Indecent Exposure (Part 3 of 4)

For mature audiences only

At the end of part 2 of our series we discussed the Mormon connection/similarity that is implied by Mormon intellectuals between the Mormon god and a pagan Egyptian god in Facsimile No.2, Figure 7.  Since Joseph Smith took it upon himself to draw in the missing parts incorrectly, it is up to the Mormon apologists to come up with something—even if it’s laughable to non-Mormon Egyptologists and blasphemous to true Christian believers. Why would Joseph Smith do this? Why would he put the head of a dove on a human male’s body that has the tail of a hawk with an erect penis and call that God?

Joseph Smith didn’t know what he was doing. He was wingin’ it. He made it up as he went along. Joseph Smith had become a master of taking advantage of people. He got whatever he wanted because the people believed he was a prophet. They paid $2,400 for the mummies and the parchments all on the word of Joseph Smith. And who was there to refute him? Who at the time in that area or all of America for that matter knew anything about Egyptian writings? Joseph Smith could say whatever he wanted about any of this and the people would believe it. It’s really amazing and very cunning—not to mention sinister—how people were duped and taken advantage of in so many ways.

Joseph Smith’s scam went without serious challenge at time. But now with the evidence and the “jury” in, the verdict is clear: Joseph Smith was a fraud and wasn’t even close in any of his renditions in the facsimiles. He was no prophet of God, but a false prophet. He received no divine revelation in any of this. God doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t get it wrong. When a true prophet speaks or writes anything that is coming from God it will be truth (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).

Should we look the other way and now apply Moroni 10:3-5 to the Book of Abraham? An LDS Church manual essentially says, “yes”:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith never communicated his method of translating these records. As with all other scriptures, a testimony of the truthfulness of these writings is primarily a matter of faith. The greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its contents and power.” (The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual – Religion 327, 2000, p. 28)

Isaiah saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne” (Isaiah 6:1), “and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Take your pick of pagan Egyptian gods. None of them are anything near what Isaiah had envisioned. God makes it very clear in referencing the pagan gods of Egypt that “the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence” (Isaiah 19:1). These gods will be burned in fire (Jeremiah 43:12). God gets very angry and His wrath will be poured out on these gods (Jeremiah 44:8). The punishment is going to be very severe for the people who worship these false gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25). People that recognize these false gods as their real god are an abomination in the real God’s sight and God is going to pour out his fury on them (Ezekiel 20:7-8). This is exactly what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 8:5 where he mentions “gods many and lords many”. That’s right – idols. This is the context of this passage as stated in 1 Corinthians 8:4. For Christians, there is only one true God – one God by nature (Galatians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 8:6). These false gods will perish (Jeremiah 10:10-11). They are “dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2). God asks in Isaiah 40:25, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him?”

What is so puzzling and ironic to me is that in the very book that these facsimiles are displayed in (The Book of Abraham) these Egyptian false gods are condemned as well. See Abraham 1:6, 9, 13, 20; 2:13. They are “dumb idols” (Abraham 1:7) and are “strange gods” (Abraham 1:8).

Ever since Egyptologists have deciphered the parchments that Joseph Smith purchased from Michael Chandler, the Mormon Church has been doing “damage control”. The silence of LDS Church authorities on the issue, which encourages BYU professors to do the explaining, is amazing. Joseph Smith must be defended at all costs. They know what is on the line:

“CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS WITH JOSEPH SMITH. Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an imposter cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards and measurement, the scriptures.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th LDS President, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p. 188).

In our final part we will examine what is at stake if the Mormon Church doesn’t reject the use of Egyptian paganism. I will also offer some solutions for getting out of this predicament.

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97 Responses to Indecent Exposure (Part 3 of 4)

  1. charleshickjnr wrote ” I was only trying to make the point that so much of what many Christian churches teach is not based in the words of Jesus or even in scripture at all.”

    Charles,

    Thanks for your response.

    You’ve experienced polemic and rhetoric, so I’ll try not to contend with you on that basis. I’ll even agree with you that so much wrangling comes over as “I’m right and you’re wrong”, and “thus spake the Lord”. The problem, as you imply, is a lack of humility, and no dialog.

    Speaking from an Ev perspective, one criticism of my own “side” is that we show precious little capacity to change, and yet we demand so much change from others. I’m not saying that Evs get everything wrong (I’m not implying you did either), but where is our demonstrated, public humility when we find that we do get some things wrong? Surely others will find it easier to repent, when they see repentance practiced by those who are telling them to repent?

    I fully acknowledge your earlier statement that some, not all, of Christianity isn’t related to its founder. Many of our pre-suppositions have been inherited from our mother cultures, but this is exactly where we need to challenge ourselves to “audit” what we believe and why we believe it.

    This brings us to the heart of the conflict between Mormonism and Christianity, namely; what do we audit our faith against? Indeed, is there a reliable “rule” against which we assess everything else?

    Now, you can decide whether this “rule” should be the Bible, or not. My major criticism of Mormonism is that it states that it is, but it’s not.

    I’m guessing that you still hold the Bible with some respect, so you may still be inclined to use it as your “rule”. I suggest you read it with “fresh eyes” and let it lead you in your understanding of who God is, without interference from your mother culture or the LDS baggage that’s given you such a hard time.

    Maybe you’ll find, as I did, that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh.

  2. Enki says:

    To LDS faithful,
    I am curious, isn’t against the rules to associate with excommunicated members, apostates, and critics of the church? I do believe that is one of the questions in the temple interview. So, why do any of you come here?

    “7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    http://www.lds-mormon.com/new_temple_questions.shtml

    Thats interesting, they expanded that question to include critics of the LDS faith who have never been mormon. I think in the past it only addressed apostates. Its not altogether unreasonable to have distance from anyone who might persistantly antigonize you, for the sake of avoiding unpleasant conflicts.

