necessary”. To maintain the Fall was necessary makes God out to be the author of sin, which He cannot be. It also means Adam did not really have free will, if God had intended him to eat the fruit. But we know Adam did have free will: God had told him to be obedient and Adam disobeyed. If Adam did not really have free will before the Fall, then it casts a question on God’s integrity. The truth is: Adam has free will before the Fall, and he freely chose to sin by disobeying God. But Mormonism denies free will in order to deny the reality of Adam’s sin, instead pretending it was merely a ‘transgression’.
  • iii) God predestined certain persons to eternal beatitude, with or without the Fall. Mormonism fails to explain Romans 8:29-30 which proves the predestination of the elect. Instead they try to claim the human race would be stuck in Eden for ever if it had not been for the Fall.

Next we shall have a look at the Effects of Original Sin. These are:

  • death and suffering (physical evils, not sin)
  • Concupiscence (baptism removes original sin, but not concupiscence, so concupiscence cannot be sin)
  • Absence of sanctifying grace. Since this is in the moral order, it can be called sin.

 

The following extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Original Sin: expands on the above points:

 

“St. Anselm: “the sin of Adam was one thing but the sin of children at their birth is quite another, the former was the cause, the latter is the effect” (De conceptu virginali, xxvi). In a child original sin is distinct from the fault of Adam, it is one of its effects. But which of these effects is it? We shall examine the several effects of Adam’s fault and reject those which cannot be original sin:

  • 1. Death and Suffering.– These are purely physical evils and cannot be called sin. Moreover St. Paul, and after him the councils, regarded death and original sin as two distinct things transmitted by Adam.
  • 2. Concupiscence.- This rebellion of the lower appetite transmitted to us by Adam is an occasion of sin and in that sense comes nearer to moral evil. However, the occasion of a fault is not necessarily a fault, and whilst original sin is effaced by baptism concupiscence still remains in the person baptized; therefore original sin and concupiscence cannot be one and the same thing, as was held by the early Protestants (see Council of Trent, Sess. V, can. v).
  • 3. The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us (loc. cit., can. ii). If he has lost it for us we were to have received it from him at our birth with the other prerogatives of our race. Therefore the absence of sanctifying grace in a child is a real privation, it is the want of something that should have been in him according to the Divine plan. If this favour is not merely something physical but is something in the moral order, if it is holiness, its privation may be called a sin. But sanctifying grace is holiness and is so called by the Council of Trent, because holiness consists in union with God, and grace unites us intimately with God. Moral goodness consists in this that our action is according to the moral law, but grace is a deification, as the Fathers say, a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality. Sanctifying grace therefore enters into the moral order, not as an act that passes but as a permanent tendency which exists even when the subject who possesses it does not act; it is a turning towards God, conversio ad Deum. Consequently the privation of this grace, even without any other act, would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God, aversio a Deo, and this character is not found in any other effect of the fault of Adam. This privation, therefore, is the hereditary stain.”

Note that the Fathers say ‘grace is a deification.. a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality’. It is grace which was to be the instrument of the ‘divinization’ of Adam and his descendants. Mormons do not understand grace or divinization and hence think the Fall was necessary to enable man to ‘progress’ to their idea of ‘divinization’. But the Fathers meant by ‘divinization’ a transformation in glory and not in any sense ‘becoming God’ or becoming ‘a god’. This is, again, a failure of Mormonism to understand the nature of supernatural grace as the agent which glorifies and leads to union with God.

Be sure to check out what the Catechism says about the Fall of Adam and original sin.
Final Section: The heresy of Pelagianism and its similarity to Mormon teaching on original sin

This final section is included as the ancient heresy of Pelagianism also denied Original Sin, and had some similarities with Mormonism’s teaching on this subject

In summary:

Pelagianism (extracted from Catholic Encyclopedia: Pelagius and Pelagianism )

 

  • 1. Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.
  • 2. Adam’s sin harmed only himself, not the human race.
  • 3. Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.
  • 4. The whole human race neither dies through Adam’s sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.

Pelagianism also taught that the Mosaic Law was as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.

