A Mormon Prophet’s Gratitude at Christmas

Earlier this week Eric Johnson posted a poem here on Mormon Coffee titled “The Gift.” I venture to say that gifts of all kinds are on our minds this week. With the idea of gifts also (hopefully!) comes an attitude of gratitude.

In December 1997 Ensign magazine printed a First Presidency Message by the (now late) Mormon prophet Gordon B. Hinckley titled “A Season for Gratitude.” President Hinckley wrote of Jesus Christ, quoting liberally (and exclusively) from the Bible as he described the person and ministry of Christ. He concluded, “We love Him. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him. He has done for each of us and for all mankind that which none other could have done. God be thanked for the gift of His Beloved Son, our Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Lamb without blemish who was offered as a sacrifice for all mankind.”

While most of the world would agree with Michelle King at Deseret News that the Christmas season is all about Jesus — it “is all about him,” she said — not everybody feels the same way. For example, President Hinckley’s preamble to “A Season of Gratitude” was not what one would normally expect to find in a message about Christ and Christmas. He began,

This is a season for giving and a time for gratitude. We remember with appreciation the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which is celebrated this same month of December, two days before Christmas.

How great indeed is our debt to him. His life began in Vermont and ended in Illinois, and marvelous were the things that happened between that simple beginning and tragic ending. It was he who brought us a true knowledge of God, the Eternal Father, and His Risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. During the short time of his great vision he learned more concerning the nature of Deity than all of those who through centuries had argued the matter in learned councils and scholarly forums. He brought us the marvelous Book of Mormon as another witness for the living reality of the Son of God. To him, from those who held it anciently, came the priesthood, the power, the gift, the authority, the keys to speak and act in the name of God. He gave us the organization of the Church and its great and sacred mission. Through him were restored the keys of the holy temples, that men and women might enter into eternal covenants with God and that the great work for the dead might be accomplished to open the way for eternal blessings.

Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
(“Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27)

He was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty. He was the servant acting under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ in bringing to pass this great latter-day work.

We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands at the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revelator, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph.

In his article about gratitude, President Hinckley wrote glowingly of both Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. I would like to delineate some of President Hinckely’s points regarding Joseph and Jesus:

  • It was Joseph who “brought us a true knowledge of God, the Eternal Father, and His Risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • While Jesus “taught us the wondrous things of God.”
  • Through Joseph “were restored the keys of the holy temples, that men and women might enter into eternal covenants with God…to open the way for eternal blessings.”
  • While Jesus “gave the keys through which we may go on to immortality and eternal life.”
  • Jesus “has done for each of us…that which none other could have done.”
  • Yet “How great is our debt” to Joseph for the things he has done for us.
  • “We honor” Jesus.
  • “We stand in reverence” before Joseph.
  •  In the words of the apostle John quoted by President Hinckley, “We beheld [Jesus’] glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father…”
  • In the words of the Mormon hymn “Praise to the Man,” quoted by President Hinckley, “Great is [Joseph’s] glory.”
  • “God be thanked for the gift of His beloved Son.”
  • And “God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph.”

Christmas is a season that is all about Christ and the Gift of the Babe who was born a King. For Christians, the memory of Joseph Smith has no place in the celebration of Christmas. All glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving belong to Jesus —

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

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.
This entry was posted in Gordon B. Hinckley, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Mormon Culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A Mormon Prophet’s Gratitude at Christmas

  1. canuck54 says:

    My first thought in reading this great article was, BLASPHEMY! It\’s ALL about Christ Jesus. No praise to no man. Sorry but every time I see the words to that song it makes me very angry. (gag).

    canuck

  2. falcon says:

    I\’m sorry but all I could think of when I was reading GBH remarks is, \”What a jerk!\” Why did I have that visceral angry reaction? It\’s because the \”prophet\” sought to honor a man who deceived, lied to and led folks who were honestly seeking God, to their eternal destruction.
    The fact of the matter is that the BOM isn\’t true, Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God, the Mormon church is not God\’s representative organization on earth, the current Mormon prophet isn\’t a prophet and the Jesus promoted by the Mormon church is not the eternal God-man revealed in the Bible.
    I\’ve made available on the blog, many times links to all sort of religious visionaries, revelators, dreamers and those who have a new message from the Lord for what ever particular time in history they emerged.
    There is a common theme with all of these \”prophets\”. First of all is the pronouncement that everything people have been taught about God from the established Christian faith is wrong. In fact it\’s said to be corrupt. Then the basic doctrines of the Church are said to be in error, the Church has gone astray and the new revelation is now ready to be received by those who are willing to cast aside their doubts and enter into this new, grand and glorious dispensation of the Lord.
    The person and work of Jesus is \”reworked\”. The Bible needs a fresh coat of paint. The Virgin Birth wasn\’t as it is said to have happened. The final judgement has a complete new twist.
    Jesus warned about this but people ignore His warning because they like how this new revelation makes them feel. It has to be true.
    Jesus came once and revealed the Father\’s act of love, mercy and kindness one time.

  3. peshitta says:

    Well, the great thing is that General Joseph Smith wanted so bad to be a second Muhammad against Christ and His Cross but it is actually like comparing a worm to an eagle. Whereas Muhammad\’s heretical movement was able to conquer two thirds of Christian lands within two hundred years, Joseph Smith\’s heretical movement has only a few million active members in its founding nation of three hundred million citizens after almost two hundred years.