    However, it seems like its also meant to protect the member from any real or meaningful contact with other faiths, even if its not negative. Could this mean never attending any other religious service, even if its not specifically an LDS service? No other religious body has all of the exact formulated doctrines or practices of the LDS church, and in fact any other religious body may have many points of doctrine which are contrary to LDS teachings.

  3. Enki says:

    Oops my error,

    Could this mean never attending any other religious service, even its its not specifically addressing the LDS church or its teachings? Thats what I meant.

    Boy that is just too weird, LDS church members don’t like to hear the word ‘cult’, but that question really comes very, very close to the definition.

    Question to bible literalists: What do you think? Would you be open to attend religious services of any organization which has teachings contrary to your understanding? What about affliating with people who do not share your point of view?

  4. setfree says:

    Enki,
    We can, and we do.
    We’re not afraid of truth. We love the truth. And affiliating with people who don’t share our point of view? Everyday, all day :)
    I can’t speak for everyone (obviously) but I’ll let them disagree with me if they want.

  5. Michael P says:

    No, I agree with what setfree wrote. Absolutely allowed to attend services of other faiths, and should be encouraged. Affiliating with people who do not share our point of view gets the same response– yes!

  6. setfree says:

    Charles,
    One thing that I love about the Bible is the Love and worship issue.

    The whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s Love for us, which is truly, one and the same.

    The only one who wants our esteem/love/worship in the Bible is God/Jesus.

    The only one who deserves our esteem/love/worship in the Bible is God/Jesus.

    Why? Because He first loved us, in such a way that He was willing to take all that binds us upon Himself, be brutally beaten and horribly killed, so that we could be truly free, now and in the next life.

    The Bible is a love story between the only One who can help us, and us.

    The Forgiveness and Salvation that God provided in Jesus IS what we all need to get us out of the messes we create, and onto the road that our Creator meant for us. The road that He meant for us is filled with all the things we truly desire, and probably don’t even know we want, until we are there.

    The (true) Gospel is the most hopeful message in all the world.

    I, too, hope you release the old, and look again at the Bible.

  7. bfwjr says:

    Falcon seems consistently blown away by Mormon defenses of their beliefs. It’s the same thing a shrink sees when talking with psychotics. Rational arguments mean nothing to someone who is irrational.A little frame of reference: I went to see a Jewish Rabi speak years ago in SLC and he was able to sum it all up despite having only brief associations with Mormons. He said “Mormons remind me of Orthodox Rabbis, if God himself sat down with them and said No, It’s not that way it’s this way, they would try to correct him.” Living among the flock, I know that by virtue of Christians even engaging in these discussions with them, only validates their cheese-ball beliefs.
    You are taught from childhood that anyone who speaks against Mormonism are indeed Satan’s minions, and therefore “blind” to “The Truth”. Your beating your head against the wall. I’ve done that most of my life, at least learn to have fun with it. Falcons observation on Stepford wives, and automatons was spot on. I keep trying to tell my extremely large devout Mormon family: it’s “of one mind” not one personality. I get the same response from all of them- the 10,000 yard stare. Love and mercy to all

  8. Ralph says:

    Enki,

    I have often questioned that question when in interviews and have always told the interviewer about my associations. For example when at uni I was meeting with the student Christian movement as I have quite a few friend within the group. They all knew I was LDS and they all were friendly with me. However, I never paid the entry fee – which is ‘supporting’ the group. I have also told my Stake Pres and Bishop (both are my brothers-in-law) about my actions on this site. The explanation I always get about this question is the actual support of those groups – ie monetary support, or going into bat for their incorrect cause. It has nothing to do with answering questions or trying to right wrongs as we LDS do on this site. I never recommend this site to other LDS nor give it support in that type of means. Nor do I buy things from MRM or other LDS critic sites. So that’s all it is about – the validation of the groups’ claims or the support of that group. It would be like the Vatican buying shares in a condom factory. Or the LDS buying into a cigarette company (although I have heard rumours about this one being true).

    I have been to other churchs’ services, even when I was on my mission. I associate with Christian groups and people, etc. I just do not support thier causes unless it is something that is not against the LDS teachings, like homosexual marriages, etc.

  9. Thanks everyone for your responses to my comments!

    Before I respond to all of you, I just want to say that I am not interested in having the classic “Atheist vs. Christian” debate here. If any of you have for some reason never had that debate, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]… But I’m assuming that everyone hear has had that conversation before and knows how it goes. The main general point I want to get across is that all of your beliefs are a matter of faith. I’m sorry, but if you really accept Christianity because of archaeology, or the accuracy of the Bible’s description of mankind, you’re kidding yourselves. There is a leap of faith that every religious person must take. You can’t just “know” this stuff, and if you think you can, you need to look up the word “know” in the dictionary.

    Anyway…

    Mobaby – Like I said, it’s all about faith. I really don’t see how archaeological findings can prove supernatural truths.

    Michael P – Obviously Jesus taught about himself, his father, and the Holy Spirit. I was referring to the dogma of the Trinity which states that these three individual entities (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) are one being… And I was only using that as an example of a doctrine not taught by Jesus but believed by many Christians. Also, the fact that the Bible was right about geography is meaningless. Anyone could tell a story that is completely false but references true locations correctly.

    Martin_From_Brisbane – Perhaps I will read the Bible again. I’ve read it before. Maybe it will be different this time.

