“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all substantially correct.”

LDS scholar Daniel Peterson wrote an article for Mormon Times, published in its Defending the Faith section, titled, “God’s sheep recognize his voice.” The main point Dr. Peterson seems to be making in this article is that Mormons (Mormonism) do not really reject non-Mormon religious experiences and doctrines.

A natural question to put on the table, then, is: What about Joseph Smith’s alleged First Vision, in which he claims he was told, “I must join none of [the existing churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men…’” (Joseph Smith – History 1:19).

Dr. Peterson tackles this objection stating, “When Joseph Smith learned that the then-existing Christian churches were corrupt, that didn’t mean that they were totally wrong. To say that something is ‘corrupt’ means that it has been damaged. We speak of ‘corrupted texts’ or ‘corrupted files,’ intending to say that they have been infected or tainted — not that their original content has been replaced by something completely different.”

I wouldn’t think Dr. Peterson needs to be reminded that what Joseph Smith actually “learned” was that all the churches were wrong; all their creeds (i.e., a summary of what they believed) were an abomination to God (i.e., detested by Him), and the professors (i.e., those who publicly unite themselves to the visible church – church members) were all corrupt (i.e., depraved, tainted with wickedness. This definition is supported by the cross reference of Jude 1:4 as provided by the LDS Church).  Furthermore, the doctrines taught in these wrong churches were not God’s truth; rather, they were “the commandments of men.” (Definitions offered here are from Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary).

Such a forceful denunciation from Joseph Smith does not seem to square with Dr. Peterson’s next assertion: “In fact, many mainstream Christian doctrines were and are substantially correct.”

That’s an interesting assessment, but I can’t imagine where Dr. Peterson finds it in Mormonism. Though admittedly not scholars, LDS leaders (i.e., prophets, seers and revelators), over a long period of Mormon history, have taught things like:

  • “…the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness”
  • “Christianity was converted into Paganism”
  • “…the religions of the day were hatched in hell”
  • “Christianity… it is a perfect pack of nonsense …the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work”
  • “Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast”
  • “…the so-called system of Christianity is not only an error and a snare, but is a monstrous iniquity”
  • “For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation that was not, in the year 1820, so obscured by false tradition and ceremonies, borrowed from paganism, as to make it unrecognizable; or else it was entirely denied”
  • “…the prevailing apostate darkness in the sects of Christendom…False churches, false prophets, false worship – breeding as they do a way of life that runs counter to the divine will”
  • “When inquiring and scientific minds delve into the narrow and bigoted creeds of the apostate sects of Christendom it is not surprising that they rebel against those dogmas falsely set forth as the tenets of true religion” (for more examples and references for these quotes, see A Response to Latter-day Saints Who Say, “We Never Criticize Christian Churches” at mrm.org)

Does the teaching of past LDS prophets and apostles engender the idea that “many mainstream Christian doctrines were and are substantially correct”?

In the Mormon Times article, Dr. Peterson provides an example of a “substantially correct” mainstream Christian doctrine. I’ll blog about that example here at Mormon Coffee on Thursday.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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66 Responses to “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all substantially correct.”

  1. Clyde wrote

    Ideas come from everywhere that is why we are told to choose the right. It is also a way to learn wisdom.

    What a bizarre statement! The LDS movement dismisses anything that comes from outside the movement, and it defends everything that does. For all intents and purposes, the measure of the truthfulness of something is not whether it is true or not; it is whether it originated in the movement. If it came from an LDS guy – it's "good", but if it didn't – it's not "inspired".

    I shudder when I read the ex-Mos here, who describe the regular panning of the Christian Gospel that they did within the movement. Why? Because all other Churches are apostate and false, according to Joseph Smith, James Talmadge and other senior leaders of the movement. They were just doing what they were taught was true, even when it wasn't.

    OK, I can just about stomach the notion that one group has got it right, and everyone else is wrong, but it becomes indefensible when what they are dismissing as false is actually a falsification of the other groups (I'm thinking here of the misrepresentation of the Gospel of Grace that does the rounds in LDS circles).

    I mean, is there anyone within your movement who gets up and says "wait up, we might have misunderstood what we're opposed to here – we should at least get to know why they're wrong"? No! Why not? Because you'd have to confront the fact that Joseph and these other "prophets" falsified the message of the "other" churches (something that Dan Peterson tacitly admits, else why would he need to moderate Smith's "revelations").

    There have been Mormons who have seriously engaged these "ideas" from outside the movement, particularly the "ideas" from the so-called apostate churches. If you want to meet them, they're posting right here and now, and what they've got to say about the LDS movement is not at all "faith-promoting".

    If you're seriously committed to the truth, but you're scared of where it will lead you, let me tell you that the truth can never hurt you more than a lie can. Jesus said to his followers "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). That's what we've got to do if we follow Him – trust in the truth and let it lead us where it will.

  2. Violet says:

    Steve Hassan, an ex-Moonie, said when anyone asked him questions, he went immediately to 'thought stopping' techniques. He would tell himself, 'true parents, true parents' and catch phrases like that so other 'thoughts' (of doubt) wouldn't get in. If a child is taught 'all other churches are satan' and they grow up and might not believe that, in the back of their mind, its still there. (Hassan in a 12-part you tube video on exmormon conference, 2009 or 2008.)

  3. Clyde said

    In doing that it seems that you are serving them. when you serve man you serve God.