    It is a great blessing to see Joseph Smith veneration at its apex right now and to watch it all roll down hill from here. For me, this is a great Christmas gift and something that we should all be thankful for to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these generals knew what they were doing and they will pay for this one day, and on that day those of us who know the Lord will laugh about their failures together Prov. 21:30. XP

  4. Mike R says:

    This devotion to Joseph Smith at Christmas time seems to be way over the top . Hinckley
    said , \” let not his memory be forgotten IN THE CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS.\”
    I\’m wondering if in some small Utah towns , the ones that have few \”Gentiles\” , do LDS
    there go around door to door singing carols /hymns with \” Praise to the Man \” being one
    of them ? That would be consistent with Hinckley\’s desire for his flock , right ?
    Oh well, one thing is a fact and that is we simply do not need prophets in these latter days
    like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young , Jospeh F.Smith or Thomas Monson. They don\’t have
    anything new to offer that we need in order to receive a correct knowledge and right
    relationship with God . Instead of remembering men like them at this time of year I\’m trying
    to forget the disgusting teaching about the virgin birth that some of them taught/condoned.
    May the Mormon people dismiss their prophets . They don\’t need them .

  5. Rick B says:

    As sad as it is, Mr Hinckley is now where he belongs and sadly wanted to be, in darkness and torment of hell awaiting his final judgment before being cast into the lake of fire that will burn for all of eternity.

    The Good news is, Jesus died for everyone and all the people who believed this false prophet can be spared going to the same place if they would just believe in Jesus.

  6. falcon says:

    I think GBH has a serious man-crush on Joseph Smith.
    What a sad thing, to be that enamored with a mere man. This goes beyond hero worship. We have a man, in Smith, who told some real whoopers but there are people who are captivated by the fantasy. The sad thing is that Smith and the story he told to launch his religion are so easy to debunk.
    I don\’t doubt that the BOM narrative makes some people feel good. That\’s the point of the story. A person could read Ben Hur and get the same feelings. I remember the first time I heard the Joseph Smith story and my response was to laugh and think, \”You\’ve got to be kidding me!\” It was so easy to see through it. Then, if a person gets serious and really looks into the whole Smith story, it isn\’t as humorous as it initially appears. The reason for that is you begin to see how the Mormon people have allowed themselves to be hood-winked and be led into spiritual destruction.
    Mike R. is constantly pointing out to me how much the Mormon people revere Joseph Smith. It\’s difficult for me to be the least respectful of their feelings. I\’m absolutely incredulous regarding their veneration of him.
    What\’s interesting is when Mormons lose faith in the Mormon system and then little by little the stature of Smith begins to shrink until they see him for what he was; a prevaricator of first order and a religious charleton.
    They can\’t be told this however. They need to discover it on their own. It\’s like telling your daughter the guy she\’s dating is a louse. She doesn\’t see it. Then when she gets over her infatuation and sees the truth she wonders what she saw in him.

  7. peshitta says:

    What I find interesting here is that post-Christian heretical movements that have prophets treat their prophets with higher regard than they do God. Even in the case of Mormonism one would think that Jesus would be more important than the Prophet in theory since one is a god and the other is a mere mortal. But that is not the case. In practice the mortal prophet is treated at best on par with a god and at worst he is treated in higher regard, per GBH\’s message above as an example.

    Even with Islam one would think that God would be treated with more reverence than the Prophet because one is a mere mortal, but this is not the case. When mentioning the name of the prophet a follower must say afterwards صلى الله عليه وسلم as a show of reverence, but after saying the name of God one need not show any reverence. Also in the shahada the statement that God is one is only true if simultaneously Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is His Prophet.

    Christians do not have prophets. For us it is not blasphemy to disrespect a mortal but to disrespect God! For Christians, if someone puts a creature on the same pedestal as the Creator this is serious business. Jesus was not a prophet, Jesus is God.

  8. Kate says:

    Mike,
    \”I’m wondering if in some small Utah towns , the ones that have few ”Gentiles” , do LDS
    there go around door to door singing carols /hymns with ” Praise to the Man ” being one
    of them ?\”

    I live in a small town with few Gentiles and haven\’t heard this sung at my door yet :) I\’m sure some Mormons think as Gordon Hinkley, but at our house this was never the case at Christmas. We didn\’t celebrate anything about Joseph Smith at Christmas so the information in this article is very appalling to me. I\’m still learning blasphemous things put out by the LDS church!

    falcon,
    \”What’s interesting is when Mormons lose faith in the Mormon system and then little by little the stature of Smith begins to shrink until they see him for what he was; a prevaricator of first order and a religious charleton.\”

    I guess I was never a good Mormon. I always had an uneasy feeling about Joseph Smith. Generational Mormons just grow up thinking he was a true prophet, you can see that at any fast and testimony meeting in any ward, just watch and listen to the little children (some as young as 3) bare their testimony. It\’s always the same few lines…..I know this church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet (sometimes it\’s the current prophet\’s name used) I love my mom and dad. It\’s always the same. Even adults repeat the same two lines. My go to question has always been \”Where is Jesus in any of this?\” I guess Gordon Hinkley didn\’t have a problem taking Jesus out of his own birthday…….

  9. rvales says:

    Speaking of fast and testimony services…I\’ve always been very curious what would happen if a Christian stood up and bore their testimony of what Christ has done in their life?

  10. Tom says:

    rvales–I was tempted once. My wife and I (both former temple recommend holding, bishopric member, RS presidency TBMs, you get the drift) went to a baby blessing on a fast and testimony Sunday. This was in a very proper, full-of-BYU-professors ward. I got the bright idea to write down the things everyone talked about. Wow. Only one person referred to Jesus, and at that the reference wasn\’t all that direct. Of course he didn\’t call him Jesus, it was \”our Savior, Jesus Christ.\” I whispered to my wife, \”His name is Jesus. You\’d think they believe they\’ll get warts if they use his name.\” Oh, wait. I used to be the same way. It was truly pathetic.