    Enki – Just curious… If this blog isn’t intended for Mormons to read it, then what the hell is it for? I like reading Mormon Coffee, and I wish some of my friends who are still stuck in the LDS Church would read it!! If this blog is not for Mormon eyes, is it really just a bunch of prideful Christians reveling in their greatness at not being stupid enough to fall for Mormonism? This blog is worthless unless it…

  10. …helps Mormons see the light and leave the LDS Church behind.

    Setfree – What Bible are you talking about? The Bible is a love story? Wow, I must not have read the King James Version properly then. I could have sworn that the entire Old Testament had nothing to do with love. I remember that one verse where God tells his chosen people to kill tens of thousands of people and spare no one… Except, God, in his loving mercy, said that they could save the virgins for themselves. Yeah, what a great God who loves all of his children equally. The New Testament is more the love story, not the whole Bible. And even the New Testament gets a little sketchy. The God of the Old Testament, in all of his anger and wrath, never did say that anyone would suffer endless torment after they die. Only until Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the concept of eternal hell introduced. What a loving God, who sends anyone that chose the wrong religion to suffer for eternity.

    I think you have to really ignore a lot of the Bible to think that it is a story about love.

    One other thing… I suspect that nobody on this blog is taking me seriously because I used to be Mormon. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I was born and raised in that religion, and as you have all so kindly pointed out, the LDS Church does exercise a fair amount of control over its members. Yes, I have served an LDS mission. Yes, I have done everything there is to do in the temple. I am so glad I left the Mormons behind! The LDS Church is a complete fabrication. I don’t think I should be viewed as an irrational person without an opinion that matters, just because of my past involvement with Mormonism.

  11. One more thing and I’ll shut up…

    If anybody that I’ve been talking to on here is interested in hearing about my “de-conversion” from Mormonism, feel free to check out an old blog post I wrote about it:

    http://charlesbronsonhicks.blogspot.com/2009/07/gigantic.html

  12. liv4jc says:

    OlsenJim, when did I ever claim that we had the original writings of any Biblical author? Am I not writing in English? I readily admit that we have copies of copies of copies, but with the vast amount of manuscript evidence that we have from very early dates, we can accurately ascertain what the original authors wrote. It is you and your LDS friends who are reduced to making the same arguments atheists make when you consistently cry, “We can’t trust the Bible because we don’t have the original writings. The Bible has been corrupted with Platonic philosophy and Hellenistic thought.” Just like the Jehovahs Witnesses you claim the Bible is not accurate whenever it contradicts your church’s beliefs. Allegiance to your church is more important to you than actually reading the Bible and learning how it was transmitted. It should be obvious to everyone who reads MC that I am very familiar with textual criticism.

    In regards to changes in the BoM: Those changes are not equal to changes in the Biblical manuscripts as you claim. The BoM that we possess is not a manuscript. It is a translation from a single manuscript that only one man was allowed to translate. The changes and corrections to the BoM text are exactly the same as me making changes to my NKJV or NASB bible without consulting the compiled Biblical manuscripts. When those changes were made the original plates had already beeen spirited away to heaven never to be seen again.

    As for Jesus and the Apostles needing textual evidence, they quoted from the scriptures as if they were true and had not been corrupted. In fact, the Apostle Paul quotes from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. When we read the Hebrew OT today we find the same passages Jesus quoted virtually undisturbed, and the same is true of the Septuagint that Paul quotes from. We certainly believe that Jesus spoke nothing but truth and he quotes scripture, and as an Apostle we believe Paul was inspired by the HolySpirit

  13. falcon says:

    charleshicksjr,
    I read your blog. I enjoyed it very much. You indicated that you are twenty-two years old. I remember twenty-two. I was thinking the other day I’d like to be that age again from the neck down; of course not wanting to give up what life has taught me in the intervening years and still have my youthful body. All the working-out I do can’t seem to bring it back!
    Not to turn this thread into a discussion on grace and works, but when James talks about works in his epistle what he’s saying is that what we do reflects what we believe. The works confirm what we believe. It’s the process of sanctification. For example, when I came to Christ in faith there were a lot of things in my behavior that just changed. I didn’t even really work at it. I was spiritually a new person and my behavior reflected an inner change and reality. So if someone “says” he has faith, that faith is dead a part from works. People get messed-up when they get into legalistic works based religious systems.
    What interests me is how you took a long hard look at Mormonism and said, “Forget it.” I’m always curious about that with Mormons who leave. For example, Andy has presented a four part article here that proves the BoA is totally bogus. Why do those like you get it, and others don’t. I’ve heard that 50% of returning Mormon missionaries go inactive. Why is that? There are more inactive and exMormons than Mormons. What’s up with that?
    I hope you stick around MC and continue to share your thoughts. I don’t get all that upset about folks who are nonbelievers or unafiliated with a religious group. I find it rather stimulating.

  14. mobaby says:

    Charleshicksjr,
    Thanks for sharing. I read your blog story about coming out of the Mormon Church.

    Yes it is all about faith in a way. But the essential part of the equation is what your faith in. The stories of Joseph Smith do not warrant faith – there is no foundation. I find sufficient foundation in the historicity of the gospel to place my faith in the crucified Lord Jesus Christ, given as COMPLETE payment for my sins.

  15. mobaby says:

    (con’t)

    I come from a Christian church that emphasizes the cohesive whole of the entire Bible. I would encorage you to read the Bible, all of it. There are reading plans available online that incorporate a reading from the OT, NT, Psalms, and Proverbs every day. To my shame, I did not really read the Bible as a Christian until I came to a crisis point in my own life. I became a Christian in college, did all the outwardly Christian things, but never really studied scripture or sought true understanding. In the past few years I have come to understand the thread of blood atonement that runs throughout the OT and NT, that indeed the sacrificial system that God established was ACTUALLY fulfilled in Christ and this is not just something we say. Holy communion is where we partake of the sacrifice given for our sins, which covers all of our sins – it is the ultimate culmination of the sacrifices given and consumed in the OT. We are consuming the sacrifice – the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine. I am not making a fine point about the importance of communion, but rather I want to explain the continuity of the OT and NT – how all the books of the Bible talk about Jesus either as the coming messiah, or as the realized fulfillment in his death on the cross and resurrection. God deals with sinful man the same way He always has – with his law to convict of sin, and by his mercy and grace giving forgiveness and salvation by faith. God loves us so much He gave Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. I do not see a contradiction in the Testaments of the Bible, very much the contrary – I see an amazing unity.