The teachings of Pelagius changed somewhat.These can be summarized as follows: (again, this is an extract from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Pelagius and Pelagianism )

 

  • The first position which Pelagius held was that Adam would have died anyway, regardless if the Fall had happened or not, and his sin injured himself, not the whole human race. It was condemned at the Council of Carthage (see Romans 5:12 Adam transmits death with sin) 
  • Pelagian second position: parents transmit diesase to children, so parents transmit death. But they do not transmit sin. This was condemned at the Council of Orange, and again at Trent.This position is similar to the Mormon position. 
  • Pelagians then gave up equating sin with death so said Adam CAUSED sin in us, not, however, by hereditary transmission, but (they said), the sin of Adam in imitation of Adam. Again, condemned by Trent.

How Mormon doctrine resembles Pelagianism (with differences):

 

  • Similarities: Mormons, like Pelagians, say Adam’s sin hurt himself, but not others. Mormons go so far as to say Adam’s transgression was necessary in order to avoid being stuck forever in Eden. Mormons, like Pelagians, say that death, not sin, is transmitted from parent to child. Mormons, like Pelagians, cannot say how a loving God who is all good could introduce death and suffering into the world if Adam was not really guilty of sin. The traditional Christian view, of course, is that Adam did really sin and lost his inheritance for himself and his children. See also Wisdom 2:24 

    “But by the envy of the devil death came into the world”.

    Death came into the world, not by the will of God, to get people to “progress” but by the ‘envy of the devil’.

     

  • Differences: Mormons say Adam’s sin was a not a sin, but a transgression, which was necessary for ‘progression’. Pelagius said Adam would have died anyway; Mormons do not say this.

How Romans 5:12,18-19 opposes the three Pelagian positions:

  • Against position 1. The sin of Adam has introduced physical death. See also 1 Cor. 15:21, which refers to physical resurrection, so must refer to physical death. 
  • Against Position 2. Romans 5:19 says ‘all men were made sinners’ not ‘all men were made mortal’. So Pelagians cannot get away with speaking only of death.
    This serves also as a refutation of the Mormon position on original sin. 
  • Against Position 3. Adam transmits death to his children by generation of them mortal, so too he transmits sin to them, by generation (this is not to say Adam generates the soul). Paul says both death and sin come at the same time, from the same cause. Pelagians say (position 3) that the child sins later in imitation of Adam. But then Adam’s causality of sin would differ from his causality of death; also Romans 5:18,19 includes all men, not just those who knew of his bad example.

 

Summary of this page:

 

  • 1. The traditional Christian doctrine of original sin teaches that, as a result of Adam’s sin, man has lost his inheritance of supernatural grace, and has instead inherited death and suffering, concupiscence, and a state of sin. Without the aid of grace, provided by baptism, man cannot come into a right relationship with God. 
  • 2. Mormonism makes numerous false assumptions regarding the Fall: that original sin is an ‘unfair’ doctrine; that Adam did not sin, but merely ‘transgressed’; that Adam did not know right from wrong; that man would be stuck in Eden and never get to heaven without the Fall; that God willed the Fall. 
  • 3. Mormonism’s doctrine of the denial of Original Sin is a partial revival of Pelagianism.

The next paper will refute specific objections and alleged evidence for the Mormon doctrine in the early Church.
© Copyright Sean Hyland 2002

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A Refutation of the Mormon Doctrine of the “Eternal Mother”

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

 

The Mormon concept of a “heavenly mother” is refereed to in a hymn by church leader Eliza R. Snow, and remains an officially approved doctrine. One verse of the hymn entitled “Oh, My Father!” reads as follows:

“In the heavens are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason: truth eternal
tells me I’ve a mother there.”
Further on we find the words “Father, Mother, may I meet you / In your royal courts on high?”

The Mormon church, as we shall see, has taught the existence of an “eternal mother” from the earliest days. This doctrine is tied in with their beliefs that we all existed as “spirit children” in the spirit world with a heavenly “father” and “mother” beofre being sent to earth to take on a body. Apparently the “eternal mother” is not to be “worshipped”, being rather an “eternal mother” that a “goddess”but if she conceives spirit children (as we shall see later on, this is what Mormon doctrine teaches) then she is surely as much a “goddess” as the Mormon “father” is a “god”?