  11. rvales says:

    It is incredibly tempting. To go and stand up and profess the mess I was and the hope I have in Christ! To tell of the bondage my spouse and I were in when we were away from God and the fearless, guiltless, lives we lead now despite not being perfect. I don\’t want to be disrespectful but there is a glory that needs to be declared and it belongs to God alone, God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. Maybe on day I\’ll be bold enough.

  12. Mike R says:

    Kate, Tom, I really appreciate you sharing some experiences of what is was like being
    a Mormon . I just can\’t fathom what it would be like following a false prophet , the unhealthy
    loyalty to their claims and the obedience expected to their doctrinal revealments . To think
    that 1700 years after the greatest event in history occurred , i.e. the advent of the long awaited
    Savior of man ,His atonement and resurrection , His appointing apostles to spread His message
    how people could be forgiven and receive eternal life ; that a prophet would come on the
    scene and declare that he has been appointed by God to restore the original gospel of salvation
    which Jesus\’ apostles had preached which had become altered and changed soon after His
    apostles deaths .But that same gospel of salvation was now available again , re established in
    1830.THAT claim by Mormon prophets is similar to that of other men who\’ve appeared
    with the claim to be prophets in these latter days .Thankfully, Jesus made a point
    to warn us all in advance of such men who would come –Mark 13:22-23 .
    One of these prophets (Brigham Young) stated that a new way to identify true followers
    of Jesus was that they would confess that Joseph Smith was sent by God with the true
    gospel for these latter days , so no man or woman will get a resurrection and enter the
    Celestial kingdom and be where Jesus is without Joseph Smith says so. However, no one
    need fear rejecting this new arrangement since receiving forgiveness and eternal life is not
    dependent on submitting to a latter days prophet, but rather it\’s joining those who
    surrendered to the long awaited Savior—THE PROPHET- Acts 10:43 ; Heb 7:25

  13. falcon says:

    I don\’t want to get too deep in the weeds here, but as MC resident former Catholic, I thought I\’d give a peak into the (Catholic) world of \”veneration\” of the saints. Andy Watson spent some time visiting a Greek Orthodox Church and he really liked the respect and solemn nature of their attitude towards God. One thing that appeared over-the-top to him, however, was their veneration of the Saints.
    In Mormonism, the men believe they are going to become gods just like their \”Heavenly Father\”. These are strange gods I think.

    \”Adoration, which is known as latria in classical theology, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone. It is the acknowledgement of excellence and perfection of an uncreated, divine person. It is the worship of the Creator that God alone deserves. Veneration, known as dulia in classical Catholic theology, is the honor due to the excellence of a created person. This refers to the excellence exhibited by the created being who likewise deserves recognition and honor.\”
    \”Church theologians have long adopted the terms latria for the type of worship due to God alone, and dulia for the veneration given to saints and icons.\”
    \”In Protestant churches, veneration is sometimes considered to amount to the heresy of idolatry, and the related practice of canonization amounts to the heresy of apotheosis. Protestant theology usually denies that any real distinction between veneration and worship can be made, and claims that the practice of veneration distracts the Christian soul from its true object, the worship of God. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin writes that \”(t)he distinction of what is called dulia and latria was invented for the very purpose of permitting divine honours to be paid to angels and dead men with apparent impunity.\”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneration

  14. falcon says:

    I can attest to the distinction that Catholics made in \”adoration\” of God and \”veneration\” of the Saints. Some Catholics really get into the veneration trip. They don\’t mistake the object of their veneration or replace him/her for God, but it\’s, in my opinion some pretty heavy hero worship.
    In fact to make it as a Saint in the Catholic Church, verifiable miracles had to have been performed in your name. Strange stuff in deed in my book. Everyone knows the special veneration that Catholics have for the Virgin Mary. There are numerous reports of her appearances i.e. Fatima, Lourdes that draw people by the millions. There\’s one going on right now in Europe. I don\’t think the Catholic Church hierarchy have put the stamp of approval on this one yet.
    Having grown up with all of this, it didn\’t appear all that strange to me at the time. However today it\’s one of those things that I do find unacceptable. One thing about it however, is the idea that these \”venerations\” are suppose to bring one closer to Jesus. That\’s kind of the point. With the reported appearances of the Virgin Mary, she\’s always (as it is reported) talking about her Son. We could get into some real theological hair splitting if we discussed whether or not Mary is the mother of Jesus or the mother of God. I\’ll leave that alone.
    I heard Grant Palmer discuss his frustration over how little Jesus is the focal point of Mormonism. In fact he did a review of the lessons taught in the Mormon church on Sunday and found very few were about Jesus.
    There\’s a big difference between seeing Jesus as a valiant older brother and God incarnate. In the Mormon view, Jesus is just a successful sibling. Big deal, huh?

  15. falcon says:

    We keep telling Mormons that if a person gets the nature of God wrong it really doesn\’t matter how pious, sincere, devout and even righteous a person is.
    Quite frankly, the devil will give you that. If the devil can get a whole pack of people to blaspheme God by referring to Him as a former man and to thinking that they can become a god, then it\’s mission accomplished for the evil one.
    We can see the elevation that GBH gave to Joseph Smith. Think of it. If someone holds in their mind the idea that Jesus is their spirit brother, the off-spring of one of the Mormon gods and one of his many wives, what kind of picture are they holding?
    Jesus isn\’t God incarnate in the minds of Mormons. He\’s just like them basically with a higher calling. It could have been them even, right? The Mormon gods could have chosen them to carry out the calling that they gave to Jesus, right?
    No wonder Jesus isn\’t the center of Mormonism. Actually the Mormon system is the center of Mormonism.
    The early Church Fathers battled the heretics regarding the nature of God. Even the heretics weren\’t so stupid as to suppose there are millions perhaps billions of gods in the universe and that men can become gods. This is the invention of Joseph Smith, who I suppose, Mormons believe is a god today.
    This religion does not lead people to eternal life. What it does is lead men away from Almighty God and to eternal destruction. When Christians give a testimony, it is about how they came to Jesus and what their relationship with Him is like today. Christians don\’t testify to their religious denomination, the Church leader or even the Bible for that matter. It\’s all about Jesus.