  16. Michael P says:

    Charles, I too read your blog entry. Religion is a tough thing, and I won’t sugar coat that. It is tough because it does come down to faith, and faith is hard to prove. I actually did say despite the tangible things we can look to suggesing a faith is true, it ultimately comes down to faith. I have no problem with that because it is true.

    All of the other things I said simply speak to making it believable. But before you think this comment is an excuse to believe, think about what those words mean: make it believable. Could it be a ruse that people use to justify faith? Yes, it could be a ruse. But at the same time, it may well be that the because these things are true, the spirtual truths are equally true.

    I like to give alternate translations, so here it goes with this: if the history of the Bible were not true, then why would we believe it is true spiritually? We wouldn’t. But since it is, the spiritual messages can remain true, too. Yet, even so, is accuracy in all tangible forms necessary to speak spiritual truth? I think so. Doesn’t make it so, but it makes the case stronger, right?

    A final thought, Jesus did not talk about a doctrine called the Trinity. But why would he? He spoke of himself as the same as God, though, so you have to explain why he did this, right? The Trinity is the word developed to explain why this message is shown in the Bible, and yes, it was codified later. But, that does not mean that the truth of it is not true.

    Think of that this way: The Founding Fathers were not known as such until some time after this nation was founded. Does that mean they aren’t really founders?

  17. bfwjr says:

    charleshicksjr what kind of shunning have you received? (Mormons like to pretend they don’t do this) Your still young enough I’m sure the members/your family haven’t completely given up on you…yet. This is when the do do hits the fan. If you still have any doubts about leaving, this will help clear them up. You will find out just how conditional love can be. I agree with the essence of the Manson quote on your blog.

  18. falcon says:

    the falcon figured that since our discussion here is really regarding the veracity of Joseph Smith’s claims, that we should put in a word that the Catholic Church is really the one true faith. I have real evidence here with both Bernadette of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. Our Mormon friends appear to be pretty well sold on Joseph Smith’s mystical appearances of angels, and John the Baptist and a couple of apostles not to mention the ever changing first vision story. So I thought I’d throw this into the mix. Please take the time to “click”.

    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/apparitions/pr00011.htm

    http://www.catholicpilgrims.com/lourdes/ba_bernadette_intro.htm

  19. liv4jc says:

    charleshicksjr, I also read your blog and was impressed with your reasoning and the way you articulated your problems with Mormonism and all religion. I would love to continue a conversation with you, but since I know there are other seeking readers of this blog I will make a few points. They are off-topic, but if we don’t preach the gospel then we are disobeying the commands of our Lord.

    I come from a cult background also. I was raised until age 8 as a Jehovah’s Witness. I loved Jehovah and God’s Organization. My father was an Elder, but much like you he realized the Watchtower Society was hiding too much so he left. That destroyed relations with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My life without religious order was a downhill slide from there. I spent my teenage and young adult years doing everything a young man wants to do, but shouldn’t. I was a hater of God, and a mocker of Christians who made the same claims you do about the Bible and religion. I was a militant agnostic. But I had never studied any of it. It was my belief. I had a wife who was a professing Christian, but was a false-convert. A Christian never would have married me. After my daughter was born I understood love for the first time and it softened me. I was given a few Christian fiction novels and my views on Christ began to change, although I was still a heavy drinker, curser, pornographer, luster, etc. I can’t really even put my finger on an exact date, but over time I began to understand (maybe because of the miracle of children, or because I have an investigative mind) that there was a God. Nature and creation screams that there is a creator. Without any coaching (I had no Christian witnesses in my life) I suddenly understood that all men hold to a basic morality. We know that lying, rape, murder, adlultery, etc. is wrong. That understanding turns Darwinism on its head. I was in big trouble with God, and I knew it. I didn’t know hardly anything about Jesus…

  20. liv4jc says:

    …but suddenly it was like a light bulb was turned on in my head. I began to read the Bible little by little, but it was unclear to me. It was confusing, but I knew if I didn’t want to stand before God that I needed to give my life to Jesus. That’s as far as my theology went. I had no proof of the accuracy of scripture, but my newfound morality told me that it contained truth. I remember lying on my bed looking at the ceiling, wanting to pray for forgiveness of my sins. I realized that everything I had done in life that was “good” was based upon selfishness for humand koodos. I’m a cop, so I know all about pride and “good deeds”. It was like standing at the edge of an ice cold pool and counting, “One, two, three, jump!” But I just couldn’t do it. I loved my sin. I loved myself. I was in agony. I knew that if I confessed Christ that I would be changed forever and I was fighting that change with all of my willpower. I wanted to love God, but I was too in love with my selfishness. I remember closing my eyes and letting go and just saying, “I give you my life. Forgive me.” That was it. No mystical warm feeling, no tears, no bright lights, no feeling of change. I just surrendered my life to Christ. I lay there for a while and was like, “Well, it’s done. Now what?”…

  21. Michael P says:

    Falcon, I read the account of Saint Bernadette. Fascinating stuff, and very interesting comparisons…

  22. setfree says:

    Liv4JC,
    Thanks for that; it was terrific :)
    I really appreciate you sharing your story.