    What you said is not true. Mother Theresa severed people, but if she Reject Jesus as lord and Savior then she was not pleasing God and is in Hell. Catholic priests supposedly serve man, but when they move pedophiles around to keep them from being arrested, that is not pleasing to God. Liar's and false prophets "Serve man" in order to promote their lies, yet that is not pleasing to God. So serving man is not serving and pleasing God. Serving God is pleasing God.

  4. clyde says:

    We have shot passed each other. I see some understanding but some confusion by the way I am wording things. Serving God is pleasing God but how do you serve God. The story of the good samaritan comes to mind. There is more to the story than I think. The good samaritan helped someone and in doing so served God.

  5. You can be a "good Samaritan" and help out people in need, Athiests do it all the time. Yet they are not pleasing God by helping out those in need and they dont care about God.

  6. clyde says:

    They may not care about God But they don't know that they are pleasing God by what they do.

  7. f_melo says:

    The spiritually prepared isn´t so much spiritually prepared for a good thing, or something that has "never entered the mind of men", but that´s more of an airbag for when the "truth" hits, because it will hit hard and you may die (spiritually) because of it.

  8. f_melo says:

    It´s not there anymore, unfortunately. I don´t know why the removed, since their members are good at keeping secrets – the problem are those who leave.

  9. You mean to tell me, Jesus said that False prophets and wolves in sheeps clothing exist, so since these wolves need to kill the sheep to get the sheeps clothing to hide in, that God is ok with that?

    False prophets kill and lie and cheat and steal, but sometimes they do good things like feed the poor or give money to the needy, this way people wont think they are wolves in sheeps clothing. So you think since they are helping people out God is pleased with them? You better go back and read your bible, God in the OT talks about how their are shepherds that beat the sheep and lead them astray, God clearly states He is not please with them. Jesus said that anyone who enters into the sheep fold any other way than the gate is trying to kill them and lead them astray.

    So Like I said, these false teachers and wolves must lie and say they are helping out in order to deceive people, so no your not pleasing God by helping fellow man. If you insist I am wrong, them provide chapter and verse from the Bible, Not the BoM and back it up.

  10. clyde says:

    I think of Jonah. What did he do? He was suppose go to Nineveh but instead went on another ship. A storm came up. Everyone on the ship were doing all they could to save the ship. I am doing this from memory so bear with me. I believe the crew were trying to placate their gods-sacrifices or anything else to ease their situation. When the crew found out Jonah was suppose to go to Nineveh they threw him overboard. They probably did not believe in God but did they do God's will?

  11. Calvin and Hobbes is so funny, My family does not find them funny at all. Me, I am just about falling off the couch with laughter. One I really like was Calvin doing show and tell at school, he was talking about how he had an alien in a brown lunch sack, but then pulls out a sock puppet. The best one ever was Calvin drinking the magic milk elixir, thinking he was invisible and then getting busted by his mother for being naked in the cookie jar.

  12. Your crazy Clyde, The Guys on the ship did not do Gods will by throwing him over board. God never told the crew to toss him over board. God never said if you toss Jonah off the ship then he will do as I said. Read the story again. Jonah admitted to being the cause of their problems and that if they tossed him over board their problems would go away.

    How do you figure thats doing Gods will? Your really stretching here to fit your wrong ideas.

  13. clyde says:

    I think I am stretching. I am going to have to read it again. Jonah eventually did get to nineveh. As on page 147 of calvin and hobbes I seem to be all wet and need to take hobbes advice.

  14. Yes Jonah did make it and I never said he did not. My point was, the guys on the ship tossing him over board was not Gods doing, God did not say, toss Jonah over board. Jonah said, if you toss me of the ship your problems will stop. So they did. Jonah was kind enough to admit he was the source of these guys problems, but he also was not willing to just jump ship, he needed help getting off the ship.

  15. Brian says:

    Dear Sharon,

    This is a fine post you've written.

    It interests me that Joseph Smith used words such as "corrupt" and "abomination" when describing various denominations. The Bible uses similar words as well, but not in describing an organization. No, it uses them when describing the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). As I understand it, Joseph Smith believed that man is basically good. (The religion he founded interviews its members each year, and declares whether or not they are worthy; that is, good).

    If someone were to ask me what the life of Joseph Smith teaches, I would say that it establishes the truthfulness of God's Word, the Bible. Consider the following:

    "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin" (Romans 3:20).

    Did Joseph Smith live his life good enough to be declared righteous? He taught that in order to obtain any blessing, it is always dependent upon keeping that blessing's corresponding law. Hence, righteousness is attained by one’s keeping of the law. Was he the exception to the verse above?

    Well, imagine for a moment, if the following were to happen. What if the current LDS prophet were to be investigated by a grand jury. And both his counselors have submitted affidavits to the grand jury. And one of the counselors decides to print their affidavits in a newspaper. The prophet decides to send some people to the printing office, and they kind of put the office out of business. The prophet is arrested, and later is killed in a jail-house fight.

    Well, that's the story of how Joseph Smith's life ended. If one looks at the way he treated his followers, or his followers’ wives, it appears that he was intent on flamboyantly establishing the truthfulness of the Bible: the heart of man is corrupt and man cannot save himself, no matter how hard he tries. Was he the exception to Romans 3:20?

  16. Brian,
    You really need to read the Bible better. JS was a fraud who lied, cheated and stole. He was and is a false prophet that changed Gods word. God is clear we cannot change His word, we cannot go around lying, cheating, stealing. God said their would be false prophets that would come in His name to kill and destroy. I cannot in this post go over all these things JS. But this Blog at one time has covered all these things.

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