  16. falcon says:

    Being trapped in a religious system may be reinforcing and even pleasant for some people but for others, at the extreme, can be a living hell. You can never be good enough. You can never perform at a high enough level to satisfy the requirements of the system.
    There is really a tyranny involved here that becomes a form of abuse. People who don\’t take it all that seriously, the requirements of the religious system, can survive because their lack of seriousness about the system, protects them. But for those who believe the whole wretched story with its demands, sanctions and punishments, it is anxiety producing and can be emotionally painful.
    It all comes down to what a person accepts as true. Highly structured and demanding religious systems require that the \”believer\” out-source their spirituality to the system. The system is in control, not the person involved in the system. Again, for some there is a certain amount of security in being in a system. There\’s no thinking involved. You\’re just told how to act and what to do. You know the rules, both the formal and informal ones.
    Jesus had an interesting take on all of this. He said that His yoke was easy. What He meant by that is Not that living a life in total dedication to God is not challenging. What He meant was that through faith in Him and what He did on the Cross for us, the Father accepts us as if we had never sinned at all. The reality of course is that our very nature is oriented to sin. God knowing that made provision for us by making a final sacrifice for sin. Jesus paid the price and has set us free from the tyranny and cycle of sin and death.
    Praise His holy Name!

  17. Ralph says:

    Wow. This shows very little understanding.

    What is wrong with mentioning to us that we shouldn’t forget JS’s birthday during December while we celebrate Christmas? If someone you loved had a birthday during December, especially on or very near Christmas you’d still try to remember it and make it a special day for them wouldn’t you? If JS birthday was any other month and the Prophet reminded us of it without the mention of Christmas no one here would bat an eyelid at the reminder, but no, it’s Christmas, we can’t remember anyone else at this time.

    Well yes I can remember JS birthday while celebrating Christmas and remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season. Easy.

  18. Ralph says:

    As far as the bullet list, it is not a compare and contrast, it is just showing what each did and how we should react to them. And I am sure in the article there is no list like this. Its just been written here as a compare and contrast to put it out of context.

    As MikeR said in an earlier blog, Jesus taught people the basics about God and let His apostles teach the ‘full’ version after His death and ascension. Jesus taught us the wondrous things of God, JS Brought us the true knowledge of God and His Son – ie he filled in the blanks.

    Jesus gave us the keys to immortality and eternal life through His Atonement, JS restored the blessings of the temple through which God will give us eternal rewards/blessings, all based on faith in Jesus.

    Through JS the truth from God was restored so yes we owe him something for that but it is insignificant compared to what we owe Jesus because of what He did for us.

    I honour and reverence many people in different ways, so what is wrong with saying that we need to Honour Jesus and reverence JS? It’s different reasons and different deference to each. I honour and reverence Jesus more than I would JS.

    Jesus has the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, and JS has what? Great glory. Does it say its greater that Jesus’? No, it does nothing to compare the two, but my guess is that JS is much, much less that Jesus. Anything wrong with saying someone has some sort of glory?

    I thank God for everything especially His Son, Jesus. So what is wrong with thanking God for the Prophet JS?

  19. falcon says:

    Ralph,
    You wrote:

    \”Through JS the truth from God was restored…………….. \”

    First of all Mormonism is an ever changing doctrinal landscape. We can trace the \”revelation\” from around the 1830 mark until today and it\’s considerably different. This would include all of the changes to the BoM. The \”truth\” in Mormonism is a moving target. I could make a list for you but you know what they are.
    Secondly we have no record of the \”revelation\” of Smith appearing any where until (Smith) came up with his ever changing version. So to claim the restoration of a nonexistent first century Mormon type revelation is a total scam.
    Thirdly, there are many sects of Mormonism all who claim a modern day prophet and the \”true revelation\”. These real-deal revelations are quite different from one another. For the Utah sect to claim they have the \”truth\” is challenged by the other Mormon sects.

    Ralph, you know all of this. You base your faith in Joseph Smith on some supernatural spiritual experiences you claim to have had. You know better. You have rejected Jesus for the false promises of a false prophet.
    Thankfully people are flooding out of Mormonism. I will continue to pray for you and your family that you will come to Christ in faith and secure for yourselves the gift of eternal life that God is offering you.

  20. falcon says:

    I get a kick out of Mormons like Ralph who show up here and tell us that JS had the truth revealed to him. So in other words, what the Utah Mormon sect believes and practices today is what the first century Christian Church believed and practiced. This would be laughable if it weren\’t so sad.
    How gullible are Mormons? This is so easily disproved yet they cling to it like a drowning man to an innertube. As I pointed out above, it took JS about eight tries before he could even get his first vision squared away. The guy was such a total liar that it proves the point that you can fool some of the people all of the time. And yet Mormons just keep repeating their \”I know\” mantra that has been drilled into them since they were toddlers.
    Just think of it, Mormons are willing to reject Jesus in favor of Joseph Smith.
    The truth about God is obvious for anyone who would seek Him. But Mormons toss Jesus over board in favor of a false prophet who came up with a new version of the truth about every other day.

  21. spartacus says:

    Ralph,
    There\’s a link to the whole statement in the post, so you can lose the accusation of misrepresentation. Or you could more appropriately redirect that paranoia to your Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price which do not indicate their changes, additions, AND subtractions in ANY way. That\’s right, Sharon has more transparency in this article than the LDS church\’s scriptures!