  23. liv4jc says:

    …There was no big change in my life, other than I softened. I think I was so hardened by my life and line of work that Christ slowly worked on me. I began to talk about Jesus to friends, but I had no real knowledge other than, “You need Jesus. The Bible is true. You should read it.” As time went on I read my Bible more myself and it suddenly made sense, even though I mis-interpreted many of the verses. It’s been over 8 years since my conversion and I can tell you that I have prayed for change in my life and God has delivered. I’m no longer a drunk. I hate pornography. Much of my anger is gone. But these are subjective feelings and a Mormon or a Catholic, or a Muslim, or a Buddhist can say the same things.
    The bottom line is: Is there a God? Yes. The intricate nature of creation screams creator. Is there a basic moral constant throughout the world? Yes. Where does that morality come from? Our creator, God. If God is all-powerful and moral (the embodiment of good) would he communicate with us about who He is and what His standards are? Yes, and He has, in the Bible alone. Do most religions teach a day of judgment? Yes, because somehow man knows he will be held accountable. The Bible teaches this. When you and your lies, your theft, your lust, your anger, etc. are presented before God, how will He judge you? Remember, He is impartial, and good deeds do not cover crimes even in a human court. Yes, He is merciful, but also just. You will be found guilty. All religions teach this, but every other faith teaches personal works for payment for sin. Only Christianity (in the Bible alone) teaches that faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross covers those sins completely…forever. Salvation is always spoken of as a reality, not a possibility. This is the good news. Jesus Christ paid for your sins and mine. Conversion is a supernatural process. Read. Learn. Listen. And Christ will give you grace to believe and cover your debt.

  24. falcon says:

    liv4jc,
    Loved your “testimony”. The “sin” part really came pounding out…..and I mean pounding out. The other part I loved is that you didn’t say anything about a religious denomination. I have no clue what you or the rest of the Christian posters out here “are” (as in group). You see, you don’t have to say, “I believe the Presbyterian church is God’s Church” (or pick a group). It’s all about Christ and Him crucified…period.
    Andy Watson and I have these long discussions about “election”; a topic we try to avoid like the plague out here because it’s just too easy to get tangled into a quagmire of Calvinism vs. Armininism and Christ gets lost in it and who knows the answer anyway especially when you get into double predestination or whatever.
    BUT I am really scratching my head over your pathway to Christ. Why you? Why this way? What caused you to respond? You and I both gave our lives to Christ in our bedrooms…I take it since you were staring at the ceiling. I had just finished listening to Billy Graham, a guy who, a few short months previously I couldn’t stand. The Bible came alive to me also. My NT copy of Reach Out got a work-out. I soon switched to the New American Standard translation which I still have and use despite having to have it recovered once.
    But I’m a thankful guy that God choose to reveal His Son in me.
    I would love to add that my life has been one smooth glide path but that’s not reality.

  25. liv4jc says:

    Falcon, this is my answer to the “Why me?” question. God’s grace and His grace alone. I didn’t make a choice for Christ. I hated Christians and thought the Bible was contradictory, a book of fairy tales, and if Jesus ever truly lived he was nothing more than a good moral teacher. Sounds like Charles, huh? And maybe you too. I loved my sin. I was the guy at work who always went too far with the crude joking. And when I say, “too far” I mean “way too far”. Let your imagination run wild and you still may never approach my wickedness. God had no reason to choose me, and I definitely didn’t want Him. I wasn’t seeking, knocking or anything. I am the man of John 3, Ephesians 1 and 2, and Titus 3, who once was dead, but now is raised to newness of life. The more I look at my depravity the more I understand grace. True, amazing grace: “Gods unmerited mercy at Christ’s expense.” “Nothing in my hands I bring. Simply to the cross I cling.” This is an afront to sinful, prideful man. Watch HankSaint and OlsenJim come unglued at this declaration. In John 6:53-55 Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” I am living proof of that simple truth. I fall on my knees and bow before the One who gave me newness of Life and washed me clean. I can never praise Him enough as tears roll down my sin stained face, brother.

  26. Olsen Jim says:

    liv4jc,

    It is impossible to determine precisely with certainty what the original manuscripts of the New Testament said. Name any serious textual critic who claims otherwise. We are limited in extrapolating anything beyond the eariliest manuscripts- they could all be the same (which they are not), but any mistake in the manuscript they came from would be impossible to detect. And I am not dismissing the Bible as your type loves to claim. I am resonding to your argument. By the way, how about those manuscripts used by Moses?

    I venture to say that 99% of the critics here, maybe all of them, do not understand or recognize 1) the arguments of those defending the Book of Abraham or 2) the central issues in the debate.

    As is demonstrated by Andy, critics think it is a debate about whether the BOA text matches what is on the fragments we have today. In your minds, this is where it all stops. And that is fine. Few of you even read (or watch) more than what the most strident and superficial critics produce. That is your choice. But please do not pretend to understand the debate when you do not understand our side’s argument. You have simplified the debate and made enormous assumptions in a manner that will let you close the door as quickly as possible.

    You are all experts- congratulations.

    Do you even know what the the roll of the Book of Breathings was in Egypt? My guess is that most here only know that the Book of Breathings is not the Book of Abraham. Do you know any of the six themes at the center of the initiation rights of which the Book of Breathings is representative? Do you know the significance of those themes and elements?

    Do you know anything about the family that entombed the mummies with what are now the Joseph Smith Papyri?

    Do you know anything about the latest research about the Testament of Abraham or the Apocalypse of Abraham? How about Jubilees?

    Please come out of the box.

  27. Enkiw wrote “Question to bible literalists: What do you think? Would you be open to attend religious services of any organization which has teachings contrary to your understanding? What about affliating with people who do not share your point of view?”