The “eternal mother” is not talked much about in the Mormon church these days. In fact, recently there was a scandal at Brigham Young University, when the governing body fired English Professor Gail Houston, for reportedly encouraging praying to the Mother in Heaven. The American Association of University Professors criticized the BYU for violations of academic freedoms. It would appear the Mormon church does not want to attract attention this teaching of their religion.

What did the early Mormon leaders teach?
 

 

Here is a sample of the teachings of early Mormon leaders:

Apostle Orson Pratt (1811-1881):

“As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones” (The Seer, p. 37).

Again, Pratt writes:

“The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited,” (The Seer, p. 37).

Second LDS President, Brigham Young (1801-1877) :

“God has made His children like Himself to stand erect, and has endowed them with intelligence and power and dominion over all His works, and given them the same attributes which He himself possesses. He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be.” (Journal of Discourses 11:122-123).

Brigham Young again:

“Brother Kimball quoted a saying of Joseph the Prophet, that he would not worship a God who had not a Father; and I do not know that he would if he had not a mother; the one would be as absurd as the other” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.286).

Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972):

“Some will gain celestial bodies with all the powers of exaltation and eternal increase” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:287).

Joseph Fielding Smith again:

“The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did exist there…. does not common sense tell us that we must have had a mother there also?” (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 3, p.142).

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie (1966):

Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state.

This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund … they said that “man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents …” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p.516).

So it is clear the early Mormon leaders taught in the preexistence of the soul in a “spirit world” where we were generated by a father and a mother and had to “wait” for a body to be available on earth. This doctrine of pre-existence is a basic element of Mormon belief, and hence the need for a mother ‘goddess’ to take part in the spirit ‘procreation’.

(Note: In forthcoming papers I will refute the idea of the pre-existence of the soul, upon which other falsehoods of Mormonism are based (such as the current topic, the idea of an “eternal mother” who conceives spirit-children in heaven, their denial of creation ex nihilo, and subsequent confusion over the nature of God, as well as their misunderstanding of the doctrine of Original Sin) but this current paper will confine itself to addressing the false doctrine of the ‘heavenly goddess’.)

So, is there actually any evidence whatsoever that there is a ‘mother goddess’ or even a ‘heavenly mother’ who bears spirit children?
 

 

Of course there isn’t. Not in the Bible, not even in the Mormons’ own Book of Mormon. And there are many Biblical references to prove there is only one God.

What does Barry Bickmore, the author of ‘Restoring the Ancient Church’ (FAIR, Inc, Ben Lomond, CA, 1999) say? Not very much, actually. He tries to build a case for ancient goddess worship by the Hebrews on page 339 of his book, by referring to Jeremiah 44, a passage which is actually about the TRUE God condemning the worship of the pagan goddess Ishtar!

What the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about the “eternal mother”
 

 

 

The references to the ‘queen of heaven’ in Jeremiah are not at all about a ‘mother goddess’ in heaven bearing ‘spirit children’ for earth. Even a cursory reading of chapters 7 and 44 of the Book of Jeremiah shows this idea to be totally wrong.

Here is a quote from Jeremiah 7:

“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7:18)

It is quite clear that these sacrifices to the pagan idol Ishtar (whose cult was introduced by the child-sacrificing king Manasseh) angered the TRUE GOD of ISRAEL. They certainly do not refer to some consort �mother goddess� who produces spirit children for earth. This passage refers to the worship of a PAGAN GODDESS! Similar references are found in Jeremiah 44: 25-27:

“Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, saying: Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.”

Again, this is a reference to the pagan goddess Ishtar, NOT to the consort wife of God in heaven. It is therefore quite clear that the idea of a ‘mother goddess’ who produces ‘spirit children’ is totally foreign to the Holy Scriptures.

Bickmore even suggests on page 339 of his book that ‘this could be another doctrine not likely to have been revealed in former dispensations.’ But isn’t this just another way of saying that there is absolutley no evidence of this teaching in early Christianity?

Where does this doctrine fit into Mormon theology?
 