    As for your denial of the comparisons Sharon read from Hinckley\’s article, everything about the article indicates comparison. If Jesus is uniquely honored then He could have been the sole subject t of this talk. If Jesus is held in higher esteem then the President and Prophet of the whole church could have treated Jesus and a lower authority could have reminded of JS. LDS love their organization so much you would think they would have done this. Instead they are treated in the same talk by the same (and highest) office of authority.

    You might think this is nitpicking, but this is his things are done by highly structured authoritarian organizations.

  22. spartacus says:

    Part Two

    Ralph,

    Also, the structure of the statement indicates comparison. Ralph, you said that the bulleting was used to indicate false comparison, but what about identical structure? Hinckley starts with a reminder of the significance of a day close to Christmas, JS\’s birthday, then lists his deeds and the blessings he has given to the church (e.g. – organization) and blessings of God thru him, then there is the \”Praise to the Man\” song. Except for the intervening song Hinckley then starts again with the significance of the season, Jesus\’ birth, and His deeds and blessings from Him and thrum Him, then there is His hymn. You can try to argue the details (and there are more details of similitude thar evidence comparison beyond what Sharon or I have indicated) but the fact of Day-deeds-hymn structure is not only unnecessary to reminding people of JS\’s birthday but possitively indicate comparison and likening.

  23. spartacus says:

    Something that has not been remarked yet is this special statement by Hinckley:

    \”We honor His birth. But without His death that birth would have been but one more birth.\”

    A particularly efficient example of the difference of the understanding of Jesus in Mormonism versus Christianity. What Christian would ever describe the birth of Jesus as just \”one more birth\” whatever the hypothetical context? I\’ve heard LDS speak of the condescension so I know they understand a bit about this. But, really, who but a mormon, who believes that not only Jesus but the Father and themselves are all of the same species (and LDS authorities have used that phrase), would ever say such a thing? Let alone His mouthpiece and apostle?!!! Only a mormon could think that the Condescension of Jesus was just \”one more birth\” of just another spirit child of God without the works of Christ

  24. spartacus says:

    Lastly,
    And what is there to stop a mormon from thinking that the birth of Jesus was just like one\’s own birth and so the only difference between Jesus and a mormon is that He happened to be the one who did the works?

  25. Mike R says:

    Ralph, do you really think that we are saying that LDS should never mention Joseph Smith\’s
    birthday during Christmas time ? It would not be inappropriate to do this , the problem is when
    everything said about Joseph Smith is taken into consideration there appears to be a
    disturbing picture that emerges , one that over emphasizes his importance .
    At Christmas time it\’s all about Jesus , all other religious figures should be a tiny bleep on the
    public radar screen — and they should all quietly disappear [John 3:30].
    Now your attempt to use something I said awhile back as an example to justify your
    belief that Joseph Smith restored more truth about God because Jesus did\’nt have time to
    when He taught His apostles on earth etc. ( at least that is what I sense you\’re saying ) . My
    comment argued against your position of : since Jesus did\’nt teach the Trinity in the Gospels
    therefore it was not a true doctrine . I mentioned that Jesus revealed some truths about Himself
    and God that His apostles later were directed to preach( Acts-Rev ) as a result we have their
    message about God . But despite the fact that Joseph Smith sent Missionaries out with the
    gospel truth about God (from the Bible\’s and BofM teachings about the One true Everlasting
    Creator) he eventually drifted away into error by claiming God was only a man ,one among
    many none of whom were always God .This is\’nt a restoring of Jesus\’ apostles teachings about
    God , and Mormon leaders after Smith drifted even farther away from what Jesus\’ apostles as
    well as Mormon Missionaries had taught in their missions about God and Jesus.

  26. falcon says:

    Can you imagine a Christian denomination making a big deal out of commemorating the birth of one of their leaders, former or present, around Christmas time? It would be seen as very bad taste.
    That\’s the difference in the view of Christians towards Jesus. Jesus is God. He\’s not one of many spirit children of one of many gods (formerly a man) and one of his many wives. Really, are these people insane? And yet the preposterous nature of the claim is what energizes Mormons. The more preposterous, off the wall and obnoxious a belief, the more cultists embrace it. It makes them think that they are special and have some super special spiritual insight and understanding.
    This form of thinking doesn\’t happen all at once in a cult. It\’s rolled out little by little and said to be milk before meat. So we have Joseph Smith elevated to a point of adoration. If Mormons had any love, respect and proper perspective, they wouldn\’t even mention JS birthday.

  27. Mike R says:

    Falcon, it\’s obvious that we non-LDS will never fully understand the Mormon mind-set,
    being in a false prophet led organization with all it\’s \”obligations\” a person must
    meet in following the prophet for the hope of gaining God\’s favor , is a world we just
    can\’t grasp fully. It\’s nice to have ex-Mormons here who help us to understand their former
    world. The message of Mormonism is similar to that of other prophets who have arose at the
    time of Mormonism\’s advent or thereafter . Their followers are convinced that confession of
    their leader as God\’s exclusive mouthpiece and accepting of his new doctrines is a requirement
    for salvation etc. This type of authoritative claim is something that those of us who have
    embraced the gospel of salvation that the New Testament records would find bizzare especially
    given all the warnings in the N.T. about prophets who would arise in the latter days who
    would alter the salvation message of Jesus\’ apostles by mixing in their own ideas which then
    are packaged as \”new light\” from God . Submission to latter days prophets who come with
    the claims that the world has been in darkness for 1700 years but now salvation is \” once again
    available\” to mankind since 1830, is the kind of claim that we would expect false prophets of
    the latter days to make , and one the prophets of Mormonism have .
    But people can be assured that the gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ was\’nt lost
    or removed , so submission to some latter days prophet is\’nt necessary .The Savior has come,
    His saving message went out, people were reconciled to God —the picture of the N.T. —
    and of Christmas.