    Enki,

    I’m with setfree and Michael P on this one (PS, we’ve never met or corresponded).

    Affiliating with people who do not share my point of view? Well, that would cover the entire human population of this planet (living and dead). Seriously, though, I do try to engage the critics and understand their argument from their point of view, and I mean more than giving them a cursory nod.

    Going to religious services outside my church? Yes, but it does make me feel uncomfortable. Some time ago I went to the LDS baptismal service of my boss’s daughter (he is an LDS Bishop). He knew my opinions, but this was not the occasion to air them. The congregation sang a hymn or two, but I decided not to sing with them solely because I didn’t know the hymns and I didn’t want to lend my voice to something I could not agree with. In this case, the Hymns turned out to be fairly inane.

    Some time later, an ex-LDS colleague turned up at my church for the wedding of a mutual friend. I nearly fell off my seat backwards! I haven’t seen him since.

    Finally, your observation about LDS locking out the “unfriendlies” may have been behind the turning point in my relationship with my boss. Despite my contribution to running a healthy business, my boss “invited me to look for work elsewhere”, which I did. My personal feeling is that he hated the way I tried to engage him on what he thought about God, the Church, the Bible, the BoA, and all the other LDS stuff he was so enthusiastic about.

    I don’t blame him for feeling uncomfortable with me, and perhaps I got too curious, or even aggressive. Anyhow, that’s how it turned out.

  28. jackg says:

    Olsen,

    We all pray for you. God is working to redeem you from a false religion. Your hardened heart to Truth is no match for Him.

    Peace and Grace to you and yours…

  29. mobaby says:

    Falcon,

    I agree with you on focusing too much on a particular Christian viewpoint or denominational view. I love the Churches of the Reformation, Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and scripture based Reformed/Presbyterian, but I balk at some of the strident “my way or the highway” attitudes that I see slip in to Reformed and Reformational minded Christians. Truly the focus is Jesus and Him Crucified, and we should all support and encourage Christians everywhere who cling to Jesus through that simple message of salvation by grace through the bloody cross, freely given to us undeserving sinners. Theology can be deep and meaningful, but without that essential starting point it is meaningless. I recently was stunned by another Christian who, certain of their viewpoint, turned on Christians of my particular stripe with unusual condemnation- aimed at fellow travelers in following Jesus. It hurt and confused me. He went so far as to claim we were not fellow travelers. I ‘unfollowed’ him on twitter and quit reading his blog- however, he did pull down the article to which I had responded vigorously and clearly. Believing your particular denominational truths is not bad or wrong, as I absolutely believe mine, but let’s love one another and support each other in the truth of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is creeping into my own heart and I have not been able to keep from reading his blog posts and may yet follow him again on twitter ;-) I think this all goes to show that we truly are sinners desperately in need of a loving and fogiving God – for we turn even our particular Christian views into a form of pride and superiority (and I am not being postmodern, I absolutely believe in truth – it’s just a matter of degree and approach). Lord have mercy.

  30. liv4jc says:

    mobaby, that is a good reminder of the positionwe should take as Christians. I have become increasingly reformed in my theology as I understand the true depth of my sinful condition. I often cry out echoing the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” I know that it is Christ alone who saved me, and continues to intercede for me with the Father.

    I recently stood with a newborn friend at his wife’s bedside as she died of cancer. She was also a fairly new believer and we watched her pass with peace, knowing she would be with our Lord. At times I heard him say things that were not theologically correct, but I didn’t correct him. My pastor and I had a discussion about what one needs to believe to be saved. The first believers did not have our NT, and gentile believers did not have the OT either. But salvation is a gift of God and is completely His work. He is the one who changes the heart and raises men to newness of life, not our theological discussions. This is why I preach the law, sin, and Christ crucified. But my heart was softened by Christian fiction novels before I believed the gospel. Looking back from where I am now theologically, I was a bit off base, but no less saved. Because I did not fall away and have continued to grow in knowledge I know this is true.

    I’m struggling now with my parents who are new converts out of agnosticism brought about by former cult life in the Watchtower Society. Some of their beliefs are not quite right according to scripture, but I constantly have to remind myself to be gentle with the corrections. God has opened their eyes and they know the basics of the gospel: they need Christ’s atoning blood for salvation and they have faith in Him alone.

    I’m with you. There is truth, and there is false religion. Even among so-called Christians. What is the minimum you have to believe to be saved? I think my heart has also grown hard in some respects on this issue.

  31. Enki says:

    Martin,
    Thank you for sharing you experience, even if it was unpleasant. Many workplaces have a sort of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy about religion and politics. I guess they all don’t, but it can be something which can cause unnecessary tension, and distraction from the matter at hand, work.

    I worked at a catholic hospital, and they didn’t have that policy, in fact discussion and displays of faith seemed to be accepted and encouraged to a degree, as long as it didn’t interfere with the team effort. It was kind of strange however seeing two desks side by side, one with a mormon display, and one with dutch conservative(i’m guessing because of the area)It seemed like a sort of visual dharma war. The one had several images of LDS temples, the famous jesus in the air painting, and I think a photo of the current lds president. The other had a large brown cross, and a print out of john 3:16. I think the two women were good friends, but I did notice a subtle tension between them over that difference, and perhaps others.

    I worked directly under a Sikh which was so very interesting. That is the first sikh I ever had any conversation about their religion. Very interesting culture and religion. I discovered a song online this evening. Sikhs really love god. I haven’t examined the words too closely, but there is a possibility that a christian could sing along. (Bhajan of Guru nanak)”breathe now the lords name” is repeated many, many times, its a very uplifting song.