 

 

But what is the point of having a doctrine of a ‘Mother goddess’ at all? The answer is: it is related to the idea of pre-existence. This belief of the Mormons state that we all existed in a spirit world, as spirit children of our heavenly ‘Father’ and ‘mother’ before we were conceived on earth. We waited (supposedly) in this spirit world until a body was ready for us on earth. The Mormon doctrines of eternal marriage and polygamy are also connected with this idea. (See my file on the Mormon errors of celestial marriage and polygamy). As noted earlier, Joseph Fielding Smith said

“Some will gain celestial bodies with all the powers of exaltation and eternal increase” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:287).

And so the generation of ‘spirit children’ will supposedly continue for eternity. (Yes, ths is what the Mormons teach. The missionaries may not tell you so quickly, though.)

Earlier in the same book, ‘Restoring the Ancient Church’, on page 331, Bickmore says ‘that the doctrine of eternal marriage is not explicitly taught in the New Testament’ (See my file on the Mormon error of celestial marriage) and on page 334 he concedes ‘no proof has been presented here that eternal marriage was the original Christian practice’.

Regarding the doctrine of polygamy, Bickmore on page 338 of his book admits ‘the evidence is far from conclusive’.

Yet these doctrines are taught by the Mormon church, and there is no evidence from Scripture or the early Church to support them.

Yet another difficulty in Mormonism
 

 

 

Consider the following quotes from Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt:

“We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born, and another being upon the earth by whom He begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as His Only Begotten in this world.”( Orson Pratt, The Seer page 172)

also

“We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord inherit their wives in eternity as well in time: and God the Father has already begotten many thousand millions of sons and daughters and sent them into this world to take tabernacles;…” (Orson Pratt, The Seer page 172)

Now, if Orson Pratt teaches that God the Father has a plurality of wives, then there must be a plurality of “heavenly mothers” in Mormonism. But here is an interesting problem for Mormonism (with thanks to my friend for this insight): if Joseph Smith is going to become a “God” and gets his own planet to populate, he certainly won’t be having Emma Smith as his wife (and future heavenly mother) as she apostasized with her children to the RLDS church. So Mormonism tells us that families will be together in eternity, however their very own “prophet” Joseph Smith won’t have that happen with him because Emma Smith and her children left, thus blowing their chance of being in the celestial kingdom with Joseph Smith.

Conclusion
 

 

 

It has been seen that the Mormon doctrine of the ‘heavenly mother’, whil not emphasised nowadays, has been a central teaching of Mormonism from the early days. The doctrien has no support from Scripture, from the history of the early Church or from the history of Israel, nor even from the Mormons’ own Book of Mormon. Yet it is a belief which continues to be believed to this day. And necessarily so, for it is a central component of the Mormon doctrine of ‘eternal progression to godhood’, and can hardly be denied without creating ever bigger problems for the Mormon religion.
Lasty we have seen that according to the early Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, God the Father had multiple wives!! So who is the “heavenly mother” supposed to be, if there are several of them? This is yet another enormous problem for Mormonism. Hardly wonder, then, that their missionaries dare not speak about the “heavenly mother”.

http://www.angelfire.com/ms/seanie/mormon/eternalmother.html

Sean’s Faith Website   Mormonism Index page =======================================

The concept of a MOTHER GOD is purely pagan as this video of the Babylonian account of creation shows. All pagan accounts of creation, like in Egypt or Samaria, speak of the creator as A FEMALE GOD.

 

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The video below is a short video testimony of Watchman Fellowship’s James K. Walker. James is a former fourth-generation Mormon. Visit us online at http://www.watchman.org for great resources on sharing the Real Jesus with Mormons and others deceived by cults and false teachers.

Basics of Mormonism: Falling Upward Timothy Oliver

In his book, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, (NWAF) one of Mormonism’s foremost modern apostles, Bruce R. McConkie, expends three chapters explaining the meaning of the Mormon church’s second Article of Faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” This Mormon Article of Faith presupposes sin and the fall of Adam. To properly understand it, or the third Article which follows it, requires an understanding of the Mormon concept of Adam’s fall. Says McConkie, “It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall” (NWAF, p. 82). 