  28. shematwater says:

    Man oh man, what is the problem here? Why is there such an outrage at this?

    First, please note that you had to go back fifteen years to find this, and I would love to know what the point in all that was. Were you looking for something to complain about?

    Second, Joseph Smith was a great man and a great prophet. Few have been greater. I couldn’t care less what people say about him, or how they want to slander his name. He has, as the scriptures tell us, done more for the human race then any other man, with the exception of Christ. He has a great honor and glory that is due to him, and all will eventually have to accept this.

    Speaking of this particular article concerning the words of President Hinckley, while Spartacus is correct that a link is provided, the great majority of people who read these blogs do not go to those links, and thus the only information they receive is from the article itself. For this reason the article should at least attempt to maintain an accurate portrayal of what was said.
    I think the greatest misrepresentation came in the list of comparison. These little snippets are taken from the context of the message and thus do not accurately represent what was intended. For instance, we have the two points of comparison give: “We honor” Jesus. “We stand in reverence” before Joseph. Obviously the writer of this article is trying to insinuate that we place Joseph Smith as being equal with Christ. However, the full context (which is even quoted by the writer) says of Christ “We love Him. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him.” It thus places Christ as being much higher in our thoughts than Joseph, as it is clear that we do not worship him as we do Christ. Thus the list becomes misleading.

    What was Gordon B. Hinckley really saying: He was saying that Joseph Smith is a great prophet, and that we should always remember the things that he did for us, and that God did for us through him. He was also pointing out the greatness of Christ, clearly stating that he was greater than anyone, including Joseph Smith, and declaring our honor and worship of him.
    What is the problem with this?

  29. shematwater says:

    The really funny thing about this whole complaint is that the Catholic church used to have several days in December to honor various saints. The concept of Christmas that we have today is not as old as many would like to think. Even today the church still has saint days, with almost every day in December honoring a different saint. Where is the outcry against the Catholics?

    From the middle ages the church has honored St. Nicholas on December 6th. Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead, is honored on December 17. John the apostle is honored on the 27, and Stephen is honored on the 26.

    People have been honoring great religious leaders in the month of December for centuries. This was partly because the Christmas season at that time didn’t start until December 24, and lasted until January 5 (the twelve days of Christmas). It was not until the 1800’s that the month began to be the season and the celebration of Christmas was shortened to only one day. It was even later that the honoring of others in that month began to be discourages by many Christians.

    It seems to me that the only reason there is an outcry against President Hinckley is that he is a Mormon honoring a Mormon, and the rest of Christianity can’t stand the idea.

  30. Mike R says:

    Shem, you believe that this article was trying to insinuate that LDS worship Joesph Smith ?
    I never got that impression when I read it . I think the whole point of this article is that it
    reminds people that once we look at a large amount of statements made by LDS about J.S.
    then a picture starts to emerge in relation to his importance— a picture that is unacceptable
    to non-LDS and one that should be to LDS . Our hope here is that LDS would consider their
    devotion to J.S. in the light of the scriptures warning to beware of false prophets , some whom
    have been quite charismatic and therefore can influence people very easily . LDS need to hear
    the good news that their “latter day” prophets are totally un necessary for a person to receive
    a right relationship with God because of Jesus . By elevating J.S. the way LDS do ( he helped
    with the creation of this earth, also in heaven he voted in assembly to sustain Jehovah as the
    choice for Savior ; confessing that he is a prophet sent by God in these latter days is a test
    that distinquishes a true follower of Jesus from a anti christ etc , etc ) and combined with
    how Mormon leaders have stated that LDS are the only true christians /followers of Jesus , it becomes necessary for non-LDS to say “whoa” and remind LDS about who the spotlight should
    stay on during the celebration of Christmas . Catholics may celebrate their saints, and we
    “celebrated ” my dad’s birthday ( it was Dec 25th ) but the problem is not in a remembering of
    others who were born in Dec. but to what extent does it elevate to . It’s sad to realize that the
    LDS people feel they have to submit to their prophet in order to gain God’s favor in this life
    and to receive eternal life in the next . This is totally un necessary . The Savior has come , His
    payment for our sins on the cross accomplished , His resurrection witnessed, His church
    established , and the saving truths of His gospel sent out by men appointed , and people were
    forgiven and saved . That same gospel of salvation is still available today for LDS to embrace.
    One story of Christmas is that the Prophet that all the O.T. prophets pointed to has come —
    Immanuel [ Matt 1:23] ! No J.S. , no Rev. Moon, no Warren Jeffs, or other latter days
    prophets with their claims of importance necessary . That’s why we get so excited about Jesus
    especially in December .

  31. Ralph says:

    Falcon,

    You said ”You base your faith in Joseph Smith on some supernatural spiritual experiences you claim to have had.” I have told you many times, I have done my research and through that and other experiences I have decided that what I believe in is true, it’s not just from praying and asking for confirmation through the Holy Spirit. So please do not misrepresent my personal information again.

    MikeR,

    Since the doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly written in the NT or in the Bible in total but came about post-Biblicaly by interpretation, then the people you mentioned who received revelation from God about it were not Jesus’ direct apostles but others later than that. Otherwise I would assume something as important as knowing the true nature of God would be written explicitly in the Bible, unless you want to subscribe to the LDS view that certain teachings have been lost from the Bible. But using words to describe the Trinity that are not found in the Bible indicates that it is extra-Biblical. So yes we have the apostles’ message which has nothing about the Trinity in it, but do we have their full teachings?