  32. Enki says:

    charleshicks & LDS members,
    Thank you for the clarifications. I’m not sure what made me look up that question, but when I read it I wasn’t sure what I was reading. Its worded very loosely, almost to the point that you might not be sure what is exactly being asked. I am sure its done on purpose to open up dialog on any possible issue or problem. So it might mean what I think it meant, or maybe not.

    Well, without Mormon and non-lds input this board would be totally insipid and useless. I don’t know if LDS input will correct wrongs, or misrepresentations. I think the main thing for everyone is to think, be open, and really listen, and hope that you come away all for the better.

  33. Mike R says:

    Liv4JC

    I praise God that your parents are free from
    a false prophet organization, namely the
    Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
    My wife is a former Jehovah’s witness.
    So very similar to LDS in their submission
    to a prophet as a means to pleasing God, they
    tend to reject belief in God when they find
    out they’ve been misled, many come to see in
    Jesus the answer they,ve been longing for,
    but sadly some do not.

    I,m so glad your parents are now trusting God.
    We will be praying for them, and for your
    patience in ministering to them.

  34. Michael P says:

    Enki, I agree fully with what you write as a hope for all who read and post here– too all be smarter and wiser regarding our faiths.

    Of course, the purpose is expressly to point out some faults of LDS faithful, and then to hopefully bring some LDS to understand Christ as we see it. As a result, it will seem biased in that way, and that is fine given the purpose.

    But I think for those who support that view and for those who are against it, the best way to approach is with that openness that you speak of. This does not necessarilly mean ceding your position, but it does mean digging to understand what the other side is saying…

  35. Falcon: A lot of former missionaries leave because of the dramatic transition in responsibility. You go from thinking you’re a part of “God’s Army” with the most important message in the world, to being just another member in the pews. You lose responsibility in the Church, and some people lose their faith in the process. As for your comment on the “Jack Mormons,” unfortunately, people that go inactive or leave the Church often do so for really trivial reasons. Usually it’s because they aren’t living a certain standard of the Church (i.e. they drink, smoke, don’t pay tithing, etc.) and so they stop going. Very few people actually leave for the right reasons (i.e. actually figuring out that the Church is false). Fortunately, I left for the right reasons. And as for the millions who stay, you must understand that there is a lot of social pressure. Honestly, the social pressure from fellow members is much greater than the pressure from the organization itself.

    Mobaby: Well, it looks like we interpret the same Bible in different ways.

    Michael P: The historical evidence for the Bible is there, but only for places and people and events in history. There isn’t any historical evidence for the supernatural stuff.

    Bfwjr: My family has actually been relatively understanding. I lost a lot of friends, but as you inferred, if that’s all it took to lose them, they weren’t really friends to begin with.

  36. Liv4jc: Thank you for sharing your testimony. I’m not one of those “new atheists” that worships Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins, but I just have to say that I find your assessment of human morality a bit insulting. We don’t need to have this discussion here. If you want to continue it, feel free to e-mail me. Let me just make a few points in response.

    You said: “Without any coaching (I had no Christian witnesses in my life) I suddenly understood that all men hold to a basic morality. We know that lying, rape, murder, adultery, etc. is wrong. That understanding turns Darwinism on its head.”

    Christianity is not the source of morality; neither is religion. If you need any evidence of that, just look at mainstream Christianity in the United States. Morality has been a societal institution, and religion has actually changed to respond to what society dictates to be moral. For example, Christian groups were opposed to ending slavery, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and now the gay rights movement. In the cases of slavery/women’s rights/end of segregation, the Bible was used to defend the position that nothing needed to be changed. It was only AFTER society decided that those changes needed to be made that religion integrated the new standards into itself. Now, it is common to think that Christians believe in equality for all, but it wasn’t always so. The same thing is going on as we speak with the gay rights movement. You are already seeing Christian churches allow gay clergy. They would never have done this in and of themselves, but they are changing in response to society’s moral code changing.

    These are just a few examples of how religion actually IS DICTATED BY society’s morals, not the other way around. Christians today “pick and choose” the nice parts of the Bible they want to follow and ignore the violence and the sexism and the racism. They will continue to “pick and choose” whatever is necessary to fit the mold of 21st-century societal morality

  37. My apologies to anyone who is upset that we aren’t talking about the Book of Abraham anymore. I’m just responding to comments.

  38. Michael P says:

    Charles, I know. I told you so in my response. Did you read the whole thing? That said, I understand why you like to focus on that distinction, but that is not my point. My point is to raise the question of that if its accurate in all other points, is it possible that it is accurate spiritually as well.

    Do you have any thoughts on that question?

  39. liv4jc says:

    Charles, I think it is important that others hear your beliefs about “religion” and “a”, not “the”, response from a Christian. Some people who belong to churches and call themselves Christians are not. This goes to the highest levels in those churches. Just like it is unfair to call all police officers corrupt because of the actions of a few, it is unfair to call all “religious people” who go to church Christians, and defame the rest of Christianity. You also have to remember that you are living in a “Christian” nation where over 70% of the people call themselves Christian. A large portion of that 70% also say they believe there is more than one way to God, “good people” (including others of non-Christian faiths) will go to heaven even if they don’t trust in Christ as savior, abortion is ok as long as there is a good reason for it, most of the stuff in the Bible never actually happened, especially miracles, Jesus probably sinned, and the list goes on. This paints a pretty bad picture of Christianity, especially when a person has a Jesus fish on their car as they blow their horn at you and give you the finger. To add to the confusion we have churches preaching what I would call, “Christianity Light”: As long as you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and ask Him into your heart you’re good to go. You can “backslide” for the rest of your life and even deny Christ, and because you asked Jesus into your heart you’re saved.