Humanity’s Pre-Mortal Existence

To understand the Mormon concept of the Fall, however, requires still prior understanding of the Mormon concepts of a pre-mortal existence, and the purpose of this earth life. Mormonism teaches that mankind is of the same species as God. Our origin is supposed to have been as procreated children of God, born as spirits in some other realm. In this spirit world existence we progressed as far as was possible. But to become truly like our Heavenly Father we needed to obtain physical bodies. We also needed to learn the difference between good and evil, truth and error, and to love and choose the former over the latter. Since our Heavenly Father has progressed so far that He cannot allow evil into His presence, it was necessary for us to leave Him for some place where we could encounter and overcome evil ourselves. 

 

Earth Life A Test

So, this world was prepared as a school, where we have been sent to obtain physical bodies and to learn the lessons of mortality. In his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, (MF), Mormon church President and Prophet Spencer W. Kimball described our mission for this life. “We would be expected to gain knowledge, educate ourselves, train ourselves. We were to control our urges and desires, master and control our passions, and overcome our weaknesses, small and large. We were to eliminate sins of omission and of commission, and to follow the laws and commandments given us by our Father” (p. 5; emphasis added).

This is in accord with Mormon scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, (PGP). While laying their plans for our earth life, the Gods are supposed to have said, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” (PGP, Abraham 3:25; emphasis added).

 

Conflicting Commandments

Of course for this whole plan to work, physical bodies had to be prepared in which Heavenly Father’s spirit children could dwell. Thus, the first commandment on record is the commandment to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. Mormonism teaches this was a greater and more important commandment than the commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 64-5).

 
In fact, according to Mormon doctrine, the two commandments stood in opposition to each other (McConkie, NWAF, p. 91). Notwithstanding the great importance of procreation to the purpose of earth life, when God made Adam and Eve, He supposedly made them in a condition where they could not procreate. “There was as yet neither procreation nor death. These would enter the scheme of things only after the fall” (Ibid., p. 84). Adam and Eve had to break the lesser commandment, and incur the Fall, in order to fulfill the greater commandment (Ibid., p. 91). 

According to Mormon scripture, Eve is supposed to have exclaimed, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (PGP, Moses 5:11). 

The Book of Mormon (BM) says the same: “…if Adam had not transgressed…. they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin….Adam fell that men might be;” (BM, 2 Nephi 2:22-23).

 

A Fall in the Right Direction?

From the foregoing one can see how important it was for man to “fall” – why, in Mormonism, “the Fall” is seen as a good thing, a great blessing. This has led some Mormon leaders to say things which may sound a little odd or even bizarre to Christians familiar with the Bible. 

For example: Under the heading, “‘TRANSGRESSION’ NOT ‘SIN’ OF ADAM,” Mormon apostle and prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. wrote, “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin” (Doctrines of Salvation, (DS), vol. 1, p. 114). Again, “This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin in the strict sense, for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” (Ibid., p. 115). “The ‘fall’ of Adam and Eve was not a sin but an essential act upon which mortality depends” (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, p. 15). 

Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “We do not know how the fall was accomplished…” (NWAF, p. 85; emphasis added). He goes so far as to cast the Fall in terms of obedience rather than transgression: “After they had thus complied with whatever the law was that brought mortality into being,…” and “He [Adam] chose the Lord’s way;” (Ibid., pp. 86, 91; emphasis added). Assistant to the Twelve Apostles Sterling W. Sill spoke of Adam’s fall: “Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction. He fell toward the goal…. Adam fell, but he fell upward” (Deseret News, Church Section, 31 July 1965, p. 7). 

Since the mortal condition was essential to the Mormon plan of salvation, the act which introduced mortality of necessity becomes a great blessing. “We can hardly look upon anything resulting in such benefits as being a sin, in the sense in which we consider sin” (Smith, DS, vol. 1, p. 115). “Properly understood, it becomes apparent that the fall of Adam is one of the greatest blessings ever given of God to mankind” (McConkie, NWAF, p. 87).