  32. Ralph says:

    Spartacus,

    All Isee in the article is that President Hinckley is addressing two topics. one about JS the other about Jesus. He did not compare nor contrast the two of them but kept them separate within his talk. Yes some of the terminology might have been the same, but I have read many non-religious articles where many topics have been discussed in the one article and the same terminology has been used but none of the topics were being compared, its just the writer wanted to discuss a number of topics, So again, I see noting indicating a compare and contrast in Pres Hinckley’s talk. The bullet list above gives the compare and contrast but it is outside the context of the talk, thus it is a misrepresentation of the talk.

    Jesus was born into mortality so He could perform the Atonement, of which His death is a major part. Without His death there would be no Atonement which places His birth as just another birth. Or as I have heard another ‘Christian’ put it (and the person was a Trinitarian Christian) Without Easter there wouldn’t be Christmas and without Christmas there wouldn’t be Easter. We need both His birth and death, not just one or the other.

  33. Mike R says:

    Ralph, since you attempted to correct Falcon as to your beliefs , allow me to do the same with
    what you said to me about what I believe .
    First off, the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed in the Bible. Taking the record from Gen-Rev.
    into account this doctrine is how our Creator is described in my opinion . Now concerning how
    christians attempted to delineate this doctrine in the “post Biblical” time you keep referring to,
    please understand that as attacks upon their faith grew more technical then believers sought to
    use terms/words that would meet that challenge but would still be faithful to what they
    stressed was in the scriptures —their final authority . I might mention here that this
    method of utilizing words that are not in the Bible to try and articulate to a specific audience
    a doctrine which is in the Bible is not unusual nor wrong and even your leadership has done
    this very thing to explain some of their doctrines etc. Now I completely agree with you that if
    something is as important as knowing the true nature of God it should be written in the Bible .
    This is also how early Mormons felt about their teachings , unfortunately their prophets after
    a few years succumbed to creating new doctrines concerning the nature of God , so the phrase ,
    ” they teach for doctrine the commandments of men ” aptly describes them , in my opinion .
    This is about all I have to say on this issue of the Trinity . Andy has did a great job at explaining
    much of the questions you have so please avail yourself of his contribution to this .

  34. shematwater says:

    Mike

    What you are saying is that because Joseph Smith is a Mormon, and you don’t like the doctrine of the Mormon church, you feel an outrage at the Mormons for daring to honor and reverence a man that they hold in great respect, but you do not.

    As I said, the entire issue boils down to a Mormon is attempting to honor a Mormon and you can’t stand it.

    Note also that the saints that are honored in December were not born in December. The church assigned those days as the day to honor that saint. Thus Stephen is honored the day after Christ is honored, and John the Apostle the next day. There is only one day that they devote solely to Christ.

    As to our elevation of Joseph Smith, I don’t think you understand anything about it. Yes he was in heaven, but so was Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, and all the other great prophets of all ages. He voted on the side of Christ, but so did the rest of us. He is the head of this last dispensation, but there are other heads of other dispensations, and Adam is over all of them, with Noah standing second to him. Christ is over everyone.
    You seem to think we single Joseph Smith out for greater honor than others, and this is not really true. It is true, only in the fact that he is our Prophet, and the Head of our dispensation. Thus we feel a closer bond to him. It is like the military. While we recognize the commander in chief and the Commander over each branch, our own personal commander holds a special place of honor for us merely because he is our commander.

    Oh, and I never said the article insinuated that we worship Joseph Smith. I said it insinuated we place him as being equal to Christ. I don’t know if the writer actually believes this, but that is what the article insinuates. It is proven false in the fact that we don’t worship Joseph Smith, which I pointed out the article actually states. Thus the article contradicts itself and is misleading.

  35. Ralph says:

    MikeR,

    I don’t think you understand what I was asking of Falcon. I have told him in the past that I have done my research and have had numerous experiences indicating to me the truth of the LDS church. Even though he knew that he said “You base your faith…on some supernatural spiritual experiences…” If my experiences were not spiritual, as I have told him they weren’t, then he is misrepresenting what I have told him in the past. Yes I have prayed and asked for confirmation, which was a spiritual experience, but the majority of reasons why I believe are not spiritual. I don’t care if he makes blanket comments about the LDS church and its members, but when it comes to personal information that I have told him about in the past, he should get that correct.

    And about my comments, I am giving what I interpreted from your past comments. You said that Jesus didn’t give the full information to people about the Trinity but inspired others after His death. This ‘others’ could have meant the apostles, which is what you are saying now, or it could be their converts or their converts’ converts. But since many of the church fathers that have been quoted do not represent the Trinity doctrine fully as it is understood/worshipped today, then that means that it was not fully taught even by the apostles. What I commented on is not a personal conversion story of yours, but what you contrive to be your proof.

    That’s the difference between what I wrote and asked Falcon not to misrepresent and what you wrote and my comments.

  36. Rick B says:

    Ralph,
    I am sure you have heard this before by me and others, but I will say it again.
    You can say you prayed about the BoM and had some type of Spencerian to prove it to be true, But so have JW’s, Muslims, Buddhists, Etc.

    The Bible says Satan can and does come in the form of an angel of light to deceive.
    How can you honestly believe your prophets to be real men of God when They cannot agree with each other? They were deceived themselves by Mark H and their is zero evidence in the form of Archaeology .

    The BoM points out that around 600 BC Nephiets lived in Jerusalem, But outside of the BoM their is no evidence these people ever existed. I have been to Israel, I spoke with ultra Orthodox Jews who claim their is no evidence they existed.

    As falcon points out, outside of the JS and what he said, there is no evidence Mormonism ever existed from the Bible. Then JS and his failed prophecy’s, I think the biggest one being the Temple In Missouri not being built, thats an epic failure.