    As for racism, sexism, and slavery in the Bible, it doesn’t exist. At least not in our terms. Deuteronomy 19 and Leviticus 19 have civil rights declarations that rival ours. And Biblical slavery was more like indentured servitude. A slave could be redeemed (freed), had rights if they were injured by their master, and had to be set free after 7 years. The Bible gets a bad rap. Read it with fresh eyes.

  40. Thanks everyone for our continued conversation! I wish my friends that I actually see in person would discuss this stuff with me, but sadly, none of them care!!

    Michael P: Yes, it is possible that because the Bible may be accurate on certain things, it may also be accurate on spiritual truths. Of course it is possible. I don’t know that these things can be measured with probability and statistics, so I’m not going to go down that road. There is a difference, however, between something being possible and something being actually true. At this point in my spiritual journey, I can’t acknowledge the Bible to be the word of a god that created the world and created us. I am open to the possibility, but at this point I haven’t seen enough reason to believe that.

  41. Liv4jc: I am in absolute agreement with your statements about the condition of American Christianity. I’ve been quick to point out my lack of faith here, but I will say this: If, instead of being CHRISTIAN, more people were CHRIST-LIKE, America would be a much better place. Obviously Jesus was a pretty stand-up guy. It is actually really depressing that so many people who call themselves Christians don’t behave anything like Jesus would… In fact, they often do the opposite of what he would probably do. So yes, I agree with you there… we need more people that actually try to act like Jesus would act if he were here.

    As for the Bible, I suppose we can agree to disagree. I plan to read it again soon, actually. I’m currently attending UC Irvine and double-majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies. This coming quarter, I have a lot of classes about the Eastern Religions. I plan on reading the Bible again to go along with my studies when I have classes on Christianity and Judaism. I’m not making excuses, but I don’t really have time to give the Bible the attention it deserves while I’m working and taking a huge course load that isn’t related to the Bible at all. Perhaps once I read it again I will have new opinions to report.

    One of the things that has always bothered me about the Bible is that different people can make it say what they want it to say. Obviously, there are some things that it states very clearly, but in other cases, you can pretty much find what you’re looking for. A classic example would be the Faith vs. Works debate. There are convincing passages for both sides of that argument in the New Testament. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you and I can disagree about what the Bible says, and maybe neither of us are wrong. Nobody can seem to agree on what the Bible says; hence the thousands of different Christian belief systems.

  42. liv4jc says:

    Charles, if you place the same translation of the Bible in four different rooms and have four different people read it you may get four different interpretations. What is the inconsistent factor? Human interpretation of the text. What is the consistent factor? The text, because it is the same for all four people.

    If we placed a well-documented biography of Abraham Lincoln’s life in four separate rooms with the same four people and had them read it, we would still get interpretive opinions, but probably not as varied because we would interpret it in light of the recent historical events, which we are familiar with. We would have a better idea why Honest Abe said what he said, and did what he did.

    The Bible is no different. Although it contains spiritual truth, it is to be read and interpreted in its grammatical historical context and it is not to be allegorized or spiritualized. This is why in-depth Bible study is important. We can’t just read the verses as stand-alone ideas and pick and choose the ones we like to support our theology. The Bible is a progressive historical narrative. The OT reveals who God is and is the history of His chosen people, Israel. But it also has foreshadowing of Jesus the Messiah throughout. It’s covenants are a picture of Christ’s sacrifice and redeeming work. The NT is the explanation of those shadows and reveals the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in His true nature. But those things occur in real-time and actually occurred in history. It is important to have an understanding of the ancient cultures and history while you are reading it.

    Can we do that with the BoM or BoA? No, because the events in those books have no supporting or background historical context. They occurr in the arena of JS’s mind, and are complete works of fiction using the Bible as inspiration. What we can do, however, is read them in the context of JS’s historical, religious, and political understanding. Then they also begin to make sense.

  43. Olsen Jim says:

    liv4jc,

    You said “Can we do that with the BoM or BoA? No, because the events in those books have no supporting or background historical context.”

    Shall we apply your criteria to the Bible’s account of the period between Adam and Moses? What “supporting evidence” do we have to back up what Moses wrote?

    And you continue to claim that all the biblical manuscripts are in agreement, thereby proving the truth of what is written. You truly seem to have an unrealistic understanding of the Bible and the manner in which God reveals Himself and His will to mankind. I invite those running this site to dedicate a thread to evaluating HOW we got the current Bible. So many here seem to have no idea about the subject.

    How do you know the Bible is true? Historical and archeological evidence? Why not practice the religion of ancient Egypt? We certainly have all kinds of evidence of the existence of those people and their history. How are they different?

  44. Michael P says:

    Charles, coupled with liv4jc’s responses (among others), a strong case is made that belief in Christianity of the Bible makes sense. Of course, I agree, it comes down to faith, and I cannot, nor will I try to, lead you to it. That is something beyond me. I only ask that you are open to the possibility, and it sounds like you are.

  45. Michael P:

    I am certainly open to the possibility that the Bible is true. I am also open to the possibility that any other book of scripture is true, and it seems like people in every religion can make a pretty strong case for it. Unfortunately, every time I hear an argument about why I should believe the Bible, the points of debate are almost always things that could also be said about the sacred texts of other religions. I really haven’t heard a convincing argument in favor of the Bible at this point. Obviously the theology of the whole thing makes sense in its own context… The same could be said of Islam, and I don’t see anyone here that is persuaded by the Muslim argument.

  46. It’s been a heated week. I’m closing down these threads so I can not worry about them over the weekend. Have a great weekend guys. Let’s take a break!

    Sharon’s posts are coming up today and this week, and she’s much sweeter than I am :-)

  47. Pingback: Mormon Coffee » Indecent Exposure (Part 1 of 4)

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