Mormonism says we will not be punished for Adam’s transgression because all mankind will be redeemed from the effects of the “Fall.” That is, the consequences of Adam’s action – physical, or temporal death, and spiritual death – are both overcome through the Atonement of Christ (Ensign, January, 1990, pp. 25-6). “Temporal death is the natural death; it occurs when body and spirit separate, thus leaving the body to return to the dust whence it came. Spiritual death is to be cast out of the presence of the Lord and to die as pertaining to the things of righteousness” (McConkie, NWAF, pp. 86-7). Since it was not our fault that either of these were introduced, they will both be removed by God’s free grace. All mankind will be resurrected with immortal physical bodies, and all will be brought back into the presence of God, for judgment (BM, 2 Nephi 2:10). Those who are subsequently cast out are ejected for their own unrepented sin (BM, 2 Nephi 9:38, 45-6).

 

Questions for Mormons

With all the above as background, it is easy to see why Mormonism’s second Article of Faith says mankind will not be punished for Adam’s transgression. One wonders, in fact, why Adam was ever punished for it himself – why he and his descendants were ever placed under a curse in the first place.

If death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), and Adam’s and Eve’s action was not actually sin, then why did it introduce death into the world (Romans 5:12)? Indeed, how did it introduce sin into the world (Romans 5:12)? Just how and why were the “wonderful blessing” of mortality and a sinful world introduced, if it was not actually sin they committed? 

And if this was such a blessing, then when they heard God walking in the Garden, why did they not go running to Him clapping their hands, breathless with excitement over fulfilling His plan, acquiring new knowledge, and initiating mortality? “Oh, Father! We have complied with Your greater commandment and are ready for procreation. Now the rest of Your children, our brothers and sisters, will have opportunity to enjoy the same wonderful benefits as us!” 

Why, instead, did they suddenly feel guilty and afraid, and try to hide from God? Previous to that time they had no more idea of guilt than they did of right and wrong, so it could not have been a false, self-imposed guilt. It had to have been consciousness of the actual guilt of doing wrong. If their action was not sin, how did they acquire their sudden awareness of right and wrong (Genesis 3:7, 22)? Why did they seek to put blame on others and excuse themselves for their action if it was no sin? 

In another vein, if the original (non)-sin of Adam and Eve brought both physical and spiritual death, why is it that our own sins, if unrepented of, incur only spiritual and not also physical death for eternity? Adam knew no evil prior to sinning, knew no real difference between right and wrong. But of all men after Adam, the Book of Mormon says they “are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil” (2 Nephi 2:5). On the principle of “where much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:47-8), our personal sins being committed with a knowledge of right and wrong would seem to be more serious than Adam’s first transgression. Yet they incur a lesser penalty in eternity than Adam’s (non)-sin. Why? 

Last, but not least, remember that Adam and Eve were to eliminate sins of omission as well as commission (MF, p. 5). If the two commandments, one to multiply and fill the earth, and the other not to eat of the forbidden fruit, were in opposition so that they could not both be obeyed at the same time, and if the former was a greater commandment than the latter, then why were they not counted transgressors before eating the forbidden fruit, for failing to multiply? Why did that not incur the Fall? Indeed, why were they counted transgressors for breaking the lesser of the two commandments when, up to that time, they were failing to live up to the greater of the two, and had not even taken the first, most elemental step toward compliance? 

As noted earlier, Mr. McConkie wrote, “It is not possible to believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, in the true and full sense required to gain salvation, without at the same time believing and accepting the true doctrine of the fall” (NWAF, p. 82). If that is the case, Mormonism certainly owes the world coherent answers to these questions raised by its doctrines. Without such answers, their doctrine of the “fall” is, quite simply, utterly unbelievable. 

Individual Mormons ought to be held accountable to their Church’s doctrine, by constantly encountering such questions, lovingly but relentlessly posed by their Christian friends. Christians should let their Mormon friends know that if they expect to carry their “gospel” to us in a believable way so we can “gain salvation,” then they must answer these questions. Christians should express profound surprise, even shock, to their Mormon friends, that they would believe in such things, or in a church – or in a spirit which teaches such things. Such a spirit cannot be the Holy Spirit. Such a church cannot be the Church of Jesus Christ. 

http://www.watchman.org/lds/falling.htm

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