    But If you want to believe in a false prophet, want to teach your family to follow him, teach others to follow him and then fight tooth and nail to claim he really was a real prophet of God, then I guess you will have a long hot burning in your bosom once you get cast into the lake of fire for believing and teaching his lies, But thats your choice.

  37. Mike R says:

    Ralph, forgive me if I misunderstood what you were trying to say relative to Falcon .
    Let me briefly comment on what you did say in your last post about me : I did say a while
    back that concerning the Trinity that this doctrine is not fully revealed in the four Gospels,
    i.e. what Jesus taught while He walked the earth etc. What the apostles taught after His Res.
    revealed more about the Father /Jesus /Holy Ghost . Do you understand that point ? Now,
    when you said : ” This ‘ other ‘ could have meant the apostles which is what you are saying
    now , or it could be their converts , or their convert converts…”
    Ralph , I have never meant these “others” to be anyone other than the apostles . The ” Church
    Fathers” attempted to explain /defend the Trinity by using words that are “non-biblical” ,i.e.
    these words themselves are not found in the Bible , but the doctrine was . While I feel that
    the early creeds accomplished their job of defending the view of God in the scriptures, still it
    is only the scriptures that we are accountable to before God . People are going to have to choose
    which apostles /scriptures to follow , either the Bible’s or latter day apostles . What Mormon
    leaders proceeded to teach about God is something that Jesus’ apostles would have been
    shocked to hear , so I feel it is unworthy to embrace , so I’m stickin with the Bible and feel
    that I’m on safe ground by doing so —considering the proliferation of false prophets arising
    in the latter days [ Matt 24; 11,24]. I hope that I’ve explained all this in a way that you can
    understand what I mean . That’s all on the Trinity , I’m moving on . Take care.

  38. Mike R says:

    Shem,
    you said, ” As I said the entire issue boils down to a Mormon is attempting to honor a Mormon
    and you can’t stand it .” That’s a silly statement . I made it clear that since J.S. birthday was
    near Dec 25th therefore it would not be odd to remember him , but when Hinckley says
    that LDS should not let his memory be forgotten ” in the celebration of Christmas ” , taken at
    face value that statement is going way to far . It’s only a small example of the larger picture
    that emerges when we look at what has been said of Joseph Smith from various Mormon sources.
    In the celebration of Christmas , no one should share the marquee with Jesus , not any prophet,
    nor any Saint [ Jn 3:30 ] .
    You said, ” You seem to think we single J.S. out for greater honor than others , and this is really
    not true . ” I think that when we look at how LDS have viewed Smith that is exactly what
    someone would come away thinking . Whether it was him as a Lt.Gen ( you can’t get much higher
    rank than that ) in charge of his own army , or reminding people they must believe in their
    hearts and confess him a prophet in order to make it up to heaven and live with God , in between
    there are many statements that testify how great he is considered to be :
    he is , “our noble Chieftain” ; ” the most Christ like man to live upon the earth since Jesus
    Himself” ; ” a more self-sacraficing man , with the exception of the Lord Jesus , never lived ” ;
    ” a more fitting instrument to accomplish this wonderful work cannot be imagined” ; ” a better
    man never lived upon this earth ” . Then there is the personal testimony of a young man who
    developed an unquenchable thirst to know all about J.S. and as a result of his search he says:
    ” It seems not a day goes by that I’m not placed in a situation where I don’t stop and ask myself,
    ‘ what would Joseph Smith have done ? ‘ ” [ Ensign Dec.1972, p.81 ]. There are more examples
    that could be given but these are not up to the level of the teaching that confessing J.S. to be a
    true prophet is necessary to be accepted by God and live in His heavenly mansion. That is the
    most ridiculous statement ever , and coming from those who give this type of honor to a man
    because he claimed to be a prophet of these latter days , it’s so sad . In celebrating Christmas
    only one prophet is worthy of our attention , and He also happens to be the Savior — —
    Immanuel !

  39. shematwater says:

    Mike

    One may get the wrong impression if all they did was view the surface of these statements and the attitude of the members without actually thinking about it.

    Do you really think that Ancient Israel did not view Moses as “their noble Chieftain?” Do you think that people in the Early Church were not praising Peter for his Christlike life? Do you really think that the people in the days of Abraham did not declare that no better man had lived on the earth?

    Personal praise means little. It is not intended to elevate Joseph Smith beyond his rightful place of honor. This is what I am talking about. We hold him in a special honor for he is “Our Noble Chieftain.” We do not give this same special honor to Moses, because he is not our chief, but the chief of his dispensation. We acknowledge that both Adam and Noah are greater than Joseph Smith, but we still do not give them the same special honor that we do Joseph, because they are also not our chief.
    You have a very misguided idea as to the honor we give Joseph Smith.

    As to his being a prophet and us accepting him as such, let us ask this: In your opinion could a person be saved as a Christian and yet deny that Abraham was a prophet, or Moses, or Elijah, or Peter, or any other prophet of the Bible. The requirement to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet is no more or greater than the requirement to accept any other prophet who lived at any other time as prophet.

    As to not forgetting Joseph Smith during Christmas, you clearly don’t understand the purpose in this statement. Tell me, do you talk about Santa in your house? Does he play any role in your celebrations? He does in my house. Isn’t it evil of me to do this, as it puts Santa sharing a marquis with Christ?
    Taken on face value the comment means simply that we should not be so focused on one thing that we forget others. It is like saying that we should not be so focused on fixing the house that we neglect our car. Christ is the primary focus of the season, and there is one full day devoted to him. Is it so horrid to say that on other days we should not forget to remember others and be thankful for all they have done?

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